Archives for : June2015

Toon-In-Talk Episode 11: Interview with Ed Asner

Hello and welcome to eleventh episode of Fanboy Nation’s Toon-In-Talk, your rendezvous for animation interviews.  Whitney had the pleasure of interviewing a legendary actor of screen and stage, the incomparable Ed Asner.  Asher is famous for not only playing Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but he has lent his voice to many animated shows and movies.  You might recognize him as Hudson on Gargoyles, Granny Good from the DC Animated Universeand as Carl Fredricksen from Up.  He even tells Whitney he hates her spunk to her delight!

Episode 11

  • Ed Asner has a prolific career ranging over fifty years, including Broadway, TV, movies, and more.
  • He was the voice of Carl Fredicksen on Up, he was also on Freakazoid!, Captain Planet, Gargoyles, Spider-Man, and Batman: The Animated Series.
  • The villain on Batman scared Whitney as a child.
  • He started out as a radio actor and when he switched over to visual performances, Ed had to retrain himself on using his voice.
  • They talk about the weather, the various places where Ed has lived, and how he dislikes New York.
  • On Gargoyles, Ed was intimidated by his fellow voice actors because of their talent. The show had a great staff and he especially notes Greg Weisman as a writer.
  • Ed sings the Jeopardy theme as Whitney searches for a number.
  • He loved playing Granny Good from the DC Animated Universe.
  • When he plays a villain, Ed draws influences from the characters in the Dick Tracy comics.
  • Carl Fredricksen wasn’t specifically made for Ed, he had to audition like everyone else.
  • Ed says that avuncular is the best way to describe old grumps.
  • The entire recording session for Up lasted about six to eight sessions totaling about four-six hours each.
  • Ed took a big spill in the Pixar recording room, but he went back to work without a problem.
  • Actors are regular people who love to play certain parts and indulge in certain character traits, but they especially love to keep people surprised.
  • Ed thinks of Up as a double love story, the first is with Ellie and the other is when Russell.
  • He wishes that dogs and cats could communicate with humans like Dug in the movie.
  • They talk about Up’s emotional impact on people and on Ed himself.
  • Ed says that he is most like Carl Fredricksen out of all the characters he has voiced.
  • We end the interview with a drug PSA.



Claire Keane’s Once Upon A Cloud Review

Once Upon a Cloud
Written & Illustrated by Claire Keane
Dial Books
ISBN: 978-0803739116

Originally posted at

I recently went to a Barnes and Noble, one of the few remaining in my town, and I visited the children’s section. To my astonishment, about 80% of the books were a TV tie-in. The remaining 20% were classics that had been around for decades and there was very little new, original works, except for one by Claire Keane.tumblr_nknllbi5Uq1qcx6iuo1_500

In 2014, I interviewed Claire Keane, who is part of an American art legacy that spans three generations. Her grandfather was Bil Keane, the Family Circus cartoonist, and her father is Glen Keane, a prominent Disney Renaissance animator. In her own right, Claire possesses an art talent that strides away from her forbearers and takes a sudden spin into her own unique style and creativity (although you can see Disney and Family Circus influences in her work). For several years, Claire worked as a visual development artist at the Walt Disney Animation Studios. She worked side by side with her father on Tangled, based off the Rapunzel fairy tale. One of Rapunzel’s hobbies while being stuck in the tower is painting and Claire lent the character her own works of art to decorate the animated prison. Before she decided to strike out on her own, she also worked on the critical and financial success Frozen during its early inception.


Claire’s body of work attracted a publisher’s attention and she signed a deal to write and illustrate children’s books for Dial Books. Children’s literature is the perfect outlet for Claire to use her artistic skills. Her first book is called Once Upon A Cloud and it proves that she not only is a gifted artist, she is also a great storyteller. While having a successful career, Claire is also the mother of two young children and from the very beginning she wrote Once Upon A Cloud with them in mind.tumblr_na9emg84NG1qcx6iuo4_1280

It is about a little girl named Celeste who wants to give her mother a gift, but not just any gift, though. Celeste wants to give the most perfect gift ever! Celeste searches all over to find the perfect gift, journeying straight into the sky and visits many celestial beings, however, none of the items she encounters feel right. When Celeste returns home, she discovers what the perfect gift is and, of course, her mother loves it!

To illustrate Once Upon A Cloud, Claire used luscious pastels to fill every page with detailed scenery for Celeste to wander through. Claire relies more on a visual narrative to tell Celeste’s journey and she includes small, sweet details, like a little dog as a travel companion to augment, the story. Her color selection is very calming, which make the book an ideal story to read before bedtime or to express sentimentality if given as a present. tumblr_na9emg84NG1qcx6iuo8_1280

Once Upon A Cloud is sure to gain Claire a sterling reputation in the children’s picture book community and is a charming first venture into the medium.


Toon-In-Talk Episode 10: Interview with Rick Goldschmidt and John Brickley

Hello and welcome to tenth episode of Fanboy Nation’s Toon-In-Talk, your rendezvous for animation interviews.  At the mention of the name Rankin-Bass, it probably stirs up nostalgic Christmas memories of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the SnowmanA Year Without a Santa Claus, and other holiday specials using stop-motion puppetry.  While Rankin-Bass might be best known for its Christmas specials, it was actually a major animation and film studio that produced many popular animated series and movies. The problem is that Rankin-Bass’ story is waiting to be told. Documentary maker John Brickley and Rankin-Bass historian Rich Goldschmidt have combined their forces to make The Enchanted World of Rankin-Bass documentary, chronicling the studio’s story from beginning to end.  Whitney interviews the team and gets the scoop on the documentary’s IndieGoGo campaign and talks behind the scenes information.

Episode 10

  • The first interview is with the producer and director of the documentary, John Brickley.
  • John wants to make the documentary, because Rankin-Bass has an amazing history tied to American television and nothing has really been done on it yet. It is a story waiting to be told.
  • John’s favorite Rankin-Bass shows were the Saturday morning fair: Silver Hawks, Tiger Sharks, and, of course, the animagic specials.
  • John has a lot of experience with film making. One of his biggest projects was the 99%: Occupy Wall Street film and it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize for best Full Length Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival.
  • For the documentary, John wants to license a lot of clips, conduct interviews, and use some voice over narration. He wants a more film approach.
  • Many of the people involved with Rankin-Bass are getting older and John wants to interview them before they pass on.
  • Whitney thinks it would be cool if they use animagic for the documentary or use an approach similar to John de Lancie’s documentary on bronies, which was also crowdfunded.
  • They’re using an IndieGoGo campaign and they have many cool prizes, including the opportunity to be a producer or associate producer on the documentary. Also even the opportunity to nerd out with Rick and John at Disneyland.
  • Rankin-Bass is important because of the amount of work they did as well as the variety.
  • They released a cult horror film called the Bermuda Depths.
  • Animagic uses a different animation process than stop motion. It’s very expensive to produce, however.
  • Whitney and John both hope puppet-like animation doesn’t disappear.
  • John has learned a lot about the influence Rankin-Bass has had on the animation industry and it is REALLY HUGE!
  • Rankin-Bass isn’t known as much, because they didn’t put their name out there as much as their shows.
  • Hopefully they can get Jules Bass for interview.
  • Rick and John are really the sole driving force behind the documentary. This project will not only document an untold history, it will also appeals to a lot of Rankin-Bass fans who are curious about the company’s history.
  • Rankin-Bass joins a huge amount of animation that has been passed over in cinema history.
  • The second interview is with Rick Goldschmidt.
  • Whitney gets an important questions answered, she’s been waiting years to know: a Dolly for Sue is clinically depressed.
  • Both praise Romeo Mueller’s work and how his writing has made the Rankin-Bass specials last.
  • Rudolph has some lines that are objectionable by today’s standards, but the special is a product of its time and nothing compared to some of the other shows that get past the critics these days.
  • The Little Drummer Boy isn’t shown as much anymore due to the religious overtones. Whitney compares it to Ben-Hur with good reason.
  • Rick became the historian by chance and had the opportunity to write a book on Rankin- Bass, so he took it.
  • Rankin-Bass didn’t keep anything from their shows and a lot of the stuff used to make the show was thrown into a dumpster.
  • Barbara Adams, though, took home the Rudolph puppets and the melted in her attic, except for Santa and Rudolph. Rick coordinated their restoral.
  • Danny Kaye and Arthur Rankin, Jr. were friends and jet setters.
  • Arthur Rankin, Jr. worked at ABC with a lot of celebrities and Jules Bass was an advertiser, who visited ABC regularly. They became friends and formed their own studio creating commercials, then they came across the Japanese The New Adventures of Pinnochio, an animatic show and the rest is history.
  • Rankin-Bass experimented with many forms of animation as live action to create a diverse catalog. They were successful on most of it.
  • Animagic has its origins in Japan with Tad Moshinaga, father of stop motion animation in Japan. It inspired Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.
  • Arthur Rankin, Jr. loved Bermuda and there is a museum devoted to him.
  • Rankin and Bass recognized a lot of talent and thus hired them for their specials. It was this combined talent that made these specials last for so long.
  • Rick compare this magic to Pixar’s early works. He knew them back in the early days.
  • Rankin-Bass has kept many stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood alive.
  • One of the main reasons Rick wants to make the documentary, because he’s only made short documentaries in the past and he wants to make something longer and all inclusive.
  • Whitney and Rick talk about how animation has changed in the past few decades and how Pixar has changed over the years.
  • Rick hopes to get some of the Pixar folks for interviews, because they were inspired by Rankin Bass.
  • The voice actors of Rudolph and Hermy actually lived together in the same retirement home.
  • Rick goes into details about the films based off Tolkien’s works from Rankin-Bass.
  • They discuss the educational approach used to create Thundercats.
  • Whitney has to know what were they thinking when they created The King and I.
  • The Enchanted World of Rankin Bass is important, because these stories need to be collected before they are lost.
  • Jules Bass is still working



Toon-In-Talk Episode 09: Interview with American Dad Cast and Producers

Hello and welcome to ninth episode of Fanboy Nation’s Toon-In-Talk, your rendezvous for animation interviews.  American Dad is a popular animated sitcom from the deranged, talented mind of Seth Macfarlane-Family Guy creator.  The show recently switched networks from FOX to TBS and American Dad is now free to explore more creative and lewd plots that push the envelope so far they are blinding the censors. At the New York Comic-Con, Whitney scored a roundtable interview with the American Dad cast: Dee Bradley Baker, Rachel Macfarlane, Wendy Schaal, and Scott Grimes and the producers: Brian Boyle and Matt Weitzman.

Episode 9

  • The first interview is with voice actors Dee Bradley Baker and Rachael Macfarlane.
  • Rachael Macfarlane and her brother Seth Macfarlane worked together for years and she is very complimentary about his work. Seth encouraged her to try voice acting.
  • The cast recorded the episodes a year before their release.
  • Rachael loves the freedom of being a voice actor, meaning it can go on forever and she is free to play anybody, anything, and from anywhere. Dee likes it, because it’s quick, air conditioned, and he doesn’t have to remember his lines.
  • Rachael and Dee both love the normalcy of being voice actors.
  • Dee wants to create an episode where Klaus and Roger start a fish stick factory.
  • The show is on TBS now, so the American Dad crew have more freedom to be creative.
  • Dee speaks German fluently.
  • Rachael’s favorite animated show is Pippa Pig and Dee loves Avatar.
  • The producers are well aware of the voice acting cast’s capabilites and limits. They are thrown voices during the table read to see what the voice actors can do.
  • The second interview is with producers Matt Weitzman and Brian Boyle.
  • The second interview features the producers
  • They never thought American Dad would be on the air for so long.
  • In the beginning the show was compared to Family Guy, but American Dad soon made itself distinct, such as time slot, dedication to story, and characterization.
  • They claim to be doctors of comedy.
  • With the move to TBS, they are allowed to cuss and show different forms of nudity.
  • Whitney explains how familial relations work.
  • Both are really happy where the series is going and hope it will continue. The “Chris” is Chris Robertson, an animator on the show and prior interviewee.
  • If Roger wasn’t an alien, he would be a duck because he is so adaptive.
  • The third interview is with voice actors Scott Grimes and Wendy Schaal.
  • Wendy loves the energy and attention American Dad is getting from TBS. Scott loves the advertising their giving the show.
  • American Dad has made 205 episodes and it is a lot of storylines for the actors to keep track of.
  • Kevin Bacon loves the show.
  • They don’t do group recording sessions anymore, because Seth is very busy.
  • Wendy and Scott discuss their favorite episodes.
  • Scott released a record years ago and the writers included those songs in the show as a joke.



The World of Muppet Crap: Skeksis Fashion

This is a repost of an article Whitney originally wrote for the awesome Muppet fan site Tough Pigs.

‘Tis the start of a blessed New Year, where all Muppet fans alike can start afresh and work on their New Year’s resolutions. Instead of the usual getting into shape or writing a novel, I have decided that Muppet fans need to take on the tried and true mission of cleaning out their closets. The goal is to get rid of some of that really weird and shameful Muppet merchandise that has been burning a hole in your closet since the Swedish Chef blew the first hole in Muppet Vision 3D.

What is the point of cleaning out the closet? You get a feeling of accomplishment, a sense of less clutter in your life, and lots of more room for BIGGER AND BETTER Muppet stuff. As Kermit would say, “Yeeaahh!”

Since Jim Henson was swayed to license his characters for mass merchandising, there has been a plethora of Muppet goodies. Some fit the requirements of A+ standards like the Muppet Master Replicas dolls, but a lot of it also crap best exemplified by Tough Pigs’ annual Ugly Muppet Toys Pageant. This is where I come in. Hi ho! My name is Whitney Grace and I am a Muppet crap addict, meaning I spend a little bit of my precious time each week scouring the Internet for Muppet stuff. I am on the hunt for rare, quality merchandise that I can add to my museum instead of paying my mortgage.

During the recent holiday mania, I cornered the Tough Pigs boys, hog tied them (using a method taught to me personally by Miss Piggy), sat back in one of their recliners with a mug of eggnog, and basked in the light of their bedecked Muppet ornament Christmas tree. I explained to Joe and Ryan about my idea to write a column about Muppet crap I find on the Internet, and through some hefty threatening, I mean persuasion, I got my way. After I left, I forgot to release them. Whoops! Hopefully, they have gnawed through the industrial grade iron cables by now and will not hold me responsible for their dental bills. Send an invoice to Disney instead — Bob Iger can spare a few thousand to buy each of you some high-grade dentures, or I can find some on eBay (partially used of course).

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the first incarnation of The World of Muppet Crap! And yes, I am using italics, because it is an official thing and italics makes titles sound more important. Whenever I find an amazing piece of Muppet crap or something so truly outrageous that it must be shared to the world, I will be writing about it. This first installment must make a big impression on you, so I present The Dark Crystal dress!

full model
Cue the trumpet fanfare!

Gorgeous isn’t it? It looks like it was stolen right off the emperor’s corpse when he disintegrated into Skesis dust, except this ensemble was handmade to be worn by a 1980s fashion model or whoever felt like purchasing it from the Jim Henson Company.

It is time for the historical context part of the article, where I explain how the item came to be and place it on the Muppet timeline. Usually I will do that myself with research conducted on the Muppet Wiki, but this time I will leave to this lovely video from he Jim Henson Company:

Many movies have inspired fashion lines, Cruella de Vil’s clothing in the live action 101 Dalmatians movies comes to mind, and so The Dark Crystal is hardly alone. The creative team behind the fashion line had everything going for them: Brian Froud to lend inspiration, they worked on the original movie, and it sounds like they had some really kickin’ resumes. But this particular fashion line was not available at any fancy French designers’ boutique. Most likely due to the movie’s less than happy earnings, and it does sound more like a labor of love. Maybe the designers were plagued by Landstriders dressed in their garments and went into hiding. Did you notice that the six designers’ names are not revealed?


Face it folks! The eighties were not the high point of fashion, with leg warmers, shoulder pads, and more shades of fluorescent pink than Miss Piggy deemed to wear. We only made it into the nineties with Aqua Net holding us together and a streak of neon shoelaces tied together to grasp onto. As the video states, this haute couture fashion line has the best qualities of the present and the future. Ixnay on the last part of that quote, people.

I also love how this video details the fashion line as something people would wear everyday. All right, you can dress as a Podling and not be able to fit into your car! If there is one thing I know from watching The Devil Wears Prada and all four seasons of Ugly Betty, it’s that fashion is about art first and practicality second.

acupuncture model
At 3:28 you can see our lovely dress in question. It is apparently made from an antique wedding veil with seed pearls on the frilly collar. In the background you can see there is more than one, so how many antique wedding veils did they buy? Also the model looks like she has acupuncture needles sticking out of her neck as she sways the gauzy maroon robe back and forth. Take off the robe and it actually looks like a dress that might have withstood the age of time, flounces and all, but then the eBay auction portrays it differently.

Dress Front
In the harsh fluorescent lights of modern photography, this dress does not hold up well. I have been searching the Internet for years for an actual piece of the Dark Crystal fashion line to whip out at conventions and say, “Yes, people I am this cool!” I was hoping for the Jen-inspired tunic or maybe a swanky jacket, but not this number. I bet if I wore this, people would think I was cosplaying as a female version of Ron Weasley at the Yule Ball.

It probably does not smell like Ron’s Great-Aunt Tessy.

The seller is asking a steep $1500 or “best offer.” I was thinking of putting in an offer for five bucks, but then again this really is a rare item and the first time I have ever seen a piece of The Dark Crystal fashion on eBay in the ten years I have looked. I’ll make an offer of ten dollars instead and wear it to the Labyrinth Masquerade this year.

The seller is also peddling an official crystal shard replica cast from the movie prop. It looks nice and shiny, made of glass, and it comes with a pretty white box. I have never seen this item before and there is a name “Elfra Haad” on the back. Google failed in returning any relevant results, so maybe this was a prototype or maybe a fan made crystal plucked from a gelfing’s hand with love.

Shard Box FrontShard Box Back

Muppet fans, take note of the dress and its handmade stitching. Most other Muppet merchandise is mass-produced in a factory in China or Taiwan, unless you go the Etsy route. If you feel like shelling out the dough for this fantastic dress, you will probably be spending your entire Muppet merchandise budget for the year. Think about it though, it really is a rare part of Muppet history and it probably be another ten years before another part of the fashion line appears on eBay.

What other wonders will the Internet yield of Muppet crap?
Dress Tag

Toon-In-Talk Episode 08: Interview with Tim Beyers

Hello and welcome to eighth episode of Fanboy Nation’s Toon-In-Talk, your rendezvous for animation interviews.  For animation fans, the release of a new animated film is always exciting.  2015 is going to have a lot of animated films showing on the silver screen, but yo have to wonder what will succeed and what will bomb at the box office.  Whitney interviews geek financial analyst Tim Beyers to discuss what 2015 animated movies will be a success and what will fail.

Episode 8


  • Tim Beyers writes about geek financial news for The Motley Fool.
  • Last year, he and Whitney discussed which animated films would be successful in 2014 and they repeat the same theme for 2015.
  • Tim thinks that Minions will be this year’s success followed close by Inside Out.
  • Pixar films are still successful, but with the reboot of Disney Animation, the studio has taken the original Pixar magic and inserted it into their own movies.
  • Disney Animation movies have been more successful than Pixar lately, but this could be Pixar’s year with the release of two animated films.
  • Whitney thinks Pixar will do better than Disney.
  • Sequels have a better chance of earning more money than the originals, because the fan base is already established and audiences want to see more.
  • Inside Out has the classic Pixar formula, especially story, but Minions are extremely marketable.
  • Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud do the voice of the minions, not Dee Bradley Baker.
  • Tim and Whitney both love it with professional voice actors get to strut their stuff in feature films
  • Tim thinks Hotel Transylvania 2 will be the least successful and the Peanuts movie has enough juice to pull ahead.
  • Whitney is optimistic about both. She thinks Monster Trucks will be the least successful and it might be copying the Cars
  • It’s exciting what is happening with Disney with the number of properties they are releasing. The House of Mouse is becoming the mother of all studios.
  • When Disney does a great job they do a GREAT job, but Whitney doesn’t want the studio to get complacent. In response, Time says Disney is far away from doing that because they’re still competing with Warner Brothers.
  • Big Hero 6 was good, but it was predictable. Story still remains king.
  • Please note Pixar doesn’t make all 3D movies.
  • The Peanuts movie has historical fans, but the franchise is being reintroduced to a whole new generation who aren’t familiar with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the game. It’s a gamble, however, so were The Muppets.
  • Original ideas are becoming scarce, but they are around and they come from studios with money to burn.
  • Online fundraising platforms, however, do allow creative individuals to raise money for their projects. The Internet allows more creators to put their work out there, but there is a lot more competition.
  • The hardest part of making a creative property is making the actual property.
  • Tim declares that the next three years in animated entertainment is a new golden age of cartoons, animation, and more.
  • Just for fun, this interview rounds out with Tim’s interview from last year.