The old dogs had the best tricks?

Last night we watched 101 Dalmations after buying a remastered copy on Amazon.  Yep, that’s right, the original Walt Disney cartoon from way back in 1961.  The last time I saw this film I was just a wee little boy and Cruela was the most frightening woman a small boy could imagine.  Of course, these far too many years later it doesn’t look quite the same and it is a little odd that all the “adult” characters have English accents whilst all the little doggies talk with American children’s accents.  On the other hand, the artwork behind this animation is just superb.  You look at the incredibly short list of animators responsible by comparison to the screenfuls nowadays that need a specially written 5 minute song to playout while they are being displayed and you wonder how it could have been possible.  When you look at the loving detail and careful craftsmanship of these old Disney cartoons you also wonder if all the increased technology has been worthwhile.  The modern cartoons are very bright and glitzy with lots of special effects but it is a very different kind of artwork.  There is a charm to these old Disney cartoons that is somehow timeless.  By comparison, the modern ones seem cold and impersonal.  I don’t know how emotionally involved modern animators are in their work.  Maybe some of them do really love what they do but I am certain that the animators who worked on 101 Dalmations and the other early Disney classics poured everything they had into their work.   It is good to see that the cartoons have been so well remastered and can be preserved for future generations.  Almost 50 years on from when 101 Dalmations was first released maybe some of those animators are no longer with us but what a legacy of love to leave behind.   Maybe new is not always better …

The Art of Flight

Flight Graphic Novel

If you love graphic art and you haven’t yet got hold of a copy of FLIGHT then something is clearly and desperately wrong!  Mind you, not living in Canada is a hindrance as it is published there.  I should have been writing this five years ago but by god time flies faster than flight that is now in its fifth year.  Every Christmas I get a new copy of it from my brother who lives in Canada and I’m always amazed by the sheer variety of talent and inventiveness contained in it.  Flight showcases many different graphic artists ranging from wonderful painters to sketchy cartoons.  The stories can go across all five issues or just be a one-off and the variety of ideas and characters is staggering.  The first one is always about a fox-like creature with a crystal horn called Rex and you really get to love this little alien creature as he goes on his long voyage of self-discovery in a bizarre world of alien life forms.  One particular cartoon style strip that only started in issue four is so funny I almost cry.  It has the bizarre title of ‘Igloo-head and Tree-head’ who are the two main characters and the artist-writer of this one really has a strange and wonderful sense of humour with the innocence of a child thrown in for good measure.  Some stories are moral messages, others are just fun.  Some make you think, others make you feel, but given the variety it is hard not to find something you like and to be able to enjoy such a wide range of artistic and writing talent is a real joy.  Even if you don’t manage to find a copy in your own country it is certainly worth sending off to Canada for.  The only reason I haven’t name-checked particular artists here is that it would seem a shame to name some and leave others out as they are all doing such a wonderful job of contributing to this project.  But let’s give a mention to Kazu Kibuishi who is behind the whole Flight project.  Let’s hope it soars on for many years to come.

Cataclysms !!!

It really is great to feature some artforms here that are not painting or drawing. These short films are so well designed and produced it is hard to believe they have been done by amateurs. Whether you like cats or not the chances are that the following short films will have you rolling off your chair and giggling helplessly on the floor. The third one is particularly recommended for engineers or anyone in a similar profession – ENJOY!

Simon’s Cat is hungry

Simon’s Cat wants to come in

The Engineer’s Guide to Cats