The Simpsons are coming to Disney+ in its original aspect ratio

If you care about The Simpsons with the same intensity that I don't care about the Simpsons, you'll be happy to hear that that Disney has finally sorted out how to stream the long-running cartoon sitcom in its proper 4:3 ratio. Disney+ will start kicking it old school, by the end of May.

In a message posted to Disney+'s Twitter account yesterday, the company's reps stated:

"We appreciate our fans’ patience and are working to make the first 19 Seasons (and part of 20) of The Simpsons available in 4:3 versions on DisneyPlus. We expect to accomplish this by the end of May."

So that's nice.

If you keep track of such things, you'll recall that, a few months ago, Simpsons fans lost their shit over Disney+'s streaming earlier seasons of the show, which were originally broadcast in a 4:3 aspect ratio, in 16:9. While this might fill up a modern wide screen television's display quite nicely, the forced 16:9 aspect ratio cut out a lot of what was going on, on screen. This left many elements of some of the series' best sight gags, unseen.

I know that many films suffered from the pan-and-scan nonsense they were put through before televisions moved to a wider aspect ratio. While I'm not personally invested in The Simpsons being shown as each episode was intended to be seen, I have to wonder how many other television shows from the 1990's on back are currently being ruined by being shown in 16:9.

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Video: Behind the scenes of the Astro Boy anime (1963)

Osamu Tezuka's iconic Astro Boy TV series premiered on New Year's Day, 1963. (First episode below.) By some accounts, the cartoon was watched at its most popular point by 40% of Japanese people with a TV. I love watching cartoonists draw familiar characters and the above behind-the-scenes footage from the Astro Boy production is a real delight.

(via r/ObscureMedia)

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Voice of SpongeBob asked to improvise voices of 5 new characters

It's always great to see a master craftsperson at work. From Vanity Fair: "Watch as Tom Kenny seamlessly improvises the voices to 5 random cartoon characters that he has never seen before. Using his skills from decades as the voice of SpongeBob, The Ice King (Adventure Time), The Mayor (Powerpuff Girls), Heffer (Rocko's Modern Life) and many others, Tom is able to create amazing characters in the blink of an eye."

Image: YouTube

[via Dooby Brain] Read the rest

Watch the wonderful Wizard of Oz cartoon that predated the classic film

Directed by Canadian-American filmmaker Ted Eshbaugh, this "Wizard of Oz" cartoon from 1933 predated the classic Hollywood movie by six years. From Wikipedia:

The story is credited to "Col. Frank Baum." Frank Joslyn Baum, a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army and eldest son of writer L. Frank Baum, was involved in the film's production, and may have had an involvement in the film's script, which is loosely inspired by the elder Baum's 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It runs approximately eight and a half minutes and is nearly wordless, working mainly with arrangements of classical music created by Carl W. Stalling.[3]

The film was originally made in Technicolor, but because it was made without proper licensing from the Technicolor Corporation (which limited use of its 3-strip process to Disney), it never received a theatrical release.

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Watch a Looney Tunes cartoon with Bugs and Daffy as drug addicts (1975)

Please enjoy the underground classic "Rabbit Habit" by Steve Peck, who writes:

This is an animated cartoon I produced myself in 1975 to show what Bugs, Daffy and Elmer would be doing in Central Park 12 years after WB stopped making Looney Tunes.....I showed it to Tex Avery in 1975 when he was 80 and he loved it and said "I wish I had a job to give you." Showed it to Chuck Jones. He was very conservative and did not like what I had done to his characters and did not offer me a job.

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Watch the lovely trailer for Soul, the new film from Pixar

My only complaint about Pixar's new film Soul is that is doesn't come out until June 19. Here's the description:

Joe Gardner is a middle-school band teacher who gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22, who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As Joe desperately tries to show 22 what’s great about living, he may just discover the answers to some of life’s most important questions.

Featuring the voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Phylicia Rashad, Angela Bassett, Ahmir Questlove Thompson, Daveed Diggs, “Soul” is directed by Academy Award winner Pete Docter (“Inside Out,” “Up”), co-directed by Kemp Powers (“One Night in Miami”) and produced by Academy Award nominee Dana Murray (Pixar short “Lou”). Globally renowned musician Jon Batiste will be writing original jazz music for the film, and Oscar-winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (“The Social Network”), from Nine Inch Nails, will compose an original score that will drift between the real and soul worlds.

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Watch this pianist play through a delightful history of cartoon music

I mostly credit cartoons for my appreciation of classical music. In this video pianist Lord Vinheteiro plays through a survey of cartoon music from 1928 to the current era. No, it isn't comprehensive, but it's still a wonderful medley!

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Cathryn Aison and Philip Glass's lovely abstract animation for Sesame Street (1979)

In 1979, Sesame Street animator Cathryn Aison created "Geometry of Circles," an abstract animation with original music by minimalist pioneer Philip Glass. It consists of four segments that were first aired as a complete piece. From the Muppet Wiki:

The shorts consist of the movement of six circles (each with a different color of the rainbow) that are formed by and split up into various geometric patterns. Glass's music underscores the animation in a style that closely resembles the "Dance" numbers and the North Star vignettes written during the same time period as his Einstein on the Beach opera.

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The Simpsons in pure CSS

Chris Pattle's The Simpsons in CSS is exactly as promised: thirteen of the show's characters rendered and animated using style sheets: no javascript or image files to be found.

(In Firefox on Windows, you can see some artifacts that hint at how the characters are built from geometric shapes.) Read the rest

How to do Shaggy's voice from Scooby Doo

Actor Matthew Lillard, who stars as Shaggy in the 2000s-era Scooby Doo movies and various animated shows since, explains how he mastered the character's raspy voice. Read the rest

Cartoonist sells his "crappy rejected" New Yorker submissions

For Christmas, I gifted myself with a New Yorker subscription. At the end of January, in my inbox zine, I wrote about becoming a little obsessed with the magazine's cartoon caption contest, and how I had shared the fun with my 15-year-old daughter. I then found myself searching and following all the New Yorker-published cartoonists I could find on Instagram.

That search led me to Brooklyn-based Drew Dernavich (and, boy, I sure am glad I found him!). On top of The New Yorker, he's been published in Time, the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, and other well-known publications. He's also a graphic recorder, aka a "visual note-taker."

On February 6, he posted this photo. It shows the reality of his business as demonstrated by two piles of paper: his rejected cartoons and his accepted ones:

View this post on Instagram

Before I started submitting digital sketches to @newyorkermag a few years ago, I was doing them the old-school way: Sharpie on paper. But that takes up too much space, so I’m cleaning house. Here is the pile of ideas that got published vs. the ones that got rejected. And in multiple views so you can see the actual ratio. Cruel business, my friends. I’m still generating a lot of crappy rejected ideas, they’re just in digital form now!

A post shared by drewdernavich (@drewdernavich) on Feb 6, 2020 at 11:15am PST

He writes:

Before I started submitting digital sketches to @newyorkermag a few years ago, I was doing them the old-school way: Sharpie on paper.

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Watch "Hair Love" 2020 Oscar-winning animated short film

I watched the Oscars last night, and found it to be a pretty dull affair. But one thing that caught my attention was the great-looking art and character design I saw in the very short clip from "Hair Love," the 6-minute film that took home the best animated short film award. This morning I found "Hair Love" on YouTube, so I watched it and loved it -- excellent art, music, and story!

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Glamour and glitter, fashion and fame

Jem may have indeed been both her name and excitement, but the Misfits' songs were better. Read the rest

Not sure about this Thomas the Tank Engine reboot

Y NAKAJIMA posted this fully functional "Assault Type Thomas" to YouTube. Check out more photos at Badland Models. I dig the postapocalyptic Chp 'n' Dale.

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Jazz great Jack Sheldon, the voice of Schoolhouse Rock!, RIP

Jazz trumpeter Jack Sheldon, singer of the Schoolhouse Rock! classics "I'm Just a Bill" and "Conjunction Junction," has died at age 88. With roots in the 1950s West Coast and bebop jazz scene, Sheldon became the longtime musical director of the Merv Griffin Show. In 1973, he became an ongoing contributor to Schoolhouse Rock!, voicing many of the series' most popular tunes.

(CNN)

image: "Jack Sheldon at Palo Alto CA Jazz Festival September 26, 1987" by Brian McMillen (CC BY-SA 4.0) Read the rest

Inspector Gadget and He-Man themes performed on church organ

The theme tune to classic 80s' cartoon Inspector Gadget performed by Riccardo Bonci at St Barnabas with Christ's Chapel in Dulwich, England.

Here's He-Man and the Masters of the Universe:

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This dark and amazing animation about the end of humankind aired on Ed Sullivan in 1956

Joan and Peter Foldes directed this incredible animation, titled "A Short Vision," in 1956. The couple created the film -- based on a poem by Peter -- in their kitchen. It was funded by a grant from the British Film Institute's Experimental Film Fund. From Wikipedia:

Ed Sullivan saw A Short Vision in England, and promised an American showing. He said his motive was a "plea for peace" However, he may have shown it because of his relationship with George K. Arthur, A Short Vision's distributor. Ten days after he saw it, Sullivan showed A Short Vision on his popular Sunday night show The Ed Sullivan Show on 27 May 1956. Sullivan told the audience to tell their children in the room to not be alarmed, because of its animated nature. The film was very popular, and it was shown again on 10 June; Sullivan told parents to take children out of the room.

More on the film's history here: "A SHORT VISION: Ed Sullivan’s Atomic Show Stopper" (CONELRAD) Read the rest

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