Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tom and Jerry sketches

I've been practicing drawing Tom & Jerry lately. I plan to use them in an upcoming project of mine and I'd like them to look as accurate as possible. However, moreso than staying on model, I'd like to capture their manic energy that makes them so fun to watch.

Okay, enough of my jibber-jabber. I'd like some crits of these pics now if you please. (Constructive crits would be nice. Hint Hint!)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

My Christmas present to the world:

Let's make this scenario a reality in the near future, okay? I wonder who tastes more like chicken Osama bin Laden or Aman al-Zawahiri. ;)

Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzza everybody!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

R.I.P. Joe Barbera

Joe Barbera passed away on Monday at the age of 95. Rather than go into a lengthy biography or gush about how much I'll miss him, I'll instead show two samples of cartoons he was most famous for. I'm sure Joe would have preferred it this way much better anyway.

Enjoy and remember.

A Retraction

Way back in September, I made a post on this blog the berating the entire country of France simply because I hadn't seen too many red dots from France on my world map below. I'm not sure, but I think that post might have finally worked because, as you can see, there are a whole bunch of red dots on France right now. The French visit me after all.

But, all the same, I feel that I should really make amends for that post. Those snobby frogs were a bit much maybe. So now what I'm going to do is show a bunch of the many things that makes France and the French people truly great.

So, VIVE LE FRANCE, and all that. Voulez vous coucher avec moi, ce soir? Le chien de la salle de bain. Also, here's a pic I drew of your beloved leader. Enjoy!

Well, that takes care of that. Now, on to other business. Hello, Iceland. Y'know, I don't see any red dots on your country. What's up with that? Is it "too cold" to visit my blog? Huh? I'm sorry it came to this but I'm going to have to resort to some drastic measures. Iceland, visit my blog or Bjork gets it. ;)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Cultural References

I have read and heard alot of bellyaching about TV shows that have cultural references in them as though this makes those shows worse somehow. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are times when a reference to a movie, TV show, or historical event can enhance the story. Like any literary device, it's all in how you use it.

The biggest complaint people have is that many of today's shows are just a bunch of cultural references strung together. This sort of thing goes back to the late 70's. It was started and developed by the great skecth comedy series SCTV. Dave Thomas even proudly states that they were the first to use multiple references within a sketch. The one he was referring to was their take off of Fantasy Island. They used the narrative structure of that show to incorporate references to Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, Road to Morocco, as well as a typical Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers dance sequence (I'm not sure exactly which movie it comes from). I couldn't find that sketch, but I did find one constructed in a similar way. It's something called My Factory, Myself. It's obviously a spoof of Norma Rae but it also contains elements of The China Syndrome and Kramer vs Kramer as well.

This of course lead directly to The Simpsons. How you may ask? Well, a young Conan O' Brian saw SCTV and watched it religiously. He then became a very good comedy writer in his own right first at Saturday Night Live and then on The Simpsons where he even admitted that they based their writing style on SCTV. I'm sure you can all see the similarities between Bobby Bitman and Krusty the Klown. Like SCTV, The Simpsons do references right, in that they write the sequence as normal, think about what the sequence reminds them of, and then adds them as seen fit. One of the many reasons The Simpsons are nearly perfect in terms of writing. Here are two scenes where the references work beautifully. The first is an homage to Indiana Jones and the next manages to reference 2001: A Space Odessy.

And of course, making references to other things goes back even before many of the SCTV writers/actors were even born. One such example is the first Mickey Mouse cartoon Plane Crazy from 1928. The whole story revolves around (and was inspired by) Charles Lindbergh's famous flight accross the Atlantic.

That's the oldest example I can think of. If anyone knows of a film, animated or live action, that predates Mickey, post a link in the comment section. I would love to see it.

The good people at Warner Bros. did this as well. This example Hollywood Steps Out (by Tex Avery c. 1941) is choc-full of celebrities as well as references to their movies.

Well, those are examples of good shows making cultural references. Now what about the bad ones that make some people so angry? I guess the biggest offender these days would be Family Guy. Well, every once in a while there's one or two things to laugh at. But, when it comes to cultural references, they have it ass-backwards. Rather than making sure the reference fits the scene, they instead shoehorn a reference in. And the reference is most often just a cheap nod to something they hope their audience thinks is cool:

Or, it's a somewhat obscure reference to something from the 80's as if to say "OOH! Look at how much TV trivia we know. We can reference all sorts of things, so there."

The worst part about that clip is that they even got the caricatures wrong. Yvonne Hudson was much fatter than that, Ann Risley had a huge amount of eye-liner under her eyes, and Gail Matthius (spelled wrong in that clip) had kind of an upturned pig nose.

Now there's certainly nothing wrong with making an obscure reference that not many people can recognize. SCTV writers would often do spoofs of old movies that they're pretty sure only they themselves saw. Plus, Naked Gun 2 1/2 got some positive reviews for their reference to Eisnenstein's film school standard Battleship Potemkin (c. 1925) (They stuck in a nod to the baby carriage descending a staircase scene). That sort of thing is fine as long as they don't draw too much attention to it and especially if there's a hint of smugness behind it. I think that's the part that turns people off more than anything.

But hey, none of what I've just typed would have as much validity if I didn't use a similar analysis of my own work, right? I will thus direct you to my student film Hansel und Gretel. (For this one you have to click the title to see it).

In it I make two references. One is from the silent masterpiece The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Well, that movie was essentially the inspiration for my film really. The part where I have the witch slowly openning her eyes is my nod to the monster awakening in that movie. Also, near the end, I have the monkey do Michael Jacksons moon walk. Yes, I was well aware at the time that this film was taking place in the early '20's way before his father Joe Jackson was even born. But, it was such a small thing that I was sure noone would even pick up on that, and so far noone has (until now that is).

Well, that's all for now I guess. I hope this post has been an enlightening one. If any of you reading this still has a distaste for any or all cultural references, that fine. We all have different senses of humour in this great big world. But, the next time you want to get red in the face about this, just try to remember exactly what you're railing against.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Here are some caricatures of my good friend Chris Garson. He graduated from animation school the same year as me. He didn't finish his student film sadly, but he had some of the best drawings I've ever seen.

I have no idea what he's doing now. Has he made it into the art/animation industry or not? Either way, it would be great if he had a blog full of his own artwork. It should definitely be seen by everyone.

Until that happens, you'll just have to settle for these pictures that I've drawn of him. Toodle OO!!