Monthly Archives: November 2011

Little Mermaid” animator Arland Barron dead at 62

Arland Barron

Arland Bar­ron

Ani­ma­tor and model designer Arland Bar­ron, who worked on the Dis­ney fea­ture films The Lit­tle Mer­maid (1989) and Beauty and the Beast (1991), died of pul­monary fibro­sis Sep­tem­ber 22, one day after his 62nd birthday.

From 1975 to 2003, he worked for Odyssey, Lion’s Den, Fil­ma­tion, Aurora, Hype­r­ion and Warner Bros., as well as Disney.

Bar­ron was an ani­ma­tor on the the­atri­cal fea­ture films BraveS­tarr: The Leg­end (1988) and Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003). An assis­tant ani­ma­tor on The Secret of NIMH (1982) and Pinoc­chio and the Emperor of the Night (1987), he was an assis­tant ani­ma­tor on the “Lumiere” char­ac­ter in Beauty and the Beast. He was an ani­mat­ing assis­tant on The Lit­tle Mer­maid and a char­ac­ter ani­ma­tor for the 1992 film Bébé’s Kids.

In the­atri­cal shorts, he was an ani­ma­tor on WB’s Lit­tle Go Beep (2000) and an ani­mat­ing assis­tant on Disney’s The Prince and the Pau­per (1990).

Bar­ron ani­mated the Fil­ma­tion TV series The New Adven­tures of Tom and Jerry, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and The Tarzan/Lone Ranger Adven­ture Hour (all 1980); He-Man and the Mas­ters of the Uni­verse (1983); She-Ra: Princess of Power (1985–87); Ghost­busters (1986); and BraveS­tarr (1987–88). He ani­mated the TV-movies Sun­shine Por­cu­pine (1980) and A Christ­mas Spe­cial (1985) as well.

He was a model designer for the TV series Tiny Toon Adven­tures (1992), Ani­ma­ni­acs (1993–94), The Sylvester & Tweety Mys­ter­ies (1995) and Pinky and the Brain (1996), along with the 1995 TV-movie Tiny Toons’ Night Ghoulery.

A Pacific Beach, Cal­i­for­nia res­i­dent, he was born Arland Mack Bar­ron on Sep­tem­ber 21, 1949. He also was an art teacher and car­i­ca­ture artist, as well as a stu­dent of improv and stand-up comedy.

Arland Bar­ron is sur­vived by brother Rod and nephews Andrew, Matthew and Jonathan Arland.

A memo­r­ial ser­vice has been held. If desired, memo­r­ial dona­tions in his name may be made to Pacific Beach Pres­by­ter­ian Church, 1675 Gar­net Avenue, San Diego CA 92109; tel. (858) 273‑9312.

Daffy-The Commando (1943) — Looney Tunes Theatrical Cartoon Series

Daffy-The Commando (1943) - Looney Tunes

Daffy-The Com­mando (1943) — Looney Tunes

CotD: One of the fun­ni­est war car­toons from any stu­dio, “Daffy-The Com­mando” fea­tures Daffy tak­ing on– and beat­ing!- Hitler.

Daffy-The Com­mando (1943) — Looney Tunes The­atri­cal Car­toon Series

Daffy is a com­mando who para­chutes down into the Ger­man trenches to raise hell. Daffy bedev­ils the Ger­man com­man­der, Von Vul­ture, and his side­kick, lit­tle helmet-with-two-feet Schultz, pro­vid­ing plenty of oppor­tu­ni­ties for anti-Nazi jokes along the way.

After work­ing his mis­chief, Daffy tries to escape in a plane, but is sur­rounded by “a mess of Messer­schmidts” which shoot each other out of the sky after Daffy gets out of the way. Von Vul­ture blows Daffy’s plane to bits with a machine gun, and the com­mando is forced to flee on foot.

He hides in a dark tun­nel, which turns out to be the bar­rel of a long-range can­non. Daffy is shot out of it and lands in Berlin, where Adolf Hitler is shrilly harangu­ing a crowd.

Daffy has the honor of clob­ber­ing the Fuhrer him­self with a mallet.

Watch “Daffy-The Com­mando ” on video at Big Car­toon DataBase

Studio Ghibli film retrospective coming to NYC

Studio GhibliGKIDS, a dis­trib­u­tor of award-winning ani­ma­tion for both adults and fam­ily audi­ences, is bring­ing a com­plete ret­ro­spec­tive of films from Japan’s renowned Stu­dio Ghi­bli to the IFC Cen­ter in New York from Fri­day, Decem­ber 16 to Thurs­day, Jan­u­ary 12.

The run will include United States pre­miere the­atri­cal engage­ments for sev­eral titles.

All 15 Stu­dio Ghi­bli fea­ture films pro­duced between 1984 and 2008 will be pre­sented, includ­ing Hayao Miyazaki’s Acad­emy Award-winning Spir­ited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neigh­bor Totoro, Nau­si­caä of the Val­ley of the Wind, Cas­tle in the Sky, Ponyo, Howl’s Mov­ing Cas­tle and Kiki’s Deliv­ery Ser­vice. Films will be shown in both the sub­ti­tled and English-dubbed versions.

GKIDS recently entered into agree­ment with Stu­dio Ghi­bli to han­dle North Amer­i­can the­atri­cal dis­tri­b­u­tion for its library of ani­mated fea­tures. As the first engage­ments announced under the agree­ment, the New York Film Fes­ti­val pre­sented a 25-year anniver­sary screen­ing of Cas­tle in the Sky and 10-year anniver­sary screen­ings of Spir­ited Away. LA County Museum of Art and Film Inde­pen­dent will present these same anniver­sary titles in a spe­cial pre­view screen­ing Sat­ur­day, Novem­ber 26.

Fol­low­ing the IFC Cen­ter engage­ment, the ret­ro­spec­tive will tour major U.S. and Cana­dian mar­kets, includ­ing Los Ange­les, Chicago, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Toronto, Boston, San Fran­cisco, and Seat­tle, through­out the first half of 2012. GKIDS is also plan­ning lim­ited releases of select Stu­dio Ghi­bli titles, many of which have never been released the­atri­cally in the U.S., begin­ning late 2012.

Said GKIDS pres­i­dent Eric Beck­man: “I am both excited and deeply hon­ored to be work­ing with Stu­dio Ghi­bli to bring this amaz­ing slate of films to the­aters across North Amer­ica. I am in con­tin­ual awe of the bril­liance of the ani­ma­tion, the depth and human­ity of the sto­ry­telling, and of the film­mak­ers’ under­stand­ing that even the youngest audi­ences are capa­ble of appre­ci­at­ing all the sub­tlety and nuance that cin­ema has to offer. As Miyazaki has said, ‘Chil­dren under­stand the com­plex­ity and uncer­tainty of things almost with their skin. They can­not be underestimated.’”

The Stu­dio Ghi­bli agree­ment fur­ther solid­i­fies GKIDS posi­tion as a home for award-winning ani­ma­tion. GKIDS began as a spin-off of the New York Inter­na­tional Children’s Film Fes­ti­val and found early suc­cess, secur­ing a Best Ani­mated Fea­ture Oscar nom­i­na­tion for The Secret of Kells in 2010.

GKIDS has two films com­pet­ing in the ani­mated fea­ture cat­e­gory for the upcom­ing Acad­emy Awards: Euro­pean Film Award nom­i­nee A Cat in Paris and Oscar win­ner Fer­nando Trueba’s Chico & Rita, also an EFA nom­i­nee. Chico & Rita is being released under GKIDS’ newly formed LumaFilms ban­ner due to the adult sub­ject mat­ter of the film.

Bil Keane, creator of “Family Circus,” dies at 89

Bil Keane

Bil Keane

Bil Keane, cre­ator of the endur­ing — and endear­ing — one-panel comic strip Fam­ily Cir­cus, died Tues­day. He was 89.

A spokes­woman for King Fea­tures Syn­di­cate, the comic strip’s dis­trib­u­tor, would not say where he died. He had a home in Par­adise Val­ley, near Phoenix, Arizona.

Keane cre­ated the NBC car­toon spe­cials A Spe­cial Valen­tine With The Fam­ily Cir­cus (1978), A Fam­ily Cir­cus Christ­mas (1979) and A Fam­ily Cir­cus Easter (1982), which were pro­duced by Cullen-Kasden Pro­duc­tions and were rat­ings successes.

Keane began draw­ing Fam­ily Cir­cus in Feb­ru­ary 1960. Fea­tur­ing Billy, Jeffy, Dolly, P.J. and their par­ents, it’s now fea­tured in almost 1,500 newspapers.

The very first Fam­ily Cir­cus car­toon showed Mommy sur­rounded by a room­ful of toy clut­ter. She answered the door to a sur­vey per­son who asked, “Any children?”

Con­sis­tency and sim­plic­ity kept the car­toon going, Keane said in a 1995 Asso­ci­ated Press interview.

Keane used ref­er­ences to songs and pop cul­ture movies to keep the strip cur­rent, but mes­sages con­tained in the car­toon never ages. “Not Me” and “Ida Know,” two ghost­like crea­tures, appeared often in the strip as char­ac­ters who were blamed for house­hold calamities.

Born William Aloy­sius Keane in Philadel­phia on Octo­ber 5, 1922, he used the sig­na­ture “Bill Keane” while draw­ing comics in high school. Early in his pro­fes­sional career, how­ever, he omit­ted the sec­ond L from his first name “to be distinctive.”

Keane taught him­self to draw and began car­toon­ing before enter­ing high school. His first pub­lished car­toon appeared on the ama­teur page of the Philadel­phia Daily News on May 21, 1936. While attend­ing North­east Catholic High School, Keane reg­u­larly pub­lished car­toons and illus­tra­tions in the school’s Good News Magazine.

Dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, Keane served in Aus­tralia (where he met his wife, the for­mer Thel Carne) and cre­ated pub­lic­ity art for the The­ater Fis­cal Office of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East. His illus­tra­tions were used to sell life insur­ance to sol­diers and war bonds.

After the war in 1945, Keane started work­ing as a staff artist for the Philadel­phia Bul­letin where, from 1947 to 1961, he drew the Silly Philly Sun­day strip, fea­tur­ing a young Quaker boy based on William Penn.

In 1954, Keane’s first nation­ally syn­di­cated strip, Chan­nel Chuck­les, was intro­duced with the Reg­is­ter and Tri­bune Syn­di­cate. Chan­nel Chuck­les appeared for 22 years.

Keane moved near Phoenix in 1959, where he began to work from home. Find­ing inspi­ra­tion from his young chil­dren and his wife, Keane cre­ated another nation­ally syn­di­cated strip, The Fam­ily Cir­cle, in 1960, which was renamed The Fam­ily Cir­cus a few months later.

In the early strips, the father was named “Steve,” which was later changed to Bill. Baby PJ was intro­duced in August 1962.

Pres­i­dent of the National Car­toon­ists Soci­ety from 1981 to 1983, he was the emcee of the annual NCS awards ban­quet (the Ruebens) for 16 years. The NCS awarded The Fam­ily Cir­cus with the News­pa­per Panel Car­toon award in 1971, 1973 and 1974, and hon­ored Keane with the Elzie Segar Award in 1982.

To say Bil Keane was only quick-witted is like say­ing Olympic super­star Usian Bolt is just ‘sort-of fast,’” recalled Tom Rich­mond, cur­rent pres­i­dent of the NCS. “He was one of the fun­ni­est guys I’d ever met.

Bil was one of the true leg­ends of car­toon­ing. It was a true honor and priv­i­lege to have been able to meet him and get to know him a bit. He will be sorely missed.”

With his own chil­dren grown, Keane began tak­ing inspi­ra­tion from his grandchildren.

He recently said: “If asked when I will retire, I say, ‘Prob­a­bly about 11 o’clock tonight. But, hope­fully, I’ll be back at the ol’ draw­ing board in the morn­ing and happy to be there!’”

In 1998, he became the 10th recip­i­ent of the Ari­zona Her­itage Award, join­ing — among oth­ers — Barry Gold­wa­ter, San­dra Day O’Connor, Mo Udall and Erma Bombeck.

Bil Keane was pre­de­ceased in 2008 by his wife Thelma (“Thel”), the model for the Mommy char­ac­ter in the long-running news­pa­per comic.

Sur­vivors include son Glen, of Santa Clarita, Cal­i­for­nia, a 2D lead ani­ma­tor for Walt Dis­ney Stu­dios (Glen was the super­vis­ing ani­ma­tor for Beast in Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin of Aladdin, among oth­ers); daugh­ter Gayle, of Napa, Cal­i­for­nia, who was also her father’s admin­is­tra­tive assis­tant; son Jeff, of Laguna Hills, Cal­i­for­nia, who col­ored and inked Fam­ily Cir­cus; sons Neal of North­ridge, Cal­i­for­nia and Christo­pher of Dragor, Den­mark; and nine grandchildren.

1001 Rabbit Tales (1983) — Warner Bros. Feature Film

1001 Rabbit Tales (1983) - Warner Bros. Feature Film

1001 Rab­bit Tales (1983) — Warner Bros. Fea­ture Film

CotD: Third in a series of 1980’s Looney Tunes revival films, “1001 Rab­bit Tales” fea­tures Bugs and Daffy com­pet­ing against each other.

1001 Rab­bit Tales (1983) — Warner Bros. Fea­ture Film

Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny are rival sales­man for the “Ram­blin House Pub­lish­ing Com­pany,” and are in fierce com­pe­ti­tion over who can sell the most books. They devise a plan to travel the world to outdo each other– and the laughs pile up with adven­ture along the way, fea­tur­ing clas­sic Warner Broth­ers moments from the past. When Bugs encoun­ters Sul­tan Sam’s bratty Prince Abad­aba, he’s forced to read him 1,001 tales to save his skin.

Watch “1001 Rab­bit Tales ” on video at Big Car­toon DataBase

I Say, I Say Son!” Foghorn Leghorn Creator’s Son to Speak at ToonSeum

Robert McKimson Jr.

Robert McKim­son Jr.

The Toon­Seum pulls back the cur­tain to take a behind the scenes of Looney Tunes through the eyes of Robert McKim­son Jr. Robert is the son of famed Warner Bros. car­toon direc­tor and ani­ma­tor Bob and the nephew of ani­ma­tors Chuck and Tom McKim­son. Robert will share the story of his ani­mated fam­ily through pic­tures and remem­brances of their work and the leg­endary char­ac­ters they created.

Those char­ac­ters are a who’s who of Warner Bros. ani­ma­tion includ­ing pop­u­lar char­ac­ters like Foghorn Leghorn, Tas­man­ian Devil and many more. This pre­sen­ta­tion offers a rare glimpse at the lives and work of some of the most impor­tant ani­ma­tors of ani­ma­tions golden age.

Roberts new book “I Say, I Say Son.” Will be released in 2012.

Robert will speak at the Toon­Seum on Sat­ur­day Novem­ber 26th, at 6pm. Recep­tion and view­ing of “Over­ture: Behind the Scenes of Looney Tunes” exhi­bi­tion will follow.

Admis­sion is $5 at
Mem­bers are free.
Online reser­va­tions are recommended.

Robert McKim­son (1910–1977) was an ani­ma­tor and direc­tor who is most known for his work at Warner Bros. on the Looney Tunes series. His “Hill­billy Hare” is gen­er­ally regarded as a clas­sic out­ing for Bugs Bunny.

McKim­son was an ani­ma­tor at Ter­mite Ter­race from almost the begin­ning, and had a knack for detail. For an exam­ple of his work, see the start of “What’s Cookin’, Doc?” when Bugs per­forms all the celebrity imper­son­ations. He also was one of the ani­ma­tors on the clas­sic short “A Corny Con­certo” directed by Bob Clam­pett. There’s a pro­fes­sion­al­ism to the ani­ma­tion, and the grace­ful move­ment empha­sizes Bugs’s like­abil­ity. He also drew the defin­i­tive Bugs Bunny model sheet in 1943 (which iron­i­cally he didn’t use him­self when he began direct­ing; see below). McKimson’s ver­sions of the clas­sic Warn­ers char­ac­ters gen­er­ally seem rounder and fat­ter than most of the other direc­tors’ (though it was Bob Clam­pett who intro­duced the infa­mous “Fat Elmer”), with rather small eyes his char­ac­ters have a ten­dency to peer out through half-closed eye­lids, at least in his ear­lier period.

Blow me down: SPA hires writers for 3D Popeye film

Sony Pictures Animation

Sony Pic­tures Animation

Sony Pic­tures Ani­ma­tion has set screen­writ­ers Jay Sch­er­ick and David Ronn to write the screen­play for an all-new Pop­eye ani­mated fea­ture, based on the iconic char­ac­ters of comic strip and car­toon fame, the stu­dio announced Thursday.

Pop­eye is the sec­ond project for Sch­er­ick and Ronn with Sony Pic­tures Ani­ma­tion fol­low­ing their suc­cess with this summer’s block­buster The Smurfs, which has grossed more than $550 mil­lion world­wide since its July 29 open­ing. SPA and Arad Pro­duc­tions are pro­duc­ing the stereo­scopic 3D ani­mated feature.

Sch­er­ick and Ronn have a remark­able tal­ent in re-energizing beloved char­ac­ters,” said Sony Pic­tures Dig­i­tal Pro­duc­tions pres­i­dent Bob Osher. “As they demon­strated with The Smurfs, they embrace the iconic char­ac­ter­is­tics of these time­less char­ac­ters and craft a story that really engages movie­go­ers today.”

We’re thrilled that Jay and Dave are help­ing us rein­tro­duce Pop­eye to a new gen­er­a­tion,” com­mented Michelle Raimo Kouy­ate, pres­i­dent of pro­duc­tion for Sony Pic­tures Ani­ma­tion. “Their take on the world of Pop­eye has just the right blend of com­edy, adven­ture and heart — all the ele­ments that made a great ani­mated film.”

Pop­eye has been my child­hood favorite char­ac­ter,” said pro­ducer Avi Arad. “To me, he was always the every­day man who gets spe­cial pow­ers and actu­ally becomes the first super­hero in the best mean­ing of the word. When Scott Sassa called, Ari and I were beyond excited to be work­ing with Jay Sch­er­ick and David Ronn and Sony Pic­tures Ani­ma­tion to bring this iconic char­ac­ter to the big screen in glo­ri­ous stereo­scopic 3D. We enjoy work­ing with the Sony Pic­tures Ani­ma­tion team and with Rocky and com­pany from Hearst Pub­lish­ing. I can­not wait to go sailing!”

Last spring, Sch­er­ick and Ronn began work on the sequel to The Smurfs. They also wrote the orig­i­nal script for the upcom­ing Bay­watch adap­ta­tion for Para­mount, and the pair is cur­rently work­ing on a com­edy pilot for ABC.

Sch­er­ick and Ronn have writ­ten together since they met when they both worked for a New York-based cor­po­rate bar­ter­ing com­pany. From a staff writ­ing posi­tion at NBC, the team segued into three years on Spin City, where they served as writer/producers.

Sony Pic­tures Ani­ma­tion is sched­ul­ing the fam­ily com­edy Hotel Tran­syl­va­nia for release in the fall of 2012. The divi­sion is also in pro­duc­tion with Aard­man Ani­ma­tions on two fea­ture films: the CG-animated fam­ily com­edy Arthur Christ­mas (3D), in the­aters this month, and the stop-frame ani­mated high-seas adven­ture The Pirates! Band of Mis­fits (3D), due next March.

Bushy Hare (1950) — Looney Tunes Theatrical Cartoon Series

Bushy Hare (1950) - Looney Tunes

Bushy Hare (1950) — Looney Tunes

CotD: In “Bushy Hare” we see the stork deliv­er­ing Bugs again, this time to Oz.

Bushy Hare (1950) — Looney Tunes The­atri­cal Car­toon Series

The stork mixes Bugs and a kan­ga­roo baby up, and mis­tak­enly deliv­ers Bugs to Aus­tralia and the natives therein.

Watch “Bushy Hare ” on video at Big Car­toon DataBase

Miley Cyrus checking into SPA’s Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Tran­syl­va­nia

Miley Cyrus has been hired to join the all-star cast of Sony Pic­ture Animation’s Hotel Tran­syl­va­nia as Dracula’s teenage daugh­ter Mavis.

At the Hotel Tran­syl­va­nia, Dracula’s lav­ish five-stake resort, mon­sters and their fam­i­lies can live it up, free from med­dling from the human world.

Over­pro­tec­tive of his daugh­ter, Drac­ula (voiced by Adam San­dler) fab­ri­cates tales of elab­o­rate dan­gers to dis­suade her adven­tur­ous spirit. As a haven for Mavis, he opens the Hotel Tran­syl­va­nia, where his daugh­ter and some of the world’s most famous mon­sters — Franken­stein and his bride, the Mummy, the Invis­i­ble Man, a fam­ily of were­wolves, and more — can kick back in safety and peace. For Drac, cater­ing to all of these leg­endary mon­sters is no prob­lem — but his world could come crash­ing down when one ordi­nary guy (voiced by Andy Sam­berg) stum­bles on the hotel and takes a shine to Mavis.

Hotel Tran­syl­va­nia is sched­uled for release Sep­tem­ber 21, 2012.

Cyrus’ best-known voice role is that of Penny, the title character’s owner and co-star, in the 2008 Dis­ney fea­ture film Bolt. She was also Yatta (Mudka’s Meat Hut Wait­ress) in the Dis­ney series The Emperor’s New School. In Disney’s The Replace­ments, she was Celebrity Starr in the 2007 episode “The Frog Prince.”

ToonSeum Director to be Artist Guest of Honor in Edmonton Canada



The ToonSeum’s exec­u­tive direc­tor, Joe Wos, will be an inter­na­tional geek ambas­sador of sorts as the “Artist Guest of Hon­our” dur­ing the Pure Spec­u­la­tion Fes­ti­val in Edmon­ton, Alberta, Canada. The fan con­ven­tion will take place Nov. 18–20 at Grant MacE­wan Centre.

Wos is one of sev­eral guests of “hon­our” at the pop­u­lar sci-fi, comics and pop cul­ture festival.

While Wos and the Toon­Seum, Pittsburgh’s museum of comic and car­toon art, have pre­sented work­shops and lec­tures at comic con­ven­tions across the United States, this is his first ven­ture to Canada.

Wos will speak about the his­tory of Sat­ur­day morn­ing ani­ma­tion and sit in on sev­eral pan­els cov­er­ing a vari­ety of top­ics. He also will present his nation­ally acclaimed pro­gram “Once Upon a Toon” — a unique blend of sto­ry­telling and live car­toon illus­tra­tion — and sign prints of his illus­trated mazes, dubbed the world’s most dif­fi­cult by Ripley’s Believe it or Not! museums.

I am deeply hon­ored. Or, hon­oured, as I found out they say in Canada,” Wos said. “As a car­toon­ist and direc­tor of a museum ded­i­cated to car­toons and comics, I think it is impor­tant that the United States and Canada set aside their dif­fer­ences about the met­ric sys­tem and the def­i­n­i­tion of bacon to come together at Pure Spec­u­la­tion and real­ize that no mat­ter where we are from, we are all a bunch of geeks.”

Other (more famous and likely more pop­u­lar) guests include actress Rebecca Staab, actor Will deVry and Jason Kapalka, co-founder and chief game designer of Pop­Cap Games.