Top 10 Animation Anomaly List Posts From the Past Year

Monday is normally a list day here on the blog, but today I realised that I’ve only been doing them for about a year. So here’s a review of the 10 most popular list posts based on the number of readers since this time last year.

1. The 7 Things That Made Adventure Time A Success

By far the most popular, in this post, I outline 7 traits of the show and the team behind it that have contributed to its success over the years. Suffice to say, there are still plenty of shows out there that could stand to learn from Adventure Time.

2. Four Signs We’re Possibly in an Animation Bubble Right Now

Just about this time last year, I took a look at whether the animation industry is, in fact, a bubble. The concerns are still there but after a year, the bubble shows no sign of slowing down.

3. The Top 7 Cartoon Cars of All Time

Yes, I did rank the top cartoon cars of all time.

4. 10 More Important Moments in Animation History

A very recent post, but one that looks at important events that have shaped the animation landscape that we know and love today. The last one proved a bit contentious.

5. British Cartoons From the 80s that Americans Sadly Missed

British cartoons were happening back in the 80s and sadly some didn’t make it across the Atlantic. Click through and enjoy the very Thriller-esque credits to Count Duckula.

6. 11 More Animation Blogs That Everyone Ought to Read

My friend Dave Levy posted a list of animation blogs that he reads and I added onto that post with 11 more that are a must in your regular animation blog reading.

7. Five Reasons Why The End of The Simpsons Will Be The Death knell For Animation on FOX

The Simpsons practically made the FOX network, but the demise of that show will herald the end of animation on that network as we know it today. This post outlined 5 reasons why that will happen.

8. 5 Predictions For The Future Of Animation

Although my clairvoyant abilities are, uh, unknown, I nonetheless predict the 5 big changes that are surely coming in animation in the foreseeable future.

9. The Top 10 Animated Movies on DVD of 2011

I looked at the DVD sales for animation content on Amazon.com and coming away thoroughly disappointed.

10. Grading the Disney Princess Magazine Covers Part 4

This particular post got the most visits, but is only one of a four part series. In them, I grade a series of faux magazine covers featuring various Disney female protagonists. Here’s parts one, two and three!

Some Reasonable DIscussions About Animation at the A.V. Club

Last week the A.V. Club ran a top 50 films of the 90s series of posts that criminally neglected animation until it got to number 3. Even then they went with Toy Story 2, an admittedly good film that was cranked out with numerous injuries to the production team but which ultimately relied on far too much of the original to be eligible for any top film list in my book.

Nonetheless, after the list was concluded, the favourites emerged and among them was the film that many consider the pinnacle of pre-2000 feature animation, Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant. That thankfully set off a discussion in the comments that included some fairly insightful discussion about 90s animation. You can read the original thread by clicking here.

What made the discussion stand out for me was that there were plenty of animated films that had been left off the main list but that were substantial and superb films on their own. Think Beauty and the Beast, Porco Rosso, Pom Poko, Princess Mononoke. And they’re only the very best, pretty much anything Disney turned out during that decade was good, and there are plenty more films like Ghost in the Shell that could be eligible too.

So what do you think? Is the Iron Giant the best animated film of the 90s or do you agree with the A.V. Club and canvas for Toy Story 2?

The Top 10 Most Influential Living People in Animation

From time to time, you see lists for the most influential people in animation. However, a lot if not all of them include those of us that have departed this world for the next and in any case, Walt Disney is always on top. So today, I present to you the top 10 most influential living people in animation (in not particular order).

Bill Plympton

Being hip before it was cool, Bill has been an independent since before I was born! To be an independent animator is to be one hard working fellow. Continuously putting out witty and serious works, Bill is an inspiration not only for his films, but also for his master classes, festival and society appearances and the blog he co-writes with Pat Smith. All in all, Bill shall continue to be an influence on animators for a long time to come.

Ed Catmull

Let’s cut to the chase; CGI animation likely wouldn’t be around in the form it is today if it weren’t for Ed Catmull. A lot of people will give John Lasseter the credit, but it was Ed who saw the potential for computer animation long before anyone else. Today, Pixar sets the bar in terms of animation quality against which all others are measured. If that isn’t influence, I don’t know what is.

Matt Groening

Do you like primetime animation? Good, because while Groening might not be entirely responsible for the idea, he is certainly a large part of the execution. His success with The Simpsons has spawned King of the Hill, Futurama, Family Guy and just about every other attempt at televised mainstream animation that you can think of.That’s not small feat.

Gene Deitch

Just celebrating a birthday last week (as I write this), Deitch has worked on Tom & Jerry as well as Terrytoons although perhaps most notable (and the reason he’s here) is his work for UPA which continues to influence animation to this very day.

Glen Keane

After the 9 Old Men came Glen Keane, who is very much integral to the Disney look over the last 20 years or so. His art has helped shape many a young animator’s portfolios and he has been an essential link between the old Disney and the new. Although he has departed the Mouse House, it’s safe to say that Keane’s influence will continue to be felt around Burbank for decades to come.

Fred Seibert

Although Nicktoons kicked it all off, creator-driven TV shows didn’t get into full swing until Fred helped launch the Cartoon Cartoon series on Cartoon Network while head of Hanna-Barbera. Smash hits like Dexter’s Laboratory, Johnny Bravo and the Powerpuff Girls are still viewed with awe. After those hits, Fred has continued to crank them out through the What A Cartoon and Random! Cartoons which launched even more hits for Nickelodeon (including my personal favourite). Moreso than that, Fred has been an innovator, moving into the online world with the prototypical series The Meth Minute 39.

Hayao Miyazaki

This one kinda goes without saying doesn’t it.

Bruce Timm

Think of a modern superhero cartoon. I bet you thought of one that Bruce Timm has his hand in didn’t you? If not, you can be sure that his influence exists somewhere down the line. Ever since Batman: The Animated Series hit the TV screens, it has been night on impossible to escape the look of Timm’s DC animated universe (DCAU). He’s still going strong so anticipate his influence to continue.

Tomm Moore

A young man in relative terms but The Secret of Kells went above and beyond what everyone expected and introduced a whole generation of people to Moore’s lush visual 2-D style. Although it isn’t seen very much yet, expect to see a lot of Moore’s influence in the years to come.

Ray Harryhausen

Still kicking around and remaining a considerable influence on special FX and stop-motion animation even in the face of blue-screens and CGI. Ray Harryhausen’s long career establishes his place on the list simply by being so long! In addition he worked on pioneering films such as Jason and the Argonauts and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad; films that continue to be studied today.

The Top 10 Animated Film-Related Posters on Allposters.com

Today, just for fun, I thought I would take a look and see what the top 10 best selling posters are for animated films as told by allposters.com. Unfortunately I can’t get a timeframe on these, so I’m assuming it’s over at least the last 6 months but is probably longer.

In compiling this list, I only included anything over c. 22″ x 34″, in other words, the size you see at the cinema. (Clicking on the image will take you to the relevant allposters.com page).

1. Cars

2. Despicable Me

3. Toy Story 3

4. Tangled

5. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

6. Toy Story 3 (again)

7. The Nightmare Before Christmas

8. The Princess and the Frog

9. Cars (again)

10. Avatar

Flixist on 8 Cartoons That Should Have A Feature Film

Via: Flixist

Movie blog Flixist has a list of 8 cartoons that blogger Hubert Vigilla believes should have a feature-length adaptation. The list is below, but I would highly encourage you to visit the original post to read the explenations.

  1. Danger Mouse
  2. DuckTales
  3. Krazy Kat
  4. Space Ghost
  5. Little Nemo
  6. Mighty Mouse
  7. Cat ‘n’ Mouse
  8. Gatchaman (aka G-Force, aka Battle of the Planets)

Do you agree with any of these? In my opinion, Danger Mouse has by far the most potential of the bunch. But there are plenty more that I would like to see:

  • King of the Hill (bit of a no-brainer really)
  • The Flintstones (no live-action nonsense)
  • Futurama (a true, big-screen adaptation)
  • Atomic Betty (I think it could work)
  • Superman (Vigilla specifically mentions the Fleischer style and I agree

Seven Superb Title Cards From My Life as a Teenage Robot

The other day, I cam across the blog of Steve Joseph Holt, a rather talented artist whose worked on some of your favourite cartoons from the last decade or so. Long story short, on his portfolio, I noticed that he was responsible for a couple of title cards for My Life as a Teenage Robot.

So of course, I couldn’t resist going back and looking through them all and I once again realised how awesome they really are. I mean, fair play to Fred for insisting upon them on all of his shows, and then following up with an entire book devoted to them.

Anyway, here’s 7 of the best from the entire series’ run.

 

The Return of Raggedy Android - note the Hubley reference
Daydream Believer - surely a reference to The Monkees

The Wonderful World of Wizzly – perhaps a reference to…oh, we all know who it is.

Teen Team Time
Dancing with my Shell - Don't you just love the subtle use of the clef symbols?
Girl of Steal - A great play on a familiar title
No Harmony With Melody - There's only one great reference, but it's done twice.

The 6 Best Ways to Merchandise An Animated Creation

Animation’s been around for a long time, and its related merchandise has been around for almost the same amount of time (Windsor McCay wasn’t very market-savvy). Arguably Walt Disney was the finest marketer that animation could have hoped for in that he didn’t just market anything and everything (except at the start), he knew his target audience but also who held the purse-strings for them.

Animation is a funny kind of a medium when it comes to merchandising because, unlike live-action, there’s only so much you can do. Oh sure, you have the usual things, which we’ll get to in a minute, but unfortunately, any physical replica can never match the animated version directly. Yes, even CGI falls into this trap, but they do have a leg up on traditional animation in that regard.

So, unlike a live-action TV show where you simply duplicate a prop or costume from the show and flog them to one and all, what are the best ways to create a merchandising empire built on an animated offering? Here’s a few of the best ones (that work for just about anything from a TV show to an independent film to an animated feature).

1. Toys

As much as I hate to be painfully obvious, toys are incredibly important for the simple reason that any animated TV show or film aimed at kids is slap bang-in-the-middle suitable for this. Why? Because toys are tried and tested and the reason for that is that they build upon the rampant imaginations of the little ones.

Toys are enormously lucrative but they do carry a lot of risks in that they’re costly to produce and can induce horrendous losses if they don’t sell. Perhaps best left to the big boys, toys can nonetheless be for adults too, (think novelties and high-quality figurines).

2. Clothing

It’s funny to think that these days its perfectly acceptable for grown adults to wear clothes with cartoon characters on them. Hot Topic seems to be doing quite well catering to the slightly older crowd with T-shirts and other items with recent shows such as Adventure Time but also older ones like Doug and Rugrats.

Clothing (for adults more so than kids) is a way for the wearer to publicly state that they identify with a character and who that character is.

Again, this is probably more suited to the big boys, but with the likes of Cafe Press, its possible for anyone to create something and plaster it on a T-shirt (or any other kind of merchandise for that matter). Personally, I’d like to see more clothing with animated characters on them (I’d wear more too but the office has a dress code). PS see my post with some of the T-shirts I found in Ireland featuring animated characters.

3. Books

Books! Who doesn’t like a book? Animation-related books are everywhere these days, from Art of, to storybooks to colouring books to you name it! Books do fall a lot closer to toys and animation in terms of cost and risk, but the great news is that you don’t even need to print books anymore, just make a PDF and put it online as an ebook!

You can, of course, still go the traditional route, but a lot of folks these days are taking the hybrid option, that is, offer an electronic version for download and a hard copy version to sell at shows or to those out there with more shelf space than myself.

Books are an important element in helping the audience connect with a project. “Art of” books are all the rage because they offer the consumer a glimpse into the processes that went into making their favourite film (or TV show). Storybooks, comics and the like allow the consumer to engage in additional stoytelling beyond the animated story, and who doesn’t like that?

All in all, books are an important element in selling your film or TV show that have been tried and tested for decades.

4. Signed Stuff

Why do people value singed stuff? Well, if they’re anything like me, they just like the feeling they get from knowing they have something unique (or close to it). Signed stuff is relatively rare in the grand scheme of things, and while they generally cost more than a non-signed item, they can provide the owner with a great sense of self-satisfaction.

Sadly, animators tend to hide behind the cel, but thankfully those that are known can create a valuable source of income and add a little extra to every sale by personalising things for their fans.

 5. Drawings

For years (back in the early days) it was assumed that the reams of paper produced at an animated studio were next to worthless. Heck, even Disney sold the cels from their classics at Disneyland in the 1950s.

That all changed pretty quick as studios and consumers realised that what could be better than owning a copy of something than owning a piece of it.

Bill Plympton utilizes this procedure very well. He’s a drawing kind of guy and relies heavily on merchandise to fund his animated adventures. So its only natural that he should sell the various drawings that he’s used to create is films (cels too). Why? Well for one, it costs money to store things, and secondly, why not? They help him engage with his fans and make him money doing it!

This can work for anyone, large or small. Even CGI films still produce tons of paper drawings (and concept art, etc) that one could sell.

Don’t think of it as selling a piece of yourself (it’s not), think of it as selling a piece of your creation to someone who will value it a lot. That’s the kind of person you want because they’re willing to pay for the privilege.

6. Access

Lastly, access can be an avenue to merchandising success because what’re rarer than an actual piece of the film? Why some time with the animator(s) themselves! Now of course, this will depend heavily on how well you are known and how willing you are to travel.

Nina Paley engages in this a lot. She travels all over the world giving talks and classes and so forth, but she was never busier than when she was promoting her feature film, Sita Sings the Blues. Why? Because a screening of a film is more lucrative when the person responsible shows up for a meet and greet.

Obviously this isn’t just as simple as showing up and signing a few pieces of paper. Oh no. You have to engage with the audience so that they form a connection with you and your film. That kind of thing helps build relationships and help someone become more amenable to buying something if they fell they know you personally.

 

Need some examples? Check out these sites below!

5 Reasons to Love Really Old Cartoons

Via: Wikipedia

And when I say old, I mean old. Most of the Looney Tunes are far too new to be considered for this list. I’m talking about the old, old, incredibly old school* stuff that’s in black and white and probably didn’t even have sound when it first came out.

Why would you love these old “cartoons”? Here’s 5 reasons why:

  1. They’re uncomplicated almost to the extreme. No real character development or attempts at consistency. Heck, most of the time, the characters don’t even live in the same house between shorts. Why love this? It means you can enjoy them without any pretensions or worries about missing out on something, unlike say a TV series.
  2. They showcase a developing medium. There are errors aplenty but also plenty of experimentation and accidental discoveries. Ever wonder why cartoon characters often walk over the edge of a cliff? That was an accident that was never meant to happen. it survives to this day because it caused uproarious laughter from the audience. It all adds to the believability and luster and makes the films seem all the more human.
  3. They’re a great source of cultural history that spans the roaring 20s and the Great Depression; a fascinating period of American and indeed world history that hasn’t been equaled since. They capture the mood of the nation and as any Fleischer cartoon will demonstrate, the almost cult-like awe for modern technology and the supreme reign of the Art Deco style.
  4. The vast majority of them are in the public domain, so you can watch them just about anywhere. On your phone, on YouTube, even Netflix is catering to them as I spotted a collection of Ub Iwerks shorts the other day. The best part is that you can do it all without having to sneak around the torrents like a creature of the night. On top of that, there’s no shortage of discussion, analysis and commentary on them as either. You’re never tied to the ‘official’ version.
  5. Because they’re all from so early in the life of animation, many of the characters are slightly more [ahem] risque versions of themselves. Mickey Mouse for example is far more mischievous than he became after the war and many of the Fleischer’s cartoons celebrate the jazz-infused party atmosphere of the roaring 20s.

*Futurama reference

11 More Animation Blogs That Everyone Ought to Read

Dave Levy recently posted a list of the animation websites he reads on a daily basis (and his blog should most definitely be in your bookmarks already). Seeing as he is a man of good taste, there is no need to amend his list. Indeed, you should check it out to make sure you are reading the same websites he does.

So, as an addition to those, here are 11 more that any self-respecting animation fan would readily admit to reading on a daily basis.

1. Cartoon Brew

Industry standard-bearer and the home page of anyone who is anyone in animation. Guaranteed to either raise a smile or your ire, Jerry beck and Amid Amidi offer up a continuous stream of animated goodies. From the latest TV series to the weirdest merchandise known to man, no animation website is more respected.

2. TAG Blog

The Animation Guild Local 839 is your one stop shop for all the labour news and views from the Golden Coast. Dishing out equal amounts of industry headlines and labour items of note. The TAG blog is a must for current affairs relating to working in the animation business. Sometimes trite, it is nonetheless peppered with commentary from workers and sage advice from union heads.

3. Chuck Redux

The website for all things Chuck Jones. Run by his grandson Craig Causen, Chuck Redux features everything from Oscar’s worldwide travels to the creations from the mind of the man himself. I wrote about it a while back and if you are in any doubt as to why you should read it, look no further than here.

4. John K.

The one and only John Kricfalusi. As if you needed a reason to read his blog, where he discusses techniques, characters and animation in general. Always controversial but guaranteed to advance your knowledge of this fantastic artform.

5. Mr. Fun

Floyd Norman remember Disney when it was run by Disney and then some. Every day he posts his thoughts on working then and now, sometimes throwing in a witty cartoon for good measure. Looking for insights on what it was like to work way back when? Floyd’s is the only website you need.

6. Brian Sibley

Writer and broadcaster from the UK, Brian has not one, but at least three blogs that are worthy of reading. Purveyor of tidbits that are absolutely not to be found anywhere else on the web, Brian’s blogs are a must read. Heck if Michael Sporn recommends them, you know they’re among the best to be found.

7. Deja View

Andreas Deja, famed animator with a sense of humour, recently started his blog. The guy’s one of the best animators about, so expect plenty of technique analysis from the Nine Old Men and more. What more can I say, I look forward to every post.

8. Disney History

If you’re looking for various bits and bobs from the history of Disney, look no further than Didier Ghez’s blog, self-described as:“Interesting discoveries about Disney history, vintage Disneyana, Disney artwork, the Walt’s People book series, and new books about Disney.” Do you need any more reasons to visit? I think not!

9. Joe Murray

Creator of Rocko’s Modern Life and Camp Lazlo, Joe Murray has been around the circuit more than once, and he’s learned a thing or two in the process. On his blog, he offers updates on his studio, news on KaboingTV, anecdotes from the past and advice on how to make it in a fiercely competitive industry. One that should absolutely not be overlooked.

10. Nina Paley

Independent animator, free thinker and open-culture advocate, Nina Palely uses her blog to document the latest in her working life, spread thoughts on free and open culture and to advocate changes in the way the entertainment industry works.

11. Yowp

Do you even remotely like old Hanna-Barbera stuff? Good, Yowp has you covered for just about anything and everything to do with early Hanna-Barbera. From the animators to the writers to contemporary media coverage, this blog has it all.

What Forbes Considers The ‘Animation A-List’

Via: Forbes.com

This managed to slip by me back in March. What is the ‘Animation A-List‘? Sadly it isn’t what I thought it was, which means it probably isn’t what you thought it was either. Nope, sadly it is a rather subjective list of the top “voice-actors” in the business. Did I mention that only celebrities, a.k.a. non-professionals were included? Well they’re not.

How was the list calculated? As follows:

To compile our list of the 10 actors whose animated films have earned the most at the box office over the last 10 years, we looked at the top-grossing animated films from the past decade using numbers from Box Office Mojo. We gave each star all of the money from each of his or her films.

So in effect, it’s the celebrities with the highest grosses that get the top spot, not necessarily the one who’s the most famous or the most talented.

Why use celebrities? Dorothy Pomerantz speculates that

Big names can definitely help a film at the box office. Just look at the Shrek movies. They starred Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy, actors who over the past few years have earned big salaries for their live-action work. Who knows how the films would have fared at the box office if they had been cast with unknowns?

O…K…So it was all to do with the voice-acting and not the animation, story or even plot itself? If memory serves me correctly, Disney did some very tidy sums at the box office with their movies before they brought in Robin Williams for the Genie, and they did that because Williams is such a unique performer, not because he was a celebrity.

I’ve written before about celebrity voice actors and while there are a few who are genuinely good, there are a lot who just do it for the paycheque. In reality, an actor’s voice is incredibly boring comapred to the whole. A professional voice-actor is exactly the opposite; they might not have the looks, but they can knock your socks off with their voices.

Posturing over, here is the actual list:

  1. Cameron Diaz
  2. Eddie Murphy
  3. Mike Myers
  4. Ray Romano (WTF?)
  5. Tim Allen
  6. Tom Hanks
  7. Ben Stiller
  8. Jack Black
  9. Albert Brooks
  10. Ellen DeGeneres
  11. Ed Asner