Thursday, August 31, 2006


This is the last week of 'Famous People Who Shouldn't Have Had Their Own TV Show' month. We conclude this month with a show that many would argue shouldn't be in this category.

Jackie Chan Adventures

I'll admit that the show was good and the animation style was bold and fun. But I ask, why did it have to be based on Jackie Chan? This show would have been great if it wasn't based on him.

Jackie Chan Adventures debuted on the WB! in 2000 and ran for five whole seasons! It featured Jackie as an Archeologist who lived in San Francisco with his Uncle Chan and niece, Jade. Together they stopped the Black Hand with their magical and ancient artifacts that they have found during their digging.

Jackie Chan appeared before each episode in live action but did not provide the voice for his cartoon counterpart.

Beginning next week is 'Theme Songs by Rock Stars'. And as an introduction I want to share with you the end credits to Jackie Chan Adventures. Warner Brothers originally asked rock group Wheatus (remember Teenage Dirtbag?) to perform one of their songs for the theme for Jackie's show. Wheatus chose one of their more obscure songs, 'Punk Ass Bitch' for the theme but Warner Brothers instead used it as the end credits and used an instrumental track for the theme.

I tried to find a sample of the end credits for you online somewhere but couldn't. If you really want to hear this song you will have to check your local listings or travel to your local video store. Sorry.

Tune in next week for a theme song written by U2's The Edge!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Thanks again to all of you who came out to last night's Animation Night. Alan presented a few of the popular shows from the 80's complete with classic 80s commercials!

Here is what we watched:

Super Mario Bros Super Show - Mario and the Red Baron Koopa
Jem and the Holograms - A Change of Heart
Dungeons and Dragons - In Search of the Dungeon Master

The Super Mario Brothers Super Show aired in 1989 and featured a live action Mario and Luigi who would have adventures in their apartment. They would be visited by a special guest in almost every episode, everyone from Cher to Inspector Gadget to Moon Zappa.

Each episode would feature a Super Mario Brothers Cartoon that was based on the first two video games. On Fridays, the Super Mario Brothers cartoon was replaced with The Legend of Zelda.

Jem and the Holograms was produced by Marvel Productions and followed the adventures of the fictional hit rock group the Holograms which was led by singer, Jem as they toured and fought for the #1 single against their rivals the Misfits.

Each episode featured a 'music video' from each band that was worked into the story. This show was extremely popular with girls as most of the marketing was pink and Barbie.

The first season aired in 1985 and the show lasted for a three seasons.

Dungeons and Dragons was one of the top shows in 1983. It followed the adventures of a group of kids as they went on a rollercoaster ride and ended up in another dimention! Each of the kids was given a 'class' and together they fought monsters and demons.

The series was a hit with kids as Dungeons and Dragons was in the height of its popularity. But 'family groups' that beleived the game was filed with Satanic influence fought hard to bring the show down. They eventually won and the third season was cancelled after only 6 episodes.

This show surprised me. I had never seen it before and was expecting the same sort of quality as Jem and Mario. But the animation was quite a bit better and it dealt with more mature themes. The entire series is coming to DVD in Novemeber. I think I'll pick it up.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Back in 2004, a Netherlands illustrator started a webpage called Everybody Needs To Draw Mickey Once. Artists are encouraged to draw their own version of Mickey and post it on this webpage for everyone to see. So far there are 200 drawings posted and more coming everyday! The one below was drawn by Pieter Hogenbirk.

I want to encourage all you illustrators who read my blog to draw something and submit it. Even if you think you can't draw you should do something.

If you deside to post something let me know and I will feature it here on Animated Toast! I'll do something too. I'll post in the next couple of days.

Also, Don't forget about tonight's animation club meeting! Alan will share with us his favourite show from the 80s!

Monday, August 28, 2006


I am posting some previews for three new superhero shows coming out this fall and one that was canned.

The Fantastic Four:

This show starts this week! And I don't get Cartoon Network! Can someone tape it for me?! See my other post for more information about this show.

Superman and the Legion of Superheroes:

This DC show features a young Superman who is taken to the 30th century by other teen superheroes. The original comic book from the 70s was called Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes but the license for Superboy is in a legal battle right now so the WB is calling him Superman.

*Also check out this clip taken from the San Diego Comicon. The recording is not that great and the sound is terrible but you do get a good glimpse of some superhero action!

Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms:

This show is not based off of the Hellboy movie from a few years back but rather the original Dark Horse comic. The style of this show tries to stay true to the style of Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. IDT Entertainment is creating two 74-minute features that will air on Cartoon Network and then will be sent to DVD in 2007.

Plastic Man:

Plastic Man had a show back in the 70s called The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Hour but his character hasn't seen the light of day on television since! Warner Brothers produced this new Plastic Man series but Cartoon Network didn't pick it up so all that exists is this pilot. Check it out!

*UPDATE* The site that was hosting this video removed it yesterday hours after I posted it here. I can only assume that they were contacted by Warner Brothers. Oh well.

But you can see some Plastic Man sketches by the storyboard artist for the pilot, Stephen DeStefano.

Friday, August 25, 2006


I came across this picture of a new show on Nick Jr called Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! It is a preschool show that teaches kids about life and junk. It premieres this Monday on Nick Jr.

This picture in particular shows Wubbzy, Widget and Walden all dressed up in their finest picnic gear. But to me it looks like they are going to a costume party dressed up as their favourite fast food super heroes.

(I tried to find an ATHF picture with Meatwad in his hotdog form but I couldn't)

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Keeping with our 'Famous People Who Shouldn't have Had Their Own Cartoon' theme for August, this week we have a short lived cartoon starring the great Canadian comedian, John Candy. That cartoon is.......

Camp Candy

Camp Candy was an NBC Saturday morning cartoon produced by DiC Entertainment. It only had 19 episodes that ran during the 1989-1990 season. The show followed the adventures of a camp and its campers as they learned how to care for the environment. The camp was lead by John Candy who also provided the voice for his animated counterpart and appeared before the episode in a live action segment.

This show was quite popular with 5-10 years old. The animation was fine and the stories were trite. But it held its own and those 19 episodes reran for the next few years.

The theme song is sung by John Candy and I would have to say that it is one of the worst theme songs I have ever heard!

Do you agree? Judge for yourself:

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I was sitting in A&W yesterday reading the free local newspaper, 24 Hours, and came across an article about Turner Broadcasting censoring Tom & Jerry cartoons. Later that day a friend emailed me the news as well. Today, every animation fan seems to have their thoughts on the subject posted on their blog. They are not happy.

Here is a clip taken from an article written for The Independent:.

The complaint concerned two episodes of the cartoon called "Texas Tom" and "Tennis Chumps" which were shown repeatedly on Boomerang this year. An unnamed member of the public complained that the scenes were "not appropriate in a cartoon aimed at children". "Texas Tom" was made in 1950 and shows Tom trying to impress a female cat by rolling, lighting and smoking a cigarette with one hand. In "Tennis Chumps", made in 1949, Tom plays a match against his long-term rival Butch, who is seen smoking a large cigar.

Ofcom did not have to uphold or reject the complaint because it was resolved by the company Turner, which holds Boomerang's broadcasting license. Yesterday, Turner Broadcasting said it was voluntarily editing smoking scenes out of more than 1,700 episodes of Hanna-Barbera cartoons, including Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, The Jetsons and The Flintstones.

A spokesman for Turner Broadcasting said: "We recognize that it is not suitable for cartoons aimed at children to portray smoking in a cool context and has additionally pledged to review the entire Hanna-Barbera catalogue to remove scenes that appear to glamorise or encourage smoking."

Everyone is up in arms that Turner would maliciously hack great art like Tom and Jerry. They are upset that the new generation of kids will not know the true Tom and Jerry. These are but a few of the complaints that I have heard.

First of all, if an animation fan wants to view a complete uncut Tom & Jerry cartoon, why are they watching Boomerang? Don't they know that DVDs have made animation fans happy over the past few years by releasing restored and uncut compilations of vintage cartoons? Walt Disney Treasures, Looney Tunes Golden Collections and Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collections are just some of the places you can find these old cartoons. Plus you get special features and there are no commercials!

Second, people need to remember that these cartoons were not made for children! They were shown to an adult audience before feature films in a theatre. There was a lot of content that was not for children including extreme violence (which Tom & Jerry is the worst), sexuality, racism, politics as well as parodies of movies and people of the time.

So if a broadcaster is planning to show these 'adult' cartoons to children then I think that they have a responsibility to make the age appropriate. Kids won't be able to discern the context of the films because most of them haven't been taught about where and when they were made.

But on the flip side, I am tired of classic works like Tom and Jerry and the Flintstones constantly being recut to fit today's overprotective culture. When will the line be drawn? Will Roadrunner/Coyote cartoons be banned for animal cruelty? Will Speedy Gonzales be redubbed to take away his stereotypical Mexican accent? Will Garfield be redrawn slimmer because some complained that he is pro-obesity?

I am okay with this smoking issue because I understand that the broadcasters are trying to be socially aware. But I am getting tired of censorship cutting up classic works.

I will leave you with this short Flintstones commercial for Winston Cigarettes.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


On this day in 1906, Isadore 'Friz' Freleng was born in Kansas City, Missouri. 100 years later he is considered an animation legend. His work has been enjoyed by young and old for the past 75 years! Today we celebrate his 100th birthday if he were alive today.

He started his career as an animator for Walt Disney Pictures working on the pre-Mickey Mouse shorts, mainly, the Alice Comedies and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. There he met Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising who together formed their own company apart from Disney and created Bosko the Ink-Talk Kid. Bosko went on to be Warner Brothers' very first cartoon star.

Friz was very influential in the formation of many of the Looney Tunes characters when he started directing Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes in 1935 with the short I Haven't Got Any Hat which is the first appearance of Porky Pig.

Friz went on to create and develop some of the most well known Looney Tunes characters, including Sylvester and Tweety, Yosemite Sam, Speedy Gonzales and, of course, Porky Pig. He became a great director and set the bar for future animation directors because of his natural sense of comic timing.

He won four Oscars for Best Animated Short, for the films Tweetie Pie (1947), Speedy Gonzales (1955), Knighty Knight Bugs (1958) and Birds Anonymous (1957).

A Porky Pig model sheet from 1936

After Warner Brothers closed their animation department in 1963 Friz and producer Dave DePatie created DePatie-Freleng enterprises which is most notable for creating the opening sequence of the Peter Sellers comedy The Pink Panther. The open credits were so popular that DePatie-Freleng created a whole series based on the cool cat. They won an Oscar for Best Animated Short in 1964 for the short The Pink Phink.

DePatie-Freleng made a slough of Saturday morning television programs throughout the 70s until they sold the company to Marvel Comics in 1981. They created The Pink Panther Show, The Ant and the Aardvark, The Super 6, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Spider-Woman and many, many more.

Friz retired in 1981 and worked as an executive producer for the Looney Tunes movies in the 80s. He died in 1995 of natural causes at the age of 89.

There is no doubt that cartoons would not be the same today without Friz. His work is an inspiration to anyone in the animation industry and he will always be considered one of the 'great masters' of animation.

We miss you Friz. Rest in Peace.

Chuck Jones (left) and Friz Freleng (right)

Monday, August 21, 2006


Remeber that old Megaman cartoon from 1995? I was watching it a few days ago and drew this sketch. Let me know what you think.

Friday, August 18, 2006


A new 2D animated feature film is out next spring. Rob Zombie's The Haunted World of El Superbeasto is currently in production and now their webpage is up and running.

The is no trailer yet but you can get a peek at some of the character designs and plot. Plus, it was just announced that Paul Giamatti will voice Dr. Satan. Other voice actors on the bill include Tom Papa, Brian Rosehn, and Sheri Moon Zombie.

As will most Rob Zombie movies, you can probably expect copious amounts of blood and guts as well as lots of female nudity. Needless to say, it's getting an R-rating.

As happy as I am to see a 2D feature film and as happy as I am to see that it actually looks good. I probably will not be catching this movie in the theatre. DVD perhaps.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Following the popularity of the Beatles cartoon that ended in 1969, ABC decided to take another popular act and bring reinvent them in the world of ink and paint.

This week's "Famous People Who Shouldn't Have Had Their Own Cartoon" theme song goes to...

Jackson 5ive

ABC saw how popular a Beatles cartoon was with the kids so when they were looking for a replacement, Rankin/Bass looked to the current pop sensation the Jackson 5. The show ran from 1971-1973 on ABC and had two seasons.

The Jacksons, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael, were said to have had a lot of input in the show. But anyone who knows the strict and brutal work schedule brought upon by their father knows this probably wasn't the case. The Jacksons don't actually appear in the show except for some stills that you will see in the clip below.

They also didn't provide the voices for their animated counterparts. Craig Grandy was Jackie Jackson, Mike Martinez was Tito Jackson, Joel Cooper was Jermaine Jackson, Edmund Sylvers was Marlon Jackson and Donald Fullilove was Michael Jackson.

Together, the five Jacksons toured around the world playing their music and having strange adventures as well.

The theme song is a special medley of their current top hits, "I Want You Back", "The Love You Save" and "ABC".

This show was not nearly as bad as the ones I've posted in the last few weeks. It had good character designs and paved the way for other African-American cartoons, including Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and Harlem Globetrotters.

I think the worst part of the show was this theme song. Michael Jackson's whiney kid voice is not what I want to wake up to on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, the end of each episode featured another of their hit songs put to a psychedelic animated music video.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Steve Marmel contacted me on myspace wanting me to check his new show, Yin Yang Yo! It's a new show by Disney/Jetix that will debut Labour Day weekend. The producers, Steve Marmel and Bob Boyle, were the heads behind the hit Fairly OddParents and Marmel was also part of the brains behind other goodies like Johnny Bravo and Danny Phantom. So based on this track record I'd say we have another hit. But first impressions lead me to believe otherwise.

The character designs of the two main rabbits are great as they follow the style already familiar to us through shows like Danny Phantom and Fairly OddParents. But the rest of the characters look out of place. While the rabbits are round, all of the other characters are square and box-like. They don't look like they exist in the same world. However, I'm sure that it was intentional.

The main thing that bugs me is that this show will be added to the big pile of Flash animated shows currently overloading the animation market. I just don't like the way Flash makes things move. I'd much rather see these characters in a more traditional style of animation like Powerpuff Girls. Flash animation just seems to be a way for corporate execs to churn out new programs like a giant panda with diarrhea. Flash should stay on the internet and not infiltrate our television sets.

Steve, if you are reading this, I am excited for this show. But I hope the stories are really good because I don't think I'm too impressed with the animation.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Today's post is a look back on the history of animation twenty years ago. What happened in August of 1986? Madonna's Papa Don't Preach was topping the billboard charts while David Cronenberg's The Fly was battling it out with Michael Mann's Manhunter for the box office horror movie blockbuster of the summer. But what was going on in the world of animation?

Flight of the Dragons

Flight of the Dragons was a little known animated featured that was actually released on video in 1982 but was given a theatrical release on August 3, 1986. It was the tale of scientist Peter Dickenson who gets transported to the Fallen Land of Magic. There he meets some wizards, dragons and a princess and together they embark on a journey to save the world of magic.

This film was produced by Rankin/Bass who is most known for their stop-motion holiday features, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Coming to Town to name a few, as well as a few animated television series including Thundercats and animated features films like The Last Unicorn and The Lord of the Rings.

The voice cast included John Ritter, James Earl Jones, Bob McFadden and Don Messick and featured a main theme by Don McLean.

Le Croc-Note Show

This French produced television show consisted of 104 five minute episode and debut on August 30, 1986. It was about two Martian mice who came to Earth and discovered they liked Earth music. Each episode they returned and made a new musical discovery.

This show was made to educate kids about different instruments, styles of music and even gave basic lessons on how to read music. Famous French musicians Jean-Claude Corbel and Claude Lombard provided voices for the Martian mice.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky

Written and directed by Japanese legend Hayao Miyazaki, Castle in the Sky was released in Japan on August 2, 1986 but was not brought to an American audience until 1989. The story follows Sheeta, descendant of a royal family from the legendary floating city Laputa who teams with a young miner named Pazu to outrun government agents and sky pirates, and learn the secret of lost island in the sky.

An English dub was made by Disney in 1998 that featured James Van Der Beek as Pazu and Anna Paquin as Sheeta. The plot was kept intact (something that often doesn't happen when translating anime for North America) and a new fully orchestrated score was made to replace the original synthesized. All of the changes were first passed through Miyazaki and were made with his approval.

Luxo Jr.

After John Lasseter and Ed Catmull left ILM, they formed their own computer graphics company called Pixar. Their first short, and Lasseter's first directing gig, was Luxo Jr. This two and a half minute short has a mother lamp watching over her baby lamp as it played with a ball.

Lasseter worked 24/7 to get this short done for SIGGRAPH, August 15-21, 1986. His hard work paid off as it was a huge hit at the conference and it went on to be the first CGI film to be nominated for an Academy Award.

Luxo Jr. Has since become the mascot for Pixar, appearing before all of their movies. The short was re-released in 1999 before Toy Story 2.

Transformers: The Movie

On August 8, 1986, Transformers: The Movie (Transformers the Movie: Apocalypse! Matrix Forever in Japan) brought every child's heroes to the big screen. The movie is set in the year 2005 (twenty years after the events in Transformers'' second season) and the Decepticons has taken over the Transformers' home world Cybertron. The Autobots have been hiding on a near by moon and have been preparing to take back their home world. But they intercept a message that a terrible evil is headed their way to destroy their planet! Unicron!

This movie featured a whole new line of toys for Mattel to sell and the darker story was critisized because of the grief it caused to the younger viewers as it featured the deaths of many fan-favourite characters, including Optimus Prime. Many fans like to consider this to be the end of Transformers and forget about the third and fourth seasons.

The animation was quite better than the television series and the soundtrack was made up of popular rock bands of the day including a new version of the classic theme song by Lion. The voice cast included Eric Idle, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Casey Kasem, Robert Stack, John Moschitta, Peter Cullen, Frank Welker and Orson Wells, which ended up being his last performance before his death.

There will be a two-disc special edition DVD of Transformers: the Movie to coincide with the premiere of the new movie in 2007.

Monday, August 14, 2006


For those animation lovers who are in the Vancouver area, this week's Animation Night will be lead by Katie and will be an introduction to the world of Cartoon Network's [adult swim]

Adult Swim is a programming block on Cartoon Network that is geared toward the 19-24 age group. It debuted on Sunday night, September 2, 2001. The programming included cheap looking animated shorts that relied on absurd humour and innuendo. To everyone's surprise it was a big enough hit that Adult Swim was split apart from Cartoon Network so that Nielsen Media Research could monitor separate ratings.

The original shows consisted of old Hanna Barbera characters that were given new personalities and it reused animation from the old shows to create new situations with new dialogue. This concept was made popular in 1994 with Space Ghost Coast-To-Coast in which retired superhero Space Ghost (from the 1966 show Space Ghost and Dino Boy) had his own talk show and would interview celebrities.

This show and its spinoff Aqua Teen Hunger Force became the mascots for the Adult Swim as it added more shows to its line up including Sealab 2021 (taken from 1972's Sealab 2020), Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law (taken from 1967's Birdman and the Galaxy Trio) and another Space Ghost spinoff, The Brak Show. It also incorporated non-original shows like Family Guy and Futurama and many different anime series such as Cowboy Bebop and InuYasha.

It now runs Monday-Thursday at 10:30pm, has an anime block on Saturdays at 10pm and all new episodes every Sunday night at 11pm. New shows include Robot Chicken, Moral Orel, Squidbillies, 12 oz Mouse, Boondocks and American Dad.

Update: Thanks to all who came out last night! See you in two weeks!

Last night's program:

Space Ghost Coast-To-Coast - Batmantis
Aqua Teen Hunger Force - The Cloning
Sealab 2021 - Stimutacs
The Brak Show - Mother, Did You Move My Chair?
Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law - SPF
Robot Chicken - Vegetable Funfest

Friday, August 11, 2006


My new friend Rico pointed me in the direction of a Marvel powerpoint presentation on the current status of their feature film and television company Marvel Films. You can check it out for yourself here. There are a few subjects that I want to point out.

Four new television series are on the schedule and I am going to assume that they are all animated. Iron Man and Spider-Man are currently in development and Wolverine and the X-Men is in pre-production.

It also mentioned the new Fantastic Four series that will be coming to Cartoon Network this fall. Marvel Studios and animation studio Moonscoop will produce 26 half-hour episodes that combine 2D and 3D animation and will deal with classic storylines and classic villains like Doctor Doom, Skrulls, Mole Man and the Hulk.

My question is, why do we need another Fantastic Four show the features classic storylines when we've had three already that have done the same thing! Let's get some original stories and make this a show worth watching!

However, it is good to see Marvel getting back into the television animation market. With awesome DC Comics shows like Justice League and Teen Titans setting the bar I'm sure we will see a stellar competitor from Marvel.

Also mentioned was a new DTV (Direct-to-Video/DVD) from the same company that brought you Ultimate Avengers and Ultimate Avengers 2 called Teen Avengers. This project is in development right now and is set to go into production after the Iron Man and Doctor Strange DTVs.

The title Teen Avengers is somewhat unclear. Does it refer to the Young Avengers comicbook or will they focus on a younger version of Captain America and the rest of the familiar characters.

Let the rumours and speculation begin!

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Due to popular demand, Theme Song Friday is being moved to Thursday to capitalize on the alliteration factor.

August's theme of the month is 'Famous People Who Shouldn't Have Had Their Own Cartoon' and this week brings three famous sports celebrities together for one action packed show and one action packed breakfast cereal:


ProStars was produced by DiC Entertainment for NBC's 1991 Saturday morning lineup. Three sports superstars banded together to answer the cry of children in trouble all over the world. The tagline, which can be heard in the theme song, was 'ProStars: It's all about helping kids'.

One celebrity was chosen from each of the four major sports. Michael Jordan represented basketball, Wayne Gretzky for hockey and Bo Jackson represented both football and baseball, no doubt a tie-in to Nike's 'Bo Knows' ad campaign which was mega popular at the time.

Each of the characters were given special powers and weapons the corresponded to their feature sport. For instance, Gretzky would have super powered shoes that would allow him to 'glide' across any surface.

Each episode had a live action segment before and after the feature where the real actors came to talk to the kids. However, they did not do the voices for their cartoon counterparts. Jordan was Dorian Harewood, Jackson was Dave Fennoy and Gretzky was Townsend Coleman.

ProStars only ran for one season but I couldn't find an episode guide to tell me how many episodes were made. I will assume thirteen.

Oh well, enjoy the theme song!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Last year, Marvel Entertainment and Lions Gate Entertainment teamed up to produce the first ever animated feature length Marvel movie, Ultimate Avengers: The Movie. It was the story of seven very different heroes who were recruited by the US Government to stop and alien invasion.

Capitan America, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Giant Man, Wasp and the Black Widow were all brought together by Nick Fury to save the world, but they had to overcome their differences first. This movie was based on the popular Avengers revamp from a few years back called the Ultimates. With solid writing and strong animation, this direct-to-DVD release was a hit with comicbook geeks everywhere.

Well guess what! The aliens are back for round two and Nick Fury is calling on his team once again to save the world. This time, the aliens seem to have an interest in the African land of Wakanda! Will the Black Panther be able to save his land or will he have to bite his lip and call for extra fire power?

This sequel delivers the same strong animation as the last release. I am so glad to see that every bit of effort is being put into this to produce quality work. It is some of the strongest animation that Marvel characters has seen yet (next to X-Men: Evolution). The characters are on model and the action sequences rich and exciting.

The story is not as strong as in the last one. This film, not being based on any previous comic storyline, takes liberties with the characters and their history. This may bother the fanboys but if you see this as a new telling of classic characters, like the Ultimate franchise, then you should be fine. While I do like the story of the Black Panther, the Avengers seem out of place in Wakanda and the aliens seem especially out of place. Maybe is it because we are so used to seeing alien invasions in big cities that it just seems weird in the jungles of Wakanda.

Marvel's live actions features, like Spider-Man and X-Men, have been so successful because they play up the reality. They focus on the human aspects and therefore the super powers, outlandish costumes and wild plots seem believable. But animation is perfect for comicbooks because we are already expecting to see colourful characters and weird monsters. We are expecting to see the unbelievable and are more willing to accept it because it is animated.

Because of the success of the Ultimate Avengers DVD, Marvel Animated Features and Lions Gate Entertainment plan to release more direct-to-DVD features. The next two features are previewed as special features on Ultimate Avengers 2. They will be Doctor Strange and Iron Man. They don't give you much information but you do get a sneak peek at the animation and it looks just as strong as the their other efforts. I can't wait to see them.

Here are a few screen caps. The first two are from Doctor Strange and the last two are from Iron Man. Click the images to see large versions.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


I know this news report is a few weeks old now but there's no time like the present to talk about it!

Two years ago Disney closed down their Florida and Burbank Feature Animation Studios. Hundreds of employees were laid off. They sold all their light tables and threw out their animation paper and replaced it all with computers for their new shiny CG department.

Upon the success of Pixar's 3D movies (Finding Nemo, Toy Story) and the unsuccess of their own movies (Brother Bear, Home on the Range), Disney decided that it would be the smart move to switch over to the world of 3D. After all, that's the way the world is going, isn't it? It sure seems that way with the plethora of CG movies out this year.

Disney has always been the ones on the cutting edge of animation having developed many of the techniques used in the medium today. But over all, Disney had captivating stories and the animation was just a means to tell them. If Disney put this much effort into their storytelling they would still be competitors in the market! Let's take a look at Pixar: Why are their movies so good? Sure, they look fantastic but they have well-written, meaningful stories and that is the key element!

Back in March, it was announced that Disney would be buying Pixar and would be making Pixar President John Lasseter the President of Walt Disney Feature Animation. This was a smart move as far as I'm concerned. I have complete faith that Lasseter will make a new name for Disney as he did with Pixar. Although he may have to spend the next few years cleaning up the mess, I'm sure we will be seeing a Disney revival.

Anyway, two weeks ago Lasseter announced that he is bringing the traditional animation department back to Disney! And not this cheap Flash garbage either! I'm talking pencil and paper, ink and paint, 2D animation!

The first feature will be called the Frog Princess and will be developed by Ron Clements and John Musker (Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Treasure Planet) and rumour has it that this film will also bring back the Broadway-style musical numbers! Composer Alan Menken is reported to be on board!

This is an exciting time and know that with Lasseter in charge we will see a good film.

Friday, August 04, 2006


I've expanded this month's theme song theme to include all pop stars that really shouldn't have had their own cartoon.

This week's cartoon is based on rapper M.C. Hammer and is based on his superhero persona HAMMERMAN!

In this series, Stanley Burrell (Hammer's real name) is a youth center worker who owns magic shoes that turn him into a superhero!

Hammerman ran on Saturday morning for one season on ABC from 1991 to 1992. DiC Entertainment created thirteen episodes that aired sporadically throughout the season, often being pre-empted for football games.

Here is the theme. Sorry for the very poor quality but it is the only one I could find.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Last week I went to see Sony's newest CG offering Monster House. Three teens have discovered that the house across the street hates kids and comes alive when no adults are looking.

This movie has an excellent story and very well written, believable thirteen year old characters. In fact, the most enjoyably part of this movie is watching these kids be kids. They don't save the world or get involved in plots that should be reserved for adults. They are not concerned with the affairs of the adult world. They exist in the wonder and excitement of a kid's world. At one point in the movie I leaned over to my girlfriend and said "I wish I were a kid again". I wanted to have as much fun as they were having on screen.

But don't let this fool you. Monster House is not a movie for young kids. Parts of it are downright scary. The house is evil and very menacing and I was actually shocked at how scary it was. But this was due to some excellent directing of Gil Kenan and convincing performances by the main cast (Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner and Spencer Locke).

Which brings me to what I really want to talk about.

Monster House is the second movie to be made by Robert Zemeckis using the motion capture process. That is, actors wear many little markers at each joint to indicate movement when tracked by a computer program. Whatever the actor does, the character onscreen mimics perfectly. This adds realism to the movements of the characters and especially adds believable features to the faces of the characters (a process that has greatly improved since 2004's Polar Express).

Which brings me to what I really, really want to talk about. Mick LaSalle, Film Critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote a review on Monster House that has got every animation blog up in arms. If you haven't read the article yet I would suggest doing that now. Click Here. But here is a little taste:

Animated films always had the advantage of being able to go anywhere and show anything, to defy the laws of physics and follow the imagination as far as it could go. But they never had the ability to show the human face. There was never any point to a close-up in an animated film -- there was never really anything to see. But with the motion-capture process, real actors give their performances with computer sensors attached to their face and body, and that recorded information becomes the template for the computer animation. If an actor is bug-eyed, the character will look bug-eyed. Moreover, if the actor is thinking or is full of doubt, the technology will be able to render subtle qualities of pensiveness or doubt in the animation.

Imagine what Disney might have done with this in the creation of the Seven Dwarfs. Imagine all the things that will be done with this in the future. "Monster House" looks like the ground floor of something important.

LaSalle's obvious lack of knowledge of the art of animation has really touched a nerve with everyone that has love for traditional 2D animation.

The whole reason that Snow White was so groundbreaking and well-loved over the years is because the animators were able to show realistic emotion! To say that animators can't show emotion through their characters just shows ignorance of the craft.

If LaSalle has only seen shows like Dora the Explorer then I can understand his comments. But it seems to me that he has not seen any animated films that convey poignant emotional moments like Bambi realizing that his mother had been killed, Lilo being taken away from her sister by social services or Simba upon finding Mufasa's dead body. Any Miazaki movie is a perfect example of emotion through animation!

LaSalle really needs to open his eyes and see that motion capture is actually taking away the creativity of the craft and replacing it with button pushers who create movies that probably should just be live action anyway.