This old geezer was the crime-boss of the 3 thug little pigs from my last post.
These sketches were done for a fun project that was cancelled. A retelling of all the classic FAIRY TALES where the BIG BAD WOLF is the baddie, BUT this time told from his point of view. We learn that he was set-up in the LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD story, having been framed by the 3 LITTLE PIGS, who were 3 little THUGS in our version.
We were having a lot of fun developing this idea but the needle-scratch moment came when we found out that a film called HOODWINKED was already in production elsewhere. Clearly our timing was bad and therefore the project was shelved.
A fun project I worked on a few years ago was HUBERT’s BRAIN; a quirky short CG film produced by Wild Brain (the original, San Francisco branch) and directed by Phil Robinson & Gordon Clark. Starring Peter Falk (Columbo) Jonathan Harris (Lost in Space) and Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead) the film won an Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Short Subject Annie Award for Wild Brain in 2001.
In addition to my usual role as storyboard artist, I did some of the character designs, including this one; an annoying yappy dog. It is always fun for me to design a character that is not supposed to be cute. Apart from a typical cranky lap-dog I was thinking of a creepy hybrid of pug, piranha, crab and bat as I drew him. The modelers and animators did a fantastic job bringing this character to life.
Many years ago my friend GORDON CLARK hatched an animated project about a bio-dome of cattle lost in outer space. It was called CATTLESTAR GALACTICA.
While the Sci-fi set-up is a cross between “LOST IN SPACE”, “SILENT RUNNING” and “SPACE 1999″, this story would have been largely a musical, with the bufoonish space cowboy singing lots of goofy songs to his sidekicks (a robot and a lost Russian cosmonaut Dog) as they all sat around an electronic camp fire, between whacky adventures in space. And, having been conceived by Gordon, it was bound to be a very funny show, coz he is a very funny man.
Sadly, it was long ago consigned to that ever-growing pile of “would have been great” but “never got made” projects that I’ve been involved with over the years. This marker sketch is some of the pitch art (and character designs) I did for it.
I can’t think of any cartoonist that I admire more than the great RONALD SEARLE. Many others feel the same about this superb satirist and stylist, including the 70 PIXAR artists who recently sent him a 91st BIRTHDAY SKETCHBOOK filled with tributes; a project which I was honored (though intimidated) to be included in.
It was the one and only MATT JONES who had the unenviable task of wrangling 70 flakey cartoonists to fulfill their promises and bring the book to completion, which was achieved somewhat beyond the actual deadline but was very much appreciated by Mister Searle none-the-less. He wrote back to say as much.
You can read his response, as well as see the birthday greetings themselves, on the HAPPY 91ST RONALD blog, established by MATT to house the well-wisher’s artwork. A new tribute will be posted every day for the next few months. Be sure to check back often; i know for a fact there are some BEAUTIES in store!
If you’d prefer to look at a blog that (mostly) posts the AUTHENTIC Searle article, be sure to visit the SEARLE TRIBUTE BLOG (which is also run by Matt.)
More from the archive; a magazine illustration done while living in JAPAN, for a story about the TOKYO CAR SHOW (in ball-point pen and water colour).
The article claimed that the prestigious CAR OF THE YEAR award was won not on the merits of the car itself but on how much money was spent in the media campaign to win the award.
I used to do illustration as a side job while still working in the animation industry and I kept it up for several years, mainly because, back then, I didn’t think my animation career was going to last. Almost from the day I began working in animation, it appeared that the business itself was done for. All the older artists said so, and it was hard to disagree when looking at the quality of the work that was being done; not just by us, but at the best studios in the world.
I vividly remember a screening of THE BLACK CAULDRON, and a slump-shouldered group of us animation youngsters coming out of the theatre to discuss it afterward. The general consensus was that if what we’d just seen was the best that DISNEY could do then then animation was indeed on its last legs. We’d had the bad luck to show up just in time to witness the death-rattle of a once-great industry.
Of course, a few years later everything turned around. We started to see things like THE FAMILY DOG, ROGER RABBIT and then the renaissance of DISNEY, which led to the founding of Dreamworks, Pixar and a host of other successful studios. But before that happened, I had to think what I would do if, as everyone was predicting, the biz was not going to last. And illustration was my PLAN-B.
I started doing small illustration jobs while still living in Sydney and continued, even when living in Asia. In Tokyo, I had a few magazines that I would do spot illustrations for each month and I really looked forward to those assignments because, as I said, the quality of the animation I worked on back then was not very good. The illustration assignments were my chance to have some fun.
These days I channel most of that extra energy into pottering about with personal projects but I sometimes think about doing some illustration again someday…
I recently found the drawing that got me my first job here in the USA. These rough character designs of Marty McFly & Doc Brown ultimately landed me an art director job at Colossal Pictures; my favourite company of the many I have worked at.
When I faxed this from France 20 years ago, I was working for the Paris Disney Studio (on direct to video movies and TV series) and I’d spent the previous 5 years essentially living out of a backpack; following animation jobs (on crummy Saturday Morning shows) from outsourced-country to outsourced-country, with the occasional side adventure to interesting parts of the world. It was a very fun period that I look back on with great fondness, but by the end of it, I was looking for any chance to stay for a LONG stretch someplace, preferably a nice town where I could understand the language and hopefully settle down a bit and make some FWENDS.
Which is exactly what DID happen.
My good friend Tony Stacchi (another veteran of the Porkchop Hill of overseas Saturday morning animation) recommended me to Colossal Pictures’ directors John Hays & Phil Robinson at around the time Colossal was getting into animated TV series. The original plan was for me to work in San Francisco for a few months alongside the “animated BACK TO THE FUTURE TV series” pre-production team and then go to Taiwan to supervise production of the show (an area I had some experience in by that time). However that plan was revised, happily, and I became one of the two Art Director/Character Designers on the series (John Stevenson being the other) then stayed at Colossal for many more fantastic years (working on all kinds of fun projects) made a ton of lifelong friends and made San Francisco my home.
All in large part due to this silly, simple drawing.
Here’s a BIRTHDAY (21st of April!) CARD for Mr Derek Thompson, honoring the fellow who introduced us many years ago; good old FRANKENSTEIN’s monster.
It seems appropriate that my friendship with DEREKMONSTER should have begun on a MONSTER MOVIE. Though that project was never finished, I made many great friends on that crew, Derek being one of them.