Meet the six-foot-tall George Harrison Marionette
11:42 am


George Harrison

This is a guest post written by Tabitha Vidaurri.

There exist a series of music videos of a life-sized, hand-made marionette of George Harrison. He sings songs like “Pisces Fish” and “Someplace Else” while strumming the guitar, banjo and ukulele. As a teen, I constructed a puppet of a blue cat wearing sunglasses and taped it singing “Land Down Under” by Men At Work, so when I laid eyes on this lovingly obsessive tribute to the Dark Horse himself, I immediately felt a kinship with whomever was responsible for its creation.

While I was not able to get in touch with the puppeteer, I did some digging and found that her name is Jenn, she has over 35 years of experience as a puppet builder and performer, and it took her six months to complete the George Harrison Marionette.

Jenn has also written about her project extensively on the Muppet and Steve Hoffman Music forums

Originally, ‘George’ was going to be much smaller…more the size of a traditional marionette (2 to 3 feet tall). Because of the complicated animations I had to build for the unique eyes, eyelids, and mouth, the size of ‘George’s’ head ended up being life size.

The puppet is is fully clothed in a store-bought two-piece suit, though Jenn notes she had some trouble finding non-leather, vegetarian-friendly men’s dress shoes. You Harrison fans will notice that the electric guitar used isn’t accurate, which is due to the fact that this was such a low-budget production. At $80, the tiny Dark Horse Records lapel pin on ‘George’s’ jacket was the single most expensive item used in the project.

A lot of love and nitpicky detailing went into this project to give ‘George’ a realistic appearance both in looks and movement.  His hands are completely pose-able thanks to an eternal ‘skeleton’ of stiff wires in his fingers. This enables him to mimic any playing position. His hands are also rich in detail, with knuckles, veins, and palm lines sculpted into them. The LP record cover of ‘Living in the Material World’ was used to insure his hands were correct to size.  I was adamant about having him be portrayed as himself, as a solo artist, instead of the far more common representation one sees of ‘Beatle George.’

The puppet is modeled off of late ‘80s/early ‘90s Harrison, a period when he was absent of facial hair and prone to wearing blazers. This era was chosen so ‘George’ would have the option to sing selections from the Traveling Wilburys catalog.

I admire Jenn’s devotion and peaceful attitude. She acknowledges that a 6-foot tall puppet—or puppets in general—may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but if it does happen to be your mug of Earl Grey, then this is just the tip of the iceberg:

‘George’ is wonderful company…a bit quiet though, and seems perpetually content. He is definitely a ‘presence’ in the room, which some might find disturbing (in a spooky sense) while others may find it charming. The few people who have been able to see him in person have noted this.

To learn more, visit the George Harrison Marionette Facebook Page.

The video for “My Sweet Lord” features a behind-the-scenes look at how the marionette works; ‘George’ is operated Thunderbirds-style, meaning there are no electronic elements used, and a total of fifteen strings control his movements:

Jenn also filmed a music video for “Life Itself” as a bigger production with multiple camera angles, even creating storyboards. The final product has candles and moody lighting, very much in the style of the early days of VH1:

This is a guest post written by Tabitha Vidaurri.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
This animation is NOT computer generated… sort of
07:49 am


3D printing

I love animation, but my virulent Ludditism prevents me from enjoying the roughly 3,497,039 big-budget CGI cartoons that now come out yearly (not to mention a definite drop in writing—when did we start patronizing kids with such terrible stories and dialogue?). I’m not opposed to CGI per se (most cartoons that just look like basic cell animation are now made on computer), but the uber-slick CGI that now pervades the big animated blockbusters just looks terrible. The texture is crummy, the physics and movements are hammy—when I babysit kids watching a movie, I have to concentrate on not scowling.

Luckily, I have friends that sit through my drunken tirades about cartoons, and send stuff like this my way! This little animation experiment is actually 50 3D-printed models made with stop-motion captures. So, while it’s not CGI, it’s technically computer-generated—like claymation done by robots! More importantly, the animators actually used a low-quality 3D printing process in order to allow for variations and “flaws” between models.  Despite the high-tech production, the look is organic and warm—this little clip conveys more life than the last Disney I saw!

Via Cartoon Brew

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Dizzy Gillespie talks nuclear disarmament in 1962 animated short, ‘The Hole’

In the mundane setting of a construction site, casual conversation turns into a discussion of freewill, subconscious desires, chaos and the fear of accidental nuclear catastrophe. The animation is muddy, mottled, fluid and shuddering—the product of watercolors on paper, as opposed to the Disney-style of opaque paint on animation cells. The dialogue is improvised—realistically stuttered and stammering, voiced by jazz-great Dizzy Gillespie and George Mathews, a 6’5” actor known most prominently for his roles as tough-guys and heavies. The 15-minute short has the feel of a Jim Jarmusch vignette rather than a kiddie cartoon—a story about a conversation, told with humor, humanity and affection. And the ending is a shock.

If the subject matter feels a little heavy or surprisingly political, it may help to know the context of its creators. The Hole is one of the many gems from animation legends, John and Faith Hubley. Prior to meeting his wife and artistic partner, John Hubley worked for Disney but left during an animators strike. After finding success a second time with another animation company (and creating the character of Mr Magoo), Hubley was fired for refusing to name names before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and blacklisted throughout the industry.

In 1955, he married fellow animator Faith Chestman, and they opened up their own animation studio, pledging to make one independent film a year. They later made shorts for Sesame Street to finance their more experimental projects. Their independent films were often explicitly political, tackling subjects like war, urbanization and children’s rights, without condescending to the cutesy artistic sensibilities children are so often assumed to possess. The Hubleys were also notable for using improvised dialogue, children’s voices for children’s characters (sometimes their own children) and a diverse cast that avoided the racial cliches pervading the medium at the time.

The Hole won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” in 2013.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Brilliant ‘Doonesbury’ TV special from 1977 questions the high-minded ideals of the 1960s

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
‘Starring Frank Zappa as The Pope’ in Ren & Stimpy’s ‘Powdered Toast Man,’ 1992

Powdered Toast Man!
Early in the second season of Ren & Stimpy, there appeared a rollicking and utterly disrespectful segment called “Powdered Toast Man.” 1992. The character of Powdered Toast Man unified the clueless and self-important silliness of The Tick with the tendency to wreak havoc of, say, Inspector Clouseau or Maxwell Smart. Voiced by the incomparable Gary Owens—and you might not know the name, but if you’ve ever seen Laugh-In or Space Ghost, you sure as hell know his voice—Powdered Toast Man was the spokesman for, obviously, a product called Powdered Toast, which was billed as tasting “just like sawdust!” According to Wikipedia, he was based on the character of Studebacher Hoch, from the epic song “Billy The Mountain” of off the Mothers of Invention’s 1972 album Just Another Band from L.A. I frankly don’t quite see the connection, but anything’s possible.
Powdered Toast Man!
It’s kind of amazing just how dark and subversive the Powdered Toast bit is. The anti-advertising message is just the start of it. Tasked with saving a kitten from being run over by a truck, Powdered Toast Man causes a passing jetliner to crash into the truck, thus saving the kitten at the expense of who knows how many lives (the injured survivors cheer him on anyway). A few moments later, Powdered Toast Man thoughtlessly tosses the kitten out of frame, where he is apparently run over by a truck, to judge from the sound effects. Later on, he uses the Bill of Rights for kindling. He induces projectiles to emerge from his armpits by doing that “fart noise” maneuver, he uses his own tongue as a telephone…....... actually, you really need to see the video to believe it. The satire of the prevailing superhero ethos really couldn’t be more savage—or more entertaining.
Powdered Toast Man!
The Pope, “clinging tenaciously” to Powdered Toast Man’s buttocks
Appropriately enough, the role of the Pope was voiced by Frank Zappa. According to, it was the last time he would ever portray a fictional character (granted, he didn’t do this all that often). How did this come to pass? As often happens in showbiz, Zappa had expressed some admiration for the early Ren & Stimpy episodes, and ... one thing led to another. John Kricfalusi tells the story on the commentary track for the episode:

Yeah, Frank Zappa was a fan of the show, and I was a huge Frank Zappa fan growing up. I had all his records. and when I found out he was a fan, our mixer, one of the sound engineers, was also mixing some Frank Zappa records, and he ... handed the phone to me one day and it was Frank on the line. So Frank invited me to his house that weekend. ... and I went with Elinor Blake and Frank and his family and I, Moon Unit and Dweezil. We all sat around watching Ren & Stimpy cartoons all afternoon. He was laughing all through them, and after it was over I asked: “Hey Frank, you want to BE in a cartoon?” and he said: “Yeah, that’d be great” and I said: “You want to be the pope?” and he said: “Yeah, I always wanted to be the pope.”

(Note: Elinor Blake has had a successful musical career in her own right: After working as an animator on Ren & Stimpy, she released several albums under the name April March.) As it happens, Zappa has hardly any lines, but that’s all right.

Another interesting link between Zappa and the show: There was a recurring Ren & Stimpy segment called “Ask Dr. Stupid” in which Stimpy would respond to letters in an incredibly stupid way. Turns out, Zappa recorded a track called “Ask Dr. Stupid” all the way back in 1979.

The episode is available in full on The Ren & Stimpy Show: The First and Second Season (Uncut)

via Showbiz Imagery and Chicanery

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
‘The Hunger’: An impressively repulsive computer-animated short from 1974
07:31 am

Class War


The availability of new technology usually inspires the artistic impulse to create something lovely and elaborate. But the pioneering 1974 short film, The Hunger (or La Faim, in the original French), feels—intentionally—both ugly and crude.  The art has the feel of rough sketches, and only in the movement of the animation can you see the computer technology at work. It’s a strange, eery effect that is intensified by an artfully unsettling soundtrack.

The film received a Special Jury Prize at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival, a BAFTA Award for Best Animation Film, and was the first computer-animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award. What’s more, it was actually produced by the National Film Board of Canada, an agency of The Canadian Federal Government (and we can’t even get our government to fund food stamps?)

The plot is simple: a piggish man eats too much and is eventually devoured by the starving masses. It’s all told in a sort of animated Kafkaesque expressionism, and while I’ve always scoffed at the “sinfulness” of gluttony (especially since world hunger has very little to do with actual scarcity, and even less to do with the dietary habits of fat Westerners), it did disturb me enough to eschew cookies for breakfast this morning.  It is grotesque, violent, nauseating, and truly stunning.

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Yellow Submarine Vans

“In the town where I was born, lived a man who sailed to sea, and he told us of his life, with his Yellow Submarine Vans…”

As a lifelong wearer of Vans, I’m not entirely sure I’d wear these psychedelic puppies. I can appreciate them, though, as a novelty item and Vans fan.

Perhaps if one of the classic styles showcased the Blue Meanies, then I might seriously have to reconsider…

The Yellow Submarine-themed shoes are around $65 + shipping at the Vans website.


Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Mick Jagger makes his TV debut with some sensible shoes

Nick Cave and David Bowie hi-top All Stars sneakers

Footwear with bite: Fancy shoes with teeth soles

Foot Fetish: Freaky faces in old, discarded shoes

h/t Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
‘Soviet Toys’: The first Russian cartoon was (you guessed it!) commie propaganda!
08:23 am

Class War

Dziga Vertov

Soviet Toys
Filthy capitalist swine
My fascination with political propaganda has no partisan allegiance, but left or right, I can’t help but think they just don’t make ‘em like they used to. Those racist Tea party signs, the Shepard Fairey-designed beatification of Barack Obama—even the romantic filigree of Occupy Wall Street didn’t do much for me. My favored political propaganda is that rare combination of ambitious, angry, and optimistic—a trinity often achieved by the very coiners of the term “agitprop,” the Soviets.

Soviet Toys is the very first in a long and rich history of Russian animation, and while only a fraction those cartoons were explicitly political, the great Russian director Dziga Vertov made masterful use of the medium to produce some truly caustic revolutionary art.

Despite its explicit semiotics, the plot of Soviet Toys is a little bit of Russian history “inside baseball,” so I’ll sum up. During Lenin’s New Economic Policy (a period of liberalization where private citizens were allowed small entrepreneurial ventures to boost the economy after the Russian Civil War), a class of businessmen called “NEPmen” rose to prominence, much to the resentment of radicals like Vertov. Obviously, the fat glutton you see represents the NEPmen. Materialistic women and corrupt clergy (the church had experienced a contentious split) defer to him for favors. The industrial worker and the farmer both fail at bringing down the NEPman on their own, but eventually they literally merge (like the ole’ hammer and sickle!) to defeat him.

And as if that weren’t a happy enough ending, the Red Army comes along and forms a tree, from which all capitalists and conspirators are hanged. Though Soviet Toys might feel a little heavy-handed and technically crude by today’s standards, it’s an incredibly sophisticated little film for its time and place. Remember this is four years before Disney’s Steamboat Willie, and I don’t recall even one capitalist being hanged in that!

Via Open Culture

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
‘Sleeping in a Jar’: Amazing naughty Frank Zappa animation from the late 60s
02:44 pm


Frank Zappa

The advent of YouTube laid waste to the smug superiority that extreme Zappaphile fanboys had about their own deep knowledge of the history and collected improvisations of Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. No matter how much you thought you knew—and I include myself in this equation—even if you’d have read every single book ever written about the man, when YouTube launched, it became obvious that major gaps existed in nearly every Zappa otaku’s mental database and record collection.

This is especially true when it comes to things that appeared decades ago on European television (most unmentioned in the major Zappa biographies). Here’s one amazing little example, an animated short set to Uncle Meat‘s darkly surreal ditty “Sleeping in a Jar.” This seems like it might have been made for some sort of demo for Madison Avenue (it’s not dissimilar from the Clio Award-winning Luden’s Cough Drops commercial Zappa scored in 1967) but it’s kind of smutty for that purpose with that not-so-subtle carbonated cum shot.

Interestingly this racy animation aired on Swedish television in 1971 on a show called Spotlight. They say the Swedes are a liberated people sexually speaking and if this passed muster for TV back in 1971, well, that’s saying quite a lot. This wouldn’t be shown on American network television today.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Domestikia: The gorgeously surreal animation of Jennifer Linton
08:09 am


Jennifer Linton

There is always something wonderfully exciting about the serendipity of the Internet. Whilst looking for pictures of Jayne Mansfield, I happened across Jennifer Linton’s blog (Lady Lazarus: dying is an art. Musings on the macabre), which in turn led me to her fabulous artwork and these beautifully surreal stop-frame animations, Domestikia.

Linton describes herself as “an interdisciplinary visual artist working with new media, animation, drawing and printmaking.” She has exhibited her artworks in the America, Italy, and across Canada, and says Domestikia is:

A tale of love, betrayal and one vengeful butterfly. This project was inspired by the surreal animations of Lenica, Borowyck and Svankmajer, Japanese tentacle erotica, and those strange, middle-of-the-night dreams one has after spicy food.

Certainly dreamlike, these animations cling long after viewing. Check out Jennifer Linton’s fantastic artworks here. They might not all be “safe for work,” as they say…

Domestikia: The Incident in the Nursery.

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Final Jimi Hendrix interview, one week before he died
04:38 pm


Jimi Hendrix


“When things get too heavy just call me helium—the lightest known gas to man.” - Jimi Hendrix

The sad (and beautiful) thing about this interview—the last interview Jimi Hendrix ever gave on September 11, 1970, a week before his death at the age of 27—is how happy the guy seemed.

He sounds neither druggy, nor in any way troubled. Full of life and excited about where his music was taking him.

The animation was done by Patrick Smith at Blank on Blank. Produced by David Gerlach. The interview was conducted by Keith Altham and you can hear the full recording at

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Page 1 of 28  1 2 3 >  Last ›