Thursday, July 2, 2015

Epic Sketchbook: 360 degree paintings by Cinta Vidal..

Ok.. this isn't from a sketchbook, but I wanted to post anyway.  Cinta Vidal is a spanish illustrator, these pieces are on wood and can be rotated 360 degrees (perhaps a bit of a gimmick, but interesting). I particularly love the containment of these works.. the complete in tact feeling and weight(less) of each little world that is rendered. Enjoy.  For more of his paintings, illustrations and commercial work, go here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"Frozen" fallout

I've been to a number of children's birthday parties recently, because my 2 1/2 year-old son now has a lot of friends, through his school and it's uncanny how many young girls are wearing princess gowns to parties, to look like Elsa or Anna from "Frozen".

But not only are they spellbound fans of those Disney princesses, they also act like princesses, and that's where the trouble starts.  It seems there are all these young girls ordering everyone around, because, hey, they're princesses, and that's what princesses do.

I can foresee that there will be a problem, since now there is a whole generation of young females who want to take charge - and when they grow up, they will all be demanding this and ordering that.  And our son will be faced with dating girls who demand nothing but total domination.

I pity my poor son in 20 years.

I'm glad that Disney has such a big hit with animation - yay, cartoons - but the cultural influence of "Frozen" is going to doom my son to a life of servitude.

--Bill Plympton

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Epic Sketchbook: Stefan Zsaitsits...

Austrian artist Stefan Zsaitsits draws primarily in pencil, and focuses on the idea of transforming the head.  Both Bill and I are big fans of head transformations and morphing, so it's natural that I gravitated toward Stefan's sketch work.  Enjoy, I find these images totally hypnotizing..

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Lou Reed ink sketches..

Here's a quick design sketch I did of Lou Reed for the Blank on Blank series.  I always use ink in my sketchbook, it's a trick I use to keep my drawings quick, and build a habit of committing to your lines. I wrote an entry about using ink a while ago here. Lou was fun to draw because of the curious lines in his face.. and his floppy ears. His leather jacket collar created a nice framing element for his under bite jaw.  I love the first stage of production, when I can just sit with my sketchbook, draw designs and come up with ideas for shots.  Since we wrap each episode in about a week, this part of the process only lasts a half day or so.
And here's the final episode from PBS Digital, it was published a few months ago, and is possibly my favorite of the last dozen or so that we've produced.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Epic Sketchbook: Régis Loisel

I bought a hardcover sketchbook called "Peter Pan" when I was in France years ago, it's by comic artist Régis Loisel, who is legendary, even though I didn't know who he was at the time.  The book is filled with wonderfully raw renderings of his interpretations of the Peter Pan characters. He goes from pencil to ink, to marker.. the notes give each page a beautiful sense of construction, illustrating a remarkable thought process. Enjoy.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday Inspiration: Albert Dorne..

As an animator, you are most likely very familiar with Albert Dorne.  His effortless illustration style is intoxicating. Enjoy.  Here's a collection of Flcker that does justice to his wide variety of commercial illustration, way more depth than I can add on this blog.

Albert Dorne is a true artist success story.  he was born in the slums of NYC, and had miserable health problems. He dropped out of school to support his family with jobs such as managing a news stand and being as an office boy, as well as a short boxing career. Then he began drawing for the advertising industry. His illustrations started appearing in such magazines as Life, Collier's and The Saturday Evening Post and was very famous in the field of advertising by 1943.

In 1948 Dorne conceived the idea of a correspondence school for art, and recruited eleven other well-known artists and illustrators, including Norman Rockwell, to found the Famous Artists School.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What's Up this Summer

My new short failed to get into Annecy's competition program (although it is being screened in Panorama) so I decided not to go to Annecy, after 15 years straight of attending.  Signe Baumane is going to represent me at the famed Annecy Plus event - the screening is on Friday, June 17 at 7:30 pm, and you can get more information about it here:
So, my summer is very open this year, which is fine - now I have time to work on my other films.  Each day I get up at 5:30 to animate "Revengeance" - it's going very fast.   I can do about a page of the storyboard every day, I'm now on page 95 and the storyboard has 240 pages - so you can see, I still have a lot of animation to do.  I hope to finish some time around New Year's. 

After numerous complaints about the length and redundancy of "Hitler's Folly", I've decided to go back and re-edit the mockumentary.  It stood at 90 minutes, and I liked it - I thought all of the jokes were pretty funny, but everyone I showed it to said that it got boring in the middle.  So, snip, snip, snip!  But don't worry, fans, when it comes out on DVD, I'll include the deleted scenes so you can judge for yourself.

                          Bet you didn't know that Adolf Hitler ran an animation studio, did you?

I may have some exciting news about "Hitler's Folly" coming real soon - so please stay tuned.

We've got some more screenings of CHEATIN' coming up in late July and early August, in Washington DC, Philadelphia and Cincinnati - we'll post more details soon both here and on Facebook.

The other big event of the summer is the San Diego Comic-Con - we're planning to show off some great new projects at my panel (date and time to be posted here very soon).  We'll have a sneak peek at my short "The Loneliest Stoplight", the new trailer from "Revengeance", an excerpt from "Hitler's Folly" and also the world premiere of a brand new short.

One of the coolest things we'll be offering at our booth is a special release of my animated feature CHEATIN' on BluRay.  I've never done a BluRay release before, so we're really excited. 

                          We won't be doing "Revengeance" tattoos at the booth (or, will we?)

So, tell your friends to come and see us at Booth 1537, in what we call "Animation Alley" at San Diego Comic Con, July 8-12.  I'll be signing DVDs and drawing caricatures of fans, time permitting.  See you there!

                    Here's how to find us at SDCC - this is the view from the mezzanine, facing north.
                        (The main entrances to the large convention floor are at the back of the photo)

--Bill Plympton

Monday, June 15, 2015

Ayn Rand Animated Interview for PBS..

Mike Wallace interviews Ayn Rand about Love and Happiness.

So, we're heading into our 50th episode of PBS's "Blank on Blank," and while it is still a modest production, I think we're getting better. Ayn Rand (scroll down for movie), a fascinating person whether you agree with her radical philosophies or not, is the latest episode, released the other day.  Some characters are more enjoyable to draw than others, depending on characteristics that I like to draw.. Ayn had these great lower teeth, and a nice little curl of hair to work with.  She's also so serious, which is a nice departure from pretty much every other interview.

I also liked working with the propaganda style images she featured on her book covers.

My other favorite was Maya Angelou, for her it was all about nailing the eyes.  Both Maya and Ayn will probably not get a whole lot of traffic (such is the way of our culture.. if we wanted to get traffic we would feature Beiber, or Taylor Swift.  That's the beauty of working with PBS, they're more interested in content and historical importance that getting views.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday Inspiration: Egon Schiele..

Sorry for the hiatus everybody! Thanks to Bill for holding down the fort.  On my triumphant return, I wanted to share some Schiele sketches I've been looking at a lot lately for inspiration.  The Austrian Expressionist (who died at the age of 28) , was a master expressive poses and particularly of drawing hands. Once you get into Schiele, there's no going back.  Enjoy.

Monday, June 8, 2015

"Tomorrowland" and "Inside Out" reviews

Both Brad Bird and Pete Docter are heroes of mine - a list of their films would include some of the greatest films of our generation: "The Iron Giant", "Ratatouille", "The Incredibles", "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol", "Monsters, Inc." and "Up". 

They've both released new feature films, within a month of each other, and I thought it would be edifying to review the films side-by-side. 

"Tomorrowland" by Brad Bird, starring George Clooney is a very ambitious, expensive attempt to save the world.  The visuals are magnificent, as is the production.  However, the story is completely confusing.  I'm still not sure what was going on.  Perhaps the producers had hoped that people were so fascinated by the concept that the audience would return multiple times to completely understand the movie.

Or perhaps they didn't test the film before the release.  Maybe Brad Bird was so sure of his storytelling powers that he didn't think he needed to test the film.  If so, that's too bad, because this film had the potential to be a classic -

When I first heard of the concept behind Pete Docter's "Inside Out", I thought, "What a boring idea.  Just a group of humanized emotions arguing with each other, how uncinematic."  However, about 10 minutes into watching the film, I was hooked.  The concept of a little girl's emotions directing her personality is so ripe with ideas and humor that it seemed very personal to me. 

Of course, being a Pixar film, the animation and overall look are stunning.  Also, as usual, the Pixar greatness in storytelling comes through.  It reminds me a lot of "Toy Story 3", where every character had a distinct personality and they go on a long, arduous mission that results in a surprising yet completely satisfying conclusion. 

I believe that "Inside Out" will receive the Oscar next year - and Pete Docter deserves it.  The film is marvelous. 

I give "Tomorrowland" a B- and "Inside Out" an A. 

Bill Plympton

Monday, June 1, 2015

Indie Philosophy

Last week I visited my "Scribble Junkies" partner, Pat Smith, at his palatial estate in Montauk, and as I browsed his animation library, I discovered a book by the director of the Ottawa Animation Festival, Chris Robinson.  It was a very cool book called "Unsung Heroes of Animation" and it listed short biographies of some of the interesting people making films who aren't big names - people like Ryan Larkin, Raimund Krumme, Steve Woloshen, and Ruth Lingford.  Basically, these are filmmakers whose work Chris loves, but he feels they don't get enough credit.

But what struck me was a reference to my films, where he said (and I'm paraphrasing) "Mr. Plympton will test his films at an early stage, and if the audience doesn't like a certain gag, he'll remove it."  And Chris was using this as an example of my lack of artistic integrity. 

This is an issue that goes to the heart of all creative endeavors - am I making films to please myself, or to please an audience?  There's nothing worse for me than sitting through a screening of one of my films and hearing tepid applause at the end.  My purpose in making my films is to get waves of laughter, and maybe a standing ovation.

To me, the audience is the god - not the critics, or the festivals, or producers, or funding organizations.  I make films for people to enjoy, I don't make films just for my own enjoyment.  What fun is that?  As filmmakers, we have an unwritten contract with the audience to entertain them.  If we can't do that, then we should find another occupation. 

One of my heroes is Frank Capra, because he was a populist and he made films that a broad spectrum of the public could enjoy.  That's my goal, to make animated cartoons that everyone can love - not just some critic in an ivory tower, or some academic theoretician or some government/corporate funding organization. 

The true independent filmmaker is someone who, over the years, is able to make money with their films and not rely on Hollywood, corporate or government funding.  That why to me, making films that are popular with the audience is the secret to my success. 

Over the last 30 years, I've created 10 feature films and over 70 shorts, and I've funded them all by myself, and that's simply because I make movies that people want to see.  And that's the independent spirit!

--Bill Plympton

Friday, May 29, 2015

"Revengeance" Kickstarter stretch goal success!

A big "Thank You" to everyone who helped support our Kickstarter campaign for "Revengeance".  We started with a goal of $80,000 and we surpassed it, with over $90,000 in donations.

Of course, a lot of the credit goes to the awesome Adam Rackoff, who worked his butt off to spread the word and make it a success. 

Thanks to all you supporters, we can now continue the production of "Revengeance", which is written, designed and voiced by the great Jim Lujan and animated by yours truly. 

We're hoping to finish this film by the winter of 2016, and then we'll send it out to film festivals all over.  So hopefully you'll be able to see it in your local multiplex or art cinema shortly after that.  Even better, if you're a Kickstarter contributor, you'll get to see your name in the credits. 

I love Kickstarter!  It's such an important part of me being able to remain independent and make films the way I want to make them. 

Thanks to everyone who helped spread the word, and thanks again to everyone who kicked in some money. 

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"Revengeance" Kickstarter campaign success!

Yeee Haw!  We made our Kickstarter goal of $80,000 for "Revengeance", the new animated feature I'm making with Jim Lujan -

However, it was a close call - now we have one day left in the campaign, so my Kickstarter advisor said that it would be super cool if we could go over our goal, set a new stretch goal and raise money for the post-production of the film.  So we're going to make a bold move and raise the goal to $90,000 - that is, if we get another $10,000, we'll put that money toward editing, sound and promotion.

The crowd-funding landscape sort of changed a bit since we raised money for my last film, CHEATIN' - I don't know if there are just more projects out there to fund or what, but it's not as easy as it used to be.  My thanks to Adam Rackoff for keeping on top of things, and adding more rewards tiers to get more people to back the film.  My staff also helped out by digging through bins of artwork to find some of the best images from my classic films - we raided the archive to help raise money for the next film!

                                                           Get them while they last!

We also benefited from the great news that Matthew Modine will be joining the voice cast of the film.  Matthew's been a great friend and has done voices for me before, in my shorts "Santa, the Fascist Years" and "The Flying House", so it will be great to work with him again.  I'm glad that working with me didn't prevent him from being in films like "Jobs" and "The Dark Knight Rises".

                                      Matthew Modine and his "Revengeance" character, Sid

"Revengeance" is about 1/3 done, and I must say, in all modesty - it looks fantastic!  And I hope you'll be proud to help support such an amazing film.  I'll remind you that for a measly $1,500 I will create a character from your photo and put you in a scene or two in the movie - you'll be immortalized forever (I guess that's redundant) in a Bill Plympton film!

So, keep indie animation alive and tell your friends that they have until 9 pm on Thursday, May 21 to be part of this great film - once again, the link to the campaign is:


Bill Plympton

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CHEATIN' Tour, Part 5

The next stop on my CHEATIN' tour was Columbus, Ohio.  I flew there from Portland, and after so many cities in a row, it was tough to leave my hometown of Portland, but also nice to be getting close to returning to New York.  In Columbus the Gateway Film Center had a special Monday night screening of CHEATIN', followed by a meet-and-greet with members of their local film club.

As part of the publicity materials for the theaters, I had signed 10 prints of art from my film, and we told each theater that they could use them however they wanted to promote the film - they could raffle them off, they could give them to the first 10 people in the door, whatever they thought would get the most attention.  In Columbus, they gave away the prints to members of this Film Club - I'm glad that clubs like this exist to appreciate movies, so check out the cinemas in your area to see if you can join one!  You never know what you'll get out of it.

After Columbus, I came back home to NY, to a big pile of e-mail and some interview requests, but just a few days later I was on the train up to Boston, for the opening night screening at the Brattle Theater.  There was a great crowd at the Brattle, especially considering that "Avengers: Age of Ultron" was opening that same day.  Maybe that film got sold out and people came to see CHEATIN' instead, I don't know.  But people waited in a long line after the show to get sketches from me, which I always appreciate.

I remember one trip I took up to Boston back when my film "Mondo Plympton" was playing in theaters, and there was a huge snowstorm that day, plus there was a Bugs Bunny festival playing in another theater across town, so very few people came out to my show.  This trip to Boston was a lot better, so that's progress.

                                      Doing a Q&A session at the Brattle Theater in Boston.

Finally, I took a trip up to Rochester, NY, arranged by Peter Murphey at RIT.  I've been up to RIT before, they have a great animation department.  I did two presentations at the school on Wednesday, one was more about the artistic side of making animation, and the other was more about the business aspects of it, like how to survive as an independent animator. 

My thanks to Maxwell Harvey-Sampson for taking such great photos of my lectures at RIT.

The next night, I appeared at the Little Theatre in Rochester, which is another of these cool little indie cinemas that you should definitely check out if you're in the area.  They screened CHEATIN' and I did the Q&A session afterwards, and once again people lined up to get their sketches.  I definitely felt like a rock-star after making so many appearances around the country! 

                                         The crowd at the Little Theatre after the screening

But that sort of brought me to a break the tour.  Not really the end, because we're already setting up the next leg, with screenings in Philadelphia and Washington DC at the end of July (stay tuned for details).  If I didn't make it to your city this time around, please let me know, or contact your local theater and tell them they can still book CHEATIN' this summer by e-mailing me or my staff.

Right now, I need to get back to animating some new projects, and answering some of my mail.  Plus we have to get ready for San Diego Comic-Con, which is really right around the corner. 

Meanwhile, check out my Kickstarter campaign for "Revengeance", we've only got a few days left to make our goal, and we recently added some new rewards, including a whole bunch of original animation art from some of my most classic films!  Please take a look, here's a link: