Ivor Wood at Manchester Animation Festival

Ivor Wood animating The Wombles - 1970-72

Ivor Wood animating The Wombles (Orinoco, Wellington and Tobermory – 1970-72

Good day to you all. I have some VERY exciting news! As you’ve probably gathered from the title of the post Ivor Wood is being celebrated at the one and only Manchester Animation Festival. Together with organiser Steve Henderson we’ve looked to put together an hour long conversation all about Ivor and his lifetime of work. Along with myself, I’ll be joined by Ivor’s wife Josiane and fellow researcher Joseph Wallace to answer all your questions and celebrate all of Ivor’s grand achievements spanning his whole career from The Magic Roundabout all the way through to Charlie Chalk.

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The event will be happening as part of the 3 day Manchester Animation Festival between the 14th and 16th November 2017. The actual ‘in conversation’ will be happening at 10.15 on 16th November at HOME in Manchester. You can find out more about the speakers and the event in the link below and also you’ll find a link to purchase your tickets!

http://www.manchesteranimationfestival.co.uk/events/world-ivor-wood/

It’s a great honour to be able to put the this event on and really hope to see some of you Ivor Wood fans down there. Afterwards they’ll be a little meet and greet where we’ll be bringing along some Ivor goodies for you all to take a peek at. One is very special indeed and an exclusive to the festival so stay tuned for a further announcement!

We hope to see you all there and help bring Ivor Wood to the forefront of British animation and television.

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Charlie Chalk Designs – Trader Jones

Well it’s been a while but I’m back having successfully funded Rex Factor The Animated Show. If any of you supported or shared the campaign then thanks so much! Can’t believe we made it. So with Ivor Wood and that I have my year cut out!

Let’s get back onto Ivor Wood then shall we. Whilst at Josiane’s (Ivor’s wife) house a few months ago she revealed a series of early sketches and character descriptions for Charlie Chalk. With the show being my favourite Ivor production I was like a kid in a candy store. Everyone was there from Charlie himself through to Arnold, Lewis T Duck and for todays post Trader Jones. The character sheets were either used in the lead up to creating the show, perhaps to present to broadcasters or Josiane seems to remember them being used for a Charlie Chalk book that never was. The illustrations apparently weren’t what the publishers were looking for.

As you’ll see below each one is roughly drawn in Ivor’s iconic style and coloured over using marker pens. It is however the fascinating and comical descriptions that are the true highlight. Ivor manages to sum up in so few words what each character is about and how they fit in within the show and on the island of Merrytwit.

Trader Jones design for Charlie Chalk by Ivor Wood

As much as a lot of the info will be familiar to all there are some little tit-bits that provide an extra insight into Trader Jones. Things like the ‘Coconut Spirit’ are a great little edition and one that I don’t think gets mentioned enough in the show. I’d love to see some sort of spiritually led episode where Trader Jones makes some mystic predictions.

From theses illustrations and descriptions we can really get a sense of Ivor’s passion for the characters of Merrytwit. Charlie Chalk was his favourite creation and his only completely original endeavour. This really shines through in just this single character sheet. The world seems ready created in his mind and goes way beyond what we know through the single series we’ve all enjoyed.

Hopefully this post has helped fill the Ivor Wood void created over the last few weeks. There is a whole host more coming over the following months and VERY soon there is going to be a super exciting announcement. Ivor Wood will be being remembered in a whole new way so stay tuned. I’ve also got some amazing and exclusive Postman Pat articles to come in the coming weeks, just seeking all the relevant permissions before sharing with you all.

Stay tuned and apologies for the pause.

 

 

Rex Factor – The Animated Show

I should have a warning at the top of this post. Sadly this is a personal request and very little to do with Ivor Wood (sorry!).

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My studio Tinmouse Animation are currently in the process of producing a pilot TV show called Rex Factor – The Animated Show. We’ve teamed up with the internationally successful history podcast Rex Factor to bring history to life and make it more accessible to all ages. The podcast see’s presenters Graham and Ali reviewing all the Kings and Queens of England rating them on a series of factors: Battleyness, Scandal, Subjectivity, Longevity and Dynasty. They then decide whether the chosen monarch deserves the coveted Rex Factor crown. We’re taking this famous format and delving into the life of the notorious King Richard III… but is it time to rethink the legend?

We’ve been crowd-funding with Kickstarter throughout August and now have 10 days left to meet our funding target (31st August). The support for the show has been incredible so far with over 200 backers and no being just shy of 70% funded.

The Kickstarter Campaign

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1958705267/rex-factor-the-animated-show

As our Kickstarter campaign comes towards its end we’d love your support and your love for animation to bring the show to life. If you can spare a few minutes to share the link above with your friends and other animation lovers then we’ll be greatly appreciative. On the flip-side if you do want to pledge then have no fear we have some amazing rewards for you! Including t-shirts, a ‘making of’ documentary, mugs, prints, 3D models and artwork from the show. Plus if you’re feeling plucky, a personalised character of you in the show!

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We’ve already self-funded the whole pre-production process last year so just need that little boost to get the show animated ready for the April 2018 launch. Thanks so much for reading this and I promise once the Kickstarter has finished I’ll be back to posting up more Ivor Wood treats!

First Charlie Chalk Design?

First off so sorry for these sporadic posts over the last few months. I am currently putting together a Kickstarter campaign for our new pilot programme Rex Factor – The Animated Show and it’s getting closer and closer to the launch so I’ve had time for little else. If you’re interested to see whats been keeping me away then click here and stay tuned for the Kickstarter campaign on August 2nd!

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Anyhoo onto what you’re all here for, Ivor Wood! Whilst at Ivor’s house with his wife Josiane she pulled out this little treasure you see before you. A lovely pastel drawing of, what is named, Charlie Chalk. Now on a first look he doesn’t look much like what we’re more familiar with as Charlie. However look closely and there are a lot of elements that are present in both creations. The chequred trousers, red nose, white dickey and obviously those over-sized shoes. The colouring is a little over the top and perhaps Ivor had just opened a new box of pastels and wanted to try them all out on one drawing!

Our best guess is that this is a working character design for Charlie and perhaps one of Ivor’s first attempts at creating this iconic character. The bright vivid colours in this illustration are certainly in stark contrast to the more pastel shades that he would end up going for in the final show but we certainly get a feel for who Charlie is in this sketch. Fun loving and care free are both phrases that spring to mind. Also it’s great to see that Ivor’s trademark oversized clothes even play a part in his drawings. Whether or not he always thought of the final 3D puppets when sketching is unknown but there is certainly some proof here. Obviously in puppet form the oversized clothing, big hands and feet are essential to help mask the armatures and also enable better movement when animating. With Ivor being predominantly a 3D animator it’s likely that he would have thought about this heavily in the design stages.

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Another theory as to the origins of this illustration is that it was created as more of a moodboard for the 2D opening credits. Certainly in looking at the below shot the pose is more on point. Also the manner in which it is drawn is very similar, very straight limbs, exaggerated poses and thick black lines outlining. As much as I can see possibility in it being a character concept I feel it’s more in line with the opening credits and my money’s on that. It would be great to get your thoughts, very open to suggestions.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 18.22.14I’m afraid thats going to be it for at least a month or so until the end of the Kickstarter but I’ll certainly be back for some more insight into Ivor Wood very soon. I can also reveal that they’ll be some REALLY exciting news on the horizon and once I get the green light I’ll be sharing it with you all here first! Keep your peepers peeled.

Thanks and have a great month.  See you when I return 🙂

Paddington creator Michael Bond passes away aged 91

Michael Bond and Paddington. Image sourced from The Telegraph by Geoff Pugh

Michael Bond and Paddington. Image sourced from The Telegraph by Geoff Pugh

This afternoon came with some very sad news, Michael Bond the creator of Paddington Bear and The Herbs has died aged 91 following a short illness. Best know for writing, nurturing and bringing to life Britains favourite bear, Paddington, he has bought joy to millions of children and adults across the globe. The Paddington stories have never been out of print since their first publication in 1958 and have spawned many further creations including a hugely successful film, of which a sequel is being created as we speak, and more fondly a stop motion children’s show in 1975.

Ivor Wood animating Paddington Bear Image taken from book Life and Times of Paddington Bear, 1988

Ivor Wood animating Paddington Bear Image taken from book Life and Times of Paddington Bear, 1988

Back in 1965 Michael was working as a cameraman for the BBC with a yearning passion for writing and storytelling. This passion and his BBC contacts lead him to write bits and pieces for the channel. It was this writing that peaked the interest of then head of BBC children’s television, Monica Simms. She, impressed by Michael’s ability approached Graham Clutterbuck who was the producer over at, production company, FilmFair. She approached him not with an idea but with a man.

It was here that he first met Ivor Wood who would become a crucial collaborator and later, dear friend. Ivor at the time was still living in Paris but this didn’t stop Michael immediately getting to work, eventually coming up with the concept for The Herbs. The show was a huge success after it’s first broadcast in 1968, leading to a spin off show ‘The Adventures of Parsley’ and thus spawning the start of a very fruitful partnership in Ivor, Graham and Michael. Here in Michael’s own words, he describes their next project…Paddington.

“In 1975 Ivor came to see me with the news that, “To tell you the truth, I’ve been playing around with an idea for filming Paddington.” When Ivor said “To tell you the truth …”, you knew that’s what you were getting – the truth, pure and simple – and so I was very happy to realise my stories of the bear from Peru in a new medium with him.

His idea was to combine a three-dimensional puppet Paddington with two-dimensional cardboard backgrounds and supporting cast, with Paddington the one colourful character set against muted backgrounds, rather like an early Peter Brook stage set. It sounds simple now, but at the time it was a groundbreaking departure, and it worked.

They were happy days; not always carefree, but certainly fulfilling, and I always felt very privileged to be involved in it.”

Their continued friendship over the years led to the creation of a second series of Paddington and a series of specials featuring that famous Singing in the Rain parody in Paddington Goes to the Movies. As well as this there were illustrative collaborations for both The Herbs and Paddington in the form of story books and Paddington cartoon strips that were printed in the London Evening News.

The Herbs - Parsley the Lion

The Herbs – Parsley the Lion

Michael was very particular in how his penned creations were portrayed, turning down a Paddington theatre show, films and and even an Ivor pitched 2D cartoon. His attention to detail, much like Ivor’s, shines through in his TV and illustrative work. Each collaboration is true to character and perfectly portrays their written counter-part.

Michaels writing was in a style that never looked down on it’s audience, straight talking and at times blunt but always with a dash of humour and frivolity. He will be best remembered for Paddington Bear but his writing (and animation) career started with The Herbs, proving that writers and film-makers can work work harmoniously and successfully together.

In the words of Ivor’s wife Josiane, who knew the pair well, it is now “certainly the end of an era”. Although Ivor Wood, Graham Clutterbuck and Michael Bond have now passed on, the old friends have not just left some incredible works but also a legacy that will continue to be shared, enjoyed and cherished for generations to come. Michael Bond was a true storyteller and someone that has warmed the hearts of so many with his tales of that little bear from Peru.

“I don’t worry about death. I sort of feel it’s good to get to 91 and I can’t complain. And I hope Paddington might come with me, ­wherever we go. Up or down.”

“It wouldn’t be kind to tell Paddington to come with me if I was going down.”

Michael Bond – April 2017

Michael Bond died 28th June 2017 aged 91

Ivor Wood on the set of The Herbs

Had to share this with you all. Whilst flicking through my copy of Michael Bond’s autobiography Bears and Forebears I stumbled across this picture of a very young Ivor Wood. It’s no secret that Ivor and Michael were good friends, producing both Paddington Bear and The Herbs together. It’s the latter that we treated to here, with Ivor standing proudly in front of The Herbs set.

Ivor Wood on the set of The Herbs

Ivor Wood on the set of The Herbs

As you’ll see Ivor was a young man here and would have probably been taken around the mid 60s as The Herbs was being made. Alternatively it could be lat 60s on the set of The Adventures of Parsley. Perhaps Ivor’s wife Josiane would have a better idea.

As we can see in the background Sage is looking on whilst Dill digs out something from his kennel. Speaking of digging, I’ve got more treats in store so stay tuned.

Also if anyone has any questions or had a particular interest they’d be keen to find out more on then leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do.

Paddington Bear cartoons by Ivor Wood

Wow it’s been 3 weeks since the last post! Apologies to all, work has been crazy and we’re also starting a BIG self funded project called Rex Factor – The Animated Show. More on that later if you’re interested.

It’s been a while but I’ve done some digging and pulled out these gems from Ivor’s Paddington Bear days. Around 1977 Ivor and Michael Bond embarked on a series of cartoon strips for the London Evening News. There’s more in an article I wrote a while back here. It was quite an undertaking and saw Paddington get into all sorts of scrapes in just four panels per story.

I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the original cel drawings that Ivor drew straight onto acetate. They’re a great example of his draftsmanship and full of that Ivor charm.

Paddington Bear cartoon for the London Evening News - 1977 - Illustrated by Ivor Wood

Paddington Bear saws wood for the London Evening News – 1977 – Illustrated by Ivor Wood

Paddington Bear cartoon for the London Evening News - 1977 - Illustrated by Ivor Wood

Paddington Bear carries boxes for the London Evening News – 1977 – Illustrated by Ivor Wood

This has to be my personal favourite (above). I love the way the boxes are drawn and so precariously balanced as Paddington makes probably quite a fateful trip down the stairs. You need no more in a drawing of this quality to tell the story. We all know what will happen without it being spelled out and it’s a testament to Ivor’s storytelling vision. His line work once again may not be in proportion or the most tidy, but the expression and pose is all there and weighted perfectly for that sudden trip and tumble.

Paddington Bear cartoon for the London Evening News - 1977 - Illustrated by Ivor Wood

Paddington’s jar of marmalade for the London Evening News – 1977 – Illustrated by Ivor Wood

Well I had to end the post with Paddington’s favourite snack, Marmalade. Just look at those chunky bits’ shredded up in the jar. Hmmmm. Promise not to leave the next post too long so keep on the look out.

And if you’re interested my studio, Tinmouse Animation are embarking on a very exciting project. We’re animating the internationally successful Rex Factor podcast, duly named Rex Factor – The Animated Show. You can find out more about it in the link below and sign up for a FREE gift and all the latest updates. We’ll be opening up to funding in July through Kickstarter so would be great to see if any of you are interested 🙂

www.rexfactor-theanimatedshow.co.uk