Monday, July 31, 2006

The Kustomonsters, Astrothrill and more!

And so what is it that I'm up to you ask? "The Kustomonsters and Friends"! Yes, a new anthology show from Cheeky Entertainment, featuring "The Kustomonsters", "Astrothrill", "Timbuktu" and "Woodstock Manor". "The Kustomonsters" retro Monster hot rod adventures will be supported by fun short subjects a la "The Bullwinkle Show" of the 60's. A fun and unique experience.

Here's a clip from the 10 minute Astrothrill animated short, inspired by the Cheeky Press comic book of the same name.

Also here's the infamous Astrothrill meets Fu Manchu music video featuring the Fu Manchu song "Downtown in Dogtown"!

Woodstock Manor is another short to be featured on the Kustomonsters show.

Timbuktu will be seen with the Kustomonsters as well!

Look for periodic updates here for this podcast, cell phone and internet show!

The Kustomonsters and Friends!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Outside

Ever since I jumped into the Hollywood animation biz back in the 70's, I found there to be 3 different camps: Disney, Warners, and the "Outside"(or independents). That's where I fell in, the outside, and still remain until further notice. Although the industry has expanded substantially since back then, there are still different camps that tend to flock together, like in any business, or high school quad.

A few of the iconoclasts that I have worked with over the years can be seen here. I worked with Ralph Bakshi in 1991 on "Cool World" doing effects animation. Here's a trailer from what I think is one of his most interesting films, "Heavy Traffic".

Also surfing on the outside line up, was former Duck Soup animator Arnie Wong, who made quite a few trippy surf cartoons for Hal Jepsen's classic surf features. Here's a clip of "Karma" from Hal Jepsen's best surf film SUPER SESSIONS.

Also in the 80's I had the plesure of working with Wes Archer during the pre-Bevis and Butthead, Simpsons, King of the Hill era. We animated on a couple Taco Bell commercials at Dream Quest and a Howard Jones animated video called "You know I love you". Here's his seminal 80's student film "Jack Mac and Rad boy go" that started the whole edgy late 80's, early 90's animation that we all know.

Not to be forgotten are independent classic properties like "The Peanuts' by Bill Melendez Productions. Over the years I've animated on five of the classic animated specials, the last being "I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown" in 2003. It was great experience working with Bill who animated on two of my favorite Bob Clampett Looney Tunes of all time, "Wabbit Twouble" and "Book Revue". This underground homage popped up on the net a couple of years ago using found Peanuts dance footage sunk to the Outkasts "Hey Ya". Another outside classic! We also referenced some of these moves for the first Flash feature, "Lil Pimp" in 2003, very outside.

Friday, July 21, 2006

If It Looks like a Duck: Leaving the nest

Also during that seminal time at Duck Soup during 1974, I had the pleasure of meeting animator Arnie Wong for the first time. I remember Arnie was working on a "Shamu the Whale" spot for Sea World. He along with Corny Cole were the first of a breed of "surfing animators", which struck me as rather cool. With my animation scenes tucked under my arm, I would ride the bus from Malibu and skateboard down Main street through Dogtown to Duck Soup. Duane Crowther was cool enough to shoot my stuff at the tail end of Duck Soup commercial pencil tests.

I later would work for Arnie Wong's Santa Monica studio called Tigerfly in the 80's. Arnie was famous for doing surf cartoons and trippy commercial animation like this "Bubblicious" spot...

At Duck Soup I learned quite a bit about classical character animation, while later at Arnie's Tigerfly, special effects animation was the door that was opening up for me. I also was given more responsibility in handling jobs all the way through. In 1984, Arnie was eagerly in pursuit of producing an animated feature featuring the artwork of French fantasy illustrator, Moebius. The project was called "Internal Transfer". We did produce a 3 minute promo piece as seen in the second part of this clip here...

Unfortunately "Internal Transfer" was not produced, but 24 years later, Arnie and Moebius realized thier dream and produced the feature "Thru the Moebius Strip".

Until next time...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

From The Duck Pond

As I mentioned earlier, it was a very influentional experience working with such seasoned and talented animation pro's so early in my career. Duck Soup was founded in 1972 by Duane Crowther and Roger Choiunard. In 1974, at age 14, I was taken under the wing of Duane, who was famous for his UPA commercials from the 50's and 60's, like this Hamms beer spot...

Duane also had the great fortune to apply his talents in 1968 on the Beatles "Yellow Submarine" feature. Probably due to his stylish and award winning UPA pedigree.

Also working around Duck Soup during the early 70's was Duane's friend, "Snow White" animator and "Betty Boop creator" Grim Natwick.

This was a great chance to get perspective and training in different styles and methods of animation. Besides handling Prince Charming on "Snow White", Grim handled very stylized work on UPA's "Rooty Toot Toot"

I later had the great fortune to be the assistant of 25 year Disney veteran Amby Paliwoda on many Duck Soup spots. This 1979 Tony the Tiger commercial for "Banana Frosted Flakes" was a two man job by Amby and I. Unfortunately the new flavor of flakes did'nt take with the public, as we still have the "classic" Frosted Flakes today.

Next time we'll explore more artists from early Duck Soup.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

It all started in Santa Monica

No, I'm not talking about the history of radical skateboarding, I'm talking about my animation career. Ah, 1974 to be exact. That's when I met Corny Cole and Sam Kirson, then of Duck Soup Produckions in Ocean Park (Dogtown) California. They came to my mother's classroom to present their newly completed "Flip Wilson animated special" to the first graders. I was there, doing my usual cartoons for the kiddies, when Corny and Sam took a liking to my drawings and invited me down to the studio. I was totally jazzed as you could imagine...stars in my eyes.
There I met Duane Crowther (Yellow Submarine), Amby Paliwoda (Snow White), Grim Natwick (Betty Boop), and Arnie Wong (Tron).

What transpired was a 4 year aprenticeship starting at age 14, followed by 5 years of commercial animation work during my college vacations. Really invaluable experience that I don't think happens too often today.

Here's an early example of Duane Crowther's work

BLUM BLUM was the student film of Duane Crowther (1928-1998), who was one of the best commercial animators of the 1950s. He made this film when he was only twenty years old at UCLA.

In 1981, Duck Soup, in addition to producing hundreds of classic commercials, produced this Corny Cole animated segment for the "Heavy Metal" feature film.
Unfortunately this section was "too good" for the film and was deleted from the studio cut.

Later in 1984, again in Santa Monica, at Arnie Wong's Tigerfly Studio, I had the chance to work with future Aeon Flux creator Peter Chung. At the time we were attempting to get a Moebius feature film off the ground called "Internal Transfer".
Peter did a section, along with Ruben Aquino, Sue Kroyer, Bruce Woodside and Jon Norton. I was very impressed with the speed and facility of Peter's animation.
Later he produced spots like this Rally's Commercial. The rest is history...

Surf/skate animators, who would have thought...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Kustomonsters and friends - coming soon

I'm knee deep in the development of the Kustomonsters and friends cartoon show. It will feature The Kustomonsters, Astrothrill, Timbuktu, Woodstock Manor and more. Look for it on the net, podcast or cell phone near you!

Welcome to Cheeky Entertainment

Well... Welcome folks! About time I got this blog thing going, after having been online since 1998 with our site at
  • Cheeky Entertainment
  • , and more recently at
  • Astrothrill on My Space
  • .

    I do illustration, animation, comics, play drums and a little guitar, and even skateboard on occasion (old school Malibu/Dogtown style). I'm happily married and am the father of a precious little girl named Lola.

    I hope you like the discussions here. The perspectives should be a bit different.