Friday, March 30, 2012

Want To Win This Autographed Chris Sanders Print?

You can!


If your name is the name drawn completely at random by an unbiased, unfeeling, uncaring computer that is not easily swayed by the animated gifs that you made of your cat dressed in that horribly misshapen Tardis-themed scarf that you knitted while drunk on vodka and Slurpees.

Still want in?

Read on!

As I am a lazy bastard with a large pile of X-Factor TPBs to read, I need this contest to be as fast and hassle-free as possible. To enter, simply join our small band of followers in the lower right-hand side of this blog. Next Thursday at 11:59 pm E.S.T. I'll paste all of the followers into excel and randomize the list to pick a winner. Friday morning I'll send the winner an email requesting their name and mailing address, so you must use a real email address if you want to win.

Good luck to all!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chris Sanders Previews ComiCon Merch

@Chris_Sanders_: ‏ The first of several mugs I'll be selling at Con this year. Morgan's is a diner that will be introduced in Kiskaloo.
2:22 AM - 28 Mar 12 via txt

@Chris_Sanders_: ‏ Yep, I'll be activating the online store before July. I'll have a couple of mugs, some sports bottles with Pinups, and a few other thing ...
2:26 PM - 28 Mar 12 via txt

@Chris_Sanders_: ‏ works. I'll be posting the product prototypes as they come in. And notifying everyone of the store opening.
2:26 PM - 28 Mar 12 via txt

Imported without permission from Chris Sanders' Twitter feed.
Oh, and if you haven't checked out Sanders' website yet,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Super Funky Song Alert...Part 2!

Last night while browsing this blog, my riot grrrlfriend mentioned that the first caveman-themed song I posted, The Jimmy Castor Bunch's Troglodyte, would've been a lot more enjoyable had it not been so sexist. My immediate reaction was to go on the defensive.

"Sexist?! What are you talking about? It's just a silly song about cavemen. Do you really expect progressive gender politics in a pop song about Cro-Magnon cave dwellers? Bikini kill yoursel--"

Then I remembered The Bertha Butt Boogie.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Croods Crew: Jamaal Bradley

For the past few years, Jamaal Bradley (Surf's Up, Tangled) has been spitting in the face of God and nature, boldly and blasphemously creating life as a Senior Animator on The Croods.

While the title 'Senior Animator' sounds like it would involve either (a.) the hazing of freshman animators or (b.) shakily sketching things 'like they did in the good old days,' this couldn't be further from the truth. Senior Animators are often assigned a film's most important and emotional scenes. They are expected to deliver only the highest quality animation. They are also relied upon heavily to help train Junior Animators.

Or, to use an awkwardly assembled Lord of the Rings analogy:

If the Junior Animators are like Hobbits (wide-eyed, fresh faced and eager to take on whatever assignment is laid before them), and the Supervising Animators are like Gandalf the Grey (wizened elder statesmen able to impart important, hard-won life lessons while guiding the group to their goal), then Senior Animators are like Aragorn -- badass motherf*ckers at the top their game who seamlessly serve as leaders, teachers and long-distance lovers to the daughters of the house of Elrond.

Wait, what?


In addition to animating, Bradley has also been busy blogging. First, he has his personal site, Jamaal Bradley: Release the Excess. The site features a smorgasbord of Bradley's sketches, scans and short video tutorials.

"This blog is about...letting out the garbage in my head," Bradley recently wrote. "Some of the content is fun, some useful, some weird, and some things are just ridiculous."

Then there's Bradley's newly web-famous Pencil Test Depot. The subject of a 2/12 Cartoon Brew interview, this site is an animation nerd's nirvana. Showcasing dozens of pencil tests from everyone from Andreas Deja and Glen Keane to Milt Kahl and Ollie Johnston, it's the sort of site you could easily lose a day exploring.

Another thing worth mentioning about both these websites is that while browsing them, you never get the sense that Bradley is using them to promote himself or pump up his own ego. Instead, they feel more like someone sharing things that they genuinely love. With the video tutorials on Jamaal Bradley: Release the Excess and damned near everything on Pencil Test Depot, Bradley is offering up an ongoing class in animation and acting -- for free! The stuff he's teaching doesn't just apply to working or aspiring animators, either. I'm nothing more than a popcorn purchasing audience member, and I'm gaining a deeper and more nuanced appreciation for the art form with each post. This all goes back to Bradley's role as a Senior Animator, I guess. The knowledge, the skills, the ability to teach.


I get an honest-to-goodness scoop via my one question Twitter interview with Bradley:

Ju-osh: ‏ @JamaalBradley Are you animating a particular character on The Croods?
11:35 AM - 21 Mar 12 via web

JamaalBradley: @Ju_osh #Croods- Animating mostly the father
12:05 PM - 21 Mar 12 via Twitter for iPad

Bonus Bonus!

A scene Bradley did for Puss In Boots:

He captioned it, "This is one of the shots I did for Dreamworks' Puss In Boots. This is the first time we see Puss behind bars after being captured. They wanted an emotional moment, but have it go into something funny. I don't know if many people laughed in the theater though..."

Related: Croods Crew profiles of Louie del Carmen and Christophe Lautrette

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hottest Animated Voice Cast Ever?

Ever since Uncle Phil recorded his first growl as The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Shredder, animation buffs have been lamenting Hollywood's insistence on putting celebrity voices in their capital-c Cartoons. It's been decried as a total dick-move, a slap in the un-photogenic faces of those folks who'd spent years honing their vocal chords, devoting their lives to becoming the pitch-perfect mouthpieces for anamorphic animals. Still, Hollywood persists. Sometimes the results are magical. Other times...well, not so much.

Where you stand on this niche-within-a-niche debate probably depends a lot on your age. If you came of age post-Pocahontas, this is no doubt a non-issue. Nearly every cartoon projected onto the silver screen since then has had at least one Saturday Night Live alumnus or Top 10 pop princess in the vocal cast. It's become par for the cartoon course, sorta like 3D is for today's tots. But if you're in your 30s or 40s or (gasp!) 50s, you may have a slightly different take. Mel Blanc, Billy West, Daws Butler - these dudes dedicated their careers to tweaking the tones of their funny voices, mining the nuance in their naturally nutty enunciations. EFF FIREMEN! THESE ARE THE REAL HEROES. To see these uniquely talented artists being cast aside simply so that the $tudios could have a recognizable face at their red carpet premieres seemed to many of my unidentified generation to be short-sighted at best, totally stupid and disrespectful to the art form at worst.

But now there's a new breed of animation voice talent being cast. Not content to just rest on 'recognizable,' the creators of The Croods seem to have cast their leads' larynxs based on something more...libidinal. Emma Stone, Nicholas Cage, Catherine Keener, Ryan Reynolds: These are not the sort of faces one normally blocks with a huge microphone and one of those large circles swathed in nylon. They're the Hollywood hunks and hotties one shoots in an unobstructed wide shot, usually while wet.

That said, I've got faith that this is more than just some simple, cynical cash-in based on our baser instincts and buying habits. The director of The Croods, Chris Sanders, did direct Lilo & Stitch after all. That film had enduring 80s eye-candy Tia Carrere as the voice of its second female lead, Nani, and Carrere did an AMAZING job imbuing her character with a wide range of surprisingly subtle emotions and wit. If Sanders and co-director Kirk De Micco can shepherd similarly stunning vocal performances out of their crush-worthy Croods cast, they could create a truly fantastic film. Still, succeeding with such a sexy assemblage might inspire the $tudios to re-think their cartoon casting criteria once more. No longer would 'recognizability' be the gauge. No, it may soon be all about hotness.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fan Art Friday

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then fan art has gotta be the sincerest form of imitation. Think about it. It's an unabashed admission of artistic admiration that's then put out for all the world to see, judge, criticize, and ultimately deem not as good as the original. I say this not as an above-it-all outsider, but as the artistically inept insider responsible for the MS Paint messterpiece below.

Now that that eyesore is outta the way, ON TO THE GOOD STUFF! First up is a super-cool, anime-eyed take on The Croods' Guy. Ryan Reynolds is voicing this role, and you can totally glimpse the actor's sly, self-assured sex appeal in this drawing by Coolev.

Although this next one probably wasn't conceived in spirit of "fan art," I do dig its simplicity and internet-age folk-art qualities enough to include it here. After all, I am a FAN of this piece of ART, so barring all of those lower case words in between, it is indeed FAN ART...of a sort. I found it while wandering the web looking for Croods-news. It was on a site called Croods Trailer which, oddly enough, contains zero Croods trailers.

Wrapping up today's Fan Art Friday is an adorable animated gif of The Croods' multicolored saber-tooth tiger. Using a simple, four-stage run cycle as her base, Cody The Maverick has not only created the first bit of Croods animation to hit the net, she's created this site's new favicon. Thanks, Cody!

If you have a piece of Croods fan art that you'd like to share with the paltry portion of the population reading this site, send it to me at spinnaker(at)verizon(dot)net.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Croods News: Cast & Crew

DreamWorks visual development artist Arthur Fong wrote a brief blog post about his work thus far on The Croods. Of particular note to detail fanatics such as myself (and, presumably, YOU) is this portion:

The movie was originally dated to release in March of 2012, but the decision was made earlier in 2011 that we would not be able to push the full potential of this film if we were to rush to meet the deadline. Since then the art department got resized to only two artists (myself and Maragaret Wuller), the art director (Paul Duncan), and our fearless leader (production designer Christophe Lautrette). It's been one hell of a ride, but I am more than grateful to be one of the last standing warriors to finish the battle.

An art department of three?! Sounds insane. Then again, The Holy Trinity and the Three Stooges have been pretty adamant about keeping their numbers equally anemic, so maybe there's something to be said for the équipage à trois. To read Fong's complete post, click here.

Clark Duke (Kick-Ass, Hot Tub Time Machine) recently spoke to about his role in Eddie Murphy's new flick, A Thousand Words. Near the end of the interview, Duke briefly discussed his voice work on The Croods. Here's an excerpt: Have you already finished the voice work for the film?

Clark Duke: I’m actually still working on it. I have been for a year or two. These things take a pretty staggering amount of time. But I did get a tour of the Dreamworks animation facility in Glendale (California). It’s pretty incredible the scope of the operation…how many hundreds of people it takes to make one of those movies.

MM: How do you keep your performance fresh when you do a character for that long?
CD: It stays fresh because you may go a few months at a time before you work on it again. You don’t really have a chance to get burned out. It’s such a fun pleasure to go in and just mess around. A lot of times you’re recording by yourself…you can do as many takes as you want. As many ways as you want. You just keep trying stuff until somebody in the other room laughs. I really liked doing it. I had done a little voice stuff for Seth Green on Robot Chicken but never on such a grand scale. I didn’t see any of the animation attached to my voice until a couple of weeks ago and it was pretty awesome! They animate the character around all of your different vocal ticks and pauses. It’s hard to explain…it’s kind of like having your own trading card or action figure. A weird sensation but a pretty cool one.
To read the full interview, click here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Small Sampling of Sanders' Early Disney Art

It's March 8th. That leaves only a year and fourteen days until The Croods is released. Are you camped out in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre yet?



I kid, of course. We're animation aficionados, after all. Not 'space fantasy' fanatics. We're above that slavish sort of fan-boy devotion. We're perfectly content to just sit back and wait patiently, slowly sipping some of that Lasseter brand wine while whiling away the weeks posting self-serving comments on Cartoon Brew. We're DEFINITELY not checking and re-checking our Google Alerts, obsessively awaiting some new news about Chris Sanders the animator and NOT Chris Sanders the college football player who was kicked off his team for stealing from other players or Chris Sanders the wrestling reporter whose admirable/insane work ethic has him posting upwards of five stories a day. Cuz that would be weird. I mean, at most - AT MOST - we're doing something kinda-sorta-tangentially related to The Croods... an unofficial blog...

...or an unpopular Tumblr...

...or a crummy piece of MS Paint fan art...

...or a carefully curated collection of some of the artwork that Chris Sanders did for Disney's story department pre-Lilo & Stitch.

Oh, wait. There's no link on that last one, is there? And it's the only one of those ellipsesed options that you're even the tiniest bit curious about, isn't it? In fact, you're probably wondering why I bothered wasting your time with all of that other crap instead of just jumping right into the good stuff, aren't you? AREN'T YOU?

Well, for starters, that's very rude of you to wonder. And for non-starters...yeah, you're right. So without any further ado-doo, I humbly present the drawings.

Beauty and the Beast

I'd always assumed that Stitch introducing his 'broken' family to the Grand Councilwoman was the first time that Chris Sanders reduced me to a blubbering mess of snot and tears. Turns out, he actually achieved that way back in 1991 with the death scene in Beauty and the Beast. Sanders describes story boarding this beautiful moment in the book Tale As Old As Time: The Art and Making of Beauty and the Beast:

"Of all the memories I have of the Disney Studio, working on Beast's death and resurrection is one of the most vivid. If you can be aware that you're doing something important, that would be one of the few times I was. [...] Linda [Woolverton] had written the scene, and I had gone through it putting lines through all the extraneous things. I brought it down to the moment where Beast says, 'You came back' and touches her face. It struck me that the whole movie was in that moment."

I'd say he nailed it. How about you?


Do you dig Chris Sanders' take on ginormous jungle cats? Then make sure to check out the ferocious feline star of his upcoming flick, The Croods.

Speaking of jungle cats, next up is:

The Lion King

According to the documentary included on the Lion King DVD, the film's creators struggled for quite a while with the scene between Simba and Mufasa's ghost. Directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff eventually assigned Chris Sanders to it, but even after multiple attempts, Sanders could not seem to summon the scene's intended emotion. Then one night at 3 AM, Sanders story boarded it all out one last time. Showing it to Brenda Chapman - the only other person still in the studio at that late hour - he breathed a sigh of relief. "There it was," he recalled years later. "I'd found that little piece of the movie."

To see a bunch more of Sanders' story sketches for The Lion King, go here.


Lilo & Stitch
and How To Train Your Dragon fans have got two HUGE things to thank this movie for. I'll let Sanders tell you what they are.

"On Mulan I started out as the head of story and actually ended up doing quite a bit of writing for the movie. And from there I went to Lilo and Stitch. I should mention that Dean [DeBlois] and I met on Mulan, where we both were writing the story."

You get that? Without Mulan, there would be no Lilo & Stitch. And without Lilo & Stitch, there would be no How To Train Your Dragon. I don't know about you, but my life would be a little less wonderful without those flicks.

Alright, seeing as how I couldn't find that many of Sanders' story sketches for Mulan, I'll end this post with a relatively recent drawing Sanders did of the iconic, occasionally cross-dressing, warrior princess. 'Tis pretty badass, no?

Note: The above illustration comes the collection of animator Tom Bancroft. To see more of Tom's artwork and art collection, click here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Attention Artists!

I've got good news, and I've got great news.

The good news: There's a DreamWorks-themed gallery on deviantART that's now accepting Croods-related fan art.

The great news: Thus far, there's only ONE submission.

You know what that means, don't you? No matter WHAT you give them at this point, they're bound to post it out of sheer desperation.

Want to submit a pencil sketch of a stick-man holding a stick-club? Do it. You're automatically the SECOND BEST artist in the Croods folder! I hope you've emptied your email inbox recently, cuz the hyperbolic, emoticon-heavy comments are gonna pile up fast.

Tempted to trace your hand with a crayon, then flip the paper upside down, adding just enough blue and green scribbles to justify labeling it as the saber-toothed tiger from The Croods? Get to it! Writer/director Chris Sanders is on deviantART, and there's a slim to nil chance that he'll happen upon your work and DEMAND that DreamWorks send the company jet to pick you up so that he can make you a STAR in the multibazillion dollar a year animation field. (Tip: You may want to specify 'window' or 'aisle' seat somewhere in your drawing. Do it subtly, though. Sorta like how Al Hirschfeld used to hide his daughter Nina's name in all of his caricatures.)

Think about it. Being the second person EVER to contribute to the Croods folder is a ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY. (Although, technically, so is being the third, fourth or fifteenth. But no matter.) This must be how Jeffrey Katzenberg felt when he boldly stepped forward as the second guy in Hollywood to green-light a CGI flick about insects. Don't you want to breathe that same rarefied air? Then submit yer masterpiece here.

I'll be posting mine on Friday.