Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Greg Fitzsimmons "Stand Down"

I've never worked with the audio from stand up comedians before, despite my work with PBS on Blank on Blank.. vaguely similar.  Anyway, enjoy this episode of AV Club's "Stand Down" featuring Comedian Greg Fitzsimmons..

Monday, July 17, 2017

Mark Osborne

I first met the great animator Mark Osborne at a dinner party, held at animation impresario Ron Diamond's house about 20 years ago. We got to talking and became good friends. 

Ever since I saw his Oscar-nominated film "More" from 1998, I've been a fan of Mark's work.  I also loved "Kung Fu Panda", which he directed in 2008 with John Stevenson for DreamWorks and Jeffrey Katzenberg.  And of course, his most recent success was "The Little Prince" in 2015, one of the most beautiful films I've seen. 

After he moved from Paris to New York, we reconnected at an Academy screening and now he lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley.  I saw him at a recent screening and invited myself up to his country estate. 

It was wonderful to just relax and talk about his career and all the Hollywood people he knows.  What was particularly interesting was that he gave me the secret tips on how to pitch to the studios.  And I'm not going to give them away here - because now I'm going to start pitching to the Hollywood executives and I need every edge I can get. 

So, if you get a chance, check out Mark's films, especially "More", which is an undiscovered gem. 

Now I'm off to San Diego this week - so my next blog will be filled with all sorts of cartoon news and gossip, along with a report on our big "Revengeance" screening , and photos of the famous people and beautiful cosplayers who came to our booth...

See ya,

Bill P.

Monday, July 10, 2017

My Weekend with Pat Smith

The recent Fourth of July weekend was a great opportunity to spend some time with my Scribble Junkies blog-mate, and great animator, Pat Smith.  He and his family live out in Montauk, a little bit of paradise on the tip of Long Island, New York.

It was fun for me to catch up with him on his career and see what he's been working on - we only really connect in person a few times each year.  He's got this great studio in a reconverted garage and in a way, it's the total opposite of my studio.  Pat's gone paperless - he even got rid of his DVD library and most of his books - his studio consists basically of his Cintiq computer and a large screen.

By contrast, I still have an animation disc, a drawing table, stacks of animation bond paper and jars of pencils and sharpies - and of course, in my studio, 100 or so large boxes containing all my original art from my old films.  By the way, this old art is an excellent source of needed income - it's all for sale.

So Pat's gone totally paperless - and me, I've got paper everywhere - and I suppose you could say I should be ashamed for causing the demise of so many beautiful trees.  But I just love the pencil on paper experience, or more often now, ballpoint pen on paper.

While we were hanging out on the lake, drinking rum punches, we came up with a lot of ideas for future Scribble Junkies articles and we're starting to put together another Scribble Junkies Film Festival - but more about that later on this fall.

One other idea we had, which I love, is to create a Top Ten list of stoner films - not films about smoking pot, like the "Cheech & Chong" movies, but films that give you the experience of being stoned.  Please send in your favorite "stoner" films and I'll add my own and we'll have a list of the Top 25 of all time.

Also, I'm going to include here some recent sketches I made during my daily subway rides:

And also, don't forget to come to my booth, #1537, and my events at the San Diego Comic-Con, which I'll reprint here:

My new animated short "Cop Dog" is going to screen as part of the Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival (CCIIFF).  This will be on Thursday, July 20, at 4:30 pm in Grand Ballroom 3&4 at the San Diego Marriott Marquis, 333 W. Harbor Drive, which is right next to the convention center (closest to Hall A).  I'll be there to do a quick introduction for the film, which is (believe it or not) the FIFTH film in my very popular "Dog" series.

Then on Friday, July 21 at 5 pm, Jim Lujan and I will have a panel in Room 25ABC (on the upper floor) at the convention center.  We'll show some of my new shorts, like "No Snow for Christmas", a clip from "Revengeance" and "Modern Lives", one of the new music videos I've been working on for Jackie Greene.  Jim will moderate the panel and we'll take questions from the audience and everyone who comes to the panel will get a free sketch from me.

And on Friday night, 7/21 at 10:35 pm, we're going to screen the full film of "Revengeance", this will be the first non-film festival screening in the U.S.!  This is going to take place in Grand Ballroom 8 at the San Diego Marriott Marquis, 333 W. Harbor Dr. and admission is going to be FREE for anyone with a Comic-Con badge - WOW, that's huge!  The seating is limited, so please try to get there early!

I hope to see you all there!

--Bill Plympton

Friday, June 30, 2017

Animation School successes

As most of you know, over the winter months I held a semester of the Bill Plympton School of Animation - and already we've received word of success from two of the students -

Shawy, a student from France, just found out that his short film "Giftaway", made as a school assignment was accepted into the glamorous Oaxaca Film Festival in Mexico -

And then, I just found out that another of my students, Brian Giovanni, who made an excellent short called "When Comes the Rain" just got it accepted into the Animation Block Party, which is a very important festival here in NYC. 

Now, I wish I could say that their success is solely a result of my brilliant teaching - however, both of these students are also excellent artists and storytellers before taking my class, and I'm just happy that I was able to guide their wonderful talents to such success.

I've seen work from a number of the other students and I feel that there will be more festival success stories to come - and hopefully we'll be releasing a compilation of the excellent work from these students on DVD - so watch for it! 

--Bill P.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Cars 3

As most of you know, I have a young son, Lucas, he's now 4 1/2 and beginning to draw a lot.  And what does he love to draw?  Cars, all day long - cars.

Plus, he watches "Cars" a lot on his iPad, so I figured this would be the perfect time for him to enjoy the new Pixar feature film, "Cars 3". 

We went to my local multiplex, loaded up on popcorn, Coke and hot dogs, and settled into our La-Z-Boy leather chairs to enjoy the film.  It was preceded by the new Pixar short, "Lou", directed by Dave Mullins - it's a crudely animated look at articles in a "lost and found" box getting revenge on a schoolyard bully.  Very ho-hum.

"Cars 3" the feature started off with a bang, as Lightning McQueen loses his mojo, and the race, and has serious identity problems.  From then on, the film goes downhill - too much talking and psycho-analyzing.  So after Lucas finished his hot dog and popcorn, he was ready to go home.  For both me and Lucas, the best part was the demolition derby that Lightning gets stuck in, where he is chased by a demonic fire-breathing school bus.  That was hilarious.

Lucas and I both give "Cars 3" a low C- grade.  But who cares, the film will drive a new generation of boys to buy more "Cars" merch - and it will probably make a billion dollars.

--Bill P.

Friday, June 23, 2017

San Diego Comic-Con 2017

It's hard to believe another year has passed, and we're getting ready again for Comic-Con in San Diego.  This year we've got three exciting events taking place that I can't wait to tell you about...

First off, my new animated short "Cop Dog" is going to screen as part of the Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival (CCIIFF).  This will be on Thursday, July 20, at 4:30 pm in Grand Ballroom 3&4 at the San Diego Marriott Marquis, 333 W. Harbor Drive, which is right next to the convention center (closest to Hall A).  I'll be there to do a quick introduction for the film, which is (believe it or not) the FIFTH film in my very popular "Dog" series.

Then on Friday, July 21 at 5 pm, Jim Lujan and I will have a panel in Room 25ABC (on the upper floor) at the convention center.  We'll show some of my new shorts, like "No Snow for Christmas", a clip from "Revengeance" and "Modern Lives", one of the new music videos I've been working on for Jackie Greene.  Jim will moderate the panel and we'll take questions from the audience and have a fun time, and if the audience is really good, I may show the first look at the next animated feature I want to make....and everyone who comes to the panel will get a free sketch from me.

(Please note: the Panel schedule is not posted yet.  Panels will post confirmed times about 2 weeks before the convention.  So this information is slightly subject to change...)  

And on Friday night, 7/21 at 10:35 pm, we're going to screen the full film of "Revengeance", this will be the first non-film festival screening in the U.S.!  This is going to take place in Grand Ballroom 8 at the San Diego Marriott Marquis, 333 W. Harbor Dr. and admission is going to be FREE for anyone with a Comic-Con badge - WOW, that's huge!  The seating is limited, so to all my fans going to Comic-Con, I recommend that on Friday evening, when the main show floor shuts down, go out and have a quick dinner, but come back to the Marriott Marquis in time to see "Revengeance".  Come on, stay out a little late, treat yourself to a free screening, you deserve it!  You can sleep when the convention is over, right?
Now, most of the rest of the time I'll be hanging out in my Booth, which is #1537 - look for us in the 1500 aisle, which we call "Animation Alley" (I wish SDCC would call it that, too...) because you can usually find ASIFA-Hollywood, Animation Magazine and Spike & Mike's booth nearby.

While I'm at the booth, I will be doing caricatures for my fans - they've become very popular in the last few years.  It seems everyone wants to see what they would look like if they were one of my cartoons!  As long as I'm there and I have the time, and I don't run out of paper, I can draw you too!

If you're coming from the south side, where the concession stands are, this is how to find our booth:

Yes, the show floor really does look that crazy.  This event becomes more of a madhouse every year, but that's all part of the fun.  I'll have Sandrine and Lucas with me, and my office manager John, who's a veteran at running the booth by now, and you just never know who's going to stop by my booth, so please come visit and check out the stars! 

I know that if you go to Comic-Con, there are so many things to do - panels, screenings, parties - but please make some time to come out and see "Revengeance" if you can!  I promise you will have a great time!

--Bill Plympton

Friday, June 16, 2017

Jackie Greene videos

Jackie Greene is this fantastic blues-rock musician, who I met through my cousin in Sacramento - and he's hired me to animate 6 music videos, plus a wrap-around story.  It's a huge job, but fortunately I love Jackie's music -

I get a lot of musicians contacting me about doing music videos, and usually I don't like the music (electronic, pop, rap, etc.) but Jackie's music is right up my alley. 

I want to animate each video with a different technique, so there will be a lot of variety in the styles and storytelling.  I asked Jackie how he wanted me to draw the animation, and he said, "Do whatever you want - the more far-out the better!"  Wow, that's what an artist loves to hear! 

So I'm going to show you a few of the drawings from two of the videos I'm working on now - "Modern Lives" and "Good Advice" (a classic song from Willie Dixon, the blues great). 

From "Modern Lives": 

 And from "Good Advice" (still in the rough-cut stage):

Also, I want to give everyone the great news and a heads-up.  I'll be in San Diego again for the big Comic-Con, July 20-24.  My booth number will be 1537 (same space as the last few years) and in just a couple days, we'll publish my events and schedule here.  Come by and get a free sketch from me and Jim Lujan.   I hope to see you all there -

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Fantaspoa Festival, Brazil

I've been going down to Brazil for over twenty years - the first time was for the wonderful Anima Mundi Festival that takes place in both Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.  Then, just last year I did a two-city tour with an exhibition and collection of my shorts and features.

But when I got an invitation for a festival called Fantaspoa, I mistakenly assumed it was connected to the Fantasporto Festival, which is in Portugal.  After accepting the invitation, I came to realize it was in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  Then I thought, "Wow, that's not so bad, Brazil is one of my favorite places!"

So off I went to Porto Alegre, a cowboy town of 2 million, located in the Pampas, with gauchos and country music, and great churrascarias - yee haw!

The festival is wonderfully run by Joao Fleck and Nicolas Tonsho, and I came to discover it's a horror and sci-fi festival (I should have guessed by the "Fanta" part of the name "Fantaspoa")  No matter what the title is, the films were fantastic: "Dave Made a Maze" by Bill Watterson (not the cartoonist of "Calvin and Hobbes" fame) "Game of Death" by Sebastien Landry + Laurence Morais-Lagace from Montreal, "Prevenge" by Alice Lowe and "Tragedy Girls" by Tyler MacIntyre.  They were all great films!

They also screened both "Revengeance" and "I Married a Strange Person" to packed audiences.  Plus I held a Master Class that was so crowded they had to turn away dozens of my fans - so drove all the way from Uruguay (a 4-hour drive) to see me!  Very tragic.  They also presented me with a great prize for career achievement.

Unfortunately, I was so busy showing and watching films that I didn't get a chance to visit the city - so I guess I'll have to go back next year.  If you have a short or a feature that's along the lines of horror, sci-fi or fantasy, definitely send it to Fantaspoa in Brazil - and if you get a chance to go there, definitely "Vamos" - I give the festival a B+.

--Bill P.

                                                      The festival director's great t-shirt!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Reuben Awards 2017

About a month ago, I read about how the famous Reuben Awards (sort of like the Oscars for cartoons) were going to be held in my hometown of Portland, Oregon.  Plus, they were going to honor my buddies - Matt Groening, David Silverman and the great Lynda Barry.

Then I thought, "Wow, that's something I would love to be part of."  So I contacted Bill Morrison, the president of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) and said I would love to be part of the celebration, besides I have a place to stay in Portland.  So I was added to the list of attending cartoonists for their Memorial Day weekend event. 

Portland is already known as a "weird" city, so being invaded by a large group of cartoonists sort of made that title redundant.  The opening party was held at the headquarters of the company that makes the Wacom tablet.  We gathered on the top floor, with a magnificent view of Mt. Hood and the Cascade Mountains with beautiful snow.

Saturday there was a full day of panels, hosted by people like Mike Richardson of Dark Horse Comics, Matt Groening and David Silverman, and to top it off, a talk and song from the hilarious Lynda Barry.  I first met Lynda about 25 years ago when we both attended a big book convention in Washington DC.  We went out on the town to a crabhouse, got drunk on sangria and I discovered that Ms. Barry is the funniest woman in America.

                                                  with Lynda Barry, winner of the Milton
                                                    Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award

Then, at the closing night buffet dinner, I was invited to host a movie night, with popcorn and candy and I showed the Oregon premiere of my new short "Cop Dog", plus a screening of a trailer for my new work-in-progress feature, "Slide".  Both were very well received - in fact, I was shocked by the number of fans I had among these famous cartoonists, because they mostly work in print and I'm a TV and movie guy.

                                              dinner with Lynda Barry and Matt Groening

Since I started my career as a caricature artist and political cartoonist, I was happy to meet some old friends there - like Mike Peters, Bill Schorr, Jack Ohman, Dan Piraro, Mo Willems, Sam Viviano (MAD Magazine), Joe Sacco, Eric Goldberg, Howard Beckerman, Shannon Wheeler, Patrick McDonnell ("Mutts"), Jim Borgman ("Zits") and of course, my good friends Matt, David and Lynda.  I really had a ball.

                                                    with Jack Ohman, editorial cartoonist

                                                           with Dan Piraro ("Bizarro")

                                               with Mo Willems ("Sheep in the Big City")

                                           with Sam Viviano (MAD Magazine art director)

                                                                 with Joe Sacco

In terms of weather, it was a very rare (for Portland) 90-degree, blue sky weekend, but I was so excited to see all my friends and heroes that I hardly went outside at all.  A big thanks to Bill Morrison for including me in this prestigious group.  I hope to be there again next year.

--Bill P.
                                                      with Patrick McDonnell ("Mutts")

Friday, May 26, 2017

ASIFA-East Animation Festival & Awards

One of my favorite annual events took place last Sunday, the 48th edition of the ASIFA-East Animation Awards, which are open to anyone who wants to enter their work -

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend all of the competition screenings, where the ASIFA members vote on the work - I was traveling to some far-flung festival spots to screen "Revengeance", probably.  In fact, I almost missed my own screening because I was in the middle of moving my studio to a new space 3 blocks north.

But I was able to make it to Independent Night, where they screened my new short, "Cop Dog" - and quite frankly, the screening didn't go very well.  Some of my favorite jokes got no laughs at all and my two biggest gags got just weak titters from the audience.  "Oh, well," I thought, "better luck next year."

However, when I got the invitation to the awards ceremony, they hinted that I should attend, which usually means your film has won something.  So I figured maybe I'd get Honorable Mention for Design or some other minor award.

The grand night itself was a blast, almost everyone in the NY animation community was there - Candy Kugel, George Griffin, Emily Hubley, the great Signe Baumane, and surprise, Pat Smith, my co-blogger and fellow Scribble Junkie, with his family.

Katie Cropper Klein was the epitome of a glamorous and efficient hostess.  The awards were given out very quickly and smoothly, then they came to the Independent Films section, and Pat Smith won 2nd Prize for "Pittari".  And then "Cop Dog" won the First Prize - I was shocked, and of course, very happy.  The Dog is back!!!

                                   accepting the award for "Cop Dog" from Katie Cropper Klein

The only downer was that Willy Hartland didn't win anything for his wonderful film "NYC Sketchbook".  We all retired downstairs for food and wine and celebrations - and of course, a lot of interesting gossip.

If you have a short film, you should definitely enter the ASIFA-East festival next year - it's a blast!

And now I'm off to the Reuben Awards, being held over Memorial Day weekend in my hometown of Portland, OR - where I'll be hanging out with Matt Groening, David Silverman, Linda Barry and many others - I'll give you a full report next week.

--Bill P.

                                                with my producer, Wendy Cong Zhao

                                         with Pat Smith, my co-blogger and fellow winner

                                  the ASIFA signal film, with drawn versions of Candy Kugel,
                                          Signe Baumane and me!  Animated by John Lustig

Friday, May 19, 2017

"Your Face"

I've been hearing from some fans who love my Oscar-nominated short "Your Face", and some even make their own versions of the film - which, by the way, I totally enjoy.  I'm not one of those lawsuit-happy artists.  (Just don't post the original version on YouTube, my office manager will find it and you'll get in trouble...)

Anyway, the question popped up in my brain - how many versions are there of "Your Face"? And wouldn't it be cool to put them all on a DVD, sort of like a "Your Face" collection. 

Then the thought occurred to me - if there are some real "Your Face" fanatics, perhaps they'd like to try and make their own versions of the short 3-minute film, how awesome would that be?

I know there's a sped-up version, where you can hear what Maureen McElheron really sounds like on the vocal track before it got slowed-down to make her sound like a man, and there's a "global jam" version in progress, where a bunch of people each get to animate a few seconds in their own styles.

So, here's the deal: if anyone out there has a new version of the "Your Face" animation (or song) or wants to create their own version of it, please send me a copy (or a link to a downloadable file) and I'll put it on DVD and on my web-site and promote the hell out of it.

Unfortunately I don't have the money or accounting services to pay the artists, I'm only asking people to do this for fun - and in fact, that's the reason I'm in the animation business in the first place - for the fun.

So I'll give all you animation freaks a deadline, any submissions would have to be finished by September 1, 2017.  I'm so excited to see how you all interpret the film - please tell your friends and spread the word.

Good luck,

Bill P.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Stuttgart Animation Festival

After Annecy, I think Stuttgart is my favorite animation festival - I've been going there since about 1989, when I showed my short "How to Kiss" in a WWII bunker-style screening facility.  The audience then was quite small, because it was a young festival - but I met a lot of great animators and had a lot of fun.

Well, since then the festival has grown by leaps and bounds, because Stuttgart is the home of Mercedes-Benz, and they are one of the sponsors.  The festival takes very good care of the filmmakers and offers some of the largest prizes on the festival circuit.

It was a busy week for me in Stuttgart this year - I had my new feature "Revengeance" (co-directed with Jim Lujan) in competition, plus two new shorts, "Cop Dog" and also my environmental music video "No Snow for Christmas" (music by Maureen McElheron).  Plus, "Guard Dog" was included in their "Best of" animation program.  And then, as I was taking a break on the giant lawn, I saw my film "The Loneliest Stoplight" being projected on the jumbo outdoor screen.  Finally, they had a work-in-progress presentation, where I showed clips from my upcoming feature, "Slide" - so all that should give you an idea about how busy I was!  

Recently, they've added a new section called FMX - basically, a gathering of artists interested in special effects, games and new technology.  This year, the emphasis was on virtual reality.  The FMX has become a giant magnet for digital artists from all over the world, and that only adds to the prestige of the Stuttgart Festival.

Because of FMX, I got to hang out this time with a lot of my favorite filmmakers, like Peter Lord and David Sproxton of Aardman fame, Jan Pinkava of Google, Jean-Michel Blottière (the manager of FMX), Joanna Priestley, Ann Marie Fleming, and my new favorite animator, Robert Valley.  I went to his (very) late-night presentation and was blown away by his style, storytelling and sexy women.  He lives in Vancouver, so I rarely get to meet him - it was great to hang out with him a bit.

But the "creme de la creme" came on the closing night, when I got to honor the great Bruno Bozzetto with a Lifetime Achievement Award.  He's been such an inspiration to me, so it seemed perfect for me to present him with this prestigious award.  And what a modest gentleman he is - definitely check out his short films, and of course, his classic feature, "Allegro non Troppo".

I want to personally thank the festival team for making me feel so comfortable in Stuttgart.  The only bad part of the festival was that the weather sucked.  The last time I visited Stuttgart, it was very hot.  So this year I only brought shorts and t-shirts, then felt like an idiot all week.

In any case, send your films to Stuttgart - it's a fabulous festival, I give it an "A".

--Bill Plympton

Monday, May 8, 2017

Pat's Weekly Gif...

Here's a good one, very timely, from Ted Ed animation "McCarthyism" enjoy..

This piece is approaching 500k views, check it out at Ted Ed.  And for those interested, please follow me on youtube, I have a few playlists of my favorite Ted episodes.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Follow us on Twitter!

So much different media, just make sure you're following me and bill on the twit. 
Bill Plympton and Pat Smith.