They’ve been around for years and for many, they’re a part of their childhood, or even their entire lives (I’m looking at you, Snap, Crackle and Pop), but mascots are an interesting bunch of characters, aren’t they?
Think about it, they’re ostensibly characters, but their appearances are often limited to 30 second commercials and perhaps some rudimentary comics on the packaging (or when you sent in so many coupons and 3.99 p&p).
The reason this struck a chord with me is because I came (or rather stumbled) across the twitter feed for Chicken of the Sea, who apparently have, as their spokeswomen, the Chicken of the Sea Mermaid.
Yup, the mascot for a tuna company is a mermaid. A bit of a conflict of interest there if you ask me, but I’m not one to judge.
Anyway, it’s kind of interesting to see that she not only has her ‘own’ twitter feed but a Facebook page too with almost 99,000 ‘fans’ on the latter.
It makes me wonder how the public really feels about such characters. I mean, we expect the ones in TV shows to be fully developed, complicated and conflicted beings. But our standards for commercial characters are so much lower.
Is it because we only see them for 30 seconds at a time, or is it more likely that we see them as exceptionally shallow; created for the single purpose of selling us stuff.
Of course, we often forget that characters in TV shows and films sell us stuff too, it just isn’t as blatant as an actual commercial.
Some of the longest-lived brand mascots have evolved well beyond their initial function. Indeed the 1980s saw brands and mascots descend upon TV and film like never before. Now the lines were seriously blurred between spokesman and character, even if the quality of both were similarly flimsy.
Or how about real characters shilling stuff?
Do we have a certain tolerance for Bugs and Daffy filling the role because it’s more of a sideshow for them?
Brand mascots and spokespersons are an interesting study area as they inhabit a unique culmination of art and commerce. Getting the balance right between the two is hard.
What are your thoughts on brand mascots and characters?
For the record Kim Possible is one of the best characters ever to grace a TV screen. So it should come as no surprise that her character constructions sheets, which came by way of Art of Animation and Inappropriate Banjo (both on Tumblr), are no less interesting.
Kim’s a fascinating collection of sharp points and swirling curves that oh so cleverly allude to her double-sided life as an ordinary student and ass-kicking heroine.
Here, we see some of the finer points of her character design in her hair, which undoubtedly adds much grace to her movement in the action scenes.
It’s always great to see these kind of things, especially as they essentially offer us a peek into a character’s soul (per se).
Good collection of animated shorts, mostly in hand drawn, claymation, and rotoscoping techniques. Represented artists include Loren Bowie, Bernard Palacios, Kathy Rose, Derek Lamb, Steven Lisberger, Marv Newland, Paul Driessen, and Will Vinton (“Mountain Music” and Oscar winning “Closed Mondays” featured).
Is the “brain trust” the modern version of Disney’s 9 Old Men, and if so, are we doomed to see the same results when they retire? Here’s four reasons why history may repeat itself.
1. They’re both small groups
You can count the members of both groups on one hand. The respective members are innovators and experts in their fields.
2. They’ve been together since the beginning
Or near the beginning. Both groups were established as their respective studios were trying to find their norms and their tight-knight as a result of the challenges they faced at the start of their existence.
3. They’re THE Source for Ideas
Both groups were/are the go-to places for ideas. The 9 Old Men were experts at animation. The Brain Trust are renowned for their ability to create superb stories and films.
4. No New Permanent Members
The 9 Old Men began as 9 old men and remained that way throughout their existence. No-one ever joined and the only time anyone left was as a result of natural causes. The Pixar Brain Trust is eerily similar, there doesn’t seem to have been any permanent changes made to its makeup at all since its inception. Yes, Brad Bird and Brenda Chapman were members, but they have since moved on, and there is little indication that anyone has managed to get themselves “promoted” to fill their places.
The signs are ominous. The Pixar Brain Trust has had fantastic success, but it is resting on its laurels. Relying on the same people is a recipe for trouble. Disney began a protracted period of malaise in the 1970s, and as of now, history appears poised to repeat itself in Emeryville.
Character Sundays is probably going to take a break until the New Year. Sadly, school deadlines have sapped the necessary time to write a decent post these past few weeks, so there’s no point in doing a half-assed job on something you really like.
Instead, today, here’s a sketch that was posted a good while ago by Jovanna Davidovich on her blog.
Whether it really is the case that Breandan’s design was influenced by these two is up for debate, but I would hazard a guess that the resemblance is certainly striking.
The interesting thing is that Kim Possible and the Secret of Kells share practically nothing in common except Brendan! He’s a great example of how you could potentially use something as inspiration and move in a completely different direction.
Those upstanding lads at the Dead Homer’s Societyhave analysed in detail a scene from last weeks episode of the Simpsons entitled The Ten Per Cent Solution. The scene in question is the one where Joan Rivers drive a golf cart down the hallway while chasing Squeeky Voiced Teen. (I haven’t seen the episode so I can’t comment on the context).
Suffice to say Charlie Sweatpants has done a very good breakdown of a scene that almost certainly could (and should) have been animated to a much higher standard.
The original Looney Tunes shorts are a very special blend of comedic acting that has more than endured the test of time. Sadly, it seems that this particular brand of comedy, in short film form, hsa largely died out.
Oh sure, there are plenty of funny cartoon that are as hilarious and as genius in nature, but they are not nearly as common as they should be.
Naturally this is down to television, and the fact that programming has had to keep to the schedule, ie. fit into 11 minute chunks, slightly too long for a traditional short. Thankfully, the internet has seen a boom in the number of shorts in recent years, and it is on it that we come across this film (via Broadsheet.ie) by David de Rooij and Jelle Brunt:
There’s more than a bit of a reference to the classics isn’t there? And the best part is that it works! It’s a nice homage, not a blatant copy. It’s proof that there’s still more than enough room left in the format.
Over on the Animation Guild Blog, Steve Hullett posted a quote the other day from an article quoting Rango director, Gore Verbinski, where he states that he would like to see more mature animated films being brought to market. Ralph doesn’t reject the notion entirely, but he does point out that studios are in the game to make profits, not movies.
This is true, but it raises the important question of whether animation intended for mature audiences is even profitable to begin with.
The article itself has Verbinksi mentioning Ralph Bakshi as a possible reference point although I say that this isn’t necessarily the best idea. If you ask anyone (in the know) about adult animation, the answers inevitably contain either Heavy Traffic, Fritz the Cat, Ghost in the Shell, Akira and perhaps that particular genre of anime that I won’t mention here.
I’d also hazard a guess that mature animation has suffered more as a result of quality than anything else. Because the main studios won’t go near it, the independents have to take up the slack, and sadly they just don’t have the resources necessary to compete on the same level.
Mature animation can be profitable, provided it’s either done cheaply enough, or it maximizes its potential when released to market. Personally, I think that if a film as superb as the Secret of Kells can be made for about €6 million, there is absolutely no reason why studios are using costs as a factor.
There is a market for these kinds of films, it just hasn’t been tapped to its full potential. That’s an opportunity for someone to explore and when they do, there’ll be plenty of profits to be had.