A brand-new book from my good amigo Mike Dobbs aka G. Michael Dobbs is hot off the presses, and I'll be writing about it here in the coming week (once my copy is in my steaming little mitts). That sweet cover is by Mark Martin, too, another draw for old-timers and 'toon lovers alike.
With Bee Movie and Beowulf -- the former in theaters everywhere now, the latter coming in a week or so -- representing the polar extremes of contemporary American feature animation, Mike's book is more timely than ever.
Escape! How Animation Broke into the Mainstream in the 1990s is the title, and the subject is indeed the transition animation and animated features have made into wider and adult venues, out of the G-rated family and "children's matinee" territory the medium was consigned to for so long. It's been a gradual process, with landmarks like Ralph Bakshi's 1970s and '80s features (Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, Fire & Ice, American Pop, etc.), The Simpsons, Spike & Mike's festivals, the anime explosion and much, much more peppering the landscape. But it all changed bigtime in the 1990s, and that's the turf Mike tills in his new book.
As I've mentioned here before, I served on the Board of Directors for the Common Ground Restaurant in Brattleboro, VT from 2005-6, an active part of the communal effort to resurrect this venerable collective (worker-owned) eatery after a quarter-century of serving great, healthy food to the community and a few years of limbo after that collective collapsed and evaporated. When Marge and I moved out of the Brattleboro/Marlboro area late last year, I stepped down from the Board, just as the new Common Ground reopened its doors.
It's been quite a year for the Common Ground, full of highs and lows and the inevitable birth pangs and initial growth spasms, culminating in -- sigh -- the closing of the restaurant a week or so ago. But it isn't over yet, not by a long shot, and here's hoping the Common Ground's resurrection (and, now, transmutation) gains a new head of steam.
Have a great Friday, one and all, and see you here this weekend. Next weekend I'll be visiting and interviewing my worldly and overworked friend Neil Gaiman, so I'll be out of the blogosphere for a few days the end of next week and weekend. Adios for now...