Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday Afternoon Post: Syverson Bulls & Bears

Wonderfully expressive and fun spot gags by the late great Henry Syverson, from THE SATURDAY EVENING POST (circa 1960's).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sandro Cleuzo

Regular blogging here I know is slow and light lately. August has me spinning quite a few plates on a number of fronts, but I will be back at the blogging again in another week or so. Thanks for your patience. I have a lot more new art to share and am working on another LITTLE MERMAID post, in light of its upcoming 20th anniversary. Also getting things coordinated for a separate blog, which is taking a while longer than I expected.

In the meantime, I am late in offering a link to Sandro Cleuzo's blog. Sandro is one of the
greatest natural born animators I have ever met and his credits include the upcoming PRINCESS & THE FROG, EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE, HOME ON THE RANGE and ENCHANTED. A good friend and a fantastic artist.

Looks like he already has a solid following! I can't wait to see more of his work!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mighty Atom! fan art

I just stumbled across (and tricked-out with Photoshop) this phone doodle I did in the early days of ASTROBOY storyboarding, more than 2 years ago, which is hard to believe. The movie hits theaters in October and was a lot of fun to work on. I didn't see much of ASTROBOY as a kid (he didn't air on any of our local channels) but I got familiar with lots of his past incarnations during the project. Coincidentally, I had just read Tezuka's BHUDDA a while before signing on, which turned out to be (quite literally) prophetic! Looking forward to the finished film.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


The 2006 movie PITTSBURGH has at least four things to recommend it:

1. It stars Jeff Goldblum
2.It's an improvisational "reality comedy" about Goldblum traveling to Pittsburgh, his hometown to star in a regional production of THE MUSIC MAN.
3. I lived in Pittsburgh from 1976 to 1978 and loved it.
4. I also like THE MUSIC MAN, but have a hard time still picturing Goldblum as Harold Hill.

I just rented this offbeat little indie movie on Netflix and I found it very enjoyable. Kind of like a cross between WAITING FOR GUFFMAN and CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM: it's an entirely improvised and somewhat fictionalized story, but everyone in it portrays their actual selves and the stage production is for real. The result is that rare thing: a documentary doubling as a comedy. Very funny and quirky, like Goldblum himself. See it before he falls off a New Zealand cliff.

Here's something entirely unrelated to recommend also: My friend SAM LEVINE has a blog and why shouldn't he? Sam's a talented artist, writer and voice actor all rolled into one. He is putting up pixilated pictures and funny videos, probably as we speak. Visit soon and check him out.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

"Loss Hangelis" (or "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love L.A.")

30 years ago I moved to Los Angeles to become a character animator. Early in the game I recall a senior effects animator suggest this theory: "You character guys are trying to understand yourselves and the people around you. Effects and layout people are more about trying to understand their whole surroundings and environment."

True, untrue or moot, the theory hit home with me, especially way back then. Even now I notice people first and places later, but back then as a small town transplant to Los Angeles, I was so overwhelmed by my surroundings I literally could not process them. L.A. is universally synonymous with sun, fun, glitz and glamor, all of which can be found here, especially on vacation. But the reality of living here can be harsh. People smile more and honk less here, but other than that you're basically on your own. Naked ambition and the cold shoulder weren't born here, but they took up full time residence long long ago.

Despite these misgivings, somewhere in that first decade I surrendered and found myself gradually adjusted. After a long trip I found I even missed the place and landing in LAX felt like settling into a favorite chair, albeit one immersed in smog. Los Angeles is geographically vast, culturally opaque and constantly self-contradicting: we have the ocean at our disposal, but much of the rest is bone dry. I've lived in the hills, the flats, the 'burbs, in town, and even briefly at the beach. Each has its unique pros and cons. The architecture can be tasteful and discreet one minute, hideously tacky the next, and dumpy and dull in between. Dreams die here but denial lives on. The weather becomes monotonous and sometimes overbearingly so. Yet I always console despondent newbies to watch out: the worst thing about Los Angeles is that it grows on you. I have come to think of it as a friend I have learned to love but not to trust.

More recently still I have finally begun to notice and appreciate the physical aspects of the place, in scope and in detail. The plant life (including the ever present and sky-scraping palm trees) is so colorful and diverse that I never cease to be amazed. The buildings and neighborhoods have a charm of their own. No matter how hard developers try to overhaul the surface with new-ness, the gothic past keeps leaking thu, like the laugh lines cracking thru the botox on a movie star's face. Some days I find myself fairly smitten with wonder at it all.

Lately too I have been spontaneously unable to resist getting some of it down in drawings and color sketches. Some of them are very cartoony (openly influenced by Herriman, Gross and Sterrett) others are a lot more literal, others are just little designs and details. Nearly every night I make time to turn on the tap and see what comes out, and it's turning into something of a backlog. Due to the range of them and the de-emphasis on characters, I have decided to start another blog just for these. Small Room will remain my main blog and dedicated mostly to cartoon art, history and related blather from me.

I'll announce the new blog here when it's ready. In the meantime I'll be posting the usual stuff here and listening to Randy Newman's I LOVE L.A as I do.