Dec 31, 2008

African Diaries-A New Sketchbook

I've posted about my friend and fellow story artist David Derrick before, pointing to his blog. He's a multi talented man who somehow finds time for constantly exploring new things and continuing to build on the knowledge he already has, putting it to good use. There's no one else I know who's as knowledgeable about flora and fauna--especially animals. He has a special interest in the life of the African continent, and finally had the chance to go there on safari this past year. He made sure to record much of what he found there and just published some of the choicest excerpts from his sketchbook in a lovely trade paperback, "African Diaries".

Here is a review from a critic who's not an artist but knows an interesting read when he sees one. I can't describe the book as well as he has.

As my old money pit manager Bud Plant would say "Highest Recommendations" for this title, which you can get for $14.95 here.

In addition to sketching and writing notes about what he saw on safari Dave took his sculpting tools and clay on location. Below are a few examples of what he came away with. He's particularly inspired by the great, lively genius of animal sculptors Bugatti and Barye.

Mara King, a sculpture Dave did on location in Kenya that he's now cast as a bronze. I can't ever get enough of good rough animal sculpts like this.
So again, I'd urge you to add this to your shelves. And remember to take a look at the other sculptures and goodies at Dave Derrick's blog.

I've got a lot of catch-up to do with posts, but they are coming. Thanks for dropping by and eyeballing the archives and intermittent posting this past year. Hopefully 2009 will be full of pleasant experiences for everyone.

Dec 29, 2008

Fred Moore, Cuban style

click to enlarge

Many moons ago during the Fred Moore marathon here I posted some terrific rough character drawings Fred Moore did of this little Cuban rooster.   Here's one more, perhaps one of the best.  As with the vast majority of the others this is from the collection of James Walker--a man whose generosity (as well as his love of Fred Moore's appealing drawing)  is boundless.  A little end-of-year treat for readers of the Blackwing Diaries.

At the time I knew only the sketchiest details of the project they were created for, but thanks to a post by Wade Sampson that you can read here, I know more.  Fred Cuba.  Something tells me that trip would make the wild spree in Guys and Dolls seem like a girl scout bake sale. But as nothing much has ever been said about it before to my knowledge, perhaps not. Either way, Fred did some wonderful work on that trip that shows he still had it in '46-about the time he was fired from Disney's.
As Sampson mentions, Disney historian J.B. Kaufman has been working on a book about all of the Disney Good Neighbor/Latin American films; after seeing the Ted Thomas documentary recently I'm especially looking forward to its seeing print.

Dec 8, 2008

R.O. Blechman CBS Christmas Message (1966)

It's poignant to see what television-and animation-once could be as far back as 1966. Simple touches like this made viewing the warm old tube an important part of the holiday season for kids--in a good way for a change. Today this spot with its understated good cheer looks positively revolutionary to me.

Nov 17, 2008

Save the Date for Bob Winquist

          A Celebration of the Life of Robert A. Winquist

Saturday, January 31 2009
at CalArts

more info to follow*

*invitations will be sent via the CalArts Alumni office, but an invitation is not necessary; all are welcome and your presence at the guacamole bowl will be wonderful.

Nov 14, 2008

That Hamster in Story

Mark Walton at work © 2008 Marc Smith

This is story artist Mark Walton's year, no question. He was tapped for some scratch a while back and it's worked out okay for him.

In Sunday's (11/15) New York Times: "The Voice Behind the Disney Drawing Board". It's fun to see the Times apply their Grey Lady treatment to a description of Mark and his infamous cubicle(shown above in a photograph by fellow artist Marc Smith). I don't believe for a second that he was really "nervous", though--more like his regular-grade joie de vivre.

And here's a brand-new, fun companion website for "Bolt", You Are Fully Awesome!, where the fanboy hamster becomes your biggest fan.

Check him out!

Nov 6, 2008

This 'n' That

Retta Scott at her animation desk at Disney's

Where did October go?

The fall months are busy ones, but this blog needs updating. Several things in the works but for today--please make sure you visit Michael Sporn, the better to enjoy his latest posts of artwork from "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom". What's old is new again, always; these images are fantastic and inspiring.

Oct 3, 2008

Feast your eyes-appeal and style

If you don't visit Michael Sporn's blog (or "Splog") regularly, you miss not only his great reports on animation life on the east coast, but also many things like these stunning boards from the Disney short "Melody: Adventures in Music". The artwork is loaned to Mike from his good friend and a man who needs no introduction to readers here, John Canemaker, whose collection is something else again.

Lots more where this came from--and again, it comes via John Canemaker and Michael Sporn.

Go there now!

Sep 30, 2008

Dave P just for fun

For no particular reason than that I hadn't checked his blog for a while and found this there when I did.

"Uncle Winky Hot Dogs"

Thanks to the prescience of Chris Ure (who saved a copy that he was actually able to find), a little film made at CalArts to be shown as a treat at the Producer's Show, circa 1988. Ultra rare!

Made on the side(meaning done with virtually no money, time or materials but much affection) by my talented classmates Chris Ure, Pete Docter, Mark Kennedy, Ashley Brannon, Van Cook, Tim Myers and Paul Rudish-all 1st years.

As must be plain to readers of this blog by now, we all loved Bob "Uncle Winky" Winquist, and here's but one more fun example of it. A trip down memory lane. Eat 'em with jelly!

"Bolt: One Ridonculous Adventure" by story artist Aurian Redson

Front and (below)back covers for Redson's book. Sorry about the glare-it certainly looks better in person

In my initial fizz over finally getting my copy of Joe Moshier's new Bolt Golden Book, I completely forgot to mention that I'm expecting yet another children's adaptation by an animation artist, Aurian Redson--a bright light in the story department.

He worked long and hard on "Bolt" the film, and he too has accomplished quite a lovely piece of publishing with "Bolt" One Ridonculous Adventure". A larger-format, longer picturebook than the Little Golden, it's also fascinating to see how Aurian has chosen to design his own version of the characters and settings. I've just seen a copy belonging to another story artist at work who's received his, and while I may sound like a shill for the publisher, I care not. This is a gorgeous and appealing book and a perfect compliment to your library.

a cropped photograph of one of the large (9x12)pages; these moving men look familiar...

"Bolt"-a Little Golden Book by Joe Moshier

This came in the mail yesterday from Amazon: ""Bolt", a Little Golden Book".

As most of you know, this film is coming soon to a theatre near you. But right now you can order the wonderful picture book by Disney designer/visdev artist Joe Moshier, which I recommmend doing stat.

I love the Golden Books done by Joe's former classmate Scott Tilley for such titles as "Finding Nemo" and this is just as appealing and beautifully done. I believe it's Joe's first book (his day job as a character designer at features is a busy one), but you'd never know it; the compositions, color, posing-all are completely assured and just so terrifically cute. There isn't a kid or artist alive that I can't imagine would love this eye candy. And by the way, "Bolt" is quite the same way in its other incarnation.

"The Art of Bolt" comes out soon as well-that I haven't seen, but have ordered. Believe me, the work by the directors(both of whom have drawn lovely storyboards), story, the incomparable art direction by Paul Felix as well as the work by everyone involved is beautiful. There are stunning displays in the animation building with all kinds of visdev and story work blown up lifesize and larger on the walls, and it not only holds together but is so solid that it makes one feel good just to walk by them. The film works that way too: it's one that reminds me of "Basil of Baker Street", which I loved and was a huge gift from the animation department to us--the audience. If you know what I mean. The early 80s were a nail-biting time for aspiring animation people.

I need to apologize to Joe for the rough iphone photos reproduced here, but I think as raw as they are you can tell what a swell little tome this book of his is.

Sep 29, 2008

Winquist '74

Here's a rarity: Bob Winquist shows off a little of his home and office design in 1974-and there's Bob himself, aged 49, in his then-living room. From Good Housekeeping's House Beautiful, Spring 1974.

Keep that date in mind: 1974. Bob's is the most appealing and well-designed space that's showcased in this high-end magazine by far. The other interiors featured would likely make you laugh, cry, or just cringe; the seventies were not generally an attractive time, to be charitable about it.
But Bob then as later had his own highly individual taste and loved mixing old and new in an eclectic fashion, which makes a lot of his choices timely even now. But who knows what he'd say looking at this spread in 2008? By the way, the article identifies the art hanging over the fireplace as done by his life partner Robert Hammer. When I originally got this of course I had no idea who he was. He must have been a very interesting man to be Bob's partner for 50 years.

As to that and all things Bob, this opening line of the accompanying text is so apt:

Designer Robert Winquist calls his private life his "most treasured possession".


Click the lower image to see it in a larger size.

Sep 22, 2008

Me on Miyazaki

This is the auction catalog of the recent benefit show held at Pixar-a beautiful book in its own right.

There's simply too much any one artist could find to write on the subject of Hayao Miyazaki, but having recently stumbled once again upon this email of mine on Michael Barrier's site (included in his "Feedback" section, where some great exchanges make it a must visit) I thought I'd use my email to Mike here. I wrote it 18 months ago but the subject isn't dated and I state pretty well what I think of my favorite Japanese animated feature.

Barrier invites and facilitates discussion of his views and will often reconsider a position he takes based on the feedback he receives, even if it's only to clarify or amend his original thoughts. That's a rare virtue in my book--one I hope I can cultivate better myself.
So here's my email excerpted. Do go and peruse the page it's taken from.

Dear Mike,

I thought I'd offer a few thoughts about Miyazaki's films, as mine differ from yours—most drastically as regards Totoro.

I'd never heard of Miyazaki or seen anything of his until Glen Keane (then teaching the upperclassmen at CalArts—I was a first year, but he made his lectures open ones) brought a clip from Totoro to screen. It was the scene of the girls waiting for their father; it grows dark, and begins to rain. First Totoro, then the catbus shows up. He showed this, saying that it had affected him profoundly (as I recall, the film had been screened for the Disney animation dept. the week before; I don't know if Miyazaki was there also, but I doubt it). It affected all of us profoundly, too. I was blown away by it. Me—hardly a fan of the anime I'd seen up to that point. A wordless but beautifully constructed encounter, with all facets working perfectly. I'd gather that you'd disagree, from your remark that Totoro "suffers for the opposite reason, an almost total sacrifice of action for atmosphere."

Every reaction to film is personal and often unique, of course, and I've come to various impasses with friends I respect: where one finds something sublime, the other sees kitsch, or worse, in the same thing. That's human. But I'm surprised to find you so (apparently) bored and unsatisfied by Totoro; to me, the atmosphere, the attention to detail of setting and mood, brilliantly supports and gets over the story, which admittedly isn't a "big" one: two sisters adapting to and solaced by nature, real and (possibly) imaginary. I see no lack of action—both physical and emotional. The film's full of scenes where the action and cutting are far from slow: running around exploring the empty, strange new house in the country; flying across the countryside with Totoro; riding the catbus; searching frantically for the possibly drowned Mei…and all these are interwoven with and spring from the story—not, to touch on your other recent discussion, "set pieces." Truly, what Totoro has that makes it work so well is what so few of any sort of American films—animated or not—often lack, to their detriment: carefully planned, wordless places to breathe and to really be visually hypnotized to believe in the story-world in the way film can do—better than any other art form.

As for the character animation—well, there's no question that it is coming from a very different esthetic from our American model. Yet the rough sketches Miyazaki does of all his characters (published in the "Art Of" books available for his films) are as well-realized and expressively gorgeous as anything any animator would have done at Disney's in the fifties; I can easily imagine [Marc] Davis and even [Milt] Kahl giving him his due as a sensitive draughtsman of people as well as things. I'd think he could master what we call "full" animation if he chose, but that's not his style. Yes, the lack of expressive distortion (or lack of a better word—and I'm sure there are better words!) in his characters' faces is obvious; but I've never not known what they are thinking. How that works, I think, is precisely by the cumulative effect of everything from his framing, to his cutting to the characters' silhouettes. All adds up—even if "we" would never do it that way, or try to.

I'd agree that there are definite "stock" figures in his oeuvre, but I don't agree that every heroine is the same. Perhaps as to that, though, there is something symbolic there for Miyazaki in these young girls particularly (I believe he's written on this subject, actually)—and certainly in Japan children and in particular young women hold a special place in anime and culture. I'm not qualified to comment too much on that. But just as a bystander, watching the films as pure entertainment, I've been totally satisfied by Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Spirited Away, and to a somewhat lesser extent ("lesser" where his studio is concerned still indicating a high level of interest) the rest of his projects.

-Jenny Lerew

the book of Miyazaki's storyboards for Totoro

Sep 20, 2008

More on Winquist-pictures from the past

Ready for his closeup: Bob standing in the doorway of what was then our 2nd year students' room-now The Palace, in 1989

Steve Anderson, who started at Cal Arts in 1988, found these wonderful photos he'd taken. His generosity in allowing me to post them here is much appreciated. These are just priceless.


Here's Bob with his major domo/computer guru/all-around department glue Dale McBeath and Disney veteran/animation teacher Dave Michener, all snapped by Steve's camera while preparing the 1989 Producer's Show. Thank goodness he got this picture as these three were cogitating in the about serendipity. Bob: different day,different striped shirt. Dale: ebullient! And I can't get over how young Dave Michener looks to He was a great guy.

Thanks again, Steve.

Sep 16, 2008

The Los Angeles Times On Bob Winquist

Published on 9/17/08:.

Bob Winquist dies at 85; influential animation teacher at CalArts
By Valerie J. Nelson
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

September 17, 2008

Bob Winquist, a former director of the character animation program at California Institute of the Arts who greatly influenced a number of animators now working in Hollywood, has died. He was 85.

Winquist died Sept. 10 of complications related to old age at an assisted-living facility in Simi Valley, said his niece, Joyce Snyder.

He was the kind of inspirational teacher that movies are made about, said his former students, who went on to make films that reflected lessons learned in his Valencia classroom between 1983 and 1991.

Ralph Eggleston, who won an Academy Award in 2001 for his animated short "For the Birds," credits Winquist with pushing students to think more broadly about what they could accomplish.

"When Bob came in, animators primarily left the school and became animators. Suddenly, they started becoming art directors and storyboard artists. He made us think of ourselves as filmmakers, not just animators," Eggleston told The Times.

The dapper Winquist might stroll into class, announce the lesson by saying "develop the character of the letter 'A' " and then walk out, leaving the young animators to puzzle out the assignment.

Pete Docter, a former student who wrote the story for the film "WALL-E" (2008) and directed "Monsters Inc." (2001), considers Winquist "a seminal person in my development as an artist and a person."

"He had a gentle and inviting way -- you felt intrigued. It was like he was saying, 'You go discover it yourself,' and it made things stick," Docter said.

A world-class raconteur, Winquist often captivated his classes with hard-to-verify recollections that often placed him Zelig-like at memorable moments in Hollywood history. Witnessing the burning of "The Gone With the Wind" set, designing a suit for Elvis Presley, "baby-sitting" Marilyn Monroe on the set of "Some Like It Hot" -- these were all first-person stories that could be woven into a lecture.

"In the end, it didn't really matter if he were there because his amazing stories made me think . . . I can go out and do anything," Docter said.

Winquist often eschewed credit for his work because he valued his privacy, his family said.

Trained as a designer, he studied at Cambridge University and ran a design firm with Robert Hammer, an artist who was also his life partner. They spent about 50 years together, living in Manhattan Beach and Valencia, before Hammer died about four years ago. Winquist has no immediate survivors.

According to a 1971 Times article, Winquist designed "everything from movie sets to diapers."

His family has photographs of him working on Main Street and plans he drew of Disneyland's main thoroughfare.

Winquist was known for his intricate paper sculptures and exhibited in France, Britain and the U.S., The Times reported in 1960.

As an interior designer, his work was featured in The Times in the 1950s and 1960s, and his celebrity clients included Gene Hackman.

Robert Amos Winquist was born Aug. 15, 1923, in Kansas City, Kan., one of six children of Adolph and Margaret Winquist. His father was a mortician.

Raised mainly in California, Winquist served in the Army Air Forces as a ball-turret gunner during World War II.

He also relied on his artistic talent to paint the noses of B-17 bombers, his family said.

He taught for 15 years at the Chouinard Art Institute, which merged with the Los Angeles Music Conservatory to become CalArts in 1961.

At CalArts, he taught color and design before heading the character animation program from 1989 to 1991.

Students "flocked to him like gremlins," said John Bache, an associate provost at CalArts.

"His low-key approach to teaching, plus the personal contact, made him a great teacher," he said.

The dark sunglasses he invariably wore only added to his mystique as he held court on must-see films or tossed off references to classical art.

Jenny Lerew, a former student and story artist at Disney, wrote in an e-mail: "He made us all believe every good thing could happen to us -- if we put ourselves 'in harm's way' first. . . . "

He was a "cheerleader for their futures," Eggleston said, one who came to campus in his butter-yellow Mercedes-Benz with the license plate frame that read: "I'd rather be flying."

Sep 12, 2008

Robert A. Winquist, "Bob" 1923-2008

Wearing a typically bemused expression. This is the only picture I have of Bob that I took myself, circa 1990. Proof he didn't always wear the shades!

I've just had the news that Bob Winquist, mentor to many, many artists and friend to all, a gentleman, teacher and brilliantly talented artist, has died.

I don't know why this is such a shock, given his age. Perhaps it's because if anyone could figure out the secret to immortality, it'd be Bob(or he'd know someone who could).

His niece and great-nephew sent this message to share wth you:

Dear Jenny;

By way of introduction, my name is Joyce Snyder, the niece of Robert A. Winquist, and it is with a heavy and saddened heart that I am writing to you. Our family wishes to inform you of the passing of Robert this afternoon, September 10, 2008. He passed away peacefully today as his body simply said, “Bob it is time to go home.”

Uncle Bob so often spoke of the multitudes of people that were part of his life, the fellow artists, imaginers, designers, students, etc. There were no classifications or hierarchies when it came to Bob’s acquaintances, just friends. From Chouinard’s to CalArts, Disney to Pixar; even a quick search on the Internet reveals the many artists that give claim to the influence that Bob had upon their artistic development.

Although Uncle Bob has left us this day, he will always be with us as his love of the arts, willingness, and dedication to teach, has embedded a piece of “Bob” into each and every one of his students. It is these same students who are now creating and passing along the ingenious insight and creativity that Uncle Bob so loved and dedicated his life to.

At this time the family wishes to thank you for being an important part of Robert’s life experience.

They're hoping to compile a list of those who should know, and obtain contact details for them, I'd imagine a memorial will be planned but have no idea what shape it would take. If anyone would like their information passed along to his family, please send if to me here:

And please, share any memories or thoughts on Bob here if you like. I know there are a lot of people who'd enjoy reading them.

Bob's influence was prodigious and spread ahead of him into the world, and his roots ran deep. It's impossible for me to do him justice on the fly having just heard this news.

He'll be so missed. How lucky we all were to have been able to know him a little, enjoy his company and glean his hard won and always joyfully shared wisdom.

Fare well, Bob.

Portrait by Tom McGrath

EDITED TO ADD: The Los Angeles Times ran an article on Bob in the paper on Wednesday, September 17th (it's also online).

Sep 5, 2008

Blast from the past-Richard Williams

Edited to add:  here's the annotated photograph-notes by Steve Hickner.
To view larger, click the image.


It's 2008-do you know where you were 19 years ago?
Thanks to Steve Hickner for the photo from his distant past(for those that don't know him, that's Steve with his hands clasped in front of him).

This was taken after Dick Williams had been given a few Oscars for "Roger Rabbit"-a film Steve was doing various things on which in turn led to his relocating to London and setting up Amblimation. What a byzantine business we work in.

See how many faces you can place(Steve looks the same now as he did then-he's a cinch). I'll come back with the IDs later.

Sep 1, 2008

Happy Labor Day! Disney Counter Service-menu #3

Here's the last-so far as I'm aware-of the circa 1940 Disney studio commissary menus.
Inside the contents are the same as the table menu(including the illustrations) so I won't scan the interior, but the back cover is special, featuring the offerings of the soda fountain:

Lime freeze for 15 cents, anyone?
I'd want these even if if they didn't have such wonderful illustrations on their covers, but luckily for us they do.

The other menus, for regular table service and a special one for breakfast, are in my earlier posts here and here.

Aug 25, 2008

When the world and the Blairs were young...

Cartoon Brew mentioned this article in today's Los Angeles Times detailing the discovery among his possessions of the late Lee Blair's 1932 Olympic gold medal for "Water Colors and Drawing".

It's available to read online, but that edition doesn't include this striking photograph that appeared in the print version. The article by Times writer David Colker is an interesting one and worth reading--sadly, it mentions that the Blair's son Kevin (who I think might have been their only surviving child) recently passed away.

What a great image this is-though it's not from the period of the '32 games; I'd place it around 1938-40, given the cut of Lee's suit and Mary's outfit and appearance. It's credited to Jakub Mosur who's clearly reshot the original for publication. One wonders what other treasures the relatives have been able to pore through. Tantalizing thought for the animation historian and afficionado. Do go and read the article.

Aug 20, 2008

Ollie Johnston: a Life Celebration

Mark Kirkland on the El Capitan stage, in front of one of his photographs of Ollie Johnston. Ollie's holding a portrait of Walt Disney. This is the best I could do from the balcony with an iPhone.

When a man passes from the scene who's been as historically and artistically significant and as personally loved as Ollie Johnston, he deserves a great tribute from the animation community.
That's exactly what the last of the nine old men got last night, in a nesting doll of an evening at the El Capitan in Hollywood. From the stroke of 7 till well after 10 Leonard Maltin(doing a splendid job) introduced and moderated for these colleagues, friends and family:

Roy Disney
Andy Gaskill
Andreas Deja
Charles Solomon
Glen Keane
John Musker
Ron Clements
Brad Bird
Howard Green
Bob Kredel (train enthusiast and friend)
Michael Broggie (Disney/train historian)
Mark Kirkland
John Lasseter
Ollie's sons Rick and Ken Johnston
Carolyn Johnston (Ollie's daughter-in-law)
Jeanette(Mrs. Frank)Thomas
Ted Thomas
Andy & Marshall Ayers
(Frank’s son-in-law and grandson)

Leonard noted that in the audience were Kathryn Beaumont, Margaret Kerry, Dick Jones, June Foray and Virginia Davis. The names of those notable animation folk filling the rest of the theater are too numerous to list. The age range of the attendees was probably 5 to 95.

Ollie was discussed by those onstage as "the family man", "the railroader" and "the mentor"-a backdrop of portraits representing Ollie in those guises was projected on the screen. Clips of his animation were shown(including the seldom seen "Reason and Emotion" and a never seen pencil test of a very Fred Moore-like girl removing a brassiere-wow), but it was particularly lovely to see rare glimpses of Ollie's personal work: gesture drawings of his sons, paintings and drawings of his wife, the Johnston family Christmas cards--even early student work from Stanford(these last courtesy of Calarts alumnus and Simpsons director Mark Kirkland, whose presentation of his photographs of Ollie taken in later years was beautiful). I could have looked at the watercolors, pastels and paintings of Marie Johnston for's stunning to see such different material from an artist whose drawings you think you know well. I wish there was a book that could encompass that art.

All of the speakers were eloquent, funny, emotional and thoughtful by turns. Glen Keane, John Musker, Brad Bird, Ron Clements, Andreas Deja, Andy Gaskill...all of them became the young, neophyte animators of 30 years ago once again when remembering Ollie's work and mentorship. Ollie's sons Rick and Ken, Carolyn Johnston, Frank Thomas' son Ted and his mother Jeanette Thomas remembered their dad and friend as he was in his private life, full of enthusiasm and fun; outtakes from Ted Thomas of Frank and Ollie blowing take after take of discussing "Jungle Book" made obvious how much of a spur each was to the other as pals.

The penultimate speaker was John Lasseter, whose learning from Ollie began before they'd ever met(he spoke of memorizing the particular 16mm prints of the then-difficult to see Disney features in the Calarts library so completely that when he later saw copies without the same splices and pops, he'd be jarred by their absence) and eventually extended beyond animation into the heart of Ollie's great hobby, railroading.
John's story of rescuing and restoring the Marie E.--the little mine train that Ollie had owned and run for years at his property in Julian, California before having to sell it due to advancing age--was achingly bittersweet. Watching via video shot on the day a fragile Ollie, surrounded by family and friends being surprised with the sight of his beloved steam locomotive pulling up to the New Orleans Square depot in Disneyland fully restored...terribly poignant, and unforgettable.

Ollie Johnston lived an exceptionally long life-long enough, sadly, to see his best friend and his wife go before him into that good night--but also long enough that he was able to bask in the warmth and gratitude of his artistic heirs, many of whom became his friends. He saw the influence of his work in the achievements of dozens he personally guided and others who've acknowledged their debt to him and his colleagues. Everyone last night had stories and memories that overflowed with goodwill and thankfulness for the life of this quiet, unassuming and profoundly talented artist. It was a wonderful thing to be able to share in those memories and reflections, put together beautifully as was done last night. To those responsible-most especially the Johnston family-a heartfelt thanks.

Aug 18, 2008

Another Joe Grant tile design

Excuse the sorry quality of the photo-it's from an Ebay auction I sadly didn't win. What a great little image by the great Joe Grant.

Aug 16, 2008

The Totoro Forest Project

Many of you already know about this event scheduled for September 6, a benefit auction to help preserve the Sayama forest near Tokyo-a place special to many, not least the filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. It's the inspiration for many of his films' themes and special sense of mood, especially his endearing "My Neighbor Totoro".

The Totoro Forest Project was begun as a way for some stateside artists to contribute in the best way they could-by creating and donating works of art inspired by the Forest and Miyazaki's totoro(forest spirit) characters. There's also a complimentary blog detailing the various pieces and artists:
Totoro Forest Project Blog

The roster of artists contributing is as impressive as one would imagine given the breadth of both Miyazaki's influence and the center of the event, Pixar. Apparently all the tickets for attending the auction at Pixar are already sold, but online bidding is going to be an option. It's a good cause, and a great chance to buy some amazing art. Here's a couple of examples, courtesy of the blogs linked above:

Bill Cone

James Jean

Tadahiro Uesugi

There's much more to see on the main website. Go have a look. It's a worthy cause in a world of too much development and too few trees and totoros.

Aug 13, 2008

Presenting Walt Disney Animation-on the web

"BOLT" artwork by director Byron Howard

Walt Disney Feature Animation has a new name(Walt Disney Animation), a new head(John Lasseter), a new logo(see below)--and a new official web presence that went live just a short time ago:


No doubt it'll grow and change as new films are released. For now there's a released films timeline(with links to the colorful Archives entries on each title), a comprehensive FAQ for artists and interested parties, and other relevant information --not least a page devoted to this week's SIGGRAPH and Disney's various presentations there. There are many tantalizing projects in the works in the hat building at present, all detailed on the Projects pages. Be sure to check out the "Bolt" visdev that illustrates the "Careers" pages. One such example is above.

I'm looking forward to a solid online place for Disney animation past and especially present to be publicly celebrated.

A neon replica of The original Hyperion studio sign, executed by Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily. The original was adapted for the new animation studio logo.

Gouachey Disney Goodness from artist Kevin Kidney

original illustration courtesy of the Kevin Kidney blog; for Walt Disney magazine

Kevin Kidney has two abiding obsessions: Tiki art and Disney art. If you ever think either of those is overexposed and you've seen it all already--believe me, you haven't until you've been to his blog.
I mean, the man's a serious collector as well as talented veteran designer-his taste is exquisite. Go over to his place and see if you don't agree.

Just recently he's been posting beautiful, rarely-seen advertising and illustration art done by WDP artists.

Kevin's got the originals of these magazine illos--the better to appreciate their vibrant color and crisp design--and all doubtless whipped up on tight deadlines as if they were nothing.

Aug 8, 2008

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit casual Friday excuse for a post

Because girls read The Blackwing Diaries too, and because they're keen:

From Brazilian designer Melissa. They're a soft plastic that feels like suede, and they smell like candy. Really.

Aug 6, 2008

Dave Derrick Draws Africa

photograph courtesy of David Derrick

I've recently pointed readers to my friend, fellow story artist and co-author Dave Derrick--but it's not too soon to bring him up again as he's just returned from a safari to Africa.

That continent, its unique look and its life have been a special love of Dave's for years(inspiring his chapter in Scrambled Ink, an original just-so sort of story). It's been the number one place he'd wanted to go and he took along his sketchbook, his clay, and his paints.

He's only begun to post his impressions and artwork, but I feel certain that anyone visiting here should be sure to check in regularly to get a peek at what he's done. His observational skills are something.

Here it is: African Diaries

illustration by David Derrick

Aug 5, 2008

Coming in October

224 pages. Bill Peet. Joe Rinaldi. Don DaGradi. Roy Williams. Ub Iwerks. Burny Mattison. Vance Gerry. And probably some other people we know.

Eric Goldberg animates, writes, publishes--and finally signs!

Well, it's happened again: I plan to do a post on a subject and Cartoon Brew scoops me.

But although they get probably 20 times the traffic I do here at Blackwing, when it's Eric Goldberg one is referencing the more the merrier.

Amid designated Eric as the "cuddliest" man in animation. I'd add that he's one of the smartest and funniest--and I don't mean his animation (only) but himself; he's as sharp as a ginsu knife and his wit is matched by his kindness. No hyperbole here, just fact.

So I'm happy to make mention of his appearance at Samuel French in WeHo tomorrow night, August 5th, to sign his new book "Character Animation Crash Course".
The book is a must and if you can, you should certainly stop on in.

Here's more information courtesy of CTN's Tina Price:

The Creative Talent Network and Samuel French Bookshops invites you to join Eric Goldberg at a reception and booksigning in Studio City this Wednesday August 6th to celebrate the publication of Character Animation Crash Course. This event is free of charge and great for students of animation to get an opportunity to meet Eric Goldberg and for pros to re-connect. Food and drink will be served.

Samuel French Theatre and Film Bookshop
11963 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 762-0535

Coinciding with the signing, Animation Podcast is up for the month(remember, friends: it's on a regular monthly schedule now-a great boon to those of us who enjoy this worthiest of podcasts)with the tantalizingly titled Part One of an interview with Eric Goldberg, conducted as always by the tireless and dulcet-toned Clay Kaytis.

Jul 31, 2008

When the Chino Hills earthquake hit...

Most of us were at work, about to go to lunch.

Animation mentor, teacher and all-around beloved guru Dave Master was being interviewed. On video:

Thanks to Clay Kaytis for this link

For the record: Disney Imagineer Harriet Burns dies

She was the first woman artist hired to work at Imagineering in 1955(the full obit can be read by clicking the title link-highly recommended). The photographs here are from the obituary; I thought readers would enjoy seeing them.
At her passing on July 25th Ms. Burns was a few weeks shy of her 80th birthday.