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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I Sell Out in L.A.

PREPARE TO BOARD! sold out at the Van Eaton Gallery signing. And yes, there were more than two people there buying books...more like two hundred!
35 copies of my book sold well before the end of the event and I was therefore able to do a little socializing, or would have been able to if I wasn't horribly jetlagged and looking rather zombielike. Several people asked me if I was okay, which means I wasn't.
But it was fun. And I got some fine books, shipped 'em home and found them here waiting for me along with the cat. Thanks, Post Office, for preventing me from carrying them!
I and my friend Dean Yeagle were also invited to visit the Film Roman and Walt Disney Feature Animation studios, where we saw fun things that cannot be talked about here. I won't discuss pots and pans this time, but will only state that it was a whirlwind trip...and included meeting a client who is about to produce his first series. I got back late yesterday night and am adjusting to the time, but the Kitty Alarm Clock had me up right when I wanted to be, this morning. Poor Gizmo was 'starved for attention' even though she was petted by the she'll get some extra pats and cuddles to thank her for being a good girl. And since she is also the cover girl on PREPARE TO BOARD, she probably should be getting royalties (this translates to: a new fuzzy mouse.)

More later...still pooped...but PTB is below 10,000 on the list, which I guess means that it is doing well. More importantly, people seem to like it.
The proof will come with the students who are taking the character design class and using it; the assignments, I note, have been working out better and have a shorter learning curve than in previous classes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Book Review

PREPARE TO BOARD! was just favorably reviewed on the Animation World Network's website. You can read the review here:

Busy, Busy, Busy

I had the sort of weekend that I thought I'd said goodbye to when I left New York City. (it's usually a lot quieter here on weekends.) Mike Genz visited from Edinboro University, we saw the ANIMATION SHOW at the Little Theatre, and I got a large quantity of work done on my new film.
What, you did not know I was making a new film? Well, every 25 years I drop whatever I am doing and make one. And the number was up so I had to do it.
Actually, I did make some other short films since YOUR FEETS' TOO BIG but they are no longer viewable on modern media since they were made for CD-I projects at Phillips Sidewalk Studio in the early nineties. Too bad. HELP ME RHONDA was rather good; it only survives now as a pencil test on my reel.
Now the new one had to be made for a class, so I figured that a horrible nightmare that I had last December would do nicely because I could not think of anything else that I could do that interested me as much. The title fluctuated a bit but after some discussions with my father, who thought the original title noisome, I decided I'd go to Shakespeare (whom I'm also studying) and get an idea from him since so many other folks have.
So the film is now called THE OTHER EDEN.
And there is not a single piece of paper in it. All artwork was drawn and modified on the computer.
This is not to say that it looks like it was done there; I dislike the 'computery' look of most Flash animation and wanted a more organic feel. AE7 (after effects to you non geeks out there) gave me some remarkable effects that, when combined, actually resemble colored pencil renderings and pastel sketches. At times I'm using up to seven modifications of the original artwork, and the result is sort of pleasing. I say sort of since I do not yet know if the entire idea is off kilter or not. For one thing it is not funny. It was not meant to be. After all it was based on a nightmare. This nightmare was remarkably precise; I actually saw the shots and cuts that I use in the film. But some things were added after I woke up.
So anyway THE OTHER EDEN will wrap in a few weeks. It's fun being able to turn out 14 feet a day, I can tell you. But it is not character animation and was not meant to be.

Mike Genz liked the look of it so that was one impartial judge. A few students have also seen it and they seem to be impressed. The Upstairs Neighbours also thought it was working. So I reckon that I will enter it in some film festivals afterward. Couldn't hurt.

Speaking of festivals the ANIMATION SHOW played at the Little. I was disappointed with some offerings but pleased with others; my favorites being Joanna Quinn's DREAMS AND DESIRES, which should have won the Oscar this year, and Bill Plympton's THE GUIDE DOG, and a very funny film from France about two idiotic Samurai armies fighting over nothing called VERSUS.
NINE was well made but lacking in story and, I felt, overrated. The others in the show did not register much with me. It was good to see many of our students and some faculty in the audience.

The weather has been sneeting (snow, sleet) and slaining (snowrain) for days now. It's just becoming tiresome, and L.A has never looked so good to me as now. Amusingly enough they are over cast and rainy, too.
Well, we'll be in a bookstore so don't need the sun much.
I'm off to L.A. tomorrow for the book signing, and so will be posting in a few days when I'm back.
Cheers til then.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Johnny Hart, the creator of B.C. and cocreator of THE WIZARD OF ID, died at his drawing board on April 7, 2007.

Hart was one of the funniest cartoonists in the country. He was also absolutely original. Nothing quite like B.C. had ever come down the pike before. Hart based his sardonic cavemen on his friends. It was a pleasure to recognize him as "B.C." when I finally met him at the Reuben Awards. He looked like he'd drawn himself.

The strip was always one of my favorites. "CLAMS GOT LEGS!" "Beware of the Trund", the piano that one played by blowing through a hole in the back, Thor's crazy inventions such as a stone kite, and the hilarious "Dip in Road" will always bring fond memories. And there's also that snake wearing shoes, one on its head, one on its tail.

I didn't even mind that one of his characters was named "The Fat Broad". She WAS.
A very funny Thanksgiving special was animated some years ago. Sadly, we lost the bid to animate the B.C. characters in our animation company. I'd have been delighted to do so.

Johnny Hart was a generous man who donated his time and artwork to many local projects in his hometown of Endicott, New York. He also found time for a while to publish THE FLAMING COCKROACH CLUB, a newsletter just for cartoonists featuring the Fat Broad about to whack a defenseless bug with a flaming club. Hart claimed he originally wanted to open a restaurant with that name; when he was informed that it would be a catastrophe, he made a newsletter instead. If you ever wondered why so many comics, once upon a time, used to feature the same storylines or items (such as a piggy bank) on the same day--well, that was the Club in action.

Hart put his religious convictions in some of the later B.C. strips, which led to some controversies. He was in top form at the end though.
And going at the drawing board is the way all of us would like to go.

Here is a link to a fine article about Mr. Hart at the New York TIMES.

"Do your frogs croak at night?" "No, some of them pass away right here in the sun."
Bye, Johnny. Thanks for the laughs.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

Hello all ! I wish you a healthy, happy and safe Holiday weekend. All the Easter eggs are frozen today in Upstate New York, but we'll have 'em boiled instead.