Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Sunday, 27 September 2009
In this episode, an amorous French Octopus mistakes Tom, disguised as a mermaid, for a real one while the cat pursues after Jerry in an underwater chase.
Little did I knew that the Octopus (a poor squid's Pepe le Pew, some may consider) featured much sooner in the 1953 MGM movie "Dangerous When Wet", starring Esther Williams. In one part of the film, she encounters Tom and Jerry in a surreal dream sequence, which is where our eight-legged friend came in...
While a full episode of the Tom and Jerry Tales entry is unavailable, I thought it'd be better to show the Esther Williams scene - just because! ;)
"Dangerous When Wet" Secuencia Animada
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Tuesday, 22 September 2009
Sunday, 20 September 2009
Saturday, 19 September 2009
One particular scene I enjoyed most is the Stegosaurus song, with a belter of a singer behind the character in mind. Many nippers might not even get that this is a fun parody of "American Idol/X Factor", but for those who do watch and enjoy. Be sure to keep an eye out for the judges as well, who appear to resemble a few familiar faces... XD
Friday, 18 September 2009
This, IMO, is the funniest thing that came out of this series. Nothing is scarier than seeing "Peg Leg" Pete dancing in a pink tutu, but it's worth it to hear Jim Cummings' fantastic take on Goldo's Boom Da Boom. The animation is one big dizzy trip - surreal but, again, funny as Hell XD
Here's the actual footage for your enjoyment. But as I couldn't find the full English version, I took the footage of a German clip instead and replaced it with the proper soundtrack 8-)
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Monday, 14 September 2009
Sunday, 13 September 2009
Saturday, 12 September 2009
You may remember in my last review we discussed the two genes in all animations – they either have good animation/bad writing or bad animation/good writing. Well today, I’m going to take that up on a higher level, by a fair comparison of two shows who, some argue, are identical to each other.
Let’s find out, shall we?
The shows we have in mind are “Little Howard’s Big Question” and “ROY” – two shows which share some similarities. They both feature an animated character living in the real world and use clever animation/live-action blending tricks...and are both being shown on CBBC. Sure, there’s that, but now we start to tear them apart with their differences and to further my animation/writing thingy.
LITTLE HOWARD’S BIG QUESTION
This series, created by comedian and animator Howard Reed, started off as a human/cartoon double act on such
First difference between Little Howard and Roy is Little Howard is animated on computer using Flash and/or ToonBoom (I’m not completely sure). This allows plenty of tweened animation to be performed with slices of frame-by-frame animation if necessary, for say mouths or walking movements. This gives the little chap a rather inferior look, to some possibly cheap.
But the true brilliance of this series comes from the writing – the basis for the series is Little Howard (with a nifty air horn) asking Big Howard a pondering question and they spend the next half hour working it out through research then testing their theories. It’s like Sooty meets Tennessee Tuxedo; it’s informative with interesting facts, but at the same time tremendously witty with plenty of in-jokes for adults to enjoy and the usual slapstick for the young ‘uns to giggle at. The real fun is seeing how they work out the answer and doesn’t require them to talk down on the kiddies like they’re brainless moons. Cartoon pleasantry with historical/scientific/natural facts sandwiched amongst mayhem and fourth wall smashing. YEEAH, BRILLIANT!!
Amongst the wild stuff that goes on, there are a few key characters that join “the Two Howards” to be helpful to their question or add more to the story. Mother the Computer, who provides all the useful facts for our heroes to learn from, Roger the Pigeon, their on/off agent with a habit of nicking the show’s budgie…er, budget…and Dorris the daredevil little granny who isn’t all that she seems. Another clever trick with LHBQ that I’ve picked up is how every object suddenly becomes “animated” whenever Little Howard grabs it.
Granted, it’s no work based from Disney or Warner Bros, but in the end this little series has earned biiiiig reception from his fans – and I mean that for both Howards. Where else would you learn “why we can’t fly”, “would the dinosaurs ever come back” and “what’s the world’s most dangerous food?” :)
And now we start to move onto
While the animation of
Talking of characters, unlike Little Howard, several of the cast just seem too one-sided and samy, some already covered from previous kid-related shows – the jealous older sibling, the love interest, the deceiving, unfair Headmaster and the spiteful, snobby school bully. Unless any of these receive further development on who they really are instead of who we assume they are, then I’ll just have to be content.
Another problem to work from is with so much live action footage to work from, it kind of slows the series down a bit when the only lively character is
So while I do give top props to the animation team for their smooth animations and clever live-action/animation blendings, I secretly wish we didn’t have to focus so much on
So there you are – two shows who appear and sound similar but actually aren’t. I hope you’ve enjoyed this interesting insight and that you may have learnt a thing or three. Oh, and I also wish both Howard and Roy the best of luck for their futures in animation and TV land.
Friday, 11 September 2009
In all the years I have been watching cartoons in many forms and from many corners of the world, we are all pretty adjective to what we like and what we hate. Now I’m no Jerry Beck but from what I know, there are two types of cartoons that fall into a particular category:
- One type of cartoon can have great animation but lacklustre writing
- Another can have poor animation but brilliant writing.
This isn’t any surprise to what we’ve been used to in modern day animation, but it’s these types of genes that go back as far as the Golden Ages themselves. With big names like Warner Bros, MGM and Disney making themselves a fun living by bringing out memorable characters, suddenly every other studio wanted to try and gain the same line of fame and stardom. Now many of these have been pretty pick and mix, remembering them from either the glory days of Cartoon Network (when they actually showed cartoons) or revisiting/discovering them via YouTube. This is where the good writing/bad animation, bad animation/good writing scenario comes in.
Often, many studios spend so much time in designing wonderful character designs and carefully crafting the worlds they live in they often forget the real drive for all shows – the writing. If you fully understand and believe in the characters before you start conjuring up random ideas, then you can make them believable; put yourself in their shows, make them relive your own problems and lives but in a far more humorous scenarios. Or if it’s going to have proper continuity (such as Avatar, for instance) then make each episode follow on and remind each other of the adventures your characters come across so that eventually everything will click together.
Sadly, everything is about making a fast buck, so many cartoon shows suffer a lot from people who don’t fully understand what is funny, thus they stick the characters in either unrelated escapades or brand them as pale stereotypes when they become too lazy to think of their own original material. But again, this all happened way back in the Golden Ages, where the animation truly mattered.
One studio that comes to mind is Colimbia Screen Gems. This studio has had many changes to its style and writing than David Beckham’s haircut, handled by Frank “Tish Tash” Tashlin and Bob Clampett respectfully, both who spawned from Warner Bros. They have some of the most gloriously designed characters with perfect streamlined animation – by such people as Emery Hawkins, for one. But alas, their writing has been considered on/off. It seemed like the storyboard artists were operating VCR’s’; they had these wonderful characters with loads of potential – the lesser known “Fox and Crow” come to mind – and yet they didn’t know how to use them properly. At times, they would start off all right but wind up with a sour finish, and at times they just dragged out a dreadful storyline which becomes a waste of beautiful animation altogether. If you dare, try and locate “Mass Mouse Meeting”, a cartoon which is a sure cure for insomnia.
To be fair, when they do a good story they do a good story, which is helped by directors like Bob Wickersham to keep the animation fast, funny and energetic, as well as voice actors like Frank Graham to bring the characters to life (again, with Fox and Crow).
The “good animation/bad writing” category would also suit Famous Studios (Noveltoons/Harveytoons). Not that their stories were poor in the least; they just became repetitive. Again, they had an interesting arrangement of characters with fun potential – Baby Huey, Buzzy the funny crow, Casper the Friendly Ghost – with some amazing animators working behind them (Seymour Kneitel, Marty Taras). But over time, when they realised they had hit on a good thing, they tried to remake the same stories again, and again, and again, where you eventually know that Casper will gain a new friend, you know they’ll be some crow-related recipe Buzzy has to escape out of and you know Herman will eventually beat up Katnip by the end.It’s rather a shame to admit that, in the end, the only good thing to talk about these shorts was the animation.
However, Harveytoons did boast of a few characters who didn’t fall into the repetitive storyline syndrome – Tommy Tortoise and Moe Hare, while to some an obvious knock-off from the Bug Bunny/Cecil Turtle series, managed to turn themselves into something far different following their first short. And Blackie the Lamb also proved to be highly entertaining with fresh ideas for his series against Wolfie the Wolf. So it’s probably a blessing that these two stars in particular only had a small run – short but sweet.
In fact, the same would also apply to Walter Lantz’ studio. While it’ll forever be the studio that made Woody Woodpecker, many of their cartoons either didn’t have an actual plot or just burnt out halfway. It didn’t help either when, after a few shut downs and reopenings, their animation style took a nasty turn thanks to one Paul Smith…
…but I won’t go into that, because it brings me nicely to my next point – bad animation/good writing.
It was clear when the 40’s and 60’s rolled in did the stylised, limited look of UPA quickly affected the other studios at this point. The animation quality decreased and, while artistically brilliant, a few companies did suffer due to this. Thus, studios like Hanna-Barbera had to rely on the writing to keep cartoons funny and entertaining when the attention turned from theatrical cartoons to made-for-TV works. And surprisingly, this was quite a blessing for a few little companies...
Terrytoons, the company who brought us Mighty Mouse, Gandy Goose and Heckle and Jeckle, was way, way behind the times, using the same old methods and styles from as far as the 1930’s. And while their rubbery style was fine and everything, the writing dept was just as old as their techniques – either resorting to Disney-like Silly Symphonies or plagiarising other ideas/storylines to claim as their own. The only characters that were keeping them alive (and the audiences laughing) were Heckle and Jeckle, helped greatly by Jim Tyer’s fantastically wild squash-n-stretch animation, but even they suffered from poor writing now and again.
However, it was after Paul Terry’s departure from the studio did the writing start to pick up. This was when animation studios started making cartoons for television and, thus, the animation was limited to 8 frames instead of 16 to save money and produce shorts faster. Of course, Terrytoons’ “new and limited” style wasn’t anything to brag home about, but – oh! – were their TV shorts good! The strongest character to thrive from here was Deputy Dawg, who really made himself a name by witter, faster-paced and original episodes, all in a space of five minutes each, no less! Never mind what the censor police say about stereotypes and wotnot, I could literally watch DD all day long so long as the writing is sharp and clever.
The same also applies to Hanna-Barbera, as previously mentioned. Before they fell into the Scooby-Do syndrome and after a rocky start with Ruff and Reddy, they hit it high with Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw and Yogi Bear, with Lippy and Hardy, Magilla Gorilla and the Flintstones to follow suit. These guys were helped greatly when Warren Foster and Michael Maltease transferred from WB to HB to take over Dan Gordon and Charlie Shows for providing the storylines, the real driving forces for the immense cast to follow and form over time. Clever wordplay, dreadful puns, and inventive concepts – my guilty pleasures for cartoons altogether, never mind that some of their humour was based on “illustrated radio”. Of course while their animation did get better as time went on, the writing would still be so-so (and I don’t mean Peter Potamus’ companion either), but it’s the glory years of the 50’s and 60’s I’ll cherish for always and always.
And what about modern day animation? Well, it’s pretty hard to say right now. Some people say “we’re screwed”, some people say “it’ll get better”. So it’s pretty difficult to say when animation is going to get back on its feet to how it used to be. There have been some shows that show promise and, more often than not, succeed, while others just sound promising by the synopsis; their actual episodes something less to be desired. It would be too long a list to say which shows have good writing/bad animation or bad writing/good animation – let’s just say there are a few rare ‘toons that have good animation AND writing…
So to sum up my post, here’s some lesson that I’ve learnt from my 20-something years of watching, studying and enjoying cartoons altogether:
- If your cartoon series is going to have limited animation, be sure to keep the writing fresh and lively. The funnier, the better. Just don’t let characters read out or describe everything that happens on screen.
- Even if the story in mind isn’t as good as it should be, at least provide the best animation you can. Make yourself stand out from the crowd, develop your own style, whether it’s 2D, CGI or pixel gifs.
- Don’t try and bluntly copy other peoples’ works or ideas. Try something new, something that hasn’t been done before. If that doesn’t work then take Hanna-Barbera’s advice: see a simple storyline and then twist it into something original and different until it becomes what you want. Remember, no Fairy Tale parody should appear the same XD
If any one this has made sense, then take the advice I heed. It’s worth it.
Next time, I’ll discuss the good animation/bad writing, bad animation/good writing further by a proper comparison of two shows from the
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
A superb pie fight for the heck of it - best enjoyed when listening to this piece of music - one of many stock music cues from Phil Green's library, and commonly heard in Hanna-Barbera's shows from the 50's - 60's:
Custard Pie Capers - Download
Music cue taken from the blog of Yowp, just to be safe...
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
Just a few random bird drawings I doodled whilst on holiday. Although confidentially, the first drawing is based on a hilarious performance from an episode of Disney's "House on Mouse" - namely, Iago the Parrot's spin on "A Pirate's Life for me" XD :
Monday, 7 September 2009
Hi-ho everyone! It's been a long time coming, but at last here I am to show the world (wide web) my arts and skills. I'm a little new to the Blog Scene, so I'll make it brief:
I've been drawing for the past 22 years of my life, and having since left University for over a year, I've been searching for the ideal place and job to really let loose my creativity in writing and drawing. And since I'm not going to find one any time sooner, I might as well make the most of my free time with this place!
I also have a nifty little website as my online portfolio should anyone be interested (see link below), although this blog will contain many new pieces that I have made, as well as posting some reviews on various subjects relating to the media world, old and new. So I'll do my best not to turn them into rant fests! ;)
So with introductions made, I hope you'll be interested in what I have to offer in the near future. I'll try not to disappoint 8-)