Animation Scoop – Animated News, Reviews and Commentary

Asifa-Hollywood’s Animation Educators Forum Selects 2016-17 Scholarship Recipients

ASIFA-Hollywood and the Animation Educators Forum (AEF) recently selected eight (8) animation students to receive a total of $30,000 in scholarships for academic year 2016-17. According to the AEF judges, applications came in from all around the world including Syria, Australia, Canada, Singapore and the USA, and each had their own passionate stories to tell. The AEF scholarships are merit-based and designed to support college students in continuing their education in the field of animation. Each individual student’s proposals, letters of recommendation from faculty, and demo reel/still art were taken into consideration as part of the selection process.

“We have had such great sponsorship from ASIFA-Hollywood and are able to give a very talented group of students from all over the world support,” said Aubry Mintz for AEF. “As educators, the members of AEF are reaching out to encourage young artists world wide,” said Dori Littell-Herrick for AEF. “The winning projects included deeply personal stories and animated documentaries.”

asifa-animators Education-scholarship


Despite Four Shrek Films, History Will be Kind to Jeffrey Katzenberg

This week Jeffrey Katzenberg said goodbye to the studio he founded. Evaluating the full impact of Jeffrey Katzenberg over the past three decades will take years. The animation industry loses a true cheerleader whose legacy has barely been formed but finds itself without an immediately apparent replacement.

Katzenberg’s live-action background didn’t exactly prepare him for his new role at Disney, where he arrived as part of the management shake-up of the early 1980s. The reason behind his infamous request for ‘outakes’ from the feature then in production, The Black Cauldron, he nonetheless stuck around and became the model disciple of all things animated.

Despite that ominous start, Katzenberg has been nothing but a cheerleader for animation. His studio employs hundreds of artists, keeps Pixar honest, and makes pretty decent films to boot. It was built from scratch too!



Jeremy Renner Added To Cast Of AMBI’s “Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad”

Two-time Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner (“The Hurt Locker,” “The Avengers,” “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”) has signed on to voice the lead character (Swifty) in the epic 3D, CGI animated family film Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad from Andrea Iervolino and Monika Bacardi’s AMBI Group.

Renner will lead an ensemble voice cast for “Arctic Justice” that includes Alec Baldwin, Heidi Klum, John Cleese, James Franco, and Omar Sy.



Dreamworks’ Show Runner Brendan Hay on Netflix “Dawn Of The Croods” Season 2

The world’s first family returns for an all-new Season 2 in Dreamworks’ Dawn Of The Croods, premiering on Netflix this Friday, August 26th. Eep, Thunk, Grug, Ugga, Sandy and Gran return to encounter many modern-day problems – for the first time in history – as they navigate life in a prehistoric era.

Among their many new adventures, Eep sets up the first underground dance club; Grug tries to convinces the family to go on the first vacation; Thunk invents ventriloquism for the first-ever stand-up comedy show – and he tries a new fad, Slateboarding, with Eep (see clip below).

Brendan Hay is the show runner – and I spoke with him this week about his career, his work on The Simpsons, and how The Croods differentiates itself from The Flintstones.

Jackson Murphy: Comedy seems to be your forte, with The Daily Show, Frank TV, Robot Chicken and even The Simpsons under your belt. Can you believe The Simpsons is hitting 600 episodes this Fall?

Brendan Hay: No, I really can’t. It was almost 10 years ago that I worked with them. I think I was 12 when it premiered. I loved The Simpsons growing-up, and it was so informative to me. It just blows my mind. I love that it’s become an institution. It’s such a cool thing to see that every generation can get their chance to be introduced to The Simpsons.


Disney’s “Milo Murphy’s Law” Starring Weird Al Starts October 3rd

Legendary satirist and Grammy Award-winning recording artist Al Yankovic (professionally known as “Weird Al”) voices the title role in Milo Murphy’s Law, a new animated adventure comedy series debuting Monday October 3rd (8:00 p.m., EDT) on Disney XD. From creators and executive producers Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh of the Emmy Award-winning animated series Phineas and Ferb, the series follows 13-year-old Milo Murphy, the fictional great-great-great-great grandson of the Murphy’s Law namesake. Milo is the personification of Murphy’s Law, where anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

A full-length preview of the first episode will be available on the Disney XD app, Disney XD’s YouTube Channel and Disney XD VOD platforms beginning Monday September 26th. Here is the opening title sequence:


Animation Scoop’s Comic Con Panel: “Cartoon Legends Speak: Diversity in the History of Animation”

Cartoon Legends Speak: Diversity in the History of Animation, the 2016 San Diego Comic Con panel moderated by Leslie Combemale for Animation Scoop, is now viewable for all to see and hear.

With the new documentary Floyd Norman: An Animated Life being released this weekend, it’s the perfect time to remember all the great artists who paved the way. This San Diego Comic-Con/Animation Scoop-hosted the panel featured not only Disney Legend (and well-known man-about-Toontown) Floyd Norman, but also Willie Ito, Ron Husband, Phil Roman, and Jane Baer. I had the pleasure of moderating the panel.

Ron Husband and Laura Jones look on as Phil Roman proudly displays his Inkpot Award

Ron Husband and Laura Jones look on as Phil Roman proudly displays his Inkpot Award




SUBMIT TODAY: The 44th Annie Awards ‘Call For Entries’ Is Now Open!

The International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, announced today its ‘Call for Entries’ for the 44th Annual Annie Awards are now open! Honoring excellence in the field of animation, the Annie Awards will be presented in 9 production categories (Best Feature, Broadcast Production, Short Film, etc.) and 22 achievement categories (Best Animation, Direction, Production Design, Music, Voice Acting, etc.).

Additionally, up to 5 honorary awards may also be granted for lifetime accomplishments, philanthropy, technical advances, special achievement and meritorious service. The 44th Annie Awards will be held on Saturday, February 4th, 2017 at UCLA’s Royce Hall.



Why Some Fans Are Giving Animation A Black Eye

Fandoms in general constantly contend with a minority that makes the majority look bad. If it isn’t long-term fans belittling newcomers, it’s one faction squaring off against another over some trifle disagreement. Fans arguing amongst themselves is nothing new, but when the anger gets directed towards creators or those on the creative team, the results make everyone look bad.

Fans serve an important role in many forms of entertainment, even more so today than in the past. The vast majority maintain a positive attitude, and realise that their fandom forms a part of the healthy relationship between creators, fans, and casual viewers. Many fans also realise and appreciate that a lot of hard work and effort goes into creating a show, and that sometimes decisions are made that they don’t necessarily agree with or support, but which they can get over and move on.



Massachusetts’ Norman Rockwell Museum To Present “Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning”

Before the rise of basic cable, Saturday mornings for many children in America were spent watching cartoons on one of three available television channels. From 1958 through the 1980s, a majority of those cartoons bore the imprint of Hanna-Barbera. Creating scores of popular series such as The Yogi Bear Show, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, and Scooby-Doo, Hanna-Barbera was an animation powerhouse and its bountiful creativity is beloved to this day. The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass, will pay tribute to the art of the award-winning studio with the new exhibition Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning, on view November 12th, 2016 through May 29th, 2017.

“We are thrilled to present the first museum exhibition on the work of Hanna-Barbera,” notes Jesse Kowalski, the Museum’s Curator of Exhibitions. “This show will provide a comprehensive look into the animation team that collaborated for more than 60 years. William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, with a group of the most gifted animators and writers in the business, created thousands of memorable characters over the years. They brought animation from the movie theater into the home, forever changing the landscape of American television and popular culture.”



Interview with Travis Knight on Directing “Kubo”

Travis Knight is the President and CEO of Laika, the stop-motion animation studio behind Oscar-nominated hits Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls. Their latest feature, Kubo and the Two Strings, opening this weekend, marks Knight’s directorial debut. He told me about some of the decade-long efforts of the studio, bringing Kubo to life, and a “mind-blowing” day working with one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

Jackson Murphy: Congratulations on the film. It’s fantastic.

Travis Knight: Thanks. I really appreciate it. You work in these things, in an insular bubble, for so long – and this one for five years – and never knowing quite how people are going to react to it. So when people respond positively to the work it means a great deal. Everyone at the studio really poured their hearts into this movie, and when people respond well and they’re moved by it, it’s incredibly meaningful for all of us.



Animation Historian Ray Pointer Discusses His Book “The Art and Inventions Of Max Fleischer”

Now available for pre-order is the long awaited history of the man and studio behind a few of the most famous cartoon characters and some of the greatest, most-influential animated films in the history of the medium.

Author and historian Ray Pointer is a forty-year film and animation professional. He has spent a life time devoted to research, and is recognized as a foremost expert on Max Fleischer and The Fleischer Studios. His book, The Art and Inventions of Max Fleischer: American Animation Pioneer will be published in October by McFarland Publishing.

I spoke to author Pointer, who currently resides in Grand Rapids, Michigan, about the project.

1. First of all, for the young folks among us who might not know, briefly tell us who Max Fleischer was, what he accomplished.

The characters, BETTY BOOP and POPEYE continue to shine after 80 years, but the man behind them has been largely in their shadows. Max Fleischer was one the the three major animation pioneers of the 20th Century, preceding Walt Disney. Fleischer’s OUT OF THE INKWELL series (1919-1927) was a landmark in its interactive use of animation and the real world. This influenced Disney in his first commercial success, THE ALICE COMEDIES (1923-1927), which reversed Fleischer’s concept by placing a live action girl into a cartoon environment.


Midwell – 2






Checklist of U.S. Animated Feature releases in 2016

1. NORM OF THE NORTH (1/15/16) Lionsgate. D: Trevor Wall

2. MONSTER HUNT (1/22/16) Film Rise. D: Raman Hui. (Live action/Animation)

3. KUNG FU PANDA 3 (1/29/16) Dreamworks/20th Century-Fox. D: Jennifer Yuh Nelson; Co-Director: Allesandro Carloni.

4. SNOWTIME (2/19/16) Shout Factory. D: Jean-François Pouliot.

5. THE BOY AND THE BEAST (3/4/16) Funimation. D: Mamoru Hosoda. (anime)

6. ZOOTOPIA (3/4/16) Disney. D: Byron Howard, Rich Moore.

7. RACHET AND CLANK (4/29/16) Focus Features. D: Jerrica Vleland, Kevin Munroe.

8. THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE (5/20/16) Sony. D: Clay Kaytis, Fergal Reilly.


10. FINDING DORY (6/17/16) Disney/Pixar. D: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane.

11. THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS (7/8/16) Universal (Illumination). D: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney.

12. PHANTOM BOY (7/15/16) GKIDS. D: Jean-Loup Felicioli, Alain Gagnol.

13. ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE (7/22/16) 20th Century-Fox. D: Mike Thurmeier.

14. THE LITTLE PRINCE (8/5/16) Netflix. D: Mark Osborne.

15. SAUSAGE PARTY (8/12/16) Sony. Sony. D: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon.

16. KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS Focus/Laika. (8/19/16) D: Travis Knight.

17. SPACE DOGS: ADVENTURE TO THE MOON Epic Pictures Group. (8/26/16) D: Mike Disa.

18. THE WILD LIFE Lionsgate. (9/9/16) D: Vincent Kesteloot, Ben Stassen.

19. STORKS (9/23/16) Warner Bros. D: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland.

20. LONG WAY NORTH (9/9/16) Shout Factory. D: Rémi Chayé.

21. MISS HOKUSAI (10/14/16) GKids. (anime) D: Keiichi Hara.

22. TROLLS (11/4/16) Dreamworks – 20th Century-Fox. D: Mike Mitchell.

23. THE RED TURTLE (11/18/16) Sony Pictures Classics. D: Michaël Dudok de Wit

24. MOANA (11/23/16) Disney. D: Ron Clements, John Musker.

25. SING (12/21/16) Universal (Illumination). D: Garth Jennings.

Release Dates TBA

• THE GIRL WITH NO HANDS – GKids. D: Sébastien Laudenbach

• UNDERDOGS – The Weinstein Company – D:Juan José Campanella (going direct-to-video on July 19th)

NOTES: Limited-release theatricals (movies going Direct-to-Video (DVD, VOD but getting a theatrical billboard) began this year with theatrical showings of YELLOW DAY, a faith-based live action/animation feature, directed by Carl Lauten, which opened in L.A. on January 8th 2016 via the Alabama-based Idyllic Entertainment Group. Funimation released the anime feature THE EMPIRE OF CORPSES, directed by Ryoutarou Makihara, for two days on April 19th and 20th. Momentum Pictures released the Korean produced BLING!, directed by Kyung Ho Lee and Wonjae Lee, to select theaters on May 6th. Aniplex America released anime feature CLASSMATES (Doukyusei) by Shoko Nakamaura on May 6th. Funimation released the anime feature HARMONY, directed by Michael Arias and Takashi Nakamura, animated by Studio 4°C and based the novel of the same name by Project Itoh, for two days on May 17th and 18th. Shout Factory released the Russian made QUACKERZ, directed by Viktor Lakisov, on June 3rd. NUTS, a documentary by Penny Lane, that uses much animation to illustrate its true story, had its theatrical premiere in New York on June 22nd. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Fathom Events partnered to give BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, a special one-night big screen release on Monday, July 25th in select cinemas across the country.


Charles Solomon Reviews: “Kubo And The Two Strings”

Travis Knight’s Japanese-influenced Kubo and the Two Strings ranks as the best film the artists at the Portland-based Laika Studio have made, with a strong story, assured direction and strikingly original designs.

One-eyed Kubo (voiced by a very appealing Art Parkinson) is a street performer in a seaside village, supporting himself and his widowed mother by recounting the fantastic adventures of the heroic warrior Hanzo. As he accompanies himself on the samisen, origami figures dance and fight in the air, illustrating the story.

But Kubo can only perform during the daytime. His mother has forbidden him to stay out after sunset, lest the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) who stole his left eye, take the right one, as well, and imprison Kubo in his celestial realm. Kubo visits the grave of his fallen father, a mighty samurai. He stays out too late at the O-Bon Festival, a Japanese holiday honoring the dead. As Kubo watches the memorial lanterns floating out on the tide, he longs for a stronger connection to his father’s heroic deeds.