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Publisher's Notebook

Animation World Magazine's yearly "Publisher's Notebook" column introducing the April 2001 issue, where co-publisher Dan Sarto contemplates the past rocky year and mulls over headlines that never were.

Dan Sarto. © AWN

An entire year has gone by since my last Publisher's Notebook. In many ways, the promise and potential of the past year has been overshadowed by some of the more grim realities of the global economic climate. The first Internet Entertainment Revolution shook its fist at the world, quickly got a face full of pepper spray and ran back to the hills. Major studios merged, purged and coughed up large amounts of their staff and stock value. The technology companies that fuel much of the digital media world harangued us with another healthy dose of product point releases, but nothing really worth cleaning out your aging grandmother's bank account to go buy. Sometimes, in the rush to embrace progress and the "cutting edge," we no longer have quite the chokehold on our goals and dreams that we'd like to think we have. And even in the midst of tremendous strides being made with all sorts of cool computer animation techniques and technologies, some of the year's best animation was still done by lonely artists working late into the night with an animation disk, or an armful of puppets, or an old Mac 8500. If you turn down the volume on your "life," you can actually even hear them working away. Quietly. Patiently. Beautifully.

Golly, that was maudlin. I sound like my dad. The point I'm trying to make is that as we hurdle at breakneck speed toward our future, we would be well advised to learn from the hard fought lessons of our past. If we are to more fully embrace and profit from the opportunities of the coming years (and there will be many), we should not jettison the old just to make room for the new. There is ample room for both. Except for Thai food. Once it's been in the fridge for a couple days, toss it.

The animation industry is going through some difficult times right now. Our problems mirror the problems of the global economy at large. But history shows that the Phoenix always rises from the ashes, that progress may sometimes get mired, but never derailed. I'm confidant things are bound to improve during the next year. At least that's what I've been telling my landlord, and that's what I'm telling you.

Which leads me to the real point of this year's Publisher's Notebook. I've often felt the best judge of a person's character is how they handle adversity. You can really see someone's true nature by the way they make the tough decisions. Think about it -- it's been a tough year, but the hard part is really over. You've told your wife you can get at least another thousand miles on that mini-spare tire, you've told your five-year-old daughter that because E-Toys went from $200 to zippo she'll soon have to start sharing a room with grandma, and you've told your therapist you've got the shaking well under control. It's all downhill from here.

In that spirit, this year's Publisher's Notebook, celebrating AWN's 5th Anniversary, concludes by trying to help pave the way for success in the future by poking a little fun at some of the things from the past. If we can't laugh at ourselves, we are destined to repeat our mistakes, and miss out on some of the opportunities that the future has in store for us. Plus, if we can't laugh at other people, then for the most part, there wouldn't be many things that are funny. As my father always said, "If you can't kick a friend when they're down, then what good are they as a friend?"

Join me for a quick glimpse at some of the Animation Headline News that didn't make it into any of AWN's publications, or any other publications for that matter. I'm sure our Editor In Chief Heather Kenyon will argue that they shouldn't have even made it into this publication, but I get my way once, and only once, each year. And this is it. Thanks to everyone at AWN and creativePLANET that have made the past year online so profoundly rewarding, challenging, and most of all, amusing.

So without further ado, in honor of our 5th anniversary (and April Fool's Day), the news that never was, but should have been.


Business Nick Studios to train ants to run digital ink and paint systems -- Union quickly steps in to demand maximum 22-hour workday.

Sears suspends sales of Cow & Chicken convection oven in Asia -- retailing giant bows to PETA pressure over accompanying cookbook that includes several recipes for roast dog.

Entire library of Ren & Stimpy videos reported missing from Los Alamos Labs -- FBI to investigate latest breach in security at country's most top-secret nuclear laboratory.

Interpol and FBI smash ring of international video pirates -- gang caught smuggling bootleg copies of Cats Don't Dance into Honduras.

DNA tests reveal FOX Studios had nothing to do with the mismarketing of Titan A.E. -- company executives deny involvement, claim they were at home watching television during animated feature's theatrical run.

Cal Arts rocked by hazing tragedy -- foreign student who had never seen Luxo Jr. forced by fellow students to do pencil tests on old Amiga.

Warner Feature Animation restructures again -- new division to be called Disney Feature Animation.

Parts shortages plague Sony Playstation 2 launch -- company spokesman says that only a power cord and one controller will ship on schedule.

Jeff Goldblum signs on as spokesman for SGI -- new ad campaign to promote company's next generation home render farms.

Disney buys entire Internet -- plans to eliminate all domains except dotbuydisneystuff.

Top animation studio brass warns of impending talent crunch -- key execs predict looming shortage of qualified movers, auctioneers, locksmiths and packing clerks.

Special Cinar News Compendium The Royal Canadian Mounted Police filed their first documents in the CINAR Corp. tax fraud case -- Constable Dooright claims The Country Mouse and The City Mouse actually penned by Inspector Fenwick's daughter Nell.

Cinar releases restated financial reports -- claims $120 million spent on French versions of Microsoft Office.

Cinar founders resign -- refuse to continue working for company that can't take a joke.

Cinar explains delay in providing financial statements -- they were late because auditors had tickets for a Maple Leaf's game.

Cinar employees barred from trading -- Canadian securities watchdog, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), has barred officers, directors and insiders of Cinar Corp. from any further misappropriation of $120 million.

Internet and Interactive Merrill Lynch and other top analysts predict Flash animation portals to be profitable by 2108 -- experts predict turbulence should begin to subside by 2095, with the strongest companies moving out of the red by Q1 2108. announces new round of financing -- founder's dad gives fledgling Web entertainment portal $2,850 so son can pay Amex bill and buy new copy of Photoshop.

South Park creators ink deal with Cedars Sinai Hospital -- wacky, irreverent humor of Cartman, Kyle and the gang to be featured on "colostomy care" instructional software and video. decides to delay IPO -- citing troubling market conditions, Net stock slump and lack of artistic talent, struggling group of five Flash animation students from Ohio put their plans to go public on hold for fifth time in last 7 months.

20 top Webtoon producers agree to historic merger -- new company claims to have burned through more venture capital, in less time, with less revenue, than any company in U.S. history.

Major development breakthrough announced -- New York animation studio successfully trims Webisode loading "intro" from 30 to 20 seconds.

DEN closes doors for good -- laid off employees given stock as severance. closes doors for good -- laid off employees given stock as severance. closes doors for good -- laid off employees given Entertaindom stock as severance.

Entertaindom closes doors for good -- laid off employees given Iron Giant DVD.

Commercials ILM finishes spot for Mazda MPV -- all CGI spot shows newest SUV stylishly motoring past a Ford Explorer that has overturned and exploded on the side of the highway.

A.Film Copenhagen finishes a 30-second animated spot as part of a series of ads for PDFA, the Partnership for a Drug Free America -- spot shows buxom, tattooed blonde touting safe, cheap and hassle free drug use in Denmark.

Paris-based Mac Guff Ligne has created seven new Pillsbury Doughboy spots -- series depicts the baked-goods spokesman as a pencil mustached, schmeiser toting, beret topped resistance fighter smuggling tapenade and pate from a well-guarded kitchen pantry.

TOPIX/Mad Dog wraps new commercial for Kellogg's Canada -- company provides the 3D animation and design elements for new 30-second spot for Cholesterol Burstin' Sugar Frosted Fatty Bacon O's.

Technology Intel in talks with Ohio Art to bring unparalleled 3D graphics to the Etch-A-Sketch -- special high-res chipset based on breakthrough "weird silver powder inside" technology.

Japanese man crawls out of Philippine jungle -- has been installing Maya on NT since 1944.

Burmese Minister of Digital Media implores Western leaders to send floppy disks -- official tells UN delegation "an entire generation of anime porn is being lost forever."

Adobe releases latest After Affects plugin -- revolutionary StoryMaster XLT technology lets animators quickly integrate an actual story into their work.

Television New Government report released -- cartoons like South Park help kids build valuable "anti-social" skills, which can prove useful for future government employment.

MTV signs historic partnership agreement with NASA and JPL -- development execs enlist next generation of space probes to help search for "hip, edgy" animated series ideas.

Studios feel the pinch of the slumping economy -- Powerpuff's Bubbles and Thelma from Scooby Doo given pink slips.

French animators go on strike -- vow not to return until government agrees to 17-hour workweek.

Turkish Premier orders network shut down as punishment for airing episode of Pokemon -- country's leader reportedly furious that show was broadcast before he had chance to set his VCR.

Forrester Research releases results of latest industry study -- wealthiest 1 percent of Americans responsible for 97% of all Hey Arnold! video sales.

Films Disney to release special version of The Emperor's New Groove dubbed into broken English. E.U. Ministers upset, decry, "How you say, teepikul you-es arrogance, no!"

Fox Animation to auction off surplus feature film scripts on Ebay -- unnamed company spokesman disputes report, claims "most of the good stuff has already been used."

Thomas and the Magic Railroad bolts to #1 in Antarctic Box Office -- penguins flocking to new animated feature in record numbers.

Aardman and KFC sign Chicken Run licensing deal -- will soon unveil line of zesty chicken pita wraps named after Rocky, Ginger and other "tasty" characters from the hit movie.

Author of Federal study on violence in animated children's programming accosted on steps of Capitol Building -- DC police take Ed, Edd n Eddy into custody.

Philippines bans dozens of new anime video features -- Minister of Culture claims new films are "exploitative, derogatory and portray Asian women's breasts as way too big."

FBI director Luis Freeh concedes alleged spy Robert Hanssen may have provided Russian handlers with several unreleased episodes of Spumco's Weekend Pussy Hunt -- government wiretaps show the veteran counter-intelligence expert was set to reveal secret codes that made neighbor's bikini disappear and a dog poop spring to life.

People Senior Disney executive fired for having Care Bear fan page -- successfully hid its existence from family, friends and co-workers for over 3 years.

AOL Time Warner Cuts Colin Powell & 5 Others From Board -- Secretary of State retaliates by having Delta Force Commandos plant land mines throughout Ted Turner's Montana ranch. hires new VP of Strategic Development -- exec vows to refocus company's efforts toward development of "offbeat and zany" content for the burgeoning, expanding and untapped frontier of network television.

Three new execs join Cartoon Network Italy -- trio vows to expand programming lineup right after they finish their tiramisu and double espresso.

Events The 17th annual Baltic, Latvian and Estonian Animation Konvention (BLEAK 2001) kicks off this February 16th in Kippersrungenbjorkenhorfen, Finland -- unique program to include retrospective on 50 years of humorous Estonian animation.

ASIFA Belize to host 4th annual Careers in Animation Expo -- annual event helps aspiring animators learn the ins and outs of the fast food industry.

Jerry Beck to present a retrospective at ASIFA Hollywood -- program to focus on clips that were never aired from shows that were never created.

Bangkok Effects and Animation Expo attracts major industry players from around the world -- extremely limber 14 year-old go-go dancers will show visiting American, Canadian and European animation executives the latest advances in the Thai entertainment industry.

Ottawa Animation Festival announces retrospective of animated shorts from the former Soviet Bloc -- Come watch famous Russian animators share a large bottle of vodka and smoke cigarettes!

Glendale set to play center stage -- Upcoming 2001 World Animation Celebration to focus on companies that buy booths.

Traveling exhibit of Kentucky animation postponed until next spring -- axle breaks on curator's pickup truck.

Don't miss "You Silly, Stupid Americans" -- School of Visual Arts to host a night of French animated films.

Gaze into the future at some of tomorrow's most unpromising artists -- join us for Yet Another Horrible Web Animation Festival 2001.

Dan Sarto is an accomplished "hack" technologist and co-publisher of Animation World Network.

Dan Sarto's picture

Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.