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State of the Cartoon Report
by Karl Cohen
SF's Mark Fiore Wins Pulitzer for Polical Animated Cartoons
Mark Fiore, a political cartoonist and animator who rises above all others on the Internet, is presently on SFGate.com, Mother Jones.com, CBSNews.com and other sites.
Equal Opportunity Insulter: Fiore reserves his most searing sarcasm for bankers, Republicans, etc. Photo: courtesy M. Fiore
His submissions for the Pulitzer included "Science-gate" (12/09/09) which lampoons skeptics of global warming, "Obama Interruptus" (12/02/09) which portrays his trying to stay focused despite the distractions of the world around him, and "Credit Card Reform" (10/28/09) which takes on the fabulous mumbo-jumbo double-talk offers of the credit card industry.
In 2000, Fiore taught himself Flash, found two customers and started churning out Flash cartoons like crazy. Then the "dream job" he had always wanted appeared: the San Jose Mercury News hired him as their political cartoonist. Being on staff was great until he discovered his editor was under tremendous pressure to keep circulation and ad revenues up.
"It was awful," Fiore says. He lasted six months due to their restrictive editorial policy. (Translation: the Merc did not allow him to kick ass and say what he wanted because of editor's fear of loosing income if he really allowed his staff to speak freely.)
Fiore has been syndicating his weekly animated cartoons online since leaving the paper in 2001, earning high praise. The Wall Street Journal calls him "The undisputed guru of the form." He has received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and other honors. Syndicated weekly to numerous Websites run by newspapers and other organizations, his work is seen regularly by millions of people.
With excellent voice work, music, and animation, Fiore's cartoons are extremely well produced. More importantly, he is free to say what he wants. He says he gets his ideas from the daily media. Whatever upsets him the most generally becomes the subject/butt of his next cartoon. Indeed, he dares to make fun of any subject that interests him.
One brilliant Fiore cartoon, "What If_" (6/25/08), suggests what might happen if a third candidate had entered the 2008 presidential race. In a faux political hit piece, Fiore has an advertisement attacking the candidate's ethics, patriotism, etc. "He has never once been seen wearing a flag pin. He has spent years studying at a religious school in the Middle East. Some call him a hero for the injuries he sustained under torture, yet he would sit down and talk with those who would harm us. His tax plan amounts to making the rich poor and poor rich - Jesus Christ, not the change we want!" See Fiore's work at
Imagemovers Starts "Dark Life" for Disney
Robert Zemeckis, who was one of the "Dirty Dozen" cabal of filmmakers at USC including Walter Murch and George Lucas, is keeping his team in the game despite Imagemovers's closure by Disney last month (see CS Apr10). "Dark Life," a science fiction set in the near future, when some humans have escaped environmental disasters by living under the sea, is slated for a fall 2010 release. But it is will contain little or no performance capture work, so I suspect the actors will perform on blue or green screen sets and Imagemovers Digital will drop in computer generated backgrounds. The studio is still set to close early next year.
Oakland Museum Celebrates Pixar
To celebrate Pixar's 25 years of animating excellence in the Bay Area, the Oakland Museum of California is mounting a massive show, with over 500 works, including several not previously seen, from July 31 to January 9, 2011. The show began in 2005 at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and over the past five years it has traveled around the world.
The local exhibit will also show off the museum's new major remodeling work, which kept it closed for months. The museum updated the exhibit so it will include art from "Up," "Toy Story 3," "Wall'E" and other recent projects. Adding a sense of novelty, there will be a giant "Pixar Zoetrope" that you can enter to see the moving images, and Artscape, "an immersive, wide-screen projection of digitally processed images that gives the viewer a sensation of entering into and exploring the exquisite details of the original artwork."
The exhibit covers about 11,000 square feet of exhibit space and is adjacent to Oakland's centerpiece, Lake Merritt, a lovely place to take a walk and grab a bite at Lake Chalet.
Disney/Pixar Sign Selick Contract
Variety announced no details except that the renown animator Henry Selick will work out of Pixar (he is still commuting from Portland but plans to move back soon) and that Henry's stop-motion work could be based on either his own ideas or adaptations. They also said, "Selick hopes to benefit from the Pixar brain trust and technology, but will continue to produce 'toons using his trademark stop-motion style."
Selick directed both "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "James and the Giant Peach" for Disney. After "James" was completed, Disney decided to only produce computer-generated animation. However, after creating overly expensive CG products that were not super profitable, they suddenly see the wisdom of returning to less expensive, Selick-style stop-motion or to hand-drawn animation - a historically rare case of technological de-evolution.
Lucas Expert at Extending "Star Wars"
Variety has announced Lucasfilm Animation is working on a Star Wars animated comedy series. The Daily Show's Brendan Hay and Robot Chicken's Seth Green and Matthew Seinreich, will be among the writers.
Posted on May 10, 2010 - 05:15 PM