The Links of the week, starting with animation tyro Craig McCracken talking about WhupAss Girls:
I had pitched Whupass [aka Powerpuff Girls] before the shorts program was developed. I had always thought it would have been a television program. It was in development as far back as 1992, 1993. I had originally shown it to the development department and they immediately loved it. We were already starting to negotiate for a television series. That was before What A Cartoon was developed. I was talking contract for a 13-episode series. While we were negotiating, then they came up with the shorts program.
That actually stopped the green light. Fred Seibert saw the potential in the Whupass Girls, very early on. The really weird thing about it is I thought I was going to get that contract when they called me in way back in 1993 and it took until 1997 for me to finally get it.
Animation master Hayao Miyazaki isn't overly thrilled with animation in the digital age:
'I can't stand modern movies. The images are too weird and eccentric for me,' Miyazaki told Hong Kong's Sunday Morning Post in an interview to promote his latest movie, 'Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea.'
Miyazaki said his recruits are tested in a boot camp where mobile phones, iPods and other electronic devices are banned.
'Young people are surrounded by virtual things,' Miyazaki was quoted as saying. 'They lack real experience or life and lose their imagination. Animators can only draw from their own experience of pain and shock and emotions.' But the president of Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli, a former Disney executive, was quoted as saying the studio is open to computer animation ...
While we're on the subject of edgy cartoons, Jerry Beck discusses animated shorts of yore that began life as family fare but somehow went bad.
... [S]everal cartoons, created as theatrical cartoon shorts in the 1930s and 40s ... though aimed at kids back then are no longer suitable for our children today. For example "No If's And Or Butts" finds Buzzy Crow (a black stereotype) trying to help his friend Katnip the cat kick his nicotine habit. It's extremely violent, promotes smoking and is racist! Several of tonight's cartoons are films that were personally disturbing to me. For example, the Max Fleischer Color Classic "Ants In the Plants" which concerns the battle of an army of ants against a hungry anteater. The anteater's snout looks like a giant male sex organ and it is shown chasing the ants through their ant tunnels... the whole thing is like a bizzarre sex dream.
But hey. Aren't cartoons supposed to be like bizarre sex dreams? I mean, isn't that why eager young artists got into the business?
(Jerry is showing some of these specimens at the Silent Movie Theatre here in L.A. The line forms to the right ...)
Keanu Reeves is going to become an anime action figure. Kind of.
[Keanu Reeves] is attached to topline a live-action bigscreen adaptation of the Japanese anime TV series "Cowboy Bebop" ... Reeves will take on the role of Spike Spiegel, an adventurous bounty hunter traveling through space in 2071.
Ah yes, another Scooby Doo-style franchise.
Variety reviews an Aussie stop-motion feature, and has its quibbles:
"Mary and Max" ... a glum tale of friendship between two very unlikely pen pals, writer-director-designer Adam Elliot's follow-up to his Oscar-winning 2003 short "Harvie Krumpet" has its share of deadpan amusements, but its combo of mordant whimsy and tearjerker moments winds up curdling in an unappetizing fashion. A strong voice cast headed by Toni Collette and Philip Seymour Hoffman could buoy the toon's otherwise uncertain prospects beyond Oz.
This could explain why Jeffrey had his talk with the staff in the DreamWorks commissary a couple of weeks back:
Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter on Thursday cut his fourth-quarter revenue and earnings estimates for DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc (DWA.N), citing lower-than-projected sales of the "Kung Fu Panda" DVD, released in early November.
Pachter said in a note he cut his fourth-quarter estimate of "Panda" DVD unit sales to 11 million from his revised estimate of 12 million in early December, which was down from an original estimate of 14 million units
DVD sales just aren't what they used to be.
On Wednesday night [John] Lasseter ... gleefully revealed how he's been cutting a swathe through the Disney ranks since being appointed chief creative officer at the animation studio in 2006 following Disney's Pixar takeover, while also retaining the equivalent title at Pixar, where he oversees all projects as an executive producers.
"We just got rid of the executives who were controlling everything and handed the power back to the creatives," he said. "These guys were great animators and the best thing to do if you have great animators is give them their head."
History, as they say, is written by the winners. Have a fine Sunday and life-giving workweek.