Monday, January 26, 2009

WHEN CHARACTERS WERE THE STARS


A few weeks ago my pal Shawn and I were having one of our serious cartoon discussions (at the best place for cartoon discussions- Lido Pizza!), and we got onto the subject of how studios used to treat their cartoon characters as REAL stars. Think of any animated film or TV show today. Have you noticed how it seems like every character needs to have a celebrity voice? ...And not only that, but that celeb will be treated higher than the character!

Take a look at these title cards from selected classic Hollywood cartoons- it's very clear that although fictitious, the characters were regarded as true stars... as if they were real people!




This below is amazing to me: A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for a name that, while beloved by millions, belongs to someone that isn't real.

They may have still been run by executives, but these studios sure were smart. They made their characters the faces of their companies!

And of course it helped that the characters themselves were so appealing. Audiences were so endeared by many of them, and you could quite often catch Mickey Mouse or Popeye's name featured at the TOP of theatre marquees, with live action stars like Greta Garbo and Clark Gable listed below. What a time!

Characters would even get their own posters featured around theatres, like the ones below.





Did you notice that NOWHERE on these posters or title cards do they mention the actor or actress who supplies the character's voice? Poor Mel Blanc had to fight for years and years and YEARS to get his name even credited anywhere in a WB cartoon he voiced... and when he finally got his wish, look how far below his name appears!

While they are an important and vital part in the making of a cartoon character, it seems that voice actors in the classic age of Hollywood were treated nowhere near as important as they should have been. Now don't get me wrong, I think all voice actors should get the highest amount of credit and respect for the hard work they do.

BUT-
What happens when the opposite takes place? What happens when you give a voice actor so much credit that they eclipse the characters themselves? Well, take a look!

So, Jim the Elephant and Steve the Who? Why do these characters have normal man names?

Holy cow, what characters am I looking at?? Help, these huge names are in the way!

This film's art directors actually went out of their way to make their main characters LOOK like their celebrity voice counterparts. Talk about pulling you out of the movie! You see CGI fish, but all you can think about is Jack Black and Angelina Jolie wearing headphones and jumping around in a sound booth.

Hell, let's not even SHOW the characters in this poster! I don't know who or what I'll be watching for the next 90 minutes, but at least I'll be hearing Miley Cyrus' voice at some point during it!!

AMY POEHLER as the Mighty B. Okay, I see a cartoon character there but OMG, it's Amy Poehler as the voice!! She's from SNL, you guys!!!!!!!! This is a big deal.

And finally........... yeah.


I think the only modern cartoon that defies this backwards way of character development is Spongebob. Spongebob is voiced by the hilarious and awesome Tom Kenny (Mr. Show and tons of other great stuff), but he is no way flaunted for it. Viewers see Spongebob, and they think Spongebob. They don't imagine some grown man acting it out. I bet 99% of Spongebob fans wouldn't even know Tom Kenny if they saw him in front of them! So there ya go.

Maybe someday studios will realize that it's not a famous name that makes a beloved character, it's the character itself.

Monday, January 12, 2009

HOORAY! FOR CARTOON BALLOONS!!!

Hey so I realize the last few posts haven't included any cartoons from yours truly, Nico. Well, I've been drawing like CRAZY!! But it's all top secret for Dumm Comics and can't be unveiled until the time is right. So stay patient, buddies!

In the meantime tho-

CARTOON BALLOONS!

So around Thanksgiving I saw some of these on Cartoon Brew and it GOT ME THINKING about cartoon balloons! So I thought I'd do a bit more research and look through all the fun Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade floats throughout the years! Here's Mickey from 1934... wild!!

What I really love about how old cartoons used to be commercialized was how strange and off-model they made everyone. Look how FUN this big-nosed gnome is!!! You would never see anything this bizarre in the parades today.

HAHAHAHA! Behold, it's Superguy and his amazing barrel chest of hot air. They just didn't care how strange these looked as long as it was fun or funny. This one's hilarious!

Here we see Popeye taking over the world and nobody seems to mind. GREAT FLOAT!!

WHOA, this Mickey and Donald are crazy awesome. How can characters be so off-model yet you can still completely tell who they are? I guess that's the power of classic appealing characters.

Smokey the Man-Bear enforces the rules and keeps everyone in line. Don't have too much fun!

More funs:


So then I looked up photos from this and last year's parades and was utterly SHOCKED. Look at the characters they've chosen to portray holiday balloon fun!! Why is the ugly grumpy farting Shrek man so adored by today's world? I'll never understand it.

Look! They've brought San Diego Comic-Con to the Macy's parade!

By far the creepiest float ever created is the looming kid-luring cheeseburger man.

Man-eating Dora descends upon her victims.

Props to the Spongebob for at least being in the spirit of the old cartoon floats.

Here is a float that makes no sense to me. What is this thing, a TRON rabbit? What beloved character is this? Pointy futuristic ears and computer mascots with no faces are appealing to someone I suppose. I'm sure kids were jumping with joy when this timeless thing floated by.

Don't worry, because this story has a happy ending. The farting ogre beast was finally captured around 6:30pm on Thanksgiving Day and promptly bound and netted. It will be subjected to a slow death by self-deflating. Thanksgiving is saved!!!!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

I JUST CAN'T LIVE WITH THIS ANYMORE!!!

Finally, everyone's favorite lame video by me has exactly what it doesn't need... A SEQUEL.

Filmed over the past couple weeks. Major thanks to Dumm Comics Kimbo genius Ricky Garduno, beautiful and smart musician Ramona Graham, and hollywood bigshot cartoonist David Gemmill for agreeing to be in this delightfully retarded romp of mine.

Feel free to throw rocks at me. oh and this has a little strong language, if you like being warned!




EDIT:
Here is part 1 from xmas 2007, for those of you who have no clue what I'm talking about. Watch it and weep! (with laughter?)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

HOLIDAY HANGOVER

HEYYYYYYY 2009!

Look at some cool arty stuff I got during the holidays!

WOW! These are the movies that made these guys famous. Kali got me this awesome DVD collection. She later found out that one of John's presents for her was the exact same set, haha.

I got this in the mail from Jess and Casey, and it's homemade!! Thanks buddies! You made my heart grow 3 sizes.

Molly and Carl got me some great books, and one of them is called Happy Kitty Bunny Pony! THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!! It's a pop art collection of bizarre and sickenly cute animal illustrations from old ads and greeting cards. Hilarious stuff!!


OMG
Some great paints too!!

Very cool!!

Then they even sent me and Kali a card in the mail! Aww, it's us!! THANKS MARL.

PLUS: David WHIPPED this out for me. haha!


Thanks everybody!! This is going to be the greatest year ever.


On a side note,
I think I'm about ready to share my NEW blog with the world... Yeah yeah, I know, how many friggen websites do I need anyway? Well apparently I need one more.
It has nothing to do with cartoons though! It's about one of my other passions... photography! It's called double takes and it's a photo blog of all my favorite girl, fashion, old movie, and random (okay, mostly girls) images I've collected from books and internet over the years. I update Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays, so if you're into this kind of thing be sure to check it very often!!

click me!