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.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Martha's Vineyard, Abominable & New York Comic-Con

Wow, now that summer's almost over, there seems to be a lot going on!

First off, I just returned from Martha's Vineyard, where Richard Paradise puts on a swinging film festival every year - and once again, he spotlighted the best in indie animation.  The weather was nice leading up to the festival, and we had no trouble making our connection between our Amtrak to Providence and the ferry from New Bedford - but right smack in the middle of the trip, we had to contend with Hurricane Dorian.

Waiting for the ferry in New Bedford with Signe Baumane, Sturgis Warner and Sandrine
Fortunately, our fans were there and we had a great crowd for the Animation Showcase.  Also, we were able to line up a nice group of the filmmakers to attend.  Kathleen Chamberlin, the art director of the short "Two Balloons", was able to come all the way from Oregon, and Tom Gasek arrived from Rochester to screen his short "Train".  Then we had a young local animator, Thorpe Karabees, who made a wonderful film titled "Gladiolus".

Then, of course, Signe Baumane and Sturgis Warner presented "Mother's Song", an excerpt from Signe's in-progress feature, "My Love Affair With Marriage".  And I screened my recent music video for Tim Grimm, "Gonna Be Great".

At the MV Film Center with Sandrine, Tom Gasek, Kathleen Chamberlin, Signe Baumane and Sturgis Warner.

On stage for a Q&A at the Animation Showcase at Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival

It's a wonderful festival in a beautiful setting with great films - I highly recommend the Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival.

Last night, I caught a preview screening of the upcoming Dreamworks feature "Abominable".  (They told us the best way to pronounce it is "A bomb in a bowl".)  The story takes place in China, because Dreamworks partnered with China for funding.  It's a wonderful film, even though it wasn't my cup of tea - I took my wife and son and they laughed throughout.  Plus the visuals (CGI) are magnificent - I encourage you all to see it, you'll have a ball.  (Or a bomb in a ball.)  I give it a "B".

An exciting event coming up that I want to make everyone aware of is the New York Comic-Con, October 3-6 at the Javits Center here in Manhattan.  We took last year off from the convention circuit, but this year I'm coming back and trying something different - instead of a booth on the main show floor, I'll be appearing in Artists Alley with all my other artist friends.  You can find me every day at Table D-13 in Artists Alley, wherever that ends up being this year.  I'll have some very incredible merch for sale, like original art from "Your Face", "Guard Dog", "The Simpsons", plus a few DVDs and books, or you can get me to draw a caricature of you if you want!

Now, this week, instead of posting a new cartoon gag, I'm going to include a documentary presentation of me drawing an early scene for my upcoming feature, "Slide".  It's about 10 minutes, I hope that's not too long - and I hope you like it.

If you don't see it streaming below, then please visit:

Making of Slide from Bill Plympton on Vimeo.

Thanks for watching -

--Bill P.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles

While I was in Annecy this June, one of the films high on my watch-list was "Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles", a French and Spanish production.  However, because of my busy schedule, I sadly wasn't able to catch this animated feature film there. However, now that it's been released in New York, I went with Signe Baumane to go watch the film last night.

First off, the graphics are very nice, if a little understated.  There's a very simple and monochromatic color palette, and limited detail that actually looks very beautiful.  But the main problem for me was the story.  Essentially, it's about Luis Buñuel's trip to the poorest village in Spain to make a documentary.  The problem was that there was no big conflict, or any urgency to push the plot forward.  It was very matter-of-fact, day-to-day sort of storytelling.  And at the end, we find out the producer was in fact an anarchist, and was killed by Franco's soldiers - now, there's a story for you.  Why didn't they put THAT in?

The other problem is that the film is supposedly about one of the greatest surrealist filmmakers, and the big poster promoting the film is a wonderful image influenced by a Dali painting.  So, I expected lots of cool surrealism and wild imagery - sorry, no luck.  There was only one other scene with brief surrealism - what a dud.

Yet, it's still a fine film to watch, because the animation is done well and the tale about Buñuel's early years is a true story.  I give it a C+

I've also included a cartoon for this week below.  Thanks for tuning in!

--Bill P.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Richard Williams, 1933-2019

While I was away on vacation in Portland last week, I got the news that acclaimed animator Richard Williams passed away - while he was most famous for being the animation director on "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", he was also known for animating title sequences for 1960's title sequences for films like "Casino Royale", "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", and two of the "Pink Panther" films starring Peter Sellers.  Then, of course, there was "The Thief and the Cobbler", a monumental piece of animation that he worked on for over twenty years, which got shelved in 1992 over fears of competition from the similarly-themed Disney film, "Aladdin".

I bumped into Richard for the first time at the 2015 Telluride Festival, where he was showing his new short film, "Prologue", essentially it was an excerpt from a planned feature version of "Lysistrata", the famous play by Aristophanes in which Greek women end a war by refusing to have sex with their warrior husbands.

We got to hang out in that wonderful mountaintop festival, and I felt like I was on top of the world.  Unfortunately, I didn't like "Prologue" so much - it was very stiff and looked rotoscoped, which was too bad because Richard was famous for his exaggeration and stylization.  Still, the film won a lot of awards, even an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Short.  So now that will have to stand on its own as his final film, and the rest of that feature will, like "The Thief and the Cobbler", never be completed.

with Richard Williams in Telluride, Sept. 2015
We encountered each other again at the Annecy Animation Festival in 2018.  He was a great artist and a great friend.  I'm so sorry such a witty, talented and energetic guy is gone.

with Richard Williams in Annecy, June 2018
--Bill P.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Reviews of "The Lion King" and "Once Upon a Hollywood"

I don't consider myself a film reviewer, not by any stretch, because first of all, I'm not a particularly good wordsmith.  Second, I just don't have the time right now to see all the films I want to see.

However, I believe that my fans are interested in reading what my thoughts are on certain current films - so here they are.

I just saw "The Lion King" and I was very impressed.  I felt that the animated version, which was released in 1994, had a strong story and good animation - but nothing to get really excited about.  However, the new version, directed by Jon Favreau, is something to shout about.  He also did a great job with "The Jungle Book", which was one of my favorite films of 2016.

But with his version of "The Lion King", I really connected with the story in a much deeper and passionate way.  The fact that all of these jungle animals talked and acted like humans made the "Circle of Life" story that much more powerful.  It's a beautiful, glorious movie.

I give "The Lion King" an "A".

The other film I recently saw was Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Hollywood".  It's a fable that hearkens back to the movie around the time of the Charles Manson murders.  Mr. Tarantino, to me, is a stone hero - he and the Coen brothers are my biggest influences.  However, because of Quentin's big success, I believe he feels he has license to include every thought in his head.  There are so many places in this film where my mind started to wander, and I asked, "Why is this sequence in the film?"  It's 2 hours and 15 minutes long, and would have been a dynamite 1 hour and 40 minutes if they trimmed it down.  That's the down side.

My favorite parts were Brad Pitt's fight with Bruce Lee - hilarious, and Brad Pitt entering the Spahn ranch and the nest of vicious hippies - creepy.  And, of course, the big battle at the end, with Brad and Leonardo DiCaprio fending off the Manson killers.  It's totally scary and outrageous, as only Tarantino can do it.  It's like "The Road Runner" only with real actors.

Brad and Leo make a great team - they reminded me of John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in "Pulp Fiction", just riffing on life and their careers as they cruise around 1960's L.A. in their car.

Another big plus is the beautifully lush cinematography by Robert Richardson.  The scene in Frank & Musso's is so lush and delicious, I wanted to eat it.

I saw the film at a screening for Academy members, and before they showed it we were read a text message from Quentin himself, asking us to not reveal the ending - so I will respectfully honor that request.

After I saw "Titanic", I left the theater on a "film high" and I wanted to tell everyone, "GO SEE THIS FILM!"  Well, that's how I felt after watching this film, like Brad Pitt after he just smoked an acid cigarette.  I give this one an "A+"!

--Bill P.