Tag Archives: Animation

31 Days of Monsters, Day 7: The Scared Crow Spector…

Being as un-prepared for the countdown as I was this year, there are a few of these monster cels that I haven’t been able to pin down and do the proper research on their background.  Today’s little spook is one of these, so for sake of argument I’ll just call him the “scared” crow spector!

Though I’m sure this little spook comes from the Real Ghostbusters series, I’m not sure which episode or the context.  When I picked this one up I was drawn to the interesting design.  It really speaks to the fall, scarecrows, and weird tentacle-d creatures which I tend to flip over.  Hopefully by the time the countdown is over I’ll have figured out how this guy is…

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 6: Sir Trance-A-Lot has already got a Holy Grail. It’s Ver-ary Nice!

Playing a little bit of catch up today (didn’t get this guy posted at midnight like I wanted), but better later in the day than missing it completely I guess.  For today’s monster animation cel I have a really cool frame featuring one of Prime Evil’s main henchmen, Sir Trance-A-Lot!

I absolutely love the character design on STaL, what with his imposing skull face (mirrored on his steed Frightmare) and even his Dali-esque moustache and French-ish accent (provided by the much underappreciated Lou Scheimer.)  I love that as a ghost he’s also sort of like the Sandman from the Real Ghostbusters as his main power is to put people to sleep using his Trance Lance (which has a sawed-off tip and spews a sleep-inducing gas.)

This cel also came affixed to a production photocopy of a background, this one featuring a pretty gnarly-looking castle!

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 5: Poso in honor of Puzo!

Hey boils and ghouls, it’s Friday, Day 5 of the 31 Days of Monsters Countdown here at Branded and I’m slipping back into The Real Ghostbusters territory.  As a continuation of last Wednesday’s post, here’s Poso in all his pink Jabba the Hutt-like glory!

I read a bit of trivia on this character that says his name is an homage to Mario Puzo, the author of the Godfather novel (seeing as how Poso is desperately trying to become the spirit world’s own Godfather.)  We also get another glimpse of Peter Venkman covered in the yellow Psychomagnotheric Slime (originally featured in the live action Ghostbusters sequel) in this cel.  Unlike most of the Real Ghostbusters cels I’ve acquired, this one came attached (with double-sided tape) to a vintage production photocopy of a background, which leads me to believe that they may have used this cel in a reshoot or correction of some sort.  Here’s what it looks like with the background intact (if you look close you can see the darker patches with the double-sided tape near the top of the scan…)

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 4: Jake Kong can run rings around this Colossus!

We’re jumping back over to the Filmation Ghostbusters cartoon for today’s 31 Days of Monsters post.  This cel features Jake Kong Jr. facing off against a giant colossus, and it comes from the episode #13 (production # 68008) titled “A Friend in Need” from 1986.  In the episode, Prime Evil’s boss, Big Evil, decides to take over the organizational duties at Hauntquarters and it’s up to Jake, Eddie and Tracy to team up with Prime Evil to take Big Evil down!

 

This cel is from a segment where Big Evil animates two huge statues laying around Hauntquaters, and sends them after the heroes.  This giant metal colossus is pretty neat and reminds me a bit of the character design of Calibos from the original Clash of the Titans (p.s. world, I hate having to type “original” Clash of the Titans.)  Like most of the Filmation Ghostbusters cels I was able to acquire, this one was accompanied by a vintage production photocopy of the background…

…though in this case the background isn’t accurate (though it was taped to the cels to keep them in place on it which is weird.)  Checking in this episode I can see that the BG is a bit different (though both feature the Hauntquarters setting.)

Either way, I’m glad to have it and honestly, it’s pretty darn awesome even all by its lonesome!

I love the quality in the Filmation backgrounds, it was always an area where they never skimped…

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 3: Venkman gets suited up in Psychomagnotheric Slime and is chaperoned by Shifter!

Well, it’s Day 3, and I’m bouncing back to a couple of animation cels from The Real Ghostbusters featuring Peter Venkman, Luis Tully, and more importantly (to this countdown) Shifter, the greasy ex-stooge of gangster Boss Poso (who will be making an appearance shortly) from the episode Partners in Slime (which originally aired in season 5, 1989.)

This episode is fun because it’s one of the few in the series that calls back to events from the live action movies, in particular the Psychomagnotheric “mood” Slime from Ghostbusters II.  In an effort to become the kingpin of the spectral underworld, Poso kidnaps both Janine and Luis and the only way to get them back is for Shifter to smuggle Peter into Ghost Town (in New Jersey of all places.)  In order for the rouse to work, Peter has to be covered head to toe in the mood slime recovered after the battle with Vigo in GBII so that he can look ghostly and have limited spectral powers (like flight.)  For some reason the slime is yellow in the cartoon instead of the soft bubblegum pink of the film.

I guess in a way, since the slime is almost sentient, today features two ghosts.  I wanted to include this second cel from my collection so illustrate what Peter looks like fully covered in the episode.  Also, you’ll notice a sneak peak at Friday’s Ghost, as we can see a rather large pink tail that belongs to a certain mobster spook…

Also, a quick note about the original pencil drawing that accompanied this second cel.  As someone who loves cartoons, both the final episodes and all the behind the scenes work that goes into creating them, I can’t help but get a little bummed at how these elements were treated after the shows were finished being produced.  Unfortunately, at the time (in the 80s) there wasn’t a huge demand for these cels and pieces of production artwork so it was common to just stack hundreds of them in boxes (cels interspersed with their corresponding production drawing or photocopy of the background artwork) and have them shipped off to an un-climate-controlled storage unit, left to rot for years.  Luckily a lot of the cels and drawings survived, but many became fused together as the paint on the cels melted and re-dried to the drawings underneath.  The below damage isn’t all that severe, but I do have some where the production drawing had to be destroyed in order to get a good scan of the cel.  It always kills me when this happens.  Anyway, off the soapbox I hop…

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 2: Ghost Buggy is Raring to Go!

Alright, it’s day 2 of the 31 Days of Monsters Halloween Countdown, and since I started out with a cel from the Real Ghostbusters yesterday it’s time to switch things up and visit one from Filmation’s Ghostbusters!  I like to start these cel countdowns with stuff that’s either not-so-scary, or with characters that might otherwise be considered one of the good guys.  So, sort of like the Slimer cel, I was thinking of a character that would be sort of similar in the Filmation universe and the one that immediately sprung to mind was Ghost Buggy!

Certainly a “must” for any Ghostbusters outfit worth its salt is a sweet, yet temperamental ride, and Ghost Buggy fits that bit to a T (a haunted Model T that is.)  This southern jalopy is not only sentient, but he can also transform into all sorts of vehicles from a car to a plane, a train, and can even travel through time!  DeLorean, eat your heart out.

One of the aspects that I love about Ghost Buggy is that his face doubles at the logo for the team.  Whereas the Real Ghostbusters cartoon writers and series developers did their best to work in the “No Ghosts” logo specter into the opening credits and interstitials, Ghost Buggy is actually a part of the team in the Filmation series.  In a way GB is almost the ultimate 80s cartoon logo/faction symbol in this manner (think the Autobot, Decepticon, Cobra, and Thundercats logos.)

Anyway, I was lucky enough to score a copy of this cel with one of the vintage Filmation background photocopies, so for once we can put this cel in context of a scene.  Though I’ve yet to get my hands on some of the original Filmation background paintings, these photocopies really go a long way to making me feel like I have a small piece of this cartoon in my collection.

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 1: Slimer’s coming to get you!

Welcome back to another Branded in the 80s Countdown to Halloween!  This year marks my 7th year celebrating the season here on the site and I’m really excited to be able to resurrect the 31 Days of 80s Monster animation cels.  Back in 2009, and again in 2010 I had the opportunity to share a total of 62 Real Ghostbusters monster, ghost and creature animation cels from my personal collection.  This year I was able to dig up 31 new pieces, though I’ve decided to shake things up a bit and alternate between both the Real Ghostbusters and Filmation Ghostbusters cartoons.  Though TRG is arguably the more popular franchise, oddly enough Filmation GB animation cels are much harder to come by.  It’s taken me years to be able to find some, though only enough cels so that I could share them during half of my Halloween-y countdown.  So I thought it would be fun to bounce back and forth.

To get this started though, lets go back to the 31 Days of Monsters roots with this awesome cel featuring everyone’s favorite focused, non-terminal repeating phantasm, or a Class 5 full roaming vapor (who can eat a vending cart full of hotdogs like no one else), Slimer!

I absolutely fell in love with this cel when I stumbled across it.  Not only is Slimer wearing a great Hawaiian shirt, but that demonic expression is great.  I actually ended up donating this exact cel to the recent Strange Kids Club Issue 3 kickstarter to help raise the funds needs to get that comix anthology printed.  So this guy hopefully has found a new loving home where it will be displayed proudly in a “Strange” collection.  Be sure to keep tabs on the Strange Kids Club to get the details on when Issue three will be available for public purchase, as it’s going to be an issue full of fun comics and articles that you won’t want to miss.

As a bonus, here’s a scan of the accompanying pencil sketch that the base animation cel was produced from…

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.

Cartoon Commentary, taking a closer look at King Gorneesh from the Ewoks…

I’ve been on a kick lately going through my collection of ephemera and animation cels looking for my favorite stuff to pull out and frame.  I recently converted our office into the true Branded HQ and archive, and for the first time in 6 years there’s actually stuff on the walls besides action figures.  While sifting through my collection of cartoon cels, I came across this one of Gorneesh, King of the Duloks from the Ewoks cartoon, circa 1985…

I’m a pretty big fan of the design of these bumbling villains in the series.  There’s something about how they visually spar with the shorter, stubbier design of the Ewoks that really works for me. They’re taller, lanky, and much more slimy in appearance, yet they feel like they inhabit the same world I guess, specifically in the cartoon series (I have a hard time imagining them in the live action Star Wars world without them coming off like the Gungans from the prequels.)  Actually, now that I think about it, the Duloks were a sign of things to come in the overall Star Wars universe, design-wise, but I guess I can forgive a lot of their cartooniness when they’re in an actual cartoon.  Hell, there’s an episode of the series where the Duloks big scheme is to steal the fabled Ewok soap so they can take a bath and get rid of their ever present fly infestation!  Maybe it’s hypocritical of me, and I can accept that, though I think there’s a possibility of them being pulled off less like Jar Jar, and more like the characters in say Jabba’s Palace from Jedi if handled by the right creative team.  Hell, the Ewoks don’t come off nearly as cartoon-y in ROTJ as the Gungans so in TPM.

In particular, with King Gorneesh, I love the animal bone armor he was given, and think that the vertebrae headpiece doubling as a Mohawk was a brilliant flourish.  I also love that one of his ears has been scarred, along with his eye; makes the character design seem really imposing, even though he was sort of goofy in the cartoon.

 

I also loved the dark, dank, swamp the Duloks called home.  Again, it’s in drastic contrast to the Ewok’s village in the trees, and reminds me of the Legion of Doom’s hideout in the Super Friends cartoon

 

All in all, whenever I think about the Ewoks series, the first thing that comes to mind is King Gorneesh, as the Duloks were the most striking addition to the mythology that the cartoon introduced.  I remember seeing these Kenner figures on the pegs before I got a chance to see the cartoon and was in awe of a Star Wars villain I’d never been introduced to before.  It’s made the acquisition of the animation cel above one of my favorites too.

Now, if only the animated series would get a proper release on DVD instead of the horrible edit that already exists, I’d be a truly happy Ewoks fan…

Spiriting the Nerd Lunch crew away to the world of Miyazaki!

Though I haven’t recorded an episode of the Branded podcast in awhile, I was lucky enough to be asked back to guest star on another episode of the Nerd Lunch podcast this week.  I’m not sure, but I think I might be on the road to eventually becoming the Charo of the nerdy/pop culture podcasting set.  Crossing my fingers.

Anyway, back to the Nerd Lunch episode, this week’s theme was all about introducing the guys to the work of Hayao Miyazaki, in particular the film Spirited Away. T hough Jeeg, CT, and Paxton have all experienced some level of anime in the past, none of them have really become fans of the genre perse, so I thought Studio Ghibli might be the way to ease them back in and could very well get them into watching some more Japanese animation.  Did it work?  Well you’ll have to listen to the discussion to see.  You can find episode 24 of the Nerd Lunch Podcast on iTunes, or you can download the episode directly!

Taking a look at the first season of the ThunderCats!

So I recently caught the first couple episodes of the newly relaunched ThunderCats cartoon and it got me in the mood to break out the first season of the original show on DVD and watch a bunch of episodes.  Sort of like the Transformers posts last month, I figured I’d run through a bunch of scenes and aspects that I found interesting.  Before I get to that though, I wanted to say that I’m enjoying this new series even though I think it’s making some very weird choices story-wise.  For the most part I really like the changes the writers have made to the back-story, picking a relate-able age for Lion-O, ignoring the Superman origin of escaping the destruction of Thundera, and introducing some familial ties to the characters; heck, even tying in Mumm-Ra to the legend of the Eye of Thundera feels like a move in the right direction of making sense of the enormous amount of ideas presented in the original series. T here are some odd aspects to the story though, that I feel just don’t work.

First, the concept of treating “technology” like magic, as if it were some mystical unknown fairytale, is just weird and goes against the logic of what technology is.  With magic, which is heavily prevalent in the world of the ThunderCats in both series, there is no real basis for why it works or exists because it’s completely fictional and a product of fantasy.  There’s no science or reason to it, it just is.  Technology on the other hand has its roots in reality, in the simplest of tools (levers, wheels and inclined planes), and even though a graphing calculator might be light years ahead of an abacus, it’s a natural progression of the concept.  Granted the tech introduced in the show is of a more advanced and alien design than what we currently have in the world, but it’s not to say it’s stuff that out of the realm of possibility.  It’s the science fiction aspect of the series.  So to treat technology as if it were a fairy tale, a part of fantasy, though interesting, just seems like a plot device full that’s at odds with itself by the very nature of the difference between science fiction and fantasy.

The other weird plot point is that at the end of the first episode we’re left with a group of ThunderCats that are more less seeking vengeance for the destruction of their kingdom and the murder of their people and king.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good vengeance/revenge story, but I think it’s the wrong way to frame a story about heroes.  The Punisher, the Bride from Kill Bill, Lone Wolf and Cub; these characters aren’t heroes and are beyond redemption.  It’s a weird choice to frame the ThunderCats story with this sort of anger and intensity.  Not only does it possibly lead to unjustifiable actions by the “good” characters, it’s also hard to keep that intensity going over the course of an extended series.  Either every story has to tie into Mumm-Ra and the revolt of the Mutants, or there’s going to have to be a pretty darn good reason to stray from the path to have a stand alone story without it feeling like a waste of time.  The beauty of a lot of 80s era cartoons was that they were set up in such a way that you could go anywhere with the characters.

Well, anyway, that’s how the new show’s introduction came off to me.  Getting back to the original series and the point of this article though, first thing’s first, let’s get the naked cat out of the bag so to speak.  By that I mean…

Why were the ThunderCats freaking naked in the pilot episode!?!

I have absolutely no idea why Leonard Starr (the pilot’s writer) or the guys in charge of production on this series decided it would be a good idea to introduce the ThunderCats as a race of seriously naked cat people.  Not only are the characters naked, but they don’t even have any distinguishing genitalia.  They all have creepy Barbie Doll crotches and it’s just weird and disturbing.  I mean I know there is a history of anthropomorphized cartoon animals that aren’t wearing clothes (Porky Pig’s missing pants anyone), and I understand that there are plenty of mammals in nature that just have the fur on their backs, but this goes beyond that.  Way beyond that…

I mean there’s even a point where Jaga takes all the characters aside and gives them each magical clothing (and weapons) stating that “…on our planet you needed no protective clothing or special weaponry…”.  My question then is why is Jaga wearing clothes from the very beginning then?  I almost get the vibe that Jaga’s been traveling off-world or something, which he may very well have, but from a design standpoint it’s just really wonky.  Maybe it was the writer’s intent to showcase the characters getting fancy new uniforms, but then why not introduce them in some common bland tunics or something that they eventually change out of?

  

Honestly, it probably wouldn’t seem so weird if the character design on all the ThunderCats didn’t allude to the idea that their faces, chests and neither regions aren’t covered in fur. Or the fact that though naked, they’re all wearing boots.  It also doesn’t help seeing scenes with Kit and Kat, or a naked Cheetara waking up a very young, naked Lino-O.  Maybe it’s just me, but seeing naked women and adolescent young boys and girls in cartoons for kids is just wrong…

Speaking of weird decisions in the pilot episode, why did Lion-O grow to full adulthood while in the suspension capsule?

  

While preparing for the long journey to Third Earth the ThunderCats are ordered by Jaga to make the trip in a series of suspension capsules that will slow their aging and enable them to survive the trip.  He mentions offhand that some aging does occur, but when their ship crash lands on Third Earth Lion-O has grown to full adulthood and it’s treated like an anomaly.  What’s weird is that none of the other characters seem to have aged at all, including Wiley Kit and Kat who were roughly the same age as Lion-O.  Again, I have a feeling the writers and/or producers wanted the character to be like a child in a man’s body who has to learn to lead the ThunderCats, but their choice to age him up with no real reason was just weird.  How hard would it have been to write a quick segment that showed his capsule being damaged somehow?  I mentioned above that one of the cool aspects to 80s era cartoons was that they were usually set up in such a way that nothing was off the table.  The guys and gals who put this show together really took that to heart though, and these sorts of decisions, to age Lion-O, etc., really point to that freedom to try anything (even if it doesn’t make sense.)

I completely forgot that Wiley Kit and Kat were just as likely to shred some waves as the Autobots and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

One of the first things that Panthro creates for Wiley Kit & Kat are surf/hover boards to give them a little bit more mobility and something to do.  Growing up in Florida it was really hard to not be inundated with the surf and skate culture of the 80s, but I’m not sure how other areas of the country reacted to it.  After moving up to New Hampshire at the end of 1989 I was shocked by the lack of T&C, Billabong, and Maui surf and skate T-shirts at school, and I even ran into some kids that didn’t know what surfing was.  Watching these cartoons though, it’s really weird to see the surfing trend popping up so often.  It makes me wonder how many of the other series feature it?

Sometimes, life REQUIRES arm wrestling!

  

In Episode 15, The Time Capsule, Lion-O is getting a bit depressed and home sick for Thundera.  At the same time he doesn’t remember all that much about it and Jaga appears to him and mentions that part of their ship’s cargo was a Time Capsule that contained the collective knowledge of Thundera.  The ThunderCats go on a quest to seek out the capsule and Lion-O eventually finds it in a cave, though it’s now apparently been claimed by a caveman that isn’t going to give it up without a fight.  Actually, he won’t give it up unless Lion-O beats him in the most macho of all manly contests, the arm wrestling match!  It’s like watch an animated version of Over the Top, just with no estranged children in military academy, eating cigars and drinking motor oil, or big rig trucks.

The last thing I wanted to bring up today is an aspect of the series that’s very close to my heart, the amazing amount of branding in the cartoon!

Not that long ago I met a guy though my day job that used to play with the Misfits back when the band was still coming together for the first time.  I have a Misfits messenger bag, and he noticed the Crimson Ghost Skull logo and we got to talking about how amazing it is that over thirty years later there are still kids picking up stuff stamped with that image.  Heck, though Jerry Only has been trying his damnedest to keep the band going, most people really only dig the original stuff when Danzig was a part of the band, and that’s been over for about 25 years.  Yet still, that iconic skull has power.  If there’s one thing that came out of the commercial design of the 70s and 80s, this type of powerfully iconic branding was it.  The Autobot and Decpticon symbols, the Ghostbusters logo, Pac-Man, the Atari Logo, the Nike Swoosh, and the ThunderCats logo are just a few of the hundreds of popular logos that are still around to this day.  This show really took this banding to heart and you can see it in almost every aspect of the design from the vehicles…

   

…to the castles…

   

…and even the villains. Mumm-Ra’s logo, though almost as iconic as the cat’s head logo, is actually the one aspect of this sort of branding in the show that was really underused.  I’m surprised, seeing as how Mumm-Ra is basically the leader of the Mutants, that they weren’t all sporting the entwined snakes on their outfits, vehicles and gear.  This is actually something addressed in the new series that I really loved.

In particular I love how the ThunderCats logo is worked into the stories of the various episodes because of the Sword of Omens.  Whenever Lion-O is in trouble he can call upon the other ThunderCats by reciting a chant (“Thunder, Thunder, Thunder, ThunderCats HOOOOOOO!”) and then holding the sword aloft.  It then projects the ThunderCats logo into the sky so that any member of the team within sight of the symbol will feel the call and come running…

So not only is the logo plastered on every building, vehicle, article of clothing, etc, it’s even an integral part of the narrative.  In my opinion this is hands down the most brilliant use of branding in a cartoon during the 80s.

Well, come back next week for part 2 of this article where I’ll be talking a look at some of the ThunderCats characters, the crazy designs, and more.