One detail I left out of my interview with Andrew Stanton, director of Pixar Studio's new classics WALL-E and Finding Nemo, was a tidbit about his early days. Before joining Pixar (where he was the second animator and ninth employee), one of Stanton's first Hollywood jobs was on Ralph Bakshi's short-lived animated sitcom "Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures." "Mighty Mouse" offered a clever parody of cartoons, superheroes and pop culture and was a delightful anomaly amid the Saturday morning kiddie fare of the late 1980s. Culturally satirical cartoons are ubiquitous today thanks to "The Simpsons," Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, etc. that it's easy to forget how strange and groundbreaking "Mighty Mouse" was for its time. This sample, "Don't Touch That Dial," directly takes on other cartoons:
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In writing the script for WALL-E, Stanton brought on board Jim Reardon, another "Mighty Mouse" alumnus who penned a wild Batman parody episode, "Night of the Bat-Bat," in which the hero Bat-Bat fights the archvillain The Cow, a bovine with an inexplicably male voice. Other "Mighty Mouse" veterans include John Kricfalusi, the creator of "Ren and Stimpy," and Bruce W. Timm, producer of "Justice League Unlimited" and most of the other great DC Comics animated shows of recent years.
Speaking of Stanton and vintage animation, other movie websites have reported that for his next project, he's writing a big-screen adaptation of John Carter of Mars, based on the beloved, swashbuckling sci-fi pulp novels by Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs. In an interesting bit of movie trivia, John Carter of Mars almost had an animated, big screen treatment years ago: in 1936 and 1937, animator Bob Clampett worked with Burroughs and designed some test animation for a proposed series of John Carter of Mars theatrical shorts. Some of the test animation still exists, and offers a neat little glimpse of the early days of animation:
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Finally, in my interview I mention the WALL-E teaser trailer that describes, with a near-mythic tone, a 1994 lunch with Stanton and others in Pixar's creative brain trust about the studio's potential movies in the future. If you haven't seen it, it's here:
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My favorite WALL-E promo clip, though, is this 'Buy & Large' commercial for your own WALL-E unit.