Friday, June 23, 2017

San Diego Comic-Con 2017

It's hard to believe another year has passed, and we're getting ready again for Comic-Con in San Diego.  This year we've got three exciting events taking place that I can't wait to tell you about...

First off, my new animated short "Cop Dog" is going to screen as part of the Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival (CCIIFF).  This will be on Thursday, July 20, at 4:30 pm in Grand Ballroom 3&4 at the San Diego Marriott Marquis, 333 W. Harbor Drive, which is right next to the convention center (closest to Hall A).  I'll be there to do a quick introduction for the film, which is (believe it or not) the FIFTH film in my very popular "Dog" series.

Then on Friday, July 21 at 5 pm, Jim Lujan and I will have a panel in Room 25ABC (on the upper floor) at the convention center.  We'll show some of my new shorts, like "No Snow for Christmas", a clip from "Revengeance" and maybe some of the new music videos I've been working on.  Jim will moderate the panel and we'll take questions from the audience and have a fun time, and if the audience is really good, I may show the first look at the next animated feature I want to make....and everyone who comes to the panel will get a free sketch from me.

(Please note: the Panel schedule is not posted yet.  Panels will post confirmed times about 2 weeks before the convention.  So this information is slightly subject to change...)  

And on Friday night, 7/21 at 10:35 pm, we're going to screen the full film of "Revengeance", this will be the first non-film festival screening in the U.S.!  This is going to take place in Grand Ballroom 8 at the San Diego Marriott Marquis, 333 W. Harbor Dr. and admission is going to be FREE for anyone with a Comic-Con badge - WOW, that's huge!  The seating is limited, so to all my fans going to Comic-Con, I recommend that on Friday evening, when the main show floor shuts down, go out and have a quick dinner, but come back to the Marriott Marquis in time to see "Revengeance".  Come on, stay out a little late, treat yourself to a free screening, you deserve it!  You can sleep when the convention is over, right?
Now, most of the rest of the time I'll be hanging out in my Booth, which is #1537 - look for us in the 1500 aisle, which we call "Animation Alley" (I wish SDCC would call it that, too...) because you can usually find ASIFA-Hollywood, Animation Magazine and Spike & Mike's booth nearby.

If you're coming from the south side, where the concession stands are, this is how to find our booth:

Yes, the show floor really does look that crazy.  This event becomes more of a madhouse every year, but that's all part of the fun.  I'll have Sandrine and Lucas with me, and my office manager John, who's a veteran at running the booth by now, and you just never know who's going to stop by my booth, so please come visit and check out the stars! 

I know that if you go to Comic-Con, there are so many things to do - panels, screenings, parties - but please make some time to come out and see "Revengeance" if you can!  I promise you will have a great time!

--Bill Plympton

Friday, June 16, 2017

Jackie Greene videos

Jackie Greene is this fantastic blues-rock musician, who I met through my cousin in Sacramento - and he's hired me to animate 6 music videos, plus a wrap-around story.  It's a huge job, but fortunately I love Jackie's music -

I get a lot of musicians contacting me about doing music videos, and usually I don't like the music (electronic, pop, rap, etc.) but Jackie's music is right up my alley. 

I want to animate each video with a different technique, so there will be a lot of variety in the styles and storytelling.  I asked Jackie how he wanted me to draw the animation, and he said, "Do whatever you want - the more far-out the better!"  Wow, that's what an artist loves to hear! 

So I'm going to show you a few of the drawings from two of the videos I'm working on now - "Modern Lives" and "Good Advice" (a classic song from Willie Dixon, the blues great). 

From "Modern Lives": 

 And from "Good Advice" (still in the rough-cut stage):

Also, I want to give everyone the great news and a heads-up.  I'll be in San Diego again for the big Comic-Con, July 20-24.  My booth number will be 1537 (same space as the last few years) and in just a couple days, we'll publish my events and schedule here.  Come by and get a free sketch from me and Jim Lujan.   I hope to see you all there -

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Fantaspoa Festival, Brazil

I've been going down to Brazil for over twenty years - the first time was for the wonderful Anima Mundi Festival that takes place in both Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.  Then, just last year I did a two-city tour with an exhibition and collection of my shorts and features.

But when I got an invitation for a festival called Fantaspoa, I mistakenly assumed it was connected to the Fantasporto Festival, which is in Portugal.  After accepting the invitation, I came to realize it was in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  Then I thought, "Wow, that's not so bad, Brazil is one of my favorite places!"

So off I went to Porto Alegre, a cowboy town of 2 million, located in the Pampas, with gauchos and country music, and great churrascarias - yee haw!

The festival is wonderfully run by Joao Fleck and Nicolas Tonsho, and I came to discover it's a horror and sci-fi festival (I should have guessed by the "Fanta" part of the name "Fantaspoa")  No matter what the title is, the films were fantastic: "Dave Made a Maze" by Bill Watterson (not the cartoonist of "Calvin and Hobbes" fame) "Game of Death" by Sebastien Landry + Laurence Morais-Lagace from Montreal, "Prevenge" by Alice Lowe and "Tragedy Girls" by Tyler MacIntyre.  They were all great films!

They also screened both "Revengeance" and "I Married a Strange Person" to packed audiences.  Plus I held a Master Class that was so crowded they had to turn away dozens of my fans - so drove all the way from Uruguay (a 4-hour drive) to see me!  Very tragic.  They also presented me with a great prize for career achievement.

Unfortunately, I was so busy showing and watching films that I didn't get a chance to visit the city - so I guess I'll have to go back next year.  If you have a short or a feature that's along the lines of horror, sci-fi or fantasy, definitely send it to Fantaspoa in Brazil - and if you get a chance to go there, definitely "Vamos" - I give the festival a B+.

--Bill P.

                                                      The festival director's great t-shirt!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Reuben Awards 2017

About a month ago, I read about how the famous Reuben Awards (sort of like the Oscars for cartoons) were going to be held in my hometown of Portland, Oregon.  Plus, they were going to honor my buddies - Matt Groening, David Silverman and the great Lynda Barry.

Then I thought, "Wow, that's something I would love to be part of."  So I contacted Bill Morrison, the president of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) and said I would love to be part of the celebration, besides I have a place to stay in Portland.  So I was added to the list of attending cartoonists for their Memorial Day weekend event. 

Portland is already known as a "weird" city, so being invaded by a large group of cartoonists sort of made that title redundant.  The opening party was held at the headquarters of the company that makes the Wacom tablet.  We gathered on the top floor, with a magnificent view of Mt. Hood and the Cascade Mountains with beautiful snow.

Saturday there was a full day of panels, hosted by people like Mike Richardson of Dark Horse Comics, Matt Groening and David Silverman, and to top it off, a talk and song from the hilarious Lynda Barry.  I first met Lynda about 25 years ago when we both attended a big book convention in Washington DC.  We went out on the town to a crabhouse, got drunk on sangria and I discovered that Ms. Barry is the funniest woman in America.

                                                  with Lynda Barry, winner of the Milton
                                                    Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award

Then, at the closing night buffet dinner, I was invited to host a movie night, with popcorn and candy and I showed the Oregon premiere of my new short "Cop Dog", plus a screening of a trailer for my new work-in-progress feature, "Slide".  Both were very well received - in fact, I was shocked by the number of fans I had among these famous cartoonists, because they mostly work in print and I'm a TV and movie guy.

                                              dinner with Lynda Barry and Matt Groening

Since I started my career as a caricature artist and political cartoonist, I was happy to meet some old friends there - like Mike Peters, Bill Schorr, Jack Ohman, Dan Piraro, Mo Willems, Sam Viviano (MAD Magazine), Joe Sacco, Eric Goldberg, Howard Beckerman, Shannon Wheeler, Patrick McDonnell ("Mutts"), Jim Borgman ("Zits") and of course, my good friends Matt, David and Lynda.  I really had a ball.

                                                    with Jack Ohman, editorial cartoonist

                                                           with Dan Piraro ("Bizarro")

                                               with Mo Willems ("Sheep in the Big City")

                                           with Sam Viviano (MAD Magazine art director)

                                                                 with Joe Sacco

In terms of weather, it was a very rare (for Portland) 90-degree, blue sky weekend, but I was so excited to see all my friends and heroes that I hardly went outside at all.  A big thanks to Bill Morrison for including me in this prestigious group.  I hope to be there again next year.

--Bill P.
                                                      with Patrick McDonnell ("Mutts")

Friday, May 26, 2017

ASIFA-East Animation Festival & Awards

One of my favorite annual events took place last Sunday, the 48th edition of the ASIFA-East Animation Awards, which are open to anyone who wants to enter their work -

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend all of the competition screenings, where the ASIFA members vote on the work - I was traveling to some far-flung festival spots to screen "Revengeance", probably.  In fact, I almost missed my own screening because I was in the middle of moving my studio to a new space 3 blocks north.

But I was able to make it to Independent Night, where they screened my new short, "Cop Dog" - and quite frankly, the screening didn't go very well.  Some of my favorite jokes got no laughs at all and my two biggest gags got just weak titters from the audience.  "Oh, well," I thought, "better luck next year."

However, when I got the invitation to the awards ceremony, they hinted that I should attend, which usually means your film has won something.  So I figured maybe I'd get Honorable Mention for Design or some other minor award.

The grand night itself was a blast, almost everyone in the NY animation community was there - Candy Kugel, George Griffin, Emily Hubley, the great Signe Baumane, and surprise, Pat Smith, my co-blogger and fellow Scribble Junkie, with his family.

Katie Cropper Klein was the epitome of a glamorous and efficient hostess.  The awards were given out very quickly and smoothly, then they came to the Independent Films section, and Pat Smith won 2nd Prize for "Pittari".  And then "Cop Dog" won the First Prize - I was shocked, and of course, very happy.  The Dog is back!!!

                                   accepting the award for "Cop Dog" from Katie Cropper Klein

The only downer was that Willy Hartland didn't win anything for his wonderful film "NYC Sketchbook".  We all retired downstairs for food and wine and celebrations - and of course, a lot of interesting gossip.

If you have a short film, you should definitely enter the ASIFA-East festival next year - it's a blast!

And now I'm off to the Reuben Awards, being held over Memorial Day weekend in my hometown of Portland, OR - where I'll be hanging out with Matt Groening, David Silverman, Linda Barry and many others - I'll give you a full report next week.

--Bill P.

                                                with my producer, Wendy Cong Zhao

                                         with Pat Smith, my co-blogger and fellow winner

                                  the ASIFA signal film, with drawn versions of Candy Kugel,
                                          Signe Baumane and me!  Animated by John Lustig

Friday, May 19, 2017

"Your Face"

I've been hearing from some fans who love my Oscar-nominated short "Your Face", and some even make their own versions of the film - which, by the way, I totally enjoy.  I'm not one of those lawsuit-happy artists.  (Just don't post the original version on YouTube, my office manager will find it and you'll get in trouble...)

Anyway, the question popped up in my brain - how many versions are there of "Your Face"? And wouldn't it be cool to put them all on a DVD, sort of like a "Your Face" collection. 

Then the thought occurred to me - if there are some real "Your Face" fanatics, perhaps they'd like to try and make their own versions of the short 3-minute film, how awesome would that be?

I know there's a sped-up version, where you can hear what Maureen McElheron really sounds like on the vocal track before it got slowed-down to make her sound like a man, and there's a "global jam" version in progress, where a bunch of people each get to animate a few seconds in their own styles.

So, here's the deal: if anyone out there has a new version of the "Your Face" animation (or song) or wants to create their own version of it, please send me a copy (or a link to a downloadable file) and I'll put it on DVD and on my web-site and promote the hell out of it.

Unfortunately I don't have the money or accounting services to pay the artists, I'm only asking people to do this for fun - and in fact, that's the reason I'm in the animation business in the first place - for the fun.

So I'll give all you animation freaks a deadline, any submissions would have to be finished by September 1, 2017.  I'm so excited to see how you all interpret the film - please tell your friends and spread the word.

Good luck,

Bill P.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Stuttgart Animation Festival

After Annecy, I think Stuttgart is my favorite animation festival - I've been going there since about 1989, when I showed my short "How to Kiss" in a WWII bunker-style screening facility.  The audience then was quite small, because it was a young festival - but I met a lot of great animators and had a lot of fun.

Well, since then the festival has grown by leaps and bounds, because Stuttgart is the home of Mercedes-Benz, and they are one of the sponsors.  The festival takes very good care of the filmmakers and offers some of the largest prizes on the festival circuit.

It was a busy week for me in Stuttgart this year - I had my new feature "Revengeance" (co-directed with Jim Lujan) in competition, plus two new shorts, "Cop Dog" and also my environmental music video "No Snow for Christmas" (music by Maureen McElheron).  Plus, "Guard Dog" was included in their "Best of" animation program.  And then, as I was taking a break on the giant lawn, I saw my film "The Loneliest Stoplight" being projected on the jumbo outdoor screen.  Finally, they had a work-in-progress presentation, where I showed clips from my upcoming feature, "Slide" - so all that should give you an idea about how busy I was!  

Recently, they've added a new section called FMX - basically, a gathering of artists interested in special effects, games and new technology.  This year, the emphasis was on virtual reality.  The FMX has become a giant magnet for digital artists from all over the world, and that only adds to the prestige of the Stuttgart Festival.

Because of FMX, I got to hang out this time with a lot of my favorite filmmakers, like Peter Lord and David Sproxton of Aardman fame, Jan Pinkava of Google, Jean-Michel Blottière (the manager of FMX), Joanna Priestley, Ann Marie Fleming, and my new favorite animator, Robert Valley.  I went to his (very) late-night presentation and was blown away by his style, storytelling and sexy women.  He lives in Vancouver, so I rarely get to meet him - it was great to hang out with him a bit.

But the "creme de la creme" came on the closing night, when I got to honor the great Bruno Bozzetto with a Lifetime Achievement Award.  He's been such an inspiration to me, so it seemed perfect for me to present him with this prestigious award.  And what a modest gentleman he is - definitely check out his short films, and of course, his classic feature, "Allegro non Troppo".

I want to personally thank the festival team for making me feel so comfortable in Stuttgart.  The only bad part of the festival was that the weather sucked.  The last time I visited Stuttgart, it was very hot.  So this year I only brought shorts and t-shirts, then felt like an idiot all week.

In any case, send your films to Stuttgart - it's a fabulous festival, I give it an "A".

--Bill Plympton

Monday, May 8, 2017

Pat's Weekly Gif...

Here's a good one, very timely, from Ted Ed animation "McCarthyism" enjoy..

This piece is approaching 500k views, check it out at Ted Ed.  And for those interested, please follow me on youtube, I have a few playlists of my favorite Ted episodes.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Follow us on Twitter!

So much different media, just make sure you're following me and bill on the twit. 
Bill Plympton and Pat Smith.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Worldfest Houston and Nashville Film Festival

Back in the nineties, I used to go to Charleston, S.C. quite regularly for the Charleston Worldfest - I fell in love with that town, the southern charm, the great food, the picturesque harbor and the fantastic beaches.

The director of that festival was a charming man named Hunter Todd.  But for various reasons, he moved the festival to Houston, Texas.  I think there was more financial support there.

Fast-forward to 2016, and I was appearing at the Gijon Festival in northern Spain (another of my favorite festivals) and it so happened that Hunter's wife, Kathleen, was a juror there - so we had a wonderful reunion dinner and Hunter invited me to his festival in Houston.

So, just last week I took a JetBlue to Houston for the Texas premiere of "Revengeance".  (I stayed at the Marriott Hotel that just happened to serve the best pancake breakfast I ever had.)  The film was playing in three festivals last week, in addition to Worldfest it opened at the Nashville Film Festival and the USA Film Festival in Dallas.  Worldfest Houston was, I think, the third screening in the U.S. and as I introduced the film to the audience, Hunter appeared and presented me with a Grand Jury prize for the film, which is very prestigious.  And then Kathleen presented me with the Career Achievement Trophy - Wow! What a bounty of honors! 

Not only that, but as soon as I returned to New York, I got word that "Revengeance" had won the Grand Jury Prize in the Nashville Film Festival's Animated Feature Competition - and that comes with a $1,000 cash prize!  Wow, what a weekend, three prizes in two days! 

I think festivals (and audiences) are really starting to dig "Revengeance".  I believe that the film, which is crudely underground, is beginning to resonate with people.  The long applause and standing ovationss are proof that the movie is something very special - we're now talking to distributors about a U.S. release - so watch this space for an announcement.

Thanks to the festivals for screening "Revengeance" and thanks to you all -

Bill Plympton

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Pat's Weekly Gif..

This weeks gif is from a music video I animated years ago by The Planets, enjoy.  Weeky gifs will be a regular thing now, I'll get Bill to do the same thing.

Morphing is one of the things that first drew me to Bill's work, and I'm still a big time practitioner. Although, it seems to be a lot more effective when working with pencil.  Here's something similar I did recently in Flash (for PBS Digital, Blank on Blank series), and it just doesn't have the texture..

Stay tuned for more.  For full episode of Blank on Blank (Frank Zappa), and also for the full music video by the Planets.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Jackie Greene

I've got great news - one of my favorite musicians (after Emmylou, of course...), Jackie Greene, has partnered with me to make a mini-musical feature film, using 5 of his most recent songs.  His new album, "Modern Lives", containing those songs, will be released shortly and the animated version should be done some time around Christmas.

Now, I get a lot of requests for music videos, but there's usually only one requirement to my acceptance - I must like the music.  As most of you know, I have certain prejudices in my musical tastes.  I don't like pop (even though I did a very successful video for Kanye West - that's because he was Kanye) and I don't like electronic or experimental. 

There are two types of music I love - country and western - and although Jackie Greene's music is more blues-influenced, I just fell in love with his sound the minute I heard it.  As you may know, he's played with all of the greats, Phil Lesh, the Black Crowes, Larry Campbell (who has played on a bunch of my films, like "The Tune" and "Idiots and Angels"...)

Occasionally I will be posting updates on the program of this mini-feature and also showing some of the cool artwork.  Just the other day, Jackie stopped by the new Plymptoons studio, and we discussed what he was looking for in my animation - he said "weird and psychotic".  Inside, I was jumping for joy, because I felt like I was set free to create images that I'd always wanted to make.  Now I hope I don't get too weird!

Oh, fuck it - let's get TOO weird.

                                      Jackie Greene drops by the studio and meets the crew!

Also, I want to thank my good friend and cousin, Christian Vellanoweth, for connecting me with Mr. Greene.  I think we're going to create some amazing videos!

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"Revengeance" premiere in France!!

As you all probably know, a company called E.D. Distribution, based in Paris, has been my major distributor in France and French-speaking territories since 1999 or so - they've released all of my feature films throughout France to great success -

In New York, hardly anyone knows me, however when I walk down the street in Paris, everyone says, "Bonjour Monsieur Plympton!"

E.D. Distribution is very excited about the potential success for our (Jim Lujan and me) new feature film "Revengeance".  However, they decided to change the title to something more French, "La Vengeresse". 

So, two weeks ago I flew over to Paris to do a bunch of interviews and appearances at theaters.  It was a new kind of strategy - because in the past, I'd meet with the press a few weeks before the premiere.  But this time, they decided to do the press interviews as the film was being released. 

There were two problems with the release - first, the weather was spectacularly gorgeous - who wants to go to a cinema when it's a great day to sit in a café and talk about Jean-Paul Sartre?  And secondly, since the interviews and reviews appeared just as the film was being released, the early turnout for the film was a bit disappointing.  However, at each appearance I noticed the crowds got a little larger and more enthusiastic.   In fact, at the last few shows there were lines around the block and full houses with rapturous applause.  So apparently E.D.'s release strategy was working.  Vive la France!

Near the end of the trip, I also stopped at the Pivaut school in Nantes, France to give a Master Class, where I screened my shorts and talked to the students about animation and how I manage to survive as an independent filmmaker.  The students were great, they asked a lot of good questions and I had a fun time!

Why is it that the French appreciate my humor, art and storytelling so much, while in the U.S., which represents a much larger audience it's like pulling teeth for me to get any kind of decent distribution?  Does anybody have an answer?

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Me on the Tonight Show?

That's right!  A few days ago, people started telling me that I was mentioned by Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show".  What???  Then while I was in France, everyone seemed to know about my appearance on that show, so when I returned, I decided to Google it to see what really happened.

So apparently they had a segment called "Kid Art" where some kids made drawings of members of Donald Trump's cabinet and Vice-President Pence, and Jimmy Fallon said that the drawing of Pence looked like it was made by Bill Plympton - then a whole on-camera debate started over who Bill Plympton is.  So right there on national TV, they Googled me to determine that I was Bill Plympton, the cartoonist, and not "Bill Plimpton the author".  I'm pretty sure Jimmy's sidekick confused me with journalist & author George Plimpton (different spelling, but it's happened before...) because he mentioned "Paper Lion", a book that George Plimpton wrote.

Then someone in the band (Questlove?) seemed to recognize my name, but he said I was the animator who worked with Frank Zappa - unfortunately, that wasn't me either, that was Bruce Bickford - but it was fun being the topic of conversation on a late-night talk show!

Here's the clip, if you want to see Fallon talking about me and looking me up:

In fact, I'm going to try to contact their guest department, and demand to have equal time to clear up who I am.  Maybe I could draw a caricature of Fallon, Pence or even Trump - then America will finally discover me and my work.  Hey, I've got to start promoting "Revengeance" somewhere, why not an appearance on Jimmy Fallon's show?

The weird thing is, I knew George Plimpton, we didn't really run in the same social circles but we did both live in New York in the 1970's, and we figured we were probably distantly related, though we weren't exactly sure how.  He wrote an introduction for one of my caricature books, and in return I drew this caricature of him: 

So that's a PLYMPTON caricature of a PLIMPTON - and maybe in that drawing, he's making a drawing of me?  Who knows... 

--Bill Plympton

Monday, April 3, 2017

MoCCA Arts Festival

I love the Society of Illustrators!  It's my favorite institution in NYC, and every year they have what's called MoCCA Fest (MoCCA stands for the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art).  What's great about it is that it's exclusively for independent artists. No DC Comics, no Marvel, no Disney, strictly artists who have unique styles and make their own illustrations and comics.  I've been working a table there for years (I don't remember the first year I went) and I'm usually the only animator in the bunch, which is good because I don't compete with all the other comic artists.

Lately, I've noticed that my DVDs don't sell as well as they did in the past, so I concentrate more on my original art - and it seems my art is now very collectible, especially pieces from my early films, like "Your Face", "How to Kiss" and "Guard Dog".  Thank God people remember my old films.

Also, it's great to see a lot of my illustrator friends there - people like Steve Brodner, John Cuneo, Felipe Galindo, R.O. Blechman, Arnie and Carolyn Roth.  I'm also looking for a publisher for my new book, "The Art of Revengeance", so I was able to cruise the indie publishers and talk up the book. 

                         with Felipe Galindo, Andrea Arroyo, Peter Kuper and Steve Brodner

One thing I noticed this year, compared to years past, is that there seemed to be a majority of female artists, which is great!  Their stories seem to be a lot more quirky and relationship-focused, which is the kind of stuff I love. 

So if you're around next year, definitely check out MoCCA Arts Festival - you'll have a blast and you'll be supporting young comic artists.