Year End Sketchdump

Thought I'd end the great year of 2006 with a nice sketchdump, dumping a pile of sketches that have been hanging around in my harddrive onto you guys. Some are recent, but most are from several months back, as you can see. I just finished up this sketchbook -- starting 2007 with a nice clean slate, both literally and figuratively. My plan is to get two for the year: another cheapo one for pencil sketches and a Moleskine for some goauche/watercolor conceptual sketches. I've got something exciting planned and I want to start the year off just right.

To start off, here's some rough sketches of my boy Ezra I drew from a couple of photobooth pics:
sketchdump: rough ezra sketches

Just some dudes:
sketchdump: some dudes

sketchdump: some dude

Ohhh, I don't know what I was thinking here. I was waiting for Andrea as she was in a store and I happened to notice a strange sight in the storefront right in front of me: an outfit with some dark pants on a mannequin. Only the pants legs looked like a pirate's face. Don't ask me why, it just did. So I had to draw it. This then lead me onto a strange tangent of drawing woman as hats. It didn't last long:
sketchdump: women as hats 1

sketchdump: women as hats 2

sketchdump: time out

What am I waiting for? You'll find out soon enough....
sketchdump: patiently waiting...

I saw this tall, lanky girl standing at a busstop after dropping Ava off at school. She wasn't alone, but looked lonely:
sketchdump: girl at busstop

Some people:
sketchdump: more people

Like a good boy, I go to church. Sometimes I draw while listening to the sermon. Is that bad?
sketchdump: at church

Just trying some stuff out:
sketchdump: two guys

sketchdump: people

Believe it or not, I can draw all gesture-y when the time calls for it. Afterall, I am an animator -- it's in my blood. Here are some pages of two of my favorite subjects (besides my wife), Ava and Ezra:
sketchdump: ezra
sketchdump: ava

Did some sketches while at a local coffeeshop (how very 90's of me) on the one rare occasion we got to go out sans kids:
sketchdump: at javamonkey

So there ya go. Have a great New Years Day, people. And don't worry about me -- there'll be plenty of ham, collard greens and black-eyed peas on my plate, that's for sure.

Oh, and one more thing: thank you all for making 2006 such a great year for me here at The Ward-O-Matic. Many thanks for all the great comments, conversations, and connections I've made throughout the year. It's been a wild ride; looking forward to seeing what kind of year 2007 will be. Based on what I know so far, it'll be a doozy.

Happy New Year!


More Provensens


Speaking of Alice & Martin Provensen -- Troy Oxford, a fellow Retro Kiddo, has posted some beautiful illustrations from The Golden Bible New Testament, illustrated by Alice & Martin Provensen, published in 1953. The illustrations are not as stylized and experimental as their later work, but the colors and compositions are just as strong. By the end of the decade it looked like the couple were experimenting more with less line, stronger sense of form and shapes. But even here with the New Testament, you can see that they were already painting characters in their signature flat, stylized medieval-era look. This look transpires successfully here in this book as well as on The First Noel because of the subject matter. It's as if the Provensens updated those illuminated manuscripts from that era and brought them into the 20th century.



The First Noel

The First Noel
My gift for you on this Christmas Day: The First Noel, a small Golden Book illustrated by the brilliant husband-wife team of Alice and Martin Provensen, 1959.

You can view the book in its entirety HERE. Below are several page spreads from the book:

The First Noel: 1-2
The First Noel: pp. 7-8
The First Noel: pp. 9-10
The First Noel: pp. 15-16
The First Noel: pp. 21-22

Be sure to visit Leif Peng's Today's Inspiration blog for posts on The Provensens. Also, visit this blog to see more from other books that they illustrated.

Someone has turned Alice & Martin Provensen's fantastic 1956 Homer's Iliad and the Odyssey into an interactive experience, featuring all of the artwork from their book.

Merry Christmas!


Ava's Christmas List

Ava's Christmas List
Click to view larger.

Here's Ava's Christmas List. Like I mentioned before, it looks like it'll be a Barbie Christmas, huh? Well, I guess that's better than a My Little Pony Christmas which what it was looking like before she recieved some Barbie lip gloss from cousin Kristy about a week ago. Immediately she went and wrote up an entirely new Christmas list, featuring Barbie items.

The kiddos got to visit Santa earlier this week. We've been going to the same one since Ava was 6 months old. You should see all the "with Santa" pics together -- it's fascinating to see the progression of our little ones throughout the years. Kinda wish that my parents did that, but for some reason my sis and I never participated in this tradition. Our tradition consisted of Mom and Dad dropping us off at Oma and Opa's for an evening while they "go talk to Santa" -- meaning, go buy our gifts all at once. I remember thinking, "But why do you get to talk to Santa? Why can't Amy and I?" I never understood the logic behind that. But since Christmas was looming, I dared not go against the parental units for fear of Santa retribution -- the dreaded coal in the stocking or a bunch of switches.

So, yes -- Ava finally got to read from the above list of what she wanted to the Jolly One the other day. She was very shy and timid about it, almost whispering the items. After all the photo- and video-taking, Ava jumped off Santa's lap and then handed the list to him. I kindly asked for it back when she wasn't looking (I mean, c'mon -- the dude had a pile of lists next to his chair that I know would see File 13 once he hit the breakroom). I couldn't help it -- it's a great momento for Christmas 2006.

What it says:

My List

A Barbie Doll
A Barbie Book that comes with make up
A Barbie Styling head
A Barbie house
The Easy Bake Oven
A Barbie DVD
A Barbie Coloring Book
A Barbie Book that comes with a bracelet

If you look closely just under the Easy Bake Oven line, you can barely make out "Ezra's List," which consisted mostly of "Buzz doll," "Buzz DVD," etc. Ava wrote it up for her brother because she realized that he wouldn't have a list to give Santa. Very sweet. Yeah, well, it didn't last long. The following day, she erased all his stuff and added onto her list. Ahh, the true meaning of Christmas.

What's on Andrea's list? She's really gotten into photography this year with the advent of owning a digital camera, so she's expressed some interest in various photography books, etc. My list consists of the usual artsy/designy/animationy books and DVD's -- you know the deal.


Ava Thursday: Small BarBie.

Ava Thursday: Small BarBie.
You can't tell from this shot, but this drawing by Ava of a big hand grabbing for a small Barbie doll is pretty large -- poster-size, actually. She drew it last Friday at school for "Fun Fridays," where the kids get to do whatever they want at the end of the day, as long as it's fun!

Things I like about this drawing:

The period at the end of "BarBie." So serious.
The expressive grasping of the huge hand. Struck me as very Tim Biskup-like.
The wide-eyed look on Barbie.
Other little things like: the "BarBie" written on the bracelet, the hand's fingernails, Barbie's shoes and purse.

That odd shape out in left field is a tree. One of Ava's classmates told her to draw it there. She was all "whatever" about the tree when I asked her about it. Like she knows it doesn't really go there, but can't do anything about it, so please don't ask me again, dad. It did seem a little strange to me. Just some tree out in the middle of nowhere.

Can you tell what she's thinking about for Christmas? Yes, it's going to be a Barbie Christmas, people. Can't wait.

Oh, speaking of which, I scanned her Christmas list that she gave to Santa earlier this week. Expect to see that hopefully later on today (okay, tonight).


Better Homes & Gardens: Christmas Ideas 1956

The following illustrations are found throughout the Better Homes & Gardens: Christmas Ideas 1956. It's basically a magazine, but only printed for the holidays, natch. For a pleasant change, the illustrator is actually given credit here: Roy Mathews, who was assigned several other BH&G projects during this time -- Barbeque Book and The Handyman's Book, for example. Who's Roy Mathews? That's a good question. I don't know. In fact, Google doesn't know either. I've done several searches for the guy and cannot find ANYTHING on him -- he's quite the enigma. I even pooled the resources of Leif Peng and he came up with nothing. Who was this guy? Where'd he come from? Schooling? Any other publications he illustrated? Is he still alive? My guess is that he was on the staff at Better Homes, since I haven't seen anything by him outside of the publication.

My hope is that by posting about Roy here, one of his family members or a colleague will respond (or even the man himself). I'm very curious about this artist who created some lively illustrations, expertly utilizing the limited two-color process in various magazines and books. There's a delicate touch given to his characters, mostly in the way that he depicted the faces -- just enough emotion to get across what he's trying to say in each scenario. Very straight-forward approach, but effective. And he added just the right amount of detail for each illustration, too.

Anyway, here are the fun illos for you all to enjoy. Merry Christmas! (Click on each image to view larger.)

Christmas Ideas: Traditional or Modern?
Christmas Ideas: Table settings
Christmas Ideas: Doorway
Christmas Ideas: Fireplace
Christmas Ideas: Ribbon Roses
Christmas Ideas: Mobiles
Christmas Ideas: Frosty charmers
Christmas Ideas: Front door

ASIFA-Atlanta Party Tonight

(Click to view larger.)

Boy, I'm terrible when it comes to posting about ASIFA-Atlanta events, aren't I? Sheesh! My bad. Here's the deal:

Please come out and join us for our ASIFA Holiday party. Everyone is welcome and it’s free to get in!!

All current members that re-new their memberships will receive two free drink tickets!

If you want to become a member and sign up at the party, you’ll receive one free drink ticket!

See you TONIGHT at the 5 Spot at 7pm !

Don’t forget that Floating Coats are performing at 9pm!

I'll be showing some cool short films and old commercials for funsies -- hope to see you there!

For more information on how to get there, etc. visit: Five Spot Club.


Getting all Christmas-y

We finally got the lights up on our tree tonight. Beautiful, I tell ya. Simply beautiful. With the passing of this monumental hallmark, I will present to you some Christmas-y ads and illustrations from the December 1957 issue of Better Homes & Gardens magazine. I will post more throughout the week, so be sure to stop by later on...

The following ad for Diamond Walnuts is amazing. Even though there's no mention of illustrator, I want to make an educated guess and say that it's probably children's book illustrator JP Miller:
Diamond Walnuts ad
(Click here to take in all the colorful details.)

Nice sponge work on this tree:
Christmas Trees: Care and safety

Nothing says "Christmas" like Disney characters and...uh, aluminum?
Reynolds Aluminum & Disney ad

At first glance, I thought that this was a big, two-page advertisement for tables, but realized that there was no mention of company and/or logo. It's just a spread on tables, that's all:
Tiny tables make busy benches

Here's a closer look at the illustrations:
Close up of table spread: left

Close up of table spread: right


Ava Thursday: Girl singing

Ava Thursday: Girl singing

Found in a little notebook that Ava sometimes carries around with her. I think she drew this cute girl belting out some notes while riding in the car several weeks ago. I thought this was Ava herself, but no, Ava tells me it's just "some girl singing."

I love this drawing so much I just had to do a color version:
Ava (and Ward) Thursday: Girl singing (in color!)

I showed this to Ava this morning and I'm happy to report that she approved. (I'm not going to lie -- I was kinda nervous in showing her this. Wasn't sure what she'd think.)

I love the expression on the girl's face as she sings, the positions of her arms and turned up leg. I love the little notes coming out on the side and I love how she's drawn the dress, hair, arms, fingers, nose, eyelashes, o-shaped mouth, etc. It's a small drawing, but it's gold to me.


The Holy Grail of Animation

The Holy Grail of Animation
The other day, Brandon, our resident "Technology Specialist" here at Primal Screen, came up to me and asked, "Ward, what do animators consider as 'The Holy Grail' of animation?" He asked me this because he was considering flying to New York to see an extremely rare screening what many cinemaphiles consider as "The Holy Grail" of cinema: Out 1, a 13 hour long 1971 film directed by French New Wave director Jacques Rivette. There is only one English subtitled print of the film, and that one print will be screened at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, NYC this weekend. (To read more about this film, click HERE.)

SO -- What would you consider The Holy Grail of Animation? What cartoon, short film, or feature (or anything else) that you've heard about but have never seen -- preferably something that is practically impossible to see -- that has achieved legendary status throughout the years?

Bob Clampett's Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarves (1943) comes to mind. Anything else that you've heard or read about that's considered a rarity to actually find on videotape, DVD, or film?

To get the ball rolling, I asked several of my animation contacts this very question and the answers I've received so far are as varied as there are animation styles out there. One thing is certain: everyone has their own personal take on what they consider a 'Holy Grail'. Whether it was something that was seen during childhood or historically lost and/or forgotten films, these 'grails' all represent something special to these animators. Here are some of their answers (I'll update this often when I receive any new replies):


Animation historian Jerry Beck has a great deal on his Grail List:

I have many personal "Holy Grail's". For example, I'd love to see original Technicolor prints of the four lost Columbia BARNEY GOOGLE cartoons (I have silent, korean colorized versions that were never publicly released). I'd like to see the lost Snuffy Smith Paramount Noveltoon SPREE FOR ALL (1946). I'd like to see all twelve of the Dick Huemor TOBY THE PUP cartoons (RKO, 1931). Luckily several have resurfaced in recent years.

The four or five United Artists' DAFFY DITTIES cartoons by Frank Tashlin (from 1945-6) and the Republic JERKY JOURNIES (1947) are essentially lost (though I know of several fragments in collectors hands).

The biggest Holy Grail's for Warner Bros. cartoon buffs would be the lost ending to THE HECKLING HARE (Tex Avery, 1942). The abrupt ending has confounded cartoon fans for years... and it is this bit that caused Avery's dismissal from Leon Schlesinger Productions.

I probably could go on and on. There are lost Fleischer cartoons, Columbia cartoons, even lost Terrytoons. Maybe those should stay lost. Gene Deitch is looking for his first entertainment cartoon (done at UPA) HOODY DOODY AND THE MAGIC HAT.

Animation historian, professor, author, and animator John Canemaker:

I would love to see all of the influential, innovative short films of the late George Dunning available to the public. especially THE WARDROBE; THE APPLE; THE FLYING MAN; DAMON THE MOWER; THE MAGGOT, and THE TEMPEST (a work-in-progress).

Dan Sarto of AWN:

There is an old MGM cartoon I saw in college 25 years ago, Uncle Tom's Cabana I believe it was called, that featured the wolf going nuts over the pretty singer at the club, etc....I have no idea if that's available, but I'd put it in the same category.

Tom Knott from Laika:

The top of my list is:
George Pal's pre-Hollywood Puppettoons.
I've seen a few of these but not all. I understand that many are deteriorating and need major restoration.

Tom Sito lists some things that are not actual films:

The Original Preston Blair book, with all the real copyright charactrers in them ( I have a copy),
I'd like to see the notes from Don Graham's first lecture at Disney in 1935.
Maybe Meile Cohls shorts done in the US, based on McManus Life WIth Father, which were all destroyed in a fire at the E'Clair film vaults in New Jersey in 1911.

Animator Joel Trussell:

Youtube's pretty much put an end to any holy grails for me. I remember a few years ago being on a quest for John K's early work with Mighty Mouse, but it was only available on PAL tapes. I would've had to put down a $200 deposit to rent a PAL vcr in order to see them and I passed. Now I can just type it into Youtube and presto!

I mean c'mon, you can even get the Mighty Orbots opening sequence there...LINK

Black Coal for that matter too...LINK

My holy grail now is Lucas' Electronic Labyrinth, which you can see here, but not with the original soundtrack...LINK

Step it up Youtuber's! I know you've got it somewhere out there.
Ahhhh technology...

Fellow Atlantan animator Clay Croker offered up his list (he's since added more in the comments -- read here):

The original version of The Thief should be at the top of EVERYONE'S list.

My "personal conquest" list is much quirkier.

* The 1967 animated Spider-Man pilot is at the top of THAT list. (I saw about 75% of it at a convention 25 years ago)

* The italian(?) or french(/) version of A Christmas Carol that I saw numerous times as a kid...

* The Chuck Jones' produced Dennis The Menace cartoon that ran on "The Curiousity Shop" in the early 7o's

* The first Fat Albert animation that ran on a 1960's Bill Cosby special, where he was about 20 feet tall and buildings collapsed around him as he ran.

* more Jot cartoons...some really weird ones I remember.

* and LOTS of GREAT animated commercials from the 1950s and 60s!

I'll think of some more, but those are off the top of my head.

I realize that these aren't classics, but I would really love to see 'em
again, regardless...

Animation historian and author Michael Barrier:

I've been immersed in Walt Disney for the last few years, so herewith some candidates from Walt's output:

1) The two missing Laugh-O-gram fairy tales--Jack and the Beanstalk and Goldie Locks and the Three Bears.

2) Any of the missing Disney silents in the Alice and Oswald series, especially those from 1927-28.

3) Any of Disney's 1921-22 Newman Laugh-O-grams in their original form (the surviving reel is evidently a patchwork).

4) The Little Artist, the (apparently) unfinished film that Disney and Fred Harman made together circa 1921.

5) Any examples of Walt's work at Kansas City Film Ad in 1920-22.

Animation professor and Animation Journal editor Maureen Furniss:

Hi - my TA is madly searching for Hot Wheels cartoons. He's a TV animation historian and really wants them in any way, shape, or form. As for me, I've always lamented that UPA films are so hard to find. I think the main reason Hellboy DVDs sold at all is that Gerald McBoing Boing and The Telltale Heart are in the supplements. I've got a copy of a 'Sony Classics' video that went out of print long ago, and the colors are horrible (a huge problem when teaching UPA to students who are already doubtful about anything made more than about ten years ago). But I'd even like to see other UPA works in circulation -- beyond the Boings and the 'classic' one shots that the studio's so famous for (Rooty Toot Toot, etc.). And then there's the original Gumbys . . .

Of course, being an historian of experimental work, there's a whole bunch of stuff in my 'hard to see' category. For example, James Whitney's "Lapis."

Fellow Cartoon Brewer and author Amid Amidi:

I doubt most of these are commonly sought after by a large percentage of animation fans, but my "holy grail" list includes: a nice print of the animated segments of THE FOUR POSTER, short films by Fred Mogubgub, the FAT ALBERT pilot, the PETE THE PUP tv pilot by Milt Gross, Manuel Otero's MAITRE, the storyboard for the second FLEBUS short, John Sutherland's industrial film ROMANCE OF CHEESE, the commercial output of UPA-NY and the original pilot for UPA's DUSTY OF THE CIRCUS.

And if an entire studio can be included in the list of "holy grails" I'd nominate the British outfit WM Larkins Studios. This is about as lost as a studio can become and their work has been criminally forgotten and buried. They produced tons of amazing industrial films and theatrical commercials during the 1940s and 1950s. The real genius there was a guy named Peter Sachs, but other big names in animation like Bob Godfrey, Philip Stapp and Richard Taylor also worked there. I want to see all of their work. Some of their industrial work is documented HERE.


Many respondents mention Richard Williams' original cut of The Thief and the Cobbler as the ultimate Holy Grail of Animation. The film could also be described as The Magnificent Ambersons of animation, as the film was recut and reedited, much to the horror of the filmmaker. Began in 1968, "Thief" was a project that Dick Williams noodled with throughout the years, even hiring animation legends Art Babbitt and Grim Natwick to work on it. After it was seized by Completion Bond, the final watered-down version was eventually released in 1995 in North America as ARABIAN NIGHT -- a mere shell of William's original vision (there are many work prints floating around out there as copies of copies on VHS with some amazing animation that did not make the final cut).

Recently, filmmaker Garrett Gilchrist did the painstaking job of putting together the definitive version of "Thief" -- the one that closely resembles Dick's original version. You can view The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut on YouTube in segments, but I'd rather wait to have a nice quality version once it's available.

Oh, I forgot to add that another oft-mentioned "Holy Grail" from the many animators who replied to my question is Disney's Song of the South. There's been a Japanese Laserdisc version available for years now (I've got a VHS copy from that disc), providing many within the industry the one and only chance to see this film in in its entirety. Last released in the theatres in the mid-80's, it's been holed up in the Disney vault ever since. There was a possibility of "Song" being released on DVD this year (as perhaps part of the popular Leonard Maltin-hosted "Disney Treasures" -- which are more aimed at adults), but Disney chief Rob Iger shot that possibility down. (You can read a transcript of the reasons why Iger decided not to release the film on DVD at a shareholder's meeting HERE.)

So...what film or cartoon do you consider the "Holy Grail" of animation? Would love to hear what others have to say.


More from Fallout Shelter Handbook

Fallout Shelter Handbook: CoverI finally got around to scanning some more of that incredibly popular Fallout Shelter Handbook from 1962 I posted about several weeks ago. I figured that it probably wouldn't hurt to scan more -- it offered me the chance to really check out some of the photos. Interesting stuff going on. The nature of some of the following scans require a closer look; if you click on each image you will be taken to its prospective Flickr page. Once there, select "All sizes," to view larger. (The same goes for the earlier post.)

For your convenience, I've now compiled all the scans from both posts into a neat little photoset for everyone to enjoy: 1962 Fallout Shelter Handbook.

Fallout Shelter Handbook contents

Here's the table of contents for the Fallout Shelter Handbook by Chuck West. Starting it all off with a bang, I guess.

Note the double American flag display -- no guessing whose side this guy is on.

Various equipment

Build a Shelter Now

Radioactive debris decay rate

Throughout most of this book, it is stated that the average time a family will have to live in a shelter after an atomic attack is two weeks. Here's why.

Chicks doing it for themselves

This is a great page. I love how the women are building a shelter with their shades on -- always in style, even with impending atomic doom just around the corner. And yeah, "Raybestos" probably sounded like a good idea at the time.

Underground shelter

Potty room

To add to the potty images from the previous post, here's some actual potty rooms. Notice how the editor leaves a subtle snide remark to the old man's potty there on the bottom left -- "Below is an interesting innovation." (Read: "Below is the worst idea for a toilet in a fallout shelter. EVER.")

Keeping occupied


Entertainment section

The Shelter-Cycle

The Shelter-Cycle. I love this shot. Something about husband standing there, holding baby while wife gets a workout and generates electricity at the same time.

Fallout shelter ad

Jet Beds ad

Again, if you wish to view the images closer, click on each image and then click "All sizes."

Be sure to check out the entire set HERE.