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.

Cars 2 Currently ‘Rotten’

As of this morning (June 22nd), with release just two days away and with 20 of the top critics reporting, Cars 2 is currently sitting at 55% (EDIT: has dropped to 52% as of the afternoon), which is considered ‘rotten’ over a the movie review site, Rotten Tomatoes.

While it is still far too early to judge the films actual performance (there’ll be plenty of time for that in the coming days), it is nonetheless a worrying sign that almost half of the critics who have seen it have given it the thumbs down. Of course, RT ratings have to be taken with a grain of salt; plenty of films I love have gotten a ‘rotten’ rating from the critics but are loved by the fans.

Compare that with Toy Story 3 last year, which was sitting at 100% from the beginning until one critic decided otherwise. If that doesn’t say something about the difference in quality, I don’t know what does.

So we will have to wait and see, but in what I’m sure is a coincidence, Floyd Norman posted yesterday about when a film isn’t going so well, and he gives us this great sentance:

Most can see the wheels coming off the wagon early on, but we dare not say anything because we risk the wrath of those employing us. So we keep smiling as the train goes over the cliff.

The sad part is that Pixar has had us believe that as much creative energy went into Cars 2 as did Toy Story 3.

Ten Rock Solid Reasons To Read Floyd Norman’s Blog Every Day

  1. Floyd’s been around a while, so he knows just about everything there is to know about animation.
  2. His Disney knowledge is exquisite and magnificent in it’s depth and detail.
  3. He keeps things short and sweet but never skimps on the details.
  4. He has plenty of stories to tell about the old days, which make for very worthwhile reading.
  5. His website has a ‘gag wall’ filled with incredibly funny pictures.
  6. In addition to his daily posts, he has a special section for longer stories.
  7. Every post has a lovely photo or sketch to go along with it.
  8. Plenty of learned people read his blog too, so the fun doesn’t stop with the posts, it continues in the comments!
  9. Floyd also stays right on top of all the latest happenings in animation, he’s not stuck in the past.
  10. The blog’s title is “Mr. Fun”, how much cooler can you get than that?

Convinced? Head over here and start reading.

Floyd Norman’s Concerns About Animation

Yesterday, animation legend Floyd Norman tweeted the following:

I have seen Tangled (the review is forthcoming, I promise) and I can attest that it does contain some excellent animation, both character and otherwise.

Not being an animator, I tend to appreciate the different forms of animation on a different level. I tend to enjoy all types, be it traditional, 3-D CGI, stop motion or even flash! I can, however, attest to the gut-wrenching admission that something that is better than what you use or do comes along. It’s tough to make such a statement and Floyd’s a big man for doing it.

The question is: does Floyd need to feel sad that a CGI film has excellent animation in it? It is surely not an acceptance of CGI or a rebuttal of traditional methods, not by a long shot. The problem (as far as I can tell) is that animation (and I’m talking feature animation here) is still a very stigmatising area of the artform.

Think about it, for years, Disney set the gold standard when it came to animated features with the result that every man and his dog tried to ape their formula, with varying degrees of success. Don Bluth gave things a good run for a bit and DreamWorks tried their best before they switched gears with Shrek.

It wasn’t until Pixar came along and up-ended the whole idea of what an animated film is that things became more interesting. Thus far, Pixar has not released a musical and Disney has only released two films that weren’t musicals, both [perhaps] not coincidentally CGI. To the best of my knowledge (and when I say knowledge, I mean recalling from memory without having time to confirm them on the internet), Disney has not released a non-musical feature within living memory.

So the land of animated features seems to be somewhat stigmatised. Traditional animation almost have to be a musical and CGI almost can’t be a musical. Now in fairness, cost could be used as an issue. A traditionally animated film can be really expansive, but with Toy Story 3’s recent cost estimated at in and around $300 million (that’s $300,000,000.oo) that argument isn’t really valid.

In that case is Floyd’s statement really valid? The answer is maybe. Tangled is the first CGI musical film and could easily be seen to be encroaching on the bastion of traditionally animated features. Having said that, it’s important to remember that Disney shut down their entire traditional department a few years ago in anticipation of becoming a CGI-only studio. What they didn’t realise is that CGI is simply a method, not a genre.

So in that case, why don’t we see a better mixture of themes within animated films? Perhaps John Lasseter can answer that, in the meantime, that sounds more like a post for another day.

Maybe Floyd’s concerned about the shift of skills in animation. CGI is created in a very different manner to traditional methods, where everything is drawn (or at least it was in the old days) on paper, one sheet at a time. There was a lot of skill inherent in making characters move with grace and with the dominance of CGI, there is a legitimate concern that these could disappear from the mainstream.

For me, I think he’s somewhat right. There is a noticeable shift in animation from traditional methods to CGI but there is still a lack of variety within the differing methods. Perhaps in time, this will change. If Tangled is any indication, then I think we can look forward to a more colourful and varied future for the animated feature.