Thursday, June 7, 2012

Another music video

I seem to have invented entirely new ways to not get paid for work. A couple years ago I was working at Warner Bros directing on the Looney Tunes Show. In To Bowl Or Not To Bowl (of which Will Finn storyboarded a big chunk) there is a bowling championship montage. I thought Frank Stallone's 80's hit Far From Over would have the perfect feel and assembled the montage to an edit I'd done of that song. The producers really liked the sequence, but I was dreading the thought of what would happen when the cartoon was scored. On other cartoons I'd worked on the underscore composers usually did dreadful songs (see Hollywood Plucky from Tiny Toons. The song where Plucky is dressed as Michael Jackson was supposed to approximate "Beat It".

Without telling anyone I went ahead and wrote a clone of the Frank Stallone song, which is to say a song that evokes the feeling of the original song, but the melody and arrangement has been changed sufficiently so as to not breach copyright.

When I played the sequence with my song "Ready To Bowl" for the producer, it took him two listens before he realized it wasn't the Frank Stallone song. I had my friend Tony Brock (the insanely great drummer from the Rod Stewart Band and The Babys) play drums and mix the song. He brought in Gary Moon from Night Ranger to do the vocals- they made the song TOTALLY SMOKE!

Anyway, the Looney Tunes producer thanked me profusely saying I'd saved the day- the Stallone song was going to cost $250,000 to license, prohibitively expensive. They told me I'd get $5,000 plus of course royalties every time the song plays on TV. I waited until I'd been told by the Warner attorney that it was a done deal before I said anything to Tony or Gary (Gary stood to make a lot of money for the vocal performance). shortly after I relayed the good news, the lawyer stopped talking to me. A year and a half later I saw the cartoon on TV. They had someone do a clone of my clone! It was so exact that when I put my song back over the footage, it lined up exactly, I didn't have to adjust anything. Oh, and they had someone write really shitty lyrics for it too!

A good reminder that nothing is a done deal until the check clears!!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Alas, I was not voted 'Most Artistic' in the graduating class of Auburn High 1976, a mind-boggling three and a half decades ago. But because the kid who was (and probably still is) the most artistic was way too busy also being popular, playing hockey and dating girls, he ran out of time to do most of the artwork for the yearbook. At the eleventh hour, the yearbook committee did what only desperate yearbook committees could do: they asked me to do it. Deeply stung by their earlier slight, I lifted my chin, sneered down my nose and loudly declared: "Sure, I'd love to."
 I don't think I was given more than two evenings to do these. I was addicted to drawing with a rapidograph pen, which was messy and unpredictable, but I could get a line that looked like the underground comics I was inspired by at the time...
Six finished drawings would likely take me about twelve weeks to produce today. One of the problems with art is that the more you learn about it, the harder it gets, in a sense. When you are aware of what choices you have and what they can mean, just selecting a font can take forever. Luckily, given the deadline back then, I was far too stupid to know any better. Luckier still was the fact the committee would have practically printed them sight unseen they were so desperate. In other words, not a peep of editorial judgement was passed. I believe I have never experienced that divine condition ever again. Even when drawing for myself...
These were printed at more or less actual size. I recall doing them on lightweight bristol board, after roughing them out in non-photo blue pencil, a technical feat I had learned from reading countless "How to Cartoon" books. I traced the font from a Lettraset catalog and just inked it with the same pen head I did everything else with. I had a Staedler Mars rapidograph, which is rumbling around in a drawer here at home still.
It's kind of startling in retrospect that all of the figures here are male. So much for gender diversity I guess, though I don't remember anyone making a comment one way or another. One of the reasons it never entered my mind to draw any females is that I was pretty inept at it, though from the looks of some of my old sketchbooks, it wasn't for lack of trying... 

 In Auburn NY, High School football was the town's prevailing religion. I was famously poor in athletics and generally hated sports, but I have always had a special antipathy toward football, represented in the slam-dunking this quarterback (number "zero") is getting. ZING!!!

 ...and in case you were wondering: go ahead and laugh. Dig the HUGE glasses and the beyond hip POGO quote. No wonder I was available to do these! What does the "S" stand for you wonder? "Smoldering?" "Sassenheimer?" ..."Slouchy?" I'll never tell...

Monday, August 1, 2011


I've now been doing animation and music professionally for 30 years give or take. After graduating from the Guitar Inst. of Technology in the early eighties I played in a band called "Gallery" for a couple years. I knew it was time for a change when I found myself playing "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" but thinking about how many words you could make using all the letters in the word "Gallery". I came up with Allergy. Regally and Largely.

Girl From Ipanema was a must learn tune back in the eighties for aspiring jazzers. If you don't like jazz this will sound like elevator music to you. If you do like jazz this will sound like... pleasant elevator music. Hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another cartoon from 25 years ago.The first person I remember showing this cartoon to was Tom Wilson (Biff from the Back To The Future movies) 20 years later I stumbled across Tom's website and asked him if he remembered me. His response was, "Sure, what's eating Jenkins?"

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Let the kid go

25 years ago, before I'd ever worked in animation, I drew a bunch of single panel cartoons. I told some of them to Will and Carolyn, they convinced me to redraw them and do something with them. So for your entertainment, a cartoon that was 25 years in the making.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Driven to distraction

We had planned to do a series of cartoons in which the Blue Fairy explains to Pinocchio in order to become a real boy Pinocchio was going to have to get a real job. I thought people might get tired of hearing the same Pinocchio intro song every time, so I composed this song to play over the same visuals. Unfortunately, Dreamworks abandoned the project. The only one that got produced was Bride of Gingy, by Claire Morrissey. It ended up as part of a Shrek Halloween special.