Today, a small preview of some of the cool pre-production art created for the upcoming Dreamworks feature Mr. Peabody and Sherman. I was asked to write the text for the “Art of” book and was delighted do so. The book goes on sale next month, but of course you can pre-order it now on Amazon.
The book begins with this incredible wrap-around painting created by artist Tim Lamb – click the image below to enlarge.
I’ve said this often before – whether you like the final film or not, its undeniable that the talent at Dreamworks is first rate. And the “art of” books are always well worth owning because visuals are so much fun and display such incredible craft.
Below: A cast photo of the “Art-of” book – Left to Right, Jerry Beck (Written by), actor Ty Burrell (Forward by), director Rob Minkoff (Afterword by) and Jay’s daughter, Tiffany Ward (Preface by).
Now – I’d like to address an issue that comes up every time a new version of a classic cartoon property is revived. From The Looney Tunes Show to Yogi Bear, Alvin and the Chipmunks and How The Grinch Stole Christmas…
For the record, I’m in favor of revivals of classic cartoon characters. “Classic Cartoon Characters”, in my opinion, is any character created over 20 years ago. Just as I feel its a crime when classic theatrical cartoon shorts are held “hostage” by their copyright owners who let their libraries rot in the vaults, with no restoration nor access by the general public to view them – I feel its equally criminal for once-famous “star” characters to become forgotten due to the neglect of their corporate owners.
The Fox and Crow, Little Lulu, and Tom Terrific (to name a few) are virtually unknown to most people today. That shouldn’t be. Also on the “endangered species” list is Universal’s Woody Woodpecker (and Lantz library), Viacom’s Mighty Mouse (and the Terrytoon library), Paramount’s Fleischer cartoons and MGM’s Harman-Ising and Tex Avery cartoons (these last two have a chance, thanks to Warner Archives).
There are right ways and wrong ways to keep classic characters alive. Sometimes its right to slavishly try to mimic the original character design and style (Get A Horse!), sometimes its right to “reinvent” the character for today’s tastes (Bakshi/John K’s “Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures“).
There are some who cannot accept a new film, show or program with a revived character because it doesn’t live up to original show, the original creators style or your selective memory of how its supposed to be. I get that. That new Yogi Bear sucked no matter how you slice it. Those Alvin and the Chipmunk revivals are an insult to the intelligence – and that Underdog movie was just plain crap.
But as far as I’m concerned, anything to keep these characters alive is a relatively good thing. No CG remake is going to negate the genius of the original cartoons. And that’s why I’m incredibly optimistic about Dreamworks’ acquisition of Classic Media. They have the talent in-house – and an enthusiasm – to be true to the characters they now own, which include Mr. Magoo, Casper, Gumby, and hundreds more. Mr. Peabody and Sherman is their first go at such a revival – and, as you’ll see in the book, there was a passion to get it right. I ask the nay-sayers to give it chance. No one can replace Jay Ward and Bill Scott – but I want their work to live forever. And believe me Dreamworks (now that they have a stake in it), and all the creatives at the studio, want that too.