Monday, May 08, 2006

iToons

I'm a little stuffed bull who loves his iPod, oh boy, you betcha. Not just to listen over and over again to my favorite album by the very cute and still unaccountably single Miss Lisa Loeb (pick me to be on your dating show, Lisa! Pick me!) but also to catch up on the media that Wired magazine is still talking about as "the next big thing" even though it's been around for, oh, seems like ages: video postcasting. It's easy and fun and thanks to pioneers like Adam "Best Hair in the Business" Curry, and to Mister Steve Jobs and all the fine folks at Apple and the developers of iTunes, it's now a lot easier to download and save audio and video podcasts. You don't even hafta have an iPod (but if you do have a fifth-generation one you can also watch videos on your iPod. All you need's Apple's iTunes 6 software installed on your computer and you can watch these films on your desktop or laptop computer.

Now, I'm not 'llowed to download and watch video podcasts (vodcasts? vidcasts?) like Tiki Bar TV or French Maids TV (put some clothes on, girls! You're gonna catch your death of cold giving instructional broadcasts dressed like that!). But there are some great fun podcasts for all ages, and here's some of my faves especially for comics and cartoon fans:

  • Vintage ToonCastVintage ToonCast: Public domain animated cartoons, mostly from the Golden Age of the 1940s. You wouldn't have seen these on Saturday mornings on The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour when you were growing up, nosiree Bob, no way. Many of them feature racial depictions that were par for their times but which are un-PC today. Any superhero fan'll especially get a kick out of the series of Fleischer Superman cartoons they've been posting (9 so far). If you've seen these before you know they are probably the finest superhero cartoons ever created: moody, fluid, energetic and all-out-gorgeous. If you've never seen 'em, gosh, what are you waiting for, especially if you're a fan of the modern-day Bruce Timm Batman, Superman, and Justice League cartoons they inspired? These Superman films have been floating around in public domain for many years and on bootleg VHS and DVD copies, but it's well worth seein' 'em again, even as a small window on a computer screen. Even if you've seen the Superman cartoons, you might not have seen some of the "Joe Snafu" Warner Brothers army informational and inspirational cartoons (with a definite adult, military bent), the goofy, surreal and oh-so-colorful "Aladdin and His Magical Lamp" (by Disney's Ub Iwerks) or this Bugs Bunny cartoon that ends with Elmer and a chorus line in blackface. Vintage ToonCasts are somewhat marred by an unnecessary and distracting letterboxing to put their website name and source on the bottom and right-hand sides, but that's a small price to pay for being able to download these free classic cartoons.


  • ReFrederatorReFrederator: (Kid) sister site to the popular Frederator ("The World's Original Cartoon Podcast"), ReFrederator takes the Nick-at-Nite approach and presents classic, seldom-seen, public domain cartoons. It's obvious the Frederator folks spotted Vintage ToonCast's approach and appropriated it as well, which is clear in their choice of cartoons (some of which are even the same). Still, more choices of this type of video podcast channel means more for us, the viewer! ReFrederator presents a new vintage cartoon each day in "theme weeks" (Comic Strip Week, Celebrity Impersonator Week) and has a wider variety of toons with classic characters like Little Lulu, Popeye, Felix the Cat, but I've got to recommend my personal favorite: an utterly surreal Toonerville Trolley cartoon from the Amadee Van Beuren Studios and featuring surely the sensational character find of 1936: The Powerful Katrinka. Missing it won't destroy your life, but golly, watching it will bring joy and happiness that'll keep you whistlin' all day. The Frederator podcasts also are backed up by a fun and tongue-in-cheek Frederator blog of commentary and discussion on independent animated cartoon-making. I guess I need a lot more crayons if I want to finish all the animator cels for Little Stuffed Bull: The Motion Picture!


  • BrickfilmsThe BrickFilms.com Podcast: Some of us just build stuff, willy-nilly, with their Lego. Others are a lot more talented and make stop-motion animated cartoons with 'em! I'm just in plain awe of the filmmakers who create mini-worlds out of Lego bricks and give their stories life and energy even if the starring characters are only one inch tall and made of plastic. The Brickfilms podcast presents a nice variety of these films ranging from a moody and spooky adaptation of Goethe's Dance of Death, a 60-second version of 2001: A Space Odyssey, a fake trailer for the third Star Wars film (that's a lot more entertaining than the official Lucas version), but for me the stand-out don't-miss-it film is the epic adventures of the ultimate Arabian hero: Aladibababad!
Sure, I love comics. Comics are fun. But they also cost three or four bucks a pop. Don't forget that sometimes fun entertainment is free entertainment! (And if you're anti-Apple or anxious to avoid supporting or installing iTunes, you can find the films on the podcasts' websites or (for the ReFrederator and Vintage ToonCast cartoons) on the ever-impressive Archive.org! Believe me, they're much better than the confusingly-titled M: I: III, plus, they don't cost ten bucks to see!


4 comments:

The Fortress Keeper said...

Thanks for the tips Bully! I'm not anti-Apple, so I'll be sure to download some of this stuff on my Powerbook!

(Still saving up for the fifth-generation iPod though. Money's tight around the Fortress...)

Bigseek said...

I just got a video ipod for my birthday and I have been loving the Vintage Tooncast. Thanks for the other heads up. I will be checking them out.

Steven said...

Bully, for telling me about this, YOU are a man amongst men!

Erm, little stuffed bull amongst men.

Oh uh, little stuffed bull amongst emotionally stunted man-children.

Whatever dude, Superman cartoons! Cool!

Bully said...

May I please be a little stuffed bull amongst leggy supermodels, Steven?