Archive for the ‘bakshi’ Category

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Story: Louise Zingarelli’s Cool World Storyboards

Louise ZingarelliLouise ZingarelliRecently, there’s been a flurry of posts around the blogosphere about development executives and the impact they have on the cartoons you see in theaters and on television. See John K’s post, Why Rock Stars Should Be Animation Executives and the shocking AWN article he links to, Development Execs: Who They Are And How They Got There. It’s an eye-opening read.

Today, we digitized a section of storyboard from one of the biggest flops in recent times, Ralph Bakshi’s Cool World. This film could be the poster child for devastating executive interference. Paramount bought a hard-R, gritty, sexy, noir horror/thriller from Bakshi and proceeded to revise it into a low-rent Roger Rabbit aimed at teenagers. By the time the film was completed, it bore little resemblence to Bakshi’s original concept.

But I’m not going to talk about that sorry story today… Instead, I’m going to tell you about an artist who worked on Cool World who you might not know about, but should… Louise Zingarelli. Louise was a very good friend of mine, and I’d like to share my personal take on her along with this section of storyboard that vividly illustrates her amazing talents.

Louise Zingarelli
Louise Zingarelli

Louise Zingarelli was the toughest individual I’ve ever met… and one of the sweetest. If she loved you, man! she REALLY loved you. If she hated you, Boy! you better watch out.

"Hate" isn’t a strong enough word for what Louise felt if she didn’t like someone. She had a special word for it… SKIEVE. To skieve something was to hate it to the point of physical revulsion. Louise skieved REAL GOOD. She skieved lots of things… parking tickets, Canadian animators, dentist appointments, Jesse Jackson and even Charles Soloman.

Louise Zingarelli
Louise Zingarelli

Charles made the mistake of criticizing Louise’s scenes in The Chipmunk Adventure in the L.A. Times. He wrote that they were "heavily dependent on the crutch of rotoscoping". When she read that, Louise flew into a rage. She hollered, "There wasn’t a single frame of roto in the whole goddamn picture! I didn’t use a CRUTCH! I used my HEAD, which is more than I can say for Charles friggin’ Soloman!" Louise brewed and fumed about that article for years, and finally got her chance for revenge at Grim Natwick’s 100th birthday party. When Charles got up to speak, Louise made a noise like a leaky radiator. The Canadian animators on the other side of the room picked it up, and pretty soon she had the whole place going. Charles never knew what hit him.

Louise Zingarelli
Louise Zingarelli

Louise always reminded me of the tomboy girl in Our Gang- the one who was small, but when her big brother got picked on by the neighborhood bullies, she would roll up her sleeves and wipe the floor with them. Louise was short, but if she was coming at you with THAT look in her eye, you’d swear she was ten feet tall.

Louise Zingarelli
Louise Zingarelli

Louise hated a lot of things, but she saved special hatred for "The Business"… those words would come out of her mouth dripping in vitriol. "THE BIZZZZZZNESSSSS!" You would need a rug doctor after she said it to clean up all the slime. If Louise knew I was writing about her here in a blog read by people in "the business", she would kick my ass all the way to hell and back.

Louise Zingarelli
Louise Zingarelli

Now I don’t want to make Louise sound like an unpleasant person. On the contrary, she was one of the most thoughtful and considerate people I ever met. I spent many evenings at her house, sharing in her gracious hospitality. She made the most amazing chicken in her Weber grill, and she taught me the value of keeing a bottle of good Russian vodka in the freezer, "just in case". If Louise loved you, you never had the chance to doubt or forget it. She loved just as passionately as she hated.

Louise Zingarelli
Louise Zingarelli

Louise was a great artist. She could paint with Prismacolors like nobody else. She would build up layers of colors that glowed on the paper. Her characters had an indefinable sense of "ugly-cute"… never cloying, always real. Some animators complained, saying her character designs were unanimatable, but by the time they ended up on the screen, her unusual shapes and true to life personality gave them extra life.

Louise Zingarelli

Louise was the fastest artist I ever met. On Cool World, she single handedly laid out all the girl scenes, keying out the poses until they almost animated. Her average footage on layout was over seventy feet a week.

At Bagdasarian, we shared an office. I think I was the only person who ever survived sharing an office with Louise. One day, I gave her an incidental character to design. She sat around sipping her coffee and smoking casually. I finally asked her if she was going to get around to doing the drawing, because the deadline was looming. She said, "Here’s a good bet. Get your watch out. I’ll design this character in one minute. You take the sketch to Ross for approval. I betcha two bits he not only approves it, he says he LOVES it." "You’re on!" I said.

So looking at my watch, I called out, "Ready… set… GO!" Louise just sat there smiling at me. I said, "Time has started." She nodded and set her cigarette down… smoothed out her paper… "Twenty seconds." I called out. She sat down and set in to work on the drawing. Her pencil flew over the paper- beautiful sweeping lines, completely original shapes. She finished the character with time to spare and tore it off her pad. I took the sketch next door to Ross’ office. He was on the phone, so I left it on the corner of his desk and went back to Louise. She was smiling like a Cheshire Cat. A couple of minutes later, we heard from the other side of the wall, "FAAAABUUULOOUSS!" Louise casually raised an eyebrow and quietly said, "Pay up."

Louise Zingarelli

After Cool World wrapped, Louise moved back to her hometown of Chicago. I heard from her a couple of times, but we lost touch. I later found out that she had moved back to Laguna Niguel and was undergoing kemotherapy for cancer. She fought it as bravely as all of her other battles, and for a short time it seemed like she had licked it. But it came back hard. She was very ill at the end. For weeks she lay in a coma. She was so private about her battle, her best friends didn’t know she was gone for a month afterwards. She chose to spend her last days quietly with her cats painting at the ocean.

I owe Louise big time. She championed me when I was just starting out in animation, and she never wavered in her faith in me. She was a great friend and I miss her a lot.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Animated CartoonsAnimated Cartoons

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Animation.

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Bakshi’s Last Days of Coney Island Kickstarter

Ralph Bakshi is conducting a Kickstarter campaign to create a series of shorts called “Last Days of Coney Island”. Check it out!

Bakshi’s Last Days of Coney Island Kickstarter page

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ralphbakshi/last-days-of-coney-island-0

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Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Exhibit: Zim at Judge

ZIM in Judge

All ethnic groups were fair game for caricature in Judge magazine in the 1880s- even white people. "Crackers" referred to the type of boastful "rube" or "hick" who might be found congregating around the cracker barrel at the general store.

ZIM BOOK NEARING COMPLETION

The Animation Resources volunteers and I have been cranking for the past few months on cleaning up and formatting the over 650 pages in Zim’s Correspondence School of Cartooning, Comic Art and Caricature. This is the granddaddy of all cartooning courses, written by the man who was a pioneer in the art of the humorous caricature. I’ve been in touch with the Horseheads Historical Society, the group that operates ZIM’s home as a museum, and have received some valuable biographical information from them for the upcoming book. At this point, the entire cartooning course spans two large hardback volumes. We may release it as four smaller paperbacks or PDF files in the future.

Eugene ZIM Zimmerman

For more on the genius of Eugene "ZIM" Zimmerman, see our Online Exhibit on ZIM.

RALPH LENDS A HAND

Ralph Bakshi has been assembling a collection of ZIMiana for four decades. His collection includes original art, magazine illustrations and books by ZIM. Ralph has agreed to write the forward for our republication of the ZIM course. When he heard that I was looking for examples of ZIM’s watercolor work for the covers and frontispieces, Ralph dug into his collection and came up with some wonderful treasures… enough for another volume of ZIM’s cartooning to follow the cartooning course.

ZIM in Judge

But that wasn’t all… Ralph heard that there was a bound volume of Judge magazines from 1885-1887 for sale at eBay. During this time period, ZIM was the leading cartoonist at Judge, and he was producing the best work of his lifetime. Animation Resources doesn’t have an acquisition budget, so we couldn’t afford to purchase the book. But Ralph felt that we needed it to do ZIM justice, so he dug into his own pocket to make sure we got it.

The book hasn’t arrived yet, but check out these photos from the seller…

ZIM in Judge

Judge was the National Lampoon or Mad magazine of its day. Each issue was devoted to making fun of a particular subject. This issue deals with "Jays", a slang term for oblivious and reckless people. The stereotypical "jay" was the ignorant rural farmer who came to the big city and ignored all traffic and safety laws. The term "Jay" is the root of our slang term "jaywalker".

ZIM in Judge

Here, a hobo tries to get a bank to invest in him… ZIM was the first cartoonist to apply the principles of caricature to the whole body, not just the head. Every part of this character, from the hat down to the shoes, exemplifies the type of personality ZIM was trying to convey.

ZIM in Judge

In his boyhood, ZIM worked as a farmhand. The placement of the signature and the familiar profile (see the photo above) indicate that this gag may have been autobiographical. The caption reads…

Mr Rodgers: Who’s that, my young man?
Silas (nervously): B-ben H-harrison, pop.
Mr Rodgers: By Moses! It’s great boy. I’ll have to send ya down to N’ York an’ git ye on a paper.

At the time this was published, Benjamin Harrison was the Republican candidate for President of the United States.

ZIM in Judge

Check out the strange shapes and contrasts in this drawing! Bizzare.

ZIM in Judge

ZIM is largely known today for the racial stereotypes that were the stock-in-trade at Judge and Puck magazines at the time. But although the racial humor may now seem too abstract to translate into today’s world; the caricatures are well-observed and honest. They were undoubtedly based on real people ZIM knew.

ZIM in Judge

New York City was a melting pot in the late 19th century. Just about everyone was an immigrant. The cartoonists of the day found humor in the juxtapositions of culture one experienced walking through the poorer neighborhoods of the big city. ZIM was no exception. He was an immigrant himself. He arrived in America as a child speaking no English, and quickly adapted to life in a totally new world. His aspiration was to become an American through and through.

ZIM in Judge

Wow, what a drawing! This one really resonates with me. We’re looking at two people who were probably born as slaves not only making the transition to becoming a part of society, but depicted as American citizens- note the American flag pants. When I look at this drawing, I can tell how they walk, their personality and temperament… everything. This is as perfect an example of caricature as I have ever seen. Absolutely brilliant.

ZIM in Judge

The Irish are lampooned in this issue.

ZIM in Judge

Here we see a dormer window in a tenement building populated by the faces of all the types of people who made up New York City…

ZIM in Judge

…and here is the common denominator between all of the types of faces in the world- the smile.

ZIM in Judge

ZIM’s eye took in all the details of urban life in the 1880s. He definitely exhibited more of an affinity for the poor immigrants than he did the established well-to-do. This set him apart from most of the othe
r illustrators who drew for Puck, Judge and Life.

ZIM in Judge

Can you see a little bit of Don Martin in this comic? The amazing thing about it is that this comic was drawn when Outcault’s The Yellow Kid was just getting its start. A. B. Frost had just pioneered sequential "time stop" drawings in his book Stuff and Nonsense a few years before. T. S. Sullivant hadn’t even begun his career as a cartoonist yet!

ZIM in Judge

When I saw these images, I was blown away. It’s very difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that these drawings are 120 years old! Before I discovered the genius of ZIM, I had no idea that the art of cartooning was this advanced in the 1880s. That’s why I’m so pleased to be able to bring this material to you.

ZIM in Judge

I hope you will support Animation Resources by buying a copy of ZIM’s Correspondence School of Cartooning, Comic Art and Caricature when it comes out.

But that’s not all! Check out these amazing covers by James Montgomery Flagg!

ZIM in Judge
ZIM in Judge

And how about this cover by Gillam…

ZIM in Judge

Whenever I speak to people interested in the history of cartooning, I find that they have pretty much the same frame of reference as I have… the earliest cartoonists they know about are Sullivant, Outcault and Herriman. A few know a little bit about the most powerful cartoonist who ever lived, Thomas Nast. I’m now discovering that there is a rich history of cartooning between Nast and Sullivant. As I discover more about this exciting period, I’ll share it with you here on the Animation Resources blog.

Many thanks to Ralph Bakshi for making this possible. Make sure to bookmark The Bakshi Blog.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Eugene Zim ZimmermanEugene Zim Zimmerman

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit devoted to Eugene “Zim” Zimmerman.