Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Squeak, Squeak, Squeak! ( translation: Vote for Us!* )

With the near constant coverage of the U.S. Presidential Primaries south of the border over the last many months I thought I'd let everyone know about an opportunity for all us non-Americans ( okay, Americans can vote too! ) to cast their ballot on a subject of worldwide importance...

The Softies Awards finalists were announced this week, and it just so happens that my good friend, the immensely talented Little Acorn has had the above grouping shortlisted in the "Fun Picnic Foods" category. Should you be so inclined ( and I hope you are ) head on over to her post on this subject for links on the contest and how to vote ( super easy, no sign-up required ). Thank you.

****UPDATE : Congratulations to Little Acorn... the mice are happy to announce that she won! Thanks to everyone who voted.

*Translation services provided by FreeRodentTranslations.com

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hold it RIGHT THERE!!!

That's right... Drop what yer doin' pardner and mosey yer britches on over to the Flickr Saloon for some gol' darn great late 50s and early 1960s advertising illustrations. Tell 'em Marshall Glenfus Q. Mullaly sent you!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Appropriated Images

Last night a keen-eyed family member alerted me to the fact that one of the images from my Flickr photostream was noticed on another member's site. Besides being a violation of Flickr's rules it was a little thoughtless. Taking an image I had kept for 34 years, then scanned, cleaned, restored, researched and shared for my fellow Flickrers to enjoy. Not playing well with others.

But... one image isn't a big deal. If that had been the extent of it I probably would have left a snarky comment on it and that would have been the end of things. Unfortunately after looking through his sets I found around 70 images of mine that he had "appropriated". Not just hard-to-find vintage illustrations from my collection, but original images from this blog ( and many other blogs and sites ), one-of-a-kind original art that I owned and my photography as well. A blatant act that I couldn't ignore.

I sent off a polite but strongly worded message asking him to remove the images in question, and alerted some fellow Flickrers who images I had also noticed in his photostream. Long story short is that as of 10 a.m. this morning his account has been deleted ( not sure if it was by him or by Flickr ) and, at least in this instance, case closed.

So why am I, dear reader, regaling you with this unfortunate but not exactly earth-shattering-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things information? Because during correspondence on this matter with illustrator, illustration archivist supreme, and just plain swell guy Leif Peng I was made aware of the recent, and more insidious "appropriation" of a fellow illustrator's work. How, you may ask?

What about gathering an illustrator's images from online sources and compiling into a book!
Follow the links below to read Luc Latulippe's harrowing story of his ( and several dozen other artist's ) horror to find their copyrighted images being sold online in a fancy looking $100.00 tome!
A cautionary and still unfolding tale involving stolen work, fake publishers and ISBNs and an online world of scam artists and resellers who apparently couldn't care less about morals, ethics or the legalities of their actions.

This one hits a little too close to home.



Friday, April 18, 2008

Vintage Animation Back ( and Fore! ) grounds : Part III

Part 1
Part 2

This is the long overdue third installment of a series of post focusing on some boffo animation backgrounds ( and, in this case, foreground as well ) from some slightly more obscure films of the 1950s and early 60s. Up today: What Makes Us Tick ( 1952 )

In between my childhood and adolescent dreams of becoming a super hero comic book artist and my adult career in illustration I was most influenced artistically by animation of the 1950s and 60s. Starting with Chuck Jones and Disney and progressing to lesser known creators my love for the genre was evident in my work at the time. I grew out of that phase but a touch of that influence still shows itself occasionally, and when I run across some wonderful work that I haven't seen before I still grab a few screencaps to add to my scrapbook.

Such is the case with "What Makes Us Tick". Released in 1952 by the Sutherland studio ( the folks responsible for one the previously featured films "It's Everybody's Business" ), this production was contracted by the fine folks at the New York Stock Exchange to explain ( and, of course, promote ) the stock market.

As with all Sutherland productions this 12 minute short has a great look provided by director Carl Urbano and art directors Gerald Nevius ( "A Is for Atom", "Fantasia", "Dumbo" ) and Ed Starr ( Pinocchio, Fantasia, Song of the South ). Music provided by frequent Sutherland contributer Eugene Poddany ( French Rarebit, The Dot and the Line, Horton Hears a Who! ).

While the backgrounds don't quite reach the heights of 1954's "It's Everybody's Business" or 1956's "Destination Earth", it's still a well designed film with plenty going for it.

Be sure to click on all the images in the post for for full sized views of these screencaps taken from the public domain copy available on the wonderful Prelinger Collection section of the Internet Archive. Due to the age of the print and the limitations of the viewing method these aren't the highest quality stills, but I've cleaned, and in the case of the wider background pans, composited a number of frames together to give an approximation of the original art.

If you're a fan of 1950's and early 60s animation and don't already own a copy be sure to pick up Amid Amidi's excellent 2006 book Cartoon Modern. Chock full of wonderful examples and enlightening background information on the best of that era's animation art ( including an 8 page section on the Sutherland films ) it's a must.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Legends of Lettering!

Back before lettering was more commonly referred to as fonts a couple of sources made a big impact on the styles (s) of hand lettering that I do. One was the amazing and unequaled 1950s - 1960s output of the Photo-Lettering company out of New York. The other was the ads in the back of black and white magazines published by Warren Publishing.
For samples from both giants why not head on over to my most recent post at the image sharing site Flickr. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

This Is Sasek!

Some wonderful examples of Miroslav Sasek's illustrations are featured over at my Flickr right now. I dug up a forgotten copy of "This Is New York", one of 18 "This Is..." books he created from 1959 to 1974, out of storage last week and couldn't pass up sharing a few of my favourite illos from it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not That Long Ago in a Neighbourhood Not That Far Away...

Nanaimo, B.C., May 1978. Thirty years ago next month to be precise. A motion picture by the name of Star Wars had been out for just under a year, and the product tie-ins had finally begun to catch up with the world-wide demand. T-shirts, posters, jigsaw puzzles, books and most importantly - toys were flooding the shelves, of both stores and of rabid Star Wars fans like me.

Being the creative-type nine year old that I was I decided to gather some of those Star Wars items that had found their way into my hot little hands and attempt to recreate some of my favourite scenes from said film. So with a shooting budget slightly less than that of the original, the family Kodak Instamatic camera and whatever props were easily at hand I set about retelling this sci-fi saga in miniature scale.

First up ( above ) we see a scene from early in the film featuring fussy goldenrod robot C-3PO ( Kenner's 3.25" action figure ) stranded in the sun-drenched ( fake wood paneled ) desert wastes of sand planet Tatooine ( my floral patterned bedspread ). With the hulking skeletal remains of some fierce creature ( a beaver skull I found in the bush and some toilet paper ) in the background Threepio desperately waves for help at the off-screen Jawa Sandcrawler. Close comparison of this recreation with the corresponding shot from the film proves indistinguishable to all but the most highly trained eye. Success!

Next we move ahead to Luke Skywalker, Ben Kenobi and the droid's arrival at the spaceport of Mos Eisley. Notice the attention to detail as feared Imperial Stormtroopers question our heroes as to their recent robotic shopping history ( to no doubt facilitate better customer service in the future ) as desert denizens convincingly menace nearby. I must have spent months scouting the location ( my best friend's driveway ), tracking down set pieces ( a handy rock ), and adding authentic touches like the paper punch-out Sandcrawler in the background. "Move along. Move along." indeed!

As was evidenced by my many abandoned comic book attempts at the time I seemed to have a short interest span when it came to creating long form continuity. So I decided to wrap up my pint-sized adaptation with one whiz-bang, pull out all the stops, everything but the kitchen sink battle scene. Where, you may ask, was the giant beaver skull, Space 1999 Rub-Down Action Set, or green shag carpet in the final climax of the original film? Missing, if you ask me! Pt-zoo, pt-zoo! Arghh... Kapow! Zoom...shkewwww. Chomp-chomp! PKOWWWW! ( Roll end title music ).

With film still left in the camera and an itchy shutter finger I decided to document the state of my bedroom decorating affairs with a couple of shots of that swingin' chick-magnet that was my nine year old room. From the classic Star Wars and Mylar Popeye posters to the groovy nautically themed wallpaper and Dymo Label Maker labelled "Underwear and P.J." drawer it doesn't get much more stylin' than this.
Keen-eyed viewers may also notice the assortment of late 70s kid toy icons arrayed across the top of my chest of drawers. From left to right: Micronaut's Photon Sled, Battlestar Galactica's Colonial Viper, the previously featured Landspeeder from Star Wars, and, absent it's accompanying figure, the wings from Micronauts Acroyear.

Wrapping up this unsurprisingly self-indulgent soiree we now present a wider shot of the wonderful world that that I inhabited circa May 1978.
You don't see a lot of carpet art these days but it was all the rage ( okay, at least at our house ) in the 70s. Also featured in this time capsule of tackiness are ( once again left to right ) my 1978 Star Wars calendar ( every vintage photo should include a calendar for ease of dating! ), a glued down and shellacked SW puzzle, a piece of Kid Glen Star Wars art, the fold-out poster from the first issue of the descriptively named "Star Wars Poster Monthly" and another fold-out poster from one of the many sci-fi movie magazines I used to buy every week at the local newstand ( Starlog, Fantastic Films, Science Fantasy Film Classics, etc ).

In the upper right corner of the photo you can just make out ( although I'm not sure why you'd want to! ) two of the four spaceship models I had hanging from my ceiling at the time : a Klingon Battle Cruiser and the K-7 Space Station. Not pictured are the X-Wing from Star Wars and the Romulan Bird of Prey.
I wasn't the biggest Star Trek fan ( although I liked it ) but since, at least early on, it was easier to get Star Trek merchandise than Star Wars I ended up with a bunch of it.

Along the shelf at the bottom you can see a range of items including my knock-off lightsabre ( a flashlight and golf club tube type ), the above-mentioned Space 1999 Rub-On set, an over-sized King Kamehameha poseable action figure ( okay... a doll ) from a trip to Hawaii, a Spider-Man plastic bank, a bird house I built from a kit, Hardy Boy books and assorted comics and magazines.
Let your childhood geek flag fly!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hawley Birthday!

I just ran across a stack of my birthday cards from the early 1970s, and among them was a number of wonderful American Greetings examples illustrated by the amazing Pete Hawley! For the full scoop on Mr. H check out my most recent posting over at the always fascinatin' Flickr...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Who Is This?

Me! Yep, despite the funky face colouration ( no, I wasn't a circus-freak with a face tattoo ) this is a self-portrait from grade one or two circa 1974 0r 1975. I unearthed this treasure while spring cleaning this week and just had to share it, and a few others, over at Flickr.