Friday, December 30, 2016

The End of the Year

Well, it's almost time to change the calendar, so it's a good time to look back at 2016, which was a very momentous year for me.

First, I released my mockumentary called "Hitler's Folly", and as expected, I got a lot of opposition.  But also the film got a lot of fans, and in fact, it screened in both Tel Aviv, Israel and Krakow, Poland to full houses and laughing audience.  And if people in those cities can laugh about Hitler, it makes me wonder if people in other places can learn to do so, too.

If you haven't seen it yet, you can watch "Hitler's Folly" for FREE at my web-site here:

Then we finished and released "Revengeance", a film written, designed and (mostly) voiced by the genius Jim Lujan.  It's become very popular on the European festival circuit, and has been released theatrically in France, now we just have to arrange a festival premiere in the U.S.  We're already getting requests from some cinemas, but we'd like to make an impact at some festivals first.

Also, my studio made a music video for the great musician, Maureen McElheron, famous for composing and singing in "Your Face", "The Tune" and "I Married a Strange Person".  It's called "No Snow for Christmas", a wonderful song that comments on global warming.  (Sorry, I think the correct term is "climate change" now, same thing though...)

And we're now putting the finishing touches on my latest, and I think best, sequel to "Guard Dog", which is called "Cop Dog".  This will be released in early 2017.

Also, I had some time to create a safety commercial for Ford Motors, preaching about the dangers of distracted driving.  It's called "The Importance of Paying Attention: Teeth" and it shows an extreme example of someone picking their teeth while driving - and now it's been nominated for an Annie Award!  Plus it's got over 2 1/2 million views on YouTube!

You can watch it for yourself here:

Finally, I'm now working on a new "couch gag" for "The Simpsons", called "The Artiste" - watch for it on some Sunday night next year!

On top of all that, Jim Lujan and I have begun pre-production on a new animated feature film, but I can't say too much about that yet.  You never know who's reading these things...but as you can see, it's been a wonderfully productive year for me - in fact, a banner year!

If all that isn't enough, I decided to re-open my celebrated Plympton School of Animation in January, and we still have a few slots left for the in-person lectures.  So if anyone out there has ambitions to learn animation from a two-time Oscar-nominated "King of Independent Animation", please sign up.   The first class will be on January 9, and the class is limited to just 15 students.

Happy New Year!  I hope to see you in my class or at a film festival in 2017!

--Bill Plympton

Friday, December 23, 2016

Top Ten Christmas Movies

1. "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946, Frank Capra) - with Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, you've all seen it. The perfect Christmas movie, and dare I say it, the perfect film.

2. "Christmas in Connecticut" (1945, Peter Godfrey) - with Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet.  Not only great Christmas atmosphere, but a sexy, steamy, adultery love story.

3. "The Polar Express" (2004, Robert Zemeckis) - with Tom Hanks. From the famous Chris Van Allsburg book, a very witty visual fantasy of a boy's trip to the North Pole.  The stiff motion-capture animation looks very awkward now, but great storytelling.

4. "A Christmas Carol" (1951, Brian Desmond-Hurst) - with Alistair Sim, Michael Hordern.  This film was played every year on my local Oregon TV channel, and it scared the bejeesus out of me. Plus, it was a British production, so it felt very true to the Charles Dickens story.

5. "Bad Santa" (2003, Terry Zwigoff) - with Billy Bob Thornton.  As you know, I love twisted comedy, and "Bad Santa" really takes the satire of Christmas to hilarious places.

6. "A Christmas Story" (1983, Bob Clark) - with Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon.  Adapted from a Jean Shepherd story, this sweet little film is totally hilarious and twisted.

7. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (1966, Chuck Jones) - with the voices of Boris Karloff and a story by Dr. Seuss.  This is a perfect little gem of an animated story, I can watch it endlessly.

8. "Elf" (2003, Jon Favreau) - with Will Ferrell, James Caan (miscast), Bob Newhart, Zooey Deschanel.  This is the film that convinced me that Will Ferrell is a comic genius.

9. "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993, Henry Selick).  Although Tim Burton had a lot to do with the design and story of this film, it's really a Henry Selick film, a lot of people forget that. Very dark for a holiday film, and that's why I like it.

10. "White Christmas" (1954, Michael Curtiz) - with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen.  The old Hollywood classic. I was in the tropical Columbia Hotel, floating around in the swimming pool, and they played the famous Bing Crosby song - a totally surreal moment in my life.  My son now thinks that if it snows outside, then it must be Christmas. 

So that's my list.  If you have any additions, I'd love to hear about them.

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


One of the animated features that qualified for the Best Animated Feature Oscar this year is "Trolls", directed by Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn.  Unfortunately, most of the reviews that I read really panned the film.

And I understand why, because the film is very sugary and sentimental, with lots of bright colors, and the design of the trolls is very cutesy and clunky, with large hands and feet.

Yet, the film had very good humor and witty dialogue, and I liked the music.

Strangely, the film reminded me a lot of "Yellow Submarine", the 1968 Beatles film.  In fact, I felt like I was in a drug-induced flashback. It's like a magic carpet ride back to the 1960's - in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if large groups of hipsters decide to drop a lot of acid and then go to see "Trolls".

In fact, if you go see the film in a NYC theater, you may see me sitting in the audience with my eyes a mile wide - just leave me alone and let me trip out on the amazing visual surrealism and music.

I give "Trolls" a B+

Bill P.

Friday, December 9, 2016

"Avoid Eye Contact" program in Etiuda & Anima Festival

My former employee (now colleague and friend) Signe Baumane recently appeared at the Etiuda & Anima Festival in Krakow, Poland, where she presented three compilation programs of short films from New York animators.  Signe and I were both part of a group of animators that came together a few years ago to produce a DVD called "Avoid Eye Contact", and parts of these programs were based on that collaboration, while one program consisted of new work from NYC-based animators.

Signe wrote something for that festival's catalogue about what it's like to make independent animation in New York City, and I'd like to reprint it here.  These notes are also posted on her blog, which is located at:

Oh, and while you're there, please check out her animation art for sale, and her holiday offer to draw or paint any animal of your choice!

Avoid Eye Contact - Best of New York Animation in Krakow

Here are my New York Animation notes for Etiuda&Anima Festival catalogue:

It's probably not an understatement to say that New York City has one of the most vibrant and thriving animation communities in the world.  The reasons for this are multiple:

1. There used to be an amazing amount of animation jobs in the city (Nickelodeon, MTV, Little Airplane, Animation Collective, etc.) Perhaps not so much now, but animators stay here because –

2. We have a very excellent chapter of ASIFA-East that organizes screenings and meet-ups every month, and an annual festival of work from its members. When people see each other on monthly basis, it creates the sense of a community, involvement and support.

3. New York independent animators don’t compete with each other for funding (generally, the funding for arts or animation in the U.S. is scarce, so there is nothing to fight over) but instead we compete with each other over who will make a better film, we challenge each other and we support each other with advice, tips and animation tools.

4. There are at least five colleges in NYC that teach animation – so there are plenty of interns/apprentices for independent animators to employ which is a good reason to open an independent animation studio in New York. Also students have a lot of youthful enthusiasm for animation as a sophisticated form of self-expression. Enthusiasm is infectious.

5. New York City is a source of endless inspiration for stories.  Also, because everybody in NYC is constantly busy and short on time, we New Yorkers value time more than anything. As a result, good sense of timing for NY animators becomes visceral. Timing is part of our minds, our bodies, and our essences.  That's why some of the best animated films from NY may not have perfect design or the most amazing concepts, but they have timing that will make you laugh or cringe, and you walk away thinking you just watched a perfect film.

6. We in New York have the beacon of independent animation – Bill Plympton.  This beacon shows you the way to be an indie animator (create short films that connect with audiences and make a lot of them, consistently) but it also warns you not to come too close to the cliff, where the beacon stands on. It can ruin your life - to be an indie animator and consistently produce films you must give up on aspects of normal human life, like having friends, family and hobbies.

I don't know any independent NYC animator who hasn't looked at Bill and, at least once in their life, said, "That looks easy, I can do it." And then lunged into making indie short films. But then they had to stop after a few years because they got married and/or had children and had to find a better way to pay the rent.  No one else can do what Bill does (he is unique) but thanks to his example and our aspirations to be like him we have a lot of independent animated films made in New York. 

For these reasons, the community of NYC animators is so tightly knit and supportive that one day (in 2004) a bunch of us got together and published a DVD of our work, called "Avoid Eye Contact".  It was so successful (2,000 DVDs sold in one year) that we released "Avoid Eye Contact" Volume 2 in 2005. 

Since then, DVD's have fallen out of fashion, and we animators/artists have proven yet again that we are more interested in making films than selling them.  But the energy of cooperation and innovation is still there, because that is what New York City is about.

For Program 1, I selected 14 films that are my favorites from the two "Avoid Eye Contact" volumes.  The films are perhaps on the older side ("One of Those Days" is from 1988) but since animation doesn't age like other films, they are still classic.

Programs 2 and 3 were put together exclusively for Etiuda&Anima and they consist of films never screened at Etuida&Anima. There are several things that are striking about the work for in those programs – first, a lot of these shorts take place in strange spaces, for example - "Terrible Alpha 9" (Jake Armstrong), "Pangs" (Wendy Cong Zhao), "Egg" (Jack Wedge), "Mirage" (Youngwoong Jang) and "Wandering Eye" (Edwin Chavez).  It probably can be explained by New York City being a strange place with its own rules that are not immediately accessible to a newcomer and the city can seem like an alien planet at first. Note, "Wandering Eye" was hand drawn on index cards while the animator was commuting to school on subway.

To counter that, there are a couple of films that explain this strange place called New York – "Concrete Jumble" (Gary Leib) and "The Lost Tribes" (Andy and Carolyn London) - they give the audience a little bit of local history and context.  Then there are films that are strongly, unapologetically female and even raunchy, like "Teat Beat of Sex" (Signe Baumane), "Boobatary" (Leah Shore), "Cee Cee's Bedtime Stories" (Joy Buran and Noelle Melody) and "Everybody's Pregnant" (Debra Solomon).  Their unabashed revealing of the most private elements of a female life (body functions, having sex, being infertile, getting high or drunk) may come from the experiences of being part of the masses moving through the streets and mass transit of New York which erases your feeling that your privacy is sacred.  You are just one of the 8 million humans living here, and everyone has the exact same problems as you do, so get over it and share your shame and private thoughts with everyone else. It's only a stereotype that big cities alienate their residents from each other. New York does just the opposite - it connects people and teaches us to love other humans (you really can't live in New York if you don't love humans).

And, of course, as in any place around the world, in New York, too, there are inevitably films made about universal themes like food ("Gastronomic Shark", the Polish premiere of Bill Plympton's short film) and aspirations for love ("Hedgehug" by Dan Pinto, "Video 69"). Love is everywhere, even in New York.

The notorious neurosis of New Yorkers is depicted in "Something Left, Something Taken" – and since the filmmakers in the film also make fun of themselves, it shows a very typical New York humor – the self-deprecating kind.

In the end, without the compassion and understanding of other human beings the life in New York would not be possible, and that's what animated doc "A Life with Asperger's" is teaching us.

If you can't come to New York, then New York must come to you!  These 3 programs are showing some of the best New York animated shorts created in the last 20 years. This is your chance to experience all the inner workings of the minds of New York and New Yorkers. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry and we hope you'll leave the screening inspired to make a film of your own.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Bill Plympton Animation University

How would you like to be famous, like Bill Plympton?  Well, here's your chance!

Starting Monday, January 9, 2017 - I plan to kick off my 2-month intensive course on animation, which will last until March 6.

Every Monday night from 6-8 pm I'll hold detailed lectures at my studio about each phase of making a short animated film.  Through the use of drawing lessons, film screenings and tips I've learned during my 50-year career as an illustrator, cartoonist, caricature artist and filmmaker, I will inspire and motivate the students to make their own films.

The classes will take place at my studio on West 27th St. in Manhattan (Chelsea neighborhood, off 7th Ave.)  The class size will be limited to 15 students.  There is no requirement other than a hunger to learn how to create a great film.

The curriculum will cover story ideas and concepts, storyboards, character design, humor, animation, the "Plympton Dogma", post-production, film festivals, distribution, crowd funding, with guest appearances by my producer and office manager to cover all of the facets of my animation operation.

The fee will be $2,000 and at the last session, we will screen the resulting animation, and then hopefully the films will be accepted into festivals and receive greater glory.  And every graduating student will get a formal degree from Bill Plympton's Animation University.

UPDATE: We are also planning to make the course available on-line, via private Vimeo link, for students who can't make it to New York City, for just $1,000 !  That's half-price, and will also include TWO private Skype sessions, so I can review your work at the storyboard stage, and also the finished animation.   Videos will be posted each week, a few days after the Monday class.

So if you are interested in the classes, either in-person or online, please contact me by e-mail at:

See you on January 9!

Bill Plympton

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Gijon International Film Festival, Spain, Nov. 19-26

I think it was two years ago the last time I was invited to the northern coast of Spain, for the Gijon International Film Festival. They had planned a terrific retrospective of my films, and did a terrific job putting it all together.  But for me, the big highlight of that trip was hanging out with two of my film idols, Terry Gilliam ("Brazil", "Time Bandits") and Richard Lester ("A Hard Day's Night", "Help!", "The Three Musketeers", and essentially the creator of the music-video format).  These guys were such an influence on my work and we all hung out like we were old buddies.

You can see my blog post about that trip here:

So this year, they invited me and my new feature "Revengeance" - we got great audiences to show up and a lot of great press coverage.  What's really interesting is that the two big newspapers in Spain both made references to Donald Trump in their reviews.  The central villain in "Revengeance" is a corrupt politician, so the Europeans now believe that this film was made as a satire about The Donald.  But the script was finished long before Trump ran for President, it's just a coincidence.  But hey, that's OK, especially if it will get more people to be curious and excited about seeing the film.  So be it!


While in Gijon I was able to catch up on some of the new animated features that could end up in competition with "Revengeance" on the festival circuit:

"In This Corner of the World", a Japanese film by Sunao Katabuchi, who worked with Miyazaki, is a story about a young couple caught up in World War II, experiencing the bombing of Hiroshima.  The style is very manga-like, and to my Western eyes, it was hard to follow the individual characters.  Of course, it was very horrific, the bombing of Japan, but I wish they'd make a film about the Rape of Nanking or the devastation of China by the Japanese Imperial army. 

The other animated film in competition was the French film "The Girl Without Hands" by Sebastien Laudenbach.  This film is from one of the Grimm Brothers' more obscure and violent fairy tales. The style has very minimal brush strokes that at times become very abstract.  The effect is quite beautiful, and that's why I believe that "The Girl With No Hands" will win a lot of prizes.

Another film I saw, though it's not animation, is "Train to Busan", by Yeon Sang Ho.  It's a zombie film that's filled with so much character and humor that I was totally engaged for the entire film, even if there were no English subtitles. 

The Gijon Festival has excellent programming and it's in a beautiful historic city, snuggled up against the mild waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  So I give the festival an A+.

Love and kisses,

Bill Plympton

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Classic Tuesday Inspiration.. Sargent

Always Sargent... Enjoy. Tony Curanaj introduced me to the drawings John Singer Sargent about a decade ago, via his epic collection of coffee table books. I later learned that Sargent has served as an inspiration to many great animators. Congratulations Tony and Angie! Wish I could have been there bro.

Monday, November 28, 2016


I just wanted to remind all of my fans and followers that in order to pay for my expenses in making "Revengeance", I've come up with plans to raise some much-needed funds. 

The first is my limited-time offer to create caricatures for anyone who wants a drawing of themselves, their friends, pet or even a pop-star idol.

For a measly $100, I will draw anyone as long as I have three photos to work from (I don't have ESP...) and you can use the drawing as a gift or on your web-site or Instagram profile, or just as something for yourself - maybe you always wondered what you would look like as a cartoon.

And my second money-raising scheme is my huge open-house studio art sale.  That's right on December 3 and 4, from 10 am to 5 pm, I'll be at my studio on 153 West 27th St., 10th floor, selling my animation art at ridiculously slashed prices.  This will include some of my most valuable artwork - from films like "Your Face" and "25 Ways to Quit Smoking", right up to "Idiots and Angels" and "Cheatin'"

Plus I'll also be offering my books, DVDs, posters and t-shirts - WOW, what a deal. And everyone who visits my studio during the sale, will get a signed sketch.  More details were posted earlier in this blog and are also posted on my Facebook page.

And stay tuned for another totally cool offering coming from the Plymptoons studio, in about a week.

Keep watching -

Love and kisses,


Wednesday, November 23, 2016


I remember, when I was in college at Portland State, reading about the 1966 Texas Tower sniper attack.  It seemed so tragic and unique - I'd never heard of anything like that before.  To my mind, it was the first mass murder in America by a lone gunman.

Now there is a wonderful 90%-animated feature film that takes me back to that tragic day, it's called "Tower", directed by Keith Maitland.

The film recreates that fateful incident using Bob Sebastian's patented rotoscope animation technique.  It was animated by Minnow Mountain, and it looks great.

They hired actors that looked like the original victims of the shooting spree, and had them recreate the dramatic scenes, then animators turned them in to drawn characters.  This way they were able to fill in a lot of gaps in the story that were never photographed, for obvious reasons.

I hosted a presentation of the film that included Keith Maitland and one of the shooting victims.  Fifty years later, this woman who was shot and lay on the tower entrance, unable to move because she was seriously wounded, and also 8 months pregnant, surprisingly has no grudge to bear against the shooter, Charles Whitman.  I couldn't believe it.  I figured she'd be so angry that she lost her baby and her boyfriend because of that madman. 

One of the problems I had with the film was that there was very little information about Charles Whitman, except that he loved guns and went on this rampage, after shooting his wife and mother.  So I didn't get to learn much about him, and why he did what he did.

I would also have liked to see an analysis of Texans' love of guns and how some of them they fight to support the NRA, even though the lives of so many people have been taken by these horrible weapons.

I encourage everyone to go see "Tower" - it's a very moving and emotional film - I give it a "B".

--Bill Plympton

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Classic Tuesday Inspiration.. Bernini

A real person actually created these.. in marble nonetheless.. enjoy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Holiday Art Sale

Just a little update on the status of Plymptoons Studio.  Happily, I've just finished my long-awaited feature "Revengeance", co-created with the brilliant Jim Lujan. We are now entering it in all the big U.S. film festivals, hoping for some screening invitations and perhaps a distribution deal.

Also, in other exciting news, we're very close to finishing a brand-new short starring my "Guard Dog" character, called "Cop Dog", which I think will be my best in the "Dog" series.  The plan for "Cop Dog" is like all my other shorts, we'll send it out on the festival circuit and hope it gets some good reviews, audience response and perhaps a few awards, then it could have a much better success in finding distribution. 

PLUS!  I'm just now completing a music video, written and sung by my long-time friend and collaborator, Maureen McElheron.  It's called "No Snow for Christmas", a wonderful song about global warming during the holiday season.  We should be done with it in a few weeks, please watch for it.

As a result of all this productivity, I've found that I have very little money coming in to pay the bills, so I came up with two ideas to help ease my financial stress.  The first one is to create caricatures for all of my fans who want them, for $100 each.  You can get yourself, your spouse, even your pet drawn as a Plymptoon, and these make great holiday gifts!  More details are in an earlier blog post or on my web-site here:

And my second plan for raising funds is something I first did about 10 years ago, which was a big succcess - we held an open house at my studio for people to come visit and purchase original Bill Plympton animation art (and DVD's, posters, books, t-shirts) at drastically reduced prices.  It looks like we'll be doing this again, on December 3 and 4, just in time for Christmas shopping!  There will a range of prices, for everyone from the poor art student to the serious collector.  We'll even have a freebie table - plus everyone who comes gets a free autographed Plympton sketch, just for showing up.

So, please tell all your friends and animation fans everywhere - spread the word, December 3-4 the place to be will be my studio, at 153 West 27th St. (between 6th & 7th Ave.) in NYC - 10 am to 5 pm.  See you all there!  More details to follow here and on my Facebook page.

--Bill Plympton

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Classic Tuesday Inspiration.. Rubens..

"My talent is such that no undertaking, however vast in size... has ever surpassed my courage".

Friday, November 11, 2016

Holiday Gift Idea - Plympton Caricatures!

Hey, gang -

If you know any fans of animation, have I got a great Christmas or Hannukah gift idea - this year, you can show someone what they would look like as a Bill Plympton cartoon.  Or find out for yourself!

I usually draw these for my fans at Comic-Con, and I've got some time between projects, so I've decided to make them available on my web-site this year.  Here are the details: 

Now, if you don't have PayPal, or if you want to pay by check, don't worry, you can still take advantage of the offer.  In that case, just mail the photos and your check for the caricature and postage ($10 U.S. / $20 Can/Mex, $25 Int'l) to my studio address:
Bill Plympton
153 West 27th St. #1005
New York, NY 10001 USA

Please allow 3 weeks for me to complete the drawing and mail it to you.  Happy holidays!

--Bill Plympton

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Classic Tuesday Inspiration: Egon Schiele..

Adding a bit of the modern into Classical Tuesdays. Schiele is one of my favorites..

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Donald

I've been posting some of my caricatures on Twitter and Instagram lately, and in the last month it's been nothing but Presidential candidates - winners AND losers.  I had my office manager, John H., dig through the archives and pull out every drawing I made during the 1970's and 1980's of people who ran (or would someday run...) for our country's highest office, and he found a lot of them.  We've been posting them, more or less chronologically, as a bit of a history lesson, mixed with nostalgia, I suppose.  We started with JFK, who was elected in 1960, and worked our way right up to the candidates from 2012.  The ones that I've drawn, anyway.  Here are some samples:

Now it's the day before the monumental Presidential election of 2016.  I've been following the campaign very closely, not only because it's so important to the future of the U.S. and the world, but also because it's been immensely entertaining.

I haven't been talking much about the election on my blog, because I never felt that politics was a proper subject for a cartoonist to discuss.  As you'll see, back in my political artist days, I had to draw candidates from both parties, so I had to remain somewhat neutral.  However, as Election Day draws near, I've become extremely nervous about the possible election of Donald Trump to the Presidency.

Therefore, I want to suggest to all of my followers that to have Trump as a President would cause untold harm to the U.S. and the world - as you will see from the following cartoon:

So please, go out and vote on Tuesday for Hillary Clinton.  I'll thank you, and the world will thank you.  And please follow me on Instagram for more caricatures!

--Bill Plympton

Friday, November 4, 2016

"The Red Turtle"

I've known Michael Dudok De Wit for about 20 years, since he first made "The Monk and the Fish", a beautiful animated short that revealed his massive illustrating talents - and when I saw his next film, the Oscar-winning short "Father and Daughter", I was convinced he was a genius.  And then I watched his next film, "The Aroma of Tea", an abstract short colored by tea residue.

Well, now he has a celebrated feature, "The Red Turtle", made in France but co-produced by Studio Ghibli (of Miyazaki fame).  People have been talking about this famed feature for years, and I finally got a chance to to see it on the big screen, as the opening night film at the ReAnimania Festival in Armenia. 

Right off the bat, it's a gorgeous film, a marvel of beauty.  Michael's film proves that 2-D (hand-drawn) animation can be just as visually awesome as any computer-generated film, and even more so.

However, I do have some comments on the story - it is some kind of allegory, but an allegory of what?  This guy gets stranded on an island and meets a red turtle that changes into a beautiful woman, then he has a child with the woman.  Eventually the woman and the child turn into turtles and leave the island. I suppose Michael's purpose was to make something mysterious, perhaps controversial, so people could argue the deeper meaning of "The Red Turtle".

The only conclusion I can come up with is that this Robinson Crusoe-like character took a turtle for a wife, had sex with her, and sired a young turtle.  I guess maybe I'm bad at understanding allegories...

Legend has it that long ago, sailors who were at sea for extended periods of time confused walruses and porpoises for women (mermaids).  I don't know if they had sex with them (perhaps) or sired little seal-people (hardly) but this could be the instigation of the turtle sex here.  In any case, I wonder if that's a strong enough answer to the mysterious riddle of "The Red Turtle".  But personally I prefer films that leave me satsified with the ending.  I usually like a story to resolve at the end.  I like life to have a definite meaning. 

The only other fault in the film is the damn picture of birds flying in the sky.  Michael did that a lot in "Father and Daughter" to great success, but I believe he got carried away with it in this feature.  The film is long for an animated feature, and I believe if he cut out a lot of the flying birds, it could lose 5 or 10 minutes. 

Still, I truly enjoyed the film and I believe it will become a classic.  I give "The Red Turtle" a B+.

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Reanimania Festival, Armenia

I've known Vrej Kassouny for about 10 years, I met him at the Comics Festival in Angouleme, France.  I've wanted to visit his festival, ReAnimania, for a long time and I was finally able to fit a visit to Armenia into my schedule, since I just finished the feature "Revengeance" and the new short, "Cop Dog".

I flew there via Moscow on Aeroflot Airlines - it seemed like there might be some kind of Yiddish religious gathering taking place, because the entire plane was full of Orthodox Jews. (there's a joke in there somewhere about everyone getting a kosher meal on the flight...)  I don't know if it was because of the celebratory atmosphere of some holiday or maybe the lax attitude of Aeroflot, but it was a big party all night long on this overnight trip.  I arrived in Yerevan with absolutely no sleep.

ReAnimania was celebrating its 8th year - and it seems to be a very successful festival - full cinemas, great programming, and very nice people.

One of the highlights of my trip was a visit to the Sergei Parajanov Museum - I'm a huge fan of his films "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" and "The Color of Pomegranates".  When you talk about Russian Cinema, you don't usually talk about surrealism and fantasy, but he was the master of it.

The museum showed a lot of his early paintings and sketches (some made when he was in prison for being gay) and a number of paintings were made from broken plates stuck on a canvas with painting on top, these were made around 1970.  If you've studied art, you may recall a New York artist named Julian Schnabel, who did exactly the same thing in 1985 and made a fortune from it!  I wonder if he was familiar with Parajanov's work.

I did a master class at this very classy building, on top of a hill overlooking Yerevan, where animation is taught to young students.  What a great way to get kids into animation!  I'm so jealous, I wish I'd had something like that.  There's a very exciting atmosphere in Armenia, everyone seemed so hyped up about animation as a business or career.

The night before I left, I was invited to dinner at a wonderful restaurant called "Wine Country", where I had a great dinner and drank too much wine - then I was asked to do a sketch on the wall and I couldn't say no.

The pretty waitresses all looked like Kim Kardashian (who is of Armenian descent) and they wore bib overalls, like something right out of "Hee Haw", and just like American students, they had large rips at the knees.  I've been told that any girl who wears jeans ripped at the knees symbolically looks like she spends a lot of time on her knees (that's just what I heard) so I wonder if Armenian waitresses are aware of this rumor.  Hell, they probably started it.

Another highlight was the opening ceremonies, where I finally got to see "The Red Turtle" (my review will follow) and I received two major awards - a statue for a prize I won at this festival in a previous year, PLUS a statue for a lifetime achievement award.

If you have an animated film, definitely enter it in ReAnimania - it's not a major festival like Annecy or Sundance, but you will be treated like a king or queen and you'll make memories that will last a lifetime.  Just don't take a plane there from Moscow.

I give ReAnimania an "A".

--Bill Plympton

P.S. - They even took my photo wearing traditional Armenian clothing!  Here it is:

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Neo-Classical Tuesday Inspiration: John William Godward..

I've long been a fan of the beautiful woman depicted by English painter John William Godward. The sheer beauty of these mostly nude figures is astounding, and totally alluring.  The power of the female form is something my brain can't handle.. and that form is exemplified here.
Above is my all time favroite Godward, "A Pompeian Bath".. painted in 1895. As the story goes, Godward moved to Italy with one of his models, abandoning his family. His family disowned him, and there is literally no photo of him in existance... he probably shouldn't have chosen such hot models to paint.

Godward committed suicide at the age of 61, the day after being given the title "Barron" (whatever that means.. brits are so weird), in his suicide note, he famously stated that there wasn't room enough in the world for him and Picasso.