Archive for the ‘Chad’s Editorials’ Category

Stan Sakai Benefit Auction

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Together with a terrific committee of fellow cartoonists and writers at CAPS (the Comic Art Professional Society) in Burbank, CA, I have been busy helping put together a benefit auction and book (to be published in July by Dark Horse Comics) all to help our cartoonist brother Stan Sakai (creator of Usagi Yojimbo) with medical bills surrounding the care of his sweet wife, Sharon. Today, after months of planning & organizing, we released the official press release explaining the details of what promises to be an AMAZING sale! I even created a special painting just for this that I’ll post here closer to when it will be sold.

Read on and share in our excitement!

 

Stan Sakai

Taken in 2004 during healthier days, Stan & Sharon Sakai visiting the ancient aqueducts of Segovia, Spain. photo credit: © 2004 Stan Sakai

 

CAPS TO LAUNCH ART AUCTION FEATURING ORIGINAL WORKS BY MATT GROENING, JACK DAVIS, MIKE MIGNOLA, J. SCOTT CAMPBELL, ADAM HUGHES AND HUNDREDS MORE TO BENEFIT FELLOW CARTOONIST STAN SAKAI AND FAMILY

 

On Thursday, March 6, 2014, Southern California’s CAPS, the Comic Art Professional Society, will launch an ongoing series of eBay auctions of original comic art. Its goal is to raise funds for medical care for Sharon Sakai, the wife of respected cartoonist and longtime CAPS member Stan Sakai, creator of the samurai rabbit USAGI YOJIMBO. Sharon has been battling a debilitating brain tumor for some time; after an extended hospital stay and convalescence, she is currently at home, but her condition requires 24-hour care and medicine that costs more than the Sakai’s insurance covers. 100% of the proceeds of these auctions will go directly to Stan and Sharon Sakai to help pay their ongoing medical expenses.

The CAPS auctions will be conducted through eBay.com beginning on Thursday, March 6, with a new set of auctions every following Thursday. Each auction, sold under the seller name of “CAPSauction“, will be ten days in length with twenty to forty items in each set of auctions. The donations of original artwork and collectibles (including newly created art unique to this event, vintage comic book pages, comic strips, illustrations, animation art, limited edition statues, and IDW Artist’s editions books) number over three hundred with new items arriving every day.

 

 

Contributors include:  Adam Hughes, Alex Maleev, Arthur Adams, Batton Lash, Eric Powell, Jan Duursema, Jerry Ordway, Jordi Bernet, Matt Groening, Michael Allred, Mike Mignola, Paul Gulacy, Sanjuliàn, Scott Shaw!, Jim Steranko, Tim Sale, William Stout, Bill Sienkiewicz, Cameron Stewart,  Dan Brereton, Daniel Parsons, Dave Gibbons, Dean Yeagle, Doug Sneyd, Dustin Nguyen, Bill Morrison, Tone Rodriguez, Sergio Aragonés, Fabio Moon, Francisco Francavilla, Gene Ha, Geof Darrow, Gilbert Hernandez, Jack Davis, James O’Barr, Kevin Eastman, Jeff Lemire, Jeff Smith, Kazu Kibuishi, Liam Sharp, Tom Richmond, Michael Jantze, Olivia, Oscar Martin, Paul Chadwick, Richard Corben, Tom Mandrake, Walter Simonson, Charles Vess, Dan Spiegle, J. Scott Campbell, Chad Frye and many more.

 

Jeff Smith's Bone

My friend Jeff Smith created this great piece of his character Bone with Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo.

 

Many of the pieces featuring Usagi Yojimbo will appear in a new oversized hardcover book from Dark Horse, THE SAKAI PROJECT: ARTISTS CELEBRATE THIRTY YEARS OF USAGI YOJIMBO, which will be released on July 23, 2014. All proceeds from this book will go to Stan and Sharon Sakai. Much of the custom Usagi Yojimbo art created for this book will also be sold as a part of CAPS’ online auctions.

 

J. Scott Campbell

Known for his exquisite work with female characters, J. Scott Campbell created this wonderful ink drawing to benefit Sharon & Stan Sakai in the CAPS auction.

 

These fund-raising auctions will be promoted through ComicArtFans.com, and the CAPS – COMIC ART PROFESSIONAL SOCIETY Facebook page where you will be able to see updated information such as when certain pieces will be auctioned.

2013 Monster Month: Day 10 – It’s a Noisy Day In the Neighborhood

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Neighbors. We all have them: big neighbors, little neighbors, happy neighbors, gardening neighbors, elderly neighbors – even crazy cat lady neighbors. The one type of neighbor that many people could say was perhaps the most annoying, the most insanity inducing, the most unbelievably invasive, and the most downright selfish is the NOISY NEIGHBOR!

Noisy neighbors can look just like you and me. They actually seem normal when observed in public. They are livin’ the dream in their SUV like 99.7% of America, they take their kids to school, then to soccer practice, and enjoy time together at restaurants and shopping malls. In fact, they might look just like MY neighbors.

 

Meet my neighbors who could look just like YOUR neighbors.

 

However, underneath those quintessential gee whiz exteriors lie the hearts of beasts so inhumane and insensitive to their surroundings, that they look down with pleasure from their worldly perch to derisively sneer at the little people below them. I speak as one of those little people literally from below who has grown weary of the derision over the past year.

The creatures who live above me have far and away been the noisiest neighbors ever to occupy that apartment in the sixteen years this has been my home. From the first day they moved in, it has been an incessant stream of late night hammering, cabinet crashing, chairs scraping, toilet seat smashing, foot stomping, running, jumping, music playing so loud that lyrics can be heard, somersaulting, bass thumping, doors slamming, and I’m pretty sure buffalo herding. I’ve thought about giving them a “Noisiest Neighbor” trophy, but the above descriptive inscription would cost too much to engrave since the trophy shop charges per letter.

 

Noisy Neighbors

I'm convinced that my neighbors' front door is a mystical portal that, when entered, returns their public personas into these more natural forms.

 

You can always tell when the husband gets home because you can trace exactly where he walks by the sure-footed thuds of what must be steel-toed military boots that are weighted down further with bags of coins tied around his ankles. Their young daughter of possibly seven years old has apparently not yet learned to walk because one can only hear her run wherever she goes in that confined 800 square foot space. (I think she may be training for the summer olympics gymnastics team.) Even when they go out, their cat tears around the joint as if forever teased by a never ceasing laser pointer. The only one who is usually quiet is the wife, unless they are either fighting or making up.

I know what you are thinking. “Boy this guy is super sensitive to noise.” No. I’ve had my share of interesting neighbors. I’ve lived through the screaming Koreans, the drug dealer, the weekend partiers, the smelly pot smokers, a family of four with two little kids who were VERY well behaved and considerate, and even a sweet couple whose lives were forever altered when the husband passed away from cancer in the bedroom above mine, but NEVER before have I had neighbors that awaken me DAILY at any hour of the night with just a foot-stomping and toilet-seat-slamming trip to the bathroom.

Despite the one year plus of frustration that rains from above, something positive has come from the ordeal – three new Monster Month monsters! “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…” (James 1:17), right? But perhaps I’ve just taken that out of context a smidge.

 

Girly Monster

Sure it's funny now, but only when you ignore the fact that the noise is real.

Come back again to see what will be freaky on Friday!

Disney Legends Awards 2013

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Two weeks ago I had the privilege to attend the Walt Disney Company’s Legends award ceremony held in Anaheim, CA. First awarded in the late 1980s, the award is given to those folks, whether creative or otherwise, who have meant much to the success of the company over the years. The award was bestowed annually for many years on the Disney studio lot in Burbank, CA which I attended many times while working there. Now they seem to be awarded every other year at the D23 Expo, Disney’s own fan convention, where thousands of fans may also attend.

I had such a great time this year seeing folks like animator Glen Keane, actors Billy Crystal & John Goodman, and Imagineer Tony Baxter accept their special trophy. Others were awarded posthumously to TV personality Dick Clark, Apple & Pixar’s Steve Jobs, actor Ed Wynn, and Imagineer Collin Campbell whose awards were accepted by family members and friends.

I’m sure if you searched the web, you will find official photos and videos of the event and more wordy descriptions of the ceremony. What those accounts may not say is that a respectable showing of past Legends were in attendance as well. I was surrounded by folks like Paige O’Hara (voice of Belle), Floyd Norman (animation), Burny Mattinson (animation), Marty Sklar (Imagineering), Mary Costa (voice of Sleeping Beauty), Anika Noni Rose (voice of Princess Tiana), David Stollery (Marty of “Spin & Marty”), Kathryn Beaumont (voice of Alice and Wendy), Alice Davis (designer of costumes for Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean rides), Bob Gurr (Imagineer who famously designed the monorail), Bill Farmer (voice of Goofy), and many others.

(If you wish to see a photo, my friend Rick Law posted one that I’m in on Facebook. I reposted it to my FB page and you can CLICK HERE to go there now.)

It was such a special time that I felt inspired the next day to do a little watercolor sketch of Mickey holding a Disney Legend award.

 

Mickey Mouse holding a trophy of his dismembered hand known as the Disney Legends award.

 

These awards truly are special. Many people work for many years at a desk isolated from the world doing what they love to do. The fact that their efforts can go on to bring joy and inspiration to millions of people they will never meet is a reward in its own way, but a pat on the back from the CEO in front of an audience is also swell. In a day where there is much cynicism and insincerity in corporate America, it is nice to see that the Walt Disney Company continues this tradition of honoring people who are a big part of the in-front-of and behind-the-scenes of the memories many of you have today.

My Pal Rusty Mills

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

The cartooning business is an interesting profession. Cartooning is a broad term that covers comic books, comic strips, editorial cartoons, gag cartoons, humorous illustration, and animation. Many cartoonists work their magic in a solitary fashion from home studios, and don’t often find their way out into the daylight. When they do squint their way out of their caves and are able to mingle with like-minded friends, it is usually a pretty good time. It was during a regular gathering of cartoonist friends where I first met my pal Rusty Mills.

 

Pinky & the Brain

Rusty Mills at his drawing board using Toon Boom.

 

For awhile when I was unemployed (or as we prefer to call it – “freelancing“) from the animation business, I was getting together every Friday at a restaurant in Burbank with cartoonist friends that fell into one or several of the aforementioned cartooning categories. We would talk shop or reminisce about whatever got our creative juices flowing from the world of pop culture. As one of the youngest in the group, I loved sitting there hearing the rapid-fire conversations from the more experienced members of days working with Walt Disney or Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera. There were thoughts and ponderings about why The Flintstones were so great, lamentations over the lack of singing cowboy films today, lauding the merits of great comics, and which C level movie was actually quite delightful and terribly underrated.

 

Rusty was one of the regulars at those lunches, and as one of the guys, it was a pleasure to get to know him. He was always ready to laugh, and would always laugh pretty heartily. He was only older than me by ten years, but I was impressed to learn he had worked on several very cool projects like An American Tail, Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, and Pinky & the Brain.

 

In 2005, my attendance at these two, sometimes three hour lunches had to cease. I had gotten hired on a new show at Disney Television Animation called Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Soon to follow from our Friday lunch bunch were Rusty, Bob Foster, and in season two, Dave Bennett.

 

During those years at Disney TV is when I became better acquainted with Rusty working side-by-side. Rusty, Foster and I would have lunch together every day. It was then that I learned of Rusty’s modesty. You see, we had been friends for a few years, and while I knew of some of his past projects, he had withheld his importance to some of them. He didn’t just work on Animaniacs and Pinky & the Brain – he was a director and producer of those programs including directing the very first Pinky & the Brain cartoon “Win Big”. To further prod him, one would learn that sitting at home were five shiny Emmy Awards and one Peabody earned for that work!

 

Mickey meets the Brain

Rusty created this great drawing on the first page of a new sketchbook I started when we worked together on "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" in 2005.

 

That humble spirit is also what drove him to share his wealth of experience with young animation hopefuls by teaching them drawing, how to use computer software (he was a big advocate of Toon Boom), and serving as mentor to many eager minds. To serve all these students, Rusty did so by sacrificially driving 60 miles each way from his home out in the boondocks to where the classes were held.

 

A little over a year ago, Rusty told me that he had been diagnosed with colon cancer. He was his usual upbeat self knowing full well that he would tackle this problem and win. The initial jolt of treatment was tough, but Rusty plowed through with a big smile and positive attitude. We had long left Disney and were on to other projects. Rusty had taken a long distance job with a studio in Virginia that allowed him to work from home in California. He continued teaching classes, and going to chemo therapy. He would post positive updates on Facebook about his health, never complaining.

 

A few short weeks ago I heard that Rusty was being put into hospice care. Hospice. That dreaded word. I actually hadn’t talked with Rusty in awhile. Apparently his condition had not been great for the past three months, but his positive attitude expressed online never gave friends cause to worry. Very quickly, we all worried.

 

Two weeks ago on December 7, my pal Russell Paris Mills quietly slipped away leaving his precious wife Andrea and fifteen year old son Evan who we first met as a real youngster at those Friday lunches many years ago. Rusty’s legacy of tremendous work, a giving spirit, and memories of friendship will live on. This man was much loved by the many animators, directors, producers – all cartoonists – who attended his funeral last week. Even more came to reminisce about our friend and colleague at a second memorial service held for him at the Animation Guild in Burbank this past Sunday on what was Rusty’s 50th birthday.

 

It was proof that while many cartoonists may work alone, the great Rusty Mills was not a solitary man.

 

 

If you would like to see more of Rusty’s work, please CLICK HERE to visit his personal website.

A special fundraiser was started to help Andrea and son Evan. Rusty was their provider. If you knew Rusty, or if you were just a fan of his work without realizing he was the guy, please consider donating a little something to help. You can access the fundraiser by CLICKING HERE.

 

 

Life is short, and we have no idea what lies ahead on the journey. The following words from the Bible have meant much to me on my journey:

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.

 

The Immigrant

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

A couple of months ago I discovered a page on Facebook called Humans of New York (also known as HONY). The page features multiple portraits of New Yorkers as seen through the keen eye of photographer Brandon Stanton. With over 300,000 followers, I was a little late to the party.

Brandon does what I like to do – he people watches. I tend to sit in public places and covertly try to capture someone in a sketch. He takes a much bolder approach by asking his subjects to quickly pose for a photo wherever he happens to see them. The result is a fascinating cross-section of humanity sharing the streets of the Big Apple.

One of Brandon’s shots a few weeks ago really snagged the attention of the character designer in me. He got this shot of an old weathered Greek man who, despite having been in this new country he now loves for fifty-two years, still looked as though he was from his homeland.

 

The Greek Man

 

The whole Old Country immigrant in America thing really struck me when I saw the photo. Not only did this gentleman have a great look, but it triggered the personal remembrance that I am only a few generations away from immigrants in my own family. My great grandparents came here from Europe for a new life, and I have a relative that passed through Ellis Island. Like this gentleman, they held a soft spot for home, but were intensely proud to become Americans.

For that I am truly grateful.

The Great Stan Freberg

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

I wanted to say a few words about the great Stan Freberg today. Do you know who he is? He has been a gold record selling comedian, cartoon voice actor, movie and television actor, radio show host, a puppeteer, an author and a pioneer of using humor in advertising. He even came up with the name “Grammy” for the recording industry’s highest award. And if you are in the Los Angeles area this weekend (August 4-5, 2012), you have a chance to shake his hand and get an autograph. (DETAILS HERE!)

 

Stan Freberg

Stan Freberg as he looked in the 1950s during his Capitol Records comedy days.

 

Stan Freberg got his start in the entertainment business as a teenager. He literally got off the bus in Hollywood and immediately landed a job doing voices for the classic Warner Bros. cartoons. That’s right, despite all the title cards saying Mel Blanc did all the voices, Stan was right there doing many voices as well along with folks like June Foray, Arthur Q. Bryan and others.

Perhaps Stan’s most iconic Warner Bros. character was Pete Puma, the mountain lion who Bugs Bunny tricked into getting many lumps pounded into his head in several cartoons. Stan also did the hilarious Junyer Bear who was far too big for his diaper. He was also one half (the other half being Mel Blanc) of the mice Hubie & Bertie and half of the Goofy Gophers. The list of other characters is quite long including being the voice of a cat in the first Speedy Gonzales cartoon.

 

Warner Bros. Pete Puma

Pete Puma after asking Bugs Bunny for "A lotta lumps".

 

Warner Bros.' Junyer Bear

Junyer Bear who always loves his paw.

 

The one time Stan got screen credit was when he was the ONLY voice in an entire Warner Bros. cartoon. Friz Freleng directed Stan in The Three Little Bops that was a zoot suited version of the story of the Three Little Pigs. Stan sang the song and voiced every character.

 

Three Little Bops

The Three Little Bops

 

 

Stan did cartoon vocal work for other studios, too. Disney was one. He sang a song about the Jabberwocky for Alice In Wonderland that Walt ultimately cut from the movie, but he also memorably did the voice of the beaver in Lady and the Tramp. As you recall, the beaver helps get the muzzle off of Lady when she and Tramp come to see him at the zoo. Walt Disney himself directed Stan in that performance.

 

Lady and the Tramp art

This beautiful pencil drawing of Stan Freberg's character of the beaver from Disney's "Lady and the Tramp" is on an 8x10 that Stan has available at public appearances.

 

Out of a pure indulgence of mine, I also want to mention Stan’s role as the Yawning Man in the 1958 movie Tom Thumb. Tom Thumb was a wonderful fantasy movie directed by the great George Pal who loved incorporating stop-motion animation into his movies. He did it the hard way, too. The characters faces would all be sculpted in wood. George had Stan play a small but memorable role of a toy that helps put Tom Thumb (played by Russ Tamblyn from West Side Story) to sleep. Here’s the scene for you to see. I dare you to not yawn during this wonderful vocal performance by Freberg:

 

 

I first learned of Stan’s name when I was in high school. I was working at a summer camp on an island in the Delaware River sharing a cabin with several other staff guys. My friend Kevin Wertz had a copy of Freberg’s The United States of America album on a cassette tape that we listened to over and over after our long day’s work. That just might be the funniest album by any comedian I have ever heard, and am thrilled to have my own signed copy on LP framed on the wall in my studio. Later I discovered that Stan had made MANY records, most of which were song parodies of the day. His cover of Harry Bellefonte’s Banana Boat Song put me in stitches. It is no surprise that “Weird” Al Yankovic counts Stan as one of his inspirations.

 

Stan Freberg USA

This is perhaps the best of Stan's hilarious records with Capitol Records.

 

Another guy inspired by Stan was the late Jim Henson. Stan, along with Daws Butler, were the guys who brought Bob Clampett’s creations of Beany & Cecil to life as a live television puppet show called Time For Beany. Stan was the original Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent as well as Dishonest John. Stan once told me how he showed a young Jim Henson how to make Kermit the Frog seem as though he was smiling.

 

Stan Freberg

Stan Freberg with puppets of Dishonest John and Cecil from "Time For Beany."

 

Freberg’s later career as an advertising man broke new ground for that industry. He broke away from the fake testimonial ads common in the day, and from the ads that made all kinds of promises to make ads that made people laugh. He was wildly successful and we have had funny ads ever since. One of the big accounts Stan had was doing all the TV and radio ads for the movie It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World in which he also had a silent cameo (he’s the sheriff’s deputy sitting in the background of Andy Divine’s scenes), but he also did funny ads for Sunsweet Prunes, Geno’s Pizza and many others.

As you can tell, I love the guy. I could go on and on about his career, but you would be better served if you could find a copy of his out-of-print autobiography titled It Only Hurts When I Laugh so that you can read his funny tales about all of the above and more in his own words. If you come see Stan this weekend at The Hollywood Show in Burbank, you might be lucky enough to score one of the few copies he has left.

That’s right, so if you would like to come see Stan, shake his hand, and get an autograph he is appearing at the Burbank Marriott by the airport along with many other Hollywood celebrities. To see more details about The Hollywood Show and who will be there, CLICK HERE! Stan will have photos of Pete Puma, the beaver and other shots of himself for sale. He has a couple of books, and some record albums and CDs from his own collection that he will be selling, along with a few copies of Warner Bros. Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 2 that has cartoons of Junyer Bear, Pete Puma and The Three Little Bops on it (Stan even provides voice commentary on that set)!

Oh, and if you drop by, be sure to wish Stan a Happy Birthday! He will be 86 years old on August 7!

 

Frank Sinatra

This is a great casual shot of Capitol Records stars all together. You might recognize Frank Sinatra, Danny Kaye, Nat "King" Cole, Dean Martin and Stan Freberg.

 

Pixar’s BRAVE

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Last week I attended an advance screening of Pixar’s latest film, Brave, at Disney’s El Capitan theater in Hollywood. The folks at Beyond the Marquee invited me to write an actual review of the film.

Writing a review for a film in an industry of which you are a part is a tricky thing. You want to be fair, but not write anything to alienate you from being hired to work on animated projects in the future. It takes a long time, usually four to five years, to create a feature animated film with much hard work and sweat going into every decision. Having been there, I have tremendous respect for what goes into a project. At the same time, the length of those years sometimes can be numbing to the point where an insider isn’t sure any more as to whether or not something is funny, touching, or wise to include.

So, I didn’t write any spoilers that the trailer didn’t already give away except for one thing that I didn’t feel was wise to include – the inclusion of nudity in this film. Yes, nudity.

To find out more before the movie opens tomorrow, please CLICK HERE or on the image to see my article on Beyond the Marquee.

 

Princess Merida

The third film this year to feature archery (following "The Hunger Games" and "The Avengers"), Pixar's Princess Merida takes aim.

 

The Golfer

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

One of my favorite things to do is to go play golf. But just so that I don’t get tired of it, I only do it once, maybe twice a year. I played a few weeks ago with fellow animation buddy Drew Graybeal, and it was just a great five hours of my Saturday. Yeah, five hours. You golfers know that’s a looooong game. It was a crowded course unfortunately, and you had to wait on every hole.

They actually paired us up with another guy of whom I requested, “Please be patient with me. I only get out a couple of times a year, so I’m likely to be rusty.” He proceeded to interpret that as “this guy is a beginner.” He kept giving me golf tips on every hole, and trying to encourage me. Granted, I was hitting 8s and 9s for about the first third of the game, but I was just getting warmed up.

When I started hitting 5s and 6s, his comments changed to be like “yeah, you’re starting to get it!” Then I hit a few pars, almost got a birdie, and sunk a 20 foot putt. The rest of the game he kept saying incredulously “You are NOT a beginner.” I never did say I was a beginner, but it was at that moment that I regretted not being a betting man. I could have made some coin off that game! I ended with a 113 which isn’t great, but it’s not bad for only playing golf about twice a year.

So, anyway, I say all that to accompany this digital painting I did this week just for fun of a senior golfer. I think any serious golfer must play with a crazy pair of pants. Tragically, my own wardrobe lacks a pair like that. If not anything else, they serve as a distraction to your opponents. Just wear them within sight of your pals as they are driving.

 

The Golfer

It's always amazing to watch the old guys on the course limp up to the ball, then smack it straight and true with no hesitation.