Search For Treasures

Friday, December 19, 2008

"What If?" History: A Golden Age Termite Terrace Feature

Today my loyal followers, I ask an interesting question. Maybe a pointless question, but it's one I will ask nonetheless.

Could the men and women of Termite Terrace have created a feature film during their Golden Age?

There are arguments for both side in my opinion, and I think they both present a strong case.

Arguments for Why
Reason #1: Disney wasn't producing any big features at the time. They were producing the "package films" at this time. Because of this, Disney would not have been much competition for them.

Reason #2: World War Two made the Warner Brothers characters extremely popular. Warner Brothers had the right attitude for the time: brash and irreverent. Disney cartoons by this time seemed too dull and tame. Bugs Bunny toppled Mickey Mouse as the most popular cartoon character. The attitude of the cartoon studio reflected the general output of the Warner Brothers studio at large. Bugs Bunny has the same sarcastic attitude as Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Cagney.

Reason #3: Termite Terrace produced a plethora of interesting and funny characters that are based in ACTUAL reality.

Reason #4: They could have taken the humor prevalent in their shorts to the features level. A feature from Termite Terrace could have been similar to the work of the Marx Brothers early films or maybe Laurel and Hardy. There could have been asolid situation idea, but was more focused on comedy rather than plot.

Reason #5: The draftsmanship of many of the animators reached new heights during the Golden Age. Great examples include the animation of Hitler in "Russian Rhapsody" or Scribner's animation of Humphrey Bogart in "Bacall to Arms"

However, despite these strengths, there were a lot of reasons working against them and why they couldn't make a film.

Arguments for Why Not
Reason #1: Three words: World War Two

Reason #2: The strength of their characters came from developing them over a period of many cartoons. The Bugs Bunny we know and love was not fully formed, not even by the time of Tex Avery's "A Wild Hare". In a normal animated feature, you have less than 90 minutes to develop a character, and usually the characters aren't as interesting as the ones in the shorts.

Reason #3: Would people have accepted a feature from the same studio who created Bugs Bunny?

Reason #4: With a staff smaller than the one at Disney, to make a feature would have meant that the production of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies would have had to cease for awhile, and do you think that upper-management would have allowed that?

Reason #5: The studio probably wouldn't have promoted the film the way Disney promoted theirs. They didn't have the foresight to see how popular Looney Tunes would become, and hindsight is 20/20.

Reason #6: Budgets would go down in the post-war years

Reason #7: Unlike Disney, Warner Brothers different units didn't have a unified style. There was a house style, but each unit had a different variation of said style
Bob Clampett

Friz Freleng

Chuck Jones

Robert McKimson

Final Verdict: I don't think it would be possible. Unless Termite Terrace had the same resources and funds that Disney had, it just can't be. Oh well, a guy can dream, can't he?

Thanks for listening and Merry Christmas to all.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Barnacle Max the Fleischer

In this edition of my blog, I'm here to discuss the relationship between the popular sea shanty and the dynamic duo of animation, the Fleischer brothers.

Starting out as a bawdy (to say the least) drinking song about the exploits of a fictional sailor, it eventually became a popular song in 1928 when Bix Beiderbecke and Hoagy Carmichael recorded a more toned-down version.

I believe this video contains the Hoagy Carmichael version

In 1930, the Fleischers animation studio decided to use this song as the basis for one of their new Talkartoons, starring Bimbo and his new girlfriend, Miss Betty Boop. Watch for the wonderful Grim Natwick animation up in Betty's apartment.

1930 Talkartoon

Just five years later, Fleischer once again returned to the old sailor tune so he could face the latest Fleischer, Popeye the Sailor. Put those two two together and you get one of my favorite Popeye cartoons.

1935 Popeye cartoon

It makes me wonder why the Fleischers decided to make all those cartoons about the dirty sailor song. Was it simply a lack of story ideas, or did this gruff and dirty tune appeal to the urban sensibilities of the New York studio? I'll leave that to you.

Until Next Time, Boils and Ghouls

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Disney Family Album Vol. 7: Ken Anderson (1909 - 1993)

Here today boils and ghouls, I do my final posting of The Disney Family Album. That mostly has to do with the fact that I can't find anymore. This one is a bit more unique in that it is not about an animator per say, but about a designer, storyman, and architect. Also, he is a native of my birthplace. This man was the reason why One Hundred and One Dalmatians looks so different than any other Disney film. Just look into the tent and you will find... Ken Anderson.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Until next again, my fiendish friends.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Disney Family Album Vol. 6: Marc Davis (1913 - 2000)

Welcome my friends to my den of insanity and trivia. Today, I give you a glimpse of one of the greatest animators/artists to ever have graced the Disney Studios. His draftsmanship matched that of Milt Kahl (although Kahl refused to admit it). He gave Tinkerbell in Peter Pan her spunk, left you in terror with his animation of Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty, and designed some of our favorite attractions at Disneyland, such as the Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Here's Marc Davis.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Until Next Time

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Disney Family Album Vol. 5: Wolfgang Reitherman (1909 - 1985)

Welcome one and all to my inner sanctum. Today, I have another Disney Family Album to give. This time around, it's about a certain member of Disney's "Nine Old Men" who would help guide the studio through it's darkest age. Whether he was successful is best left to the individual's opinion. He may not be a name you recognize, but what he animated certainly arises emotion. He terrified us with his work on Monstro in Pinocchio, brought to tears of laughter with hilarious animation in many Goofy shorts, and showed us why it's a bad idea to mess with dragons with his work in Sleeping Beauty. He later directed such Disney classics as One Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Jungle Book. Here is Wolfgang "Woolie" Reitherman.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Until We Meet Again

Friday, September 5, 2008

Disney Family Album Vol. 4: Eric Larson (1905 - 1988)

Today my loyal peanut gallery, I bring you an episode about an animator who is not as known, but equally important figure in Disney animation. He animated Figaro in Pinocchio, gave the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland his sense of movement, and trained the current generation of animators and directors at Disney. Here is Eric Larson.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Until Next Time Kiddies

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Disney Family Album Vol. 3: Ward Kimball (1914 - 2002)

This time around, I present to you an episode about one of my favorite Disney animators, if not one of my favorite animators in general. He was a true iconoclast in a studio that usually didn't encourage it. He was responsible for The Crows in Dumbo, The Mad Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland, and of course, he gave us that wonderful little insect conscience, Jiminy Cricket. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: Ward Kimball

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Happy Trails

Monday, September 1, 2008

Disney Family Album Vol. 2: Frank (1912 - 2004) and Ollie (1912 - 2008)

Here I present to you a double feature: two episodes of The Disney Family Album for the price of one. These are about the Dynamic Duo of Disney Animation. The ones who brought Bambi and friends to life, not to mention showed us the relationship between a "stupid jungle bum" and his mancub. Here is Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.

Frank Thomas

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Ollie Johnston

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Until We Meet Again

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Disney Family Album Vol. 1: Milt Kahl (1909 - 1987)

Here is an episode of the show Disney Family Album , one that is about one of the studio's greatest animators, Disney's equivalent to Bob McKimson. He is the one responsible for bringing Pinocchio, Shere Khan, and Madame Medusa to life on screen. He was the one the other animators turned to for advice on their work. I hope you enjoy.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Until Next Time

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Defense of Disney's "Alice in Wonderland"

I have heard many criticisms laid against Disney's Alice in Wonderland by many critics, especially animation historians and critics. As some have read in one of my earlier posts, I feel that Alice is one of Disney's greatest triumphs. I shall do my best to defend my opinion.

Criticism #1: Alice is an unsympathetic character and lacks the heart of Snow White or Cinderella

Response: I find Alice to actually to be a bit more sympathetic than the other two Disney heroines. For one thing, Alice is a bit more realistic in her personality. She has her flaws, like how her curiosity overcomes her common sense, or her short temper. This allows her to participate in the story, not just fulfill the a story point. This is what I felt was one of the biggest weaknesses of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Snow White was not a believable, or interesting, character, just a plot device to allow the story to move along. It is my opinion that if you got rid of Snow White and her Prince, you would have a much better movie. In Alice, the title character adds to the film. She is the counterbalance to all of the insanity, and she will often get herself into trouble, such as towards the end when she insulted the Queen of Hearts without being aware that she was shrinking. Alice's inattentiveness to her surroundings puts her danger, her own personality flaws, not that of her wicked stepmother (ooga-booga) or of the other characters.

Criticism #2: Alice in Wonderland is too episodic, it has no real plot to speak of.

Response: I think I'll let Wikipedia answer this one: "Disney's final version of Alice in Wonderland followed in the traditions of his feature films like Fantasia and The Three Caballeros in that Walt Disney intended for the visuals and the music to be the chief source of entertainment, as opposed to a tightly-constructed narrative like Snow White or Cinderella. Indeed, Lewis Carroll's Alice books have no real plot to speak of, and because of the literary complexity of Carroll's work, they are essentially unfilmable. Instead of trying to produce an animated "staged reading" of Carroll's books, Disney chose to focus on their whimsy and fantasy, using Carroll's prose as a beginning, not as an end unto itself."

Criticism #3: The film version contains none of Lewis Carroll's satire

Response: Most of the humor and satire comes from the narrative, not the characters themselves. Now, I'm pretty sure a narrator constantly relating all the events to the audience would be quite annoying after a short while. However, you can find pieces of satire in the film. First off, look at the scenes with the Dodo and Bill the Lizard. It can be as a semi-biting comment on how the aristocracy takes advantage of the working man. However, the shining example is the court scene at the end of the film. What was probably a sardonic take on the Victorian justice system takes on a whole new meaning in the early nineteen-fifties. I don't think I need to say anymore.

That's about all I got. If anyone would like to discuss, just drop me a line.

Until next time

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Disney's Animation Archive

I've found a website that has a lot of treats for Disney fans everywhere. It is called The Disney Animation Archive. It is an unofficial website, but it's filled with so many goodies.

Such special delights include:

Concept Art

Model Sheets:


For more like this, just go here:

Until Next Time

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Art of Jim Steranko's "Talon"

According to The Jim Steranko Website: "Steranko created a barbarian hero for Marvel Comics named Talon. Marvel rejected Steranko's concept and Jim planned to publish Talon on his own. Although that graphic story has yet to materialize, some great drawings were produced"

For more great Steranko artwork, including a great story called The Block , go here:

Until Next Time

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Helen Kane: America's "Boop-Boop-A-Doop" Girl

Helen Kane is, if known at all, is best known for her influence in the creation of an international animation superstar. Caricaturing her likeness, along with Clara Bow, Fleischer animator Grim Natwick created Betty Boop. However, she was an incredible singer and entertainer during the heyday of the flappers. She was on top of the world until the Great Depression. After that, she was relegated to playing in nightclubs until her death in 1966. During the early thirties, Helen Kane sued the Fleischer's for the unfair competition, and I believe copyright infringement, but the judge ruled against her, saying Kane couldn't prove she invented her style of singing. Enjoy.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Little Inspiration

Nothing really special, just a little comedic inspiration from our friends across the pond in Ireland. Now, here they are, straight from Craggy Island: Father Ted and crew.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Until Next Time
Happy Trails

Monday, June 9, 2008

Steve Ditko

Today's post is about a man who I consider to be among the greatest artists of all time, especially among the world of comic books. His work is high up there on one of my greatest influences. Of course, I am referring to the great Steve Ditko. Below is one of the few known existing photographs of the man. He is an intensely private man, refusing to give an official interview since 1966.

One reason he says he doesn't give interviews is because he "wants the work to speak for itself". Among his vast work from the 1950's onward consists of soem of the wildest and most imaginitive characters known to comics, including:

The Question

The Hawk and the Dove

The Creeper

Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts

And of course, everyone's favorite wall-crawler

One of the reasons I love his work so much is because his work has a lot of expressionism. The way he draws his characters makes them seem alive, but he does it in a different way than the way Kirby does it. Kirby does a lot of dramatic posing with his characters, done in a very overly dramatized manner. Ditko brings his characters to life through use of camera angles, moody atmosphere, and wonderful facial expressions. I think it would behoove every comic book artist working today to study his work and learn from him.

One of the things I've always noticed about Ditko's work, especially during his run on Spiderman, was that everybody looked incredibly anxious, often looking like they're just about to have a horrible nervous breakdown. I think that actually fit the Spiderman comic, because, let's face it, a lot of those stories were very depressing. Also, I think it just fit the time period as well. Think about it, it's 1963, we just went through the Cuban Missile Crisis, but we're still living with the fear of nuclear annihilation. I think an artist who could represent those feelings would strike a chord with readers. I think all artists strive for that, striking an emotional core with a reader or viewer.

I may not agree with his politics, but damn it all if he's not one of the greatest artists and storytellers of all.

Here are a few places to find out about this great artist:

Steve Ditko's website (operated by Blake Bell)

The BBC Documentary In Search of Steve Ditko

This documentary includes interviews with comics masters such as Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, John Romita Sr. (his replacement on Spiderman), Marvel editor Joe Quesada, as well as the one and only... Stan "The Man" Lee. I hope you enjoy.

Until next time,

Happy Trails

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My (Hopefully) Respectful Disagreement with Mike Fontanelli

Looking through the blogs that I read constantly, I found a post by John K. about "The Phantom" by Lee Falk and an explanation about why he doesn't like modern superhero comic books. That didn't bother me; what did bother me was Mike Fontanelli's comments that struck me as a bit hypocritical.

Among his comments were and I quote:

Adult males who still read superhero comics are - I'm trying to be diplomatic here - retarded, and in more ways than one.

After a certain age - say, 12 or so - kids are supposed to stop reading comics, and start reading REAL books, WITHOUT staples. Then, hopefully, start dating girls...

Frank Miller made a fortune by cynically appealing to the most backward segment of an already socially and intellectually-retarded segment of American society: ADULT superhero comic book readers, (i.e: "morons")

For all you adult superhero fanboys out there, (are you listening, Colin?) - if you MUST insist on being a retard, at least don't be a retard with delusions of grandeur. Ask your mom to buy you a REAL book!

This strikes me as odd coming from a man who owns and collects childrens toys. Doesn't that send up a few red flags about one's mental maturity. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. I believe that superhero comics can be for anybody. It's all up to the writer and artist to decide what they're product is for. Also, I believe there is no need for anybody to call anybody else a retard. Maybe Mr. Fontanelli should look up the Golden Rule.

However, Mr. Fontanelli does raise good points that comic book writers should look at.

By taking a preposterous concept and making it "darker", he only added a layer of pomposity. As if "moronic" wasn't bad enough, modern superhero comics strive to be moronic AND pretentious!

The old superhero comics didn't have any pretensions. They were fun, old-fashioned escapist entertainment for kids, and the young at heart.

I am finding that many superhero comics writers are trying to be the next Alan Moore or trying to create a new "Dark Knight Returns". The thing that Mr. Fontanelli was missing is that these stories were meant as exploring new territory for superheroes by looking at their sinister aspect, as there always is to any form of fantasy or escapism.

Mr. Fontanelli is always entitled to his opinion, but I just hope he chooses his words more carefully next time. I believe in free speech, but there is a difference between practicing free speech and just being rude.

Until Next Time

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Fall of Modern Civilization (as Evidenced by YouTube)

Today, I wish to talk about a little event that has told me that we are in the decline of modern civilization. This little birdie came from YouTube (who didn't see that one coming?). Now, I was watching videos, when there was a tagline for a video for an artist showing off his drawings. I watched the video, and I felt he had some talent, but he lacked the basic construction to really pull it off. Here's what I posted:

"A nice attempt, but I would work on the artwork. Your work lacks basic construction. "

Here's the reply I got from the director

"It lacks construction because thats the way I want it. Just look at todays best cartoons like Family Guy, The Simpsons, and SouthPark."

I said I pitied him, and he said I shouldn't look at his work if I didn't like it, so I left it alone. Just today, I got this reply from another viewer:

"I don't know what the hell you talking about dude!! Basic Construction?? It is nothing but basic construction but good construction. Just because it isn't tacked with crazy effects and pumped with photoshop doesn't mean it lacks good quality. You have to have alot of guts to down someone else' work. Look at family guy. His isn't pumped with photoshop it's just good quality basic construction work. His work has even been featured in Bodacious mag. How is that bad construction-loser!!"

Here is the video itself so you be the judge of whether I was right or wrong.

See you later

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Theory Corner

Nothing about cartoons today. Today it's about an idea that I came up with one day. It started when I was watching History Channel International with a friend. We were discussing religion and views on the afterlife.

It was then I presented an idea that I had been formulating for a while. I brought up The String Theory, the theory that, among other things, there could be extra dimensions or universes. I then brought up how my astronomy teacher said that this could explain the appearance of ghosts. This got me thinking.

What if we are simply reborn spirits of people from another dimension. It's another form of reincarnation. If a person dies in another dimension, their spirit is placed into a new body in this dimension. It may provide another explanation as to why people who come from normal families go insane. They were insane in their past life.

I know it sounds a little crazy, but that's why it's just an idea. If the String Theory is correct, who knows what we may find.

See you next time

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Happy Birthday to ME!!

Yes you heard it here. It is my birthday today. I am officially nineteen years old today.

My present just got delivered today. My parents got me the the MAD Archives Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Both volumes cover the first twelve issues of MAD (back when it was a comic book). It features wonderful artwork from Early Mad regulars such as:

Jack Davis

Bill Elder

Harvey Kurtzman

John Severin

Wally Wood
and the unmistakable Basil Wolverton

I'll give you a review of these books at a later date.

See Y'all Later
Same Weirdo Time
Same Weirdo Blog

Friday, January 4, 2008

Alice in Wonderland (1951) and its effect on Me

I am here to discuss a film that has helped shape my imagination and my widdle psyche: Disney's animated classic Alice in Wonderland. This is a film I have loved ever since I was a little kid. Along with Fantasia, I would watch this nearly everyday. It just had an entirely different atmosphere than any other Disney I've ever come across (with the exception of The Nightmare Before Christmas). Out of all other Disney films, this is at the top of my list of favorites.

But why this particular film? What makes Alice so special to me that I would place above all else as Disney's greatest film? Well, for starters, it is more visually interesting than many other Disney films. The backgrounds and designs for Wonderland are some of the most fascinating work I have ever seen. You can obviously see the obvious influence of Mary Blair in both the looks and use of color.

Another reason for my praise is the amount of bizarre characters and other creatures in this movie. You can see amazing character designs (if a bit over Disneyfied)

You're never going to see a dog like this in Cinderella. However, you can see the Disney influence in the design in the fact that it has the exact same body as Pluto or maybe Bruno from Cinderella. However, it looks a lot cooler than both of them combined. You can also look at the entire Tulgey Wood scene and see all of the delightful bastard children of Mother Nature. Wonderful designs that have helped warp many people's imagination.

Another great aspect of this film was the incredible animation, particularly the scenes supervised by the wonderful Ward Kimball. In other films, it seems like Kimball is being held back and not allowed to be as crazy and innovative as he wanted to be. In this film, Lewis Carroll's world of illogical logic and satire allowed the puckish Kimball to let loose his amazing imagination. Take for example the wonderful "Tea Party" scene. The whole scene reeks of unadulterated hilarity. I just have to remember the line "There's only one way to stop a MAD WATCH!" and I start giggling like a little school girl.

Another reason why this is at the top of my list is because it doesn't contain what John K. calls "fake pathos", or it contains much less than other Disney films. It was a much more different type of story than "Snow White" or "Cinderella". It's not about good and evil, but the illogic of our world. I think that's why Walt considered it a failure. It was a story he didn't quite understand.

However, I have to say that my top reason for loving this movie so much is the title heroine. To me, she was the most human of the early Disney heroines. She wasn't a naive dimbulb like Snow White who just wished for things to happen. She made things happen, even if her curiosity did get her into more trouble than anticipated. She didn't need someone to rescue her. The type of story she got into allowed her to be an independent person. I always admired that since the women in my life were never demure or weak. They made things happen. Alice had a more defined personality than previous heroines.

Now, this is a little confession that I'm about to make. I had, or have a bit of an attraction to the character. She had such a cute design. Her blonde hair and blue eyes make me swoon (No, I'm not a Nazi). I had a storybook of this movie when I was a kid and I would just stare at pictures for hours, admiring her beauty. You can call me sick, but I'm not the only one. Just look at people on DeviantArt and you'll see what I mean. Besides, other people have had crushes on cartoon characters (Uncle Eddie, I'm talking to you about you and Ms. Olive Oyl).

One of the things that also attracted me to this character was her voice. Kathryn Beaumont did such a fantastic job. She fits the part of the proper, well-mannered English girl. She really nailed it with a bullseye.

This is the only way I've ever known Alice. I didn't read the book until just last year. The Disney Alice is the one that has implanted into my mind, for better or worse.

By the way, I have to mention his excellent comic I've found on the internet called "When Curiosity Meets Insanity" by Brianna Garcia and Rain. It deals with a romance between a grown up Disney Alice and the Mad Hatter (physically based on the one from Disneyland). It features a lot of other Disney characters. Excellent artwork and snappy writing make it a must-read. Check it out.

See y'all later

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