I used to watch Wacky Races, the Hanna Barbara animated show, when I was a kid, and I love this ad. I so want a good look at the wacky cars, they are not reproductions of the cartoon, but realistic versions of them. Obviously Peugeot wants you to look at their model.
The Penelope Pitstop ending is so right.
If you are unfamiliar with the originals, here they are:
Starting a blog post often leads me to fun discoveries. In 2009, the Wacky Races were reproduced at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. They did a fabulous reproduction, and I so wish I could have seen them. Here are the cars:
And some of the crew.
I was in a pretty little book store in Point Reyes, California and I found some interesting books for artists. I chose to buy “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon. Mostly because it was cheaper than the other one I was considering.
But I had heard of the book before, and was interested. I had grown up with the idea of being “original” branded into my young mind. One thing I never wanted to be called was a “copy cat”. And I am sure I am not the only one. I have read quite a few internets rants about how one movie was similar to some other movie.
Using the word “Steal” in the title is provocative, intentionally I’m sure. This book is mostly about finding inspiration. Kleon basically recommends gathering multiple influences and synthesizing your own interpretations. It’s really true. This entire blog of mine is about all those people who produce material that makes me laugh.
Kleon supports his idea that artists can take from other artists with many excellent quotes. I particularly liked this one from Mark Twain:
It is better to take something that does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected.
I have said as much about jokes. Should a joke be copyrighted, or shared person to person to travel as far as it can go?
Kleon is careful to distinguish between good stealing and bad stealing. Good stealing recognizes and honors multiple sources. Bad stealing is a reproduction to which you contribute nothing.
The subtitle of the book is “10 things nobody told you about being creative”. My only criticism is that in reaching the number 10, it drifts into some generic advice such as “be nice” or reminding us that the internet has removed geographical restrictions to our circle of friends.
One item that did resonate with me was this line: In the beginning obscurity is good. When an artist becomes successful, then there are way more expectations on him or her. Think of the abuse heaped on George Lucas, or a rock star driven to suicide by a record company. Being obscure is a form of freedom to do just what pleases you.
This short isn’t supposed to be funny, but I think the stop motion animation is excellent. Misha Klein spent several years working on it between jobs. I’ve been there myself, and he deserves a tip of the hat.
Fred from Misha Klein on Vimeo.
While perusing my library for blog material, I picked up Charlie Chaplin’s One Man Show, by Dan Kamin. For studying Chaplin’s physical performance, you can’t find a better book. But the passage that caught my eye isn’t specifically about Charlie. It’s about studying performance in general:
One of the difficulties of watching films from a past era is in distinguishing what is intended to be stylized playing and parody from the mannerisms and movements characteristic of “real” people of the period. From century to century, and even from decade to decade, fashions in movement change as do fashions in clothing.
I like the word “fashion” being used here. The word “style” doesn’t quite suggest the passing nature of what’s being discussed. And it also brings to mind how human movement differs not only over time, but from place to place.
Humans learn to move in the same way we learn to speak. We pick up motion the way we pick up our local accents. It’s subconscious. We do it to fit in, to be like others. If a construction worker suddenly started swinging his hips like a streetwalker, his coworkers would notice. A punk rocker moves differently from a classical pianist. Each sub-culture will have it’s characteristic movement.
The actor Sacha Baron Cohen understands this. His characters involve transforming every part of his appearance, voice and even his movement.
Borat moves in a rigid, angular manner.
Bruno is much more loose and swishy, while Ali G. strikes all the hip-hop poses.
Most actors don’t do this. Jack Black always moves like Jack Black. Jim Carrey has varying degrees of his signature wackiness, from Ace Ventura on down to his serious roles. If they have found success with it, they wouldn’ want to change. Animators need to think like Cohen, and look for great styles of movement to give characters.
I don’t recall what inspired me to buy the Charley Bowers DVD set a few years ago, but it was more than a pleasant surprise. I was introduced to a great talent in comedy, and animation. Before seeing the DVD’s I had not heard of him, he is not mentioned in any of the many books on silent film that I had read. If it weren’t for an essay by the surrealist Andre Breton praising his work, he probably would have been lost to history. It took some film historians years to collect his surviving films from dusty collections around europe.
Charley Bowers began his entertainment career in 2D animation, writing and directing hundreds of short films based on the cartoon strip “Mutt & Jeff” as well as “The Katzenjammer Kids.” In 1926 he went into live action slapstick comedy, which is where the DVD collection starts. His live film work was respectable, but it was the addition of some extremely imaginative stop motion animation that brings him up to a level of quality that makes him worthy of your time to watch.
Here are some samples:
He even has a facebook page
Also, a book is published in France that looks interesting.
The Bowers’ Mother Goose Movie Book
It has flippable pages.