Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Oscar Month, UCB & Valentine's Day

February is Oscars month - and it's time now for me to vote for my favorite films of the year.  Most of the nominated films are wonderful - although for me, some of the "top" films aren't particularly exciting.  I guess it's kind of a bland year.  But I want to spotlight two films that I felt should have received more publicity, and perhaps even Best Picture nominations.

The first one, which I've written about before, is "Mortal Engines", a wonderful sci-fi super fantastic film from New Zealand, written and produced by the great Peter Jackson and his wife, Fran Walsh.  This amazing film was directed by Christian Rivers.  The story takes place in a dystopian world where cities are movable warrior states - it's very cool and should have been a bigger hit, if you ask me.

My other favorite film was "Destroyer", starring Nicole Kidman.  This film totally blew me away. Again, it didn't get much press or distribution, perhaps because it was so dark and mean - but boy, the script was just terrific and the acting by Nicole was relevatory.  Credit also to the director, Karyn Kusama - it's about a loner cop who holds a grudge for years and becomes a rogue cop, waiting for her revenge.  It's unforgettable.

Two nights ago, I made an appearance at New York's Upright Citizen's Brigade on 44th St.  This gig was very fun and novel - they had me tell some stories from my life and then the crew of 8 improv comedians did an hour of gags and improv based on my pathetic stories.  But the cool thing was, I was able to create drawings on stage, illustrating the wacky stories.  The audience seemed to like it, and so did I.  So, if you get a chance, please check out the UCB in your neighborhood.

with the cast of ASSSSCAT at the Upright Citizens Brigade, which included Dan Fogler (Fantastic Beasts, Balls of Fury)

Now, since it's almost Valentine's Day, I'm including a Valentine-themed piece of art from Sandrine:

And since Valentine's Day falls on a Throwback Thursday, here's some art from my short film "Horn Dog", too:

Also, I'm including my newest Trump cartoon -

Wow, what a blog!  Tell your friends, and see you next week -

--Bill P.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Matthew Jaffe - "Wicked World"

I have exciting news - last month I created a music video for a wonderful new musician named Matt Jaffe, the name of the song is "Wicked World".

I'd never met Mr. Jaffe before, but when he contacted me, I checked out his live performances on-line and I was blown away by his incredible talent for songwriting and performing.  And, he's only a young kid!  He's gonna be the new Justin Bieber, I can feel it.  Look out, Justin!

So I was delighted to make his new music video.  Anyway, he just released the short online - so please check it out, I think you'll fall in love with the video, and the talented Matt Jaffe.

And I have another bit of exciting news.  You probably are aware that over the last few years, I've been creating and distributing a film I co-directed with the great artist and animator Jim Lujan, called "Revengeance".

My thanks to everyone who supported our successful Kickstarter campaign to get the film made. Well, now we've fulfilled almost all of the rewards and we're finally able to release the DVD to the world.  The movie itself had a limited but very successful theatrical release, it won a bunch of festival awards and got some nice reviews.

I've watched the film myself numerous times in theaters and I'm still blown away by the look and humor of the movie.  I think it's one of my favorite films I've worked on during my long career as an animator.

Now that the film is available on DVD and BluRay, please purchase the film from my web-site so we can continue to make more animated films that are unique and very different from your typical Hollywood crap.

People say that DVDs are a dead format - but I disagree. This DVD is packed with goodies, commentaries, art galleries, documentary extras about the making of the film and various conversations between Jim and me.  It's a very cool DVD, and the BluRay looks even better!  So I encourage you to support independent animation. 

You can get the DVD or BluRay from my web-store here:

Thanks so much!  Now, here's this week's gag cartoon - enjoy!

--Bill Plympton

Friday, January 18, 2019

"Mortal Engines" and S.F. Sketchfest

I've been a huge fan of Peter Jackson since seeing some of his early films - my favorites were "Meet the Feebles", "Forgotten Silver" and "Bad Taste".  I felt he was one of the few filmmakers to use outrageous humor to tell wonderful stories.  Of course, he made his biggest success with the "Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" trilogies, where he seemed to leave his subversive humor behind.  I guess that shows where outrageous humor can take you.

He now has produced a new film called "Mortal Engines", directed by Christian Rivers.  I hadn't read much about this film, so I actually saw it by accident because I liked the title.  In any case, I immediately was stunned by the visual flare and imagination.  It's kind of a steam-punk dystopian story, yet it's clearly very different from your normal steam-punk film.  Although I must admit to loving "The Wild Wild West".  The cool concept of "Mortal Engines" is that in the future, all cities will be mounted on huge tank treads and will move around the globe, gobbling up smaller cities (capitalism run amok).

Peter has such a dramatic flair for visual storytelling and action sequences, the film totally blew me away.  To me the cast was largely unknown, except for Hugo Weaving, who played the bad guy (a Donald Trump-like character).  But the star of the film was the visual design.  It's the kind of film I want to watch over and over - I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to see some breathtaking storytelling.  I give it an A-plus.

I just returned from San Francisco, where I attended and presented at the 18th Annual Sketchfest - it's basically a Comic-Con for stand-up comedians.  And even though I'm not a stand-up comedian, I felt totally at home with the organizers and audiences.  In fact, my show was sold out and the audiences went crazy for my new short films.  If you live in the Northern California area, I highly recommend it.

This week's gag cartoon is more of a Zen cartoon, not particularly funny, but more of an observation, I call it "Aging". 

--Bill P.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Bill at San Francisco Sketchfest on January 12!

Dear readers and fans,

I hope you all had a great holidaze season.  I call it "holidaze" because all of the parties and events leave me in a daze!  Also, I wish you all a wonderful 2019.

There's an event coming up real soon that I want to let everyone know about.  This coming weekend, Saturday January 12 in fact, I'll be in San Francisco, performing at the famous Sketchfest, as part of the San Francisco Comedy Festival.  Apparently, it's a really big deal.  Other luminaries who have attended: Billy Crystal, Conan O'Brien, Gene Wilder, Spinal Tap, David Byrne (he's a comedian?), Fred Armisen and many others.  And it's been going on for 18 years now.

So you can guess that's it's basically set up for stand-up comedians - so it's very rare that they invite an animator to this august event.  Since I'm not a particularly funny guy in person, I surely hope that this audience is not going to be waiting to hear me tell jokes.  BUT I believe I can make them laugh with my drawings - so I'll be showing some of my classic cartoons, plus some brand new ones.  I have a couple of new "Trump Bites", plus the world premiere of my brand new short, "Sex & Violence III". 

Plus, I will give everyone who comes a free sketch of one of my popular characters.  So I hope anyone and everyone who lives in the Bay Area can make it - or if you know people who live nearby, please send them the information.  My event is on Saturday, January 12 from 4 pm to 5:30 pm, at the Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th Street in San Francisco.  For tickets and the full schedule, please follow this link:

This week's cartoon is fairly timely, I think, now that we're all throwing out our Christmas trees.

See ya,

Bill P.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Oscar Race

I'm now heavily in the middle of catching up on all of the Oscar-eligible and contending films released in 2018.  This means going to a lot of VIP screenings, but also there are still a lot of DVD screeners turning up in my mailbox. It's very tough on my schedule because I'm also very busy trying to finish three projects before the end of the year.

So far, I've seen a lot of repetitive Hollywood crap.  But I've also seen a few nice films and three real classics.

The first one I loved is "A Quiet Place", starring John Krasinski and Emily Blunt.  The script is very original, and it's directed by Mr. Krasinski himself.  I'm generally not a big fan of horror films, but this one has deeper meaning and some truly psychologically frightening sequences.  I recommend it to everyone, unless they have a weak bladder.

Another live-action film I truly loved was "Green Book" starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali.  This is essentially a reversal of the classic "Driving Miss Daisy", as here a white Italian-American bigot has to drive a black classical pianist through the 1950's segregated South. 

What's so special to me about this film is how rich each character is - Peter Farrelly did a fantastic job in bringing out all the facets of each character and how they interact in such confrontational situations. 

And my third recent favorite is from Hungary, it's called "Ruben Brandt, Collector, from 61-year old Milorad Krstic.  It's a heist/mystery film set in the art world with a chase through Paris.  But the real attraction is the look - it's a mix traditional 2-D animation and 3-D CGI.  The way that Milorad plays with people's faces and angles is just delightful.  Sometimes the characters have five eyes, or three mouths, or a nose stuck in their hair. 

It's like watching a feature film based on my Oscar-nominated short "Your Face".  But it works, it's so surprising yet satisfying to see these mutant humans in a detective film.  There are a number of exciting chases throughout the film and as the characters jump through rooms and locations you'll see billboards with jokes about art, or pictures referencing classic films.  It's so full of cultural in-jokes you'll have to freeze-frame the film not to miss anything. 

I'll be watching a lot more films soon, so when I find a favorite or a big loser, I'll let you know. 

A little bit of trivia - if you see the Empire State Building on Dec. 17, you'll see it's all yellow - and why are they lighting this famous skyscraper this color?  Because it's the 30th anniversary of the first episode of "The Simpsons' - how about that?  Thirty years, who would have believed it?

Today's cartoon is about that fan favorite director, Wes Anderson - Happy Holidays, everyone! 

--Bill P.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Exciting News

Dear Readers and Fans (hopefully)...

I've just received a shipment of our brand new DVD of "Revengeance", the animated feature created by my genius buddy, Jim Lujan, and myself.  It bugs me when people say they don't buy DVDs anymore because they can get movies for free or really cheap on the internet. 

That drives me crazy - first of all, I selectively release my films on the web, and we don't plan on releasing this film via a streaming platform until later on.  Negotiating with streaming services is very tricky - we had "Cheatin'" on Netflix for a while, and we're still waiting to get the rest of the money that we were promised for that. (Something tells me it may not be coming...)

But a DVD often has a whole bunch of goodies that are unavailable when you watch a film on a streaming service, like director commentary, interviews, plus "making of" footage and other background information.  On the "Revengeance" DVD we'll have all that, plus images of the character designs, so you can compare them to my final animation and see how the characters evolved.  These items are very important to get a real feeling about the production of a film.

On the "Revengeance" DVD, you'll also get 2 Jim Lujan shorts, "Party Warriors" and "Booyah" that are like little prequels to the main film.   Plus you'll learn how Jim and I met, and an interview with us at San Diego Comic-Con where we were promoting the film's upcoming release. 

And best of all, you get something you can put in your video library that lets you watch it at any time.  I've heard that stuff disappears from Netflix all the time, with very little warning. 

We will be releasing the DVD of "Revengeance" very soon - first we have to send copies to our Kickstarter backers as rewards.  We're late doing this because we thought we might try to qualify the film for an Oscar, and having the film out on DVD before an L.A. theatrical screening is a big no-no.  I want to apologize to our very patient backers - I think some of them might have given up hope that we were ever going to make these DVDs.  Once we mail out these rewards, we'll start taking orders on my web-site.  And then in January there will also be a Blu-Ray version available. 

Attention, Kickstarter backers - I think we might be really close this time.
My staff just finished sending out a lot of "Trump Bites" Kickstarter rewards, now they've got to jump right over to the "Revengeance" campaign and mail those out too.  But check it out next week in my store, it would make a great Christmas gift.  Plus we'll work out something so for an extra $50 you can receive an amazing piece of art from the film.

By the way, I just saw "Green Book" by Peter Farrelly, starring Viggo Mortensen.  What a wonderful movie!

 This week's gag cartoon is Christmas-based, now that the holiday season is here.  I hope you find it amusing.

--Bill P.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Two icons pass away...

Although I wasn't a big fan of Marvel Comics when I was growing up (I preferred the funny ones, like Daffy Duck and Donald Duck...) I was certainly aware of the characters.  But I dismissed them as entertainment for little kids.  However, in the 1990's, when Marvel moved into feature films, big time, I realized their legitimacy. 

Stan Lee, along with his favorite artist, Jack Kirby, created some wonderful stories and amazing icons.  Spider-Man, Black Panther, the Hulk, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Black Widow, Iron Man and Daredevil -

Well, Stan, as you know, just passed away at the age of 95.  (Why is it so many cartoonists live long lives?)  While I was doing the early years of Spike & Mike's "Twisted Animation Show", Mike Gribble introduced me to the finer points of the Marvel gang and I finally had much more knowledge and appreciation for what Lee and Kirby created.

He was a superstar at all the big Comic-Cons, and rightfully so. 

The other God of cartoons who just passed away was Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants.  When the show first premiered in 1999, I was an immediate fan.  Then, when my son Lucas was born and he became addicted to the show, I realized how great the show is.  I feel that SpongeBob was as good as the best of the early Warner Brothers and MGM cartoons.  In fact, I believe that Stephen was really influenced by Chuck Jones, Tex Avery and Bob Clampett. 

He started out making independent shorts and would also make appearances at the Spike & Mike shows, in addition to various festivals.  And that's where I first met him.  I became such a fan of his work that I even visited him on one of my trips to L.A., like a true fanboy.  We hung out a bit and I told him how much I loved his show.  He was a very modest and self-effacing guy, and he said he was influenced by a lot of my films from the early days. (That was nice of him.)

I believe his show and "The Simpsons" are the two greatest TV shows of our generation, and, just like the old Looney Tunes cartoons, they'll be popular forever.

Before I sign off, here's this week's gag cartoon:

 --Bill P.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Mickey Turns 90

Dear readers, I'm sorry for the lack of a post last week.  It was a very busy week, I was facing down three deadlines - so I was a bad boy.  I'll try to do better in the future.  In any case, I wanted to talk about Mickey Mouse's 90th birthday, a very big deal.

Before Mickey Mouse, there were only two big animation highlights - the work of Winsor McCay (who to me is a personal God) and Felix the cat cartoons.  Both were major landmarks in the animation field, but they never adapted to sound, like Mickey did, and so unfortunately they were mostly forgotten.

The great advantage Mickey Mouse had was the music and dialogue in his cartoons.  I always felt that intertitles, subtitles or "cartoon balloons" really ruined the flow of a story.  Especially in animation, which is so visual, and the rending of the dialogue totally breaks the magical spell for me.
Of course, Disney is famous for his wonderful storytelling skills.

In the early years, Mickey was an international icon, he was a superstar.  But to me, he was a little too goody-goody.  My preference was for Goofy, all the "How to..." films with him were the funniest and most influential.  If you watch a lot of my earlier films you can see the influence of Goofy in "How to Kiss" and the whole "Guard Dog" series.

But as they say, Mickey started it all.  Thanks, Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks.

I'm now in the middle of watching all the Oscar-eligible animated features of 2017 - I'll give you a report later.  Meanwhile, here's today's drawing:

--Bill P.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Three recent films and a music video

As I said before, it's Oscar-qualifying time, and I'm trying to see 50 feature films in the space of two months - that's about 1 film a day, which is fine.  I love watching feature films, however, I also have to run my business and make my own films, so my time has to be tightly regulated if I want to keep up that pace.  I'm only going to comment on three recent films of special interest, because I don't want to waste your time with the boring stuff.

"Mary Poppins Returns" is a very entertaining bit of nostalgia, it's full of wonderful music and great fantasy.  There are some surprise (not any more, I guess...) cameos from Angela Lansbury, Meryl Streep and a dancing Dick Van Dyke.

However, I believe Lin-Manuel Miranda is totally miscast as a rapping Cockney lamplighter, and his singing is not that great.  Emily Blunt is very acceptable as Mary Poppins, but she's no Julie Andrews. 

I brought my 6-year-old son with me, and at first he was bored, but once he keyed in to the characters and fantasy, he was hooked on this film, even though it runs over two hours. 

"Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" is a total disaster.  The plot was hard to follow because it kept jumping between the two timelines and to characters that I had trouble identifying - very confusing.  The songs were so-so and they didn't pick many recognizable ABBA songs.  Unfortunately, the actors here do the singing, and they just can't compete with ABBA.

And the ending reveals a 72-year-old Cher, singing the big climax number, which didn't really knock me out.  The film may be perfect for 16-year-old girls and old ABBA fans, but for me it was a waste of time. 

Finally, I just saw "The Grinch" in a cinema, and I truly loved it.  The sets, characters, humor, story, all worked very well.  I'm still a big fan of Chuck Jones' TV version with the voice of Boris Karloff, but I believe this version is better, just because graphically it's more impressive.

My one complaint is the way they put rap music in a classic children's Christmas tale - it totally took the mood of a wacky Dr. Seuss fantasy to the urban streets of the Bronx.  But if you can put up with that, go see "The Grinch". 

Now I have one weird request - I've just finished a wonderful music video called "Wicked World" for a young genius musician named Matt Jaffe.  It's a terrific song, but Matt has no way to promote it and get it on the air.  If there's anybody out there with musical connections - P.R. people or music industry contacts, please let me know.  Matt's a young talent on the rise who just needs to get his music seen and heard.  If you have some advice, please contact me at:


Bill P.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Oscar qualification screenings

Yes, it's hard to believe, but it's almost Academy Award time again.  The DVD screeners are arriving, more and more every day.

One of the biggest events of my year is the screening of all of the Oscar-qualified animated shorts.  What happens is that all of the Academy members in the North East (including Canada) gather at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC for two full days of watching short (and semi-short) animation.  And it's always a full spectrum, from brilliant films to total trash.

As soon as we enter the judging room, we're handed a list of all the qualified films, and immediately we all check out the lengths of each short.  If we see a film at 15 minutes or longer, already we're not happy.  In fact, at 5-minute intervals, we're asked to raise our hands if we want to stop the movie.  Because if it's a piece of crap, who wants to watch 20 more minutes of a bad film?  That's a lesson for all you young filmmakers making shorts - PLEASE, nothing longer than 10 minutes if you want the film to be appreciated.

Fortunately, just before my "Trump Bites" film was shown, there was a very long dorky film that got "timed" and that always makes the following film look much better.

I must say it was a very good collection of films this year.  I estimate that 15 films have a good shot at being nominated, although in the end only 5 films will succeed.  After the branch screenings, the short list of 10 finalists will be announced, usually around Christmas time, and then in early January we'll find out which 5 films actually get nominated.

Of course, I'm at a tremendous disadvantage, since my films only cost about $10,000 compared to Disney & Pixar's $1,000,000 budgets - but hey, you never know!!

Below is a photo of me with Patrick Harrison, the Academy's director of New York Programs and Membership.  And also below, I'm including another cartoon that will be in my new book.  I don't have a title yet, so if you think of one, please let me know.  You'll get a free book if I use your title.


Bill P.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Recent Trips - Santa Fe, NM and Portland, OR

I've started to cut back a little on my trips on the film festival circuit these days, I got invited to two very appetizing festivals that took place last week.

The first was the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival.  I'd never been to New Mexico before, so I thought it would be interesting.  The place is 7,000 feet into the mountains, and it has a very classic look to it.  All the buildings must be made from adobe or at least look like it.  And all the shop signs must have only two colors (no rainbows allowed, and obviously no Taco Bells) The festival is run by a young family with lots of energy, and they took very good care of me.

The cinemas were all cool, classic-type theaters and there were lots of volunteers offering to do anything I needed - and the Hotel Santa Fe was perfect - very comfortable.  Then at the big ceremonies I was given a Lifetime Achievement Award that included a freshly-baked peach pie in a ceremonial pie tin.

While I was there, I was able to visit Los Alamos, where the atomic bomb was developed.  I toured the scientists' houses and learned the history of the bomb, I found that fascinating.

Next, I flew to Oregon for the Portland Film Festival.  This festival has now taken over a huge canning warehouse that's been converted into a headquarters, lounge and multiplex.  I saw a fascinating film called "Behind the Curve" about people who believe that the earth is flat, and that the theory of a round earth is a conspiracy from the dark state.  The group is actually quite large, over 1,000 members, and very serious.

The PDXFF is a lively festival with lots of energy and ideas, created by Joshua Leake.  I highly recommend both of these festivals if you want a great experience watching work that is totally off the mainstream.

As soon as I returned from my trip, I joined my fellow Academy members for a two-day judging of all the animated short films that are eligible for the Oscars.  It was fun to see all my fellow members and watch this year's crop of the best animated shorts.  I also entered my very short film "Trump Bites: The Unraveling" so we'll find out in January if people like that. 

Dinner after judging Oscar-eligible animation, with Lisa LaBracio, Biljana Labovic, Pat Smith, Sandrine and Ron Diamond
Also, speaking of the atomic bomb, I've done some graphics for a new Off-Broadway called "Nuclear Follies", directed by one of my favorite voice actors, Daniel Neiden.  He provided the voice of the main character, Del, in my first animated feature, "The Tune".  I haven't seen "Nuclear Follies" yet, but I know Daniel is a very funny fellow, so it should be hilarious.  You may even see some art in the show that looks a little bit "Plympton-esque". 

That show opens on Thursday, November 1 at 7 pm at St. John's Lutheran Church, 81 Christopher St. (west of 7th Ave.)  You can check out more information about the show here:

and you can buy tickets here:

I also heard that tickets to the November 6 performance will be FREE if you vote.  Which you should do anyway, so, really, there's no reason NOT to vote and then enjoy a great night at the theater!  I hope to see you there.  If you like your comedy dark, then that's the place to be.

Happy Halloween, everyone - and here's my cartoon of the week.

--Bill P.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Last week...

Busy busy busy... A lot of projects in the works at my studio. I'm finishing up my newest music video for Matt Jaffee, a brilliant young singer-songwriter, and his song is called "Wicked World".  It's being done in a very cool style, like a graphic novel.  Watch for him, he'll be the new Justin Bieber.  That video should be out next month some time.

Also, I'm doing some animation for Joan Gratz's compilation short, where animators talk about their earliest beginnings.  Mine is a story about how, as a kid, I recycled bloody butcher paper to draw on, to create a panorama of a World War II battle.  I don't know when that will come out.

And for all you fans of my early "Sex & Violence" series, I'm starting work on a new version called, appropriately enough, "Sex & Violence III".  It will have a bunch of way over-the-top offensive segments.  That should be out this Christmas, or so - perfect for the holiday season.

And of course, while I'm creating these short projects, I'm still happily drawing away on my upcoming feature, "Slide".  And I've got to tell you, this film will have some of the best animation I've ever drawn.  I'm so excited about "Slide", and that film should be finished in about 2 years.

Some of the events I've been attending are the ANNY (Animation Nights New York) screenings, hosted by Yvonne Grzenkowicz.  On Saturday, October 6, it took place in the lobby of a huge glass-enclosed skyscraper, just north of Wall Street here in NYC.  Yvonne organized a very special weekend gathering that involved anything related to animation - workshops on V.R., traditional, computer, festivals, the early years of animation, independents, studio animation and games.

The moment I entered this three-ring animated circus, I felt the excitement of young kids checking out the animation scene.  I also ran into a lot of my animation buddies - so be sure to check this event out next year!

Then the following Thursday night, SVA sponsored an exhibition of political art, called "Art as Witness".  What a gala event!  It had all the excitement of my early years in New York as a political cartoonist.  It was a who's who of great cartoonists and illustrators - let's see, where do I begin?  R.O. Blechman, Felipe Galindo, Andres Arroyo, Ed Sorel, Steven Brodner (one of the organizers), Steven Heller, Joe Ciardiello, Peter Kuper, Marshall Arisman, John Cuneo and the great Brad Holland. 

with Francis di Tommaso and Brad Holland at SVA's "Art as Witness" event

The exhibition was terrific - such a wide panorama of political statements on pollution, police brutality, women's rights and of course, lots of anti-Trump stuff.  They also had some beautiful pieces from the late David Levine and Robert Grossman.  It was a wonderful night.  I almost forgot, they played two of my "Trump Bites" animated shorts.

Now, on to something that I think is very exciting - for me, anyway - you may not think it's cool but I love it.  I've been making rough drawings of cartoon ideas for future gag books.  And now I have a nice collection of them, so I decided to preview all the gag cartoons here - so my plan is to premiere each cartoon, one per week, here on my Scribble Junkies site.  So, starting this week, my first gag cartoon in a series - this is called "The Trump Years".

Please let me know what you think!

Bill P.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Will Vinton (1947-2018)

I just learned the sad news about Will Vinton's death.  In the 1980's and 90's he was a real force in animation and a magnet for creative artists to move to Portland, Oregon, which helped make it the Mecca of animation that it is today. 

I first met him way before I got into animation, back in the late 1970's or early 80's, on one of my annual trips back to Portland, my hometown.  I desperately wanted to get into the field, so I though I'd just visit his studio, unannounced and uninvited.  Back then his studio was based out of a little house in N.W. Portland.  They were the friendliest people: Mark Gustafson, Joan Gratz, Craig Bartlett - I guess they'd seen my illustrations. 

I would usually visit Will whenever I was in town and they'd give me a tour of their quickly-growing studio as they went from short films to features, to commercials and T.V. shows.  Will became famous after he received an Oscar for "Closed Mondays", the short film he made with Bob Gardiner.  And I became closer friends with Bob later on - Will and Bob split up for creative reasons and after a while, Bob became extremely jealous of Will's huge success.  I used to hang out with Bob in the bars of Portland, he loved to drink, and would rail against Will's success.

It's my theory that Bob was sort of the real genius behind Claymation - he was an extremely talented artist, musician and storyteller but like a lot of artists, he was very disorganized.  So Will took over the production, post-production and distribution, and therefore became in many ways the key to their film's success.  Will was definitely a genius when it came to sales, promotion and attracting talent - Will drew some of the greatest 3-D animators in the U.S. and through Will's fabulous talent, his studio rose to the great heights of animation success.

Then, the story goes, he got two TV shows side-by-side - "The PJ's" and "Gary and Mike", so he had to expand the studio immediately.  He was taking over more Portland real estate just to shoot more stop-motion, so in order to keep his studio going, he turned to his friend Phil Knight of Nike fame for a big loan.  Unfortunately, both shows got cancelled in quick succession, so poor Will was stuck with a huge unpaid loan.  Phil Knight knew that his son, Travis, who was a great animator working for Will, wanted to make feature films, so Phil Knight and the board that ran Will's studio turned the studio over to Travis, and Will instantly found himself without a studio.  Gradually Will Vinton Studios became Laika, producer of "Coraline", "The Corpse Bride" and "Kubo and the Two Strings" fame. 

I never could figure out why, if Will was able to build Will Vinton Studios so quickly, after losing control of it, why couldn't he do it again?  He was so great at promotion, gathering talent, sales and producing, plus he had a big name and reputation in the business.  But it just didn't happen. 

Will Vinton and Bill Plympton in 2000 at the Week With the Masters in Trivandrum, India
I visited his house about 7 years ago, and he took me water-skiing on the Willamette River - he was very athletic for his age.  We then went out for dinner and he complained to me how he had 50 shows that he was trying to sell, and couldn't find a buyer for one.  This was very mysterious - the great Will Vinton couldn't make a sale?  It didn't make any sense to me.  I heard he had a producer's read-through of one of his Broadway show ideas, called "The Kiss" to attract investors, and it didn't go very well.

Apparently there's a documentary about him in the works (they interviewed me for it) and I'm dying to see how they'll portray the two most controversial episodes in his life - the Bob Gardiner fiasco and the Phil Knight disaster.  Anyway, he was an amazing guy and a real inspiration.  Here's to Will Vinton -

--Bill Plympton

May 26, 2012 "Bill Plympton Day" at the Mission Theater in Portland, OR with Will Vinton (3rd from right)

Monday, September 24, 2018

"Women in Indie Animation" show at the Metrograph

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (the people who give out the Oscars) has been very active here in NYC, programming several special screenings.

Last Friday, the Academy invited four of the biggest female animators living in the NYC area to a night of their films at the Metrograph Theater, located just south of Chinatown in Manhattan. The four filmmakers were Emily Hubley, Candy Kugel, Signe Baumane and Debra Solomon.

First of all, I had never been to the Metrograph before.  It's situated in a backwater area of town - but this area is starting to become quite stylish.  The Metrograph itself is very cool, with a bar, restaurant and library in addition to their screening room.  I think some people go there just to hang out.

So the Academy had a small pre-screening reception, then we all moved to the packed cinema to watch all of the animated shorts.  After that, the real show began with Peggy Stern moderated a Q&A session with the participants.  It was then that everyone found out what I already knew, that Signe and Debbie, aside from making funny films, were even more hilarious in person. They brought down the house with their personal anecdotes and crazy comments - they should start a comedy team.

It was a fabulous show, then we all retreated to the bar for free drinks and food, courtesy of the Academy. 

If you're in the neighborhood of 7 Ludlow Street, check out the Metrograph's schedule - they have some fabulous shows! 

I want to give everyone an update on "Trump Bites".  The fourth episode, called "The Unraveling", is playing this week in Los Angeles at the Downtown Independent Theater, at 251 Main St.  Check this link for showtimes and tickets: 

The short will play there until September 27.  

Also, I want to tell everyone about a political cartoon and caricature show that the great Steve Brodner is putting together at SVA.  Not only will they have some terrific illustrations but they will also feature some of my "Trump Bites" animated shorts.  If you're around NYC on October 11, be sure to stop by at 601 West 26th St., 15th Floor, to meet some of the greatest cartoonists alive today.  And I'll be there too.  See you there!

--Bill Plympton

Monday, September 17, 2018

Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival

Once again, I helped program the Animated Shorts for Richard Paradise and his Martha's Vineyard Film Festival. It's a lovely festival that takes place every September in a lovely town called Vineyard Haven.

But this year, we had a special guest - my Scribble Junkies blog partner, the amazing Patrick Smith.  The cool thing was that we got to drive up there in Pat's truck, with both of our families along for the ride.  It was quite an adventurous trip, through 4 states and on 5 ferries.  During that long trip, all we talked about was animation and other animators.

Unfortunately, the weather really sucked, it was cold and cloudy - though we still spent a lot of time on the beach.  One day, we took a side-trip to Oak Bluffs, where we saw an amazing religious retreat and all these incredible gingerbread houses.  I felt like I was in a Disney film, or stoned, or both.  Then we visited the harbor, where we had the absolute best lobster roll - too bad I can't remember the name of the bar. 

The screening of the animated shorts program was a big success.  A good crowd was there, ready to laugh - and the line-up was a big hit.  The most popular films were "Hybrids" - a computer film where garbage takes over the ocean, "Enough" by Anna Mantzaris - a very deadpan look at people who won't take it any more, "Catharina" - a dark comedy by Britt Raes about a girl whose pets keep dying, "Pour 585" by Pat Smith - a timely film about power and how to control it, and "Negative Space" by Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter. 

So, even though the weather sucked, the MVIFF event always keeps us joyful and fulfilled. 

In other news, it looks like I'l be premiering my brand new "Trump Bites" short at the Downtown Independent Theater in L.A. next week, in order to qualify it for the Oscars.  I believe it's my best "Trump Bites" short ever.  If you're in the L.A. area, check it out, this one is called "The Unraveling", and it's co-written by Donald himself.  Watch my Twitter and Facebook feeds for more info on this, to be posted soon. 

Thanks for reading my Scribbles! 

Bill P.