Friday, August 31, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007

ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive: Illustration: More From The Monkey Man, Lawson Wood

ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive: Illustration: More From The Monkey Man, Lawson Wood

CLICK THIS LINK TO SEE MORE LAWSON WOOD, (and more!) at ASIFA HOLLYWOOD ANIMATION ARCHIVE.

Many nifty images of monkeys and other animals by Wood, contributed by Mike Fontanelli.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lawson Wood




Lawson Wood was a popular illustrator who did lots of Collier's Magazine covers and other illustrations in the 30's and 40's. He became particularly famous for his chimps and other simians and these illustrations are from a calendar in the late 1940's. (Post-WW II, I think but i had to cut the illustrations away from the torn calendar part on the bottom, so I don't remember exactly).

The painting style is interesting and the expressions are unique. Click to see bigger. More to come...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"Oh--OOHHHHH!"


When it's this hot and tempers run short, there's only one cure: listen to/watch the late great Sam Kinison.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Last of the WOODY goodies



My compliments to all involved in the WOODY and POPEYE DVDS. Both sets are excellent and here's hoping for a volume 2 for each.

Although both series of shorts have been rare in recent decades, I consider myself lucky to have been born just in time to enjoy their heyday in syndication before virtually disappearing in the 1970's. From that point on if you saw either Woody or Popeye anywhere it was usually a later (poorer) short from the twilight of their run. Woody was at one point my very favorite cartoon character, but he virtually dropped out of view in the late 1960's. Luckily, I had seen enough of the B & W Fleischer cartoons in adulthood to know that they held up (to say the least), but Woody became so scarce for so long I was beginning to think maybe my memories of enjoying the early ones were faulty. Happily, these DVD's bear my fond memories out. In fact, they are in many ways better than I remember.

Although the Woody's aren't as lavish (or quite as well crafted) as Warner and MGM shorts, they are freewheeling, loose and pretty action-packed. The gags are good and often unpredictable and Lantz gets lots of credit for not over-analyzing the characters (at least not early on). Woody can be an aggressor or victim, sane or insane, driven by hunger, greed or just a penchant to annoy others. You never quite know how (or when) each cartoon will end. I am impressed by the fact that while the DVD revived many memories, the cartoons still seem fresh, and it says something that as a kid I don't remember noticing Woody constantly changing model, even within a given cartoon which goes to the issue of what "on-model" really means (a lifetime peeve).

I am also glad there are many more cartoons where Woody has a "man" voice and even that changes from cartoon to cartoon. Yet for all his flexibility he is always ineffably himself. Maybe because there isn't much to the character to begin with, but what little there is, it's unique. There's a lesson in there somewhere about over-thinking characters. And somehow I like the guy, even though I don't really "care" about him in the classic sense. After all Woody doesn't do much to solicit sympathy or "identification" but he sure is fun to watch and I can't wait to see what he does. Whatever it is, it's usually something the laws of physics or propriety wouldn't let me do, which is what animation is all about. I had also forgotten what wonderful 'heavies' Wally Walrus and Buzz Buzzard were, at least initially. The genius stroke of making Wally Swedish is pretty brilliant and Buzz (who I remember just being kind of rotten) is actually a nicely realized sleaze-ball.

The extras are great. The shows where Walter Lantz walks you through the process are things I remember seeing when very small and had a lot to do with stoking my fascination for the animation process. I remember having made up my mind to become a cartoonist by the time I was four years old and these clips had a lot to do with it.

Most of the animation is really inventive and very often the humor comes as much from the execution of the action as from the gag ideas themselves. What a novel concept! Fans of Emery Hawkins will be in heaven watching this stuff. There are also many lesser known animators who seem to are pretty fantastic here: Pat Matthews, Les Kline, Ken O'Brien and Alex Lovy among them. The Lantz studio Tex Avery cartoons are among that director's best and funniest later work and it seems like the animators had no trouble adapting to whoever was in charge. And although none of the soundtracks would be mistaken for MISTER ROGERS', it's a joy to watch how much time is devoted to purely visual pantomime. Compared to the shrieking yakk-filled cartoons of today, many of them seem quiet.

Jerry Beck if you're reading this, my thanks to you and all involved.

Last of the WOODY goodies



My compliments to all involved in the WOODY and POPEYE DVDS. Both sets are excellent and here's hoping for a volume 2 for each.

Although both series of shorts have been rare in recent decades, I consider myself lucky to have been born just in time to enjoy their heyday in syndication before virtually disappearing in the 1970's. From that point on if you saw either Woody or Popeye anywhere it was usually a later (poorer) short from the twilight of their run. Woody was at one point my very favorite cartoon character, but he virtually dropped out of view in the late 1960's. Luckily, I had seen enough of the B & W Fleischer cartoons in adulthood to know that they were excellent, but Woody became so scarce for so long I was beginning to think maybe my memories of enjoying the early ones was faulty. These DVD's prove otherwise.

Although the Woody's aren't as lavish (or quite as well crafted) as Warner and MGM shorts, they are freewheeling, loose and pretty action-packed. The gags are good and often unpredictable and Lantz gets lots of credit for not over-analyzing the characters (at least not early on). Woody can be an aggressor or victim and you never quite know how (or when) each cartoon will end. I am impressed by the fact that while the DVD revived many memories, the cartoons still seem fresh, and it says something that as a kid I don't remember noticing Woody constantly changing model, even within a given cartoon which goes to the issue of what "on-model" really means (a lifetime peeve).

I am also glad there are many more cartoons where Woody has a "man" voice and even that changes from cartoon to cartoon. Yet for all his flexibility he is always ineffably himself. Maybe because there isn't much to the character to begin with, but what little there is, it's unique. There's a lesson in there somewhere about over-thinking characters. And somehow I love the guy, even though I don't really "care" about him in the classic sense. After all Woody doesn't do much to solicit sympathy or "identification" but he sure is fun to watch and I can't wait to see what he does. I had also forgotten what wonderful characters Wally Walrus and Buzz Buzzard were, at least initially. And although these cartoon soundtracks would never be confused with MISTER ROGERS, it's a real treat to watch so many devote much of their run time to purely visual gags.

The extras are great. The shows where Walter Lantz walks you through the process are things I remember seeing when very small and had a lot to do with stoking my fascination for the animation process. I remember having made up my mind to become a cartoonist by the time I was four years old and these clips had a lot to do with it.

Some of the animation is really inventive and very often the humor comes as much from the execution of the action as from the gag ideas themselves. What a novel concept! Fans of Emery Hawkins will be in heaven watching this stuff. There are also many lesser known animators who seem to are pretty fantastic here: Pat Matthews, Les Kline, Ken O'Brien and Alex Lovy among them. The 3 Tex Avery CHILLY WILLY cartoons are among that director's best and funniest later work and it seems like the animators had no trouble adapting to whoever was in charge.

Jerry Beck if you're reading this, my thanks to you and all involved.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

More Woody






Penultimate WOODY post. Click to see bigger.
Is it just me or does the redheaded bandmaster resemble Danny Kaye? Not an actual caricature, but the type perhaps. He was popular back then and had red hair, (like Woody).

Sunday, August 5, 2007

More WOODY AT THE CIRCUS





These clowns scared the begeezis outta me when I was a kid. To be honest they still kinda freak me out. Click to see bigger.

Friday, August 3, 2007

WOODY AT THE CIRCUS





In honor of the fantastic WOODY WOODPECKER dvds, (which due to a rare Amazon glitch arrived over a week late), I am publishing these swell illustrations from Woody's first Golden Books appearance. The drawings are by Riley Thompson, who directed many Disney shorts, (including NIFTY NINETIES). Ward Kimball made some mildly disparaging remarks about Thompson's ability to direct, but these drawings sure are nice. More to come. Click to see bigger.