Thursday, April 9, 2009

News - 04/09/09...

The new Warner Bros. studio mural

Three months ago we mourned the end of the Warner Bros. animation mural at the intersection of Barham, Pass and Olive in Burbank. Tonight, Warners threw a party on the studio backlot to unveil the new cartoon billboard to replace it. Here it is. DC super heroes now take center stage, flying over the Hall of Justice (a nod to Hanna Barbera’s Super Friends), with Bugs, Daffy, Tweety and Sylvester lurking around the edges. Though I wish the Looney Tunes got a little more space, I’m grateful Scooby Doo has been downsized. One unique feature of the mural is that a group of super villains appear along the bottom - but are only visible at night.

Peter Girardi designed the mural, Tommy Tejeda drew the superheroes with input from Bruce Timm, James Tucker and Glen Murakami. Other celebrities at the event included Julie Newmar (Catwoman) and Diedrich Bader (the current voice of Batman).

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

3-D is a Fad

I love 3D movies. Thanks to a pair of 3-D film festivals held in L.A. several years ago, I’ve been lucky enough to see perhaps 95% of all 3-D films ever made. On top of that, I think the use of 3-D in recent motion pictures (Coraline for example) is perhaps the best application of the format in film history. Digital technology has -at last- perfected the technique. I’m not crazy about having to wear the extra set of glasses… nevertheless, it’s a wonderful way to experience a movie.

But it ain’t gonna last.

The current preponderance of 3-D films that Hollywood is perpetuating is simply a business trend. The medium is not being revolutionized. It is not the second coming of The Jazz Singer.

A front page article in Monday’s L.A. Times (“Taking Filmmaking To Another Dimension” 04/06/09) repeated all the hype, reported all the grosses and played up all the coming attractions that have been reported everywhere - from Variety to The Wall Street Journal - in recent weeks. It’s almost overkill. Yeah, yeah, we know… Katzenberg, Lasseter, Cameron, Zemeckis, everyone in Hollywood is on board. And they’ve declared Monsters Vs. Aliens as the watershed picture. Its opening grosses, in 3D venues, justify a sea change in production, distribution and exhibition.

But it’s all B.S. First off, all this nonsense about how all the “old” 3D movies used red/blue anaglyph is a lie. Yes, prior to 1952 there were a few releases (like Pete Smith’s MGM “Metroscopiks” shorts) that used the technique (and don’t miss Albert Brooks’ hilarious faux anaglyph trailer for Real Life (1979) which perpetuates the myth), but all features made since the 50s use essentially the same polaroid system used today. The big difference, thanks to digital projection, is today’s 3D movies are easier to show and have perfect registration between the two images projected.

Next, the current hype about the studios’ expectations of 3-D is a 55-year old rerun. As Leonard Maltin said in this Wall Street Journal article, it’s “an absolute replica of the pronouncements and interviews that came out in 1953.” This time, however, the pronouncements are bigger and louder. Director Patrick Lussier (of the recent 3-D slasher flick, My Bloody Valentine) is quoted in the L.A. Times piece saying, “You could do My Dinner With Andre in 3-D and it would be incredibly compelling.” Maybe so, but it would be because of the script and acting, not the “immersive 3D experience”. Lussier also claims that the 3-D format is “more than a fad.”

Sorry… it’s a fad. A fad concocted and controlled by the major studios. The question is “why”? Here’s the answer: the studios are promoting 3-D films right now in an effort to convince the theaters to convert to digital projection. Once all theatres go digital, there will be no need for the studios to create expensive 35mm prints, they’ll be no more costs for reels and cans; the cost of transporting 100 pound film canisters coast to coast, the cost of storing prints in film depots and later, the cost of destroying worn prints will be eliminated. The savings to the studios will be enormous.

The theaters have resisted the move to digital because it costs tens of thousands of dollars to replace the 35mm projectors and install the new equipment. Theaters contend there’s nothing wrong with 35mm film; that audiences can’t tell the difference, so why bother to convert. The studios are gung-ho for 3-D in an effort to provide something theatrical that digital can do easier than traditional film equipment.

There are other reasons as well: Digital distribution will cut down (or hopefully eliminate) film piracy; and 3-D films can attract people to theatres to experience a visual show they cannot (as of yet) get on cable TV, blu-ray discs or over the internet.

BUT as soon as all theaters (or a majority of them) eliminate film and go completely digital, I predict the current 3-D fad will end.

The recent 3-D propaganda, aimed at the general public and national movie chains, is a push for digital conversion sooner rather than later. This is all well and good, but it has nothing to do with storytelling or good filmmaking.

The 3-D gimmick didn’t last in the 1950s nor the 80s. It wasn’t because the process was more primitive - it wasn’t. Animated films (or any films) today are going to be successful in 2D or 3D, hand drawn or CGI, due to one thing: story - not special effects or 3-D. Cinemas will all go digital eventually. 3-D itself is pretty cool. It just bothers me how it’s being sold to public. Wearing glasses to the movies is not the future.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Goal of a Shorts Program 6 - Where Can Cartoonists Get Well-Rounded Experience Today?

Where do you get all-around experience in each department today?

What Does a Director Need Besides Talent?

The best directors are the folks who not only have talent, but who know how each department fits into the whole of the product. You can only get this knowledge by doing a number of different jobs over a few years to see what the function of each job is. Then you have a view of the whole system.

Most directors of the classic cartoons started as inbetweeners, worked their way up to animators, and if they were especially talented at telling stories, became directors. This took a few years within a very sensibly built American capitalist merit based system.

My Own Way Of Gaining Varied Experience At A Bad Time In History
In the 80s, when I started, the system had come apart creatively and became a cold factory - but it still separated many of the jobs and did them i the country. I worked as an inbetweener at a commercial studio, shot camera, then did some animation, did storyboards at TV studios, then layouts. I was really excited when I got my first official designer job on Heathcliff of all things. From there, I got into doing presentations for HB and TMS. I broke into some writing at the same time. I was learning bit by bit how the whole process worked (or didn't). By the time I got my first directing job, I was as ready as anyone could be in the late 80s.

I at least knew how everything was being done currently - and the handicaps of the system too, and I also knew kind of how they used to do things on the cartoons I liked. I knew real well who many of the most talented artists in the business were. So I combined the realities of modern TV production with some of the sense of the old system. A director isn't just a guy with some abstract idea that he got by chance spastic molecular activity in his brain; he is someone who knows how the all the parts fit together first, then is able to build his ideas (if he has any) around practical reality. And he needs a crew of very specialized talents who work well with him.

Today, I don't know if there is any way to get even as much experience as I accumulated before creating my own show. Animation is done overseas so not many in the business today actually know how cartoons are made - because studios hire other countries to make them for them. Or they do them in Flash, which amounts to the same thing.

Starting At The Top Is Just Plain Dumb

People start out in the business today doing jobs that used to require a lot of experience.
Storyboarding - without ever having animated, assisted or done layout, writing without ever having even drawn a storyboard! Storyboards aren't even used to write stories anymore. Ridiculous.

Model sheets are made by non-animators.

Most studios don't even do layouts anymore so there is nowhere to learn that.

Directors (the top creative position) are seemingly pulled out of a hat. It's open to anyone who walks in and can barely scrawl a stick figure out but can somehow convince a non-creative manager that he's got some latest in-thing (which usually is just a watered down poorly drawn copy of something that already exists). The execs even admit it's hard to deal with these young immature folks because they don't have a realistic or experienced overview of how cartoons are made. (I have to hold their hands through the process, one exec told me) Well, "D-uh" as they say.

Animation has turned into a mystery religion.

Standards so Low Now That There Is Nothing Even To Aim For

When I was starting out, the studio system was pretty awkward and inefficient, but at least I had lots of old cartoons on TV to record and study - and there were some old timers around to ask questions about how they made their cartoons. So I pieced together a picture of how everything fit together and when I got my chance to try it out, saw what worked and what didn't, then was able to continue adapting the production system to favor creativity and artistic ambition among the cartoonists.

The old cartoons also had much higher standards than the current ones, so it encouraged some of us to aim high, regardless of the junk the studios made us pump out in the 80s.

Now sadly, there aren't many classic cartoons on TV anymore to at least inspire people to want to aim high, draw well, or let alone create lasting characters with personality. Any kid in high school can look at cartoons on TV today and say "Hell, I can do that!" And then they do. And each year cartoons become more primitive and get poorer ratings.


A sensible shorts program has to solve these problems in order to increase the chances of finding top talent and hits. Right now, the programs are all set up as crap shoots. Toss a pile of money in the air, hire 50 inexperienced kids and call them directors, then water down the actual experienced talent pool who has earned the right to maybe try directing by splitting it into 50 sub-standard units and hope one your 50 handicapped shorts somehow flukes its way into success. It's an admission by the management that they have no idea what makes something work. Extreme gambling with the companies' futures.

Let's use simple math:

50 units x say 8 people per crew = 400 artists you have to find.
OR: 50 cartoons made by 3 units of 8 = 24 artists.
Is it more likely to find 24 very talented artists than 500 for one program? Are there 500 really talented artists in the whole business? Let alone in 1 studio? There might be 24, though.

These 24 top talents each would get to make 16 or 17 shorts instead of just 1 each, and learn by experience and get better with each short.

The 50 crews each get one chance - all or nothing to get it right.

Which system sounds like it has a better chance to succeed?

How We Could Benefit From A Little Logic
No one uses their shorts program as an empirical way to create as many hits as fast as possible and to develop top talent who can consistently do it. And that's what the whole purpose behind a shorts program used to be. To kick the Hell out of the competition. Isn't it?

So another main goal of a shorts program should be:

To Give Cartoonists Real Experience - climb the ladder, earn your way up

Give cartoonists a ladder to climb so that when they finally get a chance to direct, they at least know how things work.

to be continued...

(Thanks John K.)

Goals of a Shorts Program 7 - Create experience in house by bringing animation back

Here's a truncated version of the next installment of the shorts program series:

To Give Cartoonists Real Experience

A sensible shorts program wouldn't be sweeping the nation looking for the next inexperienced kid who has a an executive worthy idea. Yet this is what the networks do over and over again and never learn from it. They purposely look for people with little to zero experience. They think that these young prodigies will be untainted by knowledge so will therefore be more freely creative.

I say Hogwash! Let's do the most sensible thing, the THING that we have been avoiding for the last 35 years. The thing our business is called: Animation

Bring Back The Goddamn Animation

People in America need to learn from the ground floor up. They need to assist, then animate, then do layout, storyboards etc... until they gain enough experience to know how cartoons and their various departments work together.

And I don't mean animating it in flash. I mean drawing the stuff. For real.

The argument against this is that it's too expensive, and that may be true at some small places, but not at the majors. They have tons of money that doesn't ever make it to the screen. They just toss it out the window by spending it on too many execs, market research, bureaucracy, development departments, executive trips around the world, retreats, indecision, rewrites, too many department heads etc. etc.

Take that money and start a unit system. Put it directly on the screen with no waste and into the crews so that they can learn to make cartoons well.

Hell, HB made shorts for $3,000 when they started. With the budgets the big TV studios have today, they could do much better than that (although with less experienced animators). But that's the point!

Let's give them some experience. The shorts program IS the development budget. Start with the funniest most experienced director you can find and let him hire the artists he wants and start making cartoons. This is pure logic. There is no mystery science to this. No Hippie thinking. It's the quickest cheapest road to success and domination of the field.

Build Crews and let them get used to each other (Director's Teams)
Experiment Through Trial and Error, and Learn from mistakes and successes.

Crews should be able to remain together for stretches of time and over a bunch of cartoons as they try out assorted characters, not just one set.

More to come...

(Thanks John K. )

Q&A with Will Arnett of Sit Down, Shut Up

Editor’s Note: Animation Magazine covered the upcoming Fox animated series Sit Down, Shut Up in their most recent issue (on sale now!), but had so much good stuff left over they’ve decided to run the extended interviews here on the site leading up to the debut of the show on April 19.

Will Arnett, the macho-voiced comedic actor best known for his roles on TV’s Arrested Development and films like Blades of Glory, is no stranger to voice work (Horton Hears A Who!, Monsters vs. Aliens). This spring he brings his talents to FOX’s Sit Down, Shut Up to play a self-obsessed, body-building, lady-chasing English teacher named Ennis Hofftard.

Could you describe your character for us?

is like a super genius in disguise as a really dumb guy. I would say that he is a high school teacher who is less concerned with the welfare of his students and more concerned with the state of his own body, and how he’s progressing with the ladies. Ladies in general. Really, he doesn’t discriminate.

What makes SDSU stand out?

The show is really well written. For me, I can kind of show up and the scripts are always so super-tight and specific and I get very well directed by the guys — as long as I connect the dots for them, it comes across, and I just try not to embarrass them with my performance.

How do you get into character for Ennis?

Any time you do anything, there are always pieces of you that are, as I like to say, right there on your desktop. You’re kind of one click away from certain traits — by the way, I like to say that — wait, when do I like to say that? What am I talking about? I guess there are parts of me that are less favorable in people’s eyes and sometimes these are the things that you reveal in characters that kind of need that. So when people go, ‘Hey man, that guy is a real jerk,’ you’re like, ‘Agh, I guess there’s part of me that’s a real jerk, maybe?’

Did you have any apathetic teachers growing up?

I don’t know if I had teachers that didn’t care, but I’ve had teachers that were … that uh … I should say I’ve had a lot of great teachers, but I have had teachers who maybe just looked at you as another body in front of them for that year. They’re just kind of going through the motions, but again it should be noted that I have had some great teachers. By great teachers I mean they were patient with my idiocy. Let’s not pull them into this mess.

Did the character design influence Ennis’ voice for you?

I got to see some sort of preliminary stuff of what they had in mind for the character physically, and that definitely helped a lot. And I wanted to kind of stress that I didn’t look like that, and they assured me that that’s not how they saw me. I talked about [the voice] with Mitch Hurwitz and he kind of lead me before we started — once I read the pilot I kind of had an idea. He writes so specifically that I kind of had an idea of what he was going for, and then when we talked about it he informed me more of how he saw this guy and how he wanted to differentiate everybody … we did some recording, we did a table read and then we did some recording for the pilot and just, you know, finessed it a little bit — by ‘finesse’ I mean Mitch saying, ‘No that’s not right, do it like this.’ ‘How about that, but better?’

Did Mitch have you picked out for Ennis from the beginning?

I think that he did have me in mind for [Ennis], and I’m sure he had other people that he was thinking about as well, I may have become the default for that — I don’t know who else passed on it, but I can tell you that in the first pilot that I read my character was in it, and then he rewrote it and Ennis was not in that draft, and he sent me that draft and said ‘Are there any voices in this that you think you’d like to do or that you have any ideas on?’ and I said, ‘Well, I really kind of miss that character Ennis, actually. I feel like I could get my brain around that.’

And he said, ‘You don’t have a brain,’ and I said, ‘Oh, yeah, I forgot.’ And of course I forgot, because I don’t have any brain. But then he re-included Ennis in the story, and so that’s how that kind of came about. He did me a solid.

How does working on SDSU differ from some of the other work you’ve done?

Honestly, each experience [in voice acting] has been different from the next. Freakshow was different in that we generally recorded all those shows together as a cast at the same time, so we did a lot of the scenes with eight people in the booth, which I’d never done before. It was really fun and I thought it was a really funny, original show, and David Cross and Jon Benjamin did such an awesome job on that. And I would’ve liked to have done more of those.

And then Horton was a different experience — it was a story that I am very familiar with and a lot of people are very familiar with of course because of the book being around for a long time. But then when we got in there and started to get into it, these guys brought such an — this is going to sound so dumb, and this is one of these things that if I read it I’d be like, ‘Oh God, this guy sounds like such a blowhard,’ but it was a very fresh take on the old story and I was very proud to be part of it when I saw the final result, and working on it was a real pleasure. Jimmy Hayward, who directed it, encouraged me to improvise and really take the character wherever I wanted, and that was fun and it was a cool experience.

On Monster vs. Aliens, that was a totally different experience, and working with Rob Letterman and everybody over at DreamWorks … It was a totally original, interesting story and it’s such a ground breaking movie because of the 3-D of it all … it’s just a big movie, and it was a really fun, fun experience.

So, each one has been — I don’t know if that’s a good answer, it sounds like me just talking, looking like an a-hole.

What was it like working with Mitch Hurwitz in a different genre?

The great thing about working with Mitch is that often times when you’re improvising you think like ‘This is going to be the funniest take, this is the funnier way to go with this joke,’ or whatever, and almost 10 times out of 10 I would defer to Mitch on what’s a funnier take on something. He’s such a brilliant guy and he’ll be very honest with you … you might do something that you think is funny or that gets an immediate gratification laugh and he’ll say: ‘That’s really funny, however…it doesn’t really work in the context of what we’re doing here, so we’re not going to include that.’ He’s just very true to the big picture, while the entire time being super, super funny and super clever. He really is a singularly brilliant guy.

Is voice work any more or less difficult than live-action acting?

I don’t know if I find [voice acting] necessarily more difficult, and I don’t want to use the term ‘easier’ because I don’t want to offend anybody, but it’s actually kind of … a lot less cumbersome. As the actor… ‘As actor,’ — Ha ha, god, what an idiot — but truly there are so many people doing so much — writing the script and creating the characters — and then I kind of step in as Jackass No. 6 and just talk in front of a microphone. So, in that sense it is much easier and you don’t have to go through all the process of being seen on camera, the hair and the makeup and the wardrobe and hitting your marks and stuff, it’s just talking. So it is kind of freeing in that way. But you don’t have the benefit of relying on physicality to get something across, you have to convey a lot in short little bursts.

Do you find yourself using physicality anyway?

If you ran a live feed on the [recording] booth when you’re doing some of the stuff, you’d be so embarrassed by the faces you’re making to try and do a certain thing. It would just be like a terrible, awful tape to look at, it’d be so damning. Like, look man, we thought you were an idiot before we saw this, and then we realized you’re a moron.

How does SDSU compare to other “adult” animated series?

I don’t want to compare our show to those shows, they’re such great shows — Simpsons, South Park, all of them really smart, funny show that have an incredible, impeccable track record of being really smart, funny shows. I think that visually we may look different, it’s something that people have never seen before. It’s the first animated show in history to have a locations manager, because it’s animated characters set against real backgrounds. So, just from a visual perspective it’s interesting to look at. And then I think that it’s another place for people to see how funny Mitch and [consulting producer] Jim Vallely and all those guys are. And I think they’re very original, and I think that there are people who liked a lot of the comedy of Arrested Development or liked that style — they might be able to scratch a bit of that itch. Scratching itches.

Do you have a favorite cartoon?

It’s funny, I’m not really — I shouldn’t say I’m not — what I mean is that there are people who are much better versed in the appreciation of the animated arts than I, and of course The Simpsons set the bar for everybody on animated shows. What they did had never been done before and was so brilliant, and South Park I mentioned before is just super funny and very risky and very unconventional — those guys Matt and Trey who created that show are just brilliant guys. So I like watching both those shows … I like watching all of them, actually. I haven’t seen a lot of Family Guy but the ones I’ve seen have made me laugh super hard; I know that they’ve got a big following and well deserved. So I like it all. I used to think, ‘Aw man, these things are just cartoons,’ and then you watch them and you’re like, oh wait, there are really smart, funny people writing these awesome shows.

Don’t you have any childhood favorites?

I spent my childhood reading Proust and snorting snuff. I was always on safari, you know, doing charity work. Doing a ton of charity work.

So being a new dad isn’t exposing you to many cartoons yet?

My son is young enough that I haven’t exposed him yet to television. I think that at not quite four months it might be blowing some of his brain. He only recently discovered his feet, so anything beyond that might freak him out.

What about SDSU, do you have a favorite character?

I think that my favorite character on the show is Stuart, voiced by Will Forte. He’s sort of the vice principal, assistant principal, whatever. I’m such a fan of Will Forte, he’s such a funny, original guy and he just makes me laugh whatever he does and I just love him, I love his character so much.

Does Ennis pair up with any of the characters, Bart ’n’ Milhouse style?

He probably interacts the most with Larry, who is played by entertainment superstar Jason Bateman. And that’s great for me because I love working with Jason, and we had such great times on Arrested Development, and we drew up kind of a short hand so we know how to work together and we understand each other a little bit on how each other works. He’s so great. And gorgeous, just gorgeous.

Since you’re going to WonderCon to promote the show, who do you think is scarier: Animation nerds or Arrested Development nerds?

I guess they’re both equally scary … um, no, I don’t know! I’m just happy that people like Arrested Development so I’m happy that there are fans at all. I find that people who are really into animation are REALLY into it.

I also find that the people who really love animation the most are the Brits. All my British comedy buddies know everything about every comic book and cartoon and animated series and movie and show … I don’t know what the hell they do over there, but they love it. They can’t get enough of it. It’s incredible. They’re serial culture vultures, they know virtually every reference pop culture-wise and also when it comes to animation and science fiction and all that stuff that is sort of linked in certain ways. They have a really facile, you know, dossier of reference — wow, ‘facile’ and ‘dossier’ in the same sentence! And the Douchey goes to…

Do you have a good pitch line for the show?


…Like, “Watch Ennis, he’s great”?

Yeah, that’s good. Watch Ennis, he’s great. I’m going to write that down. Watch Ennis, he’s great, he’s on FOX starting in April … what’s the start date? April 19 —my mother’s birthday! Watch Ennis on my mother’s birthday — you know when that is, right? That’s what I’d say.

Watch Ennis, he’s great… and so is the rest of the star-studded cast of Sit Down, Shut Up, which premieres Sunday, April 19 at 8:30 p.m. as part of FOX’s Animation Domination block.

CN Pitches its Slate in Hollywood

Cartoon Network brought its upfront presentation to the West Coast, touting its recent successes and promoting its diverse upcoming mix of live action and animation to ad agency reps, clients, producers, series creators and colleagues from Warner Bros.

John O’Hara, executive VP and general manager Cartoon Network Ad Sales and Marketing, kicked off the event at the Skirball Cultural Center by touting the network’s growing market share and success in a struggling economy. The network first announced its slate of programs in late March in New York. (Read Animation Magazine's report and rundown of the shows at

John O’Hara

“Economic conditions mean the stakes are higher than ever this year,” he said.

He was followed by Stuart Snyder, president and COO of Turner Broadcasting’s Animation, Young Adults and Kids Media division, who said the network planned to build on the success of its themed content nights.

Last year, the network focused on comedy on Thursdays, action on Fridays and films on Sunday night, launching breakout hits such as Total Drama Island and Star Wars: The Clone Wars and yielding top ratings, giving the network a strong 4th quarter in 2008 and the strongest 1st quarter results in four years for 2009. The network now plans to expand its strategy and establish branded content nights the rest of the week.

Stuart Snyder

The success has carried over to online, Snyder said, with earning a huge number of game plays and video streams. Which plays into what Brenda Freeman, chief marketing officer, called the network’s goal of becoming a dominant youth brand that features humor, adventure, fantasy and an authentic, unsanitized experience for its viewers.

Brenda Freeman

That leads to a diverse lineup of programs, such as the sports-themed CN AMPT, which involves a partnership with sister company Turner Sports and kicks off with a recently announced alliance with the NBA. Another new brand is CN REAL, which will include unscripted shows such as The Othersiders and Destroy Build Destroy.

Rob Sorcher

Chief content officer Rob Sorcher ran through the network’s slate of new and returning shows, which featured a mix of live action and animation featuring new takes on existing franchises like Ben 10 and Scooby-Doo, as well as original properties and the network’s first hour-long scripted live-action pilots.

CN Offers Enhanced Clone Wars

Cartoon Network is remixing Clone Wars.

The cable channel has announced Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Decoded will premiere May 1 at 9 p.m., kicking off a run of 22 enhanced episodes from the show’s just-concluded first season.

The new version will feature text windows to provide in-the-moment insights into all aspects of the conflict and storylines of the show, from trivia to background on characters and plots.

The enhanced content is created by Lucasfilm Animation, and the enhanced series’ run will lead into the debut of the show’s second season this fall.

qubo Calls for User-Made Short Films

Kids website qubo is soliciting a second round of user-generated short films, the best of which will air on the site and its broadcast blocks on NBC, ION and Telemundo.

Mash-up tools are available for kids on the site and feature tools for making videos about a number of topics including science, animals, magic and adventure.

Deadline for entering the contest is April 30.

Will Eisner Comic Book Award Noms Announced

Diversity is the rule for the 2009 Will Eisner Comic Comic Book Industry Awards, which announced its nomination in 26 categories today.

The leading projects, garning four nominations apiece, are the graphic novels Skim, Alan’s War, Umbrella Academy, Fables and Madame Xanadu.

Among comic book creators, Emmanuel Guibert and Chris Ware each lead the pack with four nominations for their work. Dark Horse Comics lead the pack among publishers with 13 individual and five shared nominations, followed by DC Comics with 10 individual and two shared noms and Marvel Comics with nine individual and two shared nominations.

The winners will be announced July 24 at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

Best Short Story
* Actual Size, by Chris Ware, in Kramers Ergot 7 (Buenaventura Press)
Chechen War, Chechen Women, by Joe Sacco, in I Live Here (Pantheon)
Freaks, by Laura Park, in Superior Showcase #3 (AdHouse)
Glenn Ganges in Pulverize, by Kevin Huizenga, in Ganges #2 (Fantagraphics)
Murder He Wrote, by Ian Boothby, Nina Matsumoto, and Andrew Pepoy, in The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror #14

Best Continuing Series
* All Star Superman, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC)
Fables, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Niko Henrichon, Andrew Pepoy, and Peter Gross (Vertigo/DC)
Naoki Urasawa's Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)
Thor, by J. Michael Straczynski, Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales, and various (Marvel)
Usagi Yojimbo
, by Stan Sakai (Dark Horse)

Best Limited Series
* Groo: Hell on Earth, by Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier (Dark Horse)
Hellboy: The Crooked Man, by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben (Dark Horse)
Lock & Key, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Omega the Unknown, by Jonathan Lethem, Karl Rusnak, and Farel Dalrymple (Marvel)
The Twelve
, by J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston (Marvel)

Best New Series
* Air, by G. Willow Wilson and M. K. Perker (Vertigo/DC)
, by Terry Moore (Abstract Studio)
Invincible Iron Man, by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca (Marvel)
Madame Xanadu, by Matt Wagner, Amy Reeder Hadley, and Richard Friend (Vertigo/DC)
Unknown Soldier
, by Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli (Vertigo/DC)

Best Publication for Kids
* Amulet, Book 1: The Stonekeeper, by Kazu Kabuishi (Scholastic Graphix)
Cowa!, by Akira Toriyama (VIZ)
Princess at Midnight, by Andi Watson (Image)
Stinky, by Eleanor Davis (RAW Junior)
Tiny Titans
, by Art Baltazar and Franco (DC)

Best Publication for Teens/Tweens
* Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, adapted by P. Craig Russell (HarperCollins Children's Books)
Crogan's Vengeance, by Chris Schweizer (Oni)
The Good Neighbors, Book 1: Kin, by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh (Scholastic Graphix)
Rapunzel's Revenge, by Shannon and Dean Hale and Nathan Hale (Bloomsbury Children's Books)
, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books)

Best Humor Publication
* Arsenic Lullaby Pulp Edition No. Zero, by Douglas Paszkiewicz (Arsenic Lullaby)
Chumble Spuzz, by Ethan Nicolle (SLG)
Herbie Archives, by "Sean O'Shea" (Richard E. Hughes) and Ogden Whitney (Dark Horse)
Petey and Pussy, by John Kerschbaum (Fantagraphics)
Wondermark: Beards of Our Forefathers
, by David Malki ! (Dark Horse)

Best Anthology
* An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories, Vol. 2, edited by Ivan Brunetti (Yale University Press)
Best American Comics 2008, edited by Lynda Barry (Houghton Mifflin)
Comic Book Tattoo: Narrative Art Inspired by the Lyrics and Music of Tori Amos, edited by Rantz Hoseley (Image)
Kramers Ergot 7, edited by Sammy Harkham (Buenaventura Press)
MySpace Dark Horse Presents
, edited by Scott Allie and Sierra Hahn (Dark Horse)

Best Digital Comic
* Bodyworld, by Dash Shaw
, by Carla Speed McNeil
The Lady's Murder, by Eliza Frye
Speak No Evil: Melancholy of a Space Mexican, by Elan Trinidad
, by Alexis Sottile & Joe Infurnari

Best Reality-Based Work
* Alan's War, by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second)
Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story, by Frederik Peeters (Houghton Mifflin)
Fishtown, by Kevin Colden (IDW)
A Treasury of XXth Century Murder: The Lindbergh Child, by Rick Geary (NBM)
What It Is
, by Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Graphic Album — New
* Alan's War, by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second)
Paul Goes Fishing, by Michel Rabagliati (Drawn & Quarterly)
Skim, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books)
Swallow Me Whole, by Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
Three Shadows
, by Cyril Pedrosa (First Second)

Best Graphic Album — Reprint
* Berlin Book 2: City of Smoke, by Jason Lutes (Drawn & Quarterly)
Hellboy Library Edition, Vols. 1-2, by Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)
Sam & Max Surfin' the Highway Anniversary Edition HC, by Steve Purcell (Telltale Games)
Skyscrapers of the Midwest, by Joshua W. Cotter (AdHouse)
The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite
, deluxe edition, by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba (Dark Horse)

Best Archival Collection/Project — Strips
* The Complete Little Orphan Annie, by Harold Gray (IDW)
Explainers, by Jules Feiffer (Fantagraphics)
Little Nemo in Slumberland, Many More Splendid Sundays, by Winsor McCay (Sunday Press Books)
* Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles (IDW)
Willie & Joe
, by Bill Mauldin (Fantagraphics)

Best Archival Collection/Project — Comic Books
* Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!, by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)
Creepy Archives, by Various (Dark Horse)
Elektra Omnibus, by Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz (Marvel)
Good-Bye, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn & Quarterly)
Herbie Archives
, by "Sean O'Shea" (Richard E. Hughes) and Ogden Whitney (Dark Horse)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
* Alan's War, by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second)
Gus and His Gang
, by Chris Blain (First Second)
The Last Musketeer, by Jason (Fantagraphics)
The Rabbi's Cat 2, by Joann Sfar (Pantheon)
Tamara Drewe
, by Posy Simmonds (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material — Japan
* Cat Eyed Boy, by Kazuo Umezu (VIZ)
Dororo, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
Naoki Urasawa's Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ)
The Quest for the Missing Girl, by Jiro Taniguchi (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)
, by Inio Asano (VIZ)

Best Writer
* Joe Hill, Lock & Key (IDW)
* J. Michael Straczynski,
Thor, The Twelve (Marvel)
* Mariko Tamaki,
Skim (Groundwood Books)
* Matt Wagner,
Zorro (Dynamite); Madame Xanadu (Vertigo/DC)
* Bill Willingham,
Fables, House of Mystery

Best Writer/Artist
* Rick Geary, A Treasury of XXth Century Murder: The Lindbergh Child (NBM); J. Edgar Hoover (Hill & Wang)
* Emmanuel Guibert, Alan's War (First Second)
* Jason Lutes, Berlin (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Cyril Pedrosa, Three Shadows (First Second)
* Nate Powell, Swallow Me Whole (Top Shelf)
* Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library (Acme)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
* Gabriel Ba, The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)
* Mark Buckingham/Steve Leialoha,
Fables (Vertigo/DC)
* Olivier Coipel/Mark Morales,
Thor (Marvel)
* Guy Davis,
BPRD (Dark Horse)
* Amy Reeder Hadley/Richard Friend,
Madame Xanadu (Vertigo/DC)
* Jillian Tamaki,
(Groundwood Books)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist
* Lynda Barry, What It Is (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Eddie Campbell, The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard (First Second)
* Enrico Casarosa, The Venice Chronicles (Atelier Fio/AdHouse)
* Scott Morse, Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! (Red Window)
* Jill Thompson, Magic Trixie, Magic Trixie Sleeps Over (HarperCollins Children's Books)

Best Cover Artist
* Gabriel Ba, Casanova (Image); The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)
* Jo Chen,
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity (Dark Horse); Runaways (Marvel)
* Amy Reeder Hadley,
Madame Xanadu (Vertigo/DC)
* James Jean,
Fables (Vertigo/DC); The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)
* Matt Wagner,
Zorro (Dynamite); Grendel: Behold the Devil
(Dark Horse)

Best Coloring
* Steve Hamaker, Bone: Ghost Circles, Bone: Treasure Hunters (Scholastic Graphix)
* Trish Mulvihill, Joker (DC), 100 Bullets (Vertigo/DC)
* Val Staples, Criminal, Incognito (Marvel Icon)
* Dave Stewart, Abe Sapien: The Drowning, BPRD, The Goon, Hellboy, Solomon Kane, The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse); Body Bags (Image); Captain America: White (Marvel)
* Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #19 (Acme)

Best Lettering
* Faryl Dalrymple, Omega: The Unknown (Marvel)
* Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules! (Renaissance)
* Scott Morse, Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! (Red Window)
* Nate Powell, Swallow Me Whole (Top Shelf)
* Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #19 (Acme)

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
* Comic Book Resources, produced by Jonah Weiland
* The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, Michael Dean, and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)
* The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon and Jordan Raphael
* Comics Comics, edited by Timothy Hodler and Dan Nadel (PictureBox)

Best Comics-Related Book
* Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front, by Todd DePastino (Norton)
* Brush with Passion: The Art and Life of Dave Stevens, edited by Arnie and Cathy Fenner (Underwood)
* Drawing Words and Writing Pictures, by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden (First Second)
* Kirby: King of Comics, by Mark Evanier (Abrams)
* The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, by David Hajdu (Picador/Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Best Publication Design
* Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*! designed by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)
* Comic Book Tattoo, designed by Tom Muller, art direction by Rantz Hoseley (Image)
* Hellboy Library Editions, designed by Cary Grazzini and Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)
* What It Is, designed by Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Willie and Joe, designed by Jacob Covey (Fantagraphics)

"Drawn to Life" handouts will give artists & animators a hand-up in their careers

Jim Hill reviews Don Hahn's latest book, a two volume set that recreates many of the drawing lessons that Walt Stanchfield gave while he taught master classes at Disney Feature Animation

We're just weeks away from when high schools & colleges around the country hold their graduations. Which means that it's time once again to begin searching for that perfect graduation gift.

Which can sometimes be quite frustrating, especially if you've got a budding artist or animator in the family. So what can you give to someone like that in order to help them acquire all of the skills that they'll actually need to make it in that field?

Copyright 2009 Focal Press. All Right Reserved

Well, thanks to Don Hahn, the answer to that question is now simple. You just hand them both volumes of "Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes" (Focal Press, April 2009). And then let the wisdom of Walt Stanchfield wash over them.

Walt Stanchfield

"And who's Walt Stanchfield?," you ask. That name may not mean much to the general public (not yet, anyway. But just wait ...). But Mr. Stanchfield was revered within the animation community. Especially by those folks who were laboring at Walt Disney Studios in the 1980s & 1990s to bring about the second golden age of feature animation.

And Walt ... Well, he had worked in animation & clean-up at the Studio since 1948. Contributing to every animated feature that Disney made from "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad" right through to "The Great Mouse Detective." And somewhere along the way, Stanchfield began teaching. At least once a month, he'd gather together a group of young animators for a master class in drawing.

Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

Mind you, these weren't like any drawing classes that these animators had had at art school. Walt actually insisted that the people in his class forget all about what they learned in anatomy. "You work at Disney," Stanchfield once famously said. "Which means that you don't have to draw well." But -- that said -- what was always important was the storytelling. Did the pose that you chose actually get across the core emotion of that moment?

And for each of these classes, Walt would prepare a few pages of notes. Which would then be xeroxed and handed out to the people who actually attended Stanchfield's class. Or sometimes they'd be reprinted in Disney Feature Animation's in-house newsletter, the Twilight Bark.

Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

But for years now, those handouts from Walt's drawing classes ... They've been copied time and time again. Passed around the animation community almost as though they were some sort of holy text. Though no one animator or artist seemed to have a complete set of Stanchfield's handouts ... 'til now, anyway.

Working with Walt's widow, Dee, Don Hahn took over 800 pages of Stanchfield's notes and then winnowed them down to two incredibly thick paperbacks. The first of which deals with basic gesture drawing, while the second details how to 'push' the action and create distinct personalities through quick sketches.

Walt & Dee Stanchfield

Perhaps the greatest compliment that one can pay Walt Stanchfield is that -- as you page through "20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes" and look at all of these terrific examples of sketches that, with just a few simple lines, map out an entire character, a specific feeling or emotion -- you may find yourself reaching for a pencil. Seeing if it really is as easy as Walt appears to make it look.

Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

That (to me, anyway) is the sign of a truly fine teacher. That their passion for a particular topic then becomes contagious. Which is why I think that it's terrific that "The Walt Stanchfield Lectures" are now finally available to the public. So it's not just Disney artists and animation insiders who can benefit from this man's wisdom, his passion for life. But now the general public can get to know the man who had such a huge impact the lives & careers of many of the master animators of our age.

Trust me, folks. There's lessons in these two books that even the most experienced pros don't know. Tips on how to bring real clarity, power and entertainment to your drawings with just a few quick lines.

Copyright 2009 Focal Press.jpg here

So if you want to give an artist or animator that you know a real hand-up in their career, share the wisdom of Walt Stanchfield's handouts by gifting them one or more of the "Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes" volumes.

"Iron Man: Armored Adventures" Blasts Off on Nicktoons Network on April 24, 2009

Nickelodeon has announced the April 24, 2009, premiere of Iron Man: Armored Adventures on the Nicktoons network. The first two episodes will be shown back-to-back starting at 7:00 PM, with subsequent episodes airing on Fridays at 7:00 PM (all times Eastern). The new half-hour animated series will follow a teenaged Tony Stark trying to balance his life with his responsibilities as the armored superhero Iron Man. Fans can log in to for a sneak peek of the series and a free digital comic book from Marvel.

Hugh Jackman 'heartbroken' at Wolverine leak

Hugh Jackman, who plays the title character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday that he was "heartbroken" the movie was leaked on the Internet a month before its official release, the Reuters news service reported.

Speaking at the start of a world tour to promote Wolverine, Jackman unveiled 20 minutes of footage on Cockatoo Island in the middle of Sydney Harbour, where some of the film was shot.

"Jumped from chopper, arrived to work via flying fox and [apologized] to AUS [Australian] media for Opera House slip up," Jackman wrote on the social networking service Twitter.

The Sydney-born actor was referring to a message, or tweet, sent out on his new Twitter account on Monday in which he mistakenly called the Sydney Opera House the Opera Center.

Jackman, who not only stars in the movie but also produced it via his company Seed Productions, said he was upset for everyone involved in the movie that an unfinished version was posted online last week, almost a month before its launch.

"It's a serious crime and there's no doubt it's very disappointing—I was heartbroken by it," Jackman told a news conference widely reported by the Australian media. "Obviously people are seeing an unfinished film. It's like a Ferrari without a paint job."

Jackman added: "The FBI are onto it, and they're taking it very, very seriously."

X-Men Origins: Wolverine opens to the public in Australia on April 30 and in the United States on May 1.

Sony to adapt Shadow of the Colossus game to film

Sony will adapt the popular PlayStation 2 video game Shadow of the Colossus into a big-screen action movie, with Justin Marks penning the screenplay and Kevin Misher in negotiations to produce, Variety reported.

, which bowed exclusively on the PlayStation 2 in 2005, revolves around a man named Wander who must travel across a cursed wasteland and defeat 16 creatures, known as the colossi, in order to restore the life of a girl.

The movie will build on the video game's fantasy setting of a solitary world with few characters other than the 16 enemies.

Colossus is the latest high-profile project for Marks, who is writing the redo of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo at Disney, with McG attached to direct.

Get a sneak peek at the title character from SCI FI's The Phantom

SCIFI Wire has an exclusive look at concept art from SCI FI Channel's upcoming movie event The Phantom, which depicts the proposed costume for the title character. You can see more after the jump.

The Phantom stars Ryan Carnes (Desperate Housewives, Doctor Who) as the title hero and as his alter ego, Chris Walker, in this re-imagined version of the classic comic strip, which has been updated to the present day.

In the two-night, four-hour event, Isabella Rossellini guest-stars as the villainous Lithia, the head of an experimental mind-control program. Also starring are Cameron Goodman as Chris Walker's love interest, Renny, and Sandrine Holt (24) as the Phantom's trusted advisor, Guran.

Here's how Muse Entertainment describes the Phantom's suit: "The Phantom's body suit is woven of a high-tech, nano-matrix, dark purple fabric, which is pliable, soft and also glitters with a dark metallic sheen. The fabric is a layered micro-weave of Kevlar, Twaron and Heracron fibers, skinned with a titanium-ceramic alloy neurosymbioticmesh, resistant to heat, bladed weapons, falls, impacts and small-arms fire.

"The nano-matrix fabric actually receives and amplifies intra-muscular nerve transmissions from the person wearing the suit to affect its density and movement—similar to modern bio-electronic prosthetics. Like an insect's exoskeleton, the mesh amplifies by a factor of 2.5 times the Phantom's normal output.

"The Phantom's ballistic vest and cowl helmet/mask are reinforced with contoured Chobham armor plates and wired for cellular and radio communication. The Phantom also wears black fatigues, and his purple and black boots are similar to sticky-soled rock-climbing shoes."

A favorite costumed hero for more than six decades, the Phantom relies on his wits, physical strength and skill with weapons over superhuman powers. And that suit.

Production began in Montreal under director Paolo Barzman (The Last Templar). The Phantom is slated to air in 2010 and is produced by Muse Entertainment.

No comments: