Ralph Bakshi (1977)

Wizards is a 1977 American animated post-apocalyptic science fantasy film about the battle between two wizards, one representing the forces of magic and one representing the forces of industrial technology.

Director: Ralph Bakshi
Producer: by Ralph Bakshi
Writer: Ralph Bakshi
Starring: Bob Holt, Jesse Welles, Richard Romanus, David Proval, Steve Gravers
Narrator: Susan Tyrrell
Music: Andrew Belling
Cinematography: C. Bemiller
Editor: Donald W. Ernst

The film is notable for being the first fantasy film by Bakshi, a filmmaker who was previously known only for “urban films” such as Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, and Coonskin. The film has since become a cult classic.

Ralph Bakshi had long had an interest in fantasy, and had been drawing fantasy artwork as far back as 1955, while he was still in high school. Wizards originated in the concept for Tee-Witt, an unproduced television series Bakshi developed and pitched to CBS in 1967. In 1976, Bakshi pitched War Wizards to 20th Century Fox. Returning to the fantasy drawings he had created in high school for inspiration, Bakshi intended to prove that he could produce a “family picture” that had the same impact as his adult-oriented films.

The film is an allegorical comment on the moral ambiguity of technology and the potentially destructive powers of propaganda. Blackwolf’s secret weapon is propaganda, used to incite his legions and terrorize the fairy folk of Montagar; but Avatar’s willingness to use a technological tool (a handgun pulled from “up his sleeve”) destroys his evil twin. Bakshi also states that Wizards “was about the creation of the state of Israel and the Holocaust, about the Jews looking for a homeland, and about the fact that fascism was on the rise again”.

British illustrator Ian Miller and comic book artist Mike Ploog were hired to contribute backgrounds and designs. The crew included Vita, Turek, Sparey, Vitello, and Spence, who had become comfortable with Bakshi’s limited storyboarding and lack of pencil tests. Artist Alex Niño signed a contract with Bakshi to work on the film, and was granted a work visa, but was unable to gain permission from the Philippine government to leave for the United States until two months afterward, and later found that by the time he had arrived in the United States, not only had the film’s animation been completed, but Niño’s visa did not allow him to submit freelance work on any other projects.

The film’s main cast includes Bob Holt, Jesse Welles, Richard Romanus, David Proval, and Steve Gravers. Bakshi cast Holt based on his ability to imitate the voice of actor Peter Falk, of whom Bakshi is a fan. Welles, Romanus, and Proval had previously worked with Bakshi on Hey Good Lookin’, where Romanus and Proval provided the voices of Vinnie and Crazy Shapiro, respectively. Actress Tina Bowman, who plays a small role in Wizards, has a larger role in Hey Good Lookin’. Actor Mark Hamill auditioned for and received a voice role in the film. Bakshi states that “He needed a job, and he came to me, and I thought he was great, and Lucas thought he should do it, and he got not only Wizards, he got Star Wars.” Bakshi had wanted a female narrator for his film, and he loved Susan Tyrrell’s acting. Tyrrell performed the narration for the film, but Bakshi was told that he couldn’t credit her for her narration. Years later, Tyrrell told Bakshi that she got most of her work from her narration on the film, and that she wished she had allowed him to put her name on it.

John Grant writes in his book Masters of Animation that “The overall affect of the animation is akin to that of the great anime creators – one has to keep reminding oneself that Wizards predates Miyazaki’s The Castle of Cagliostro (1979), not the other way round. The backgrounds are especially lovely, even the simplest of them; and in general the movie has a strong visual brio despite occasional technical hurriedness.” Notable artists involved in the production of Wizards include Ian Miller, who produced the gloomy backgrounds of Scortch, and Mike Ploog, who contributed likewise for the more arcadian landscapes of Montagar.

Bakshi was unable to complete the battle sequences with the budget Fox had given him. When he asked them for a budget increase, they refused (during the same meeting, director George Lucas had asked for a budget increase for Star Wars and was also refused). As a result, Bakshi finished his film by paying out of his own pocket and using rotoscoping for the unfinished battle sequences. According to Bakshi, “I thought that if we dropped all the detail, it would look very artistic and very beautiful. And I felt, why bother animating all of this? I’m looking for a way to get realism into my film and get real emotion.” In his audio commentary for the film’s DVD release, Bakshi states that “There’s no question that it was an easier way to get these gigantic scenes that I wanted. It also was the way that showed me how to do Lord of the Rings, so it worked two ways.” In addition to stock footage, the film used battle sequences from films such as Zulu, El Cid, Battle of the Bulge, and Alexander Nevsky for rotoscoping. Live-action sequences from Patton were also featured.

Vaughn Bode’s work has been credited as an influence on Wizards. Quentin Tarantino describes Avatar as “a cross between Tolkien’s Hobbit, Mel Brooks’ 2000 Year Old Man, and Marvel Comics’ Howard the Duck” and Blackwolf as physically similar to Sergei Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible. In Jerry Beck’s Animated Movie Guide, Andrew Leal writes that “The central figure, Avatar sounds a great deal like Peter Falk, and clearly owes much to cartoonist Vaughn Bodé’s Cheech Wizard character.”

As War Wizards neared completion, Lucas requested that Bakshi change the title of his film to Wizards in order to avoid conflict with Star Wars, and Bakshi agreed because Lucas had allowed Mark Hamill to take time off from Star Wars in order to record a voice for Wizards.

Lynn Biederer, Millie Mara Mackie, Chloe Butchart, Jade Crooks, Aleksandra Szejko, & Sophia Austin (2020)

The Walk is the story of a man and his dog in the wilds of Scotland.

Inspired by the Scottish highlands and motivated by the love of dogs.

JADE CROOKS — Production Layouts & Backgrounds

MILLIE MARA MACKIE — 2D Animation/Character Design

LYNN BIEDERER — 2D Effects Animation/Concept Art

ALEKSANDRA SZEJKO — 2D Animation/Concept Art

CHLOE BUTCHART — Character Design/Concept Art

SOPHIA AUSTIN — 2D Animation Storyboarding

MUSIC BY BRUNO MAJOR & FINLAY ROBSON

Tom Ruegger (2020)

Animaniacs is a variety show, with short skits featuring a large cast of characters. While the show had no set format, the majority of episodes were composed of three short mini-episodes, each starring a different set of characters, and bridging segments. Hallmarks of the series included its music, character catchphrases, and humor directed at an adult audience.

Wilfred Jackson (1952)

As progress brings the city directly around a little house, she grows more and more depressed.

Walt Disney’s adaptation of The Little House is based on a 1942 book written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton who is quoted as saying, “The Little House was based on our own little house which we moved from the street into a field of daisies with apple trees growing around.”

Burton denied it was a critique of urban sprawl, but instead wished to convey the passage of time to younger readers. Being a very visually driven book, many times Burton changed the amount of text to fit the illustration:

“If the page is well drawn and finely designed, the child reader will acquire a sense of good design which will lead to an appreciation of beauty and the development of good taste. Primitive man thought in pictures, not in words, and this visual conception is far more fundamental than its sophisticated translation into verbal modes of thought.”

Ben Sharpsteen (1935)

The Cookie Carnival is an animated Silly Symphony produced by Walt Disney Productions and originally released May 25, 1935. It’s a Cinderella story involving a cookie girl who wishes to be queen at the cookie carnival, and an homage to the Atlantic City boardwalk parade and bathing beauty contest of the 1920s and 1930s.

Pinto Colvig, most known as the voice of Goofy, provides the voice of the gingerbread man. Vaudeville was dying out by the time The Cookie Carnival made its debut, but audiences would have been familiar with each of the acts represented by the different cookies.

When Miss Bonbon is being outfitted, she transitions from her cookie-like shape into a more humanoid-appearance. This might make her another early example of visually realistic human characters in Disney shorts, and even a precursor to the Snow White look in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

According to Film Superlist: 1894-1939, this cartoon entered the Public Domain in 1963 as its copyright was not renewed.

Rusty Mills, Ron Fleischer, Randy Rogel, & Tom Ruegger (1993)

Discover America with Wakko Warner from Animaniacs.

As I’ve said before, learning should be fun!

Wakko’s America is a song from Episode 21 of Animaniacs. Like Yakko’s World, it is a geographical patter song, this one listing each of the United States of America and their respective capitals. The song is framed as Wakko’s answer to a Jeopardy! Daily Double question asked in a lesson taught by Miss Flamiel, which Wakko ultimately gets wrong because he does not phrase his answer in the form of a question. The music is Turkey in the Straw, with lyrics written by Randy Rogel. The song is the eighth track on the album Yakko’s World.

Cordell Barker (1988)

Despite his mounting desperation, old Mr. Johnson just can’t get rid of a tiny, yellow cat. Directed by Cordell Barker, 1988.

The Cat Came Back is a comic song written by Harry S. Miller in 1893. It has since entered the folk tradition and been recorded under variations of the title—”But the Cat Came Back”, “And the Cat Came Back”, etc. It is also a popular children’s song.

If you enjoyed The Cat Came Back, check out these other two adaptations of the classic folk song by clicking on the links below. Thanks for watching!

https://hobomooncartoons.com/2020/04/01/the-cat-came-back-2/

https://hobomooncartoons.com/2020/04/01/the-cat-came-back-3/

Rusty Mills & Randy Rogel (1993)

Take a trip around the world with Yakko Warner.

Learning should be fun!

Yakko’s World is a song from Episode 2, which features the animated shorts Yakko’s World, Cookies For Einstein, and Win Big, and probably the most famous of their songs. In the song, Yakko names all of the nations of the world at that time. A clip of the sing-along version of this song has been viewed more than ten million times on YouTube. To this day, Rob Paulsen, the voice of Yakko, never misses an opportunity to perform this song live, rarely with error.

The song was written by Randy Rogel, a writer from Batman: The Animated Series and Animaniacs, whose son was studying geography. When he saw that “United States, Canada” rhymed with “Mexico, Panama,” he got to work on the lyrics and sent the song to Animaniacs. The music is that of the “Jarabe Tapatío,” better known as the Mexican Hat Dance tune, a traditional Mexican song.

Charles M. Schulz & Bill Melendez (1969)

A Boy Named Charlie Brown is a 1969 American animated musical comedy-drama film, produced by Cinema Center Films, distributed by National General Pictures, and directed by Bill Melendez. It is the first feature film based on the Peanuts comic strip. It is also the final time that Peter Robbins voices the character of Charlie Brown (Robbins had voiced the role for all the Peanuts television specials up to that point, starting with the first recorded special, which also had the title A Boy Named Charlie Brown, in 1963), and it uses most of the same voice cast from the 1969 TV special, It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown, replacing only the actors playing Sally and Schroeder.

The film was well-received and a box-office success, grossing $12 million. Snoopy Come Home came in 1972 as a standalone sequel.

A Boy Named Charlie Brown is an unreleased television documentary film about Charles M. Schulz and his creation Peanuts, produced by Lee Mendelson with some animated scenes by Bill Meléndez and music by Vince Guaraldi.

A Boy Named Charlie Brown was screened the Greater San Francisco Advertising Club, where it was received with considerable enthusiasm, but Mendelson was unsuccessful in securing sponsorship.

Although never aired on television, the documentary was instrumental in garnering commercial support and the creative teamwork that resulted in A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965 and the ensuing series of Peanuts television specials. Portions of the film were used in commercials for A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965.

An album by the Vince Guaraldi Trio with music from the above documentary, originally titled Jazz Impressions of A Boy Named Charlie Brown, was released by Fantasy Records in 1964.

Portions of the unaired A Boy Named Charlie Brown were updated and broadcast in 1969 as Charlie Brown and Charles Schulz.

Fleischer Studios (1934)

She Wronged Him Right is a 1934 Fleischer Studios animated short film, starring Betty Boop. This is also the first appearance of Betty’s semi-regular boyfriend, Fearless Fred.

Betty Boop appears in a stage play, complete with obvious theatrical backdrops. Betty doesn’t have the money to pay the mortgage, so the dastardly villain Heeza Rat threatens to foreclose unless Betty agrees to marry him. The villain threatens Betty in various ways until the handsome and muscular Fearless Fred comes to her rescue.

Directed by Dave Fleischer

Produced by Max Fleischer

Voices by Bonnie Poe

Music by Herman Hupfeld (song “Let’s Put Out the Lights (and Go to Sleep)”)

Animation by Roland Crandall & Thomas Johnson

Studio Fleischer Studios

Jerónimo Rocha & João Miguel Real (2019)

K just crashed his Mercedes-Benz into a tree, moments after trying to avoid running down a small wild animal that ran across his path. He is on a backwater road in the countryside and it’s a very dark night. His evening has only just begun…

Anand K Varma (2020)

After her mother’s death, Kim finds solace in wearing her mother’s old sweater. However, the sweater begins to itch and even hurt her, but she still can’t bring herself to take it off.

Directors: Anand K Varma, Yi Chen Hsiao, Mauriziana Gualdrini, Ugo Offner, James Mann

Team contact: sweater@gobelins.fr

Geoff Dunbar & Paul McCartney (1984)

To mark the 100th birthday of Rupert The Bear, the animated music video for “We All Stand Together” has been remastered and upgraded to HD. The song was the focal point of Rupert and The Frog Song – a short animated film that Paul began work on in 1981 with animator Geoff Dunbar. Written and produced by Paul and directed by Geoff, Rupert and The Frog Song was eventually released in 1984.

Rupert and the Frog Song is a 1984 animated short film based on the comic strip character Rupert Bear, written and produced by Paul McCartney and directed by Geoff Dunbar. The making of Rupert and the Frog Song began in 1981 and ended in 1983. The film was released theatrically as an accompaniment to McCartney’s film Give My Regards to Broad Street. The song We All Stand Together from the film’s soundtrack reached No. 3 when released in the UK Singles Chart. It was released in 2004 as one of the segments of Paul McCartney: Music & Animation. In addition, the film was not produced by Nelvana and Ellipse just like the television series.

The frog chorus on the song We All Stand Together was provided by The King’s Singers and the choir of St Paul’s Cathedral. The flute-playing frog was Elena Durán. The B-side of the single contains a humming version of the song performed by McCartney and the Finchley Frogettes.

Although intended purely as a children’s song in the mould of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, the song We All Stand Together is often derided as an example of McCartney’s inconsequential songwriting. In a satirical cartoon by Stephen Collins of The Guardian in 2012, McCartney is shown recalling his creative partnership with John Lennon in the 1960s, before concluding: “It was a great time, y’know… And then I went on to do The Frog Song.”

Rupert Bear is a children’s comic strip character created by British artist Mary Tourtel and first appearing in the Daily Express newspaper on 8 November 1920. Rupert’s initial purpose was to win sales from the rival Daily Mail and Daily Mirror. In 1935, the stories were taken over by Alfred Bestall, who was previously an illustrator for Punch and other glossy magazines. Bestall proved to be successful in the field of children’s literature and worked on Rupert stories and artwork into his 90s. More recently, various other artists and writers have continued the series. About 50 million copies have been sold worldwide.

The comic strip was, and still is, published daily in the Daily Express, with many of these stories later being printed in books, and every year since 1936 a Rupert annual has also been released. Rupert Bear has become a well-known character in children’s culture in the United Kingdom, and the success of the Rupert stories has led to the creation of several television series based on the character. The character also has a large fan following, with such groups as The Followers of Rupert.