Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Madcap Puppets

Wow! I would love to see this! Playing at the Cincinnati Art Museum on Dec 8, 9, 15, and 16:
Adventures in Slumberland

Using the magic and wonder of Black Light Theatre Madcap vividly brings to life Winsor McCay’s creation of a young boy’s adventures. From the Golden Age of newspaper comic strips and in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Little Nemo in Slumberland, Madcap creates the surreal landscape of the Kingdom of Slumberland that Little Nemo can explore only in his sleep. We meet the astonishing characters that made his adventures famous and follow little Nemo in his quest to reach the Princess.

Come live the wonders of Little Nemo’s dreams as children around the world did a century ago. But reserve your seat soon! Adventures in Slumberland will leave Cincinnati at the end of December to tour the country!

Touring the country, eh? I wonder if we could get them to come our way! Check out Madcap Puppets here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Maurice Sendak's homage

Children's author Maurice Sendak pens the forward to John Canemaker's biography on Winsor McCay. In it he says:
"My book In the Night Kitchen is, in part, an homage to Winsor McCay."
I always thought this was figurative -- as in, "the spirit of McCay." But after taking a closer look, there are also super strong Visual parallels between "In the Night Kitchen" and "Little Nemo in Slumberland."

The most obvious similarity is Kitchen's opening image. Sendak starts his book the same way McCay ends every Nemo comic:

Nemo does lots of falling:

Spends some time nekid:

This one is probably a stretch:

And look what I found hiding in the Night Kitchen! Clever, clever me with peekings and seekings!

It's disguised well -- it actually says "Chicken Little, Nemo Mass..." Nicely hidden!

Monday, December 3, 2007

2007 Annie Awards

The folks at the Annie Awards just announced this year's recipients of the Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement which is "Animation's Highest Honor."

I am so excited by this year's recipients! The 2007 honors go to John Canemaker, Glen Keane, and John Kricfalusi.

Glen Keane has been the lead animator for many of Disney's best characters: Ariel, the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan, John Silver. Personally, he is my favorite artist of all time. He's been my hero since I first saw his Beast sketches 15 years ago.

John Canemaker is an Oscar winning animator and the author of many animation history books including the definitive Winsor McCay biography. Local reporter Terry Judd has been speaking to him in recent days about our Spring Lake McCay memorial plans and Canemaker's thoughts have been recorded in the Muskegon Chronicle. Congrats on the honor John!

Here's what the International Animated Film Society's page says about the Winsor McCay Award:
Since 1972, ASIFA-Hollywood has bestowed a very special award to individuals in recognition of lifetime or career contributions to the art of animation in producing, directing, animating, design, writing, voice acting, sound and sound effects, technical work, music, professional teaching, and for other endeavors which exhibit outstanding contributions to excellence in animation. The Winsor McCay Award stands as one of the highest honors given to an individual in the animation industry.

The list of recipients reads like a who's who in animation. From Max Fleischer to Daws Butler, and from Walt Disney to Gene Deitch, the honor's legacy to the history and craft of animation will continue to be a tribute to animation's finest.
You can read more about this year's recipients, and see a list of 35 years of winners here: Winsor McCay Award

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Buster Keaton

I had no idea there were also local Buster Keaton ties! Apparently he called Muskegon home. After our last McCay meeting I had the pleasure of talking with Ron, a Buster Keaton fan, who maintains the Actor's Colony site and helps organize the annual Buster Keaton festival in Muskegon. How could I not know there was an annual Buster Keaton festival in Muskegon? I am so there next year.

Ron was intrigued by the local McCay meeting because of a major Keaton/McCay tie. In Buster's first film "The Three Ages" he parodies Winsor's work. Buster makes his grand debut film entrance by riding in on a dinosaur, mirroring the way McCay exited his film masterpiece - riding out on Gertie the dinosaur:

Here's a quote from "Before Mickey: The Animated Film" by Donald Crafton:
"Even Buster Keaton paid homage to McCay, in his 1923 film The Three Ages. He asked his writer, Clyde Bruckman, 'Remember Gertie the Dinosaur? . . . The first cartoon comedy ever made. I saw it in a nickelodeon when I was fourteen. I'll ride in on an animated cartoon.' "
You can watch The Three Ages here, and you can watch Gertie four posts below...