Friday, July 13, 2007

Toonistic Links

Another weekend, another round of hot, summery 'toon links, starting with:

Where's my Springfield? And will the real hometown of Homer pleeaase stand up!

A tiny New England hamlet called Springfield has won a competition to host the premiere of The Simpsons Movie, seeing off bids from 13 other Springfields in the US which share the name with Homer Simpson’s cartoon hometown.

The 100-seat cinema in Springfield, Vermont, will host the premiere of the new film on July 21 – six days before it opens to the general public – after winning a competition against Springfields from Oregon on the west coast to Massachusetts in the east...

DreamWorks Animation's Shrek the Third continues to tear up the wickets in overseas venues:

In France, Gallic distribbers are among the only folks happy about the sodden, chilly weather across most of the country...

"Shrek the Third," in its fourth frame, remains a colossal hit nationwide, still on as many screens (850) as its first week and to date cuming some $35 million for Paramount.

Indeed, "Shrek the Third" has continued its stellar box office performance around the globe...

And Ratatouille is also doing well in foreign markets:

"Ratatouille" cooked up a respectable $9.3 million at 1,835 from a dozen markets, led by a solid Mexican opening of $4.2 million -- more than the combined grosses of the next three pics -- and a Russian soph sesh of $1.7 million, down 51% for a cume of $6.6 million for the top Pixar gross in that market. BVI opted to wait for "Shrek the Third" and "Order of the Phoenix" to play out and won't launch "Ratatouille" elsewhere until late July with openings in South Korea and Japan.

Various comic book titles have a worldwide audience. It's not just American super heroes travelling overseas, but foreign titles gaining footholds in the U.S. of A.:

Animation and comics have gone truly global. Just look at Spider-Man 3's global box office sales as an example. Last month, the wall crawling superhero broke box office records in India, earning the most that any Hollywood movie has in that country to date...

The fact that an idea stemming from a 1960s superhero thought up by two American writers holds such strong appeal cross-culturally is simply testimony to the extent to which vastly different cultures are increasingly intermingling with one another. Within this context, acknowledging that anime and manga have gained significant ground with comic book and animation aficionados far beyond the geographical confines of Japan lacks the element of surprise that it might have engendered some years ago.

"If you told parents ten years ago in America that their children would know characters named Yu Gi Oh! and Pokemon as well as they would Spider-Man, those parents would have thought you were crazy — yet in America today an estimated 30% of major children's animated programming is now Japanese animation," states Sharad Devarajan, CEO of the New York headquartered Virgin Comics and Animation.

As we have featured various Virgil Partch cartoons, so the ASIFA Animation Archive today features the puckish artwork of Vip in its virtual display cases.

Almost all of Ratouille's reviews have been strongly positive. But here's a piece from Atlantic Online that carps about the picture and...all the positive reviews:

...the script is not superbly witty, the human leads are frankly unappealing (Owen Gleiberman called Linguine, the kitchen boy, "a one-note stumblebum," which I think is too kind by half) and the villain is cardboard and lamer-than-lame. Technically, Ratatouille is a great advance on The Incredibles. As a complete work of art, though, it's nowhere close.

(To be fair and balanced, here is Jenny's BlackWing Diaries take...)

DreamWorks sees its stock rise as analysts smile kindly upon it:

Shares of DreamWorks Animation SKG, the animation film studio behind "Shrek," rose on Friday after an analyst began coverage of the company with a "Buy" rating, predicting gains from upcoming films.

The stock gained 96 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $30 in afternoon trading.

In a note to clients, Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analyst Drew E. Crum said DeamWorks has produced some of the most successful animated features in motion picture history.

Being a blogmaster has it's many rewards. Did you know (I'll bet you didn't) that this year of 2007 marks a momentous anniversary for animation?

Georgia (the Georgia that was formerly part of the U.S.S.R.) has its own date to celebrate: this year, Georgian animation turns 75...

It was Georgian animator Vladimer Mujiri who brought the first Georgian animated films to life at the start of 20th century. His 1936 short animation “The Argonauts” was the first notable breakthrough...

By the mid-fifties, Georgian animators were taking their cue from Disney’s productions. The style is exemplified in Arkadi Khintibidze’s 25-minute animated film “The Wedding of the Jays,” released in 1957. Based on the story by prominent Georgian writer Vazha-Pshavela, this film and Khintibidze’s other major works—“Tsuna and Tsrustuna” and “Hostility”—were acclaimed as Georgian animation classics.

Speaking of all the converging media (as we were), the Brits are rolling out their first masters program in video game development:

The UK’s first ‘game academy’ has been created by some of the country’s top video games developers and universities for computer games training.

The University of Bradford has teamed up with the University of Hull and Sheffield Hallam University to create the Game Republic Academy (GRA) in collaboration with games industry leaders including Rockstar (famed for the hugely popular Grand Theft Auto series), Team17 and Sumo.

“We are exceptionally placed to offer students the kind of training the industry is crying out for," [said Peter Cowling, professor of computer science.] "With high profile industry figures pointing towards AI (Artificial Intelligence) as the next big thing for commercial games, we are able to offer our new AI for Games Masters programme - the first of its kind in the world..."

Then there is this review from Variety about a new animated docu-tragicomedy:

Colonialism, capitalism and the West's abrasive association with Islam are densely compressed into a partially animated, mostly satisfying history lesson in satirical fable cum docu-essay "Global Haywire: A Short History of Planet Malfunction." Directed, drawn and conceived by Oz political cartoonist and 1976 Oscar-winning animator ("Leisure") Bruce Petty, ambitious pic occasionally creaks under the weight of strained metaphors, but intelligent talking heads and engagingly shambolic cartoons conquer unwieldy narrative and sporadic glibness.

Lastly, we'll conclude with political 'toonists who have turned to the wonderous world of animation:

Known for his quick wit and even sharper pen, nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist Walt Handelsman took home his second Pulitzer Prize in a decade this spring, but the win is not notable for its frequency, but for the technology used to produce his winning submissions.

In late 2005, when faced with gloomy forecasts for the future of his craft, the Newsday editorial columnist and several of his cartoonist colleagues...decided to try their hand at something a little different.

Handelsman began experimenting with new material and a new medium, locking himself in his home office for hours on end, giving up golf for a year, and exchanging his pen for a mouse...

"Animated editorial cartoons are completely different from static editorial cartoons," Handelsman said in an interview with ABC News. "With a standard editorial cartoon, you're taking tons of information and synthesizing it down to a single bite -- a single moment in time. With animated editorial cartoons, it's more storytelling..."

Addendum: So call me obsessive, label me compulsive. It's late but here's a fine Vanity Fair piece on The Yellow Family, offered kaliedescopically through various participants:

Barry Diller: I remember when we screened the first episode, for a number of Fox executives, we all went down to their bungalows over at The Simpsons, and not a single person in the room was laughing, except for me and Jim Brooks. No one had done an animated sitcom since The Flintstones, and it was just like, "What is this?" But we put it on, and it became more and more successful every week.

Have a fabulous weekend.


Benjamin De Schrijver said...

It's funny, but I've never really seen Spiderman as a comicbook character. Me, and everybody my age-group I know (I'm 20 - I assume people my age are the largest audience for the films) learned about Spiderman through the early 90s TV-show. The comics - or any american superhero comic for that matter - are simply unavailable here in Belgium, aside from perhaps a few specialty shops. Then again, Belgium is a comicbook-country in its own, so this might not be the case in other European countries.

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