Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Home From France + Frozen II

I was invited to go to Lille, France, to take part in an event called "video mapping".  Now, I'd never heard of this term before, however, getting invited to a beautiful French town for an artist's residency to create a "video mapping" sounded good to me.  Upon my arrival, they took me to an old opera building from the 19th century - the plan was for me to check out the building, take photos and then they told me my art would be projected on the front of the building.  Oh, that sounds interesting!

(I do remember a few years ago, I watched films of endangered animals being projected on the Empire State Building to the amazement of Manhattanites - Oh, that's called video mapping!)

The next day, all the invited artists gathered at an artists' studio that had been converted from an old coal mine.  Included in this batch of international artists was Frank Dion, who is one of the greatest illustrators and animators around.  Then there was the great Marc Caro, director of "The City of Lost Children" and the wonderful "Delicatessen".

Working in a (former) coal mine!
It was interesting because all of the other artists were digital creators, working on their laptops.  So there I was, using pencil and paper, storyboards and a lightbox.  All the other artists would gather around me to check out the retro style of my animation.  But even with my old-school ways, I was able to finish my job in the prescribed week, while everyone else was just getting started.

with some of the artists-in-residency
At the closing night party, I was able to sit down with Marc Caro, and he told me a cool story about making and marketing "Delicatessen".  After a successful screening, Marc and Jean-Pierre Jeunet were approached by Harvey Weinstein, who badly wanted to distribute the film - except he stated that he had a list of just a few edits that he would demand.  Marc said that Harvey wanted to cut all of the directors' favorite shots, then Marc told Harvey that if he did that, he could add another shot to the edit list, and that was their names in the credits....

with Marc Caro
All of the video-mapping films will be premiered the night of April 3 in Lille.  So if you're in Lille on that date next year, definitely check it out.  It should be a fun night.

Last night I was invited to watch an early screening of "Frozen II".  Now, quite frankly, I didn't get the great appeal of "Frozen", probably because I'm not a 6-year-old girl.  But I thought that I should check out the sequel and maybe by now it will make more sense.... NOPE!! I still don't get it!

Although there were some beautiful scenes - especially the close-ups - I felt that the story was weak, the characters were clueless and the songs were the same Broadway show-tune crap.  I have two more problems - one, these two films are creating an entire generation of wanna-be princesses.  God help the guys who have to date these brainwashed girls when they hit 16.  Number two, their eyes are so big that I wondered if their eyes were the usual spherical shape.  How do those eyes fit in their little girl skulls?  I mean, what keeps them from popping out?  If you have an answer, please let me know.

Anyway, I give the film a "C".

--Bill P.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Lots of films and Spark Animation 2019 in Vancouver

Well, it's Oscar season again and I'm getting a lot of new Oscar-qualified films to see.  Some good, some bad, but way too many for me to watch.  So here are some quickie reviews of the ones I've managed to see.

Last week I rushed out to see "Parasite", Bong Joon Ho's new film, because everyone's been talking about it (that's the best kind of advertising there is...).  First of all, I'm a big fan of his earlier stuff, like "Okja" (which I loved), "Snowpiercer" and "The Host".  "The Parasite is about a scheming poverty-stricken family that gloms on to a wealthy Korean family.  And like a parasite, they bring a whole lot of damage to their host family.  It's quite twisted and graphic, but it could have used more humor - plus it's way too long.

Another film I liked was "Ford v Ferrari", directed by James Mangold.  I really wanted to see this film because in college I became really interested in sports cars (I wanted to buy an Alfa Romeo) and racing.  Then the Caroll Shelby AC Cobra came out and I was in love.  Even though I never rode in one, it became my obsession - and this film's story comes from exactly that era.  So I guess I liked it for nostalgia reasons, but it's also a really well-made film - great drama, characters, humor and racing!  I totally recommend "Ford v Ferrari".

Then last week, I took a 4-day visit to Vancouver, BC, Canada for the up and coming Spark Animation Festival.  I visited Vancouver 20 years ago to visit my animation heroes, Danny Antonucci (of "Lupo the Butcher" fame) and Marv Newland ("Bambi Meets Godzilla") - so it was wonderful to reunite with them and also Oscar winners David Fine and Alison Snowden.  We also competed for the Oscar way back in 1987 - but another Canuck won, Frederic Back for "The Man Who Planted Trees".
With Sylvia and Danny Antonucci
with David Fine and Alison Snowden
After the screening of the "Animation Outlaws" documentary
But the real buzz of the festival was for Sergio Pablos of Disney fame.  He was showing clips of his soon-to-be-released Christmas comedy "Klaus".  And the clips were friggin' amazing.  What talent!! And his storytelling was superb.  I haven't seen the whole film yet by it's definitely #1 on my watch-list.

with Sergio Pablos, director of "Klaus"
I also got to hang out with the great Bonnie Arnold, producer of "Toy Story" and the "How to Train Your Dragon" series, plus I had a long chat with Glen Keane, animator extraordinaire and Oscar-winner for "Dear Basketball", on the need for better draftsmanship and life-drawing among today's young animators.

And finally, on the last day, I watched Robert Valley talk about his short film for "Love, Death & Robots" called "Zima Blue".  Speaking of draftsmanship - his drawings of women blow every other artist out of the water.  Whew!  What a talent!

with Robert Valley

Fortunately,  I also had a few hours to walk around Vancouver and explore the beautiful city - what a joy!  Keep an eye on the Spark Animation Festival.  It's got everything, great artists, great films, great audiences, plus it's in a great city and it has a super director, Keith Blackmore.

See ya,

Bill P.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Updates - October 2019

After a relatively easy summer, fall is the time to start kicking some ass.  I've booked a lot of appearances around the world to both make some money and also spread the word about my animation.

First, I'm going to the SPARK Animation Festival in Vancouver, British Columbia, October 24-28, where I hope to "spark" a lot of young folks into getting excited about indie animation.

Then I'm off to Lille, France, November 2-10, where I'm involved in doing some animation on a famous building, it's called "video mapping".  I've been to Lille before, it's a lovely town full of great animation fans, so I'm really looking forward to that trip.

November 14-17, I'll be in Casablanca to do a show of my film "Cheatin'" at L'Uzine and give a master class about indie animation - considering that Morocco is a Muslim country, I hope I don't get kicked out.  If you want to hang out with me, I'll be at "Rick's Cafe Americain" with Humphrey and Lauren...

On November 25, I'll arrive in Bilbao, Spain for a few days, again, lecturing and demonstrating animation at the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao.  I'll conduct a Master Class for teenagers on November 27 and then a screening and presentation for the general public on November 28.

I love traveling and talking about animation, but sometimes it gets to be too much.  For one thing, I have a wonderful wife and son that I love to be with, but they can't come along with me on every trip.  Plus I have FOUR big projects that I need to deliver on, so I have to be very wise with my time, and I have to juggle my animation schedule around all of these trips.

The biggest project I'm working on is "Slide", my long-developing animated musical/Western feature.  So far, I'm about 1/4 of the way through the animation, and it's looking terrific.

Then, you may have also heard me mention that I'm working on an animated version of the life story of the great and wonderful Whoopi Goldberg.  Right now, we're only at the pencil-test stage, but so far, it's been a really fun project.

Another project in the works is a very ambitious short that I'm making for a giant Chinese game company.  I can't say much about it because I haven't been giving the go-ahead yet, but I just delivered a storyboard that I'm very excited about.  I'll update you on this when I can.

And, finally, early next year I'll start working on an animated 1950's rock-and-roll sci-fi feature that has tremendous potential.

Actually, I can't believe I have time for all these events and projects - how the hell do I even have time to write this blog?  I must be crazy.  I think it's because I'm so devoted to you folks, my dear readers.  I hope you don't let me down.

Also, I have a new gag cartoon to show you - what do you think?

--Bill P.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Report from New York Comic Con 2019

So I survived the crowds at the New York Comic Con and I'm here to report on the goings-on there.  Because we moved down to Artist Alley, we found that our business had DOUBLED (over 2017's sales from a booth on the main show floor) mostly because of the quality of people who visit Artist Alley, they come there looking for great artists, and to buy from them, not just browse.  And that's what interests me - showing those people my new projects and spreading the word, in addition to just selling books and DVDs.

We had two new items, a "Twisted" sketchbook with designs from my upcoming film "Slide" - that was very popular - and a cool print from my Simpsons couch gag called "Homer's Face".

We had a wonderful group of visitors, like Larry Hama (G.I. Joe), Mike Richardson (Dark Horse Comics), Wendy and Richard Pini (Elfquest), Paul Rachman (Slamdance Festival), Bill Sienkiewicz (New Mutants), Matthew Modine (Revengeance, Full Metal Jacket, Private School, etc.) and of course, Bob Camp, who luckily was sitting at the next table, so I got to chat with him all day long and hear a lot of crazy John K. stories.

It was such a big success that I'm already planning to return to Artist Alley next year!  NY Comic Con and the MoCCA Fest (in April) are now my two favorite comic events.  I hope to see you all at next year's show!

Here are the best photos from fans and celebs who visited my booth, plus a few of the costumed people that my office manager, John H., took photos of.  Enjoy!

--Bill P.

with fans from Madrid, Spain who bought a lot of art!

with Ann Nocenti
with my Friday booth crew, Adam Rackoff and John Holderried

with Matthew Modine, after his "Stranger Things" signing in the Topps booth
with Mike Richardson of Dark Horse Comics
with Bill Sienkiewicz of "New Mutants" fame
with Peter DeSeve
with Wendy and Richard Pini, creators of Elfquest
with Bob Camp and a couple of fans, Emily and Anthony

Friday, October 4, 2019

New York Comic Con

Well, here I am again at the Comic-Con, or "Con" as they call it.  For many years, I had a booth up on the main show floor, where I was paying top dollar for the space and getting placed between the toys and walls of t-shirts.  It felt like they didn't know where to put me, so I decided I'd had enough of that, and moved downstairs to join Artist Alley, and already, after the first day, I've found lots of benefits:

No. 1 - I'm with other artists, so it's very artistically inspiring.

No. 2 - The table is a lot cheaper - and I mean a LOT cheaper!

No. 3 - I've got a table next to Bob Camp, one of the creators of "Ren & Stimpy", so that's always entertaining.  If people want anything related to animation, this is the place to find us.

No. 4 - The fans that come to Artist Alley are there to collect and buy - whereas the main show-floor seems to be for tourists, people who want freebies or to see what the latest video-game or feature film is. But downstairs in Artist Alley, you'll find the true creators of the upstairs shows!

As you probably all know, I've stopped going out to the San Diego Con (regrettably) because it's too expensive and too much of a hassle for me.  But the New York Comic Con feels just right, and now it's the main convention that I go to.

So if you're around this weekend, please come by and say hello to me at Table D-13 in Hall 1B - I'll give you a free sketch!

with Bob Camp and my Thursday Comic-Con Crew, Rachel & Sandrine

I do custom sketches, like this crazy Batman one, or I could draw one of YOU!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Hi, Scribble Junkies fans -

Today I wanted to show you some ecological art I did 40 years ago, with a little contemporary insert it's now quite up to date.

Also, I'm including the first look at my new twisted sketchbook that I'll be offering for the first time at the New York Comic-Con, October 3-6.  I'll be at table D-13 in Artists Alley.  See you there!

--Bill P.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Monstra Comic Con + NYCC

I've been going to the Monstra Animation Festival in Lisbon, Portugal for a number of years, and it's one of my favorite festivals.  There are many reasons for this - the people, the food, the beaches and the climate, plus I just love Portugal!  So when my contacts at Monstra invited me to their annual Comic Con, I had to say yes.

It was a very original set-up, compared to all the Comic-Cons here in the U.S. that take place in large convention centers or similar warehouse-like structures.  This event took place in an abandoned boatyard next to the ocean (where boatyards tend to be, I suppose).  The huge lot was covered with Astro Turf with about 20 super-large tents strategically placed around the area, and each tent was devoted to a different aspect of comics, or cosplay or feature films, etc.

I presented a screening of some of my new films, then did two autograph sessions.  Unfortunately I'm not that well known in Portugal - so I didn't get a big crowd like I might in France or Germany.  Yet I still had a ball, and to top it off, we had a large banquet with the vice-mayor of Lisbon, a very nice feast in a mountain-top palace.

And speaking of Comic-Cons, my appearance at the New York Comic Con is coming up, October 3-6, and this year I'll be found at the Javits Center in Artists Alley, Table D-13, so please come by and say hello.  You can check out my artwork from "Your Face", "Guard Dog", "The Simpsons" and more, plus books and DVDs and if you like, I'll be doing sketches and caricatures, and everyone who comes by can get a free sketch by me.

Satisfied customers from previous New York Comic-Cons!
And if that's not enough incentive to get you to Artists Alley, I'm offering for the first time anywhere my just-completed booklet of Bill Plympton's Twisted Sketches.  So you absolutely have to check that out!  I hope to see you there - and check out this week's (appropriate for Comic Con?) gag cartoon below.

--Bill P.