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Monday, April 28, 2008

Thimble Theatre and Popeye comic strips

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Popeye's first appearance in Thimble Theatre, January 17, 1929.

Thimble Theatre was created by King Features Syndicate comic writer/artist E.C. Segar, and was his third published strip. The strip first appeared in the New York Journal, a newspaper operated by King Features owner William Randolph Hearst, on December 19, 1919 before later expanding into more papers. In its early years, the strip featured characters acting out various stories and scenarios in theatrical style (hence the strip's name).

Thimble Theatre's first main characters/actors were the thin Olive Oyl and her boyfriend, Harold Hamgravy. After the strip moved away from its initial focus, it settled into a comedy-adventure style featuring Olive, Ham Gravy, and Olive's enterprising brother, Castor Oyl. Olive's parents, Cole and Nana Oyl, also made frequent appearances.

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Popeye first appeared in the strip on January 17, 1929 as a minor character. He was initially hired by Castor Oyl and Ham to crew a ship for a voyage to Dice Island, the location of a casino owned by the crooked gambler Fadewell. Castor intended to break the bank at the casino using the unbeatable good luck conferred by stroking the hairs on the head of Bernice the Whiffle Hen. Weeks later, on the trip back, Popeye was shot many times by Jack Snork, a stooge of Fadewell's but survived by rubbing Bernice's head. After the adventure, Popeye left the strip—but due to reader reaction he was quickly brought back.

The Popeye character became so popular that he was given a larger role, and the strip was expanded into many more newspapers as a result. Though initial strips presented Olive Oyl as being less than impressed with Popeye, she eventually left Ham Gravy to become Popeye's girlfriend-and Ham Gravy left the strip as a regular. Over the years, however, she has often displayed a fickle attitude towards the sailor. Castor Oyl continued to come up with get-rich-quick schemes and enlisted Popeye in his misadventures. Eventually he settled down as a detective and later on bought a ranch out west. Castor has seldom appeared in recent years.

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In 1933, Popeye received a foundling baby in the mail, whom he adopted and named "Swee'Pea." Other regular characters in the strip were J. Wellington Wimpy, a hamburger-loving moocher who would "gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today" (he was also soft-spoken and cowardly, hence his name); George W. Geezil, a local cobbler who spoke in a heavily affected accent and habitually attempted to murder or wish death upon Wimpy; and Eugene the Jeep, a yellow, vaguely dog-like animal from Africa with magical powers. In addition, the strip featured the Sea Hag, a terrible pirate, as well as the last witch on earth; and Alice the Goon, a monstrous creature who entered the strip as the Sea Hag's henchman and continued as Swee'pea's baby sitter.

Segar's strip was quite different from the cartoons that followed. The stories were more complex, with many characters who never appeared in the cartoons (King Blozo, for example). Spinach usage was rare and Bluto made only one appearance. Segar would sign some of his early Popeye comic strips with a cigar, due to his last name being a homonym of "cigar" (pronounced SEE-gar).

Thimble Theatre soon became one of King Features' most popular strips during the 1930s and, following an eventual name change to Popeye in the 1970s, remains one of the longest running strips in syndication today. The strip carried on after Segar's death in 1938, at which point he was replaced by a series of artists. In the 1950s, a spinoff strip was established, called Popeye the Sailorman. Acknowledging Popeye's growing popularity, the Thimble Theatre strip was re-named Thimble Theatre Starring Popeye during the 1960s and 1970s, and was eventually retitled, simply, Popeye, the name under which the strip continues to run.

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Mickey Mouse Pictures

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According to the official legend, Mickey Mouse was the result of a brilliant burst of inspiration, which struck Walt Disney during a train ride from New York to Los Angeles. In New York, he'd just seen his popular character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, hijacked by his distributor and farmed out to another animation outfit. By the time he arrived in Hollywood, he was ready to roll with Oswald's replacement.

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Bumblebee

Bumblebee (known as Bumble in Japan, Moscardo in Portugal, ┼░rdong├│ in Hungarian) is the "little brother" of the heroic Autobot faction, constantly striving to prove himself in the eyes of the taller, stronger robots that he respects - especially his leader, Optimus Prime. So strong is this admiration toward others, he takes risks that put him in danger. Although a bit of a wise-cracker, he is a capable and reliable messenger and spy, his small size allowing him to go places that his larger comrades cannot. He is highly fuel efficient, has great visual acuity, is particularly adaptable to undersea environments and transforms into a Volkswagen Beetle. He was later reconstructed in a stronger, more mature form as Goldbug.

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Bumblebee is established as the smallest of the first year Autobots, but his actual size varies greatly in the various media, ranging from the same size as other Autobot cars to barely taller than a human. His only official height was in an early issue of the Marvel comics where it is stated he is 15 feet tall.

Bumblebee's primary function in the original Transformers animated series and comics was to serve as the "young" character with whom the youthful viewing audience could identify, and he would befriend the Autobots' primary human ally - the young son of the Witwicky family (Buster in the Marvel comic - see issue #1 - and Spike in the cartoon) - to this end, a concept that persists into the 2007 live-action film. Although a well-known character because of this, Bumblebee is quite unusual in that, unlike many other Transformers, his name has not been re-used and applied to unrelated characters throughout the ensuing twenty years of Transformers media, due to the loss of the trademark until recently. His role as the "young yellow character", however, has inspired other Transformers characters with the same role such as Cheetor and Hot Shot.
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Sunday, April 27, 2008

History of Popeye

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History of Popeye
January 17, 1929, was the fateful day which would change the comic strip and cartoon worlds forever. Popeye was born and became the most well-known character on the strip. His first words were in response to the question, "Are you a sailor?" Popeye smartly replied, "Ja think I'm a cowboy?" After Popeye's first voyage on Castor Oyl's ship to Dice Island Popeye was brought back by popular demand. From that day on, it was history. Popeye the sailorman, with his muscles and his spinach, would become a cultural icon.
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In the 1930's, the Fleischer Brothers, the creators of Betty Boop, introduced the character Popeye in Popeye the Sailor Max Fleischer had to negotiate with th people at King Features Syndicate in order to purchase the rights to bring the comic strip to the television. Betty Boop was now gone, and the creators attempted to replace her with a new character. They were successful in their mission because Popeye's existence definitely surpassed that of Betty Boop.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lisa Simpson Picture

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Lisa Simpson
Lisa Marie Simpson is a fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons and is voiced by Yeardley Smith. Matt Groening, the creator of the series, named her after his sister. She is the oldest daughter and middle child of Homer and Marge Simpson, and the sister of Bart and Maggie.

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Lisa is an extremely intelligent 8 year old girl, one of the most intelligent characters on the show, with an I.Q. of either 156 or 159. She also plays the baritone saxophone. Another notable quality about her is that she is a vegetarian; she became one in the episode "Lisa the Vegetarian" in the seventh season.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

About SpongeBob SquarePants

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SpongeBob SquarePants has been called "goofy," "nerdy," and "lovable." He's also been called the most popular animated sitcom on TV and the top TV series on Nickelodeon. So just how has this sea sponge soaked up so many viewers from age two to adults since his premiere on Saturday morning, July 17, 1999?

Perhaps it's the intelligence and sophistication of the writing and the more than 50 people who work to create a single episode. With the childlike nature of SpongeBob and his best friend Patrick the Starfish, enhanced by a vocal cast that includes veteran stars Tim Conway, Ernest Borgnine, and Marion Ross, the cartoon appeals to children and adults alike. The show's creator, Stephen Hillenburg, has been quoted as saying, "We just try to make ourselves laugh, then ask ourselves if it's appropriate for children."

In our conversation with Nicole Parker, senior director of communications for Nickelodeon and Nicktoons Network, she said, "Since 'SpongeBob SquarePants' was launched in July 1999, it has emerged as a pop culture phenomenon and one of the most popular series in kids' television history. The Saturday morning play of the series currently ranks as the No. 1-rated program among kids [ages] two to eleven. Nearly 61.4 million viewers tune into the show each month. Adult viewers also continue to tune-in and have increased by 76% since the premiere of the show."

The show is set deep in the Pacific Ocean in a city called Bikini Bottom. The inhabitants of the city include SpongeBob SquarePants, a square yellow sea sponge who lives in a pineapple; SpongeBob's pet snail, Gary, who happens to meow like a cat; Squidward Tentacles, a grumpy neighbor who lives in a moai (an Easter Island head); SpongeBob's best friend Patrick, who lives under a rock; Mr. Krabs, SpongeBob's boss and owner of the Krusty Krab; Plankton, owner of the Krusty Krab's rival restaurant, the Chum Bucket; and Sandy Cheeks, a sea-dome-dwelling squirrel.

Jellyfish buzz and sting like bees, worms bark like dogs, scallops act like birds, and SpongeBob talks on a "shell phone" and eats "sea-nut butter." Undersea puns bubble up throughout the program, even as life underwater seems very familiar to life above.

Stephen Hillenburg, the Creator of "SpongeBob"

Hillenburg is the real-life character who came up with the unusual group of SpongeBob SquarePants and friends.

Hillenburg is one of those people who proves the adage that every interest and experience is a brick in the building one becomes. His combined interests in marine biology and animation are what eventually led him to create "SpongeBob SquarePants."

"Working as a marine science educator, I had the chance to see how enamored kids are with undersea life, especially tide pool creatures. By combining this knowledge with my love for animation, I came up with SpongeBob SquarePants," Hillenburg said in a Washington Post interview.

"At first I drew a few natural sponges -- amorphous shapes, blobs -- which was the correct thing to do biologically as a marine science teacher." Hillenburg continued. "Then I drew a square sponge and it looked so funny. I think as far as cartoon language goes he was easier to recognize. He seemed to fit the character type I was looking for. Even the villainous Plankton, he's still flawed and you still root for him in a way, and the style of humor is simple and it's about human behavior, and everybody can identify with that."

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Popeyes Chicken

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Popeye is not your typical superhero: He is old. He is bald. He is short. He only has one eye. He constantly smokes his corncob pipe. He does not have teeth. He has tattooed, bulging forearms. He is illiterate and unrefined. Yet, these oddly unique qualities have helped this simple straight-talking, hard-hitting sailor win the hearts of many generations around the world.

Popeye was a true hero of his time. By the mid-1930s, he surpassed even Disney's Mickey Mouse in popularity. With his charming "I Yam What I Yam" philosophy, the one-eyed sailor proudly expressed his genuineness, integrity, and take-charge personality, which made him stand out during the Depression era.

Even though he can be seen as an American hero from the past, Popeye does not necessarily need this kind of national and historical contextualization. In other words, Segar's pipe-tooting sailorman is "timeless" and "universal." His human qualities are as much to be strived for in our world of corporate globalization, media manipulations, and wars against and of terrorism, as they were during the Great Depression.

Even though he is a murderer of the modern English tongue, Popeye speaks, without any problems, the transnational language of selfless bravery, relentless belief in oneself, and uncompromising adherence to one's own set of moral/ethic codes.

For over 75 years now, Popeye has been breaking national and cultural boundaries, serving as a site of identification for kids and adults around the world. True, Popeye is long past his heyday. But that is due more to the corporate politics than to the passage of time or lack of public interest. There remains to be something timelessly charming about this simple, spinach-eating, pipe-smoking, unsightly underdog, who proudly remains "what he is," who takes no guff from anyone, and who is always ready to fight Bluto, that quintessential embodiment of bully-ness, to protect the girl he loves. I think that it is as easy today as it was in the 1930s to love the self-righteous, yet delightfully humble underdog who fights back "when that's all he can stands, 'cause he can't stands no more." How many of us wish we could just eat our spinach, fight back and teach all the annoying bullies in our lives a valuable lesson? In reality, that's not always possible. That's why Popeye has been doing it for all of us for three quarters of a century now.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Popeye Statues

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nbspMany statues have been erected in honor of this "man." In the mid-1970's, the Chester Sorority Ladies raised ten thousand dollars in order to create a statue of Popeye. They were successful, and a statue was made. The statue stands six feet tall and weighs nine hundred pounds. It was unveiled in the summer of 1977 in Segar Memorial Park in Chester, Illinois.The statue was dedicated in honor of Elzie Segar, Popeye's first creator, who was born in Chester.

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Popeye served as a hero to many. With his stylish sense of humor and his positive outlook on life, he was a role model to young children. His ability and willingness to eat spinach made parents eager to let their children watch him on television. Children could look to Popeye as a role model. He had a lot of muscles, a girlfriend, and could generally be perceived as a "cool" guy. Parents hoped that he would influence their children in a positive way, even if it only meant that they would eat their spinach due to his example. Popeye had several traits which could be described as manly - his muscles and his physique. Though Popeye seemed to be bald at a young age, he always had Olive Oyl drooling all over him.

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Friday, April 4, 2008

'Scooby-Doo' Animation Process

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As was the case with all television animation in the late 1960s, "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!" was created through a process called "limited" or "planned" animation, which was devised a decade earlier by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.

Unlike full animation, limited animation does not require an entirely new drawing for every frame of film. Only the part of the character that absolutely has to move -- say, an arm or head or leg -- actually moves, while the rest of the figure remains stationery. This is accomplished by splitting up the character onto different "cels" -- sheets of acetate or celluloid onto which the figures are painted and then photographed. The bottom cel may contain the character's body, while the cel laid over it contains the arm or head, or whatever part is required to move.

Many of the early Hanna-Barbera characters wore neckties or collars so that the separation between the body cels and the head cels would not be apparent, and their faces were often designed to have muzzles so that the mouth could be animated on a separate cel. But in "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!" none of the characters had that kind of facial separation.


Iwao Takamoto, vice president of creative design for Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc., said, "When I designed the dog and the teenage characters too, I got more flack from the animators because of the fact that none of them had those muzzle lines. That influenced the animation because it became a little fuller."

"Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!" would set the standard for a more full-style of television animation than had been offered before. While the television animation of today has progressed considerably since the earliest days of limited animation, the method of creating a show remains essentially the same:

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Scripting.

Each half-hour episode is written in script form.

Storyboarding.

The script is rendered visually on a storyboard, at which time additional gags are included.

Voice Recording.

The original voice cast of "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!" included the late Don Messick as Scooby-Doo and deejay Casey Kasem as Shaggy, as well as Frank Welker, the only cast member who remained with the franchise. In the current "Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue!" he not only voices Fred, which he has done since 1969, but he has now taken on the role of Scooby-Doo, too.

Layout.

The episode is "laid out," or broken down, into shots on paper. This phase of production includes staging the action and designing the "sets," props, and any new characters the episode requires.

Animation.

The director passes the work onto the animators, who draw the scenes and lip-sync the mouths of the characters to the voice tracks. Today, virtually all television animation use overseas studios, and the style is much less limited than it used to be. The studio for "Shaggy & Scooby Get A Clue!" is Digital eMation, Inc., based in Korea.

Ink and Paint.

In years past, the animation drawings were traced with ink and then painted (on the back) onto clear sheets of acetate; today the drawings are scanned into a computer system and inked and colored digitally.

Post Production.

Animation is largely "pre-edited," meaning there will not be different takes of a shot presented to the editor for intercutting. Still, there may be a need for some editing. Post production also includes adding in the music and sound effects.

"The animation itself [in 'Shaggy & Scooby Get A Clue!'] continues to be traditionally created by hand," said supervising producer Eric Radomski. "The balance of the production -- character color, background paintings, film compositing, editing, music and sound effects -- are digitally created, and occasionally we will incorporate some 3-D camera effects."

Writing and breaking down a story for a half-hour episode takes about four weeks on average. Starting from the final script stage, it takes about six months to put the episode through the production process. Of course, the production of the episodes overlaps -- many are in one stage or another of the process at any given time.
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