Monday, January 3, 2022

A Face in the Crowd

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Everyone!  

I've just returned from my fun Oregon holiday vacation - and back to working on my new Simpsons couch gag - and as I hand color the art, I usually watch a movie on TV.  This time I happened to switch on a classic film, "A Face in the Crowd" by the great Elia Kazan, starring Patricia Neal, Walter Matthau and Andy Griffith (definitely playing out of character). 

Even though I've seen the film multiple times and it's one of my all-time favorite films, until now I never realized the similarities between Andy Griffith's character, Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes and our current ex-President. 

If you haven't seen this gem of a film, it's about a rural Southern singer and raconteur, who becomes a giant TV celebrity.  I know, you're all saying, "Wait, that doesn't sound like Trump!"  But the similarities lie in the fact that he plays an outspoken folk hero populist and his fans are right out of Trump's fan base, the ones who attend his rallies - simple, down-home folk.  And as Lonesome Rhodes' crowds grow to become a "basket of deplorables", he decides to go into politics, lies to everyone and eventually goes crazy.  

You might be able to find the film on cable, maybe TCM - if so, definitely check it out and see what you think.  I believe the character was modeled on former Louisiana governor Huey Long, who prided himself as a populist and then became something of a demagogue.  By the way, I don't know how the term "populist" became such a derogatory label.  I always thought of Frank Capra and Will Rogers as populists, and I consider myself a populist.  I want to make films that are popular with everybody, but I'm not eager to overthrow democracy and rule the world right now. 

Here are some pencil tests from "Slide" - I'm almost finished with the drawing part, and now it's on to post-production.  







Also, I'm including another gag cartoon here.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

--Bill 




Monday, December 13, 2021

Oscars voting - and viewing

It's voting time for the Academy Awards, at least in some categories.  I've just handed in my ballot for the animated shorts - Danny Leonard and I have a film in the competition, "Demi's Panic" - it's very different from my comedy films, and very timely - so we have high hopes for the short.  The voting taking place this week will determine what's called the "Short List", this year it's 15 animated shorts chosen out of the 84 eligible, and then in January, another round of voting will choose the 5 films nominated for Best Animated Short out of the 15 on the Short List.  

In the meantime, I've been able to see a few of the new features eligible in other categories.  

Being a big fan of Guillermo Del Toro, I was happy to see "Nightmare Alley", a remake of the 1947 Tyrone Power film that is equally squalid and perverse - and apparently it failed at the box office because it was so "sordid". But now today's audiences are looking for something dark and sinister.  So here comes the "Nightmare Alley" remake, starring Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett.  I thoroughly liked the film's visual style and sense of evil - being a fan of noir, this film has no characters at all that are model citizens. I give "Nightmare Alley" a B+.

Another hot film coming out soon is "Licorice Pizza", directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.  I thought it was a very curious title, until someone told me it was slang for vinyl record discs (LPs), which seems appropriate, because the film is also very curious.  Basically, it's about a long-term courting process involving a high-school boy and a young working girl.  It includes a series of vignettes showcasing their up-and-down relationship.  Of course, it's all played out against constant 60's and 70's music.  Also there are some surprising cameos by Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper (he's everywhere!) and others.  I'll give it a C+.

And the final film I saw - but it came out a while ago - was "The Mitchells vs. the Machines", a crazy animated feature directed by Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe, and produced by Chris Miller and Phil Lord.  It is, without a doubt, the craziest animated feature I've ever seen.  I was laughing audibly throughout the film.  It's very inventive and surreal.  You'll love the lines: "Is that a dog or a pig or a toaster?" when the robots are talking about a dog that looks amazingly like my "Guard Dog" character.  By the way, a little bit of trivia, Chris Miller actually interned at my studio when he was in college.  Now he's a mega-legend and deservedly so, he's a genius!  I give this film a solid A.

--Bill Plympton

Monday, November 22, 2021

Fancine Festival in Malaga

If you read last week's installment, then you saw my rant about "Cryptozoo".  There were other films I saw at the Fancine, also called the Fantastic Film Festival of Málaga, Spain. 

The opening night film was Keira Knightley's latest, "Silent Night".  It starts out as a traditional Richard Curtis family holiday comedy - but then devolves into an end-of-the-world pandemic movie. Weird. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it's not really a feel-good film.

Then, the much anticipated "Belle", from the great Mamoru Hosada. Talk about big budget - it's a traditional 3-D animation mixed with gobs of CG.  Thankfully, I saw in on the big screen so I could enjoy all the incredible detail.  It's a story about a young girl whose internet fantasies take over her life - I recommend the film for all its beauty.

Then I watched "Prisoners of the Ghostland" starring the great Nicolas Cage.  I won't talk about this film because you really don't want to see this film.

But the pick of the festival for me was a strange deadpan film called "Wild Men" by Thomas Daneskov of Denmark.  It's a quirky film about a normal guy who abandons his family to live in the forest dressed as a caveman with a bow and arrow.  The humor is very "Fargo-esque".  This loser "wild man" has many adventures with a bunch of assorted wackos and criminals that leads to a violent ending.  "Wild Men" is my kind of film, from the category I call "Twisted Noir". 

This was my first festival trip since the pandemic started, and even though there was a LOT of paperwork to fill out to visit Spain and even more to come back, it was worth it!  It's so great to be out traveling the world again!  I got to serve on the Fancine jury and the festival also commissioned me to make drawings of cats dressed up, to represent each film.  In the photo below you'll see me signing some posters with all the drawings of the cats on them! 


More good news, I just finished the basic animation for my newest animated feature film, "Slide".  I'm really loving watching the scenes fit together.  In fact, I love them so much, I'll show you a few of them, with each episode of my Scribble Junkies blog.  

Since it's near the holiday season, I'd like to remind all my fans that I'm available for caricatures and we have artwork available from "Your Face" and the "Simpsons" couch gags.  They make amazing gifts for under the tree!  

--Bill P. 

Monday, November 15, 2021

Cryptozoo

I've just returned from the wonderful Fancine Festival in Malaga, Spain - a festival that, like a lot of other cool festivals in Spain, showcases weird and fantasy films. 

One of the films I was anxious to see was "Cryptozoo", by Dash Shaw and his partner, Jane Samborski.  I had heard a lot about this film, it won a prize at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival and was picked up for distribution by Magnolia Films, which is something I've never been able to do. 

I remember seeing his first feature, "My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea", which I wasn't that impressed by - but perhaps he'd matured and developed a nice style, and become an accomplished film maker.  

But, in all honesty, I think "Cryptozoo" could rank with some of the great classics of all time, such as "The Room" by Tommy Wiseau and "Plan 9 from Outer Space" by Ed Wood Jr. Yes, it's that bad!  In my humble and critical opinion - it's the worst animated film I've ever seen.  Although it's a good idea and title, everything else fails.  The backgrounds are abstract shapes with bright neon colors that make it hard to find the characters.  

The characters themselves are badly designed, drawn and animated.  In fact, they change throughout the film. The story is truly fantastic - but with no clear or entertaining plot line.  Strange animals, or "cryptos" appear and disappear for no real reason.  And I can't really remember the plot at all.  

The sound and music are also badly designed and hard on the ears.  The stars of the film seem to be on some kind of mission, and there are soldiers as part of the party that continue to kill cryptos - the other members of the party seem to put up with them as they continue to try to SAVE cryptos. 

One of my issues with art and animation schools is their lack of any color education classes - and apparently Mr. Shaw never took any color design classes, because there's a hodgepodge of crazy psychedelic colors everywhere.  Maybe that's the charm of "Cryptozoo" - it's a STONER film!  Even the credits are hard to watch and understand. 

I remember when my first animated feature, "The Tune", was released, and Charles Solomon of the L.A. Times (the premiere voice of animation criticism) wrote a review that eviscerated the film, and that killed the release in L.A., and hence the U.S. as well.  So I know the power of bad reviews.  However, I'm not the L.A. Times and I have no influence at all.  

And I think maybe part of the reason for my negative reaction is the success of this film with distributors in the U.S. and Europe.  How did such a bad film get such great success?  I'm jealous!  How did this couple sell such a lame film to the world?  

I must congratulate anybody who is able to make an animated feature film - it's a very rigorous and tough business.  But please, Mr. Shaw and Ms. Samborski, go back to film school and learn some art.  

I'll report on the festival in Malaga next week.

Thanks, 

Bill P. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

New York Comic Con wrap-up

After a year and a half without attending any film festivals or conventions, last week I got back into the exciting world of personal appearances. 

The New York Comic Con returned, big time - though the word went out that there would be limited attendance at this event at the Jacob Javits Center, which until just recently had been a major COVID-19 vaccination center for NYC!  We had to apply for the NY Comic Con back in June, and pay for a table in Artist Alley without being 100% sure if the event would take place at all, because of the pandemic.  And last year's virtual NYCC didn't produce any sales for us.

But, if you ask me, the 2021 event seemed quite crowded upstairs on the main show floor, and also downstairs in Artist Alley, where I had my tiny table.  Financially speaking, this was the most successful "con" I've ever been to - including all the big trips that we took out to San Diego over the years.  (Partially this is because when we went to SDCC, we had to buy airfares, hotels, we had to ship merchandise there and back, and with NYCC, we just have to walk a few blocks...)

In the past, most of my success came from selling my DVDs - but since we moved over to Artist Alley a couple years ago, the money has mostly come from selling my original animation art, from "Your Face" and "The Simpsons" and my music videos.  Also, my caricatures were quite popular, people just love to see themselves drawn in my art style. 

At the San Diego Comic Con, I always used to run into old friends and often a few celebs - it wouldn't be unusual for Tom Kenny to show up at my booth, or Patton Oswalt, Morgan Spurlock, Leonard Maltin or even Quentin Tarantino one year (this was way back, when famous people could still walk around there without disguises...).  My office manager, John, is pretty good at recognizing celebrities, especially ones from "Star Wars".  However, at the NY con, there were only a few old friends, like Bob Camp of "Ren & Stimpy" fame.

with Gil Kenan at NYCC

I did get to meet Gil Kenan, the director of "Monster House", one of my favorite scary Halloween films, and he said he was a big fan of mine, and he bought a couple of pieces of art, one from my short "How to Kiss" and another from "25 Ways to Quit Smoking".  He's also the co-writer (with Jason Reitman) of the new film "Ghostbusters: Afterlife", which I heard they played IN FULL for the attendees who showed up for the panel about it.  It was fun to talk to Gil about his rise to fame from the UCLA animation department - he's hanging out with Spielberg and Zemeckis now, how come I never get to meet those guys? 

I had help at my table from John H., Rachel and my wife Sandrine - they split up the days and worked the credit-card swiper for me, I can't always figure it out.  I tried to run it while John was in the cafeteria eating lunch, and I almost overcharged a customer by adding an extra zero!  Thankfully John showed up in the nick of time to cancel that order and run it again correctly.  John said that there weren't as many great costumes as usual, but I'll have him post some below. One guy even came by my booth dressed up like Homer Simpson!




Also, we still have art for sale!  If you want to get a signed piece of original art from an episode of "The Simpsons" (and they make the show digitally, so these are REALLY rare...) we have art from some of my "couch gags" still available.  We still have art for sale from "Your Face", "How to Kiss" and "25 Ways to Quit Smoking", my first successful short films, if you can believe that.  We also got a visit at the convention from a big fan of "Weird Al" Yankovic who asked me about art from the music videos I did for Al, "Don't Download That Song" and "TMZ". We have those, too, they're pencil drawings that aren't colored, so we didn't bring them to the convention, but if you're a fan of "Weird Al" (and come on, who isn't?) you can own a small piece of one of his videos - or maybe art from Kanye West's video "Heard 'em Say", we have that too.
pencil art from "Don't Download This Song" music video

pencil art from "Don't Download This Song" music video


If you're interested in buying signed art from ANY of my films or music videos, please send an e-mail to:  studio@plymptoons.com and we will work with you to to find you some art that you will really like, and then John can invoice you through PayPal and ship the art to you in a Stay-Flat mailer.  The prices vary according to the project, and there is a limited amount of art from each film, so please ask us about what's available.  Or you can take a photo or a screenshot of an image you like from any of my films, and we can try to look for that!

Later on this year, I'm finally going to get back to my traveling routine, thank God, or thank the COVID vaccine.  In November I'll be going to the Fancine Festival in Malaga, Spain - then on to Brazil in 2022. I'm so happy to be getting back to my normal life, with conventions and festivals. 

Here are some of the best costumes that John H. saw at NYCC, just in time for Halloween.  Also, enjoy this week's cartoon below!












Bill P.  

Friday, October 1, 2021

"Flee" and New York Comic-Con 2021


As the Oscar race is starting, I just watched one of this year's contenders in the Animated Feature category, it's called "Flee".

The film tells the story of an Afghan refugee fleeing the Soviet Union/Taliban rulers of his country.  This guy (he's anonymous for fear of reprisals) attempts to escape to Sweden with his family.  But there are numerous hardships and dangers that keep him from reaching freedom.

The director met the refugee in Denmark, and when he learned of the man's travails, he decided to make a documentary of his journey - but since there was no existing footage, he decided to use animation to tell the story.

I found the story very heart-wrenching and fearful, but unfortunately, the animation was quite crude.  Now, most people who aren't animators probably won't mind.  But to me, the simplistic drawings lacked the sophistication and subtlety of a well-made film.  However, I believe the film will do well at the Oscars, because of the power-packed, emotional story.


This coming weekend, October 7-10, I'll be appearing at the New York Comic-Con at the Javits Center.  Last year the live convention was cancelled, and the virtual replacement was a big bust - and I really missed it so much!  Not only is it a great supplemental source of income for me, but also a great place to meet my fans and fellow cartoonists - plus I love seeing all the new art and books.  

Also, this is my first real public appearance ANYWHERE since the start of the COVID pandemic - I've basically been studio-bound for over a year, I haven't flown anywhere or appeared at any festivals, except virtually by Zoom.  So I can't wait, my office manager signed us up for a table back in June, when we didn't even know for sure if NYCC would be happening - if you remember, the Javits Center was a giant vaccination clinic at that time.  I'm so glad that things are getting better in NYC, and I wish other cities and states around the country would take a look at the progress we've made here and realize that they can have the same success, too, by encouraging more people to get vaccinated.

So, if you're in the New York City area, and you're already vaxxed, there are still tickets available for some of the days - I think Saturday's probably sold out.  But please drop by my table (D-13) in Artist Alley at the Javits Center and say "Hello" or "Welcome back".  I think there's still a ban on hugs and high-fives, but it would be GREAT to see you!  You can check out all my new stuff, plus original hand-drawn art from "Your Face", "How to Kiss", and some of the couch gags I animated for "The Simpsons".  

Artist Alley at NYCC during the before-times

I will also offer caricatures for sale - you can see what you would look like as a Plymptoon! - and I will give anyone and everyone a quick sketch on a postcard for FREE!  So tell your friends and I'll see you there at Comic-Con!  WOO-HOO!

--Bill

Friday, September 24, 2021

Demi's Panic premiere

As most of you know, I've been working on a short film called "Demi's Panic", written and produced by Danny Leonard and co-produced by Lorena Hernández Leonard.  Well, now it's done and I love this film!  I honestly believe it's the best short film I've ever created.  We entered it into a bunch of festivals, and the first U.S. festival to screen the film is the HollyShorts Film Festival in Los Angeles, the screening is actually TODAY, Friday September 24 in their Adult Animation program.  The festival is also screening films on the BitPix platform, honestly I don't know how any of the streaming stuff works these days, but if you can figure it out, please visit the HollyShorts web-site for more details.


And we got a GREAT quote from film critic Jeffrey Lyons of WCBS Radio, who had this to say about "Demi's Panic": "Witty and intelligent, charming and poignant, 'Demi's Panic' is a relevant wake-up call in these pandemic times. Bill Plympton's animation is stark and effective with his usual trademark gift of quickly advancing the story.  Producer/Screenwriter Danny Leonard has, in fewer than 10 minutes, made a short film which is a must-see experience."

WOW, what a great quote!  And it got me thinking, I love the film so much that I felt it should definitely be a contender for the Oscars, my office manager John H. has been entering it into Oscar-qualifying festivals like HollyShorts - that means that if the film is in one of those festivals and wins the "Best Animation" or "Best Short" award, it's automatically qualified for the Oscars, and we wouldn't have to set up a week-long screening in L.A. or NYC to qualify it.  But unfortunately after taking a closer look at the Academy's rules, we found out last week that the deadline for Oscar qualification this year is October 1 - meaning any festival award or screening would have to happen before that.  (It's very weird, they'll let a feature film open on Christmas and still qualify for that year, but for a short, October 1 is the deadline.)

Whoops, we're screwed - how are we going to get "Demi's Panic" qualified in just a week and a half?  Some of the qualifying festivals where we entered it weren't even screening until February or April 2022, and that would mean qualifying for NEXT year's Oscars, not THIS year's - and that wasn't even a sure thing, that we could win any of the qualifying festival awards.  I couldn't wait until next year, because the main topic of the film, the COVID-19 pandemic, is relevant NOW and by next year, hopefully, it could be long gone.  

So I made some crazy phone calls to all the cinemas I know in Los Angeles and New York, places where I've made appearances or have screened my films, places where I know the theater manager or programmer.  Some said that their line-up was already locked in, and that they had no room for a 10-minute short.  We should have contacted them two weeks ago, sure, but we'd just barely finished the film then!  One theater said they would love to show my film....for $2,000.  Sorry, we don't have that kind of budget to pay for a screening.   

Oh, boy, that night, I hardly slept at all.  I worked so hard on "Demi's Panic" and I felt it was so good that it deserves to have a shot at the Oscars, this year when it's still very relevant.  All that work and no big payoff?  But, the next day, I received an e-mail from the Roxie Theater in San Francisco - and this year the Academy is allowing qualifying screenings in any of six metropolitan areas (NYC, L.A., Atlanta, Chicago, Miami and San Francisco/Bay Area).  Rick Norris at the Roxie saw the short and thought it was amazing, and said they'd love to fit it into their schedule.  Hooray!  We may be able to qualify the film for the Oscars after all!  

What a miracle, but we still had to get them a DCP and promotional material right away.  Thankfully, we had just made a DCP for the HollyShorts screening, through Simple DCP in L.A., and they had just given us a download link, so the staff at the Roxie was able to download the film and put the DCP on their servers that same day, and the whole arrangement came together on very short notice.  

A little background here, The Roxie is a wonderful independent theater in San Francisco, located at 3117 16th St.  I was there in person in 2013 when I went "on tour" with my animated feature, "Cheatin'" and I had a great time there.  So I'm really excited to announce that starting today, September 24, the Roxie will be hosting the World Theatrical Premiere of "Demi's Panic", and they'll be playing this short before select screenings of the following feature films:

Friday, September 24 before "Prisoners of the Ghostland" (the new Nicolas Cage film) at 9 pm.

Saturday, September 25 before "Prisoners of the Ghostland" at 8:45 pm

Sunday, September 26 before "The Nowhere Inn", with St. Vincent and Carrie Brownstein, at 4:15 pm

Monday, September 27 before "Blue Velvet" (the 35th anniversary edition) at 8:45 pm

Tuesday, September 28 before "Blue Velvet" at 9 pm

Wednesday, September 29 before "The Nowhere Inn" at 9 pm

Thursday, September 30 before "Blue Velvet" at 9:15 pm.

For more information and tickets, please visit:  https://www.roxie.com/calendar/

So please tell ALL your friends and family in San Francisco to go to the Roxie this week and check out "Demi's Panic" - You can see a great feature film, support an independent theater, and then seeing my new short is really just a bonus on top of that, right?  And then if "Demi's Panic" makes it to the Oscars, you can say, "Hey, I saw that cool film first at the Roxie!"

I thank you for your support, as always.  Now here's this week's gag cartoon.  

--Bill P.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Oregon visit & screenings of "Demi's Panic"

A week ago I returned from our annual vacation trip to Oregon. We went to the beautiful Oregon coast and stopped by historic Seaside.  This as about as close to Coney Island as Oregon gets. 

Lucas in front of the Lewis & Clark statue in Seaside OR

They have a statue there, commemorating the end of Lewis and Clark's famous expedition.  As I did some exploring of my own throughout Seaside, down one shopping street I discovered a shop called "Universal Video".  Yes, a video store still in operation!

I entered with the happy excitement that I might discover a large animation section that may even include a bunch of my films.  It was a large, cavernous shop, filled with large racks of DVDs and video-cassettes.  But it was a bit sad, because the VHS packages had all turned blue from aging.  They must have been 30 years old!  And the owner/operator had THOUSANDS of video cassettes, and of course he also had thousands of DVDs.  Now, Seaside, as a resort, gets a lot of tourists who stay at the town's many hotels - and as you probably know, it often rains in Oregon, especially on the coast. 

In fact, I believe the Oregon coast has fewer sunny days that any other area in the U.S., so you might expect a lot of "Hey, kids, let's rent a movie at Universal Video!" Except now the hotels all have PPV or streaming options for kids movies.  Also, I was said to discover that the large animation section offered very little animation for adults, even animé was missing from the tall shelves.  So... no Plymptoons in Seaside, I guess.

I chatted with the owner for a while, he seemed a bit bored - no other customers while I was in the store.  But he was very positive about the future of his video store - though it felt to me like a recreation of a Blockbuster Video that was frozen in time.  

However, there is a wonderful video store located in Portland, OR, called "Movie Madness", that is just as large, but also FILLED with customers.  Why?  Because it's well-stocked with hard-to-find movies, rare anime, and TV shows, like all the episodes of "Twin Peaks".  And they have the entire library of this animator named Bill Plympton!

So, if you're ever on the beautiful Oregon coast, please stop by Universal Video and rent a bunch of DVDs, help make this store owner's dreams come true.  

We've got some festival screenings to announce for "Demi's Panic", the new animated short I directed. about the pandemic, written by Danny Leonard and produced by Lorena Hernández Leonard, with music composed by Daniel Jimenez Afanador.  

The festival premiere will take place at the World Festival of Animated Film in Varna, Bulgaria, which runs September 8-12, 2021.  We're trying to get more details about the screening now, the country of Bulgaria is going through a transitional phase at the government levels, and they're also being hit with the Delta variant of COVID right now, so this may not be an in-person festival, it may be remote - but what better way to screen a film ABOUT the pandemic?  Please check out their web-site for more details:

http://varnafest.org

Next, the film will screen at the Indie-AniFest in Seoul, South Korea, September 9-14.  I'm scheduled to do a MasterClass at this festival, which will take place over Zoom, I believe, on September 11.  Then on September 12, the festival will screen a program of my short films, including "Demi's Panic", along with "Your Face", "How to Kiss", "Guard Dog", "Cop Dog", "The Fan and the Flower", "Santa: The Fascist Years", and "The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger".  You can check out the whole festival line-up at:   

http://ianifest.org/

Then more big news, "Demi's Panic" is an Official Selection at the HollyShorts Film Festival, which takes place in Hollywood, CA - September 23 to October 1 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres and also streaming on the Bitpix platform.  This is an Academy qualifying festival, and I'm so excited to have one of my films screened there!  We're waiting to hear more details about the screening dates and times, but you can check out the festival selections here: 

http://www.hollyshorts.com/

That's all the news for now, but that's some great news!  Now here's this installment's cartoon:

--Bill

Monday, July 19, 2021

Space Jam: A New Legacy

As most of you who follow my animation blog may know, I'm proud to be a good buddy of the brilliant animator/designer Mike Smith.  A few years ago, I was visiting his studio and he was in the middle of making artwork for a new "Space Jam" movie.  I guess maybe I was living in a bubble, but I wasn't aware at the time that there was a new "Space Jam" movie, starring LeBron James, in the pipeline.  In any case, yesterday I took my 8-year-old son to see the new version, "Space Jam: A New Legacy".  There didn't seem to be too many people in the audience, although it was a 1 pm show.

The film takes a while to set up the characters and plot.  And to me, it all got bogged down in techno-geek talk - but I guess a lot of young kids are fascinated by that stuff.  As in the previous film, it doesn't really get exciting until the appearance of Bugs Bunny and the "Looney Tunes" crew, and then of course there's the climactic "big game".  

As before, the entire film is a Warner Brothers marketing ploy.  In the final game, the entire audience is made up of WB characters, like Batman, Superman, characters from "The Mask" and "Harry Potter", etc.  I don't blame them for pushing their own brand when they're trying to compete with a mega-studio like Disney.  I give the film a C+ but my son, Lucas, gives it a B+



Also this past weekend, we went to visit the so-called "Little Island" at Pier 55 in Manhattan, a public park built as an artificial island, with funds contributed by Barry Diller and the von Furstenberg family.  This experience felt like I was back in DisneyWorld, or maybe Middle Earth from "the Hobbit".  It's a very cute habitat with a cozy ampitheater, unfortunately we missed that days' musical performance due to scheduling conflicts, but it's a great place just to spend the day in your own little fantasy land.  Plus, it's right in line with the also tourist-friendly High Line - so if you're ever in NYC, be sure to check out those two attractions.  

Later, 

Bill P. 

Friday, July 9, 2021

Heritage Auctions results

I don't know if any of you fans out there followed the results of my big Heritage Auction that took place June 25-27.  Anyway, it's exciting that my artwork is now becoming so collectable. The auction centered on "Cool Animation" so I was happy to be included. 

I've just received the results of the auction and I'm always interested to see what the biggest bidders were interested in.  Of course, there was a lot of interest in any of my "Simpsons" art - whether it was Couch Gag art or the art that was designed for the DVD collection of the 19th season.  

Also, there was hot action for some of my Kanye West art - I read somewhere he's now one of the richest entertainers in the U.S.  I guess his rich fans are collecting anything with his name on it. 

But believe it or not, the items that drew the biggest prices were illustrations and caricatures that I drew before I even became an animator.  Two went for really big money - my illustration of "Fat Elvis" went for $1,400 (as Elvis would say, "Thank you very much...") and a composite illustration of Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Debbie Harry and Diana Ross, titled "Heartbreakers of '82" also sold for $1,400.  


Being an independent animator, it's always nice to have alternative sources of income - and I never realized that selling my original art seems to be a great way to help pay my bills and keep my studio open between projects.  

If you're interested in collecting any of my original art, please contact me by e-mail or via Twitter or Instagram, or watch this space to find out about the next Heritage Auction of my art - or be sure to follow me on social media or get on Heritage's newsletter list so you can get some advance notice.  I'll also have a table in Artists Alley at this year's New York Comic-Con, which takes place October 7-10 at the Jacob Javits Center.  Yes, I'll be selling art there too.  

Thank God I never went into computer animation, since I now have boxes of valuable original hand-drawn art on paper that I can share with all you animation fans!  Thanks for watching, now below is this week's gag cartoon.

--Bill P.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Guns on the Clackamas / Luca

How's everyone dealing with the heat?  My poor hometown of Portland, OR is dealing with some very serious triple-digit temperatures right now.  I remember, back when I was growing up, dealing with the record-holding temp of 104 degrees - now it's up to 115 - what the F---?

So, to cheer you all up, we at Plymptoons Studios are releasing my classic Western comedy mockumentary from 1995, "Guns on the Clackamas". In the promos, we called it a cross between "This is Spinal Tap" and "Blazing Saddles", only funnier.  

Most of it was filmed during the summer of 1993 (I think...) in Oregon City.  We later did some supplemental filming back in NYC.  After releasing my animated feature "The Tune" in 1992, I wanted to take a break from animation, so I made two live-action films, "J. Lyle" and "Guns on the Clackamas".  This was a blast to make and I think this shows in the outrageous humor.  In fact, it goes way over the line of good taste, all the way to downright macabre. 

The film had an extremely limited theatrical release - my office manager doesn't even have a record of it, thanks to a computer crash in 2010, but I think it was just in one or two theaters.  And then we released it on DVD back in 2009, but quite honestly, we haven't sold that many copies.  

But now, we've uploaded the whole film to my YouTube channel, and this will be the FIRST time we've released it on the internet.  So I hope if you have a spare 80 minutes you can get to see this film.  It's definitely something unique and VERY different - if you like different, you're in luck.

Visit my YouTube channel here:

https://www.youtube.com/Plymptoons

or use this direct link to "Guns on the Clackamas":

https://youtu.be/bdUHRTbDsUM

I also want to comment on the new Disney/Pixar film "Luca" that just got released.  I don't know what's going on at Pixar - there's been a large shake-up among the top talent.  John Lasseter has moved on to another studio, Brad Bird is working on live-action projects, of course Joe Ranft sadly passed away, and Andrew Stanton has also seemingly moved on.  

So, it seems that of the original creative core, only Pete Docter is left.  And maybe this explains the weaknesses seen in "Luca".  The story has a good concept that should allow for humor and emotions, but it never quite cashes in on it.  One of the failures was the bad guy (or kid), Ercole, for me he really didn't work. 

Also, I never figured out why it was so Italian - it could have taken place anywhere, perhaps they wanted to increase tourism to Italy?   And lastly, the whole design was second-rate.  The big anime-style eyes made it look like a grade "B" film.  I wish they could bring back the creative line-up of the classics, that's what made Pixar so unique and popular. 

So, if it's too hot to go outside, be sure to stay indoors and check out my crazy "Guns on the Clackamas" mockumentary - IT'S ON NOW!  

See ya, 

Bill