Archive for the ‘fleischer’ Category

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Exhibit: Grim Natwick In New York

PART ONE: GRIM NATWICK’S EARLY YEARS

Grim Natwick

Grim Natwick’s career in animation began in 1917 at International Film Service Productions, managed by Gregory LaCava. The studio was owned by William Randolph Hearst, who wanted to exploit his comic strip characters in the new medium of the animated cartoon. LaCava had been lured away from Raoul Barre’s studio where he had been working as an animator. His organizational skills were put to good use setting the studio on the right track, but he was having trouble finding experienced animators. He did however, know of a great draftsman who was working as a sheet music illustrator- a classmate from art school…

Grim NatwickGrim NatwickLaCava enlisted Grim to help out for "for two weeks or so" until he could locate experienced animators. Grim’s first task was to animate a racehorse in a Happy Hooligan cartoon. He spent more than a week on the sequence experimenting and struggling, and at the end of the two weeks, he was ready to quit. But LaCava told him that Hearst would pay him the unheard of amount of $100 a week if he would stay on. Money talked, and ultimately, Grim took to animation like a duck to water. The two weeks ended up stretching into over seven decades.

Click to see Grim's anatomy studiesClick to see Grim's anatomy studiesAround 1920, Grim took a few years off to study art in Vienna- drawing from life, landscape painting, portraiture- a full classical art education. He returned to New York a much stronger artist than he had left. International Film Service no longer existed, but Bill Nolan had organized a studio to produce Krazy Kat cartoons. The series bore little resemblence to George Herriman’s classic comic strip. The animation was done using the "slash system" and animators were expected to not only assist their own scenes, but to ink them as well. The artists at the Krazy Kat Studio at this time included some of the best in New York, two of whom- Walter Lantz and Jimmie (Shamus) Culhane- would work with Grim again much later in his career.

Grim NatwickGrim NatwickIn 1929, Grim joined the Fleischer Studios. Fleischer had just made the transition from silent films to sound, and was abandoning the high contrast inked look of the Out of the Inkwell cartoons for a more rounded style with a full range of gray tones. Disney had just raided the studio for talent, taking several key animators, including Dick Huemer, back to California with him. A few months later Ted Sears headed West. Grim was left with a group of inexperienced, but enthusiastic and talented young artists. He quickly whipped the crew into shape and provided the Fleischers with some of the most imaginitive animation ever produced at the studio. We’ve featured two cartoons from this period here in the past… Swing, You Sinners and Mariutch, both from 1930.

Grim NatwickGrim NatwickOne day, Dave Fleischer handed Grim a photograph of singer, Helen Kane and asked him to design a caricature. Fleischer had found a sound-alike, and planned to use her in the upcoming Talkartoon, "Dizzy Dishes". Grim exaggerated Kane’s wide eyes and rosebud mouth, creating a slightly coarse, but strikingly original design. A few weeks later, Dave asked Grim to design a girlfriend for Bimbo to star as the "fair young maiden" in a cartoon adaptation of the popular song, "Barnacle Bill the Sailor". Grim streamlined and refined his caricature of Kane for the part. But Dave Fleischer objected, insisting that since Bimbo was a dog, his girlfriend should also be a dog. Grim quickly sketched Betty Boop’s head on a four legged canine body. He held up the drawing next to the pretty girl design, and asked, "Which would you rather have as your girlfriend? A girl? Or a dog?" Dave laughed and agreed that the pretty girl was the right choice.

Grim Natwick

EXHIBIT CATALOG: GRIM’S EARLY YEARS

Grim Natwick

Top Row: Animation From Hearst & The Krazy Kat Studio (left to right) Drawing from "Judge Rummy" cartoon* (ca. 1918) / Concept sketch for unproduced series based on Cliff Sterrett’s "Polly & her Pals"* (ca. 1926) / ibid* / ibid* / Self portrait of Grim Natwick* (ca. 1926)

Middle Row: Animation From Fleischer (left to right) Animation drawings from "Mariutch"* (1930) / Animation drawing from unknown film* – Animation drawing from "Mariutch"* / Animation drawings from "Swing, You Sinners"* (1930) bottom dwg- collection of Kent Butterworth / Character designs for Bimbo* (ca. 1930) / Character designs for Bimbo in "Barnacle Bill The Sailor"* (1930) / Caricature of Grim Natwick by Rudy Zamora – Self portrait of Grim Natwick* (ca. 1930)

Bottom Row: Anatomy Studies After Bridgeman* (ca. 1920)

* denotes a drawing by Grim Natwick

Next Chapter: GRIM NATWICK, GOLDEN AGE ANIMATOR (Iwerks, Disney, Lantz)


Grim Natwick Exhibit
Assistant Archivist, Joseph Baptista views the exhibit.

GRIM NATWICK’S SCRAPBOOK

This travelling exhibit has appeared at the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive in Burbank, CA and at the South Wood Historical Society Museum in Wisconsin Rapids, WI, birthplace of Grim Natwick.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

TheoryGrim Natwick

This posting is part of an online exhibit entitled Grim Natwick’s Scrapbook.

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Filmography: I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles (Fleischer/1930)

Fleischer Bouncing BallFleischer Bouncing BallThis Saturday, the archive video guru, Eric Graf sat down to begin digitizing an amazing collection of Fleischer Bouncing Ball cartoons. These were among the most popular cartoons of their day; however, taken out of their original theatrical context, it isn’t quite the same experience viewing them today.

Each cartoon consisted of an animated introduction, followed by an invitation by the narrator to "Follow the bouncing ball…" A singalong section designed to get the whole audience singing was followed by an animated singalong where the characters interacted with the words of the song. If you’ve ever seen any of these films projected on the big screen, you know what fun it is to be singing along, and suddenly have the cartoon characters start cavorting with the words you’re singing.

Fleischer Screen Songs
Fleischer Screen Songs

This film is interesting, because it includes some early attempts at lipsync. The rabbit conductor speaks to the audience in stilted speech, obviously designed to be understood over the primitive theater sound systems of the time. But the stilted speech and the bizzarre drawings create a truly weird and wonderful effect. Drawings this strange don’t happen by accident! Still frame through this scene and check them out. John K theorizes that this scene might be some sort of animation equivalent of exquisite corpse. Marc Deckter has provided lots of great frame grabs of the crazy lipsync at his blog, Duck Walk.

An interesting side note is that the narrator who refers to the rabbit as “funny boy” is none other than pioneer recording artist, Billy Murray, disguising his natural tenor as a baritone. He narrates many of the Fleischer cartoons of this era, and provided the original voice for Bimbo.

Fleischer Screen Songs
Fleischer Screen Songs

We are fortunate to have over ten hours of Fleischer Screen Songs on Beta tapes. With your support, we have assembled a video digitization station where we can capture video. There’s literally hundreds of hours of cartoons waiting to be digitized… the entire Terrytoons syndication package donated by John Kricfalusi. The Warner Bros and MGM laserdisc box sets, the complete run of Format Films’ Alvin Show, and classic television commercials from the 1950s and 60s. As time and funding allow, we will be adding this material to our database.

Fleischer Screen Songs
Fleischer Screen Songs

I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles (1930)
(Quicktime 7 / 18 megs)

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

TheoryGrim Natwick

This posting is part of an online exhibit entitled Grim Natwick’s Scrapbook.

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Animation: Nat Falk’s How To Make Animated Cartoons Part Three

Nat Falk Book

Here is the conclusion of Nat Falk’s "How To Make Animated Cartoons". This section contains lessons on how to draw animated cartoons and how to animate.

HOW TO DRAW ANIMATED CARTOONS

Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book

HOW TO ANIMATE

Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book
Nat Falk Book

Many thanks to the family of Carlo Vinci for sharing this important book with us.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Animated CartoonsAnimated Cartoons

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

This posting is part of an online series of articles dealing with Instruction.