Wednesday, March 30, 2011


In my never-ending search for the perfect animated feature, I went to see "Rango". I heard good things about it, so I set out to see the CG western.
It was a pretty thin crowd, 10 people tops, but they all laughed heartily at the crazy humor. And that was what the film was about – crazy, surreal humor.
Written and directed by Gore Verbitsky (of "Pirates of the Carribean" fame), the cartoon is full of bizarre and off the wall humor, great visuals as well as verbal gags, and of course it's filled with tons of classic Western references – Sergio Leone, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart (Destiny Rides Again), Chinatown, and great music from Quentin Tarantino, Mariachi to Ennio Morricone.
But the downside is the character design. The two leading characters, Rango and Bean (the female lead) were so ugly I had a very hard time connecting with them. The computer graphics were created by Industrial Light and Magic, so they must take full responsibility for the ugly design.
Also, there were way too many secondary characters and none of them stand out. (Look what Frank Capra or Toy Story does with secondary characters,) and the heavies were terribly designed, the hawk and the rattle snake. Why don't the spend a few bucks and get Peter DeSeve or a professional to get some really cool designs? I rate Rango a B-.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dear fans,  I'll be making an appearance at the prestigious "MoCCA Fest" on April 9-10. I've been attending this event for almost 10 years and I'm constantly amazed how many great animators and cartoonists I meet there. In many ways, it's much more fun and important than the San Diego Comic Con, because it highlights independent artists as opposed to corporate companies.
Not only will I have a table there, but I'll also be doing a panel and signing of my glorious new Rizzoli book: "Independently Animated: Bill Plympton". I will also be showing some of my brand new films, so it's going to be a very awesome show! So tell all your friends and come down to:

69th Regiment Armory
68 Lexington Avenue (btw 25th and 26th streets)
New York, NY 10010
Saturday, April 9th-10th.

I'm waiting to hear back regarding the time of my events, so stay tuned here and to for details, and I'll be in touch soon!

Also, the book is now available for order here on!

Thanks, and see you there!


The last time I was at SXSW was around 10 years ago. The festival then was a very young add-on to the famous SXSW music festival.
So when I decided to attend, I wasn't surprised that I had to find my own transport and lodging. My great MTV friend John Andrews was living in Austin, so I was able to sleep in his tool shed. But that was okay, it was free and close to downtown. Besides, I love Austin – the music, the food, the people.
So this year, they invited my new film "Guard Dog Global Jam" (it was a world premiere). Plus they asked me to run a panel on animation, and for me to be a judge for the animation program. I also had a cartoon exhibition. Now, any one of these features would get me a flight to any festival in the world – but not SXSW. The way Janet Pierson, the director of the festival, explained it to me was that since they were associated with the music festival, they had to follow the rules of their partner festival.
In any case, this year, interactive was king. I've never seen so many hipster-wannabes and "APPsters". At night, the streets were flooded with partiers and drunken cowgirls. The great music was echoing out of every storefront, bar, and nightclub. It was a feast of music and booze.
This year I was blessed because I was able to stay at my buddy Don Hertzfeldt's beautiful new house on the Austin City limits. He was in the middle of his new animated short but he found time to party after hours. The brilliant Mike Judge was able to hang out one night – we got a tour of his fabulous mansion, and he played some pedal steel guitar for us. He also showed some clips of his reborn series with MTV, Beavis and Butthead.
Saturday was the big day for me because I did an animation panel with the brilliant Bob Sabiston of "Waking Life" and "A Scanner Darkly" fame. He had some great stories of the animation business in Austin. Then after the panel, I raced over to Barnes and Noble for the first book signing for my wonderful Rizzoli book, "Independently Animated, Bill Plympton". It was a lot of fun giving everyone a cool drawing in their book.
Stay tuned, because we have a lot of book signings coming up – plus our big book party event – that you all are invited to! Check back with Scribble Junkies or for more announcements.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Paul Cezanne SKULLS!!

I love skulls... not sure why.. just fascinated by them. The father of Modern art himself produced many paintings of skulls, I've assembled all the Cezanne skulls I could find. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Peter Taylor..

Great images here, Peter Taylor is an artist living and working in vancouver canada. He states that his work revolves around a recurring theme of finding balance.. fair enough.. I love how the two characters in this series interact, they are so pleasing and inviting to look at.  the tattooed pattern on the skin gives it an asian flavor, which i always dig. the complex pattern on the skin is a great contrast with the overall simplicity and shape of the characters..  Legit. Enjoy

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Animation 101: Tips for Coming up with the IDEA for a short..

An interesting Sketchbook page that very well be the beginning of something larger.. often times a quick little drawing like this will spawn an idea that becomes a short film.

 Bill and I differ somewhat on our approach to making a short film.. his mantra has always been "Short, Funny, and Cheap".. and I admire how he manages to produce so much work! I may see it a bit differently (my shorts are never funny, and rarely cheap).. regardless.. This was part of an email I sent to my NYU Tisch-Asia students that began production on their first film last semester.  This Entry relates well to a previous Animation 101 post "What Makes a Good Short".. may be a good idea to read that before or after this. Enjoy.

sketchbook drawings from my next short "pull". Figuring out the attitude and emotional struggle of the characters will have a lot to do with their actual character design.

When I go about making a film, the first thing I do is survey my concepts or ideas. I typically have five or six ideas being developed simultaneously (in my sketchbook, THE place to store ideas), and it's a rewarding process to choose the one that I will make into a short film. Obviously, the more ideas you have the better! One idea will always seem to rise to the top. How do you come up with, develop, and nurture ideas? Three things to keep in mind:

1. Be honest, be yourself, push originality and base your idea for your film on personal experience. Emulating someone else's style will be obvious and will look weak.. go further. Make it your own. Only you can make your film, use this to your advantage and tell a personal story.

2. Make all your ideas as simple as possible, and try to keep films short in length (Bill and I agree on this). Simplicity is king.. you will soon be sick of me saying it. All great things are simple. Simplify Simplify Simplify!! Expressing a simple idea/story will give you more time to concentrate on emotion, character, and technique. The story itself can hold you down if you allow it to boss you around.

3. Make your film for yourself, don't make it to get a job after graduation, or a series on cartoon network, this thinking will only backfire. Don't have an agenda with your film, simply try to make the best idea and film possible. Any future employer will be more impressed with a solid personal film than they would with a wanna-be pilot.

4. Most important of all... live a life filled with challenge... push yourself artistically and personally. Travel. Read old books. Do things not many others do. Get off the internet. Turn off the TV.

Stare up into the sky and think of ideas.. walk down the street and think of ideas... sleep and think of ideas. Stay on a steady diet of animated and live action shorts, and note what works, and try to explain WHY it works. Keep your sketchbook close by, you never know when you see something you may want to record.  Good luck!

More sketchbook drawings of a series of characters for a project that i'm calling "remote".. it's not a film yet, i'm still exploring the concept. 

Too Art for TV show this friday...

Erebuni Gallery will host the fifth annual showing of Too Art for TV , an exhibition featuring works from 40 animation industry artists. Animation is collaborative by necessity -- an animated production needs many skilled hands to come to life, and the creative contributions made by individuals become immersed in the whole. Teams of people who specialize in style adaptation, drawing, painting, movement, timing, and visual storytelling work together to bring about one coherent television episode or feature film. But due to shrinking budgets, tighter schedules, and increased workloads, artists in animation find themselves devoting all their creative energy to their jobs. As an annual event, Too Art for TV serves as a reminder that there is a space for the personal, idiosyncratic musings of the animation industry artist.

Martin Abrahams, Liz Artinian , Amanda Baehr-Fuller , Jennifer Batinich , Chris Beaumont , Robbie Busch , Jimmy Calhoun , Greg Condon , Kelly Denato , John R. Dilworth , Maya Edelman , Chris Fisher , Chris George , Paul Greer , Kaori Hamura , Jen Hill , KaNO, Christy Karacas , Peter J. Lazarski , Todd K. Lown , Richard Mather , Jessica Milazzo , Brad Mossman , Michael Mucci , Justin Offner , Laurie O'Brien, Chris Palesty , Deo Pangandoyon , Sasha Parmasad , Dan Pinto , Isam Prado
Lynne Pritchard , Chris Prynoski , Reject, Michael Ricca , Derek Rippe , Tim Shankweiler , Justin Simonich , Machi Tantillo , Martin Witti.  yes... MACHI TANTILLO!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Classic Tuesday Inspiration: Raffaele Monti and Giovanni Strazza..

 Some artwork is too beautiful for words..  all we know is that we have been brought to an amazing place simply by looking at it. Raffaele Monti's veiled marble sculptures bring us to such a place.

Similar treatment of the veil can be found in Giovanni Strazza's Veiled Virgin below.

Monday, March 21, 2011

NC Wyeth

Before I begin my rant for N.C. Wyeth, I want to comment on Pat Smith's tips for young animators. He speaks from great experience and everything he says (well, almost everything) is extremely valuable. It almost feels like we studied under the same animation teachers – which I guess we kind of did, since we're total Disney freaks.
In any case, I've just finished a wonderful book on N.C. Wyeth (N.C. Wyeth, a Biography, by David Michaels) I've always been a big fan of his, but there were a number of pieces in the book that I'd never seen before. And his use of design hit me so hard that I realized I've got to use more design in my animation.

Especially in his earlier work 1905-1925 he demonstrates the power of shapes, lines, and color to move the eye around. And this is something that's so lacking in art and animation today.
Mr Wyeth would sacrifice detail in order to display a strong sense of shapes and energy. Unfortunately, in his later work, he abandoned these principals and his illustrations, though skilled, lost their dramatic impact.
Aside from the great Howard Pyle, with whom he had a close relationship, he mentioned an Italian painter called Giovanni Segantini. I looked him up and found a real teacher/student influence between the two. I'll show some of his work and you can also see Mr. Segantini's use of strong design and composition.
In the new film I'm working on, "Cheatin'", I want to put much more emphasis on the design aspects. I hope this will give the film a unique flavor, something very different from your typical corporate animated film that's full of extraneous details ("Shrek").
It's often the case that I'll see a museum exhibition or read a book or see a certain film and 2 or 3 months later you'll see those influences in my most recent film.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Box Office

Whenever I get an issue of Variety, I love to scan the box office reports to gauge how successful a film is and compare it to my estimates of the popularity of a film.

On the top this week is "Rango", which unfortunately I wasn't able to see because of my travels.

"Gnomeo and Juliet" is doing alright as I predicted, it's a relatively low-budget feature so at 90 million, they should show a profit.

Next down is "Tangled" at 200 million. That's not "Toy Story 3" numbers, yet it can be termed a success for a film I liked a lot.

Now it gets interesting –

"The Illusionist", which I felt would be a disappointment because of lack of story, has fulfilled my prediction. It hasn't even made 2 million, for a film that cost 30-40 million. It's too bad, 'cause I love Mr. Chomet's work and I want to support indie-animated features.

Then coming up close behind at 1.3 million is the Oscar Shorts, which includes my own film, "The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger"

So even though "Idiots and Angels" did not get picked up for a major release, I do have a short that's doing well at the box office.

And even "My Dog Tulip" by Paul and Sandra Fierlinger is showing good numbers for a limited release, at $225,000.

One day, I'll be able to get a decent release of one of my feature films and you'll get to see my film climb up the famous Variety box office reports.

Epic Sketchbook: Norberto Dorantes...

Artist Norberto Dorantes. Sitting here in Bali i'm feeling very far from Buenos Aires, but I'm coming back to Singapore today, so I'll be doing some more complete posts. Enjoy.

Friday, March 18, 2011


While in Brussels (or Bruxelles) for the wonderful Anima Festival, I was able to see a number of animated features, which are my passion.

The new Studio Ghibli film Arrietty was screening there. Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and produced by the great Hayao Miyazaki, the film was a real audience pleaser.

It's a story that was made a few years ago by the famous French director Luc Besson and released in the States with the title, "The Borrowers". This version is a lot cuter with more emotion, about a boy who is very sick with a heart disease and he falls in love with a 10 inch tall girl who lives under his house.

In the end it becomes a tear jerker that moved many people in the audience.

For myself, I was very bored – specifically with the visual look of the characters. They still have that stiff anime walk that they've been recycling for 20 years, and the big eyes still bug the hell out of me. But my biggest complaint is that the film has no visual flair or imaginative surrealism that is a trademark of the Studio Ghibli films. It looked like an average TV show.

I grade Arriety a C.

Anne Owens Paintings..

Stumbled on Anne Owens the other day, really like her paintings.. enjoy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Epic Sketchbook:Tia.. from Singapore!

This is such an amazing city, and to see it captured in the pages of the sketchbook stokes my artistic fire!!  Tia is a buddy of Don Low, previous epic sketchbooker. dang.
"View of Singapore River from Boat Quay where it used to house the old godowns and warehouses. Now this area is a 'must visit' place for the tourists. The bumboats at the left which used to transport goods in the past have been transformed into bumboat rides for the tourists. I was sitting at the outdoor dinning area of an Indian Restaurant in the hot Sunday afternoon. They only came at around 5.30pm to do the table settings and I had to leave. The waiter told me they open from 11.30am in the week days but only open at night on Sundays. The customers are normally tourists and business is not very good".-Tia 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Epic Sketchbook: Kiah Kiean...

This installment of Epic Sketchbook features insane artist Kiah Kiean..  also, his blog, filled with more sketches and paintings is here. .. coming from my side of the world. Dig.

In his own words: " 我愛檳城 I LOVE PENANG
表達對家鄉的關愛有許多的方法,我用我的素描為我熟悉的鄉土環境做紀錄 I love my hometown, I recorded her changing faces through my sketches.