Saturday, October 30, 2010

Logos by Saul Bass

Most people know Saul Bass by his unique movie posters and opening movie credit design. He forged a new way of thinking about the design and elements relating to film and forever changed the designers role in the industry.

However, Bass also worked as an identity designer creating some of the strongest and most important brands, most of which are still in use today. Listed above are:

1. Bell, 1969
2. AT&T, 1984
3. United Airlines, 1973
4. Avery International, 1990
5. Continental Airlines, 1968
6. United Way, 1972
7. Minolta, 1978
8. Girl Scouts, 1978
9. Quaker Oats, 1971
10. Kleenex
11. Dixie, 1969
12. Warner Communications, 1972

Article originally poster on

Tom Whalen

See the illustrator/ designer’s site:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tale as Old as Time

“Tale as Old as Time: The Art and Making of Beauty and the Beast,” Charles Solomon, Disney Editions, 176 pg. 2010. $40.00.

Released nearly in conjunction with the home video re-release of the 1991 animated film (diamond edition DVD and the first time for Blu-ray) comes at long last an “art of” book devoted to Walt Disney Pictures’ presentation of “Beauty and the Beast.”

Belle and Beast pencil on animation paper by James Baxter

Solomon’s new book by page count is comparable to the Disney and Disney/Pixar “art of” books published by Chronicles in the last four years. That also just about doubles the section Bob Thomas devoted to the making of the film in his book, “Disney’s Art of Animation: from Mickey Mouse to Beauty and the Beast,” when the film was new. So, the newer book should be like a fat trove of “Beauty and the Beast” goodness, and truly it does contain plenty of never before published art and interview accounts. However, it feels to be a bit on the light side, perhaps because about a third is devoted to things NOT directly about the film; maybe because I’ll always want more.

The second annoying bit is how the author introduces a casual tone by attributing accounts with first names. Solomon is the author of other books about animation including “Disney That Never Was” (1995) on which he did not employ the same convention. Still past that, Solomon’s account is comprehensive with contributions from nearly all available players to work on the film including co-director Kirk Wise, writer Linda Woolverton, Roy E. Disney, Jeffery Katzenburg and most of the lead animators and artists.

Solomon is able to neatly divide the book into eleven chapters each cleverly titled with a line from one of the film’s songs. As such, he creates a chronicle from fairy tale origins, to early development treatments through to the Broadway stage version and the 2002 re-release IMAX “special” edition with six-minutes of additional animation, that is the “Human Again” song sequence.

The second chapter is a brief account of the studio’s up-and-down-and-up fortunes from the loss Walt Disney, years of “sleepwalking” artists, the election of Michael Eisner and Frank Wells to the Board and the records-breaking film “The Little Mermaid.” However, it is the third chapter covering the initial version of the film that is the most revealing and interesting to the Disneyphile. On management side, Eisner and Katzenburg were still struggling to understand the process of making an animated film. On the creative side, story and development artists struggled to find the elements to bring the classic tale to life. For example, Belle had two older sisters as she did in the original French story and at one point gained a younger sister, Clarice, and cat, Charley.

In the later chapter covering the Broadway stage version, it’s revealed that lyricist Howard Ashman didn’t want the Beast to sing, but with the extended length of the stage show, Woolverton and songwriter Alan Menken felt that it was right that the Beast did. That and the IMAX chapter together amount to the obvious conclusion that people like Disney’s take on the story even with additions, tweaks and 3-D.

Rating: (7/10) D D D D D D D - - -

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Story and Animation

“Walt Disney Animation Studios, The Archive Series: Story,” foreword by Lassiter, John; Disney Editions, 2008. 272 pages, $50.00 U.S.

“Walt Disney Animation Studios, The Archive Series: Animation,” foreword by Lassiter, John; Disney Editions, 2009. 262 pages, $50.00 U.S.

Having a fairly large collection of Disney artifacts, collectibles, books and memorabilia, I can admit that only a few items are ones that I can describe as “must have.” My assembled set of cold cast porcelain “Show White and the Seven Dwarfs” figurine doesn’t approach that distinction. Neither do any of the lavish “art of” books, park souvenir guides or most of my laser disc and silver, gold and diamond edition DVD recordings of the feature films - much less any thing licensed and mass-marketed.

These two books deserve to share that distinction and shelf space with the second bible of the medium “The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation” by veteran animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. (The first bible is Preston Blair’s non-Disney produced school in book form “Cartoon Animation.”) Of course by definition you must be a fan of Walt Disney, Disney brand animation and its legacy of classic animated films and beloved characters. These two books are must haves for students of animation who need to know of the process that brought Pinocchio, Stitch and Bart Simpson to life.

Both present high quality full-color reproductions of artwork created in the production of films short and long, from “Steamboat Willie” (1928) to “The Princess and the Frog” (2009), all of which preserved and archived by the Disney Animation Library. The layouts are simple with generous matting, and artist credit is given as documentation allows. Other than the production titles and their release dates, the authors provide no description or commentary to the images.

- “STORY ”-

Ferdinand the Bull, 1938, story sketch by Ferdinand Horvath.

This first book, of the series, which was published a year prior to the release of “The Princess and the Frog,” ends its mostly chronological coverage with specimens from “Lilo and Stitch” (2002), an indication that the intent of the series is not to be mechanically comprehensive, but to showcase the best examples of the craft. The work of writers who tell stories with pictures is featured here. It is interesting how quickly illustrations for the written script would become the primary conveyor of the story. The lack of written description, clearly makes plain how the drawing either as singles or in series tells stories as good as those printed in newspapers or pulp comic adventures.

One of the story sketches for “Pinocchio” shows extensive layout planning with Gepetto’s worktable and shelves of various personal items. Thirteen drawings presented on four pages of a double gate-fold shows the sequence in “Dumbo” of circus roustabouts and animals working in the rain to setup the tents, which even lacking music and sound are still as evocative as the final animated sequence. While plenty of the images can be enjoyed for the artists’ talents and draftsmanship (Marc Davis’ sequence of Bambi’s and Thumper’s fun in snow and on ice are treasures), a good balance would seem less so (witness the almost unrecognizable Ariel in Joe Ranft’s series of Scuttle professorship of human objects).

But remember that all of these were meant to be invisible to any eyes outside of the studios. The lessons taught here, is how without words, sound or motion does the artist tell how characters relate to one another, and what are their intentions or deceptions which all may be referenced against memory or video playback to the final filmed sequences. The secondary lesson is how different artists are able to accomplish their storytelling goals, as seen in Chris Sander’s delicate and charming Mulan watercolor sketches, or in David Hand’s frenetic brushwork of the Hatter and the Hare madder than their counterparts in the final Disney product, or in Glen Keane’s gesture work on Tarzan drawings where you can see and sense the artist searching to find the right postures and compositions.


“Alice” by Milt Kahl.

The second book is about the cornerstone of Walt Disney’s brand of animation: character animation. It presents the final product of the animator without the filter of the intervening talents of inkers, cleanup artists or painters - at least as seen in selected samples pulled from the intended thousands to be played out in the illusion of motion. Without description or comment and with characters isolated from backgrounds and other characters and property with which they would share the screen, each image is presented without context. Even so, this volume is probably more appealing to the casual fan, in that the characters look like themselves albeit in the absence of a finished line and color.

Truly to celebrate the talents and art of the animator would be to watch pencil tests of their work in full motion (although you can get a good sense of it by watching the films with the sound turned off), over and over again. But here by effectively freezing the motion, the animators’ skills of draftsmanship are on display. Because either cel painters or clean up artists would go over these drawings to produce the more finished looking art that would be filmed, most of these drawings retain the lines incidental for the construction of the characters.

In Ub Iwerks’ drawings from “Plane Crazy” (1928), quickly outlined forms suggest that economy and efficiency was of the highest importance to the business. Jump ahead twelve years, and Ward Kimball’s solidly built Jiminy Cricket with intact contour lines demonstrates how the artists’ belief that their characters were real and existed in three-dimensions. Through four successive drawings of the prosecutor from “The Wind in the Willows” segment of “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad,” Ollie Johnston shows the animation precepts of squash and stretch used to enhance an action making it more than real but always believable. These are master lessons for the advanced art student, to be discovered individually outside of the beginner’s list of rules and the intermediate’s tips and tricks.

For the casual fan who is still appreciative of the artistic work involved in animation, enjoy that drawing of your favorite character and realize that eleven more are drawn for one second’s worth of motion, and 60 are needed for a 5 second gag, and so on for each talking dog, dancing princess, and swan diving spoon to fill out a 90 minute film.

If you like your Disney finished and polished in full-color with music and the wafting aroma of popcorn, churros or turkey legs, then I will concede that these books may NOT be “must haves” for your collection. That’s fine. I like those things too. Also, these are not historical documentaries. For more about the art and behind the scenes stories of Walt Disney and his company, you need to read the aforementioned “Illusion of Life” and “The Art of Walt Disney” by Christopher Finch. But, after those two books have primed you for Disney fandom, you’ll need these two books.

Friday, October 22, 2010


2010 Summit Pictures

RED [PG-13]

Grade: B
Cast: +2
Conspiracies: par
Fight choreography: +1
The quirkiness of John Malkovich: +1
Makes me want to read the comic: par

Final Grade: A+

Secretariat [PG]

2010 Walt Disney Pictures

Secretariat [PG]

Grade: C
Double underdog stories (Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) and Secretariat): +1
Horses as actors: -1
Quirky horse trainer, Lucian Laurin (John Malkovich): +1
Rival horse owner as villain: par
Horse racing’s global socio-economic impact in the early 1970’s: par

Final Grade: C+

Thursday, October 7, 2010


The basic bicycle design has not changed in 120 years because it is a truly fantastic design that is stable and safe to ride. The mini-farthing has been designed to make a form of personal transport that is better suited to a modern city.

Made from carbon fibre this type of mini-farthing can weigh less than 10kg, which makes it truly portable and super easy for buzzing around congested cities. YikeBike have designed a mini-farthing that fits this description and is available for ordering now (

ESPN Ole Miss Star Wars Commercial

Monday, October 4, 2010

Men Who Lack Adult Female Supervision

Photo on the Night Stand

After a long night of making love, the guy notices a photo of another man, on the woman's nightstand by the bed. He begins to worry, “Is this your husband?” he nervously asks.
“No, silly,” she replies, snuggling up to him.
“Your boyfriend, then?” he continues.
“No, not at all,” she says, nibbling away at his ear.
“Is it your dad or your brother?” he inquires, hoping to be reassured.
“No, no, no! You are so hot when you're jealous!” she answers.
“Well, who in the hell is he, then?” he demands.
She whispers in his ear “That’s me before the surgery.”...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole [PG]

Grade: C
(Adjustment for art direction and digital cinematography: +2;
Realistic owl design, rendering and animation: +1;
Anthropomorphic tweaks to owl designs: -1;
Makes me want to read the books: -1;
Owls as metal smiths: par)

Final grade: C+

Deep and wide environments and gorgeous vistas may be worth the additional charge for 3-D glasses, although I did not see the film in 3-D.


The sinister side-kick of Santa.

Krampus is an incubus who accompanies Santa Claus, but does not follow the old man’s prerogative of present giving.

Oregon Coast Sand Castles

Edgar Mueller

Street stuff

Great Crevase Edgar Mueller. Hard work: Together with up to five assistants, Mueller painted all day long from sunrise to sunset. The picture appeared on the East Pier in Dun Laoghaire , Ireland , as part of the town's Festival of World Cultures

He spent five days, working 12 hours a day, to create the 250 square metre image of the crevasse, Which, viewed from the correct angle, appears to be 3D. He then persuaded passers-by to complete The illusion by pretending the gaping hole was real. 'I wanted to play with positives and negatives to encourage people to think twice about everything They see,' he said. 'It was a very scary scene, but when people saw it they had great fun playing on It and pretending to fall into the earth. 'I like to think that later, when they returned home, they might Reflect more on what a frightening scenario it was and say, "Wow, that was actually pretty scary"..'

Mueller, who has previously painted a giant waterfall in Canada , said he was inspired by the British 'Pavement Picasso' Julian Beever, whose dramatic but more gentle 3D street images have featured in the Daily Mail This guy is amazing no matter how you look at it ! ! !