The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat. The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat (1974) was an animated feature sequel to the popular Fritz the Cat (1972). It was directed by former animator Robert Taylor and was entered into the 1974 Cannes Film Festival. The title of the film refers to Fritz dreaming of the many ways his life might have turned out differently.
In a 2008 interview, Ralph Bakshi was asked about what artist Robert Crumb thought of the sequel since the underground cartoonist had publicly commented on how much he disliked Bakshi’s original feature.
Bakshi replied, “He didn’t bother to discuss the Nine Live of Fritz the Cat. He would have to say, ‘Well, Ralph did do a better picture than Nine Lives’. So to Robert Crumb, there is no Nine Lives. It doesn’t exist. The only Fritz the Cat he’s mad at is the one I did, because if he discussed Nine Lives, he’d have to say, “Well, you know, for all of my (complaining) about Ralph, Nine Lives is even worse than what he did.”
Here’s a clip from the film:
Natwick Remembers Clampett. In 1984, animation legend Grim Natwick remembered animation producer and director Bob Clampett. “I never worked with Bob. I didn’t know anyone who didn’t like him. He was pretty young and a clean living man, not the kind you’d expect to be taken so suddenly.
“He was a thoughtful man who threw great New Year’s Eve parties several days before New Year’s so that people could avoid traffic but still get together without interfering with other plans. Often, I’d talk on the phone with him and I always enjoyed it. I knew his daughters and his wife and they are very charming. The many times I came into contact with him, I was close as I would feel I could be to a fellow worker.”
The Nexus That Never Was. Nexus is a comic book series created in 1981 by writer Mike Baron and artist Steve Rude about a character who has extraordinary powers given to him by an alien entity who insists he use them to kill mass murderers.
Rude, a fan of animation, wanted to see his creation transferred to animation even if he had to do it himself. In an interview, Rude stated, “I began working on the animation in 1988 and by 1991, I had a short, amateur film, produced by me and my friends. It was very good for people with little or no animation experience, and paved the way for the professionally produced promo of 2004.”
The first amateur version was done in traditional cel animation while the DVD promo that was first distributed and sold at the San Diego Comic Convention in 2004 used computer technology and the assistance of some professional animators from well-known studios. Rude financed the production of the animation sampler through eBay auctions of his own original comic book artwork, doing commission drawings, pre-sales of the final DVD and even outright donations.
He had hoped the sampler would generate interest for a full length professional production. Rude had a development deal at Hanna-Barbera for the “Nexus” project in 1994 but changes in corporate personnel resulted in the project being dropped.
The Sound of Fast Footwork. Sound designer Randy Thom won an Oscar for his work on sound editing on the Pixar animated feature The Incredibles. How did he make the running sounds for the character of Dash? “Normally, footsteps are handled pretty much exclusively by the foley department,” stated Thom in a February 27, 2005 Los Angeles Times interview. “But…there was no way that they could move their feet as fast as Dash. So we used our hands. We recorded Dash’s footsteps as fast as we could perform them. Then we electronically sped them up by a factor of four, which made Dash sound a little like a hummingbird flapping its wings.”
Can’t Believe Everything Animators Say. At the National Cartoonists Society awards presentation in 1992 where Disney’s animated feature “Beauty and the Beast” got the best animation award, animator Glen Keane accepted the award and claimed he had designed Belle after his wife Linda and had modeled the Beast on his brother Jeff. Cartoonist Bil Keane who was responsible for the comic panel Family Circus presented the award to his son.Wally Wood’s WeeHawk. One of my favorite comic book artists was Wally Wood. Wood apparently harbored some personal interest in animation himself and wrote to his friend Richard Pryor (not the comedian but the original comic art collector who produced several portfolios including one featuring Wood’s sexy science fiction artwork): “This may sound wild but I made forty-five seconds of animation on 35mm color film last week. I’m going to do an animated cartoon. I’m going to spend all my spare time for the next year in making some footage. And then see if we can get some backing.”
The project Wood was working on was a concept he had previously pitched to animation studios.
Before he was ten years old, he had conceived of a project known as “King of the World” and later re-titled “The Wizard King”. Wood had immersed himself in Scandinavian folklore and was deeply influenced by the works of Tolkien, in particular The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Originally, he had planned the project as a fantasy comic book but couldn’t interest a publisher in it.
In the mid-1960s, he began to develop the project as an animated cartoon. “Then came Terrytoons where I wrote a story (no money) for a proposed television show I called ‘Wee Hawk’ and did some presentation drawings which they paid for…and then Terrytoons folded. I then went to Paramount, wrote a script, this one I got paid for, and did some presentation drawings…and then Paramount animation folded,” stated Wood in an interview.
Several presentation drawings still exist and they show a young hero who is more human in appearance than Wood’s Odkin character who appeared in Wood’s fanzine Witzend but in similar story situations accompanied by an older, white mustached companion and a Wood creature with a scruff of hair on top confronting some fantasy menaces.
Wood later complained that many of his characters like “Wee Hawk” and concepts for his animated project were “borrowed” without permission by animation producer Ralph Bakshi for his animated film, Wizards (1977). Bakshi had been working at both Terrytoons and Paramount when Wood had pitched his project.
Bakshi had also borrowed character design and concepts from artist Vaughn Bode as well for the final film.