View Full Version : How could a "toon" seduce you?
Just thought I'd opt for a lighter topic here, but one that still does apply. Since I'm asking about writing; please bear with me (without asking you to bear me at all, of course...)
With all the money thrown at animation, it galls me that the medium is still greatly limited in *perceived* demographic/subject matter/theme, rather than looking at it's potential as merely a medium, like film-stock. In live action, we have everything from John Waters to John Huston to John Carpenter to Jim Jarmouche. Not really the case in animation, despite some noteworthy exemptions (Ralph Bakshi, are you out there?). Thus...
In regards to story/plot/characters/theme/cauasality/(anything else; you fill in the blank), what would make YOU go-to/rent a new animated film? Forget the stuff that's nothing more than some toy/game commercials. Forget South Park. Forget Pokemon and the latest ad for CGI. Pretend the tech has just been invented, that Hasbro doesn't exist, and someone asked you for your professional and aesthetic opinion.
And I am looking forward to *everyones'* answer, no matter the context. Even if it's as simple as "more plot, less critters". Or vice versa. But I am particularly looking forward to the replies of those that almost never watch toons. And I think you know why.
Leandro and Lil, Nem and Tony, Bill and WCM, Steve and Crash, are ya'll out there?
"Ya'll". Ack. That's what I get for checking on the food thread... Where're dem croc patties...?
(fill in oddly-amusing emoticon here) kosk
08-12-2000, 09:56 AM
Ever heard of Lara Croft?
As for me, I am not inclined to see an animated film unless word of mouth indicates it is really good. I thought the two "Toy Story" films were fantastic. There was plot, structure, interesting characters and even subtle "adult" humour. (Remember Mr. Potatohead taking off his lips and kissing his own rear?)
Japanese anime stories can be extremely difficult to follow sometimes. The plots are too convoluted and sometimes I have trouble differentiating one character from another. Some of the episodic anime films do not stand alone, you have to be familiar with the earlier episodes to understand what's going on.
I haven't seen "Titan AE" or "Dinosaurs" yet, but I will probably rent them later.
08-12-2000, 11:37 AM
Uh ... well ... huh ... and then ... ah ... let's see ... ah ... I'd really like to give you a good answer, Kosk, but I can't think of much of anything that would seduce me. But, I'm not your audience anyway. I've never been much of mainstream anything. Even off the mainstream mainstream.
If I heard enough about how unusual a toon was, or enough people whose opinion I respected told me how wonderful it was, I might, maybe, go/rent.
I would go/rent something of yours if I knew how and what, but that would be for totally different reasons.
Thanks, guys. Both answers were enlightening. And you did, actually, give me a fab answer Lil: "mainstream/non-mainstream" speaks volumes to me.
I mean, the reason I finally saw Iron Giant was by dint of the 1950's witch-hunting/"we're fascist but won't admit that we're fascist" subtext. The fact that there was a giant robot involved was incidental to what made the film a winner to me. And my favourite toon-film is still "American Pop". No robots, no monsters, no "WWF" crap trying to sell toys... Just the tale of a family-line, from the Pogroms to the 80's, and how music exalted and wounded it's members.
The fact is, I don't like much animation (or comics for that matter). I like what people COULD do with them, not what is most often DONE. I think John Waters would be a lot funnier in toon-form than live action. And I think Ed Wood would have been been remembered differently if he'd had an animation department backing him. That kinda stuff.
It'll be interesting to see what anyone says. But thank you both for the POV's.
May your day yield unexpected delights, kosk
08-12-2000, 01:52 PM
Jessica Rabbit can seduce me anytime.
Kosk, here's my analysis of animation in the 21st Century:
Besides having a compelling story and all the other things any movie needs, animation should show characters and action that can't be done (or done as well) with live actors and computer generated special effects.
Think about it. The Disney Classics, "Alice in Wonderland", "Dumbo", "Pinochio", "Cinderella", and "Jungle Book" all have fit this criteria. "Snow White" does to a lesser extent (the dwarves could be done live, but they're done so well animated). "Sleeping Beauty", if made today, could be done better with live actors and ILM special effects. Of the Disney classics, "Sleeping Beauty" has held up the least well.
Apply this analysis to the newer Disney animateds; "The Lion King", "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast", and "Mulan" have characters or action that would have done less well live with special effects. "Tarzan" could have been done with live action and special effects, but probably was better done animated. "Pocahontas" could have been done live action, and might have been better.
"Toy Story" I and II are examples of animation that works in this modern age. "A Bugs Life" (a "Seven Samurai" spoof?) is another. A really funny story. Characters and action that can't be done live. I didn't like "Antz" at first, but it's growing on me now that I've seen it 6 times. Again, characters and action that could not have been done with live actors.
Consider "The Last Unicorn". Although still one of my favorites, when I watched it recently, I kept thinking how much better it would be redone with live actors and today's computer generated special effects. Just imagine the battle between the Unicorn and the Red Bull done by ILM.
"Dinosaurs" didn't work for me despite the incredible animation technique. Lets face it, the more realistic the dinosaur looks, the less I want it to talk. See "Land Before Time" (the original, skip the sequels) instead.
Another great animated feature is "The Brave Little Toaster"; I've seen it a dozen times. It has a really compelling story, and characters and action that could not be done well with special effects. (Skip the sequels; they stink.)
Titan AE stunk big time. The story didn't hold water, and, given today's special effects technology, I wondered why it hadn't been filmed live action. A waste of ink and a pity since Don Bluth has made several classics ("The Secret of NIMH", "An American Tail", "Land Before Time", "All Dogs Go to Heaven").
Look at the comic book heros; "XMen", "Batman", "Superman". All done live with fantastic sets and special effects. Would we accept an animated Spiderman today? Of course not.
Kosk, I hope this makes sense and is helpful.
Makes total sense, is quite cogent, and very helpful! :)
BTW, what type of story/theme would you like to see in animation that hasn't been done yet?
08-12-2000, 07:11 PM
You'll have to forgive me, Kosk, I got some type of strange "fuzzy brain" thing going on right now, but I'll give it a go...
...don't draw all the attention to the fact that it's animated. Suck me in with some crazy/interesting characters and one helluva story. Even though I never saw it (because I'm lazy when it comes to going to movie theaters these days) I always wanted to see CHICKEN RUN...I found the premise fascinating (and I'm a big fan of Nick Park's stuff for whatever odd reason), and I sensed that the movie was about something greater...a "universal theme" if you will, as well as being amusing in other aspects. I also liked Animal Farm, Charlotte's Web and Watership Down. In all of those, it seems to me that the story enhanced the animation in some strange way...
I also dug this anime "Evangelion", at least the last few episodes that I saw.
I'll be back when I'm thinking a little clearer.
08-12-2000, 07:50 PM
I would like to see a serious animation of WWII. Very heavy drama piece with all its horrors on a wide scale.
Has it ever been done. A serious look at war through animation.
Another animation that would do well I think would be a
gangster/road genre with teenage hot rodders fighting crime. Just a thought.
gdover alias rebel
08-12-2000, 08:14 PM
Darker themes...explore darker themes, perhaps with a satirical bent...
Nothing to me is more engrossing in animation than characters you like (for some reason animals work great for me) thrust into some rather nasty situations that are synonymous with very real human tragedies. Though, I'm also in favor of a degree of subtlety. Thus exploring darker themes is good, but too horrifying of a storyline, or one where the focus is on the horrific nature of the situation would somehow be a turn-off for me. Imply slaughter, in other words...much more powerful than actually seeing it, imho.
Humor mixed with pathos, and an understanding of the "larger" universe through some disturbing event, where the characters (animals?) are thrust out of the confines of their little world, of their limited perspective...I think that type of thing comes across great in animation when it's pulled off...
I'm still a little fuzzy...I'll be back (not a threat)
Again, a very insightful and well-stated answer.
I agree with the Darker/but not a Gore-Fest point (we can leave that to Bava JR. and Fulci; just imagine THOSE guys running an animation studio...shudder!). The piece I've been working on for several months involves four folks going to Hell, but we ain't talking Dante's Inferno here... No intestines, no flaying... But the old self-image? Well, Let's just say that I hope ol' Torquemada would wince at what I've written and storyboarded out ...
In a subtle manner, of course...
Dig Ya, kosk
08-13-2000, 04:01 PM
Think about Keanu Reeves and how he acts. He's got his dumbfounded look, his "holy @#%$!" look, his "I haven't got a clue" look, his....well, guess that's about it.
Now think of a an animated version of Keanu Reeves. Surprise, sadness, fear, joy, longing, pain of loss, etc, etc. Wow! THe animated Keanu could win an Oscar for best actor.
Chicken run put the whole gamut of emotions on plasticine chicken heads and made us care about these dumb birds. And Jessica Rabbit really was sexy (especially when I noticed she wasn't wearing any panties).
This, I think, is the core of the seduction of animation.
Maybe I should have used the term "entice" rather than "seduce"... ;)
Since Jessica Rabbit never did for me... :O
Sophia Loren (at her "healthiest")... now that's a different story... :smokin
I completely agree about Keanu. As with many tangents that could spring from your point... There was a rumour of a live-action Scooby-Doo a ways back...
I don't think so. Unless they get the lead singer from the Spin-Doctors to play Shaggy and Jim J. Bullock to play Fred. And Janeane Garofalo as Thelma/Velma
Though the idea of it, if directed by J. Waters, could be fun...
But here's an idea. How's about H.R. Puffnstuff as a toon, designed by Fulci and/or Argento, and directed by them crazy brothers who gave us the Hudsucker Proxy and Crimewave, and produced by Tim Burton? (Like none of the aforementioned guys aren't doing toons in live-action anyway... ;) )
'Cuz if they don't do it, I will. :evil
08-13-2000, 04:57 PM
I think I saw a deal for that. Sid and Marty Croft, right?
You are aware that "The Bugaloos" is in production.
How about a feature length Felix the Cat?
Rough and Ready?
Or has that troika of bombs, "Dudley Dooright", "Boris and Natasha", and "Rocky and Bullwinkle" soured the TV-cartoon-series-to-feature-film market?
08-13-2000, 07:10 PM
PteranoDon - I bought the video of Roger Rabbit and discovered a few frames missing. Guess which ones?
Sid and Marty Krofft, correct.
As for the Bugaloos, without Martha Rae (or, filling her shoes, Glenn Close), it'll be the equivalent of eating fried mozzarella cheese-sticks, followed by cheese-stuffed jalapenos, washed done with Jaegermeister and sour milk.
The antagonist is the keystone in the cathedral of such material, I reckon... Then again, whomever bought the rights could always hire R. R. Stamos (from the X-Men) to play the female "heavy", and regardless of quality, it would sell tickets...
May Joe Bob Briggs take over all of Turner's stations, kosk
08-14-2000, 01:39 AM
Well I watch toons, but I think I have an idea why animation is so limited here in North America as opposed to say, in Japan. Over here its very popular with children both in the form of Saturday morning or after-school cartoons and Disney/Dreamworks animated features. However once kids hit the teen years they start to move away from cartoons, perceiving it as a "kids thing." Then once they reach late teens early adulthood it becomes cool to watch cartoons again, often as a result of discovering Japanese anime which is targeted toward a more mature audience. Animation is better established over in Japan being oriented toward various age groups whereas in the west people think of it as something for kids. Comics used to be in the same situation until some writers began to deal with adult themes and the advent of "graphic novels." The problem is comics are alot cheaper to produce than animated films so it was probably a bit easier to take some of those risks and push the envelope. My point is that the perception of comics has changed quite a bit and I think it is an example that has to be followed in animation.
Titan A.E. is an example of a film that did badly in my view because the people making it misunderstood the market. It tried to appeal to too broad an audience (kids right through to adults) when the North American market is very specific right now. It wasn't the sort of thing that had the same appeal as a Disney or Dreamworks feature for children but it still seemed a bit too oriented toward younger viewers to draw in the older audience which is used to the more adult themes of Japanese Animation. I think animators have to follow the lead of the comics industry and try to move the medium away from the perception that it is only for children by creating stories which are definitely oriented toward an adult audience. Not necessarily through sex and violence, but through the maturity and depth of the themes they explore. Once animation is freed of the stigma of being "just for kids" and is acknowledged as having something to offer adults it will have expanded its market and also be able to fill in the gap that teenagers represent in its audience. They will no longer look on cartoons with disdain once they have the credibility teens perceive in anything that is for adults. Once animation is regarded as a medium with viewers of all ages it will open things up for films like Titan A.E. which I think was hoping to tap into the ageless audience which the Star Wars films enjoy. On the other hand maybe it was just a bad movie, but I think my point still stands.
08-14-2000, 02:03 AM
Me thinks Nem is working on a book of essays on film. And he's testing the first drafts on us. Uh ... uh ... quick back to thread ... uh ... uh ... Nem, Tony and Kosk doing Celtic dances ... yeah, that's it ... uh ... animated of course. Get on it Kosk.
Oh, and Gig crosses the fame doing cartwheels, Bill W.C, follows with balletic leaps, the "alters" sing back up and do kick dances. Hey, I'm getting into this. How do I draw frames? Oh I can't draw. Oh, Gawd, I'm outta here.
In a way, you're preaching to the choir, here (since I've been published in comics since '86). Got my Sandman in '93. So I dig what yer preachin', Bruddah Uriel. However...
At the risk of sounding banausic or Philistine (but what the hell; it's late) it only takes $35,000 or less to launch the first issue of any comic, and that includes over $8,000 of promotion and advertising to seduce the distributors (make THEM happy, you win; piss them off, you DIE. No middle ground). That doesn't happen with movies/animation. Comics don't need to go to festivals to get picked up. And after the comic gets rolling, it gets cheaper, due to the fiscal-facts of the printing/publication realities. That's how DC/Vertico stays in business.
(BTW, you do know that Hellblazer is soon to meet its final end? As in no more issues? Rumour has it that Preacher faces the same axe...)
And Dark Horse only began because M. Richardson wanted to publish properties for the specific purpose of development.
That's the only reason The Mask happened. It was planned.
That's the real adult/mature nature of comics. The MONEY. DC/Vertigo is owned, lock stock and barrel, by Time-Warner. I know. I've worked for them. And Dark Horse.
But a toon is a different matter. Even S Park and Angela Anaconda have sizable production-crews, even though they didn't start out with more than a few people. But that doesn't work once something gets "picked-up". That's when the Koreans, Irish and Australians get called in (just ask Don Bluth). Since people only pay for what can come out every day/week, or what can maintain for 2 hours and sell the action-figures/trading cards.
But what we have *here* is a "chicken or egg" thang, muh man. Adults don't go to the flicks because the Yank variety is geared to kids, but the Yank variety is geared to kids because adults don't shell out the ticket-duckets. Although the irony is that many adults shell out more duckets for toys than kids do... Me? I buy paint and pencils.
So the essence is the question of what would get an adult to watch a toon, not why they haven't bothered (yet). Aside from anime (or any Pixar/Dreamworks crap; I hate schmaltz) what (in a toon) would make you wanna buy that popcorn? I mean, what plot elements, themes, "rating", etc.?
Enquiring minds wanna know.
Then again, I'm sending my current characters to Hell anyway, regardless (since they're slackers, and they Deserve it. But Azmodeus, at least for now, is taking more leaves out of Rob Reiner's book than Wes Craven's tome...)
Got some emoticons for this one?
Prayin' ye get sold til ye don' need Regis Filbin, kosak
Upon THAT suggestion, all I can say is...
When I'm through with my current piece, we might just see some jigs, followed by some cartwheel gigs, followed by some Martell Swan Lake manouevers, followed by....
Oh, the living hell of having an animatic artist "on board"...
Coal in my stocking. Definately coal.
But geological mileage may vary... ;)
08-14-2000, 11:31 AM
Frankly, Kosk, animated films will be big in North America once female nudity in 'toons becomes acceptable. My opinion, not necessarily my desire.
This is the only time I can recall wishing that you were wrong, Bill. But you're right. So...
Are we talking anime type nudity, American Pie type nudity, or could one get away with something less sexually oriented? Almost National Geographic?
(grumbling) I have a bad flashback to 80's teen-romp flicks starting in my head like a headache...
08-14-2000, 12:51 PM
My guess is the anime type is not far off. A couple of seconds of topless girls here and there. This is standard fare for Japanese television cartoons. They even have live nude game shows, but there is always a towel for the nethers.
08-15-2000, 04:26 AM
What about Bode's Cheech Wizard. As originally done, not some Bakshi crapamation. Nymphets and all.
Or Dirty Duck for that matter. Oops! Forgot, Disney owns all ducks in clothes.
Bode's work would be a great idea... let's hope that his heir (Mark, his son) would like it. Though I think he's turned down deals before, but that was a long time ago...
08-15-2000, 01:17 PM
You know that girl in HEAVY METAL who swims through the...
Oh, Now I understand the question.
I watch animated films already. But I think 99% of the USA thinks that cartoons are for kids. I think shows like THE SIMPSONS and KING OF THE HILL have trouble finding an audience (I know they're hits, but I've talked to people my age who think it should be a crime to have a cartoon aimed at kids with such subversive subject matter... aimed at kids? Who said SIMPSONS was aimed at kids?). But those shows are the key to theatrical animation expanding. We saw that with SOUTH PARK: B,L,U.
But here's a weird thing that you may not want to hear: Of all the animated films I see, I like the Disney ones. Not because they're sappy & happy, but because they have real stories and real characters and are very well written. Anime may make sense to people in Japan, but I have trouble following it sometimes... and the characters seem flat and uncomplicated. I've never seen anything in anime with the emotional power of the scene from that Disney girl warrior flick where she talks to her dad on the bench. Can't recall the name of the film, but I'll never forget the scene.
So maybe part of the problem is that "adult animation" needs to grow up.
But also: Why is this story animated? What does animation add to this story that would be lost if it were live action? If an audience has to stretch their minds to accept that these drawings are people, you'd better give them a damned good reason why.
- Bill (will watch just about any film)
But first, my opinions on Disney range from flick to flick. I think Pinocchio "has it all". Disney had the guts to show that rotten puppeteer as daemoniac a he was in the book, and Monstro had all the power and magnitude of Moby Dick. So it was well rounded, as with many of the features (I never liked the shorts though). So I wouldn't laugh at your POV on Walt. Most of the complaints I've heard are that he actually went too far in some cases (like the fact that when the Haunted House was tested, the kids were so traumatized that they toned it down and the ride wasn't opened to the public until many years afterwards).
As for anyone who made those Simpsons observations you mentioned, I'm just gonna mutter "What planet did their ship come from", then "Tracey Ullman", and bite my tongue.
RE the Japanese, well, when you look at their fine-art, and remember that they invented the Haiku while the Occidental Cultures developed the opus... I think that they they just look at minimalist characters as symbolically as they do their fine-art depictions of trees. Me? I prefer Botticelli, Velasquez and Caravaggio.
"Why is this story animated?" You mean mine, or in general? (One of the problems in net-convo's is the problem in differentiating between the personal use of "you" and the genitive). Where you being rhetorical? If you or anyone else means my story, I'll be happy to answer that in context. Though I will answer the general context version first.
But to shorten the post, I'll do it below.
Much gratitude for answering in such a fashion, Bill.
Fulfillment to all, kosk
08-15-2000, 02:20 PM
Well, we all knew you weren't a "minimalist."
Wink, wink, off-topic, emoticon, emoticon.
08-15-2000, 02:29 PM
General question... I haven't read YOUR story, so I can't comment on it.
I think people are more accepting of animation if it concerns things that are fantastic. Things that could not be done well live action. That covers a lot of ground. I think the BATMAN BEYOND series on the WB (caught a couple of episodes) works (for adults) because it takes place in a world that isn't quite real. I think an animated MATRIX would have been accepted (in fact, they might consider a MATRIX animated show for HBO based on some of the material on their website).
PS: Strange how old children's films, animated or not, are more frightening and realistic than the current crop. Anything in current kids films that can compare to those flying monkeys?
08-15-2000, 03:58 PM
Good point, WCM. I remember seeing 101 Dalmations (animated) last time it was out and several under 5 y/o's were quite terrified by Cruella DeVille.
And don't forget Bambi.
Complete agreement, and just a few more reasons...
Budget, bad actors, easier "reads", re-takes in audio (to match animated sequences) are simpler than reshooting a live-action scene (and less costly), the body language is not dependant on any thespian, every body-type/look is exactly what you want (since it's drawn), effects like aging don't require Dick Smith or Rob Bottin, Critters don't need Stan Winston. The actors don't need stunt-doubles or have to train in the Martial arts. No insurance required, no zoning fees to pay for locales. No sets to be constructed.
As for Aesthetic reasons, some things will always be better as toons than live, particularly in the realm of satire. Look at Godzilla vs. Bambi. Would that have been as funny "live", or even in CGI? No. Because it's a sweet, widdle deer getting stopmped by a giant lizard foot. When it's drawn? Hilarious. When "acted", or made "realistic" by CGI geeks? PETA will track you down and make you wish YOU were Bambi.
The point works in reverse, too. Johnny Mnemonic (with the dreaded Keanu and Ice T; god, there's a cast) was MSTK fodder as a live action at best. Because it was directed by a guy who had only been a gallery artist beforehand and the budget could only afford a smidgeon of what the story needed (in both cast and resources) to make it anything more than laughable. The same money, spent on an animated version, could have yielded a classic, rather than a corndog.
And toons don't get shelved because a "name" refuses to commit or become "attached". Nobody watched Iron Giant because Jennifer Anniston or Vin Diesel were in it. The attendance would have been the same if they'd bowed out.
But *most* importantly, "touchy" subjects are more acceptable in toons than in live action. There was a Bugs Bunny toon were a baby wouldn't shut up. Bugs dealt with it deftly: He shoved a bottle of Laudenum (liquid opium, prescribed by doctors for mothers and infants all the way up until the 50's) down the baby's throat. Like that's gonna fly in live-action? Hell, that specific Bugs toon doesn't ever get shown anymore. Thanks, Berkely and Santa Cruz.
I mean, you mentioned S Park. Whether we look at the movie or the series, what do you think would happen if anyone tried that material with "live/real" kids?
Can't you just already hear Tipper Gore intoning an incantation to raise Senator MacCarthy back from the Dead?
And the flying monkeys were good scarey value... :) kosk
08-16-2000, 12:19 AM
Kosk, I'd like to see some of your work. please email a url to email@example.com
08-16-2000, 02:18 AM
Kosk et al:
You'll all be happy to learn that "Scooby Doo" is soon going into production at Warner Bros., as reported in Variety.
Well, I'm not surprised, Sin WB and Hanna Barbarra are now the same company. I assume it's gonna be a toon and not the live action version of previous rumour?
And how about The Funky Phantom?
As I said in the other thread, I'll e-mail you some stuff. Some are jpegs, and some are tiffs; I don't know which ones will open, but I'll give it a go... ;)
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