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» Animation

Category ArchiveAnimation

Animation & Comic books & Movies 22 Dec 2009 07:34 pm

Heavy Metal: The Movie


When I was a middle-school student, the hottest ticket going for a few months was the animated film Heavy Metal, based on an adult comic book that none of us was supposed to know about, but to which every red-blooded American male in the seventh grade had hazarded a peek when his parents weren’t watching. It was a supposedly sophisticated magazine of fantasy and sci-fi, but most of the stories were just excuses to show women without their clothes. So when we heard an animated movie of the same name was to be released, it was, of course, hotly anticipated.  

One kid in my class shot to instant notoriety because, allegedly, his mom didn’t check the rating and took him to see it, expecting standard Disney fare. He came to school the next week full of stories of violence, mind-bending concepts, and — of course — lots of scantily-clad women. Omitting this last part, I begged my mom to take me, and almost succeeded (”C’mon, how bad can a cartoon really be?” was the extent of my persuasive skills), but she balked at the last minute at that Restricted rating. The closest I would ever come to the movie was a single of Don Felder’s cool “Heavy Metal (Take a Ride)” single, complete with a record sleeve that showed Taarna, the amazonian warrior from the film’s last segment.

Years later, when the film finally became available on VHS, I told my wife it would make a great birthday or Christmas gift. Her experience in buying it was fraught with embarrassment: In one video store, the clerk sniffed and
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Animation & Comic books & Commentary 10 Jul 2009 01:06 pm

Cartoon armchair psychology

Here is my print column from the July 9, 2009, edition of The Review:

You can tell a lot about a person by the cartoon characters he identifies with. *

Somebody who prefers Bugs Bunny over Daffy Duck, for instance, likes to align himself with a winner. The carrot-chomping rabbit always comes out on top, whether he takes on speech-impaired hunters or tough-talking Texans. A Bugs fan is in control, one step ahead of the competition. He never starts a fight, or goes out of his way to look for one, but if he finds himself embroiled, he plays to win.

A person who prefers Daffy fancies himself much smarter than the people who surround him, especially if those people are his bosses or have achieved success where he has not. He attributes his lack of accomplishments to bad breaks and a failure by others to recognize true genius. Daffy always looks to get ahead by taking short cuts, by stealing the spotlight from somebody else, or by resorting to bribery or chicanery. He never realizes that he is his own worst enemy.
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Animation 02 Jul 2009 10:51 am

Patriotic puss


What better way to spend a few minutes this Independence Day weekend than by watching the classic Tom and Jerry cartoon, “Yankee Doodle Mouse”?

Released in 1943, this cartoon with a Cohen score (predominantly “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” but with snatches of “Over There”) won an Oscar. Basically, it follows the plot of almost every other T&J cartoon — Tom wants to eat Jerry, Jerry doesn’t want to be eaten. The usual over-the-top violence is present, the kind that The Simpsons parody with the “Itchy and Scratchy” shorts. Mixed in is a definite wartime patriotism, as Jerry sends communiques back to base explaining his defeat of Tom and asking the war office to send more cats.

When I was middle-school age, the local CBS affiliate, WJW-TV8 (the same station that aired Hoolihan and Big Chuck and later, Big Chuck and Little John — not to mention Ghoulardi) would show these cartoons at 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. on weekdays. My sister and I always watched. We loved the earlier Tom and Jerry shorts and were less enthused with later entries in the series, where the creativity and animation had gone south.

You can see the cartoon here, maybe — the link is a little temperamental.