A short one this week, fellow cartoon researchers, but I promise a longer and more detailed article next week.
But first, thanks to everyone who made a comment last week. If you look through all the comments, it’s really a wonderful list of things that really should be available in better quality — and many that just are not available at all!
I’ve just finished classes for the semester as I write this. It’s been a difficult year in that, on Wednesdays, I’ve had class from 8:30 am all the way until 10 at night, with short breaks between each class. I’m happy to say goodbye to this semester for that reason alone, and I’ll never agree again to doing so many classes in a row, regardless of extenuating circumstance. The good news is that, with this last class, I’ve now hit the 20 year mark teaching animation at the College for Creative Studies. A mile marker!
The winter break is especially long this year – 4 weeks. I’m excited to be able to spend some time on getting projects in order. A major hard drive crash last week left the Flip the Frog project in a bad way, but happily everything is backed up in one place or another for the cleanup. I’m not sure what else I’ve lost on the drive at this point, but hoping it isn’t too damaging to current projects. I hope to write about the precarious state of digital archiving in the coming weeks- much, much harder for the small ‘indy’ companies than for the large archives since resources are so much tighter. I have to wonder what the state of loss will be in the future.
One of the best things about having so many days off is that I can finally wrap up lots of things, semi-uninterrupted. There’s a stack, and I’ll be calling in favors from many friends. I’ll keep you all updated in the coming weeks as things roll along. Two new hires at Thunderbean are doing an excellent job in keeping orders and attacking the orders pile this week.
I’m very much looking forward to a few long standing steps to getting some of these things done. Our own Jerry Beck has lent me some rare films recently that will make their way into both some current projects and special discs. Going to UCLA and looking through the rest of the Comi-Color materials is also high on the list. This is a huge challenge, and I’m recruiting some of the best help I know to look them over with me. Getting a chance to revisit the Famous Studio’s Little Lulu cartoon series is another thing on the list. In more recent months I’ve managed to come across good prints of quite a few of them, and more in the past week. I’m looking forward to finally getting a chance to see the prints as they all get scanned. A visit to New York is also in the cards, with visits to friends and picking up some pretty rare material.
Onto new ‘old’ animation: Jerry Beck used to refer to this style as “Retro-Toons”. There’s no doubt about the eternal appeal of the 1930s cartoon style, the rubber hose limbs, pie-cut eyes, sometimes in black & white or using a limited color palette – and these days the added “film” damage of dirt lines, and maybe splices… It’s been used by filmmakers for decades – from Tezuka’s Broken Down Film to Disney’s recent Get A Horse. Then cometh Cuphead. It’s a full-on “style” now. Here are several recent examples of this “technique” applied to modern advertising.
Progressive Insurance. The animation was done by Passion Pictures in London:
Geico has an ad too – not sure who’s responsibe:
I have to wonder if these were inspired by the success of Cuphead — and I wonder what the future holds in terms of this stylistic influence – a TV series, or a feature film perhaps, in this style?
One more – a new Popeye spot for Bank of America:
Have a good week all — and much more next week!