Friday, September 30, 2005


Today, Eisner is Leaving.

Tomorrow, Robert Iger will have the burden of shepherding Disney for the next twenty or thirty years—depending on his performance. Perhaps, if there’s a chance, maybe he will see the value of the 2-D style of animation, or successfully convince his shareholders that 2-D is still lucrative. All their 2-D studios are closed, but this doesn’t mean that he cannot engineer the purchase of a pre-established house. Sure, it’d be outsourcing, but what the hell? In my opinion, that’s better than just giving up and taking 2-D off life-support altogether.

Iger can repair the rift between the money men and the creative souls. He just has to corral the stockholders into this belief. He just has to believe that, no matter how you package the material, at the end of the day it’s the material that will dictate the success of the project and not the slick packaging. And then, he has to persuade the shareholders into believing this, as well.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


And I'm easy. [Ahhhh, ohhhh, ahhh, eeeeee. . .] Easy like Thursday morning. (Okay, ok, I know, it's a lame-ass joke.)

Still working on my website. Hang on. I’m sure I’ll find time to post another Suite 101 installment. Within the next couple of days. Just hang on, guys!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Oh crap, dahling! Look at how different it looks around here! Ah! Yes!

Made a few changes around here; in the Link section, all of the Suite 101 Installments are accessible, plus my editorial on Eisner’s departure from Disney. Scroll down a little bit, look to your left and it’ll be nigh-impossible to miss. Cheerio!

(No, I’m not British, I’m Black. I live in America, for those readers who might be confused by the above lines.)

(c) Image courtesy of Flickr.The contents of the New York Times article which announced his retirement is posted below, in all of its unedited glory for those having trouble getting to it without having to go through that dumb registering process. Thanks to The Huffington Post for the link.

If the big ‘ol NYT asks me to remove the article, I will—no questions asked. So far, they haven’t asked me to do it.

If you work for the Times, and seeing this article here disturbs you to no end, fire off an e-mail to All correspondence will be kept confidential—not! Yee ha!

Don't forget to read my special EDITORIAL beneath it!


A Quiet Departure for Eisner at Disney (EXCERPT from the New York Times)

Published: September 26, 2005

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 25 - When Michael D. Eisner leaves the Walt Disney Company for good on Friday, there will be no grand send-off or congratulatory party. Mr. Eisner, who served as chief executive for more than two decades, has agreed only to a one-page retrospective in the company newsletter, according to Disney executives.

It is a low-key way to end a 21-year career that was both brilliant and controversial and during which Mr. Eisner, 63, became the face of Disney for the generation whose parents grew up with the founder, Walt Disney.

In the late 1980's, Mr. Eisner was the host of "The Wonderful World of Disney" television show and presided over the company's resurgence in animated musicals like "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King." He is recognized by youngsters at the company's theme parks, and it is common to see children gathered around his 6-foot-3-inch frame, asking for autographs.

Mr. Eisner has little to say about his leaving. Through a spokeswoman, he declined last week to discuss his career. Instead he is expected to send an e-mail message to Disney's employees before he vacates his office.

Several Disney executives and others who have talked to Mr. Eisner in recent days said it was an awkward time for him. He is leaving a job he loves before he is ready to, they said. Moreover, they added, he is concerned that last year's shareholder revolt, after which he was stripped of his chairman's title, will be given greater weight in assessing his legacy than the gains he made at the company in his early years.

Mr. Eisner has yet to disclose his plans. His contract says he can remain a Disney consultant. In an interview earlier this year with Charlie Rose, the public television show host, Mr. Eisner said he hoped to remain in entertainment, perhaps producing Broadway shows or making movies. He has an apartment in New York and has long expressed interest in the theater there.

Under Mr. Eisner's tenure, Disney grew from a small theme-park operator and movie studio into a sprawling media company. In that time, the company added 7 theme parks (for a total of 11), a cruise ship line, a successful stage play division and 10 domestic cable channels - including the highly profitable ESPN - and acquired the ABC broadcast network. Revenues increased to $30.75 billion in 2004, from $1.5 billion in 1984. The stock price has increased 1,646 percent. And the number of employees grew fivefold, to 129,000, from 28,000.

Mr. Eisner's recent years, though, were marred by the shareholder revolt and a bitter board fight in which Mr. Eisner clashed with two former directors - Roy E. Disney, the nephew of the founder, and Stanley P. Gold, Mr. Disney's financial adviser. They had originally lobbied to give him the top job in 1984 during another management shake-up. More recently, they sought to oust him, contending his clashes with employees and Disney's partners were a drag on the company.

"Whatever Michael's faults were, and we all have them, Michael took a moribund company and energized it to a level I'm not sure anyone else could have done," said Richard Nanula, Disney's former chief financial officer, who worked at the company from 1986 to 1998. "He ensured that Disney provided 10 times the level of entertainment available for children prior to him getting there - high-quality, clean, fun entertainment."

Mr. Eisner had few interests other than Disney during his tenure. (He does appreciate architecture.) But since Mr. Eisner announced his retirement last spring, he has let Robert A. Iger, the Disney president who will succeed him on Saturday, run Disney day to day.

Still, Mr. Eisner has not been entirely absent in recent months as Disney's ambassador. Last week, he attended the memorial service for Peter Jennings at Carnegie Hall in New York. On the same trip, he attended an auction of hand-painted Mickey Mouse statues with his wife, Jane. And two weeks ago, he delivered remarks at the opening of the company's newest park, Hong Kong Disneyland, which the company hopes will be a profit center in Asia for years to come.

Thomas O. Staggs, Disney's chief financial officer, noted that while Walt Disney created the original theme parks, they were now populated with characters from "The Lion King, "Beauty and the Beast" and "Mulan," which were developed during Mr. Eisner's tenure.

Many in the entertainment business say they believe that Mr. Eisner's career is hardly over. Ultimately, friends say, judgments about his success at Disney will be determined by his long-term record, not just the corporate turmoil that has preoccupied the company in the last few years.

"Disney is a major powerhouse," said Bob Daly, a friend of Mr. Eisner who for two decades ran Warner Brothers with Terry S. Semel, now chief executive of Yahoo. "But it wasn't a major powerhouse when he started."



Eisner leaves Disney Friday. After more than twenty years (or eleven, depending on your opinion of what year Disney started pumping out bad movies on a regular basis), of mismanaging the company, pissing off his partners-in-crime and screwing over every animator with a pencil or a stylus and a cel and a genuine idea—and years of consistently undermining the creative forces behind some of the greatest animated films ever made, he will finally be where he should have been after Pocahontas--gracefully retired. Except now, there will be no such thing as “graceful” retirement—the kind that involves going-away parties and slaps on the back from cronies.

When I wrote those Suite 101 articles a couple years ago, I routinely took potshots at Disney. Though many of those potshots were not well articulated, most of them were valid points. Now, three years and many, many shitty direct-to-video sequels later, Eisner’s reign has long since come to pass, and only now is it being officially recognized.

Today, nothing says corporate at Disney more than the switch to all-CGI productions, the mentality being that it’s the technique and not the underlying substance, the nucleus of a successful film, that’s responsible for putting butts in theater seats. And I know that Pixar popularized this trend, but it seems to me that the only trend they can be held responsible for is good storytelling and building an atmosphere of goodwill and mutual respect for each other. In this case, the technique they used to deliver the good product is rendered irrelevant—it is merely fancy packaging of stellar material.

O, would that Disney subscribe to this concept! O, but they probably won’t. They have shuttered their animation houses, and forsaken the company’s claim to fame, the metaphorical birthright. A pity.

I keep writing about them. Even though these laments have been uttered by better writers, read by more readers, forgotten many times by just as many people. I keep writing about all of the canceled animated shows, victims of the corporate drive to be lean, mean fighting machines. I keep writing about the lack of support given to 2-D animation, about the suck writers who keep ruining the rep of this still-virile medium. I keep writing about the artists who have legacies, and the ones who are building them. I keep writing about works in progress, and works that never progress. I keep writing about artists who get screwed, and the corporations who do the screwing. And if all this writing and reporting seems repetitive, it is because history keeps getting repeated.

For all of the technical advances in animation, there seems to be an evolutionary stall in the employer/employee relationship. The emotional disconnect is as great as it has ever been. Perhaps this phenomenon was borne out of a need to appeal to wider and wider audiences, to appease irate shareholders and to convert the doubters and the skeptics, to stay alive. Staying alive, quarter by lethal quarter, is an achievement in and of itself for a business. Every company has this universal feeling of impending takeover, which is what makes them try so hard to find that golden key which opens up every diverse door of success, even though, as this should be plain clear to most of us, no such thing exists.

They try Pokemon, Digimon, Power Rangers, Duel Masters, Yu-Gi-Oh, Cardcaptors--son of a bitch, something’s gotta work! If kids and their parents bought Pokemon cards, “why won’t they buy ours”? Dammit, the market is so damn fickle.

I keep writing about these companies. I keep writing about the executives who forgot about creative vision, about the intelligence of their audiences, about today’s kids. I keep writing, keep writing, keep writing.

These things matter to people. They don’t just matter to me—I’m not just some obsessed fanboy with loads of time on his hands. I’m a damn professional. I have a full-time job. I make a living. I don’t have to waste my sweet time talking about these sons of bitches who don’t have the balls to back their creators and support original visions. But if a tree falls in the forest, who gives a shit, y’know? What I’m trying to say is, I write because it matters. I write because I feel that these words need to be written. Even if it has been written before. Because no one seems to be getting the message. They either try to ignore it, or gloss over it or sometimes even try to sweep it under the rug. Or spin it like a Fox News anchorman. Whatever. It’s bullshit and bullshit needs to be exposed for what it is—bullshit. As long as people—in a position to change the industry for the better—refuse to do it, to take a stand in defense of quality, they are just as accountable as the executives who think it’s okay to use art to complement commerce, instead of using commerce to complement art.

Harlan Ellison once said, “This town is filled with weasels and wormers and people who will stab you in the front if they can't reach your back.” He’s a cranky bastard, but one who speaks the truth and is therefore respected even by his enemies. He’s also a smart bastard who ended up being fired by Roy Disney & Co. for merely talking about making animated porn films—something in fashion at the time if you take into account Ralph Bakashi’s Fritz the Cat (1972). His firing and the publicity that resulted from it strongly implies that Disney wanted to preserve its reputation as a family-oriented company (this, despite the fact that at the time no one under the age of 18 was allowed into the building proper). As a side note, I guess Roy forgot or has never heard of the time when a couple Walt Disney animators attempted to play a raunchy prank on Walt by splicing in frames of nude women, sometimes engaging in some rather explicit activity, in between frames of innocent animated sequences. I don’t know exactly which Disney film was in production at the time, but this event happened sometime between the conclusion of production on Dumbo and the beginning of production on Song of the South. At any rate, Walt detected the offending frames while they were running in the projector at 24 fps, removed them or had them removed, and caught the party responsible.

There were numerous other adult hijinks pulled off at the supposedly “above reproach” Disney facilities which materialized then dissolved undetected (or, for those who were aware of such activities but remained silent, forgotten), laughed off into history only to be recalled as fond memories. The fact that 12 years after the firing of Mr. Ellison Disney co-produced their first major rated-R film under the Touchstone label, Beverly Hills Cop, shouldn’t surprise you. In fact, nothing about the people working for the company (and the so-called “business professionals” running the company) should surprise you. This is the way that I feel, however—it is a tad shocking to discover that a company that has the legacy that Disney has is uncovered as being nothing more than a thinly-veiled group of relatively unscrupulous, emotionless venture capitalists. Let’s hope that, after Friday, the new era is better than the last. A lame final statement, but after all that has come before, I’m completely speechless and mentally fatigued.

More later. Especially on the public’s reaction to the departure of Eisner.

Monday, September 26, 2005



Don Adams dies @ 82. It’s always the guys least likely to meet the Grim Reaper, who end up meeting him.

This sucks.

I’m not dead. . .yet. I’m just extremely busy, building my website and trying to fulfill a number of other seemingly impossible tasks.

Regular operations should resume in a day or two. In the meanwhile, take a brief look at this.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Short Post.

Really good article on recent animated films. Check it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Um, wakey wakey MSNBC!

CNN, the first to report that Simon Wiesenthal, the great Nazi hunter who educated the world on anti-Semitic events, the Holocaust and prejudice in general had died at 96, still remains (as of this typing) the only news outlet breaking this developing story.

I checked with MSNBC. Nothing there.

Fox News’s website. Nothi. . .oh, wait a minute. Now they have it there.

I guess that makes MSNBC the last to supper.

Hell, even I’m faster than they are.

More later. . .


SPECIAL ARTICLE: It’s about that time, at last. . .

Still working on, but I stole some time away from that energy-sucking endeavor to post another installment of the ol’ Suite 101 work. Many of you know how this works.

No alterations. Even if you see a word spelled wrong in the article, like “balls” spelled “ballz”, or even worse--“bcullz”--that is the way I typed the word when I initially posted the article. That is the way that you will see it. That’s me—a writer full of integrity, to the point of embarrassment and humiliation. No edits, whatsoever. No spell checks. Only the unabridged, unmolested article.

Let’s get this thing movin’.

Not Brave Enough To Go Theatrical

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 10, 2002

by Enoch Allen

By now, you’ve heard of the Disney sequels, formally labeled “cheapquels” by dissenters. But, Disney isn’t the first company to make animated sequels, and neither will they be the last. Paramount advised their companion studio, Nickelodeon! Films, to manufacture a continuation of the 1998 hit “Rugrats! The Movie”, and the sequel came to be called “Rugrats in Paris”. That did well also, on a meager budget. (Now, the first one wasn’t all that good. The second one was even worse. I can only torture myself by imagining how bad the third one’s going to be.)

A third Rugrats movie, “The Rugrats Meet The Wild Thornberrys”, is slated to be out either this November or early next year, depending on how hard up Nickelodeon! Films is for additional cash. Or maybe they’re just plain GREEDY.

But, there something to be said for Paramount’s audacity to distribute their animated sequels--in a theatrical fashion. Astonishingly, none of them have gone direct-to-video, while Disney, Warner Bros., and (yes) even Dreamworks did not have the stomach to give their animated sequels a theatrical release. (For Disney, “Return to Neverland” doesn’t count for crap. It is a film that stands all by itself in terms of being “linked” to the Disney classic “Peter Pan”.) “Toy Story II” counts as a legitimate release, partly because the same exact characters--and the same voice actors--return for a second outing.

But Disney seems to think that releasing swill like “The Hunchback of Notre Dame II” is acceptable. Okay. If they think that it is acceptable to put this trash on video, why not “Go the Distance” (title of song on the soundtrack to “Hercules”) and commit it to celluloid. Or, at least digitally. It’s bad enough that critics severely bashed it when it appeared on video. Why not take some lumps, for being so--um, what’s that word, Roger--GREEDY.

I would not like to call Dreamworks “greedy”. I’d like to believe that they are a respectable film company. I mean, after all, it was founded by Spielberg, Katzenberg, and Geffen. All three of these gentleman know what it’s like to work with greedy studios. So, they don’t repeat their mistakes. As a result, Dreamworks’ films tend to be higher in quality. I mean, how else do you explain two of their films in a row winning Best Picture at the Oscars? (The two Best Pictures were “Gladiator” and “American Beauty”.) That’s why it puzzled me as to how they could release a picture as good as “Joseph: King of Dreams” direct-to-video. Another thing is Universal, releasing “Balto II: Wolf Quest” to video. That was a well-made production--too well-made to be among the other amazingly poor direct-to-video efforts (if they can, indeed, be called “efforts”).

Maybe they just weren’t brave enough to go theatrical.


Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 11, 2002

by Enoch Allen

Just that simple. A title, as short as the one above, that explains away the subject matter of this article. E/I. You know, I have a problem with that rating, given to children’s shows that “meet” the FCC educational guidelines. The FCC demands that the classroom time be extended to three hours every week. So that means that even if their teachers aren’t physically there to harp on them about the War of 1812, there’s always substitutes when you need one. And the FCC have appointed themselves substitutes.

Or rather, enforcers. The “substitute teachers” in question are the animators that are forced to decrease the entertainment value of the program by instilling useless aesthetic, scientific, or historical facts in order to meet the guidelines set in stone by the FCC. One such program that will help FOX fulfill its educational obligations is titled “Stargate Infinity”. I don’t know much about it, but rest assured when I get some additionals on the animated show I will profile it in a future article.

But, I can barely stomach education these days now. After twelve years of getting useless facts shoved down my throat and succumbing to New York State’s education system, I doubt whether I’d want to see ANY(!) programs that would remind me of grade school. Entertainment should be entertainment, not used as a tool to further inundate children.

Picture this. You’re an adult. After hours of hard work on a highly stressful job, you come home--dead, dead tired--and you flick on the television. A sitcom is on, that features--bang!--a telemarketer, dealing with intemperate customers. Hey, wait a minute! You just got done with that job. What do you do? Do you:

A.) Change the channel?

B.) Put up with the program and say, “Hey, it’s not my life.”

C.) None of the above.

Some of you would probably pick C. And then again, I’m hoping that the overwhelming majority of you would pick A, because that’s exactly what I would do. If I’m a telemarketer coming home from work, I wouldn’t want to see, hear, or breathe anything that might remind me of the job that I just came from.

And this can be tangentially related to children, coming home from school. Let’s not remind them of Monday. Instead, let them enjoy Saturday and Sunday.

Maybe You Can't . . . But I Can

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 11, 2002

by Enoch Allen

Animation can do so many things that can’t be accomplished in live-action. Think about it. In animation, we can mesh and metamorphose two human beings into all shapes and sizes, and even some that haven’t been invented yet. In live action, you will need any number of special effects masters to achieve a RESEMBLANCE of the figure that I described to you. You would need to import and combine a number of special effects programs to make it look halfway believable. And THEN afterwards, you would need to ask of the audience to suspend their disbelief.

Let’s imagine Live Action and Animation as two separate characters. They can each bring to life two sets of inanimate objects. One of these sets of objects is in this dimension called reality, which we live in. The other set of objects are in another dimension, that fanciful dimension which is inaccessible. But nevertheless, Live Action and Animation are both living, breathing life-forms that exist--if only in our imaginations.

Live Action claims superiority over Animation because Live Action brings to life objects that we, as LIVE human beings, can relate to. Animation likes to bring to life objects that CHILDREN can relate to, but can adapt its practices to adult tastes with little or no effort at all. Live Action, though, has shortcomings that we are very familiar with, such as the ability to be original. You see, we see Live Action bring to life the same exact objects, every day. Animation, however, can bring to life whatever it wants, wherever it wants, and it could do so seamlessly.

There are proponents of Live Action, more proponents for this living medium than there are lobbyists in Washington. Some of these proponents of Live Action are indifferent towards Animation, while others are fiercely opposed to it. Than, there are proponents for Animation, who will fight to the death in defense of the medium.

The major aspects of both mediums are their collective abilities to entertain. But, how much entertainment value may be gained from Live Action vs. Animation? More entertainment value can be gained from Animation, because of its elasticity and its capability to adapt to so many different tastes and ideas and visions. Live Action doesn’t have the “elastic” ability. While it doesn’t have to be manually mastered, it even requires the assistance of some of Animation’s tools to make itself logically acceptable to the viewer. Meaning, computers are one of Animation’s tools. And, they have to be used in order to assist Live Action in its quest to gain authenticity. Things that look too CG in Live Action blends effortlessly into Animated environments.

This is just another case of Animation saying to Live Action, “Maybe you can’t, BUT I CAN.”

To Be PG Or Not To Be PG-13

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 12, 2002

Page 1

by Enoch Allen

Animated pictures these days are either rated G or PG. Rarely are they PG-13, and even rarer do you see an R rating awarded to an animated picture. (Though, “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” got the R rating--no surprise there.) Recently, though, we’ve seen an abundance of animated pictures receive the PG rating, which is mildly shocking. No, it is not an indicator of maturity in the animation industry--rather an indicator that their subject matter is getting more and more intense. The MPAA has young viewers in mind and slapping on a PG rating just informs the parents that the comic mischief or small bits of violence featured in the film might exact some influence over their child’s behavior . . . thereof.

So, I’m a paragraph into this article, and yet I haven’t identified a clean theme. Maybe I’ve run out of steam after 20 or so articles. NOT.

This article’s about the inane ratings that the MPAA gives animated movies in particular, but this topic can appeal to movies as well. For a PG rating--or, to earn a PG rating, a movie must have no more than five “s**t” words, and a dozen or two mild profanities (the usual “hell, damn and ass”). For a PG-13 rating, such a film must not have more than thirty or so “s**t” words, two “F” words, and three dozen mild profanities (although, the defining boundaries as to what constitutes an R picture and a PG-13 are getting blurred; more gratuitous violence can be allowed in PG-13 pics, in addition to three “F“ words and more profanities than stipulated). Rating “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Lilo & Stitch” PG just shows the shallow-yet-obtuse criteria that these pictures have to meet to rile the feathers of the board, and not get the coveted “G” rating. Both of which could have passed for G movies as recent as ten years ago. What can’t be explained is a PG-13 rating for “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”, which features multiple beheadings, impalements, and dismemberments. True, it does not feature scenes of sexuality (or even sensuality, for that matter) or language. But the fiercely intense violence of the battle scenes would not have been labeled suitable for general audiences ten years ago, when “Last of the Mohicans” featured the same thing.

But, on the same token “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm”, which by all rights should’ve gotten a PG-13 (and even more puzzling, it was released in the comparatively conservative year of 1993), serves as a sterling example of the instability, or the integrity, of the MPAA ratings. I believe that, if an animated picture receives a rather mature rating, they should earn it, by displaying something really offensive.

Page 2

Let me turn my focus now, on the fact that most animated films released in the past two years are not mature enough to warrant a PG rating. I sincerely hope that animated films released in the future grow up to be PG-13s.

A Promising Start

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 13, 2002

The “Best Animated Film” category at the Oscars appears to be a step in the right direction, in regards to the process of legitimizing the animated film industry. Close-minded individuals should take note that the Animation will be suppressed no more. Now that Animation is on the verge of being recognized, maybe it is possible that they might select quality animated films and recognize them with Oscars, also. Giving out Oscars to the most popular animated films will only serve to shut out more deserving films.

“Shrek” wasn’t a bad movie. Actually, it was pretty good, parodying animated movie conventions. “Shrek” fits much into its ninety minutes--the funny animal sidekick, the obligatory villain, the beautiful princess, an epic cast of characters--who all serve to mock the Disney-fied tried-and-true formula of making animated pictures.

“Monsters, Inc.”, the penultimate of animation, is an orgy of artistry, so much so that one could overdose on the visuals. On the DVD, which comes out September 17, I plan on pausing every scene of the film so that I may take it all in. I can’t get over the designs of Mike and Sulley, and the very human face of Boo. Check out the film’s enemy, Randall--he’s a hoot in more ways than one.

I’m still not sure why “Jimmy Neutron” was nominated. I mean, it sure wasn’t a shoo-in for the award. Everybody knew that “Shrek” was going to win--after all, DreamWorks paid $220,000 for a three-page spread in the New York Times. Plus, the studio posted glaring “For Your Consideration” advertisements in almost every major publication.

Recognizing animated films with Oscars truly indicates that Hollywood is finally giving a long-denied honorable mention to animated films. Notice, though, the term “honorable mention”. Unless animated films can compete with live action films in the coveted “Best Picture” slot (Like “Beauty and the Beast” did, once upon a time), their honoring of animated films will not be looked upon as anything of strong significance.

Randy Newman's Oscar

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 14, 2002

He is one of animation’s most gifted composers, yet he didn’t always compose exclusively for animation. He received Oscar nominations for pictures like “Parenthood” and “The Natural”, starring Robert Redford. Oh, but then he received a bunch of other Oscar nominations, for which he was subsequently denied the statuette. What was astonishingly amazing was, on March 24, 2002, he finally won.

But this time around, he should have been denied a 17th time.

Or was it a 16th? Heck, I’ve lost count. But the nominees for that category produced material that was superior to his. However, none in the same category was more superior to Enya’s “May It Be”. NONE. Most, if not all in attendance that night were transfixed by her soothing, almost spiritual, voice. Just hearing her sing put all of my nerves to rest, and made me dream of an intangible place. The song made me (and I wasn’t the only one experiencing this) escape. Not many, if any, songs make people do that.

John Goodman’s singing, complementary to Randy Newman’s piano performance, made me shake my head. I thought, “There’s no way he’s going to get it. No way.” It was good enough for a nomination, though. The words to the song reminded me strangely of the relationship between Boo and Sulley in “Monsters, Inc.”, from which the Oscar-nominated song was part of. Oh and by the way, the song was called “If I Didn’t Have You”. The song personified, and put into human definition something that couldn’t have been explained otherwise. But the tone, the music that the words were put to didn’t connect somehow to the animated movie, quite the same way that Enya’s “May It Be” connected to “Lord of the Rings”. And so, the song did not deserve to be recognized and distinguished with a golden statuette*.

Nevertheless, Randy Newman got it. I guess that the Academy made a moderately wise tradeoff by giving Howard Shore an Oscar for his overall score to “Lord of the Rings”, over Newman, in which he was also nominated in that category for his scoring of “Monsters, Inc.”. If you ask me, “Lord of the Rings” should have received Oscars in both categories, instead of just one--but I’m positive that I’ve made that point known already.

Thus, many viewers believed that Newman’s Oscar for Best Song was a Pity Oscar (and Newman himself acknowledged that it was a Pity Oscar by stating in his acceptance speech, “I don’t need your pity”). Even if the Oscar had been awarded to other nominees like Paul McCartney for his “Vanilla Sky” or Sting for “Until” (“Kate & Leopold”), they would have been more deserving but less so than Enya’s “May It Be”. Even now, it almost seems like the Academy has committed an astonishing act of injustice towards Enya.

Nevertheless, Randy Newman finally won an Oscar, not necessarily for his song work on “Monsters, Inc.” but for all of the years of hard work. And all of the times that he was humiliatingly denied the Oscar.

*The Academy also flubbed up by awarding “Pearl Harbor” with an Oscar for “Sound Effects Editing”. Its only competition was “Monsters, Inc.” and if this was a perfect world, “Monsters, Inc.” would have took that golden man home. But, if this were a perfect world, overly-melodramatic films like “Pearl Harbor” wouldn’t have been made.

Robocop: Alpha Commando

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 15, 2002

Page 1

by Enoch Allen

No one seems to have much info about this series, but it existed quite a while ago in syndication. Someone was bound to remember this series, and that someone was I. I remember “Robocop”, the animated series. It was even nominated for an Emmy, but it seems to have faded into obscurity. You’ll see this often in my columns, me spotlighting “lost” shows. I don’t have much info about this animated series, but I do have a complete collection of episodes (okay, so I’m missing one episode or two).

The show was about . . . well, if you don’t know what the movie “Robocop” was about, then I can’t really help you. Well, wait. Maybe I can. The animated series was about Alex Murphy, who is not really Alex Murphy. He is a cyborg of sorts, more machine than man. And, he’s a cop with a partner--Nancy Minor, who in turn has an 11-year old, Matt. Together, they fight (or fought) wacky villains on the streets of Detroit.

New Detroit, that is. You see, it’s the near (very near) future, in 2030--thereof. There’s actually 300 million+ living in the United States. I doubt that we’ll be as high-tech as “Robocop” insists we’ll be, but we should be making advances at an astonishing rate. Anyway, crime has advanced, too. And, it’s up to the team of Murphy and Minor, nail ‘em and jail ‘em, to clean house!

Corny, corn, and more corn. If you couldn’t tell by the above paragraph that this stylishly-animated series was super-corn made by senior-citizens, then I guess I’m gonna have to spell it out for you. Whoever wrote the scripts for this series should go to some more writing workshops, because (on some episodes) the writing was shockingly poor. Consider this one-liner, said by Robocop’s chief-tech scientist, Cornelius Neumier: “You’re ‘burned’ out, eh Robocop? Guess I’ll have to fix some circuits in you.” My God in heaven.

But, there were a few standout episodes. I really liked a particular episode that centered on Murphy’s partner, Nancy Minor, who double-crossed Murphy. Or, did she? The viewer did not immediately know that Robocop’s partner went south, and even after the viewer found out that Robocop was being set up, the viewer didn’t know why until the very end of the episode, when it was revealed that while Robocop was in Neumier’s lab receiving maintenance, Minor was kidnapped and replaced with a look-alike. For some inexplicable reason, I’m always a sucker for these types of plots, even though they aren’t very coherent and this one was no exception. If you went plot-hole hunting you’d likely find a couple of Atlantic-Ocean-sized gaps in the narrative. But being that this really was the very definition of what a “cartoon” is, you can’t hold that fact against the creators. It’s very hard to do a “conspiracy” episode and not pull some kind of a fast resolution--like a deus ex machina--in favor of a long, drawn out resolution that works logically, in all areas.

Page 2

Since there were 40 episodes in the series, I really don’t have the time, space, and attention span to discuss them all. Even though it is my sincere wish to do so. I can talk, for a little bit, about the history of its airing. It aired on FOX Kids (in my area, Utica, NY) from August 30, 1998 to the summer of ‘99, thereof. Though reruns began in February. It was not renewed, and in fact I can go into another entire rant about executives who don’t even have enough respect to dignify an animated series with a final episode. It’s just, they’ll stop ordering episodes and voila!--considered the show cancelled, without any fanfare. Of course, I’d like to see both sides of the equation. These days, it costs around $600,000 to make an episode, and “Robocop”, I bet, didn’t come cheap. The series featured advanced CGI (in some spots) and, as I mentioned earlier in the article, stylish 2-D animation. If it cost Orion (along with MGM) $600,000 per episode, then altogether it must have took ($600,000 x 40 episodes) $24,000,000 from their piggy bank. Ouch.

On the same token, if Orion/MGM knew that they were going to have to put “Robocop” on the chopping block, why didn’t they alert the creators and provide funding for a last episode? They’re business strategists. Sound strategy means having to incorporate entertainment logistics. It would be logical to conclude the series instead of just leaving it without an end, because then it could actually come to be called a finished series instead of an incomplete one.

But, being a fan means having to take things as they come, and even though I wouldn’t proclaim myself a die-hard fan of “Robocop”, I must say that it was a watchable animated series that merited some success and recognition, that which it did not get.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Post #140

One more correction to make. Since is in an important phase of development, the Loonatics rip will be postponed for an indefinite period of time. Rest assured though, it will be on here shortly.

The next installment however, of the Suite 101 series will be up even sooner, since all I have to do is type about 100 words, copy and paste my ancient files and post. If only everything else were this easy!

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Some news. You know, the regular.

The Loonatics rip will have to wait for at least a couple of hours while I work on my side project, w/my team (er, my friends). We’re doing a few experiments.

In other news, the next installment of the Suite 101 2002-2004 series will appear here shortly after the Loonatics article is posted. I have finally cracked 70 WPM, but I cannot sustain that speed for more than ten seconds at a time, so. . .

For now, I’m just gonna have to settle for 65 WPM.

More later!



Loonatics Unleashed is set in the year 2772, according to MCSarah of Toonzone, instead of either the 21st or 22nd Centuries. The link takes you to her more optimistic review of Loonatics.

Surprised that a show like Loonatics has supporters, but I suppose that by virtue of being roundly despised the show does deserve some defenders. However, these guys probably aren’t gonna boost the show’s ratings.

Friday, September 16, 2005


BREAKING NEWS!!!! Loonatics Unleashed premieres Sept. 17 at 10:30 AM (ET/PT) on Kids WB.

I have waited for five months to get my shot at deconstructing Loonatics, and it looks like I will finally get my chance.

Judging from the editorials at Toonzone, it seems that I am in for a Flutemaster-type experience. I don’t think so.

Something tells me that all of these guys lobbing vitriol at this latest “updating” of Looney Tunes characters are upset because the WB committed some sort of sacrilege in attempting to adapt these characters for the 21st Century. Or 22nd Century. Whatever.

If it’s bad, it can’t be as bad as Flutemaster, and so I’ll have fun writing a Mystery Science Theater 3000-type treatment of it. I just hope that I don’t have to be at any meetings Saturday evening.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


SPECIAL ARTICLE: Time for another epic Suite 101 installment!

To make up for lost time, I will post nine (count ‘em, nine) Suite 101 articles here. And, by the time the next installment rolls around, you will have just finished reading them.

Once again, no edits. No alterations. All articles--every single last one--appears here unabridged. You see it all, what the Suite 101 editors and readers saw when they were reading them way back in 2002.

In the Stop It With The Funny Animal Sidekicks article, you’ll find a neat little mathematical error. I divided 42 into 95 without using a calculator--and came up with 2 and some change! The only way that you could end up with 2 is if the number divided into 95 was 47.5. What can I say, guys--that’s pretentious 17-year-old wisdom for you. I’m glad I’m 20.

Send all flame mail to!


Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 5, 2002

by Enoch Allen

Y. Y-7. Y-7 FV. TV-PG. TV-14. TV-MA. All meaningless symbols.

We look at them, and wish that they’d get the hell off our screen, as quickly as possible.

Oh, whoops! I swore! Christians aren’t supposed to swear. I'll pray.

Anyway, I cursed partly because I was frustrated with the staid, starchy BS & P (Broadcast Standards & Practices). They insist on bland-ifying all of our shows, such as what my associate Micah Wright termed. That’s why Cartoon Network has two different blocks of animation for two different audiences: Toonami, and Adult Swim.

The V-chip is a joke. Most who own V-chipped television sets don’t bother to program them, so that they may keep their children from being corrupted.

If they’ve been to public school, then they already have been corrupted.

Imagine all the playground conversations about where babies come from. Some suggest that babies get hand-delivered to mothers via lighting-fast spaceships piloted by aliens from the far corners of the galaxy. And then, some get it right. Babies are conceived by consummation.

But the ones who get it right, must watch the right programs. Well, not really. Think: what animated programs on television (yes, include MTV) talks about how babies are born? They talk about sex, sure, but what about BABIES, the consequence of sex?

Most leave that out.

And, so do animated programs on Cartoon Network--both which are aired during Toonami, and aired during Adult Swim. On Adult Swim Action, they DEFINITELY don’t talk about how babies are born. A conversation like that would seriously dull the program. The reason WHY the program aires on Adult Swim Action is because, the program is supposed to be ACTION-ORIENTED.

So, I have effectively explained away the reason why sexual content is less likely to exist on animated shows aimed at an adult audience. All the same, the BS & P is ever mindful of “sexual implication”. I don’t get it.

What about violence? Okay, off screen the hero impales the enemy with a stick. All that we hear are the squishing sounds of the stick being forcefully inserted into the poor chap’s midsection. NIXED! Well, why? “Mulan” got away with implied nudity, genocide, and mild language. “Teletubbies” once again implied the existence of a homosexual--Tinky Winky carried a purse. Okay, so that stirred some controversy, but the firestorm was over before you could say there was one.

It is usually the animated action-adventure shows on television, such as “Justice League”, that get targeted by these self-proclaimed Morality Squads. Because they are viewed traditionally as the most offense-prone programming on television. Look, BS & P--LOOSEN UP. The Toonami audience watches Adult Swim anyway.

They Shoot Animators, Don't They?

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 5, 2002

Page 1

by Enoch Allen

Once in a while, this happens. Mostly, executives take the fall for it, but every once in a blue moon, animators will get blamed.

Now, if you can’t decode this cryptic, incomplete message than I might just have to spell it out for you. When an animated show fails, either the executive or the animators come up short.

No one is concerned with the cancellation of an animated show. No one. At the end of the day, people go back to work, no one is hurt, and the show fades into memory.

Enter the animator. The animator remembers the show to his deathbed. He remembers that he wasted half of his life on his best idea. And now, he’s pissed that his best idea didn’t work. Now, usually, this is the fault of the executive--he didn’t promote it enough/support it enough/paid a minute’s worth of attention to it.

And, the show’s few fans get press release crap shoved down their throats.

The executive doesn’t have to weather the storm. That’s what PR people are for, right? So that they can put up with the public’s disproval and dissent. When the animator is blamed/targeted, they defend themselves.

Sometimes, there’s more that can be said for such people, who defend their honor all by themselves. Someone who admits that, yes “Scraggydump” may not have been such a great idea for an animated series, but now they might have a better one. AND THEN, THEY REBOUND.

Executives, they’re a strange sort, aren’t they? Me, the Eternal Optimist, would prefer to believe that good--Great--executives actually exist. That there are executives that would take chances with a show, and back it all the way. But good executives are hard to find.

If you’re a beginning animator, and you’re just coming into town, then you take what you can get. Often, that means having to s-e-t-t-l-e. That’s hardly a good thing.

Circumstances change if you’re an Ivy-League school grad. You can shave some years off of working in the industry. Studios are pre-conditioned to giving first preference to overachievers, because their skills seem to be proven. “Those S.O.Bs have degrees to back it up! Aw, come on! Whaddya sayin’? They got it custom made, over the ‘Net?”

So, it doesn’t matter that the “recipient” could have manufactured a sheepskin--the studios don’t believe in investing time, money and intelligence into the sincerity of their applicants, of the legitimacy of their credentials. Seein’ is believin’, ‘cause in Hollywood you’re supposed to be too busy to research things. Now, I’m not implying that college and university grads more often than not--cheat. On the contrary, most of them work very hard. They put their all into what they do. But, there are some who prosper in the industry by scheming. You know that, though.

Page 2

It takes skill, talent and perseverance to make an animated show into a success. Sometimes, you almost can’t depend on good stories and word-of-mouth. A good creator knows that he/she can’t leave anything to chance, and even after the show is a blockbuster success, they must not rest on laurels.

Gene Hackman’s character in “Heist” said once, “I don’t tie my shoes without a backup plan.” In the here-today-gone-tonight business of animation, the flavors-of-the-month go first. Those with aces-up-their-sleeves stay in the game.


Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 6, 2002

Page 1

by Enoch Allen

How old do we get when we say “no” to animated programs? Is there any particular age?

I’ve been watching animation for at least a decade and a half, now. That would put my age at two. Because you see, now I’m seventeen (17), a person who hasn’t gained enough experience in things yet. I don’t know nearly as much as I would like to know. Then again, I would like to know everything.

It is a lofty ambition of mine, to know everything. I have a personal library of 1100 books, but the library is mostly composed of paperback children’s/young adult books. And it’s been growing ever since 1995. Besides that, I have two stacks of tapes, about the size of the former Twin Towers. That’s hyperbole, but I hope that it is an hyperbally effective visual demostration of how tall my stacks of tapes are. And they’re mostly filled with “cartoons”.

The first cartoon that I watched was “The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse”, which aired on CBS from 1987 to 1989. Then, it was subsequently rebroadcast on FOX from 1992 to 1993. "Mighty Mouse was great. Then, the horrifically dreadful “COPS” aired on the WB, and I believe that the show was aired from 1988 thereabouts. Back then, I was three years old. I couldn’t tell horrible from mediocre, good from great. Bad from worse. All I know is that I found myself laughing at the no-plot episodes and the funny-looking characters. Funny-looking, cheaply-drawn, misshapen characters.

Then, there was “Batman: The Animated Series”. If you’ve read past articles of mine, you’ll see that I respect the creators of this show. Highly. ‘Nuff said.

“The Addams Family”, which aired on ABC in 1992, before Disney took over. Suffice it to say that the movie was much better. Cheap knock-offs don’t work.

“Beetlejuice”. Same as above.

I do fondly remember, though, “Eek! the Cat”. That was a good cartoon show. “Eek!” was so good, I looked forward to every episode. The show ran for a long time, similar to the length of time that the inferior “Fat Albert” ran. No, I guess that “Eek!” the Cat” did not run for twelve years. It should have, though.

“X-men”. Very good animated series--nothing in that series looked shoddy. I suppose that one could take issue with the synthesized music. I’m not one to nitpick, except when I go into “armchair deconstructionist” mode, but synths just sound awful on an animated action-adventure series. But when you don’t have the budget, you absolutely can’t be faulted.

Page 2

When I hit puberty, I started to take a “pop culture” view towards animation. It seemed to be tailored to kids. Kids’ WB didn’t help my thinking any--in fact, notice that the Saturday morning block that aired on the WB channel was indeed called “Kids’ WB”. Examine their programming--”Pokemon”. “The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries”. “Earthworm Jim”. “Freakzoid”. “Waynehead”. “Histeria!” And then, I was introduced to what is generally regarded as a higher form of animation--Animé.

But before that, mine eyes were opened by “Invasion: America”, a short-lived masterpiece about a boy who’s heir-apparent to a throne on a planet that’s light-years away from Earth. The show was animé-inspired, although I did not know that at the time. All that I knew was that animation could be, indeed, for everyone--not just for the single-digit grade-school crowd. It was also the first time that I realized--that the Japanese were so far ahead of America, at least in terms of animation.

“Esclaflowne”, “Blue Submarine 6”, “Gundam Wing”. Let’s throw in “Cowboy Bebop” while we’re at it. It was a gradual transformation of thinking, a great adjustment. I had to get used to the fact that animation was universal. The art form was and is full of possibilities, though I did not immediately recognize this. I was saved from the threshold of ignorance, by foreigners no less.

Because We're Too Lazy To Do New Ones

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 7, 2002

by Enoch Allen

Okay, so now you watched a show for a long time. Long enough to declare yourself a veteran viewer, a legitimate fan. You see a commercial advertisement for a new episode of that show, and you can’t wait to watch it. You find that the “new” episode consists of compilations from previous ones, spliced together with new footage.

Those episodes, my friends, are what’s called “clip shows”. These shows appear when you know that the cast & crew decided to give themselves a break, and then they feed us swill like “clip shows”.

Why not just air a rerun? That’s much better.

This happens with animated shows, too. Case in point: “Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles” aired not one, but TWO clip shows. I suppose though, that they can be excused because of the costs of creating and producing an entirely new computer-animated episode. And, the studio won’t get up off of any additional cash to make more episodes; they’re tending to other, more lucrative franchises. If new episodes were to be made, the creators had better raise up the funding for additional episodes.

Other shows that engaged in producing “clip shows” were “Eek! the Cat”, “Beetlejuice: The Animated Series”, and “ReBoot”, just to name a few. Sometimes, series that have ample budgets engage in this practice, and that’s when you know that they’re doing it because they’re really tired of making new episodes vs. budgetary reasons.

There are too many shows aired either on cable or on one of the five big networks. And, we have remotes. We can always change channels, and watch shows that have more respect for the viewer. Or, if there’s absolutely nothing on, then we can just pop in a good ol’ movie (if we have DVD or VHS players--most of us should have either one). Either way, we should never settle on being entertained by “clip shows”.

“Clip shows”, I believe, should be abolished. Because fans deserve more than that. If you’ve made a contract to entertain them, then you’re bound to it day and night. The creators have an obligation to please their audience by making episodes of the highest possible caliber. Show business means “show”ing something new, not going back to your library and clipping together stuff we’ve already seen. Because, as the title of this article expressly implies, that’s just being lazy.

General Matters

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 7, 2002

Page 1

by Enoch Allen

I just had to have something to say regarding how the entertainment industry portrays children, both in animation and outside.

Kids, to the filmmakers, have insignificant concerns. Like for example, getting beat up by the school bully would be depicted humorously. Or taking out the garbage. Something you’re supposed to do. Or playing video games. Gotta go to bed on time, so video-game playing is restricted. Despite the fact that the kid probably has to endure another round of hell at school, and is just rewarding himself for enduring the hell he faced the previous afternoon.

In “The Iron Giant”, the character of Hogarth has seemingly nothing to do. Sure, he lives in a single-parent household, with a mother who’s too cynical--unhealthily so. His spot-on description of Mickey Mantle and his “magic bat” fails to impress his mother. Yes, Hogarth is viewed as a boy who lives in his imagination, not as a person with very real concerns, and this character--along with major portions of this story--reflect the society’s behavior towards children. Americans do not take children seriously enough. It is only when they shoot up schools and take drugs and engage in general unlawfulness that we take serious note, and only because some of us can’t afford to ignore the endangered young anymore.

Children’s entertainment has been conditioned to speak to the psychologically underdeveloped child, reducing entire complex stories to simple sentences of summary. We as adults can’t look at “Pokemon” or “Zoids” or “Alienators: Evolution” and take it seriously. Ah, but when we watch shows like “The Practice” and “Law & Order” and “Gilmore Girls”--yes, even “Gilmore Girls”--we can accept those episodes and view them as legitimate fare, even though some of their episodes contain plots that are just as infantile as “cartoons”.

I believe that I can make a correlation between the way we view children and the way that we view their entertainment, “cartoons”. Do you ever recall hearing an adult make fart jokes? Okay, do you remember correcting that adult? I’m just talking about someone you know, someone over the age of 18. Do you?

What did you say to that adult? “Stop being a kid?” “That’s so gross. You’re beyond the fifth grade?” Any of the aforementioned comments ring a bell? Okay, now let me tie up some loose ends. Since when did you associate fart jokes with being infantile? Granted, it is very juvenilistic, but since the majority of kids do it, it’s immature? I request that you think again.

Page 2

And so, it is with animation. It features paper-thin plots (situations), deus ex machinas, MacGuffins galore--hell, anything to resolve the story in a quick hurry. More complex shows which have more screen time to resolve conflicts get respected, even when and if they flub up in terms of revealing character and plot. No fair.

( Thanks to for information on the animated masterpiece “The Iron Giant”.)

Ours, and No One Else's

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 7, 2002

by Enoch Allen

Have you ever met Animé fans? Have you ever seen how rabid some of them are? Some of them will go to extremities to defend their entertainment. They are so vocal about Animé, that they would deafen NRA conventions. And yet, even though they are adamant about the quality of Japanese imports, there’s a certain kind of territorialism that they have over Animé, as if you need to belong to an honorary Geek Club in order so that you might earn the right to be regarded as an honorary “Otaku”.

Is Animé ours? (Meaning, the select group of people that like Animé--you can count me as one of them.) If so, how did we come to have ownership of the genre? We sure didn’t buy it--most Otakus don’t have any money to speak of, besides that which they bring to the conventions and the festivals.

Actually, middle-aged Americans were the first to fall in love with Animé. The two Freds, Fred Patten and Fred Ladd, were instrumental in getting Animé shown here in the U.S. The latter, Fred Ladd, is widely known for introducing young Americans to “Astro Boy”, a creation of Osamu Tezuka’s that was subsequently sliced and diced by NBC. Then, he brought “Speed Racer” over to us, and the Animé fandom began thereafter.

In the ‘80s, the fan population exploded. In the ‘90s, Animé festival attendance increased exponentially--another explosion, induced by Animé imports such as “Ghost in the Shell”, “Project A-Ko”, and the extremely successful “Akira” (not necessarily in that order, so I apologize for being a little bit anachronistic). Younger audiences, seething from realizing that these animated treasures were being “Americanized” (cut to pieces and horribly dubbed), took the initiative and began to demand better treatment of these releases. They got it too, but not before fighting hard for it.

So, now that they have fought hard for their cause (and were victorious--sort of), some of them feel that the entire genre belongs to them, because it cannot be trusted in other hands. But they are just fans of a genre that, by default, is not theirs. It belongs to the ones who created it.

(Thanks to and for information on the first Animé distributors in America.)

Stop It With The Funny Animal Sidekicks

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 8, 2002

by Enoch Allen

Storytellers have used this device so much that it has become a cliché. The funny animal sidekicks have to stop. For us seriously mature viewers, they have become a distraction. A bane on our entertainment value. And even though their appearances have decreased in recent years, we’d wish that they get the same silent treatment that Jar-Jar Binks received in “Star Wars: Episode II”. These annoyances help characterize Animation as “just for kids”.

In rare cases, animal sidekicks are very welcomed. WHEN THEY DON’T TALK. In “Princess Mononoke”, Ashitaka had an animal (I forgot what kind of animal it was, but one more viewing of the movie would tell me) that was just as communicative, but he didn’t need to break into a lame wisecrack to effectively convey his feelings. The animators enlisted body language as the communication style of choice, and the scene was all the more effective because of it.

“The Lion King” would have been so great, if it wasn’t for Timon and Pumbaa. I know that I’ll get razed for this, but I firmly believe that those two characters drove down the entertainment value of the picture. Their wackily-sung “Hakuna Matata” added nothing to the picture. Moreover, it was bloated and overlong. AMPAS thought it was charming, and nominated it for an Oscar.

Jar-Jar Binks was one animal sidekick that almost every Star Wars fan hated. George Lucas took note, and reduced his speech in the sequel. I myself was indifferent--Jar-Jar was annoying for only as long as he was on-screen, which wasn’t long at all. But in animated movies, animal creatures are exhibited for at least half the running length of the animated film. In “Hunchback of Notre Dame”, the three gargoyles were on-screen for a grand total of 42 minutes. And the film was 95 minutes long. If you divide 42 into 95, then you get a negotiable 2. If you added thirty seconds to the length of time that they were on-screen, than you could divide their time evenly into 95. Either way, they chewed up way too much screen time.

Eddie Murphy’s performance--pre-”Shrek”--in “Mulan” as the title character’s advisor, was amazingly adept at getting the viewer to hate him. Murphy’s a great performer, with the right roles--even in voice acting. But take a look at it this way: reputations can be ruined quick, and Murphy was on the verge of unintentionally ditching his.

If the studios are reading this, let them know that "funny" animal sidekicks are NOT FUNNY. Neither are the lame jokes, the colorful personalities, and the inane plots that they’re stuck in.

A Vision of the Future of TV Animation, in Three Acts

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 8, 2002

by Enoch Allen

This will be a short introduction, as I will try something that I have never tried before. Being that I am an aspiring writer, I have a fetish for dramatizing things. I like to take the Real, and put it into the What If. Some interesting things come out as a result.

As the way that things are going in TV animation right now, things look bleak. We have seen, over the course of the past two years, more good shows cancelled than bad ones. This only proves that some executives don’t know what they’re really doing. And that’s sad, but I hate to play the Blame Game and “blame” executives for the failure of a show. That’s just tacky. But it cannot be disputed that they play an important role in the programming and evolution of the networks, and without them, things may be worst off than they are.

The following is a brief depiction of the gathering of the suits, circa 2006, depicted as per my vision in three acts.

Act One:

The scene is a plush office on a high-rise floor of your choice. The office contains an oakwood desk cluttered with paperweights, memos, propositions, and writing utensils. Oh, and a phone. There are two seats, one adjacent. Two very important-looking men are staring at--

The executive, dressed in Armani. Reclined in the executive‘s seat, shoes on desk, eyes intensely focused on the two very important-looking men. The Armani-dressed man is named “Billy”.

The two other very important-looking men will just be known as Short Man and Lanky Man. They are yes-men, who don’t have enough of an individuality to be recognized by unique names.

Billy: So, can anyone tell me about how “The Wacky Adventures of Hell-Guy” is doing in the ratings?

Short Man: Not very good. We getting beat to pieces on Saturday mornings by original, unique shows currently airing on other networks.

Lanky Man: Our failures probably have something to do with importing too many cheaply made shows.

Billy (shrugs): That’s business logistics. In order to secure my position, I have to do what I think is best for the company.

Short Man: Um, sir, if I may. You have been plundering the company’s assets for a long time, usually under detection. Might I be so bold as to say that you are doing a poor job, adhering to your ideal of “Doing what’s best for the company”.

Billy (nervous): How’d you find out?

Lanky Man: It’s pretty much general knowledge that you’ve been using the company’s resources to fund your sex habits. Nobody hasn’t said anything because, we’re all your friends. And, you pay us much money.

Short Man: In order to put us back on the top, you have to cease extracting money from the corporate bank account. I see that you have a few specs on your desk . . .

Billy (quickly shoving documents into desk): Um, yeah, I’m taking a look at a few things.

Act Two:

Same place, with the players in the same positions, but it‘s a day later.

Billy: Okay. I’ve come up with a new strategy. We will order twelve more episodes for “The Adventures of Hell-Guy”, for another season, plus we will order an additional twelve episodes for a new series.


Lanky Man: And that’s what you call a strategy.

Billy (shrugging): Well . . .

Short Man: We think it’s a nice one, sir, but we think that there’s something missing, you know. Just a little something.

Billy: The fans seem to think that we have a bottomless pit of resources. That, that we can go out and purchase Microsoft. Ah, how I wish that were true. I know that you have to give a little, to get something. But, this strategy may already sink me. This is the reason why we’d never think of hiring anyone involved in the creative world, because they would make decisions that favor the creators vs. decisions that favor upper management. I choose to play it safe.

Lanky Man: You know, there has been $31,560,000 allotted to this division. So far, we’ve spent--

Billy (fuming): I know how much we’ve SPENT!

Act Three:

Billy: You know, I apologize for the way that I acted during yesterday’s meeting. It was rather ungentlemanly of me.

Lanky Man: Apology accepted.

Short Man: Apology accepted.

Billy: Look, guys, I know you’re on to me. I’m accustomed to that. I know that our budget was at the $31,560,000 level.

Short Man: May I ask, how much do we have to work with now?

Billy (beat): $19,476,087.

Lanky Man (optimistically): That’s more than enough to work with. After all, it only costs $600,000 to order an episode.

Billy: Multiplied by 13, per season.

Short Man (counting his fingers): That’s only $7.8 million. You’ll have almost $12 million left over.

Billy abruptly adjourns the meeting. And, as voyeurs, we are left without a clue as to where the additional money is going.

This is, as according to my vision, the future of TV animation as I perceive it. It may change, hopefully for the better.

Just Imagine: Animated Adaptations of Previously Published Material

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 9, 2002

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by Enoch Allen

Okay. I get it. This is a really long title for an article, and this article won’t be nearly as ambitious as I hoped it would be. But then, I will only do ambitious articles once in a great while.

Once in a great while, for me, means doing it every two weeks. Unfortunately, with my kind of schedule, I can’t do it much more often than that. In addition to working on a screenplay, I am also working on a second novel--which I am worried, that my publisher might sell all the rights of that novel to Disney, and then they can screw it up and the material will start to stink to high heaven.

This article will be about adapting previously published material for the big screen. Does it work? And, given the track record of those who “tampered” with published material in the past, can it ever work?

It doesn’t for Disney. As you should recall, not too long ago they released an unfaithful adaptation of Victor Hugo’s bestselling classic, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. Roger Ebert gave it four stars, for some inexplicable reason. Many critics were sharply divided over this pitiful excuse for an adaptation. Some hated it; others were madly in love with it. Unless if you treat the source material with enough respect, that you would faithfully and acceptably transpose someone else’s work onto the sliver screen, it’s not an adaptation. It’s a crap job.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t have a publisher yet. But I was using the second paragraph to illustrate exactly what I don’t want to happen--the destruction of delicate material.

I suppose that the American public can reason out for themselves that the novel is not all that bad. Whether they’d want to read it after the filmmakers and the studios turned the material into a cinematic travesty is completely up to them. But I’m willing to bet that they wouldn’t go within one hundred yards of the novel, because of the powerful images, which has been indelibly planted into their heads.

What about “Peter Pan”? The novel by J.M. Barrie that got turned into a beloved classic? That’s an adaptation done right, if you ask me. But the material suited the medium just fine--after all, it was a “children’s novel”. Don’t get me wrong, even at the grand old age of 17 I still read those kinds of books. Because they tell important, meaningful stories.

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Lesson for the filmmakers: If you plan on turning a novel into an animated film anytime soon, just remember not to Disney-fy it. Because chances are that novel has fans that will catch you in a dark parking lot somewhere, and they will not claim responsibility for whatever happens afterwards.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


SPECIAL ARTICLE: A post so long, it makes War and Peace seem shorter than a Planned Parenthood Pamphlet

Installment #2 of the Suite 101 series. This one’s gonna be long. You have been forewarned.

Once again, in case if you haven’t read Installment #1, here is another warning of my writing proficiency. All articles are posted here “unabridged”. These articles were “published” in 2002, and are in no way reflective of my present writing skills, or even of the level of my vocabulary. Both have grown exponentially since.

E-mail me at (if you dare!). Mwhahahahahaha! Or, something like that.

The Substance of Czech Animation

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 3, 2002

Page 1

By Enoch Allen

A big ‘toonhead friend of mine, who shall go nameless, said that almost anything (animated, or otherwise) produced outside of America merits a viewing.

“Why is that?” I asked him.

“Because, this is the only country in the world that would settle for producing movies like “Freddy Got Fingered” and “Kung Pow! Enter the Fist", whereas the standards for quality are higher in other countries,” he replied.

Well, the guy does have a point. Czech animators hate dumbing down their material. Michaela Pavlatova, to use an obscure example, was nominated for an Oscar for her intelligent and insightful animated short, “Words, Words, Words”. But it was so . . . complicated!

“Words, Words, Words” is a refreshingly high-quality animated film that centers on the structure and nature of human relationships, from fantasy weddings to harsh reality. I believe that this is the only animated film created (including Japanese imports) that represents a wide, diverse range of subject matters. “Words, Words, Words” is representative of the kind of material that Czech animators cover.

Alluding to my earlier example, Prague (generally regarded as second-best to Hollywood, in terms of presenting quality films) doesn’t show just anything. They do not let their animators settle for mediocrity, unlike Hollywood. Czech animators--while somewhat forced to adhere to business logistics--always concentrate on the artistic quality of the project, and less attention is paid to such things like cost or materials.

Some Czech animators have learned to produce magnificent material on a nonexistent budget and little time. When the materials used to produce a film wears thin, these savvy animators increase the “substance” value of it. Case in point: Zdenek Miler’s “Krtek” (or, “little mole”) is so widely beloved in Europe (notably among Czech and Slovak children) that they affectionately--and nostalgically--refer to it as their version of “Mickey Mouse”. And it is--yet, these series of animated shorts featuring the red-nosed mole were made at very little cost to the studio. But it was the substance of these little films that attracted their audience. Miler was able to produce these shorts without sacrificing much style or substance.

Czech artists play an important role in global animation, being that animation directors from the U.S., Iraq, and even Japan (!) seek either their services or their expertise. Keep in mind, reader, that all this is happening as funding for Czech animation is on the decline, and Czech animators have resorted to developing minimalist projects that look as shallow as the budget they’re produced on. But amazingly, as was highlighted in the previous paragraph (utilizing Zdenek Miler’s “Krtek” as an example), even cheap Czech animation is high quality, because your attention is focused towards the narrative, and not on the style.

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(Thanks to, and for the invaluable information.)

The Situation vs. The Plot

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 4, 2002

By Enoch Allen

Have you ever watched a movie that never seemed to end? And then, when it ended, you sorta felt that it ended too soon. That might prompt you to think:

“Wow. That was a pretty short movie.”

In actuality the film was, most likely, the right length for a feature. Perhaps the filmmakers didn’t go far enough with the plot.

You see, this is the way that I feel with most animated films of today. Not enough potential is being milked out of a meaty subject. It’s almost as if the filmmakers decided beforehand that the story just has to be a certain length, else it won’t get distributed/aired. Then, that could be the fault of the writers, who focus too much on developing a situation instead of an actual, active plot for the characters. This happens way too many times in today’s animation.

Like, in the seven-minute short cartoons. The characters get a situation. The characters devise plans to get out of it. The characters have either triumphantly succeeded or triumphantly failed. The End.

This leads to redundancy in motion. Too many times have we seen the story set up that way. It is almost getting as repetitive as the Three-Act Structure of stories. This has me saying, “Thank God for the ‘Net!” It is, perhaps, only on the Internet that we can experience tales told in a fiercely diverse style.

Being that I am an armchair deconstructionist, let me analyze for a paragraph or two, Hayao Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke”. (I know that referencing “Princess Mononoke” endlessly doesn’t serve to convey my point effectively--it only serves to contrast it, and label my stance “hypocritical”. I can’t help that.)

“Princess Mononoke” is a 135-minute film. Okay, so that would amount up to about two hours and fifteen minutes. We know that most (if not, all) of Disney or Dreamworks or Warner Bros. animated films are under two hours. Half are under ninety minutes. What animator can tell an epic story, under ninety minutes? And that assumes that each character is fleshed out, and the maximum dramatic value of the story has been used to its potential.

Truth is, I don’t think that any animator can--tell a story under ninety minutes and retain the above qualities--without sacrificing its potential. So what you end up with, is a movie that “coulda been a contendah” but wasn’t, due to restrictions of various sorts (budget, upper management complaints, etc.). Hayao Miyazaki was interested in telling a compelling tale, with multi-dimensional characters. I haven’t heard of a tale involving a compelling “situation”. I suppose that an argument can be made for keeping the story short and the characters appealing, but unless if we’re talking to two-year-olds there is no excuse for simplifying the material. We’d only be supporting the maxim that “animation is for kids”. Which, as I have argued in articles past, is not true.

For storytellers, implementing a situation seems to serve the story better. After all, a situation really does allow for possibilities to enter the viewer’s mind. In a plot-driven story, the viewer is often left entangled in unresolved, unexplained occurrences (loose ends), and it would take a “deus ex machina” to conclude the story coherently.

Or, not coherently. A plot-driven story is still, unless proven otherwise, the most effective means of communicating with the audience, without losing the trajectory of the narrative. The “trajectory”, meaning the pace, speed, and order of the occurrences. In a situation-propelled story, all that the audience has to do, in order to disconnect themselves from the proceedings, is ignore the situation that the characters are in. And the story ceases to matter to them. In a plot-propelled story, it would be more difficult for the audience to disconnect themselves from the movie--there are several aspects of the narrative that may hold their attention. You ever see Adam Sandler’s earlier movies, where a barrage of gags and jokes are thrown at you, and you feel like the filmmakers have the perception that their core audiences consist of ADD-inflicted individuals? That’s how you can tell whether a film is propelled by plot or situation.

In a plot-driven animated film, the sum of the circumstances adds up to a more rounded, fulfilling film. In films propelled by situation, only one circumstance is needed to fulfill the objective. I like plot-driven animated films better. How 'bout you?

(Thanks to, as always.)

What If We Were Studio Executives?

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 4, 2002

By Enoch Allen

Let’s picture ourselves in their shoes. An interesting concept for a new animated series has been left on our desk, unread and neglected. Now, we’re expected to be team players--I mean, just because we work in different divisions doesn’t mean that we can’t be cohesive. In this case, we are walking in the moccasins of an executive in some children’s division of a network.

Let’s go back to the vision that we had just originally left. We pick up the neglected treatment off of our desk. We brush the thick layer of dust off of the cover, and turn the page . . .

. . . and ten pages later, we’re still not hooked. (Actually, you have to hook some executives by the first paragraph. It has to do with their short attention spans, or their schedule--some easy-does-it letdown bull like that.) There is however, a little voice inside of us that is saying, “Buy it! Hire the bastard! You’d be making a big mistake if you turn this concept down.”

We argue with ourselves. “Look, it’s not “Pokemon” or anything like that. How can I trust an unproven property?”

The little voice retorts, “Whaddya in this business for, if you can’t take chances?”

We, the heartless exec, begin to soften up a little. “I’m not being a team player, if I play on the team of the artists. I’m supposed to care more for the best interests of the company that I work for.”

We hear the little voice smack himself in frustration. “The artist/writer IS the best interest of your company. Without the talent to propel you, the business would fold and you would not have a job.”

We harden. “Someone with a unique vision doesn’t care about my company, and how financially stable we are. The only thing that they care about is their vision.”

The voice understands. “Yes. But they need to care about their vision--the condition of their entire career hinges on that first swing, you know?”

We return to our former, rigidly militant stance. “The artists should have enough reasoning skills to determine that Hollywood doesn’t thrive on original, creative visions. IT thrives on proven property. I’m sorry, but this synopsis--that of a homeless man becoming a plasma superhero--no one’s known this.”

We hear the voice again. “Ever hear of ‘Monsters, Inc.’?” And we, the reconditioned heartless exec, laugh. “Those fools at Pixar! I’d never risk $115 million on an untested project! That’s friggin’ nuts!”

The wise little voice sets us straight. Again. “But it made $252 million, now didn’t it?”

We shut up. Sadly though, we fiercely adhere to what our professor taught us in some Business Management class, in some nameless, preppy Ivy League school, and toss the twenty-page treatment aside. The economy is not in the best of shape. Corporations are laying off whole groups of loyal employees. Operations are being reduced to 50% efficiency. And this is the time to fund someone else’s masterful, creative vision? Please. We could do better for ourselves, like greenlighting another “Pokemon” spinoff, and making ourselves filthy rich, right? I mean, it’d only cost us $25,000--if that--to purchase a whole season’s worth of episodes. That’s marquee value.

Is this your thinking? Are we going to let business logistics triumph over original, innovative vision? Your call.

(Thanks to, for providing news on studio executives.)

What's Up With The Running Time?

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 4, 2002

by Enoch Allen

Do all animated movies have to be ninety minutes and under? At a suicidal risk to my readers’ attention span, and my online popularity, I want to explore the running time of animated movies. I do realize that the exploration of running time would make this article stultifying stiff, so I shall subsequently lace it with potty humor, if only to keep you awake.

Animators are told to get their point across, real fast. Get the story over in ninety minutes and under, get it in theaters, and make us a lot of money. That’s why “The Great Mouse Detective” was barely feature length at 77 minutes; “Ferngully: The Last Rainforest” was 80 minutes; “The Lion King” was 88 minutes; its direct-to-video sequel was much shorter, at 75 minutes; “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” was 76 minutes; “Tarzan” was a tad longer, at 91 minutes; “The Jungle Book” was just over 70 minutes; “The Aristocats” was, maybe, 85 minutes; “Batman: SubZero” was not even feature length, at 67 minutes; “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” was 80 minutes; “The Powerpuff Girls” was Gone in Sixty Minutes--literally (well, it was a bit longer than that, at 72 minutes) and “Hey! Arnold” had, I believe, the same running length as the “The Powerpuff Girls”.

There were only a handful of animated films that were over ninety minutes, like for example “The Prince of Egypt”, at 100 minutes; “Princess Mononoke”, at 135 minutes; Miyazaki’s upcoming “Spirited Away”, at 110 minutes; Ralph Bakashi’s “The Lord of the Rings”, at 131 minutes; “Titan A.E.” at 95 minutes; and “Lilo & Stitch”, perhaps the only Disney movie over ninety minutes, at 95 minutes. These were usually the better animated films, partly because the animators were given time to flesh out the story. The shortest animated films are labeled by critics as “charming diversions“, because they’re not long enough to merit our full attention. These films are reduced to the status of animated shorts, in that we wait--patiently or impatiently--for these diversions to conclude so that we can get to the main attraction.

But, animated films SHOULD be the main attraction. It is my belief that they will continue to be viewed as diversions until longer animated films are produced.

(Thanks to,, and for invaluable information. By the way, I didn’t come through on the potty humor. Mwahahahahahahahaha!)

Have any questions/comments? Write me at

Male Characters vs. Female Characters

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 5, 2002

Page 1

by Enoch Allen

In animation, we artists and writers believe that there are no restrictions, besides those that are placed upon us by the Broadcast Standards & Practices. Many of the male artists’ fantasies revolve around the female shape/form. The poor female audience is subjected to seeing their fellow gender sexually exploited on television. The male animated characters are outrageously buffed to extreme proportions, so that they represent an image we wish to attain to. John K. spoofed this brilliantly in “The Ripping Friends”, about superheroes that are obnoxiously muscular.

It doesn’t help that the types of animated shows that feature these enhanced creatures are the shows that are rated highest on television. But, animated imagery, be they fake or otherwise, can imprint messages into the brains of our young audiences. What image do we want them to have of us?

Ever heard of this show that used to air on the USA Sunday morning Action Block, “Skysurfer Strike Force”? The team had a lone female fighter on it, and I believe that (doing this entirely from my untrustworthy memory) her name was Slice Nice. Or was it Slice Dice? Well, anyway, assuming that her name began with Slice her figure--aside from that wacked-up hairstyle--was envious. She had a bust size that commanded attention, and an inch-and-a-half wide waist. Not to mention other seductive curves. What if the audience for “Strike Force” was 50% female? Would they get the impression that all females who have that shape are superheroes? Or would they think, “It’s just a comic-book cartoon designed to entertain us”?

Those are some of the issues that should make us question the composition of our creativity. Why do we create these characters? What motive do we have for maximizing the female form? Or maximizing the male form?

Those are questions, also, that we as creators must ask ourselves. Are we cheapening the human image, so that we may increase profit margins? Because sex sells, you know. Is there a legitimate reason why we can’t have OBESE male and female superheroes/superheroines? After all, Wonder Woman doesn’t look obese, and neither does Superman.

Dean DeBlois and Chris Saunders (Directors, “Lilo & Stitch”) recently addressed the “image” subject, by making Nani (Lilo’s older sister) a bit rounded. You know, so that it appears that she has meat on her bones. In addition, they also made her strong and forceful--human qualities that for the most part have been largely absent from Disney’s female characters. And what about the male Disney characters? They were reduced to having a supporting role in “Stitch”. Males are usually at the forefront of Disney stories, always either the victorious or the vanquished.

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Male characters vs. female characters. I guess this article is inappropriately titled, since there is no versus when it comes to male animated characters working with female animated characters. You usually see them working together, or occasionally falling in love. They are less likely to fight each other. My intention, exactly, was to explore our perceptions of what constitutes an appropriate appearance (as to animation) for both genders.

(Thanks to and for the important information.)

Friday, September 09, 2005


A Link for Fred Patten

Once I got word of Fred Patten’s upgraded condition, I like many other webmasters copied and pasted a banner from Kay Shapiro’s website to mine humble blog here. You can see the link in the sidebar. I urge you, if you are all out of money from donating to Katrina victims and evacuees, to find 50 cents or one more dollar for Fred. If you can’t spare anything, send him a nice, encouraging e-mail. I’m almost certain he can use one of those these days.

P.S.—If you go to the website for Fred, you’ll read up on why Glen Wooten has to collect donations for Fred. California is filled with assholes, insensitive assholes or inept idiots—that they would place a limit on how much income a sick man may receive, so that he may qualify for whatever limited state assistance they can offer him (i.e. throwing a few pennies at him), makes me wonder—are they (those who are in charge of California’s health system) sick in the head as well?

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Oh my God! I'm about to be crushed by a giant ass! AHHHHHH!!!!!

Well, there you have it, folks! Oldie-moldy articles dug up from three years ago, washed off, copied and pasted to. . .well. . .here. They look like shiza, but that’s in keeping with my promise to post these articles here unmolested.

The next installment should be on here in about two days. Maybe even tomorrow, if I can find the time. But, don’t be too surprised if you don’t see them here.

Thanks for reading, old chums!


SPECIAL ARTICLE! Suite 101 Installment #1

Well, here’s the first of a series of Suite101 installments, which I expect will extend into next month. I authored over fifty of these bitches, so at two or three a day some of you may get tuned out. Nevertheless, there was some interest for these articles, so I said to myself, “What the hell?”

Furthermore, these articles will appear on here unabridged. That means--no touch-ups, rewrites, or edits of any kind. The articles look the same as the day I wrote them, and that is exactly how I want them presented to you. Warts, misspelled words, non-grammatical, non-sensical sentences and all.

Here goes.

The Legitimacy of Animation

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: July 29, 2002

Page 1

by Enoch Allen

Okay, allow me to demonstrate what the title of this article means. It has nothing to do with minorities in Animation (the “cartoon” industry, in fact, is very diverse culturally) and, it has little to do with the state of the quality of animation (that’s another article).

It has something to do with Animation’s IMAGE.

If you went to see “Hey! Arnold” a couple of weeks ago, did you have the feeling that you were in for viewing a picture as sophisticated as “The Road to Perdition”? I suspected as such. Or, let me adjust my demonstration to include “The Powerpuff Girls”. Is your answer still a resounding “No”?

If it is, then you know what I’m getting at. And, by the way, both of these pictures did very mediocre business at the box-office.

The majority of the animated offerings released this year were aimed at kids. And, it didn’t help that the Academy ghettoized animation by giving the genre its own category, instead of letting it rightfully compete with its live-action counterparts. Films such as “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” and “Lilo & Stitch”, while excellently made, only served to stunt the potential of the medium.

As artists and as writers, if we wish to add weight to our side of the scale, we might be putting forth a little more effort to curb the trend of the “kiddie film”. Animators such as Bill Plympton and Bruce Timm, and writers such as Micah Wright and Paul Dini have showed us how far we could go--if only we’d be willing to travel the distance. There are hurdles, of course.

Like studio executives, whose eyes are glued to either one of these two things: the bottom line, and the Nielsen ratings (for television). Or even audiences themselves, who support the shoddiness and the banality that characterizes animation’s Poor Side.

Sometimes, even us. We can be our own worst enemy, in our quest to climb up that long ladder to success. In fact, to the point where we’d be destroying the unique creative visions of others. We must stem that ambition.

In animation, there needs to be more adult characterizations (i.e. housewives, businesspeople, doctors, lawyers, etc.), more sophisticated plotting (cutting the funny business of substituting situation for legitimate story structure), and higher production values (as in, not “Teamo Supremo” crap). If animators can achieve the above, they would be taking the entire genre a step closer to legitimacy.

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(Thanks to,, and for the information provided, that made this article possible.)

Suite 101 #2

The Defenders of Originality, Pt. 1

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 1, 2002

Page 1

By Enoch Allen

John Lasseter. Hayao Miyazaki. John Kricfalusi. Don Bluth. Ward Kimball. Ever heard of ‘em?

Well, you should’ve. They are responsible for some of the most original pieces of animation ever created, or imagined. At a great toll to their lives and their families, they have given some of us a reason to wake up in the morning, a reason to look at television, a reason to go to the movies. For a select few of us, they have given us a reason to live.

They have sacrificed so much, so that they might satisfy our insatiable need to be entertained. I’d like to explore the accomplishments of these animators, and how they contributed to the uniqueness of animation. Would you like to explore their accomplishments with me? (Part One will profile John Lasseter and Hayao Miyazaki, and Part Two will cover John Kricfalusi, Don Bluth, and Ward Kimball.)

John Lasseter--Creator of “Toy Story”, “A Bug’s Life”, and “Toy Story 2”. Like any kid, the cartoon fertilized his imagination. Saturday morning cartoons, to be accurate. His mother, an art teacher, supported his ambition to become involved with animation. After high school, Lasseter attended the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA, along with such notable animators as John Musker, Chris Buck (“Tarzan”) and Brad Bird (“The Iron Giant”). His two student films won awards, back to back. Lasseter was then subsequently snapped up by Disney, and he worked there for five years.

He worked for Disney at a time when Disney wasn’t concentrating on distinguishing animation from its contenders. Their output during this time period (“The Fox and the Hound”, “The Black Cauldron”) was dismal. Eventually, Lasseter found his way into the Lucas Film Computer Division, where the great visionary George Lucas challenged Lasseter’s way of thinking (he was still in the Disney mindset). Lasseter--at first--believed that only backgrounds could be modeled on a computer, while Lucas posited that characters and backgrounds could both be animated (this was later evidenced in the second set of “Star Wars” movies, where computers were used extensively). Lasseter more or less adopted Lucas’s idealism and in 1986, Pixar was born. And so was Lasseter’s imagination.

His first major feature was “Luxo Jr.” (although he had created a previous computer-animated short called “The Adventures of André & Wally B.”), which premiered at Siggraph--a convention designed to showcase the latest advances in computer techniques--to astonishing acclaim. Many believed that this picture signaled the beginning of computer animation. Lasseter then completed three more shorts before tackling what was to become one of the biggest achievements of his career--“Toy Story”.

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“Toy Story” marked a departure from the normal animated feature. The computer-animated film had nearly no songs, and no simple plot or objective (like getting out of the sea, or becoming a man, or falling in love). “Toy Story” immersed the viewer into a world that was similar, yet unique, to ours. Therein, Lasseter broke rule No. 5 of animation: it’s supposed to be aimed at kids. It should have no complexity and/or sophistication. Lasseter gave “Toy Story” both sophistication and complexity, in addition to character and dialogue.

Pixar’s following movies were box-office hits: “A Bug’s Life”, “Toy Story 2”, and “Monsters, Inc.”. Disney movies, however, were declining in both box-office revenues and quality: “Pocahontas” ($141.6 million); “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” ($100.1 million); and “Hercules” ($99 million). “Mulan”, it could be argued, marked a return back to style for Disney--but it still did not have the nigh-intangible ingredient that made Pixar’s movies so successful: a great story, with imaginative characters.

Allow me to segue now, from Lasseter to . . .

Hayao Miyazaki--Creator of “Laputa: Castle in the Sky”, “Porco Rosso”, and “Princess Mononoke”. Now, most or all of Miyazaki’s films begin without a script. That’s right: in a press conference Miyazaki gave in Paris in December of 2001, he admitted that he goes into a film, virtually blind. “The story develops when I start drawing storyboards,” Miyazaki explained. “It's a dangerous way to make an animation film and I would like it to be different, but unfortunately, that's the way I work . . .”

Well, it worked for his audience. His films have enjoyed both critical and box-office success, but unfortunately they were more successful overseas than domestically. One reason for the outstanding quality of his films is that Miyazaki always focuses on the story, and its characters. Or, sometimes, his creations “tell” him what it needs, and he delivers accordingly. He confessed: “It's not me who makes the film. The film makes itself and I have no choice but to follow.”

Miyazaki, who was born on Jan. 5, 1941, began his career at the famed Japanese studio Toei Douga in the early 1960’s. His career was advanced on the basis of his ability to draw wondrous, spectacularly vivid pictures. He observed various art forms, and chose the form that he liked best. Although he makes animated films primarily for children, he believes that everyone can relate to them. Therefore, it can be said that his films truly have “universal appeal”.

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Miyazaki does not believe in doing the same things twice. Each subsequent film of his introduces a unique theme. His plots are hardly redundant, his characters never cardboard. He refuses to put out shoddy work. He abstains from targeting a specific demographic. Perhaps most of all, he is not a minimalist. The above makes him a preserver of originality.

(Thanks to,,, /lff2001/news/0, 1555,604658,00.html, and finally They have all provided invaluable material on these animators, who changed our perspective on things and perhaps, life.)

The Defenders of Originality, Pt. 2

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 3, 2002

Page 1

by Enoch Allen

Hayao Miyazaki. John Lasseter. Don Bluth. John Kricfalusi. Ward Kimball. Ever heard of ‘em?

In Part One of this article, we examined the achievements of John Lasseter and Hayao Miyazaki. Now that Part Two has finally arrived, we might further pore over the accomplishments of those who bucked against a system that thrived on unacceptable principles. In Part Two, the careers of John Kricfalusi, Ward Kimball, and Don Bluth will be spotlighted.

John Kricfalusi-- Creator of “Ren & Stimpy” and “The Ripping Friends”. This is his explanation of how he got “Ren & Stimpy” on Nickelodeon (excerpted from an interview with Coury Turczyn of “I tricked [the executives]. I told 'em it was going to be unfunny, that it would be wiggly lines, nobody would be able to follow the stories, and nobody could identify with the characters. And they said, "Oh! That's exactly what we want!"

Of course, the above might be more/less the truth (I’m betting on “less”). But, it is indisputable as to how much of an effect his creations have on our fragile little minds. His fantastically demented cartoons are unabashedly adult, while “implying” that they’re tailor-made for the grade-school set. That’s one way we, as artists and as writers, can showcase the true potential of animation: by disguise and superimposition. Like John K. did.

Mr. Kricfalusi came to Hollywood in 1980, and found himself working on remakes of classic Hanna-Barbara cartoons. He found that either he had to do as the Romans were doing . . . or find himself unemployed. Many of the things that these “Romans” were doing involved bastardizing classic cartoons, and demeaning the art form. Another great animator, Ralph Bakashi, hired John K. to direct “The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse”, for CBS.

After a year on that show, John K. went to ABC and worked on a remake of “Beany and Cecil”, which was canceled in just under a year. Mr. Kricfalusi soon tired of doing what the networks wanted him to do, and so as a result he formed Spumco--an independent animation house. It was also at this time, that he conceived “Ren & Stimpy”, one of the greatest achievements made by a single animator in the history of animation. It was the first time that an animated duo addressed controversial, taboo issues--and acted in a controversial, gross-out way. It was a super-hit, but John K. was soon forced to cede control over his creation to the executives at Nickelodeon. Four long years later, he was able to regain ownership of his creation. “Ren and Stimpy” has found a new home: TNN, where new episodes of the beloved animated series will be airing in 2003.

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He has another good show on television: “The Ripping Friends”, which focused on obnoxiously-muscular superheroes who fight against misshapen villains and . . . well, I don’t really know what else they fight against. “What” is the key word here. This new series--while it may not be up to par with his previous work--deserves an honorable mention, simply because John K.’s style is maintained.

Ward Kimball--Creator of “Jiminy Cricket” character-“Pinocchio”; animator of crow sequence--“Dumbo”; Creator of other characters such as Lucifer the cat (“Cinderella”) and Tweedledee and Tweedledum (“Alice in Wonderland”); consultant to Walt Disney Imagineering. Ward Kimball first joined Walt Disney studios in 1934, when he was twenty. Back in those olden but golden days of animation, there weren’t many animated movies that you could compare to, and stack up against. Animation was fairly young--only, say, 40--and there wasn’t many, er, revisionists, so to speak. There just wasn’t much to revise.

But, you get the point. Much of what the medium has become can be attributed to Ward Kimball. His reputation enhanced Walt Disney’s. Yet, Kimball humbly admitted in an early interview that if it wasn’t for Disney’s tolerance and allowance for artistic visions that varied from his own, he (Kimball) wouldn’t have had a reputation to speak of. Two of the animated shorts that Kimball created for Disney, “Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom” and "It's Tough to be a Bird", won Academy Awards. He retired in 1973, being that he had left his mark in the industry by that time.

He also built up an entire collection of model trains and similar “locomotives” in his backyard. This collection was soon called Grizzly Flats Railroad. Thought I’d mention this as an aside, because the man had a life outside of animation, and interests that were independent from his professional interests.

Ward Kimball, as you all might know, died on July 8, 2002. When he died, he took nearly 70 years of experience and talent with him. Fortunately enough, he educated a new generation of animators and writers, who will become our preservers of originality.

Don Bluth--Animator with more impressive credits to his name than I could count, with eighty fingers. I‘ll spotlight on a few:Director, “Titan A.E.”, “Anastasia”, “The Secret of N.I.M.H”, “An American Tail”, “All Dogs Go To Heaven”. Okay, so Don Bluth was this direct descendant of Pocahontas (that’s the claim from the source, anyway), who was born into a family of seven in 1937. He lived in El Paso, Texas, in a very creative household. He was always drawing, always creating these impressionistic sketches--right up until he was accepted into the Disney’s Burbank studios, as an in-betweener (a minimum-wage-paying position--that some animators say, is so low on the Importance Totem Pole that it doesn’t even merit being capitalized--in which a person does the drawings “in between” the Animator's key drawings to flesh out a complete movement), and the first project that he worked on was “Sleeping Beauty”, from 1955 to 1956.

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For a while, he and his brother, Frederick, got into the theater business, and did some plays for a while, but he found it to be unfulfilling. It was, at this time, that he decided to commit himself, full-time, to animation.

After a lengthy absence, he returned to the Disney Animation Department as an Animator. He blasted to the top of the industry chain--by 1976, he was a Producer/Director. This second time around Disney (in 1972), he met a guy, seven years his junior. This exceptionally-skilled, witty man was named Gary Goldman, and the duo made some fantastic pictures together.

Allow me, now, to dramatize how their first independent feature, “Banjo the Woodpile Cat”, came about (I’m taking licenses with actual dialogue, but the general events really did occur as according to bluthd.html):

Don Bluth: “You know Gary, I’m getting tired of drawing stick figures without personalities.”

Gary Goldman: “Well, Disney injects a smidgen of personality into their characters. I--I mean, look at how “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too” turned out.”

Don: (smirking) “Exactly. You know how that turned out.”

Gary: “Yeah. The long days of production . . .”

Don: “And the damn stress, Gary. Never forget the stress.”

Gary: “Oh God, the stress. Makes you wish we could make our own stuff, y’know? Be our own bosses.”

Don: (thinking) “You know, in speaking of that I did have this project laying on the table for a while . . .”

Gary: (shaking head) “Naw, Don. No f***ing way. We don’t even have funding.”

Don: “What, Gary? Are you so cheap that you can’t, you know, squelch two cents out of your pocketbook . . .”

Gary: “It’s not that, Don. It’s never that. I was just saying, you know, that it takes more than a couple of thou and pipe dreams to make something, truly and believably, come to life.”

Some time later, after this parking-lot discussion, John Pomeroy enters the picture.

John Pomeroy: “Hey, Don, Gary told me about this picture called “Banjo the Woodpile Cat”--you were workin’ on it?”

Don: (smacks head) “The blabbermouth.”

John: “I was wondering, you know, that I believe that you have a brilliant, innovative concept on your hands, and, you know, was wondering if I could get in on it . . .”

To make an epic into a to-the-point commercial here, Don let fellow animator Pomeroy on board for “Banjo the Woodpile Cat”. The production, utilizing traditional animation techniques, began in Bluth’s garage in the spring of 1975. The production was finally completed in 1979.

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In 1979, Bluth left Disney after he received funding for a feature-film project, a little something called “The Secret of N.I.M.H.”. Don Bluth’s resignation from Disney took effect on September 13, 1979--his birthday. How symbolic.

With Goldman and Bluth’s production company, they produced several high-caliber animated films, and each was well-received critically and publicly. Their animated films propelled them to almost-star status, though the duo were superstars to many animation enthusiasts. Then, came the beginning of many significant failures.

Let’s define failure, in this instance, as endeavors that don’t achieve their full purpose. It was not shortcomings on behalf of Bluth & Co., but the chain of events that made it nearly impossible for them to realize their full visions. “Rock-A-Doodle”(1990),Goldman and Bluth’s sixth film was plagued with production problems. On top of going over-budget, it was poorly marketed by MGM, and thereafter it flopped at the box-office. So did “A Troll in Central Park” (1993), “Thumblina” (1993), and “Titan A.E.” (2000).

“Titan A.E.”, Bluth and Goldman’s second picture with 20th Century Fox, was a well-made tanker. (Astonishingly enough, Bluth and Goldman remain on decent terms with 20th Century Fox.) It cost $80 million to make “Titan A.E.”, but the picture pulled in just over $24 million. It was devastating, but Bluth, as he had done so many times, got back on his feet. So did Goldman, but it was reported ( that it was harder for him to get over the movie’s box-office demise.

Because of his many failures, Bluth is less likely to take chances with producing high-concept, edgy animated fare nowadays. Bluth, in his own words: “The results were not great. So, it is difficult to jump on this idea, it is already difficult to raise money for animation. The most successful animated films are for families.” But, according to an interview last fall, he did not rule out taking another chance. “We'll see where it goes from here.”

Last Word. As you can see by reading about Don Bluth, Ward Kimball, and John Kricfalusi, all three took mighty risks that threatened to abridge their progress in their careers (or, in Don Bluth’s case, threatened to end it), for the cause of furthering the potential of the medium. John Kricfalusi refused to adhere to business logistics--to him, it was all about the quality of the art. Same for Mr. Bluth, in which he left Disney because of disputes with the quality of their films. These artists and writers, when it came to quality vs. budget, never compromised. Neither should today‘s animators.

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(Thanks to MckyFotoWeb/MckyFoto/DisneyBios/DisBio7. html,, lam087_1.html, dl_ward_kimball.html, www.,,, and Bluth.html. Without these sites, it would have taken me longer than three hours to finish this article.)

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