Monday, June 29, 2020

Mr Morgan's Wild Ride - for Charity

Thorfinn, aka Richard Morgan - the nicest viking indeed.
Richard Morgan has authored and Illustrated heaps of childrens' books in the UK, such as his latest series Thorfinn the Nicest Viking.  I met him in New Zealand working on my Redux Riding Hood short, and we've been long distance pals ever since.  He shares with FLiP his plans of bicycling to raise money for cancer research. 

by Richard Morgan

My daughter and I have started cycling together during the lockdown and felt we wanted a goal, so we joined the Cancer Research UK Cycle 300.  I lost my Mum and my wife's Gran to cancer, plus I have lost several close friends to this disease and seen the horrible upset it leaves in its wake. However, I have also seen close friends fight and beat cancer due to the amazing treatment available now.

Living in Cambridge, its all road bike for us.  We've been building momentum since the Tour De France came to visit.  I have always cycled its like second nature. I got my first bike from Ellis Briggs in Shipley, Yorkshire, and rode it everywhere.  As I learnt to drive I got a mountain bike and took it to the lakes in Cumbria to hoon down mountains. When I moved to Auckland NZ to work for Disney*, I treated myself to a new Marin and cycled all over, it was amazing.  So at 53, this seems like a wonderful thing to be doing with my daughter before she goes off to university in September, hopefully!

The cycle is over the whole of September and my daughter is keen to do it as lots of short rides and avoid the pain in the bum.  I would rather do one or even two bigger rides for the adventure, so we will see who wins.   I will be updating the charity page as we do the rides so you can see us on the road and follow our progress.

People can donate on my Just Giving page.

Or join ... and get on your bike .   Cancer Research cycle 300 website.

*Toonz Animation in Auckland produced shows for Disney TVA, including Redux Riding Hood.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Kelly Asbury Saved My Life

Kelly at the "Nightmare Before Christmas" wrap party.  To his right, Allison Abbate dances with Joe Ranft.
When I got the news of Kelly Asbury's death yesterday, I immediately thought of the night he saved my life.

In April of 1992, I started working on The Nightmare Before Christmas in San Francisco. The studio was set up in an old, two story industrial building with a sprawling floor plan and no air conditioning.  It looked like it was once an old factory, making ball-bearings or sausage.  For reasons I have forgotten, faded hand prints of Herve Villachaize were set in the sidewalk just outside the front door, which opened to 7th Street, several blocks south of Market. I worked in an open bullpen area doing storyboards with Mike Cachuela and Joe Ranft.  In an adjacent room, Kelly worked in the art department with Kendall Cronkhite and Deane Taylor.  

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, a trial of four cops who beat Rodney King senseless was wrapping up.  On April 29th, they were acquitted of using excessive force despite video footage to the contrary.  The streets of south central Los Angeles erupted in rage with violent protests.  

At the studio the next day, there was a general buzz of disbelief about the verdict.  The locals knew that San Francisco was not to be outdone when it comes to street rage, and kept an ear on their radios for local unrest.  Just after lunch, Kelly came around to the bullpen.  

"Hey Steve, do you pass Market Street going home?" he asked. 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

What's Going On

Ed Bell's professional animation career spans 34 years, including stints at Disney, Kroyer Films, Hyperion, and Collosal Pictures.  I've known him since we were CalArts kids in the early '80's (and he still returns my calls).   In the wake of the George Floyd murder, I asked him a few questions.  He has generously shared with FLiP his raw feelings about our times, his experience as a protester, and of life as an African-American artist in the animation industry.  Please read and absorb.  -Steve 

By Ed Bell

The times are hitting me hard, this time around.

In ' 92 I was helping clean the streets post Rodney King, volunteering for Maxine Waters in South LA. I saw the place I grew up in after National Guard had rolled in, and there was so much work to be done. So my sense of deja vu and dread is dark and heart breaking. This won't be a well written essay. There's some rambling, off the subject.

So, How were the protests I attended?

Last week I was at the rally at City Hall where I've been many times with the same purpose. With the Mayor, we took a knee.  News cameras and vans were everywhere. Helicopter presence. Police had guys in high windows watching everything. My son said he assumes they were snipers. He is 16. That was a very full block of protesters. People kept a few feet of distance. Wore masks. We heard from the mayor and civil Rights leaders. Jamie Fox spoke. Mothers who have lost their kids to law enforcement spoke. Synchronized voices, calling for justice and for peace in the streets, there was no looting or throwing things. It felt like a familiar ceremony. A little catharsis. A smidgen of solidarity. But I've been a little numb for days at this point. My kid spent hours on his phone watching other cities go bananas, at the same time as we gathered in a well behaved but tense crowd at City Hall. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

FLiP-ping Out

What can be said that is not already being said about the state of affairs in our country?   And who cares what an animation blog thinks of national affairs?  All I know for sure is that the protesters are on the right side of history.  I know for sure we have a President who only represents those who agree with him and rejects the rest - loaths them, calls them names, belittles them.  We can surely do better than having a school yard bully as leader, someone who only cares about himself.  But what do I know, I'm an animator.  But for what it's worth, I'm with them.