PLATFORM is right around the corner and I'm so excited I could just poop. Did I just say "poop"? Sorry. Ava's doing the "poopie"-talk thing right now. Can't go anywhere without her substituting the p-word into every single sentence she utters. And it's not just "poop" but all its variants: "poo", "poopie", "pooter", etc. It drives me and Andrea crazy at times, however... I have to say it's kinda cute to hear her come up with some very creative sentences. But I digress....

Okay, focus, Ward -- PLATFORM. It's coming. Next week. Starting Monday night, in fact. I'll be involved with the festival to a certain degree -- I'll be on two panels. My panels are:

1. Attack of the Blog: Meet the Bloggers on Wednesday, June 27th at 11:30am. Winningstad Theatre. Moderated by Dan Sarto of AWN. Looks to be an interesting panel. Please attend. It'll be right before the big Picnic.

2. Tribute to Hanna Barbera, Saturday, June 30th. NW Film Center: Whitsell Auditorium. I'll be on the panel along with Michael Ouweleen of Cartoon Network and professional artist Kenny Scharf. Really? They must've been slummin' when they asked me to be a panelist for this one. I'll be pinching myself every chance I get. It'll be moderated by Jerry Beck. Okay, I'll do it.

Here's a rundown of various screenings, events and panels that either I'll be checking out or would be imperative you attend.

I'll be checking out the first competition: Program 1 at 7:30pm. Films of note: Oscar-winner The Danish Poet, Run Wrake's Rabbit, and Coca Cola "Rivalries," directed by Mark Gustafson, fellow LAIKA director.

Parties are a mainstay for festivals, so right after the first screening will be the Opening Party at 9pm.

Later on, Bill Plympton and Joanna Priestley will be hosting a late-night screening, "Comedy vs. Art" at Brunish Hall.

I'm shooting for Program 2, at 11am. It's the Family Program, so I'm looking forward to taking the kids along to this one. One thing I hated about going to Ottawa each year was that I could never take my kids to see the Children's Programming screening since they were hundreds of miles away. Now I have a great opportunity to expose my children to some wonderful animation, outside the usual TV mind-melting stuff they catch on the regular. (Spongebob is okay in my book, though. Word.) Oh, and the Children's Dance Party sounds like a cute idea. Might stick around for that. Might not. Depends.

Design Daze: Mid-Century Modern Design (screening): I'll be first in line for this one, folks. Hosted by Cartoon Brewer, Amid Amidi, at 4pm.

TEKKON KINKREET at 7pm. Looks promising.

Schedule conflict for me at 9pm:
Competition 3 is showing at the same time as Aurally Visual (Part 1 of 2), hosted by Tom Knott. I've seen some of the films both screenings, so it's a matter of what am I in the mood for that night. It's nice to have choices, but man! What choices! I do have to say this: If you're thinking about seeing Comp 3 that night, please consider the alternative: "Bastard Wants to Hit Me" directed by, Aaron Sorenson and Courtney Booker, is hilarious and wonderfully animated (and I'm not just saying that because Aaron's office is two down from mine at LAIKA). Also, "El Kabong Rides Again" is stunning, "The Curse of The Voodoo Child" is probably Steve Woloshen's best (what that guy does with scratched film is nothing short of amazing), and everyone should see Nick Cross's "The Waif of Persephone" if only for the backgrounds alone (the animation is great, too, of course). But really, the main reason to go to the Aurally Visual screening is to see animator extraordinaire, Mark Kausler's "It's The Cat." Old school rules, baby.

My good pal Pat Smith is hosting the interestingly titled, "Cartoons from HELL!" at 11pm. Apparently it's the witching hour. Shorts from JJ Villard, Bill Plympton, Don Hertzfeldt, David Chai and others.

Other items of interest for Tuesday:

Best of Pictoplasma at 10am.
Trademarked: Copyright in the Age of New Media panel at 11:30am. (Rick Prelinger of Prelinger Archives will be one of the panelists.)
Renegades of Animation panel at 2:30pm.

Oh, and be sure to check out Meet the Animators each day of the festival, at 9:45am. Get to meet some of the creators of films that were in the competition screening the previous night.

Busy day for me.

First off, it's the Attack of the Blog panel that I'll be on. 11:30am.

Then, the Platform Festival Picnic will be a must to attend. It runs from 12:30 to 4pm and is sponsored by some company you might know of: LAIKA. The picnic at Ottawa was always a fun event -- it was great to finally meet some of the animators and filmmakers that you've heard about for so long. The same will be said for Platform's as well. Word of advice: keep checking those name tags. You never know who you'll bump into!

Right after the Picnic, I'm headed to the Winningstad Theatre to check out the 2nd part to Amid's Design Daze presentation. This time, Amid will talk about master designer Tom Oreb. 4:30pm.

At 7pm is the Program 4 competition. Again, a scheduling conflict because of the 2nd part to Tom Knott's Aurally Visual program will be on at the same time. Check out the listing for each of the screenings and see what they have to offer. There'll be something for everyone, that's for sure.

Later on at 9pm is The Animation Show: Special Edition screening, presented by Don Hertzfeldt. Always an interesting evening to be had if Don's the host. Not sure if I'm going to this one. I might need to rest my weary, 38 year-old bones. Even later is the Drinking and Drawing party, hosted by Frederator. Drink up, johnny!

Items of note for Wednesday:

Open Screenings at 7:30pm. If you got something to show, bring it! They'll play it. It better be good, though. Or else I'll talk bad about it on Drawn! the next day. No, really. I will.

At 9pm will be the Portland Animation Showcase, at the NW Film Center: Whitsell Theatre. Portland's got it goin' on, y'all. Some LAIKA folk will be representin': Mike Wellins, Mark Gustafson, Aaron Sorenson, Eric Wiese and Henry Selick.

Thursday is an easier day for me (after all, I still gotta work). I'd love to check out the 11:30am screening of Competition Program 7 (TV for Children), and be able to take the kids, but we'll see.

Aardman Animation looks to be an interesting presentation. That's in the Newmark Theatre at 2pm. Right after it (at 4pm) is the Pixar Presentation, presented by Gary Rydstrom. Two events showcasing the work of two stellar animation studios. Not to be missed.

Even though my day is iffy, I definitely will be checking out the Competition Program 5 at 7pm.

After that is a special event: Animation Inside Out, a walking tour of animated installations throughout the Pearl District. It's juried, so that means they're not kidding around.

Other items of note for Thursday:

Love it or loathe it, there'll be a special presentation on Adult Swim, featuring the core group of guys who head it up. Here's a little bit of trivia for ya: Did you know that I did some compositing for the pilot episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force? Yeah, I did. Funny, huh? No, I didn't put that on my resumé. Some things are better left unsaid.

Panels heavy on the biz side of things:
Job or No Job: How to Get a Job at 11:30am.
Giving Good Portfolio at 2:30pm.
Deal or No Deal at 4:30pm.

Competition Program 6 will be screening at 4pm today. I'll check that one out.

Items worth checking out for Friday:

Aaron Simpson will be the moderator for Flashers Convention, a panel discussion on Flash animation. 11am.

Sita Sings The Blues at 2pm is a screening and presentation of filmmaker Nina Paley. Should be worth checking out if you're an indie filmmaker.

At 2:30, Jerry Beck hosts a panel of artists and animators talking about the art and life of Basil Wolverton.

There's a repeat screening of the Competition Program 7 (TV for Kids) at 9:30am this morning. But at the same time is Creature Comforts with Aardman. Right after that is Aardman: Soft Clay, Hard Work, & Lucky Breaks with Peter Lord. 11:30am.

Smith & Foulkes: Stylish but Silly is a presentation of the work of London animation duo Alan Smith & Adam Foulkes (from Nexus Productions). These guys got mad skills. Screening at 11:30am. Worth a look.

At 2pm is An Afternoon with Henry Selick. He'll be showing some of his past work and maybe even give us a glimpse of what he's currently working on: CORALINE. If I go to this, I'll have to leave early in order to be on the panel for:

Tribute To Hanna Barbera at 4pm. Yikes! I'm slightly nervous about this. Wish me luck!

Later on is the Awards Ceremony at 8pm and then the Closing Party at 9:30 until late. Should be fun!

On Sunday they'll have a Best of PLATFORM sceening for all those people who were into CliffNotes back in the day. Cheaters! Actually, it'll probably be a great screening, you know?

In case you're wondering, here are some links that might benefit you better than what I have written here in regards to the PLATFORM schedule:
Schedule by day.
Schedule by venue.

There ya go! I know that my PLATFORM cup runneth over here, but I thought that it would make it easier for some of you who are wondering what to check out for the festival. The festival organizers have made sure that PLATFORM will be one unique experience for all festial goers. From the students, independent filmmakers to the studios and professionals, this looks to be one fantastic show.

And it's right in my backyard. I couldn't be happier.


My Big Fat Summer Post

Summer's approaching (although it really doesn't feel like it here, especially since I still have to wear a light jacket in the morning and evening -- what's up wit dat?) so I thought I'd kickoff the season with a nice big, fat post featuring some vintage 1950's goodies of mine. When you think of summer, outdoor cooking and grilling barbeque first come to mind, right? Right! So here's some fun (and a few quirky) items that I've collected throughout the past couple of years. And honestly, I don't know how to grill. I just love to collect these things for the crazy drawings found inside 'em. Can you blame me? (Click on each to view larger.)

The following booklet was found glued to the inside of the August 1959 issue of Better Homes & Gardens magazine, as part of a series. Some nice illustrations attributed to an "M. Trinque":

Summer Sociables 1

Summer Sociables 2

Summer Sociables 3

Summer Sociables 6

Summer Sociables 8

Covered Barbeque Cooking: a booklet that came with the Weber Covered Barbeque Kettle. No date or illustrator given. I wasn't digging the cover too much here, but the cool lettering was what piqued my interest. Luckily, there were some pretty cool illustrations on each page, alternating from red to yellow. Here are a few of the better ones:

Covered Barbeque Cooking

Covered Barbeque Cooking: yellow

Covered Barbeque Cooking: red

Suggestions for Outdoor Cooking, from Royal Chef Grills. No mention of copyright date or illustrator. Dad's the only one with a nose in this one piece. Mommy looks...strange. And yet...a knockout. They're outside in the woods but Mom still has high heels on:

Suggestions for Outdoor Cooking 4

Big Boy Barbecue Book: A Picture Treasury of Barbecuing. From Tested Recipe Institute, Inc. Copyright 1956, 1957. No illustrator credit given:

Big Boy Barbecue Book

Big Boy Barbecue Book: Barbecuing at Home

Big Boy Barbecue Book: various illustrations

And of course, this one's for all you vegetarians out there (there's plenty here in Portland). Mmmm...umm! Enjoy!

Big Boy Barbecue Book: Meat!

Next is: Outdoor Chef, a cookbook for grilling outdoors, copyright 1958. No illustrator credit given. A very peculiar cookbook because of the wooden cover, front and back. Probably a nice touch for the outdoorsman, I'm assuming. Also, a better chance of the cookbook not getting burned so easily if just a regular paper cover? Who knows. It's hinged on the front there, with leather binding. Nice. And cool spot illustrations to boot:

Outdoor Chef

Outdoor Chef: open

Chefs in Outdoor Chef Cookbook

The following are two metal presentation trays from the 50's, each consisting of the same illustrations, just rearranged differently. This was obviously a set (I've seen other items with the exact same illos). If I was your average, everyday obsessive collector, I'd probably have the entire set by now. But I have a life, you see. (Modeled with grace and style by everyone's favorite hula girl.)

Fun metal food tray

Another fun metal food tray

And now, I'm happy to end this massive summer outdoor cooking barbeque post with....The Grillette! A magnificent mini grill complete with briquettes and charcoal lighter fluid, all neatly packed up tight and ready for on-the-go outdoor grilling. Perfect for that "I haven't got the time or money for a big grill" husband who prefers to cook his choice steak on miniature grilling stands. A pretty nifty idea, probably best used in impromptu camping situations I'm guessing. Anyway, this sweet little doo-dad set me back a mere $10. Nice. It's now a part of my office decor. Behold:

The Grillette

Look, it's handy:
It's handy

Close up of Grillette cover

Check it out -- when you pull off the cardboard cover, it looks like this:
Grillette sitting

Then, presto! Instant grilling!
Grillette standing

Here's what you get:

The Grillette: the entire set

To see more of The Grillette and more illustrations from the various cookbooks mentioned above, be sure to check out my Vintage Outdoor Cooking Flickr set. Fresh! Hot off the grill!

Okay, that's it! Go have fun in the sun, kids. Don't burn yourself now, ya hear?


Photobooth Friday: Me & the kids

Photobooth FridaySorry this is a little late for Photobooth Friday, but here it is anyway. On a Sunday. Seems fitting, though, since it's Father's Day today. And already it's been a great one for me: got to sleep in, cinnamon rolls for breakfast, kids' drawings as presents....I couldn't ask for a more perfect Father's Day.

What's that you say, dear wife o' mine? A chance to go to Powell's today? For several hours? By myself?

The day just got better.

Strip taken at the über-cool & hip Ace Hotel in downtown Portland. Words can't express just how much I love my kids. They're the best.


Ava Thursday: Letter to Rachel

Ava Thursday: Letter to Rachel

Ava has a friend in her class, named Rachel. This is a letter she wrote to her, which I find adorable. She got Rachel's look just right, glasses and all.

Rachel lives close by and is very sweet to my daughter but when she was over for a playdate one day at our house I found her throwing some of Ava's little toys out of Ava's bedroom window which is on the second floor of our house. I can't really complain too much because she wasn't doing it out of meanness, but just having fun. She also hid Ava's shoes when I came by to pick up Ava after a playdate at Rachel's house. But I don't mind that part. She just didn't want Ava to go home. She figured that if Ava's Daddy can't find Ava's shoes then Ava can't go home and then Ava will have to stay for a sleepover at her house. But she was forced to hand over the shoes when her Mommy told her to do so. Oh well. Rachel is very sweet to Ava though. And that speaks volumes to me.

I'm still finding various small toys of Ava's in the backyard, right below Ava's window.


RIP: Charley Harper

Photo from Cincinnati.com.

One of my favorite influences, illustrator Charley Harper died this past Sunday, June 10th, of pneumonia, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was 84. Charley was wildly popular among bird enthusiasts for his stylized depictions of various birds, not to mention wildlife in general. He had a great simplicity to his art, a certain modern clarity when depicting animals and nature. There's a classic quote by Charley that always seemed to be mentioned in every article written about him: "I don't count the feathers in the wings, I just count the number of wings." And that pretty much summed up his approach to his art.

I fell in love with the classic Charley Harper style several years ago after buying a couple of items he illustrated, The Giant Golden Book of Biology (1961) and the Betty Crocker's Dinner for Two Cookbook (1958). Whereas both were polar opposite in their execution (Biology in full-color and lushly illustrated, Dinner for Two spot illos done in the limited 2 color style), both exhibited Harper's unique wit and affection for the animal kingdom. I also loved his compositions and use of symmetry/asymmetry -- he had a graphic designer mindset that most artists and illustrators don't possess. (I plan on scanning some from these two books soon.) Harper also did a number of illustrations for Ford Times Magazine throughout the 50's and 60's.

In his later years, Charley Harper found a huge following because of the many wildlife posters and serigraphs he cranked out on a routine basis -- he was busy right up unto his final days. This year has been ramping up to be a big one for him: December 8th was proclaimed "Charley Harper Day" in Cincinnati, several exhibits featuring his work are currently running, and finally, Todd Oldham, who's been a big fan of Harper's, compiled a collection featuring the best of the artist's work in a massive tome, Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life, becoming arguably THE definitive book on the artist.

There's an older book available, too, called Beguiled by the Wild, featuring most of his later work.

To read more about Charley Harper, check these links below:

Cincinnati Enquirer obituary.

Memorium to Charley. (More here.)

Contemporary Arts Center memorium.

Graphic Content: Contemporary and Modern/Art and Design. (CAC current exhibit -- Charley Harper is one of the featured artists.)

Interview with Charley by Todd Oldham.

Cincinnati Art Museum exhibit. (August 18-October 21, 2007)

Handmade Modern - Video of Charley Harper interview.

There's also a Flickr group devoted to his artwork.

Side note: I actually called Charley up one day, wanting to talk with him about his life and artwork. I told him that I was having a hard time finding one of the other science books that he illustrated, The Animal Kingdom. I wasn't trying to find out if he had any copies (I'm sure he didn't), but nevertheless, he politely answered, "Well, there's always eBay." I hated that I never got to meet the guy. He had a kind, gentle quality to his voice. A gentle soul. He definitely will be missed.



I'm humbled by the reaction to my previous post on blurkers. I never thought I'd get such a great positive response from all of you who braved the harsh winds of de-blurking -- feels good, doesn't it? It's okay, now -- you may go back to your blurking ways; I don't mind. I loved reading up on all of the comments, to see where you came from, what you do, why my blog is listed in your bookmarks, etc. Like I said, I'm humbled that any of you would consider my blog (and Andrea's) a part of your daily (or weekly) routine. Feels good to be included.

Thank you.

I do want to say that there was some reasoning behind the post, of course (besides being a great ego stroker, ha ha). There's no better way to find out exactly what my readers want than by asking you point-blank what brings you here to The Ward-O-Matic in the first place. The more I know, the more I can give you. And when I find out that you all love my artwork, my vintage illustration collection, my stories, Ava Thursday -- that's a plus because there's plenty more from where that came from! I know that lately I've been posting more word-heavy posts and I wasn't sure if that was the direction I wanted for the blog. But to read from some of you that reading up on our Big Move and me taking the plunge to work for LAIKA was both insightful and fascinating further solidified my inclination that The Ward-O-Matic doesn't always have to be so image-centric. One of the reasons I started this blog was a chance to work on my writing skills, to break out of the usual bad habits when it came to my writing (be patient with me -- it's a work in progress).

So, again -- thank you for your responses, your comments, your words. I really appreciate them all and will take them to heart. And thank you all -- each and every one of you who take the time to stop and read my words, check out my artwork, my daughter's artwork, anything else that I post about here. It's a pleasure to be a part of each and every one of your lives, no matter how many miles may be between us.


Are you curious about what to expect on this blog coming up soon? I know I am. Here's a brief rundown:

Some insight into a lost animated classic.

A behind-the-scenes look at...what? Where? Find out soon....

More on the Platform Animation Festival. I'll be on two panels now -- expect me to talk more about this soon.

More sketches! I've started a personal project for myself to make me a better artist. Yeah, right.

I finally got the ol' scanner out! Expect more vintage goodies coming your way.

And yes, that means more Ava Thursday!

So, hopefully this'll wet your whistle for the next month or so.


Blurkers Rejoice!

It's been quite a while since I gave total and complete amnesty to our fellow readers who visit blogs but never comment or email, affectionately known as blurkers. Even though it's June and November is half a year away (Blurker Amnesty Week), and because 2005 is, like, so 2005 and not even close to 2007, and because my readership has morphed and changed drastically, I'd like to open the floor to hear from all you blurkers out there! You! Yes, you! You know who you are! The one who visits my blog but never comments, never makes a connection by emailing me -- I love you dearly, but how am I going to live if we never get to know each other? For reals?

In case you need to know:

Blurker (BLUR-kur): n. 1. One who reads many blogs but leaves no evidence of themselves such as comments behind; a silent observer of blogs. 2. One who reads many blogs but has no blog of their own; a blog-watcher or blog voyeur.

And I'm going to add these questions in the mix because it'll be fun and mostly I'm curious:

Why do you visit my blog? For the writing and stories? The artwork? My artwork? For the vintage stuff? The photos? Out of sheer curiosity?

Who are you? What profession are you in (if any)? Animation? Artist? Illustrator? Parent? Filmmaker? Sanitation worker?

Also: How did you find my blog? Link? Another blog? Drawn!? Flickr? Doing a search on Google? Boing Boing?

Curious minds want to know. Okay, just me.

So, who are you? Let's hear from ya!


Ava Thursday: Ava on Sprout!

Sprout is PBS Kids' answer to Noggin. When it was launched in 2005, it was the first 24 hour preschool network. Why any 2 or 3 year-old would be up at 3 in the morning to watch a TV show was beyond me, but hey, they came to Primal Screen to create their identity and branding, so why question it? The look was inspired by classic children's book art, which art director Ben Prisk took to with great fervor, even going so far as to using real ink, pencil and paint for most of the textures and elements. I didn't do much on the job (hardly anything, really), but I thought that Ben, along with Justin Winslow, Jo Davidovitch and many others did a great job on the overall look of the campaign. It was fun, whimsical and witty. It won several design awards, too.

There was a reoccurring theme to the branding: stalks. Each and every single element produced had stalks that sprouted whatever items that were necessary for that particular spot. One of the ID's was called "Arts & Crafts," with the stalks sprouting many different art supplies like paint brushes, paint cans, pencils, paper, etc. During the spot you see various pieces of artwork flying by the viewer, all ending up on a clothes line to dry.

If you look closely, you'll be able to see some artwork by your favorite 6 year old. Since you aren't sitting in front of your TV right now, I took the time to make some still frames of the ID. (Click on each image to view larger.) Check it:

We see in the beginning the growing stalks and a little girl painting at an easel. To the right, one stalk is sprouting a sketchbook. That girl isn't Ava, in case you're wondering.

As the sketchbook opens, some papers come flying out. What's this? Now who's artwork could that be? Yup, you guessed it. That's Ava's Mommy in Color on the left and her first rainbow on the right.

As the camera pans quickly from left to right, we catch a glimpse of another drawing by Ava. I couldn't find out which one, though. I have it somewheres, I'm sure.

As the camera slows down, we see all the artwork up on a clothes line and a little boy painting in the Sprout logo (my, aren't we talented?). On your left, that's Ava's Baking Cookies.

Last frame of the ID.

Very cool, eh? Ava gets all excited when she sees this come on air, as you might've guessed. I get all excited for her! It was a lot of fun for me to know that her work would be on TV for all to see. Proud papa, that's me. Thanks for indulging me.