What does Steve Bannon sound like?

I don’t know. TV doesn’t help, Bannon has been black-robed Death and Chris Farley. But I won’t look up that voice. Instead, I’ll write him with a John Barrymore (Mr. Potter) voice, which was the template for a great cartoon villain, Simon Bar Sinister. My Bannon character will be a racist with a last name similar to his Brightbutt fake news site. Simon has a delicious evil laugh. I imagine him making Kittygirl and the Puppy Brothers fight like cats and dogs. (Heck, I still have to outline the story.)

Oldie Cartoon: Roger Ramjet and Dr. What’s evil comic books!

In this 1965 episode, Dr. What plans to corrupt children with a plan for evil comic books that is so fiendish, so diabolical, so horrible, that I cannot blog about it! To find out what is so evil, watch Roger Ramjet vs. Dr. What! Watch what? Yes, What! What? Yes, Dr. What. Who? No, What! What?!?!

This crude and frenetic animation shows that it is all in the face! And wonderful voice acting! Roger Ramjet was voiced by the great Gary Owens. The Proton Energy Pill gives Roger the strength of 20 atom bombs for 20 seconds! I googled, and TV censors kept Roger off the air for several years because of this pill, a pill that led to crudely animated slapstick that rivals Adam West Batman! I can think of a use for a Proton Energy Pill right now. And maybe a censoring supervillain, maybe with a Lionel Barrymore voice. I can learn so much from these oldie cartoon voice actors.

The Lone Ranger: A fifty year old steampunk cartoon!

Wikipedia says that the term “steampunk” was coined in the 1980s and is “a subgenre of science fiction and sometimes fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.”

So I guess I watched steampunk cartoons in the 1960s: The Lone Ranger! Yeah, you young whippersnappers, I did steampunk before it was even called steampunk! Here’s a couple of goodies: The Iron Giant and The Human Dynamo. The music and the clomping feet of that giant still sound cool.

The 2016 Oscar Animated Shorts Laugh Track

world of tomorrowWho’s old enough to remember the laugh track? The laughter added to the audio of old sitcoms in lieu of a live audience? Watch Gilligan’s Island. The laugh track tells you when to laugh.

I just saw the 2016 Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts at the San Jose Camera Three theater. One of those shorts before, World of Tomorrow, I saw on Netflix a few days ago. In the privacy of my apartment. Alone. And quietly. No laughing. But watching it again at the Camera Three? People laughed at the funny parts. So did I.

Earlier today, when I bought my weekly comic books, the store manager told some friends about a TV show. “See it with friends,” he said.

A live audience makes a difference. Or maybe it was my good twin sitting next to me (I am the evil one). Or maybe I would make a lousy movie critic. But I liked World of Tomorrow a lot more the second time around. And the rest of the shorts were good. Check out the 2015 Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts at a movie theater if you get the chance. Seeing it with an audience, and with friends, makes a difference.

P.S. The last short in the show, Prologue, had male nudity and violence. The shorts program gave two warnings in easy to read, screen-filling text. Just before Prologue started, a lady did the right thing and took her little boy out of the theater. On the way out, he cooed, “Why?” The audience laughed.

SJSFF: Katherine Park is Up in the Clouds

up-in-the-cloudsAt the San Jose Short Film Festival, in the animation block, was the short film Up In the Clouds. It was delightful, a feisty and happy teenage girl scaring her daddy during driving lessons. I believe this teenage girl later becomes a pilot.

After that show, I told Katherine Park she did a wonderful voiceover job for the teenage girl. I mentioned my Kittygirl story. Katherine asked me to email it to her, and I did. She replied with “Hello! I read your cool story tonight, thank you for sharing it with me!!!” And in my reply to her reply (not in my story), I used the term “oriental” explaining how Kittygirl became Japanese American. Katherine’s writing advice in her reply to my reply to her reply was so good that I asked permission to put it on my blog. She said yes. Here it is.

katherine-park-sjsff-2015I think my only gentle cultural counsel/suggestion as an Asian American myself would be never to refer to a person as “oriental”! Now, the general rule is it is only considered acceptable if used for objects and “things” like rugs, and it’s outdated to describe Kat that way. In your position, you are in an important place to speak and write about your character Kat, and that’s why I want to make sure to point it out! 🙂 The best way to refer for Kitty is “Japanese American” as you said (good job!) or American, or American with Japanese heritage. I love that your friend suggested Kat to be Japanese American. There are exercises you may have heard of with children who choose the “beautiful/good” doll from a white doll and a black doll. I bet you can guess which doll was chosen over and over again for “good” traits, and which for “bad” traits. That is why representation is so important. I loved how Kat was a main character, and only felt a little twinge of discomfort when she was admiring the blond hair as if it was better than hers. I would feel more comfortable in that scene if Holly were blond and Asian American, too. As a biracial person I am more outspoken than most, I feel strongly about representation and even used to dye my hair black for my first TV and film roles. Food for thought because as artists the integrity of our art is most important, but we also have a voice and can use it for good! Have a great day & please let me know how it develops!! 🙂

Katherine makes a great point about the hair. I want it obvious that Kittygirl likes her own long black hair, she should not seem envious of Holly’s blonde hair. But Kittygirl is impressed by how Holly’s hair shines in the sunlight, part of Kittygirl looking up to her hero Holly. I’ll work on it, the blonde envy issue with girls deserves scrutiny. And little girls not finding or liking a doll that looks like them? So sad!

P.S. Katherine has a lovely singing voice. Check it out!

P.P.S. As for me being important, I still need to get Kittygirl out on Kindle. I’ll need a cover, and maybe another story starring another super kid (make it two-stories-in-one?). Kid supers are fun, and are needed to replenish the comic book geek herd before old farts like me die off.

P.P.P.S. Thanks again, Katherine. You really helped.

Tom of T.H.U.M.B!

The animation is limited. The cartoon it was embedded within — The King Kong Show — was pretty dry stuff. But Tom of T.H.U.M.B. is an oldie but goodie, a take on the dim but earnest hero. Tom did tiny superhero early! I still remember the following swimming pool full of nitro episode, and that Swinging’ Jack was a cool name for a sidekick. Enjoy. (By the way, the villainous organization M.A.D. stands for Maladjusted, Antisocial, and Darn Mean.)

Cinequest: an old email from Richard von Busack

Last night, I saw the old restored black and white movie L’Atalante. It was hosted by Richard von Busack, the chief film and literature writer for Metro Newspapers. Years ago, Richard reviewed the Cowboy Bebop movie and said the character Edward was the most irritating character in cartoondom. I emailed him and mentioned several more annoying cartoon characters, such as Orko, Snarf, Hello Kitty, and a few others, one that was a true horror. Below is his reply, showing that he too knows his cartoons. I reprint it with his permission, editing out a little non-cartoon stuff at the start. Yeah, he remembered this after about ten years!

Dear David–
     Thank you for the praise and for your funny and even-handed (under the circumstances) letter. I saw that Hello Kitty animated, and it befouled the world by its very existence. I thought the point of Hello Kitty was that she had no mouth. And all of a sudden she’s saying these cutesy-poo things and trying to molest a bulldog in some kind of distressing cross-species romance.
     The bad magician character [Orko] in He Man was deeply hideous and turned up in a drawing by Butch Bradley in one of Peter Bagge’s comics…I never saw Thundercats, but they, too…
     oh, why pussyfoot: Scrappy Doo is a horror beyond reckoning, and the fact that he turns out to be the villain in the Scooby Doo movie gave it a few points in my book. Not that “points in my book” is worth much at the bank. Scrappy Doo’s annoying Brooklyn accent, his hydrocephalic head, his psychotic willingness to pick fights, places him below many other Hanna-Barbarous nervous-system abraders including Ogee (toddler slave master of Magilla Gorilla) and Tubs and Tyke–whalewatchers in Moby Dick: The Godawful Cartoon Series. Let’s remember least loved cartoon characters like Sick Sick Sidney the complaining elephant, would be hip 60’s Poochy-progenitors like Kool Kat, Drive-in movie fly repellant like Honey Halfwitch…I really should have watched my tongue about Edward,
who is merely the most aggravating JAPANESE cartoon character, making Sailor Moon look like Susan Sontag.
     Let’s don’t forget Ku Klux Clam and Yellowbelly Yak–best, Richard

Jigsaw Holly!

The Sunnyvale Art Gallery is a cool place. I have done many open mic readings there. And from now until March 28 (closing reception is 7-9 pm 3/28), they have the Jigsaw Canvas art display. Super Holly Hansson is now in her first public art display.

Here is how the Jigsaw Canvas is built. Artists get a small block of artificial wood upon which to put art: paint, ink, gourds, or in my case, several drawings of Holly printed on paper and glued onto the block. Now Batton Lash‘s artwork of Holly is on public display. If you are within driving distance of Sunnyvale, California, consider taking a look at the Jigsaw Canvas. And even contributing some art! As of now, the Jigsaw Canvas covers two very large walls. If you like a piece of the Jigsaw Canvas, and if the artist gave permission, you can buy it (the money will go to charity).

I was there last Saturday, at the opening reception. I showed off the little part of the Jigsaw Canvas with Holly in it. I was feeling artistic. As artistic as an aspiring writer can get.


Here is the Holly art up close.


Thanks again to Batton Lash for doing this wonderful art for me. I drew his URL onto  the left edge of the block: artists deserve credit! (I put the URL of this blog on there also.) If Batton sells one more book or comics due to the Jigsaw Canvas, I will be happy.


Hellyfish RULEZ!!! (I HEART the San Jose Short Film Festival!)

hellyfish_posterI’ve been at the San Jose Short Film Festival Friday and Saturday. Short films from around the world. Smart, funny, scary, thoughtful, and I’ll be there tomorrow also. My faves so far:

HELLYFISH! Radioactive-mutated killer jellyfish! A tough Russian lady! Dumb surf guys and almost as dumb beach babes! A crusty old salt! FUN! I met the filmmaker, Patrick Longstreth, and his wife. I asked if he was inspired by older horror movies. He said, yes, and that Jaws and Piranha and beach horror movies start at night. Patrick did most of the special effects, and his killer jellyfish are funny and KEWL! He gave me a sticker and a card. I think I’ll put it on my iPad, since I do a lot of writing with it. He mentioned that he liked Sharktopus better than Sharknado, and I agreed. I gave him my Holly card. He and his wife liked it. I think there is a connection with indie people.

Other shorts that fit me nice and tight:

Gear. Blade-Runner-esque, except Gear keeps the story tight. The filmmakers said they kept the story focussed on Mazzy (the girl hero) and her relationship with the robot. The story structure, foreshadowing, and character development were perfect.

Cooped. Cartoon of doggie who really wants to go out. Plympton-esque hilarity.

Rabbit and Deer. Long at 17 minutes, and it held my interest the whole time. Plays with 2D and 3D animation, and how Rabbit and Deer maintain their love through the third dimension.

Shotgun. Three girls burn rubber and toast film cliches.

One Armed Man. Starred Charles Haid, who played Renko in Hill Street Blues. This guy is a great actor. During a Q&A (and between my coughs, still had a cold), I said that writers get advice like show don’t tell, write what you know, and so on, and I asked if there is such advice for actors. To thine own self be true, he said, find the emotion in yourself, and also get your SELF out of the way. He was more elegant about it. He teaches acting, he directs, this guy was GOOD.

Catch trailers for The Gunfighter, Rabbit and Deer here.