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.