Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Wacky Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

To celebrate the day of the big feast here's my salute to the greatest food related comedy of all time...

Acknowledgments to Norman Saunders the master artist of the Wacky Packages. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

You're a Lousy Cook Charlie Brown

After the success of A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) the next big Peanuts holiday special was A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973).  Well two out of three isn't bad.  Seriously, do they even still air this one?

Nevertheless it was popular enough for Scholastic to publish a cute little picture book in 1975...

The text in the book follows the television script almost verbatim. The art looks like it came directly from the TV special as well, but it has some slight differences. For example check out the side-by-side comparisons below...

... on the left side is the book and it shows Peppermint Patty's phone as white and Charlie Brown's phone as red, but in frames on the right taken from the TV special the color of the phones are reversed.

Oh wait folks, I've just received an email...  It's from the Guinness World Record people, and because of that bit about the phone colors it seems I've won "Blog with the Most Pathetic Piece of Trivial Information." Wow, I didn't even know that was a category.

Anyways in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Charlie Brown has a predicament of course, and when he's advised that he prepare a special Thanksgiving meal for his friends he says...

You're damn right Chuck.  You can't cook a Thanksgiving dinner, and you can't make a kid-friendly cookbook either...

Let's get real, the recipes in the Peanuts Lunch Bag Cook Book obviously weren't written by Charlie Brown, but they were written by someone completely out of touch with what most children want to eat.  Just take take look at this "Linus Loves Liverwurst Sandwiches"...

Who even eats liverwurst much less a kid?  Hey, I'm not just cherry picking a recipe for maximum child objectionability (well, maybe a little),  the recipe before this one is "A School of Tuna Sandwiches"  (OK it's possible a kid might eat a tuna fish sandwich, but it's that weird kid who carried his lunch in the brown-paper bag that had a giant grease stain on it), and immediately following are "Some Salmon Sandwiches" and "Lucy's Crabby Sandwiches." So here we have tuna, liverwurst, salmon and crab sandwiches - how many kids are going to go for this?  If you don't understand what I'm getting at maybe watching this recent Domino's Pizza commercial will help...

As a kid, I practically lived on peanut butter sandwiches, and so one may think when I got to "Stick-To-The-Roof-Of-Your-Mouth Peanut Butter Sandwiches" I'd finally find something I'd like to try, but no, not really...

There's nothing here that improves on a simple plain peanut butter sandwich, or a PB&J. The very fist recipe calls for finely chopped celery and catsup on a PB sandwich.  I know of the famous "Ants on a Log" kids snack so I guess that's were the chopped up celery comes from, but catsup?  Did Shaggy and Scooby come up with that?  Another Shaggy and Scooby-like PB variation was the suggestion of pickle relish.  Hmmm, peanut butter and pickle relish - these don't at all seem like two great tastes that taste great together...

Now who the hell walks down the street eating straight out of a jar of peanut butter...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Adventures Of Isabel

Back in September I was searching for something school related to post about, and so I flipped through an elementary school reading book published in 1965 by the Scott, Foresman and Company titled Ventures...

Ventures cover

 ... I didn't find much, but the illustrations for the poem Adventures Of Isabel by Ogden Nash really caught my attention.  They were so fun looking, and the subject matter was sorta scary so I thought it would make for a good Halloween post.  Well I never got around to posting this back in October, but since there's good deal of eating in this poem, and November is month for that big turkey feast, this poem is still fitting...

These great illustrations are by Rod Ruth.  I hoped to find a wealth of information about Rod at the blog Today's Inspiration.  Today's Inspiration celebrates classic illustrators of the 20th century with a comprehensive collection of their work, but there was nothing on Rod Ruth.  In fact it looks like Rod Ruth has sorta fallen through the cracks of the vast Internets.

The best source for Rod Ruth illustrations is at a blogger acquaintance of mine - The Haunted Closet.  Here you can find Ruth's expert illustrations of monsters and dinosaurs.

Well, with no biographical information available, wherever you are Mr. Ruth, I'd just like to say you're an exceptionally accomplished illustrator, and I admire your work very much.

If you'd like to hear Ogden Nash recite his poem accompanied by the illustrations of Rod Ruth, check out the little video I've made...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Commentary on The Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion Animated

Well Halloween is over, and for those interested here's a quick commentary on my animation of the classic The Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion.

Back in 2009 when I made the Unused Concept Art from the Haunted Mansion  Animated I used the record cover art by Collin Campbell for the open.  At the time I thought it would be cool if the cover art would animate, but the prep work needed to do this was a monumental chore in its self.

So I basically forgot about it for 2 years, but this summer I thought I should finally do it for this Halloween.  Early on I thought I would just animate the cover art, but I soon decided I would animate some (not all) of the "Story and Song" art.

Okay now I'll go through the animation one shot at a time...

The cover art was the biggest chore to animate (and a bigger chore to prep), and there over 30 moving characters and elements. Originally I thought I might try to make it 3D, but that was way too difficult.  The audio mix was a challenge too. I first thought I might just use the music of the band members and opera singers, but I quickly learned hearing those opera singers for any extended period of time is pretty brutal.  I decide to fade the singers out and primarily use the ballroom music which I had used back in 2009 on the concept art animations.   At the end of the open when the titles appear I brought in a little bit of the title theme from The Haunting (1963).

It's been reported that this movie was influential during the creation of Disney's Haunted Mansion.  I also used the spooky look of The Haunting's opening titles (which look very much like the effect used on the type in the above trailer), and ghostly transitions used during the first few minutes of the film where the history of Hill House is told.  If you haven't seen the movie, or don't know what I'm talking about you can check it out here if you wish.

I like animating Haunted Mansion art that hasn't been done in real life.  That's what appealed to me about animating unused concept art, and it's this philosophy that guided my choices when I animated the "Story and Song."

The first page

Like the above opening page has almost nothing to do with the Haunted Mansion attraction.  Sure there's an executioner in the ride, but he is singing in the graveyard and not opening the front door for you.  I thought I could use a 3D camera with a short depth of field to get this shot, but it was impossible to get the framing correct so I cheated the look in 2D.  It's not perfect, and it's something I wish I had more time to finesse.

Madam Leota

I know Madam Leota is in the attraction, but I animated this art because Collin Campbell staged the seance scene so differently from how it looks in the attraction.  I love how lively the room looks here.  In recent years the Disney Imagineers have gotten Madam Leota to float in the air, which is a neat trick, but I'd be truly amazed if they could make all the furniture float like it does here.

A wide shot of The Bride

The bride art is not by Collin Campbell.  It's by me.  Did I fool you?  I hoped it looked like Campbell's work, but the talent gap between me and Collin is pretty huge.

I based the look of the Bride after a couple early versions, but mostly this maquette...

I've borrowed this photo from the encyclopedic Haunted Mansion blog Long-Forgotten.   HBG2, who owns the blog, is using a Photoshoped photo of the "corpse bride" I did so I don't think he'll mind too much.  I know she doesn't look much like an actual bride, but she is a very early version of sorts.  For hardcore Mansion fans there's also a couple of "Easter Eggs" in my Bride scene, like the bust on the sideboard and the hanging portrait. 

CU of Bride art before animation

Above is a close-up of the original art.  You can see the skull face which is something that I experimented with. I though it might look cool if you saw the skull flicker as her heart beat, but I dropped that idea.  One idea I did keep was a faint flicker of the artery and veins that surround the heart, but I don't think it's very noticible in the final animation. Also starting with the Bride I tried to make my shots a little more POV (point of view).

Hatbox Ghost

Here we have the most infamous Mansion resident - the Hatbox Ghost.  The history of this character is well known by Mansion fans, and so I had to include him.  He's been long absent from the Mansion, but the hope is strong among the faithful he'll return one of these days.

Last Page

Lastly we have the escape thru the crypt ending and that crazy alien-like ghost with the yellow eyes.  This is where the POV becomes the most obvious (with mixed results).   I which I had more time to finesse this shot a little more.  I think if I made the shot 3D the POV would work better, but prepping the art for 3D would have taken time which I didn't have. 

Well that's it.  Thank you for reading this, and thanks to those of you who have left comments.  Thanks to Disney for not getting upset with these fan creations of mine.  The Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion is available on CD, so if you don't have a copy for yourself go get one now.  I think this will be my last animated trip into the world of Disney,  but rest assured I have ideas for other fun and stupid animation in the future.


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