Friday, March 25, 2011

Frog in a Suit episode 3

I'm really hoping KaboingTV takes off. It'd be nice to have a platform for a quality animation in the age of internet.

Third (and, for the time being, last) episode of Joe Murray's new series, Frog in a Suit was posted and it's really growing to me. After an admittingly slow first episode, the subsequent two episodes really grew my expectations. Hopefully more will be made.

The ending scene was funny. And having guys like Carlos Alazraqui and Tom Kenny doing the voices makes it better, too.

So spread the word of, why don't ya'?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Nephew Newton's Fortune in color

Months back I posted a Calvin and the Colonel episode "Nephew Newton's Fortune" in black and white.

Recently somebody put up the episode in color. Watch it here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Wizard of Id

I thought this is amusing. It's a 4-minute film produced by Jim Henson that features Muppet versions of the "Wizard of Id" characters.

Henson did the voice of the Wizard, and Jerry Juhl did the King and Spook.

More info on the film here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Payoff

This is why I took part in the Guard Dog Global Jam: an original artwork from Bill Plympton's "Guard Dog"!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Pink Panther Show bumpers

The videos below are short bumpers that DePatie-Freleng created for the various incarnations of The Pink Panther Show that was broadcast on NBC's Saturday Morning lineup throughout the '70s. Many of them feature the Panther interacting with the Ant and the Aardvark, suggesting that these were made when the A&A shorts first started appearing on television.

That's Marvin Miller narrating.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rocko's Modern Life and KaboingTV

I still consider Rocko's Modern Life to be one of the funniest TV cartoons ever made so I was pleasantly surprised when it was announced that Shout! Factory will release season 1 on DVD this summer.

I've never bought anything from Shout! before but from my understanding they actually care about their products and use the best available materials possible, so hopefully their release will be uncut. Plus Amazon's pre-order price is $14 right now, so why bother going for the $50 MOD DVD that won't play on most computers anyway?

You can preorder here.

And while we're talking about Rocko, it's appropriate enough that creator Joe Murray recently launched his long talked-about website, Kaboing TV. His goal being to produce quality, creator-made cartoons for the age of internet. As a long-time supporter of artist-driven cartoons I support the website and hope that it will bring great cartoons. See the site here. Hopefully it will expand.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Transition from print to animation

(above, a page from the original "Umeboshi Denka" comics, published in 1968)

My last post on Umeboshi Denka promoted a comment from Disney animator Will Finn saying that animated adaptations of Japanese comics tend to lose something when transitioning to small screen. As an example he cited "Lupin III", noting that the animated series tightened the loose artwork present in Monkey Punch's original comics.

This led me to think about other comics-to-animation adaptations over the years in regards to Japanese shows. In the beginning most Japanese cartoon shows were adapted from pre-existing comics; very few shows at the time were created specifically for television (and even then the networks preferred that a comic version is published first just to see how the public reacts).

Specifically, how much liberties should studios have when it comes to making what the character was originally created to be seen in print to work in animation? Obviously this depends entirely on how the character were drawn in the first place.

Some shows they try really hard to retain the look of the source material. Will mentioned Shunji Sonoyama's Gon (original title Hajime Ningen Gyators, lit. "First Human Gyators"). The original comics were drawn in very shaky style. A Japanese version of "B.C.", stylistically.

(a page from Gyators)

Tokyo Movie later turned it into a series as a replacement for Dokonjo Gaeru ("Frog with Guts", itself based on a comic, but that's for another time)

There were some necessary streamlining in order to make the designs work in animation, but they still managed to retain some of the shakiness from the source material. This article from AniPages Daily writes that this is what the studio was apparently going for. To prove the point further they reproduced studio notes that instructed animators how to draw the characters.

So sometimes studios are successful at retaining the loose style in original comics. In the case of "Umeboshi Denka" and other Fujiko Fujio manga, despite the cartoony designs and exaggerated facial features the characters are drawn rather conservatively compared to the works of Monkey Punch and Shunji Sonoyama. As a result not too many are lost in transition...usually.

The first Fujio-duo comic to be animated was their break-out hit, Obake no Q-Taro (Q-Taro the Ghost). While Japanese shows that aired before it featured comic reliefs and in some cases cartoony character designs, "Q Taro" was the first show that was specifically gag-comedy oriented.

Even though the show was a big hit back in the day it was barely shown after its run (1965-67 for 97 episodes) ended. It's cited that the reason for that is because it was shot in black and white. However from the little I've seen of the series the quality may have affected the rerun issue. Tokyo Movie Shinsha is often regarded as the best of the Japanese studios and I theorize they may be embarrassed by this show, which is quite frankly shoddy even by 1960s standards.

(a page from Q-Taro comic)

In 1971 TMS produced a revival called "Shin Obake no Q-Taro" (New Q-Taro the Ghost), this time in color. From the little of what I've seen they were much more loose than the 1960s series. TMS by then had gotten the hang of doing shows and improved. Many fans feel that this was the most faithful adaptation of the three "Q-Taro" shows (one more was made in 1985-87 by another studio, and the only one of the three that's available in home video).

Sometimes the transition from print to animation can be done right. This rests entirely on how the source material is presented. I have to agree with Will, in regards to Lupin, that the comic's looseness could have been transitioned to animation, even if the low budget meant that certain liberties had to be taken. The pilot film, embedded below, is much more faithful to the source material than any subsequent cartoons featuring the character.

So what do you think? If anyone's interested in me going over American comic-to-animation adaptations, write in the comments.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Umeboshi Denka (1969)

Fujiko Fujio were a popular cartoonist duo from Japan, made up of Hiroshi Fujimoto (1933-1996) and Moto Abiko (1934-). Together they've created many comics, the most popular being Doraemon, which was adapted into a TV series that ran from 1979 to 2005 (26 years!) only to be revived about a month later with a new show which still goes on to this day.

The duo has a long list of comics that they have created, many of which have been adapted into TV series. Tokyo Movie Shinsha (then simply known as Tokyo Movie) produced several in the '60s and '70s, many of them in black and white. "Obake no Q-taro" (Q-taro the Ghost) came first, followed by "Perman" (literally "Superman" without the "Su"), "Kaibutsu Kun" (Monster Prince), then this one...

"Umeboshi Denka" (Denka from Star Ume) was actually the last black and white show that TMS made*, broadcast on TBS (Tokyo Broadcast Service) from April to September of 1969 for 26 episodes. It was a gag-comedy about a royal alien family from another planet who moved to Earth after their planet got destroyed. A Japanese family took them in, resulting in comedic hijinks.

There were attempts to revive the series in color, but it was unsuccessful. They did a feature-film based on it, hoping to gain interest, and Denka even made a guest appearance in one episode of "Doraemon", but all attempts were futile.

As for the 1969 B&W series, the only thing available on the internet are the opening and closing sequences.

Notice that the end sequence has a lot of empty space in layouts. This was because they superimposed screen credits where the empty space is. The video presented above is a non-credit version.

* - One more B&W show from TMS came out after "Denka", called "Chingo Muchabei", broadcast in 1971. However this was actually made in 1968; it didn't air until years later.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Brad Caslor's early work

Brad Caslor is known for his short Get a Job, but before that he animated on some of the Canada Vignettes that NFB produced in the late '70s/early '80s. They were very short, usually 1 to 3 minutes long, but they generally clever. Multiple filmmakers worked on them, so there are a variety of styles.

Fort Prince of Wales (1978)

Spence's Republic (1978)

More information here.