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Posts Tagged ‘Animation

“All art is propaganda”*…


Between 1943 and 1945, with the help of Warner Bros.’ finest animators, the U.S. Army produced a series of 27 propaganda cartoons depicting the calamitous adventures of Private Snafu.

Read the extraordinary story (replete with a cameo by Bugs Bunny) and learn how one of the cartoons inadvertently let slip one of the war’s greatest secrets– “Ignorant Armies: Private Snafu Goes to War.”

And watch the Private Snafu films here.

* Upton Sinclair


As we stand to attention, we might recall that it was on this date in 1947 that Stan Musial tied Ty Cobb’s record for the most five-hit games in a season (four)– and he did it in style, hitting successfully on the first pitches from five different pitchers.

“How good was Stan Musial? He was good enough to take your breath away.”
— Vin Scully


Written by LW

September 22, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Animation is not the art of drawings that move but the art of movements that are drawn”*…


Via Io9, news of your correspondent’s alma mater, Colossal Pictures

We don’t know just how long MTV has been releasing old Liquid TV shorts on their website, but what we do know is that this news is pure, uncut awesome. After years of watching crummy youtubes of the most f-ed up cartoons and shorts ever made, MTV has finally decided to release all the contents of Liquid Television online. Which means, all the Psycho-Grams and Winter Steele episodes you want!

So many wonderful things came from this late night animation and puppet variety show: Æon Flux, Beavis and Butt-Head, heaps of They Might Be Giants music videos, and more. It was just solid crazy-person programming…

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Hours of fun at Liquid Television.

* Norman McLaren


As we color outside the lines, we might recall that it was on this date in 1929 that Walt Disney released El Terrible Toreador, the second cartoon (following the epic The Skeleton Dance) in the Silly Symphony series (which, unlike Disney’s other consistently character-themed series, like Mickey Mouse, had no continuing characters; rather they were whimsical accompaniments to pieces of music– in the case of El Terrible Toreador, a snatch of Carmen).

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Written by LW

September 7, 2015 at 1:01 am

“The older I get, the more individuality I find in animals and the less I find in humans”*…


Long-time readers will know of your correspondent’s deep affection and respect for Chuck Jones, who once observed that “the name ‘Chuck Jones,’ according to my uncle, limited my choice of profession to second baseman or cartoonist.”  Happily for the world, he chose the pen over the bat.

The (wonderfully appropriately user-named) Every Frame a Painting has done us all a tremendous service:

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If you grew up watching Looney Tunes, then you know Chuck Jones, one of all-time masters of visual comedy. Normally I would talk about his ingenious framing and timing, but not today. Instead, I’d like to explore the evolution of his sensibilities as an artist. To see the names of the films, press the CC button and select “Movie Titles.”

* Charles Martin “Chuck” Jones


As we agree that this is in fact “what’s up, Doc,” we might send send beautifully-collaged birthday greetings to another animation giant, Evelyn Lambart; she was born on this date in 1914.  Lambart joined the National Film Board of Canada in 1942– their first female animator; one of the few women in the world working even as a co-director in any form of cinema during the 1940s and ’50s, she made beautiful films– and animation history– both as a co-director with the great Norman McLaren and on her own.

Read more of her story, and see several of her works here.



Written by LW

July 23, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak”*…


The Boeing airplane factory in Seattle got the “fake neighborhood” treatment. The women shown are walking on a suburban landscape made of chicken wire and planks, positioned over the roof of the factory. Underneath, B-17s were being built for the war effort.

Military forces have used camouflage of one sort or another since antiquity.  But with the advent of the airplane and the rise of aerial warfare, camouflage (to hide targets) and decoys (to draw fire away from real targets or to intimidate the enemy) became bigger and bigger: “Massive Wartime Decoys and Camouflage Operations.”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War


As we misdirect, we might send convincingly animated birthday greetings to Raymond Frederick “Ray” Harryhausen; he was born on this date in 1920.  A visual effects pioneer, he became a writer and producer of films featuring the stop-motion model animation technique, “Dynamation,” that he developed.  He is probably best remembered for the animation in Mighty Joe Young (1949, with his mentor, King Kong animator Willis H. O’Brien), which won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects; The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958, his first color film); and Jason and the Argonauts (1963, which featured an amazing sword fight between Jason and seven skeleton warriors).  His last film was Clash of the Titans (1981).

Harryhausen and one of the skeleton warriors from Jason and the Argonauts



Written by LW

June 29, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined”*…


Over the last 40 years or so, the Topps Chewing Gum Company has published “Wacky Packages”– stickers featuring parodies of well-known consumer product packaging.  Predictably. many marketers objected to this kind of treatment and sent “cease and desist” letters, shortening the lives of some of the parodies, which are now harder to find.

But the rarest of all are the “Lost Wackys,” titles that were never released at all (often because, on receiving a C&D letter, Topps would often pull all of the manufacturers packages, some of those, like the one below, before they were finished).

Wander the wonderful world of Lost Wackys.

* Toni Morrison, Beloved


As we go faux logo, we might send squawky birthday greetings to Donald Duck; “born” (in that he made his first screen appearance) on this date in 1934 in “The Wise Little Hen.”

Donald in “The Wise Little Hen”




Written by LW

June 9, 2015 at 1:01 am

“What exactly is postmodernism, except modernism without the anxiety?”*…


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Wonderful “vintage” covers of MIA, Radiohead, Coolio, Lady Gaga, Elvis, and more at Scott Bradlee‘s Postmodern Jukebox.

* Jonathan Lethem


As we shed pump up the PoMo, we might recall that it was on this date in 1928 that Mickey Mouse made his debut.  Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks tested their new character in a silent black-and-white animated short called “Plane Crazy,” loosely based on Lindbergh’s trans-Atlantic flight and the furor it occasioned.  On that day, the cartoon was screened for distributors…  all of whom passed.  Later that year, Disney released Mickey’s first sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie– which was, of course, an enormous success.  Following two more Mickey vehicles (The Gallopin’ Gaucho, and The Barn Dance), Plane Crazy was tracked and released as a sound cartoon on March 17, 1929.

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Written by LW

May 15, 2015 at 1:01 am

“My attitude is never to be satisfied, never enough, never”*…


Duke Ellington eating dinner with his wife, Bea Ellington, and a friend (source: Library of Congress)


While Duke Ellington is rightly revered as the extraordinary musician and composer that he was, he was known among his friends almost as prominently for his appetites.  As frequent sideman Tricky Sam Nanton said, “he’s a genius, all right, but Jesus, how he eats!”

Ellington was happy to share his gourmand enthusiasms.  In a 1944 interview (recounted in Lapham’s Quarterly) he reminisces…

There’s a place in Chicago, the Southway Hotel, that’s got the best cinnamon rolls and the best filet mignon in the world. Then there’s Ivy Anderson’s chicken shack in Los Angeles, where they have hot biscuits with honey and very fine chicken-liver omelets. In New Orleans there’s gumbo filé. I like it so well that I always take a pail of it out with me when I leave. In New York I send over to the Turf Restaurant at Forty-ninth and Broadway a couple of times a week to get their broiled lamb chops. I guess I’m a little freakish with lamb chops. I prefer to eat them in the dressing room, where I have plenty of room and can really let myself go. In Washington, at Harrison’s, they have deviled crab and Virginia ham. They’re terrific things. On the Île-de-France, when we went to Europe, they had the best crêpes Suzette in the world, and it took a dozen at a time to satisfy me. The Café Royal, in the Hague, has the best hors d’oeuvres in the world—eighty-five different kinds, and it takes a long time to eat some of each. There’s a place in Paris that has the best octopus soup. And oh, my, the smorgasbord in Sweden! At Old Orchard Beach, Maine, I got the reputation of eating more hot dogs than any man in America. A Mrs. Wagner there makes a toasted bun that’s the best of its kind in America. She has a toasted bun, then a slice of onion, then a hamburger, then a tomato, then melted cheese, then another hamburger, then a slice of onion, more cheese, more tomato, and then the other side of the bun. Her hot dogs have two dogs to a bun. I ate thirty-two one night…

More gustatory goodness in “Duke Ellington’s Diet“; and for a bonus treat, read this 1944 New Yorker profile of Ellington.

* Duke Ellington


As we Take the A Train, we might recall that it was on this date in 1937 that the first animated-cartoon electric sign display in the U.S. was lit by its designer, Douglas Leigh, on the front of a building on Broadway in Times Square.  It used 2,000 bulbs, and its four-minute show included a cavorting horse a ball tossing cats.  Leigh, who went on to design such famous billboards as the Eight O’Clock Coffee sign (with a coffee pot that was, literally, steaming) and the Camel Cigarette sign (that blew smoke rings), became know as “The Man Who Lit Up New York.”  While his signs are now gone, his lighting of the Empire State Building (Leigh was also a pioneer in the illumination of city skylines and buildings) survives; and his large illuminated snowflake is still hung at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street every holiday season.

Douglas Leigh and his Times Square



Written by LW

April 28, 2015 at 1:01 am


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