Saturday, July 4, 2020

Two Art Books

I'm so happy, even in the depths of all this craziness going on, because I just received two books that I totally love.  They've arrived via Amazon, and they're two art books featuring works from my favorite artists.

The first one is a large "coffee table" book about the work of N.C. Wyeth, who I've written about before in this space.  One of the giants of illustration and painting - I've been influenced by his work ever since I first saw it during college.


What struck me about his work is the way he designs his shapes to help tell the story.  His shapes are amazing - and he'd often favor the shapes and dark shadows to accentuate the emotions.  Actually, there's not a lot of detail in his work, it's covered over with dark shadows that overtake the unimportant stuff.

N.C. Wyeth "The Opium Eater"
N.C. Wyeth "Deer Slayer Threw All His Force into a Desperate Effort"
You'll notice in my animation how I try to keep details to a minimum, so I can make the characters more powerful and engaging.  That way, the story comes through a lot stronger, no distractions.  I could talk on and on about N.C. Wyeth, but I don't have the space or time now...

The other book I received - and also love - is about Thomas Hart Benton, the famous rural American painter from the 1920's to 1950's.  What I love about his work is his powerful storytelling and the exaggeration of the human body.  In fact, his subjects are so distorted that they often seem like cartoons.  They are very twisted, almost bent.  I'm not aware if Mr. Benton took drugs (I'll find out in the book, hopefully) but you can see a very close resemblance between Benton's stylized characters and the stoner comics of artists like R. Crumb.


Another reason I love his work is the fact that he ignores perspective.  In college we all studied how perspective has two or three vanishing points, and all angles had to point to those spots. Well, Mr. Benton threw all that crap out the distorted window - that's why many of his paintings are so dreamlike.  If you watch my films "Idiots & Angels" and "Cheatin'" you'll notice how I distorted the perspective a lot, to a much more interesting result, I think.

Thomas Hart Benton "The Hailstorm"
Thomas Hart Benton "Persephone"
Both of these artists influenced me a lot, and I still don't believe I've fully developed as far as I want to go with their influence (Hey, I'm still learning.)  As I've suggested many times, I've been influenced by many great artists and I'm not shy about admitting that fact.  Yet people tell me how unique and identifiable my animation is.  So I'll always keep my style my own, but it's also fun to be influenced by other artists - just so long as it isn't anime.  I hate when young artists come to my studio, looking for work and all their drawings are rip-offs of Japanese animation.  I toss their portfolios out the window (just kidding).

Today's cartoon is not for children - yet I wonder if children will even get the joke.

--Bill P. 



Sunday, June 14, 2020

Vagina Song

I believe I've already mentioned this new comedy video I've been working on, called "The Vagina Song", but this week I want to talk a little more about it.

The comedian is Wendy Maybury, a very funny lady, and what I like about her humor, besides being very funny, of course, is that it's also very adult.   And since I survived in my early years as a cartoonist working for the men's magazines like Penthouse, Viva, Playboy, Hustler, Screw and many others, I have a fond affection for sexual humor.  In fact, I took a lot of my comedy gags that I drew for those men's magazines and later turned them into cartoon shorts or features.  Films like "I Married a Strange Person", "How to Make Love to a Woman", "Sex and Violence" and its sequel, "More Sex and Violence" display my often sexual humor. 

I haven't seen a lot of animated comedy music videos, so I hope this one can open the way for more of this style of videos, it's a great way to use animation.  One of the interesting aspects of making this video is the idea that after working on it for weeks, it's easy for me to lose my objectivity and perspective.  When it comes to humor, one never knows if the overall piece is going to work, if the drawings actually boost the humor of the comedian's words. 

Fortunately, after making these drawings for a few weeks (my studio was still shut down, so there were fewer distractions) and then finally matching the two parts together - the animation and the soundtrack - I can announce that it was successful, the animation enhances and magnifies the humor.   I was laughing through the whole completed short - what a relief!

I think you'll really love "Vagina Song".  It should be released some time this June from Stand Up Records.  We all really need some humor now - so please tell all your friends to check it out.  Also, enjoy this week's gag cartoon, which is below. 

Thanks,

Bill


Sunday, June 7, 2020

Pandemic update + Simpsons update

A lot of people, friends and fans, have been sending me queries about my health and the status of the studio - and I really appreciate everyone's concern for my health.

Happily, I've been very safe and healthy for the duration of this crisis.  However, as you may know we were forced to shut down our Manhattan studio just to keep my employees safe.  But we just heard from the NY government that because of the decline in deaths and new cases of the Covid-19 virus, businesses in New York City can now begin to open up.  Whew!  Am I glad!  I can start bringing my employees back to the studio and we can get organized again. 

I do want to remind everyone that if you're a fan of my artwork, especially the work I've done for "The Simpsons", you can now bid on some of it in an upcoming Heritage Auction, taking place on June 19-21.  Select drawings from "How to Kiss" and "25 Ways to Quit Smoking" will also be available.  More information about this auction is available here:

https://www.ha.com/

If you go there and search on "Bill Plympton" you should be able to see my artwork being featured in their upcoming auction. 

By the way, I've just been commissioned to animate a new couch gag for the next season of "The Simpsons".  Yeah!  I'm so excited.  And this one is really going to be weird.

Stay happy & healthy - this week's gag cartoon was inspired by the recent Space X launch.  Enjoy!

--Bill P.




Monday, June 1, 2020

New projects update

As I said in previous installments of "Scribble Junkies", I'm working on a lot of new projects, even though my studio is closed, I've continued to animate.  This week, I'll give you some more information on two of these projects - of course, while I'm doing these I'm also creating "Slide", my western musical feature, the film about Whoopi Goldberg's life and career, and there's a new couch gag for "The Simpsons" on the horizon.

But first up is what they call a "sizzle reel" for this wonderful 1950's mash-up band called "Big Daddy".  The sizzle reel will be used to promote the production of their proposed feature film idea, which is called "Band Out of Time".  It's a wacky musical adventure featuring aliens, Elvis, and as you might imagine, a bit of time travel.  It's a very funny script and I can't wait to get these characters on my drawing board.  If you saw my wonderful 1950's-set animated feature "Hair High" then you know how much I love drawing that classic era of Americana - the cars, the hair, the fashion... It's so much fun! 

Below is a rough layout of the proposed poster art for the film. 


The next project I'm working on is a comedy tape by the hilarious Wendy Maybury called "The Vagina Song".  So you can probably guess right away that the material is right up my alley.  I've created many music videos, but I've never animated a video for a stand-up comedy routine.  So, this is a real adventure for me, and it seems to be a perfect place for animation.  I do hope it's a success, because I'd love to do more things like this.  That's another reason why I love working on the animated feature about Whoopi, because with animation you can take these fun, crazy stories and add another level of fun craziness to them, since I can make anything happen, as long as I can draw it.

The drawing below is for "The Vagina Song", it's where Wendy makes fun of the male comics, who are always getting stoned. 


Last up is my new gag cartoon for the week - we're getting closer to re-opening NYC and my studio, but until then, I'm just going to keep on drawing!  



Thanks for watching, 

Bill

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Coincidence?

When I was just starting my career, drawing gag cartoons for my college newspaper, I was very proud of my cartoons and believed that they were all totally original and unique.

Then, I might spot a cartoon in The New Yorker or another magazine that was amazingly similar.  In fact, I actually believed that the other artist somehow ripped me off.  But after comparing the publishing dates, sometimes I realized that the other cartoon came out earlier than mine!  "Damn," I thought, "now everyone's going to think that I ripped HIM off!"

And who knows, maybe subconsciously I did.  I do look at a lot of cartoons, I have a very large collection of gag cartoon books, so maybe when I was younger I happened to see that gag and then totally (or mostly) forgot about it. 

One time, I had a great animator accuse me of stealing his cartoon idea, when in fact, I had made my cartoon long ago, way before he started working on his film.  And I felt very bad, it totally spoiled our good relationship.  And I made a Christmas card about 20 years ago that had some close similarities to the wonderful film "Klaus", which was about the origins of the Santa Claus legend, that got released in 2019. 

Eventually I realized that this happens often in the humor business.  The same joke can wind up in many places at the same time - it's just a simple matter of mathematics.  There are so many cartoonists and they're all looking at the same real-world situations and trying to put funny spins on them, so inevitably they duplicate, and you've got a potential lawsuit. 

The reason I bring this up is, a couple weeks ago I presented a gag cartoon here on Scribble Junkies that I thought was totally original.  Also, it was so stupid and gross I couldn't imagine someone could come up with a similar idea.  Well, I was wrong because last week, Sandrine found this photo on Facebook, and I was flabbergasted by the coincidence. 

How could two (seemingly) sane people come up with exactly the same totally twisted idea?  And there you go, it's just mathematics.  So I now present the two gags, and you can tell me what you think. 

I hope you're all staying safe and healthy, and I'll talk to you again next week -

Bill P.




Monday, May 18, 2020

Sneak peek at Big Daddy drawings

Hey, gang, my life is now kind of settling in to a boring routine, up in the morning (4:30 am) to do animation, watch CNN or MSNBC, take care of my son Lucas, teach him with online classes, then in the afternoon, I'm back to the animation.  Before dinner we may all go for a walk in the park nearby, then head home and eat dinner.  Maybe I'll watch a film after that, but I'm in bed around 9 pm.

And this routine is the same all week long - no weekends - with no travel to other cities and certainly no gatherings or restaurant meals.  I'm getting serious cabin fever, but I'm also definitely getting a lot of work done.

One of my new projects is really exciting, though - it's a trailer for a feature film starring a great concept band called "Big Daddy".  They're a mash-up band, performing contemporary (well, 80's and 90's) songs in a 1950's rock and roll mode - very engaging and amusing.  (Imagine "Welcome to the Jungle" performed in the style of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", and you'll get the idea.). They've been around for a while and even wrote a script about their adventures, called "Band Out of Time".

And the film itself is a mash-up of genres, both 1950's rock and roll and space-age sci-fi.  If you've ever seen my classic feature film "Hair High" then you know how I love drawing characters from the 1950's, with motorcycles and greased hair and letterman jackets.  I'm so excited, I can't wait.  And I also made a movie about space travel and "Mutant Aliens", so it will kind of be like a mash-up of two of my films, too. 

One of the guys from the band called my studio one day a couple years ago, when I was out of town, and they spoke to my office manager, John H., who recognized the band's name because he collects a lot of cover songs and listens to bands like Dread Zeppelin and Richard Cheese that record popular songs in crazy styles.  Luckily I was already in California, and getting ready to premiere "Revengeance" north of L.A., and so I met the members of Big Daddy, who were able to come see my film there, and we've been talking about working together ever since. 

First, I've been commissioned to create a short trailer to promote and sell the concept to the big boys.  Hopefully we'll soon have enough money to create the whole glorious animated feature: "Big Daddy: Band Out of Time".  Here are some sample drawings I've done for the characters and cars. 






Stay "tooned" here for more news about this project!

--Bill P.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Back to the Studio

Hello, fellow Quaranteenians!  (Quaran-teeny-boppers?)  I apologize for the lack of contact over the past month.  Our studio has been shut down, naturally, and my whole operation has been severely disrupted, I'm sorry for that.  But I'm still drawing at home, and I'd like to give you an update of what's been going on.

Fortuntately, a lot of projects have come my way lately - I've just finished a new music video for Matt Jaffe called "Voodoo Doll" - it's a wonderful, sad ballad, which I love.  And it's done in my usual pen and ink style, which gives me a lot of pleasure.  Check it out -

And then, after I completed "Voodoo Doll", I was hired to do something I've never done before, a video for an avant-garde piece of jazz music.  Although I've never worked with jazz before, I found this project very liberating - so I tried a technique I've also never done before, water-color.  You may know that because of its somewhat uncontrollable properties, it's very difficult to use water-color for animation, but because it was jazz, I felt justified in doing something very experimental.  And I think my wacky style fit very nicely with this unconventional music - it's called "Old Ducks" and the music comes from the very talented Jeff Pearring.  Keep an eye out for this.

Right now, I've just been hired to do a short stand-up comedy video for a wonderful comic, Wendy Maybury.  The bit is called "Vagina Song", so you can probably guess this ain't for kids.  This sort of takes me back to my days of doing print cartoons for magazines like Playboy, Penthouse and Screw.  What fun - this should be completed by the end of May.  Thankfully, my producer and colorist are still working from home, even though our studio is closed.

And, I'm very happy to report that I'm talking to the staff at Fox about the possibility of doing another couch gag for "The Simpsons".  Yaaheee!!!  I love doing these, they're so much fun to create and fans just seem to love them!  They've also helped expose my animation to a much larger audience, so I'm extremely grateful.  I want to do a very Plymptonesque version of Homer on drugs - I think you'll like it, but it probably won't be seen for a few months.

One more important event coming up is the Heritage auction featuring art from all my greatest films, including some of the "Simpsons" art.  A preview of the available artwork is supposed to be online in May, but the auction itself won't take place until June.  I don't have the exact date yet but you can probably find it on the Heritage Auctions site.  I may even go in person to the auction in Dallas, if there are no travel restrictions then.

It's funny, I always thought that if I got arrested and sent to prison for some crazy crime, I would be happy as a clam, because I could draw my animation all day long and never get interrupted, unless I was my cellmate's bitch, of course.  I suppose I'd still have to stop for meals and exercise out in the yard...

Well, with this viral pandemic, it's nearly the same thing.  Here I am, stuck in my apartment all day - Yippee!!  I can get up at 5 am and draw until 9 pm - I suppose I still have to stop for meals, but damn, I can get so much animation done!  I know, this is a very tragic sickness throughout the world, but you know me, I always look at the bright side.

They've even turned the heat off in my studio's building, I can sneak in there if I need to get something, but I haven't been able to stay long.  So if anyone has been having difficulty reaching me, calling the studio won't work, it's better to e-mail me because Sandrine is checking my e-mail for me at home.  I haven't figured out Zoom but I do use FaceTime.  I usually depend on my staff to show me Facebook or Twitter messages, so those take longer but I eventually will get them.

Like everyone else, I'm waiting to find out when life can return to normal, even if it's in gradual stages, so I can re-open my studio and get back to business, beyond just drawing.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week's gag cartoon!

--Bill P.


Friday, March 27, 2020

Virus update / new music video coming

Because of the Covid/corona virus, I find myself stretched thin economically - I've got three huge jobs on the horizon, but because many other offices are shut down, that horizon seems to be getting farther away. 

The weird thing is that the virus has stopped all live-action motion picture production - so it would seem like a good time for animators, because many of us can do our drawings from the safety of our homes.  So, one fortunate thing during this pandemic is that I've been able to get a lot of work done on my next feature, "Slide".  Maybe it's odd to look for a silver lining in these dark days of a health scourge, I don't know.

One job I'm very excited about is a music video I'm animating for saxophonist Jeff Pearring - the track is a bit different from the other music videos I've made, no country/western, instead it's full-out experimental jazz.  But what's really interesting to me is the opportunity to get really dreamlike and almost abstract with water-colors.  Although it still looks Plympton-esque, it's also going to be very crazy and surreal.

It should come out in a few months, I really don't know the title yet, but I'll certainly let you know when I find out. 

Here's my gag cartoon for the week - very appropriate for shut-in New Yorkers like me.

Later,

Bill P.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Short films streaming on Shout Factory!

Hello, everyone, I hope that wherever you are, you're coping as best you can with this terrible virus that is spreading across the world.  As you may know, my animation studio is in New York City, which has quickly become the new epicenter for the crisis.  I am still drawing in my studio, as we have a number of animation projects in different stages of production, but my producer and office manager are now working from home, and we're trying our best to follow the new rules about staying isolated from each other and maintaining "social distancing".  It's funny, New York City has long had a reputation for putting a large number of people close together, and sometimes that's caused a lot of friction - and now after the corona virus hit, they're telling us that we all have to separate ourselves, which is not easy to do in such a big city.

If you remember, back in early March I was supposed to go to Paris, on a trip I was very excited about, and it got cancelled because of the effects of the virus in France. Shortly after that we started to see film festivals in the U.S. being cancelled, and of course now all movie theaters are closed and even bars and restaurants because it's dangerous to have people gathering everywhere.  The whole entertainment industry is being rocked, because it relies on people going out and getting together, watching concerts and movies in a shared experience. 

I heard that a lot of movies are now going to be on streaming platforms much quicker than before, so while we all deal with this crisis and enforced isolation as best as we can, I wanted to let everyone know that my short film library is now streaming via Shout Factory, and you can check my animation out on their web-site at:

http://www.shoutfactorytv.com/series/plymptoons

Shout Factory has been really great, I signed a distribution deal with them last year, and first they put all of my features on the big streaming platforms, like Amazon, Google Play and Apple TV+.  I had been trying for years to break into those markets, but I only managed to get one feature ("Cheatin'") on Netflix, and that was just for a limited time.  So I really want to thank Shout Factory for getting my library out there in the digital world for the first time. 

I just found out that my short films are also streaming now, thanks to this article from SVA that lists a bunch of other things to binge-watch while you're quarantined at home.  So if you've already seen my short films, and you're looking for more ways to pass the time, give these a try!

https://sva.edu/features/sva-watch-list-13-tv-shows-and-movies-to-binge-during-quarantine

I hope everyone stays safe and healthy, and remember, it's important to stay entertained too! 

--Bill P. 

Friday, March 6, 2020

My trip to North Carolina, "Slide" music

I've just returned from my planned week-long trip to North Carolina, and then Paris - except Paris never happened!  The French government apparently ordered a ban on public gatherings in enclosed spaces to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus, so my big weekend doing a Master Class in Paris was cancelled - damn!  Because I love Paris and I know I have a lot of fans there.

However, my show in Asheville, North Carolina was a big success, with a lot of fans from UNC.  During the day I was able to create 8 songs for my new animated feature, "Slide", with two musical geniuses, Maureen McElheron ("Your Face", "The Tune") and Hank Bones ("Hair High").  To me, this is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable parts of filmmaking, hearing the music come together, and then putting it together with the finished animation just blows my mind.  What you'ree see in the video posted here is a very rough cut of "Slide" with Maureen and Hank creating the music as it plays.

When I came up with the concept for "Slide", my idea was to make a cowboy musical, using old Hank Williams and Patsy Cline's kind of music.  Obviously, I can't afford the rights to their songs, so I brought in Hank and Maureen, who are, again, musical geniuses.  When I start putting their music with the rough animation, it helps so much to define the film for me.

I hope you enjoy seeing this film coming together as much as I do -

Thanks and Ciao,

Bill P.


Friday, February 28, 2020

Upcoming Events

I've got a lot of very cool events coming up, and I want to tell you about them -

On Monday I'm flying down to Asheville, NC to do a Master Class at the prestigious University of North Carolina.  It will take place on Wednesday, March 4, 7 pm, at the Rhoades/Robinson Hall 125 - and the public is invited.

It will be a grand event - I'll be showing a lot of my new films and works-in-progress.  I'll also be introducing the composers and musicians for my upcoming feature, "Slide".  So if you are in the area or know anyone who lives nearby, "Y'all come down now, ya hear?" And as usual, everyone who attends get a real Bill Plympton sketch.  So don't miss it!

You can see more information about this event here:

https://www.unca.edu/events-and-news/event/presentation-by-independent-animator-bill-plympton/


Hank Bones, my main music man, actually lives in Asheville, so my visit there is double-purposed. Maureen McElheron, songwriter, composer of the music from "The Tune", and several of my short films ("No Snow for Christmas", "Can't Drag Race with Jesus") and singer of the classic "Your Face" is also coming to help with our "Slide" music sessions.

From there, I fly to Paris, France for another big event.  I'm appearing at the IAMAG 20 Master Classes event, held at Forum des Images, March 6-8.  My presentation will be on Saturday, March 7 in Salle 500 at 5:45 pm.  I'm very excited about doing this show - I love Paris and I probably have more fans in Paris (where I'm often recognized on the street) than in NYC (where no one knows me, or at least pretends not to recognize me).


I'll also be able to visit my friends, distributors and publishers over there and catch up on future business projects -

You can see the full schedule online and learn more about this event here:

https://masterclasses.iamag.co/iamag-master-classes-2020-schedule/

UPDATE - As of March 4, 2020, this event has been cancelled, because of the Corona virus and the resulting influence on Paris, as the city has apparently instituted a ban on large crowds gathering in enclosed spaces.  The event organizers have started a relief fund to help them keep their company going after being forced to cancel, so if you can help, please follow the link below and donate, especially if you would like to see more events like this in the future.  Thanks!

https://masterclasses.iamag.co/donations/iamag-master-classes/

One more project I do want to promote is an upcoming animation convention organized by Phil Machi in Austin, Texas (one of my favorite cities).  This will take place on May 8 at Ao5 Gallery, and at this point, I'm planning on appearing at the event.  Any way I can help promote animation, I'm there.

Let's make this happen!
He's still raising funds for the event on Kickstarter, so here's the information - please consider contributing to make this event possible:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/livestockproductions/toon-in-atx

If you want to boost animation in Texas, this is the way to go  - as you probably already know, the great Don Hertzfeldt lives there, and legendary superstar Mike Judge's from around there also.  Anyway, if you're in Austin in May or anywhere nearby, swing on by!

I've got time for a quick gag cartoon before I leave on Monday - check it out below.

Thanks,

-Bill P.


Friday, February 21, 2020

Animation Update part 2 - "Slide"


Dear Readers, 

This week, I'll be showing another clip of me creating drawings for my upcoming feature, "Slide". 

Also, I've just finished a new music video for the great Matt Jaffe, it's called "Voodoo Doll", and it should come out soon.  I think you'll like it, the music is fantastic and the animation is a different style for me, one that really matches the music quite well.  

My new gag cartoon this week was written a while ago, but now it seems quite timely with all the ecological issues of today.  I hope you like it - 

Bill 









Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Oscars review

I hope you watched the Academy Awards - because apparently it was the lowest-rated Oscar show ever.  They need your eyeballs!

I personally enjoyed the event, except for the Eminem rap song about I don't know what.  First, I hate rap.  Second, he kept getting bleeped so I couldn't really get into the song, and lastly, what the hell did Eminem's song have to do with this year's Oscars?  The show is already too long and now they're just tossing in irrelevant performances like it's the Grammys...

After seeing all the short animated films, the winning film, "Hair Love" was my least favorite.  Perhaps it was voted in to honor Kobe Bryant?

As for the Best Animated Feature winner, "Toy Story 4", I liked the story, of course, but I would rather see something fresh and different win.  To me, "Klaus" was the outstanding film of the year - so charming, original, and also hand-drawn.  But of course, you realize that Pixar and Disney artists rule the animation categories!

And although I like "Parasite" a lot, I was shocked that "Joker" didn't win.  It's such an original and over-the-top film.

I'm including a new gag cartoon below -

Thanks,

Bill P.


Friday, January 31, 2020

Animation Update

This week, I'm sending a sample of the animation work I'm doing for my upcoming feature, "Slide". Here I'm drawing Delilah, the heroine of the movie.  I hope you like it.  And I'm also including a new drawn gag cartoon -

Thanks,

Bill






Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Oscar Voting

Sorry for the long delay between posts - I spent a week and a half in Oregon for the holidays, and now I'm back to work.

Yesterday was the deadline for the voting for the 92nd Oscars nominations, with the nominations revealed next Monday (January 13) - and the awards will be presented on TV on Sunday, February 9. As a member of the Academy, Shorts and Animation branch, I got to vote on nominations for live-action shorts, animated shorts, animated features and also live-action features (aka "Best Picture")

Due to my busy schedule, and the shortened voting season, I wasn't able to watch any of the live-action shorts in order to vote in that category.  The live-action shorts are much longer than the animated ones (though "longer shorts" sounds a bit like an oxymoron) so it's often difficult to see all of those films.

The Academy warns us not to reveal our preferences for the nominations - however, the deadline for nominations has now passed, and there are so many members in the Academy (about 8,000) I doubt that revealing my selections will take away any of the mystery over who will win the gold statuette.

So here are the films that I selected for feature animation - I've already discussed these films here as my favorites, so this probably won't be a shock to my regular readers:

"How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World", a new sequel from my favorite series with beautiful art and story; "Klaus", by Sergio Garcia with brilliant 2-D animation; "Missing Link", a very funny, clever film from Laika; "I Lost My Body", a very strange but compelling story of a hand searching for its body; and "This Magnificent Cake", a film that came out of nowhere for me.  It wasn't until the night before I voted that Signe Baumane alerted me to this gem.  I immediately watched the film online and was blown away by the style, great sound and wonderful characters.  It's about the colonial evil perpetrated by the Belgians in the Congo during the 1880's, which is a bizarre coincidence because I'm also now reading "King Leopold's Ghost", about the same ugly events.

For animated shorts, the shortlisted films I liked were: "He Can't Live Without Cosmos", by the great Russian director Konstantin Bronzit; "Uncle Thomas: Accounting for the Days", a beautiful film by Regina Pessoa; "Mind My Mind", by Floor Adams from Holland; "Sister", by Siqi Song; and my all-time favorite, "Hors Piste", a very wacky Tex Avery-style rescue film.  If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on "Hors Piste".

In the live-action feature category, I chose: "Parasite", a dark comedy from Korea; "Yesterday", a beautiful comedy from Richard Curtis and Danny Boyle; "Booksmart", directed by the brilliant actor Olivia Wilde (she's got a big career ahead of her); "Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood" by you-know-who, a little too long but genius; and of course, "Joker", by Todd Phillips of "The Hangover" fame.

So, those are my choices - watch for the announcements coming soon on January 13th.  And then we can all see how I did.  Now below is my cartoon for the week:

Thanks,

Bill P.