Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Lion Guard

I had a whole other post planned, but It'll have to wait until tomorrow.

Here is a clip released at 2015's D23 Expo this past weekend.  A new animated series that premieres this fall on Disney Channel called "The Lion Guard".  I understand this might very well be a series on Disney Junior, which impresses me even more, considering the attention to detail it's being given.

I know, I know.  But this isn't some campy looking series like that "Gravity Falls" that plays into this crappy trendy animated style that is so popular right now.  No.  This has a feature animation aesthetic.  There is some gorgeous animation and feature quality effects work in play.

We all remember the train wreck that was the direct to video movie about Simba's daughter, Kiara.  Well this isn't that.  The series follows Simba's second born, his first son, Kion.  Don't judge this based on his name.  The cast list includes Sarah Hyland (Modern Family), Rob Lowe as Simba, and returning as Pumbaa and Timon, Ernie Sabella and Kevin Schon respectively.

This is beautifully animated.  The backgrounds and effects work match the feature quality.  The hyenas were redesigned for animation technical reasons, but they look beautiful despite.  I can't judge the story quality yet, and I refuse to critique that aspect based on a 3:45 clip.  It is eye candy for now.

Watch this clip to see what I'm talking about.

Andreas Deja, Disney Legend

The 2015 D23 Convention, Disney's fan convention, was held in Anaheim this past weekend.  Some big plans were revealed over the weekend.  Some of the bigger announcements were some great film plans and huge Star Wars lands coming to Disney Parks.  One of my favorite events at these conventions, however, is the Disney Legend induction ceremonies.  This year, some big names in entertainment were inducted into Disney Legend status including Johnny Depp, George Lucas and one of my heroes in Animation, Andreas Deja.

Andreas was born in Poland and raised in Germany.  His passion for animation was born at the age of eleven while watching his first Disney animated feature, "The Jungle Book".  He was especially mesmerized by the villain of the film, the tiger Shere Kahn.  He was awestruck by the way the character moved, and how it breathed life into the scenes it was in.  An animation enthusiast was born.  In time, he would learn it was Milt Kahl who animated the character and Milt became a hero to emulate after.  Andreas had written to the Disney studios in hopes to learn what it would take to be a Disney artist.  The advice given would guide him to take lots of drawing courses including life drawing and sketching animals at the zoo.

He sent off a stunning portfolio that got him hired at Disney Feature Animation right away.  His first picture was "The Black Cauldron", where Andreas did a lot of the character design work.  Later, Andreas proved the masterful animator and rose to the ranks of Supervising Animator on King Triton in "The Little Mermaid", Gaston in "Beauty and the Beast", Jafar in "Aladdin" and my favorite, Scar of "The Lion King" to name a few.

His Animation is known for broad gestures as well as reserved,  verbose as well as subtle, and  well drafted as well as fun and rubbery.  As I had mentioned before, he is a master at animating Mickey Mouse.  He was Mickey's Supervising Animator for "Mickey's Prince and the Pauper" and "Runaway Brain".  His most recent Mickey animation was briefly seen in "Fantasia 2000".  In my opinion, Andreas's animation of Mickey brought life to him not seen since Freddy Moore in the 40's.  Not comfortable with the conversion to computer animation, Mr Deja retired from the Disney studios after he completed his work on Tigger in the 2011 feature "Winnie the Pooh".

His induction as a Disney Legend is an honor well deserved.  I congratulate him on the honor and look forward to visiting his handprints in the Legends Court in Burbank soon.

As a side note: Andreas has a remarkable blog that every animation enthusiast should read.  You can check out his personal reflections at  http://andreasdeja.blogspot.com

Monday, August 10, 2015

Runaway Brain

"Runaway Brain" was released 20 years ago today.  This short subject was released in conjunction with the film, "A Kid in King Arthur's Court", and was Mickey's first theatrical release since "Mickey's Prince and the Pauper".  

The short stars Mickey & Minnie Mouse.  The premise revolves around Mickey forgetting his and Minnie's anniversary and while trying to overcompensate, he inadvertently promises a Hawaiian vacation.  To earn the money needed, he answers a want ad that leads him to volunteer to act as a test subject, switching brains with a giant monster, played by Pegleg Pete.

Animation history enthusiasts will enjoy jokes that will go over others' heads, including the name of the mad scientist, Dr. Frankenollie.  The name is a play on the names of two of Disney's greatest animators and of the Nine Old Men fame, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.  The doctor was voiced by Kelsey Grammer to perfection.

Directed by Chris Bailey, "Runaway Brain" was almost entirely animated in Disney's then new Animation studio in Paris, France.  The animation is as inventive and creative as the storyline, and the humor will keep the adults as entertained as the children.

Mickey Mouse's supervising animator is one of my contemporary animators heroes, Andreas Deja.  Andreas, in my opinion, is the best animator to bring life to Mickey since Fred Moore.  Mr. Deja is being honored later this month, at the D23 Expo, as a Disney Legend for all of his beautiful work as a supervising animator.  Watch for blog posts honoring him in the near future.

You can find "Runaway Brain" in the Walt Disney Treasures Collection DVD, "Mickey Mouse: in living color, vol.II

 (Animation drawings courtesy of Andreas Deja)

Saturday, August 8, 2015


Bambi premiered in London on this day in 1942.  It would be released in the US five days later.

Walt Disney's 5th animated feature film had a major set back in the aftermath of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.  Walt reported to work one morning to find that the government had commandeered the studio to use it as a new base.  Walt, ever the patriot, decided to work with them and allowed his studio to be used for whatever the country deemed fit.  The animators were well under way on their follow up to Dumbo.  Bambi was close on the heels of it's deadline, so Walt had made arrangements with the powers that be.  He agreed to create all of the training films and propaganda pieces that the military requested, so long as his animators were also free to finish their next film and any other shorts the studio needed to create to stay afloat.  It was the begining of a partnership, for better or worse that would span for much of the rest of the 40's.

It was a trick to keep his top animators on track in finishing up Bambi, as the generals on site only cared about the training films his other animators were creating.  Walt would give everyone projects for the military, and have them finish up Walt's animation on the down low.

The art direction on Bambi was to match the feeling of the novel the film was based on: "Bambi, A Life in the Woods" by Felix Salten.  The drawing styles used for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs felt much too cartoony for the subject matter.  Walt brought in instructors from Chouinard Art Institute, and regularly brought live animals for the animators to use as reference.

Background paintings were created under the art direction of Cantonese painter Tyrus Wong.  His beautifully delicate oil paintings gave the film the quasi realism it needed.

Bambi lost money during it's initial release.  It grossed just under the expense budget for the film.  With the limited European release due to the war, there just wasn't enough support by movie goers.  Fortunately, rereleases would assist the studio in regaining it's losses in subsequent years.

In 2008, the American Film Institute ranked Bambi 3rd place in the top 10 classically animated features.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Animated Feature

Walt's studio didn't invent animation, but they did take it to the next few levels and make it a respectable art form.  Sure, cartoon creations like Felix the Cat and Popeye the Sailor would have happened regardless, but I highly doubt anyone would have had the courage to create full length films if Walt hadn't done it first.

During the mid 30's, Hollywood started grumbling about a crazy idea that was being brought forth by Walt's studio.  A full length feature was in the works.  Walt had to take out loans and seek out investors to finance this dream of his.  That kind of action doesn't happen without creating a buzz around town.  In those days, the only animation being shown were the 6 minute shorts playing before the films, between news reels.  It was popular thought that no one would want to sit still for a full length animated film.  It was also suggested that watching a full length film would cause blindness.  The film was dubbed "Walt's Folly" and it was believed it would be Walt's undoing.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs released at the Graumans Chinese Theater on December 23, 1937 to great success, both critically as well as financially.  By the end of the film's release, the studio raked in a whopping $8 million profit.  That was Great Depression money.  With the profits, Walt built a new studio in Burbank in which the company still resides.  What became of the neigh sayers who felt Walt's film would fail?  They publicly requested a sequel.  The headlines wrote, "More Dwarfs".  Go figure, right?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Happy 60th, Disneyland!

It was 60 years ago today, on the afternoon of July 17th, 1955, that Walt Disney unveiled his magical theme park, Disneyland, to the world.  Ground broke on an unassuming bunch of orange groves, and neighboring houses were relocated to make room for a man with a dream of a theme park that both parents and children could enjoy together.

Walt needed funding to make his dream a reality, and he found a financier in ABC Television.  They promised to provide funds in exchange for family programming for their network.  Walt had never done television before, but it was a medium he had been curious to dabble in.  His first program was titled, "An Hour in Wonderland" and had used his new film Alice in Wonderland as the perfect subject.  ABC had encouraged, then later demanded, Walt host the program, himself.  While reluctant, we did as they requested, and a television star was born.

The park was scheduled to open a mere year after breaking ground.  It was only broadcast on ABC television, as they owned 33% of the park  at the time.  Hosts Art Linkletter, Ronald Regan and comedian Bob Cummings acted as emcees and saw the program to completion with jokes and warm commentary.  They sought out Hollywood elite who were invited to explore the park.  Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Danny Thomas were among the celebrities who brought their children to check out the magnificent display.  Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen were in full character from the set of Davy Crockett to introduce Fronteirland.  Those interested can search the internet for "Disneyland USA", a 2 disc DVD set from the Walt Disney Treasures Collection.

The opening was not without it's issues.  A week before opening, contractors sought out Imagineering (then called WED) approval for plumbing matters.  They hadn't funds or time to install both drinking fountains and restroom plumbing, so someone had to make the executive decision.  Engineers found Walt to decide.  It is said he was quoted, "Well, people can drink Pepsi or Coca-Cola, but they can't pee in the streets."  Concrete wasn't poured until two days before opening, and the hot summer sun kept it from curing.  Women's heels sank into the streets.  And to make matters worse, counterfeiters had forged copies of tickets to the event.  When cast members brought this to Walt's attention, he shrugged his shoulders and asked they honor the tickets.

Reviews were mixed the next day, however California residents drove in large numbers for the first public opening.  Walt was upset by the negative publicity, but the rave reviews that came in out shone the negative.  Disneyland was a success.

On this, Disneyland's 60th anniversary, I salute Mr. Disney.  He had a dream, saw it through despite a brother who tried as he could to keep an eye on out of control spending, and financiers who piled on the demands.

Without Walt, we wouldn't have Disneyland or the other 5 theme parks around the world.  I'm sure someone would eventually have had a similar idea, but I can assure you that it wouldn't have the same kind of luster.  Walt strove for attention to detail, storytelling and above all, heart.

Personally, I have a strong attachment to Disneyland.  Sure, being from the east coast, Walt Disney World was my Disney vacation destination for many years.  But it was here where Walt walked the streets.  His apartment above the firehouse remains as it was when he stayed there.  You can feel his presence when you hang around the firehouse doors.  But for me, Disneyland is also the place where I met my future bride.  I proposed to my now wife in front of the castle.  I love Disneyland.  Happy Anniversary, Walt!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Remembering Dad on July 4th

While this is a blog dedicated to cartooning and Animation, I wanted to dedicate this particular post to someone special.

A year ago today, marks a huge loss in our family.  Dad lost his battle with cancer on the night of July 4th.

He had only learned of his cancer a couple brief months beforehand.  At stage four, the doctor gave him a year- year and a half.  He wasted no time in undergoing treatments of radiation and chemotherapy.  I called him to see how he was doing, and he assured me that aside from the abdominal pain that brought him to the doctor in the first place, he promised me he didn't feel anything.  

My wife and I flew out to Boston to come see him as soon as we could, and not a moment too soon.  He was resting at home when we flew out, and seeing we landed at 5 in the morning, I showed her around Boston.   We walked the Freedom Tour, I had shown her my childhood home I lived in before we moved to Cape Cod, and visited my friends John, Jen and their little boy.  While driving to the Cape, Mom called to let us know he was admitted to the hospital with what we later learned was an infection.  We met Mom and Dad in Dad's hospital room.  He had looked better, but it was amazing to see him.  Mom looked concerned, but as always, she put on a brave face.  We had quite a lengthy discussion.  We talked about work, the house and my in laws in California.  We showed him the pictures of our old house, which brought a big smile to his face.  She told him of the great sights of Boston and the freedom tour, and Dad couldn't believe I would bore her with such things.  (When you grow up in Boston, you don't do things like that I guess)  We laughed and shared fun stories of the good old days, so that my wife could enjoy some of our past.  The medications caused him drowsiness, so he fell asleep while we visited and chatted with Mom.

It was only 6 days later when Dad would leave us.  He was expected to make a full recovery of his infection on the 1st, but with the chemo and radiation, his body just couldn't fight it off.  Early that morning, I got the call from my brother, that I should rush to the hospital because Dad wasn't expected to make it through the weekend.  He took a dramatic turn since I last left his room.  Mom was speechless as to how quickly things changed.  So there we sat.  Dad's surviving siblings came to visit.  We all caught up on eachother's lives, talked about Dad and the awesome stories of a loving goofball who loved a good cookout, wearing his red white and blue.  We laughed, teared up and regrouped for the next funny story.  We Ginnetty's deal with these things with humor.  Call it a defense mechanism all you want, it makes us feel better.  Dad was heavily medicated, but he would react to what we were saying now and again through his sleep-like demeanor.  Night fell, and we all huddled around him when he gave us the sign.  Hurricane Arthur was blowing through all the while, which brought us some comfort, as Arthur is his father's name.  Thanks for coming to pick him up, Grampy.  He was surrounded by nothing but love when it happened.

Dad was kind, thoughtful, very smart, and even more loving.  He loved his country, always unapologetically patriotic.  He always said that the 4th of July was his favorite holiday.  How fitting he joined his loved ones in Heaven that day.  He left a big hole in my heart when he left, so I can't even begin to imagine the one in Mom's.  But, he was never one to wallow, and he always felt that the party must go on.

I wish everyone a Happy 4th.  Dad would want it that way.  Love you Dad!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Walt Disney: a brief history - Part 3

Walt was on the train, heading back to California.  He was without a staff and without Oswald.  He was so angry with himself for not knowing better than to retain the rights to a character, and heartbroken that something like this could happen.

He sat in his seat with a drawing of Oswald, staring at it for ideas.  Legend says that it was then when a mouse scurried passed him on the train floor.  Whether that is fact or fiction, it was then when he saw smaller, rounder ears on Oswald and altered the drawing to match, and a mouse was born.  He had shown a new drawing of his new mouse creation.  Three round circles made his head, and a long skinny tail protruded from the back of his shorts.  He wore a great big smile and loads of enthusiasm.  He had shown it to his wife asked what she thought of Mortimer Mouse.  Lilly responded, "Mortimer?  I think he looks more like a Mickey."

 Walt presented his new character to Roy and Ub.  It was Ub's job to refine the character so that it could be animated more easily, and Mickey Mouse was born, but he was kept a secret for now.

Having to re cooperate from the dastardly Charles Minzt, Walt vowed he would never trust his film rights to anyone again.  He would distribute his films himself.  If he needed funding, he would do so through bank loans.

Ub worked on whatever cartoons were in the pipeline, and while everyone left for the day, he'd stay late and work on the Mickey cartoons in secret.  The first cartoon featured our wirey little mouse, learning to fly an airplane.  He messed his hair to mimick Charles Lindbergh and grabbed his girl, Minnie for a fun filled flight.  This zany cartoon would be titled "Plane Crazy".  It was fantastic to see.
The cartoon was one visual gag after another.  Mickey flew in loops and barrel rolls, all done in rubber hosed animation, utilizing all the benefits of squash and stretch fashion.  While the animation was in the process of ink and paint, they followed this cartoon with "The Galloping Goucho".  Animating feverishly to complete it for release until something was to happen to Hollywood and change the game forever.  Sound.  Walt saw the first  "The Jazz Singer" and knew then what he needed to do.  He had seen a Buster Keaton film called "Steamboat Bill" and saw it perfect for parody.  He imagined Mickey, captaining a steamboat, and how amazing it would be to showcase the first animated short cartoon utilizing sound.  His other two cartoons would be shelved for the time being, and they crew continued full steam ahead on this new adventure for Mickey.

"Steamboat Willie" premiered at the Colony Theater in New York on November 18, 1928.  Walt and a small team of his staff performed music, sound effects and character sounds.  (Walt provided the voices of Mickey and Minnie, and would continue to perform Mickey's voice until 1947)  The short was a huge success.  Walt took the two shelved cartoons and added sound to those as well.  Mickey mouse would soon become a household name, and the Disney Brothers cartoon studio was on it's way to great stardom.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Walt Disney: a brief history - Part 2

Walt and his brother Roy moved to Hollywood California in the fall of 1923.  They gathered up their earnings from Kansas City and started Disney Brothers Studio.  Ub Iwerks soon followed.  They began their studio, creating a series of shorts called the Alice Comedies.  In these films, a child actress would be placed inside animated worlds, carrying on fantastical adventures with animated characters.

Walt and Roy, needing a distributer for their films, found one in Margret Winkler in New York.  She was very fond of Walt and the quality of their short cartoons.  The Alice Comedies proved to be somewhat successful, but the earnings really only kept the studio afloat.

Margret's husband was Charles Mintz, a producer in New York.  He grew tired of the Alice gimmick and ordered a fresh cartoon concept.  Ub responded with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.  The cartoons were quite succesful, yet the earnings were still not enough for the studio to make a profit.  Walt had written telegraphs asking for a raise for the studio, and was answered with an invitation to a meeting in New York.

Roy was very apprehensive toward this trip to New York, but Walt had nothing but a positive feeling about this meeting and was certain he was going to get the studio a higher wage per cartoon.  However when Walt arrived in New York and met with Charles Mintz, it was another story.

It has been said that Walt laid out the perfect pitch for how successful their studio's creation was and how they should be granted a raise per picture.  Mintz counter offered with a lower rate.  Walt responded that he can barely pay his staff and keep lights on as it is, and that a drop in pay will ruin his studio.  Mintz then informed Walt that it was Universal that owned the rights to Oswald and all of the cartoons produced, and that he had most of Walt's animators under contract with Mintz (except for Ub who refused to betray the Disneys).  If Walt didn't agree to the lower rates, he was taking Oswald from Disney Brothers Studio.  Walt declined and left the meeting without a character, a staff or a paycheck.

Walt sent a telegram to his brother Roy and got onto the train, back to Hollywood.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Walt Disney: a brief history

Walter Elias Disney was born in Chicago, Illinois on December 5, 1901 to Elias and Flora Disney.  His father was of Irish and Canadian decent, while his mother was of German decent.  The name Disney was anglicized from the french name d'Isigny.

In 1906, Elias had moved his family to Marceline, Missouri, where Elias purchased farmland.  It was there where Walt discovered his fondness for drawing.  They remained there for only four years until Elias decided farming was too difficult for the family.  They then moved to Kansas City where Elias purchased a newspaper delivery route for the Kansas City Times.  Walt and his older brother Roy had to deliver all 700 of their newspapers on the routes owned by their father.  Regardless of the weather, the two boys delivered in rain, sleet and snow.  The soles of their shoes worn through, they would stack cardboard inside, as money was too tight to replace them.  They would return home, just to head out to school.  Once their studies were through for the day, they would head back out to deliver the evening edition of the paper.  This would continue for six years.  While exhausting work, it earned Walt a strong work ethic what he would demand from his future employees.

While in high school, Walt took night art classes at Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, and became a cartoonist for his high school paper. Dropping out of high school at the age of 17, he joined the Red Cross and drove ambulances in France for a year in World War 1.  When he returned to Chicago in 1919, he got  job as a cartoonist for a local paper where he illustrated political cartoons and ads.  It was there where he met a very talented artist Ub Iwerks.  He and Ub started a cartoon business called Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists.  It proved to be short lived, so they joined the Kansas City Film Ad Company where Walt grew an interest in animation.

In those days, animation was very crude.  Walt didn't merely want to continue the way cartoons were made, but he saw the potential in evoking emotion from their audiences.  He began Laugh-O-Gram films, where they produced animated cartoons with a minimal team, but proved quite popular in Kansas City.  When it wasn't proving financially successful, Walt then decided to pack up and urge his fellow artists to move to Hollywood California.  

More on his beginnings in Hollywood to come...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Inside Out - 100% Spoiler Free Review

My wife and I have just screened Pixar's Inside Out, and can I just say, "WOW"!  What a terrific film.

The story begins with the birth of Riley, the little girl in which the story revolves, and the five emotions that help her through life's trials and tribulations.  The main cast are composed of Amy Pohler (Joy), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), Bill Hader (Fear), Mindy Kaling (Disgust) and Lewis Black (Anger). 

The story sets up as Riley's father gets a new job, and causes her family move halfway across the country to live in San Francisco.  Life appears to be in complete chaos as their new house is in shambles, their belongings are held up by movers and all the while, Riley must start in a new school.  Meanwhile, in Riley's head, Joy has her hands full, keeping Riley's emotions in check and keeping an eye on Sadness, who can't help but get in the way.  

The story picks up speed when Sadness can't help herself and accidentally causes some turmoil, sending Joy and Sadness on an adventure to try and repair Riley's mental wellbeing and make their way home.

The Pixar team had their work cut out for them on this story.  Pete Docter, the director of UP and Monsters Inc, and co writer of the Toy Story films, Monsters Inc, Wall-E and UP took up his most challenging film yet when he agreed to helm this project.  The story was in development for over 6 years.  With all of the story's complexities, and all of the subtle nuances, this story is one of my favorites to come out of their Emeryville studio so far.  They wink and nod to all kinds things we deal with everyday, like deja vu, and how a song gets stuck in your head.  The way they handle how dreams and memories work is genuis.

The animation and visuals are breathtaking.  The idea of their shapes in character design is described by Pete Docter, "Each emotion is based on a shape.  Joy is based on a star, Sadness is a teardrop, Anger is a fire brick, Fear is a raw nerve, and Disgust is broccoli."  If you study animation and visuals the way I do, you can't help but notice that the emotions are collections of floating particles.  The effect was originally intended for only Joy.  It is said that after 8 months of animating the effect on Joy, the crew decided it was too time consuming and too difficult to continue.  They decided to reanimate Joy without the effect until John Lasseter saw the footage in dailys and insisted they keep it, and apply it to all five characters.  It is breathtaking to behold. 

At post time, this film has already pulled in huge Box Office numbers.  But if you are considering waiting for it's Blu Ray release this fall, I highly recommend you think twice.  This film is beautiful on the big screen.  Go see it tonight!  I'll be seeing it again before it leaves theaters, for sure!

On This Day in 1987

On this day in 1987, Snow White was bestowed her very own star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.  It was the famed sidewalks' 1,850th star, installed during the film's re-release, commemorating it's 50th Anniversary.

In attendance besides the costumed characters of Snow White and her seven little friends, were animators Marc Davis, Art Babbit and Ward Kimball, as well as Snow White's voice actress Adriana Caselotti.

This would be the third animated character to earn their star after Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.  You can find it directly in front of the theater that houses Jimmy Kimmel's late night show today.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Welcome home, Hatbox Ghost

It isn't exactly common knowledge that the hatbox ghost dates all the way back to the beginnings of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion.  That's right, the ghost was in the attraction when it first opened.

The hatbox ghost was an invention of Yale Gracey (pictured above left). Yale was an Imagineer with a penchant for special events. Among other contributions he devised how to pull off the effect of the disappearing-reappearing ghosts in the ballroom scene.  (Hint: contrary to popular opinion, it's not done with holograms)

The concept of the ghost's gag was to have his head disappear from his shoulders, then to reappear in the hatbox hanging from his left hand. The effect worked very well in the shop, however when located to it's place in the attic, the illusion was shattered, as the heads never darkened enough to "disappear".  The problem was in its proximity to the doom buggy track.  It was too close to the guests, thus the lighting could never darken enough to make the heads vanish.  it was removed within the first couple days of operation.

Disney had long denied it's existence, having destroyed the figure long ago, as were the molds created for it.  It wasn't until the Internet made it a legend, creating a cult following, when Disney began rolling out merchandise, T-shirts, collectible figures, and other merchandise.  Fans started petitions, wrote letters, and made phone calls to Disney, demanding that hat box goes return to the mansion.  

And that brings us to the present. Where lighting failed the ghost in the 60s, and newer technology made it possible today. Mr. hat box made his official debut last month in the mansion. He now resides just outside the attic window, and is magnificent.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Welcome to my blog!

This is a blog about the art of cartooning and animation.  The blog will focus on my love and knowledge of the animation business and it's past.  My knowledge consists mostly of the Walt Disney company, as it is the majority of animation's business, but it won't be soley devoted.  I have never run a blog before, so you'll have to bear with me while I get this started.  Well, that's not true.  You don't have to.  Anyone in the business knows that you only have a mere few seconds to grab someone's attention before they move their mouse to the back button.  Fortunately for me, I know enough about a few mice that will be sure to keep you interested enough to visit again.  But, a little about me before we get started...

My name is Paul.  I come from the magical place called Massachusetts.  Being a cartoonist, long before I could form sentences, I was forming cartoon characters with my Crayolas.  Copying from coloring books and Saturday morning cartoons (back in the day when we had such things), I learned the basics of cartooning.  I learned what I could from school art classes, but the real teachers came after school.  I had some moderate success designing t-shirts and newspaper advertising, when I could get the gig, but I always felt my art seemed stiff and lacked life.  That brings me to that day my good friend and neighbor introduced me to a regular customer of his office supply shop.  

A cartoonist for Warner Bros. that worked freelance, Kirk would come into the shop to utilize the copy machines and pick up drawing supplies.  We met and he took genuine interest in my goals of being a professional cartoonist myself.  An honest to goodness Warner Bros. artist took an interest in little ole my talents and me.  We met up at his home studio later that afternoon.  I was instructed to bring my sketchbooks and whatever else showed him where I was in my training.  He went through my work and displayed genuine confidence in my abilities, but saw where I needed some instruction.  I was all too to listen and take whatever constructive criticism he had for me.  I took a drawing of mine and copied it.  He used his sketch to show me where I could go with it, and explained concepts like I had wished my teachers did long before.  He sent me away with homework assignments that I couldn’t wait to get home to.  Within a few short months, my drawings were looser, and appeared to live on the page.  I couldn’t believe the progress I had made in such a short period of time.  T-shirt design jobs came a little more frequently as did mural requests.  The real thrill came about one day, when he asked me to assist him in an art piece for Warner Bros.  He had an assignment for a gallery piece that involved musical instruments.   He had been telling me that the business is all in who you know, and it was my time to be given a chance to show what I could do.  A few months later, he and I flew out to Burbank for his art signing, my portfolio under my arm, I had been bitten by the bug.

I’m in California now.  Working professionally in the art world.  I have done work for small business offices and restaurants, small organizations as well as Warner Bros. and Disney. 

I have big plans for this blog.  Discussing art is primary one, but I fully expect my love and passion for Disney and it’s history to invade more often than not.  I hope you find this blog entertaining as well as educational.  I promise to keep it interesting.  Certainly more interesting than this into post.  If you are still reading this, I thank you for putting up with me, and look forward seeing you in my next post!