Susan Godfrey on Strong Female Characters

A short post today because I have to make a presentation on Social TV this evening, but if you have the time, you should definitely head over to the Go Get ’em Girls blog where The Productive founder Susan Godfrey has written a well-rounded and comprehensive post on strong female characters.

Naturally there’s a healthy dose of animation-related discussion included hence my recommendation that you go read it.

 

Robot 6 on Why Anime Companies Have Been Dropping Like Flies

Yoinked from: Robot 6

Admittedly I’m not really an “otaku” or into much Japanese media besides anime but thankfully a few people I know or follow on twitter are, so it’s a shout out to Faith Erin Hicks for the tip on this article.

Posted on the Robot 6 blog over on Comic Book Resources is a surprisingly balanced analysis of exactly why things in the anime industry are in a state of flux at the moment. The entire post is definitely worth a few minutes of your time, even if you’re not really into anime or manga.

The gist of it is that thanks to the internet, so-called fansubs of anime series’ are being made available (through illicit means) well before established companies or even the rights holders can do the same.

The post takes a good look at this and why certain companies (such as ADV and Tokyopop) have gone south in recent years, namely being forced to market content that otherwise wouldn’t be economically viable as well as being restricted in terms of adapting to new delivery systems.

What it comes down to is this: It doesn’t matter how much it costs you to make a product; you can only charge what the market will bear. The way out of this is to offer the iffy manga and anime at a low cost, which generally means digitally, and put the premium content onto physical media at a premium price. If people just want to get their weekly fix of some second-rate anime, but don’t want a special edition to treasure forever, well, let them watch it via streaming media, sell some ads, and make some money you wouldn’t have otherwise. This also solves the other structural problem in the anime industry, the delay in getting shows to foreign markets, because digital is obviously faster than physical distribution. Just as water seeks its own level, consumers will find what they want. The only question is whether they get it from publishers or pirates, and publishers have a lot more choice than they realize. Most of the people watching bootleg anime won’t pay $30 for it anyway—that’s not a lost sale. But put it online, throw in some ads, maybe paid memberships for the hard-core fans who want higher quality and fresher content, and now that anime is making money from new viewers.

This is the crux of the issue. The reluctance of studios and networks to adapt to the market in order to better serve consumers is the real reason people are becoming “pirates”.

The important lesson is that consumers will do what they want. You can educate them, coerce them and entice them. But at the end of the day, if they can get something that you are either unwilling or unable to provide, they will look to other means, even if it means becoming a “pirate”.

This scenario contains lessons for the American animation industry. Being as expensive and complicated as it is to produce, is it wise to stick to the old, established ways and watch as your customers leave you behind? Why are shows like My Life as a Teenage Robot only coming out on DVD now? Why are they still not online (in the legitimate sense)?

These are all questions that studios and animators should be asking themselves. Are you catering to the changing market, or are you clinging to the old ways? Is that downloaded short film a lost sale? Or is it a sign of an under-served consumer?

The anime industry is just one of many that is undergoing similar issues, they are not unique. What is interesting though, has been what anime companies that have responded have done.

Smart localizers are catching on. Crunchyroll, a former pirate site that has gone mainstream in the sense of going legit and paying its content providers, seems to be doing quite well with streaming anime. Digital Manga has formed the Digital Manga Guild, which publishes enjoyably trashy yaoi manga digitally for less than the cost of a print volume and keeps prices low by using amateur translators. Viz is making the boldest move of all, putting Shonen Jump magazine online at a relatively low price and posting episodes of the top six series in within two weeks of their Japanese debut.

This ultimately means that:

The speed scanners will still beat them to it—for now—but…..manga and anime fans are basically decent and like to support the creators. Given a legitimate, inexpensive alternative, and a bit of education, many if not most will do the right thing.

This is true of any consumer. They are all for the most part, decent. if they weren’t, we would have seen at least on major studio go bankrupt by now. Be nice to them and they will reward you in return.

The Robot 6 post concludes with this great quote:

….by charging champagne prices for a beer product, anime and manga companies are sinking their own ship, and they don’t need the pirates to do it for them.

American studios take note.

Character Sundays: The Goth Girls of Cartoons

No, this post isn’t about one particular character, but it is about a specific type of character (which I can justify because November in Irish is “Samhain” which began as a pagan festival to honour the dead). While I was nosing around the internet looking for pictures of Mandy for the post from a few weeks ago, I stumbled across the Goth Girls of Cartoons blog and found it quite amusing.

It’s not a regularly updated blog but a static one instead. On it, there are various list posts on different kinds of goth characters. Such as the ones who only appeared in one episode, ones who where main characters in their respective shows, characters who weren’t normally goth but became ones for a short time and heroines who just happened to be a bit on the dark side.

Overall its quite an interesting collection of characters who share certain traits. I don’t particularly get goth culture, but I have found that such characters in cartoons tend to be a bit more interesting than others because they are generally bestowed with a strong sense of who they are and what they stand for and believe in. For better or for worse, it at least makes them stand out from the crowd.

Each character featured on the blog comes with a fairly good description with just a tiny bit of personal subjectivity, but that doesn’t distract from the overall usefulness of the information.

So go ahead and have a peek, you might be as surprised as I was!

Two Links: Characters and Theme Tunes

A short post today due to time and other constraints but not to worry, I have two excellent links to send you to.

The first is by Ron over at Flooby Nooby where he discusses characters and why they are so important. I couldn’t agree more so you should head over there yourself to read this excellent post.

Secondly, Chris Ledesma has a very informative post over on his blog, Simpsons Music 500, where he discusses the disappearance of melody in today’s theme tunes and why this changing they way that music is used in films. It’s a post that certainly makes you think about the (potentially) serious consequences if things keep going the way they’re going.

John B. Knutson Presents A Series of Posts You Should Probably Pay Attention To

Over at the Random Acts of Geekery blog, John B. Knutson has just begun a series of posts that are definitely worth your while following even if you are familiar with the subject matter.

The challenge he has set himself? Well it’s quite simple really, he going to track down and blog about every single film mentioned in Leonard Maltin’s seminal tome,‘Of Mice and Magic’.

He’s started with J. Stewart Blackton and early Windsor MacCay so now’s your chance to get in on the ground floor.

Weekly Weblink: The Mega-Awesome Kt Shy

As I’ve mentioned before, I follow a lot of blogs of various kinds, but my favourite ones are undoubtedly the illustration and sktech ones. The reason is simple, they always contain tons of great pictures and the very nature of them means they are updated relatively frequently with fantastic new works.

One of my very favourite illustration/sketch blogs belongs to the one and only Kt Shy the erstwhile alias of Canadian artist, Katie Shanahan on the interwebs. Self-described on twitter as a “storyboard artist by day and comic making nut-bar by night!”. She does have over 2,400 followers for a reason you know!

Besides the hilarious Shrub Monkey’s comic that Katie helps draw, she also posts tons of sketches and illustrations that cover a very broad range of the artistic universe, from anime to day to day life. What sets them apart is the almost manic sense of humour that permeates them all (or, well, most of them anyway).

Kt updates regularly and her posts are always a joy to read (or see). 🙂

PS. hit up the links page of her blog for a list of plenty of other exceptionally talented folks.

 

Weekly Weblink: Dant Santat

Dan Santat blog bannerDan Santat (click through to see the hilarious fake album cover)  is a name you may not be immediately familiar with. He’s created the Disney cartoon, The Replacements, and he’s illustrated a ton of books (some by others, some by himself). With all that on his plate, it’s easy to see why I am recommending his blog for you to follow.

Being the independent type. Dan is superb in expressing the viewpoints of such a career. A recent highlight was his post about a job offer from none other than Google, and whether or not he felt his career should go down that road.

He posts in a very conversational tone, as if he’s there with you and simply reading aloud his mental thoughts. That makes for easy and enjoyable reading.

On top of all that though, is the ton of great art he posts. Being an artistic type, how could he not? There are recent works, upcoming books, gallery exhibits. visits to and from friends (old and new) and of course, recaps of various literary events that he’s attended. He also post the occasional window into his work methods, including building a scene, and the many tricks and shortcuts he uses to save time.

Besides all that, there are also links to his portfolio (for which you are richly rewarded), his books and TV show.

Dan updates fairly regularly and his posts are always a delight to read.

Weekly Weblink: The Character Design Blog

A bit early I know, but that’s just because tomorrow is B-Day or Blog Day, when I finally get around to making some major changes to the site. Seeing as I have the time now and maybe not tomorrow, I’m posting this today!

Character design is one of the more exciting areas in animation (I think) because there are so many avenues to explore when it comes to them. A house limited in certain aspects, but a person can look completely different just by putting on a pair of glasses, or a hat!

With so many awesome character designs out there, I used to often wonder how they came about, that is until I discovered the Character Design Blog!

Featuring interviews and art from some of the industry’s well-known and not-so-well-known designers, it is a rich archive of knowledge and art that stretches back over 5 years. It just recently returned from a brief hiatus although with so much material on there, there are plenty of older stuff to keep you entertained.

The interviews are sharp and relevant and I am pleased to say that the questions manage to avoid sinking into the usual fanboy mess that we are all too familiar with.

On top of all that, there is a full set of links to the interviewees work and/or shop so that you can support them yourself with your hard earned cash.

If you have an interest in character design (or, like me, you like to look at coll character designs) then the Character Design Blog should be top of your list.

Below is an example of the awesome Chris Battle’s work for The PowerPuff Girls that is posted in his interview.

Weekly Weblink: Joe Murray’s Journal

Via: Wikipedia

We all know who Joe Murray is, right? No?! Humph, I bet you know his TV shows though right? Not really? Aw c’mon, you guys gotta be kidding me. No? Alright, Joe Murray is a guy who’s been in the animation game for at least 20 years and has managed to carve out a grand career for himself by consistently devoting himself to creating great characters and stories.

What shows has he created? How about one third of the original Holy Trinity of cable cartoons, Rocko’s Modern Life. Later on, he developed Camp Lazlo for Cartoon Network. But that’s enough about his past work, this post is all about what he’s doing now!

Joe’s Journal is his personal blog, where he offers plenty of opinions, thoughts, recaps on events and of course, updates on his many projects. He also posts plenty of upbeat, positive quotes that encourage the reader to focus and think about life.

With his current projects, Frog in a Suit and Kaboing TV, Joe is a busy guy, but that doesn’t stop him from updating fairly regularly. His blog also contains lots more information in events and articles that Joe has for sale, many of which he does to raise money for charity.

Joe has also managed to build a very successful and devoted community around his blog that has brought him and his readers many benefits, not least the funding necessary for a Frog in the Suit short film. Joe should be commended for his devotion to interacting with his fans.

Weekly Weblinks: Part Deaux

This post is really should have been done earlier, but school and work aside, there just wasn’t time until now. I am always on the lookout for new and exciting blogs to follow as well as interesting posts to share and without further adieu, here’s a few I came across this week.

Blogs

Bleeding Pixels

The blog of Dave Johnson, who provides regular updates on the goings on in animation with some personal commentary. One to follow.

The Cartoon Cave

Written by Pete Emslie, one of the old-school cartoonists of this world. it contains tons of awesome sketches and illustration among posts on old comics and animation. Worth reading for the pictures alone but Petes personal take on things makes it all the better.

Posts

Hanna-Barbera, the Missing Theme Park

Lisa K. Berton takes a look at Hanna-Barbera’s attempts to enter the lucrative themepark market and how their presence has been declining as of late.

Animazing Amation: The Secret of Kells

A review on the Late to the Theater blog, which focuses on films available through instant streaming that reinforces everything that has been said about this film and how excellent it is. Worth reading and serves as a great reminder that The Secret of Kells is available in Netflix.

Weekly Weblink: Chuck Redux

Via: Chuck Redux

The name Chuck Jones should be one that is instantly recognizable. Literally millions of people have seen his name appear on the screen before several minutes of madness and hilarity begins. He was much more than a superb director however, and that’s where this blog come in.

Co-written  by Robert Patrick and Chuck’s grandson, Craig Kausen, the blog is a fantastic resource for anything and everything created by Chuck.

There are of course, loads of Warner Bros. stuff, like model sheets, storyboards character analysis and the like. There are also the special edition cels that Chuck created in later years after the Warner Bros. studio shut down. In addition to all of that, there is also plenty of news on Chuck Jones-related events, personal stories, interviews, letters, paintings, long tales and the perpetually exciting Image of the Day, as exemplified above.

All in all, the blog is perhaps the best resources on the web when it comes to the life of one of the world’s greatest animators, and it is a huge credit to his legacy that such time and effort is put into making it such a wonderful resource for all to use.

The blog is updated regularly and is always a delight to read.