I watched a lot of cartoons and movies. I draw incessantly and carry a sketchbook everywhere. I work in animation and self-publish my books. There are monsters in the streets, don't wear red. Mad bulls and monsters hate that color. I still watch cartoons.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Why is this man smiling? Because he is Mr. Incredible, that's why.

"The Incredibles" sweeps the Annies. I wasn't there and I am only hearing the details as they come now. I'm sure I'll hear many stories and I'll post some as soon as I get them. Congratulations to a well deserved crew and leader. Pixar had made an effort to support its people and not burden them with executive meddling and look what happens.

Link to the list of Winners

Link to ASIFA blog with pictures

Link to Cartoon Brew as Jerry reports.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Is that an ax you're holding or are you going nuclear?

Merriam-Webster online had to make a note of it. And it is because there's enough people saying it this way as well.

Though disapproved of by many, pronunciations ending in \-ky&-l&r\ have been found in widespread use among educated speakers including scientists, lawyers, professors, congressmen, U.S. cabinet members, and at least one U.S. president and one vice president. While most common in the U.S., these pronunciations have also been heard from British and Canadian speakers.

It's not a crime but it tends to make me blink each time I hear it. Is it a tongue twister or just playing along with the pack you run with? Don't want to be the oddball who'll insist on saying "nu-klee-yer," my friends will think I'm not down with them. Or sumpin'. It's the same reaction I have to hearing people say "ax" when they mean to "ask" something.

I usually chide my kids to go look it up in the dictionary when they hear me go off on this tirade about "nukular." Now they can point to how even the dictionary had to acknowlege that people say it the way I say not to.

Link to Merriam Webster online entry on nuclear
Link to Slate article

Via Metafilter

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Just when you're getting used to excellence...

...he notches it up higher. And with seeming ease. Like watching someone stroll by and casually take flight right in front of you. Damn, he's good. This is part of my day's habit, to visit his title page once or twice each day, knowing that at some point in a few weeks he'll update that image. And it will always be a treat.

I think I saw this image when we visited him. A postcard? It's all a blur and I was rather intoxicated by the whole experience. He clicked by some images on a folder's contents and thumbnails flickered by.


Link to Tadahiro Uesugi

Geof Darrow Update

There he is. I see the email this morning at work (funny, how for most people the way they write is the same way they talk. It's as if I was listening to him rather than reading). All is well. He writes that he didn't want to have me make a costly long distance phone call and the hours difference between countries makes for very small windows of opportunity. You can't ask for nicer people.

Anyway, we can stand down the alert and herd the hounds back to the kennels. We have found Darrow. Thanks to Phil for supplying me with some numbers and all of you who've responded with your contacts--for a while there it was like playing six degrees of Geof Darrow. Good to know that we have a network of friends who's watching out for each other.

Link to Burlyman Entertainment

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Where in the world is Geof Darrow?

"Hey, Ronnie, I know you're a busy guy...," the phone message at work starts. He continues in his regular relaxed voice, typical of those who somehow have figured out how to live the balance of art, commerce and manageable global celebrity, "I was wondering if you might be interested..." Well, the cleverness goes on but delivers the question of whether I would do a pin-up or something for his current release of the series, "Shoalin Cowboy."

But then he says goodbye gently and hangs up. Wait. That's it? Geof? You didn't leave me a phone number to call you!

A week or so later, another message in my machine picks up the same way and jokes about an obvious miscrediting that we did a certain movie about a shark, "I'm kidding I know you guys didn't do that movie." And just as quickly he ends the message. No number again? Not again!

I ask Phil Amara at Dark Horse for any leads he might have because I don't think that any of my old notes on Geof would still work. Phil supplies me with contacts only because he knows that Geof knows me. I used to see Geof every year at San Diego Comic-con for years (before The Matrix swallowed the world and kept Geof from us) when he would share a corner booth with Mike Mignola and he paid me an enormous compliment by even knowing who I was. "You did that Alien book with the two girls." I lived off of that for years. "You should do more comics." That one I dip into in deep depression phases.

As it turns out the email and numbers Phil gave me are dead ends as well. I spoke to two kindly french ladies who told me that they don't know any Geof Darrow. Apologizing I make my polite phone exit with the first one, "You already called here before," she says.

"You got another call about Geof?"

"Yes, tonight." It seems that I'm not the only one Geof is perplexing and put on the hunt for him. I apologize again for good measure. "You're welcome." Nice French ladies.

But I am still without a way to have a dialogue with Geof. This one-sided phone tag seems to have intervals of a week or so and time may be of issue if I am to be of any service to him. So...If anyone of you have talked to Geof recently or you are Geof, please call me or send me email. Numbers to respond to would be greatly appreciated.

I'll keep you all posted if the hunt for Darrow bears fruit.

Link to Burlyman Entertainment

Monday, January 24, 2005

Study No. Abs-03

Scanned object, Photoshop and Illustrator. Whoosh.

Riding the crest. Studies in graphic freefall. Testing imagery collage from the hard drive. It's good to exercise other graphic notions every now and then, and I still get amazed that I can publish immediately on the web in full color. I grew up in a world of negatives, chemicals, leading, type foundries who'll set your type (you better know your picas) and you get it by courier to you so you can fit it in your mechanical art for print. Fingers perpetually crossed. Glad to be done with all that.

I hope that this Monday didn't prove this equation, [W +(D-d)] x TQ divided by M x NA, to be the most depressing day of the year for any of you.

Paper Biscuit on the brain

Cintiq drawing on Photoshop. Sigh

When the moment is upon you to draw, you draw.

I've learned to recognize the feeling and the only choices left to me are: do I stop everything and just draw? Or let the moment go and be fine with it? Once the moment recedes into time you can't recover it. Even if you have a pretty good idea of what it is, the drawing that would have happened at that very moment would be different from the drawing you try just an hour later or worse a day later.

I've had moments when I drive home and get story ideas, solutions that I really like and rush through the doors of my home and hope that I can keep this mental picture/feeling of what it is and try to jot it down, draw it--but it mostly melts into thin air. Just saying, Hello, honey I'm home! would dislodge it, dropping the bags to run to the computer can dissipate it.

So, when I'm relatively able to draw or write, I do it. Or forever hold my peace. There'll be another time. Just forget it. It'll be better next time.

I hope.

Macintosh turns 21

Never owned a PC. It wasn't even an option. My household is all Mac from the start. So, stuff like this makes my day. Here's a recounting of that day by Andy Hertzfeld back in January 24, 1984.

If you're used to seeing our dear Steve Jobs give the Keynote address at Macworld Expo every January you'll find it a huge treat to see him as he was 21 years ago. Scott Knaster had kept this Beta copy of the day for this long and I'm really glad he did. Link

Check this page for mirrors

Stories about the development of Apple's original Macintosh computer and the people who created it.

Happy 21st Birthday, Mac!


Via Metafilter

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Dan Lee

Dan Lee passed away this weekend after a lengthy battle with cancer. Dan was one of the very first people who welcomed me at Pixar and I came over to his cube a lot back at Point Richmond to get a feel of where everything is or how things are done. He drew beautifully and I hung around noticing that he's a fan of Japanese animation. Later on we would trade QT clips of anime that we like and talk about kits. He built a varied collection of ships and characters that he lovingly spent nights painting to exacting detail. When they moved him from one room to another he would harbor those beauties in my room, safe from those who think these figures can take some rough handling.

Photo by Amber Maclean, December 2004

As a designer, he had a fluid style that was unhurried as he was as a person. He would bicycle to work and hang out at tea places in our small city of Piedmont. That's where I suspect he drew these drawings. Before the sad news of his diagnosis I had asked to see this collection and he told me to download a group of them for myself. I've held on to them until a few months back when I mentioned to him that I had wanted to do a feature on him on the blog. He's not one to seek attention normally, but he was too weak by now to offer his usual fiesty dismissal of the whole idea. He conceded and it's good to have his blessings. We will miss him.

Dan was only 35.


Link to CBC article on Dan's passing here. Thanks, Anonymous for the info.

Link to Jamie Baker's blog's post about Dan.

Link to Otawa Citizen front page on Dan.

Article copy below sent to Craig Good of Pixar:

Ottawa Citizen Remembers Dan Lee

A friend in Canada sent this to me. Scans of the front page are here and here.

Text of Front-Page Article


Latest News

The genius behind Nemo

You may not have known Dan Lee, but you probably know his animated characters, who were as full of life as their Canadian creator, writes Christopher Shulgan.

Christopher Shulgan The Ottawa Citizen

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Dan Lee led a healthy life. He didn't smoke or drink. He liked hiking on nature trails, and the Toronto-born California cartoonist often rode his bicycle to his job at Pixar Animation Studios, where he designed some of the entertainment industry's best-loved characters.

Nemo and Marlin, his best-known creations, were the lovable father-son duo at the heart of Finding Nemo, whose $865-million U.S. worldwide gross makes it the second-biggest animated movie of all-time, behind Shrek 2.

Despite his lifestyle and easygoing sensibility, Mr. Lee died Jan. 15 after a 17-month battle with cancer. He was 35.

"Dan was a longtime member of our Pixar family," says Finding Nemo director Andrew Stanton. "He single-handedly designed Nemo and has been a major influence at Pixar. Dan was a wonderful, irreplaceable, talented human being, and we miss him terribly."

Character creation was Mr. Lee's gift, Mr. Stanton says.

That's an early part of the animation process that entails designing the look of each character. It typically happens after the movie's story has been roughed out, but before the screenplay is drafted.

With Nemo, the challenge was to draw a fish character who nevertheless gave the impression of an endearing human youth.

"It's really tough to create these animated characters. You have to make the character look appealing and likable, but not so cute they make you want to throw up," says Mr. Stanton. "Dan was exceptional at it. He never needed much direction. In fact, much of our collaborating involved me just getting out of his way. With Nemo, he hit the bull's-eye with his first sketches."

Mr. Lee was raised in Scarborough. His parents are first-generation Chinese immigrants, and he has three older sisters.

As a child, his drawing ability grew out of his love for cartoons and Japanese animation, particularly the Robotech series.

William Cheng met Mr. Lee in their Grade 10 science class.

"Instead of listening to the teacher, we doodled," says Mr. Cheng, who is now a Toronto set designer.

The pair competed to improve their drawing abilities, buying art books and making weekly pilgrimages to Toronto's Silver Snail comic book shop.

Mr. Lee loved to peoplewatch in cafes, where he created cartoon characters of his fellow coffee drinkers, then dreamed up fictional histories for his doodles.

When he graduated high school, Mr. Lee enrolled in Sheridan College's animation program and graduated in 1991 at the top of his class.

In 1996, after several years working in Toronto and California for animation companies that did a lot of advertising work, he sent his portfolio to Pixar, which had a lot of buzz thanks to the unexpected success of their 1995 movie, Toy Story, which grossed $362 million U.S. worldwide.

Shortly after Mr. Lee applied, Pixar asked him to visit the company. Psyched up for an interview, Mr. Lee arrived to find the company wasn't interested in just talking with him: Purely on the strength of his portfolio, they wanted to give him a job.

At Pixar, Mr. Lee's favourite work entailed doing exactly what he did for fun as a high school student in coffee shops: He created characters. His first success was on the 1998 hit, A Bug's Life, where he drafted Rosie, the black widow spider voiced by Bonnie Hunt. Rosie's movements mimic Audrey Hepburn, who Mr. Lee particularly revered.

"Once my parents were cleaning his house in Richmond and he made sure they didn't hurt the spider living outside his front door," says his sister, Sunny Lee-Fay. "Because he studied the spider in order to get Rosie to move realistically."

Ms. Lee-Fay recalls how thrilled she was when she saw a theatre full of children laughing at her brother's work on the movie's opening day in 1998.

"It was so neat to see something he had created giving so many people so much joy," she says.

Mr. Lee would go on to work on Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story 2 as a sketch artist, character designer and animator.

Other characters he designed include Princess Atta, Dot, Hopper and Tuck & Roll in A Bug's Life; Henry J. Waternoose in Monsters, Inc.; and Bloat, the barracuda in Finding Nemo. A perfectionist, he worked long hours to get his characters just right, often kept company in his workspace with his pet rat -- whose name, Zippity, also graced the licence plate of his Honda Civic.

When he wasn't working or sketching, Mr. Lee enjoyed hiking, cooking and cycling, frequently making the commute to and from Pixar's Emeryville, California, studios on two wheels.

Fine dining was a particular pleasure. His friend Onny Carr recalls the pot-luck dinners Mr. Lee hosted at his apartment.

Along with Mr. Cheng, Mr. Lee also made annual pilgrimages to Montreal to the Bar B Barn restaurant, where he enjoyed slow-roasted spareribs for lunch, dinner and the following day's lunch, then drove back to Toronto. "That was our rib intake for the year," says Mr. Cheng.

In August 2003, Mr. Lee was about to fly from California to Toronto when he had a coughing fit that wouldn't stop. As that was the time of SARS, he visited the hospital, where doctors discovered he had fluid in both lungs. Tests showed he had cancer in both lungs and in the bones of his spine.

"When he first got the diagnosis, we were all in denial," says Mr. Carr. "The statistics for lung cancer are pretty dire -- something like 85 per cent don't make it past five years. But I thought, Dan's healthy and young. Maybe he'll be in that 15 per cent."

Two types of radiation and chemotherapy were among the treatments Mr. Lee tried. When he felt able, he continued to work at Pixar.

"He could have travelled, or taken time off, but he didn't," says Ms. Lee-Fay. "That showed how much he liked what he did."

With his options for treatment diminishing, Mr. Lee's doctor suggested in the fall of 2004 that the animator should make an effort to see everyone he wanted before he died. He prepared himself for his death by reading about different religious conceptions of the afterlife. Buddhism and Eastern spirituality particularly interested him.

"I don't know whether you can ever be ready for something like this, but he had come to terms with it," Mr. Carr says, "One day we were watching Winged Migration and he kind of muttered to himself, 'Maybe in the next life I'll be an eagle'."

Mr. Lee was hospitalized at Berkeley, California's Alta Bates Summit Hospital on Jan. 10 for complications due to a lung infection. Surrounded by family and friends, he slipped away after five days in intensive care. He was cremated after a private service in California.

"He followed his dream and ended up at the top of his profession, doing exactly what he wanted," says Ms. Lee-Fay. "How many people are able to say anything like that?"

Pixar is planning a private tribute party to honour Mr. Lee's life on Feb. 13. "It's going to be a tribute," says Ms. Lee-Fay. "We're going to celebrate his life."

Mr. Lee is survived by his mother and father, Kam-Sau and Hung-Yau Lee of Toronto; and sisters Sunny Lee-Fay of Vancouver, Mei Okurmura of Tustin (Orange County) and Brenda Lee Truong of Toronto.

The family asks that donations in memory of Mr. Lee go to the Alta Bates Summit Foundation, 2450 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705.

The Disney way to make a Toy Story sequel starts with...

I've been here at Pixar a few years and I've seen how movies are made here. And it's not a secret. In fact it's in all the Pixar "making of" books. The director has this story that he/she wants to make and it all goes from there. Other studios have their own tried and true ways of making movies.

Though exact details of the script were being kept under close wraps, Stern's new take is expected to advance the "Toy Story" franchise by taking the characters on the road and out of Andy's room. Stern is also understood to have invented a couple of new characters for the next installment.

The studio is expected to hire another* screenwriter to write a polish on the script.

(* my bold. I does what I likes)

Friday, January 14, 2005

Over Time

Over Time ,from Partizan "A legion of puppets - and one man - are brought to life in this soulful and moving animated short." Directed by Oury & Thomas. Couldn't find out more about the short other than it was completed last year and the earliest raves about the net are from December last year. Haunting, you might forever be affected in how you view muppets and their relationship with their handlers.

They pulled it from boardsmag.com. I've seen blogs (videos.antville.org) where people had been posting a trail of sites where they see the short, then subsequently it gets pulled. I wonder why. People who've seen it are raving about it and it does affect you that way. I wish I can just host it but since the owners of the movie are actively pulling it down, they must be touchy about it.

So, Partizan, have you heard of the equation, "If you build it, they will come?" If you don't want people to see it...

Via March Design

Thursday, January 13, 2005

New Yorker piece on Miyazaki

Margaret Talbot writes about the Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, the writer and director of such films as “Spirited Away.” Here, with The New Yorker’s Daniel Cappello, Talbot discusses Miyazaki’s films, his influences, and his temperament.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

A moment to think. January is upon us.

Off and running. It seems that this month is flying by and just while ago it was about watching how the last year was ending. There is much to do and much to be hopeful about inspite of very substantial challenges.

My father has been in the hospital now for a few months and matters are not better. We can only stand by and let him know that we're there. I myself have a healthy dose of catholic guilt about being all the way up in SF and he's in a hospital in Tarzana deep in L.A. My brothers and sisters have been very vigilant and keep me abreast of the situation. We will drive down to see him this weekend.

Life and work goes on, though it's difficult to function with an eye to the phone and you don't really want it ring. There's much to draw and write as well as resolutions to maintain.

There are still a couple of posts about the Japan trip to do as well as images from the sketchbook. Enrico and I have met about our plans for conventions and books for the first half of this year and it looks like another challenging one. We will be at WonderCon this year so watch out for the post on that as it comes near.

If any of you are planning to book a hotel for San Diego for the summer's convention, you might want to head over that site. Most of the popular hotels that used to have rooms this early have sold out within the hour of opening its travel site. Whew! I had to settle for a hotel farther away and smaller accomodations. This thing is getting out of hand.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Our thoughts and prayers

We were on holiday in New York when we heard the news and couldn't even believe it to be real. Our thoughts and prayers to all the families in all the nations affected. There is enough grief in the world that can happen without any help from questionable human agendas.