Tag Archives: Animation

Geeky Valentines weekend shenanigans

This past weekend my girlfriend Jaime and I took the opportunity of some downtime to check out a couple of cool sites in and around Baltimore.  I’m still seeing a lot of the city for the first time and we lucked into a pair of free tickets to Geppi’s Entertainment Museum right across the street from the Orioles Stadium, so we thought it would be fun to head downtown and check it out.  I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect.  I only heard the words comic museum and toys, but I was intrigued.  When we pulled up to the building on Saturday morning it was a little unassuming, but as soon as you walk inside you’re bombarded by large-scale banners of all sorts of pop culture fun from 50s era tin toys to recreations of famous comic covers done in a more modern style.  Once you get past the front desk you’re greeted by an amazing hallway covered from floor to ceiling with rare film one-sheets, product merchandising ephemera, and some pretty inspiring artwork (including a couple breathtaking conceptual pieces from the ’66 era Batman TV series!

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The museum is broken up into a series of seven or eight individual exhibits including a comic book retrospective, a turn of the century comic strip showcase, a local Baltimore pop culture collection, a collectible and art show centered on African American works, and a number of rooms full to the brim of collectibles and antiques divided by decade.  There’s so much amazing stuff on display that you could probably spend an hour in each of the rooms and not see everything in one visit.  The comic retrospective alone is worth the price of admission as there are some truly “amazing” pieces in the collection including copies of Amazing Fantasy #15 and Action Comics #1!

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In addition to some of the heavy hitter powerhouse comics above, there was a really nice collection of 50s & 60s era EC, Atlas, and Dell comics, as well as a bunch of those really cool mini hardcover digests from the 30s and 40s featuring The Shadow, Buck Rogers, and Tarzan.  There were some nice Esiner Spirit inserts which I’ve also never seen in person before.  I loved getting a chance to see some of the rarer formative books in person for the first time, but it was also rad to see copies of more modern books like issue one of Eastman & Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or the wall of 90s era books featuring all sorts of gimmicks and cover enhancements (that I bought into back in the day hook, line, and sinker!)

In the comic strip exhibit I was a little bummed that there were no copies of Little Nemo in Slumberland, but there was a surprise that totally made up for it.  I was really excited to see a couple of Winsor McCay Gertie the Dinosaur drawings.  I mean talk about animation history!

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All of the comic book stuff was really neat, but the rooms where my eyes really lit up were the rooms dedicated to pop culture collectibles and toys.  From Disney, Popeye, and Little Orphan Annie all the way to the Transformers, Masters of the Universe and (gasp!) Vanilla Ice, there was something for everyone on display.  

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Some of my favorite older pieces included a LOA decoder pin (which of course elicited a series of A Christmas Story quotes from both Jaime and I) and a really nice collection of vintage PEZ dispensers (featuring three of my favorite Universal Monsters)…

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There was also a display of Monkees memorabilia, teen magazines and and a sweet insulated lunchbox that I would have killed for as a kid.  I grew up watching the series on Nickelodeon and for all intents and purposes they were my first favorite band (with a little competition form the Beach Boys and Weird Al.)

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As far as the more recent stuff, the toys and collectibles that I have some true nostalgia for, Geppi’s did not disappoint.  Though I wouldn’t call the collection exhaustive, it was diverse enough to be really fun and it featured items that don’t tend to get the same spotlight shown on them.  So whereas they had a very nice mint in package Transformers Jetfire, as well as an Optimus Prime and Grimlock, I was honestly more excited to see their collection of Super Friends (Nabisco) and Star Wars cookie and cereal boxes!  I remember collecting the Super Friends boxes for awhile around the time that the first Burton Batman film hit theaters…

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There was also a nice collection of vintage MOC Dukes of Hazzard toys.  Not quite as obscure, but still not as popular as the Transformers.

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I loved seeing these because of it just drives home how cool the impending Funko/Super7 ReAction figures are that are about to start hitting the pegs.   In addition to all this there were also some weirder pieces and arrangements in the collection that showcased the sense of humor of the curators.  Whether it was the BFF placement of the Buger King and Ronald McDonald or the oddly suggestive C3P0 tape dispenser, Geppi’s surely has a lighter side to their exhibits…

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C3P-Wow

If you’re in the Baltimore area and you want a fun place to spend and afternoon I’d highly suggest stopping into Geppi’s Entertainment museum.  There’s a to to see and they also have a pretty decent pop culture gift shop.  I could leave with out a swell ThunderCats Mumm-ra vinyl Funko Pop figure!

On Sunday we braved the icy streets and made our way further south into Washington, DC, specifically the Georgetown area so that we could visit a cinematic landmark I’ve wanted to see for a long time.  For those of you that are horror fans, you’ve probably already figured out what I’m talking about by the mere suggestion of film and georgetown, but for those who might not know, The Exorcist was filmed in and around this area back in 1972.  I’ve wanted to visit this town and walk the staircase where Father Karras took his fatal plunge in the film…

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Let me just say that picking the dead of winter to visit this site was a precarious decision indeed.  The streets leading to the steps were on steep hills and coated in inches of thick slippery ice.  Luckily the steps themselves were pretty much ice-free, so we could still traverse them.  Also, in an odd turn of events, Jaime had secretly cued up the Exorcist theme so she could be set to play it as we walked the staircase, and before she could actually play it it automatically started playing as we approached it!  Maybe there’s a weird hidden glitch where based on your GPS Spotify will surprise you with rad music cues.  Or maybe Pazuzu possessed her phone :p

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All in all is was an amazing Valentines day weekend…

A Super Fun Show…with Learning!

I recently stumbled across a pretty fun web series created by and staring Lexie Kahanovitz called Super Fun Show with Learning!  It’s a weird mix of animation, puppetry, and live action comedy that takes a dystopian, cartoon-addled look at the millennial generation’s experience.  Imagine Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by way of Kidd Video filtered through the lens of David Cronenberg.  After being downsized by a cyberpunk middle manager who only talks in corporate-speak, Sandy Childs, the heroine of the series, has to figure out how to survive with no money, mounting debt, and an addiction to personal electronics.

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There series homages Pee Wee’s Playhouse and Videodrome, with a little bit of Who Framed Roger Rabbit thrown in for good measure (specifically the tone of the shoe-melting scene.)  With an NES chiptunes soundtrack and the a color palette straight out of Windows 95 MS Paint, the first episode is a trippy look at modern problems with a playful injection of 80s/90s era nostalgia.  It reminds me a lot of another independent film project I had the opportunity to preview recently, Don Thacker’s Motivational Growth (which I’ll be talking about in more detail over at the Cult Film Club soon.)

The first episode is available for free on youtube, and Lexie and crew are hard at work on the second installment and have a kickstarter going to try and secure some funding.  I know I’m curious to see where the series goes, an she totally secured my dollars when she states in the KS video that the second episode will feature a sequence inside the TV that they need “…to make an amazing Tron suit…” for, so I backed the project.  If you dig what you see maybe you’ll be interested in helping to fund it too.  I will say, though it’s more or less pg-13, it’s more on the Videodrome side of things than say Kidd Video, so be warned ;)  If you decide back the project, leave a comment and tell ‘em Branded sent ya!

Thank you Mr. Scheimer.

I never had the opportunity to meet Lou Scheimer and I regret that I was never able, in person, to say those two little words that can’t even begin to express how I felt, “Thank you.”

Like so many kids who grew up or came of age in the 70s and 80s, cartoons were the cornerstone of our lives. For some maybe only during those formative years pre-K to third grade or so, but for others like me, cartoons have been an essential part of my life for over three decades. As a kid cartoons were an alarm clock on weekends, as well as my introduction to comedy, tragedy, drama, and heroes and villains. They were my inspiration to pick up a pencil and start drawing. They were an escape, a comfort. They helped instill in me a moral compass. They were/are magic. Over my lifetime there are a handful of studios that have greatly affected me to different degrees, Sunbow, Hanna Barbera, Ruby Spears, Disney and DiC, but at the end of the day there really was only one that helped to define my voice as a person and that was Filmation. And Lou Scheimer basically was Filmation.

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I’m well aware that no one person is solely responsible for a studio, and I have a very long list of artists, animators, writers, producers, voice actors, secretaries and interns to be grateful for, but from all the documentaries, interviews, and articles I’ve read, Lou Scheimer really did put his all into Filmation and so many of his ideas and principals shine through in every production they released. He wasn’t just a figurehead; he was involved and invested in the art that was being created. The more familiar you become with Scheimer, the more and more you see him in the Filmation stable of cartoons, not only in just tone, but in all aspects of production. The most obvious example is his contribution of voice-work for so many characters I grew up listening to. In so many of the live action series Scheimer provided both credits narration and was constantly heard breathing life into robots and creatures, over intercoms and on computers. He was Dumb Donald on Fat Albert, Bat-Mite and the super computer on Filmation’s Batman. He played Tracey the Gorilla in Filmation’s Ghostbusters, was Zero, the off-screen boss from the live action Ghostbusters show from the 70s, and was Sandstorm on Bravestarr. But to me he was one of the major players that helped to define the vocal sound of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra Princess of Power voicing so many of my favorite characters including Stratos, Orko, Trap-Jaw, King Randor, Swift Wind, Kowl, Mantenna, Grizzlor, Fisto, Spikor, Two-Bad, Moss Man, and the Attack Trak computer just to name a few. Scheimer’s voice has been with me in one form or another for practically my entire life.

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Scheimer was also instrumental in keeping animation in the US, and was one of the last hold outs with a studio that had all aspects of creation in-house for the majority of their run. Though a lot of people like to make fun of the studio for its budgetary restraints and re-use of animation, the work, to my eyes, is still beautiful and well worthy of study and deconstruction. I’m still really proud of the two episodes of the Saturday Supercast where Jerzy Drozd, Kevin Cross and I took a stab at breaking down the Masters of the Universe cartoon (Part one and Part two.)

If nothing else, I’m glad that Scheimer had a chance to see the impact that he had on so many lives and that over the last decade we fans have been treated to wonderful releases of a good majority of the Filmation library on DVD. These initial releases, the ones produced by BCI Eclipse, are also chock full of lengthy documentaries on Filmation, the shows, and Scheimer and his family. He made it out to conventions to meet with the fans and together they celebrated a lot of great animation art and childhood memories. Andy Mangels, who produced most of the special features content on those DVDs, also sat down with Lou and co-wrote his biography, Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation, so for anyone interested in his story, there is plenty to delve into.

It’s a little late, but I guess this is my way of saying thank you Lou, for all you did, for living the life that you did and making mine immeasurably better off for it. Thank you.

31 Days of Monsters, Days 16 & 17: Cute Little Gobllins and one ugly Gorgon!

Alright, with today’s two monster animation cels I’ve finally gotten caught up on my 31 Days of Monsters Countdown!  These cover days 16 & 17, and once again features creatures from both the Filmation and Real Ghostbusters cartoons.  First up is this cel/production photocopy background from the Filmation show featuring the main gorgon herself, Medusa!

Unfortunately Eddie Spencer, Jr. is part of the photocopy in this image, but it does go really well paired with the Medusa cel (and seeing as how he’s holding up a mirror I can pretty safely assume that this is an accurate background image.)

Though it would have been nice to get a cel that showed her full face, I’m going to go ahead and make the claim that I didn’t want to inadvertently turn any Branded readers into stone.  Yeah, that’s the ticket (said in my best imitation of Jon Lovitz…)

Next up we have this cute little guy from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon…

Unfortunately I can’t quite place this character from a specific episode at the moment.  I’ve been watching so many episodes lately that my brain is becoming fried and resembles a ghost trap after it’s just slammed shut and is still smoking…

So come back each day this month for a new monster animation cel, and also, for more Halloween-y fun all month long, be sure to check out the Countdown to Halloween website for the complete list of sites participating in this year’s spooky fun.  John Rozum has been working hard compiling the list, and it looks like there is a lot of awesome sites already signed up.

31 Days of Monsters, Days 14 & 15: Of Witches and Brat-A-Rats!

Still playing catch-up this week, so I have another double feature of monster animation cels to share today.  Being the 16th, we’re officially at the halfway point of the season, a time to start making those last minute costume plans and to start looking for sales on jumbo bags of candy to hand out to the kids!  Also, I’ve gone though the responses to the Monster Cereal Prints Scavenger Hunt Contest, and will be sending out notices to the winners via e-mail.  Thanks again to Manny Galán of Cartoon Lagoon Studios for the prize packs and remember that you still have a chance to win a set of these awesome prints (signed by Galán and the voice actors of the Monsters) by heading over to the Strange Kids Club and submitting your very own cereal monster creation!

Back to the monster animation cels though, first up today we have this fun piece from the Filmation Ghostbusters cartoon featuring the whimpering yes-man to mail baddy Prime Evil, Brat-A-Rat!

Voiced by Peter Cullen, Brat-A-Rat is a weird, alien, bat-rat-lizard creature with the ability to levitate.  He’s is to Prime Evil, sort of what Salacious Crumb is like to Jabba the Hut in the Star Wars universe, and ends up tattling on the other ghosts as well as dishing out some of PE’s punishments for failure.  He always reminded me of having a sort of Don Bluth-inspired character design, which is probably why I’m so fond of him…

Next up in today’s double feature we have our second evil Witch of the countdown, Kestrel, who hails from the season five Real Ghostbusters episode “If I Were a Witch Man”, circa 1989…

In the episode Kestrel, a witch imprisoned in a crystal ball by Puritans during the late 1600s, gets free and begins looking for revenge in modern day Lewison (which just happens to be the ancestral town of the Spenglers!)  Kestrel possesses the body of Margaret Prandish, the headmistress of a local girl’s academy that was built upon the Elron Witchcraft Altar where Kestrel was held captive in the crystal ball for centuries.  The above cel has the in-between form that is a mixture of Kestrel and Prandish, and it’s pretty freaky to boot!

So come back each day this month for a new monster animation cel, and also, for more Halloween-y fun all month long, be sure to check out the Countdown to Halloween website for the complete list of sites participating in this year’s spooky fun.  John Rozum has been working hard compiling the list, and it looks like there is a lot of awesome sites already signed up.

31 Days of Monsters, Day 12 & 13: Raul Julia would have made a lovely Bello Micawb…

Ack! I’m so unprepared for this year’s countdown, but it hasn’t hindered me from enjoying the heck out of the season thus far.  Though I missed a couple days this past weekend, I’m not going to sweat it.  I’ll just double up on some stuff as we enter day 15, the half-way point on the countdown this year!  So today I have two spooks to share (well one spook and one creepy dude.)  The first animation cel is of the Addams-Family-inspired character Mr. Bello Micawb (pronounced like “macabre”) from the Real Ghostbusters episode Loathe Thy Neighbor which debuted in November of 1987…

Bello, the patriarch of the Micawb family, is sort of the Gomez Addams/Herman Munster of the family (though he leans much more towards Gomez in design and in the voice acting.)  The episode is one of my favorites, which doesn’t surprise me as Michael Reeves was the main writer listed.  From what I’ve found during my 80s cartoon explorations, Reeves tends to be responsible for some of the better episodes of all the series he wrote for.

The second creature I have today is this adorable purple brute from Filmation’s Ghostbusters episode, The Battle for Ghost Command…

Again, though this fellow came with a production photocopy background, it’s not from the same scene as the actual animation cel I acquired.  As you can see from the below screenshots, I managed to snag a cel that has this grape-colored fur monster right in mid-snack in an alleyway…

  

So come back each day this month for a new monster animation cel, and also, for more Halloween-y fun all month long, be sure to check out the Countdown to Halloween website for the complete list of sites participating in this year’s spooky fun.  John Rozum has been working hard compiling the list, and it looks like there is a lot of awesome sites already signed up.

31 Days of Monsters, Day 11: Deadtime Synergy!

It’s day eleven of the countdown and unfortunately I have another Real Ghostbusters animation cel that I haven’t been able to place in a specific episode.  Sometimes I wonder if I watch too many cartoons to a point where these things get so scrambled in my brain that it’s hard to remember anything.  Anyway, what drew me to this one was that for one, it was a woman (rare on my past Monster countdowns), and two she sort of brought the idea of a zombie Jem to mind.  Granted, she’s not as awesome as this zombie Jem by Christopher Tupa, but still, I like toying with the idea…

Actually, she kind of looks like a cross between Jem and Zombie Geena Davis from the end sequence of Beetlejuice now that I think about it (just without the wedding dress…)

So come back each day this month for a new monster animation cel, and also, for more Halloween-y fun all month long, be sure to check out the Countdown to Halloween website for the complete list of sites participating in this year’s spooky fun.  John Rozum has been working hard compiling the list, and it looks like there is a lot of awesome sites already signed up.

31 Days of Monsters, Day 10: Scared Stiff, er, uh, he’s actually kind of scared melty here…

We’re all the way up to day 10 of the countdown, and one-third of the way though the month of October already.  It seems like the days take forever to pass during September, but once we hit October it just flies by.  Anyway, today I present another Filmation Ghostbusters animation cel, another featuring one of Prime Evil’s main henchmen, the robot ghost Scared Stiff!

Scared Stiff is basically the evil ghost equivalent of C3-P0 from Star Wars, though just as bumbling, harmless and ready to fall apart at the seams during times of stress.  His place is more for comic relief in the series, but as a kid I still enjoyed watching him, especially when he was “destroyed” by the other villains in the show.

So come back each day this month for a new monster animation cel, and also, for more Halloween-y fun all month long, be sure to check out the Countdown to Halloween website for the complete list of sites participating in this year’s spooky fun.  John Rozum has been working hard compiling the list, and it looks like there is a lot of awesome sites already signed up.

31 Days of Monsters, Day 9: Twinkie’s Witch

Day nine brings us our first witch of the countdown (there should be at least two more coming), and I believe the first witch animation cel overall on Branded.  This character didn’t have a name in the series as the episode she hails from, Kitty-Cornered, it one of the more Slimer-centric later season 5 mini-episodes…

She’s referred to as Twinkie’s Witch as she’s the owner of a wish-granting cat named Twinkie who in the episodes is knocked off the witch’s broom and lands on Slimer.  The spud then proceeds to have his wishes granted causing havoc in the firehouse while the Witch looks frantically for her cat.

When I procured this animation cel I ended up receiving a number of tandem cels that feature the witch flying around what I assume is the corner of a building.  Most of the cels were pretty sparse, only featuring her hand or are from her head up (sort of like that Simpsons episode where Bart gets the Scratchy cel with only the floating arm.)  But along with the cels I also received a number of fuller production drawings including the one below featuring the witch noticing that it was snowing around the firehouse…

 

So come back each day this month for a new monster animation cel, and also, for more Halloween-y fun all month long, be sure to check out the Countdown to Halloween website for the complete list of sites participating in this year’s spooky fun.  John Rozum has been working hard compiling the list, and it looks like there is a lot of awesome sites already signed up.

31 Days of Monsters, Day 8: Battly for Belfry!

It’s Day 8 of the 31 Days of Monsters Countdown, and today’s creature is a little more on the cute and harmless side, Belfry from Filmation’s Ghostbusters…

Belfry was introduced in the first episode shortly after the Ghostbusters and their sons imprison Prime Evil in a vault in an abandoned mine shaft.  They make a joke about leaving him in the vault for 100 years, which actually comes to pass.  On the eve of the hundredth year Prime Evil finally gets tired of waiting to be released and starts yelling for help.  Belfry, this tiny, pink, lonely, hog-nosed bat (who strongly resembles Piglet from the Winnie the Pooh series) happens upon the vault and overhears PE’s pleas for help.  Thinking he’s another bat that he can be friends with, Belfry opens the vault and lets Prime Evil free, whose first order of business is to recruit a bunch of ghosts so that they can travel back in time and kidnap the original Ghostbusters.

Belfry is sort of a combination of Cringer and Orko from the He-Man cartoon, archetypes that Filmation used a lot to give the viewer a character that they could glom onto and sort of experience the action through.  He also popped up at the end of every episode with the GB haunted TV, Skelevision, to offer PSA’s and to recount the moral learned in some of the episodes.

So come back each day this month for a new monster animation cel, and also, for more Halloween-y fun all month long, be sure to check out the Countdown to Halloween website for the complete list of sites participating in this year’s spooky fun.  John Rozum has been working hard compiling the list, and it looks like there is a lot of awesome sites already signed up.