Friday, December 18, 2020

Successful Kickstarter campaign for SLIDE

WE DID IT!! Or, rather, YOU DID IT!!

For anyone out of touch or who hasn't checked in with me for a while, we just completed a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding for my upcoming cowboy comedy called "Slide".  It ended last night, and we met our goal with about two hours to spare. 

I've done a few Kickstarter campaigns, and this one was probably the most unsettling, because of the pandemic and so much unemployment and evictions, I thought this might be the absolute worst time to try to raise some money.  But then again, quite a lot of film productions are shut down right now, animation is one of the few mediums that can keep going.  And, as my office manager pointed out to me, a lot of people are working from home, spending more time on-line, and nobody's going on vacation or spending money on Broadway shows, concerts or fancy dinners.  So, just maybe, we had a shot.

Things were slow at first, but my fans came through with flying colors - we were hoping to reach $78,000 to finance the completion of "Slide", but we did even better, $84,000!  Wooopeeee!!

What was different about this campaign was the use of so many filmed promotions we made, plus we did a number of streaming events where I talked about the film's story, did live drawing demonstrations for some of the characters, and even sang and played a real live lap steel guitar!  Imagine that!!  The cool thing was that people on Facebook watching the stream really responded to what they saw.  They loved the drawings (which we raffled off to backers), the characters and the music.  That makes me feel a lot more excited about "Slide". 

Now, I have enough money for me to turn down commissioned work for a while, and just concentrate on the animation and post-production involved with completing my newest epic.  I'm going to become a hermit and just chain myself to my drawing board and get this film done!  

By the way, if you did miss the Kickstarter campaign, we're still accepting donations, and we'll still offer the same cool prizes if you want to be one of the supporters of "Slide".  Just contact me or my staff through the campaign at

So, I wish all you people who contributed to my campaign a healthy and happy 2021, and likewise to everyone else who reads this.  Have a great holiday season and thanks for keeping my studio alive and busy for another year!


Bill P.

Friday, December 11, 2020

 Hey, fans - 

We've seen a great outpouring of support for my next feature, "SLIDE" via our Kickstarter campaign.  But we've only got a week left in the campaign, and we're only about halfway to our goal.  YIKES!  As you may know, a Kickstarter campaign is "all or nothing" so we've got to reach the goal in order to collect any funds.  So we still need your help!

We've got some totally cool rewards that also make perfect Christmas gifts for your friends with an interest in animation - or hey, just keep them for yourself.  But if you want to send anything as a gift, we can send you a certificate of support to put in somebody's stocking!  That way, even if the rewards come in January or February, they'll know that they're on the way!  

We're offering a series of "how-to" animation lectures from yours truly, which includes a live session on Zoom or Skype to critique a personal portfolio of work.  

OR...a collection of all my animated DVD's, which we're calling the Full Plympton Experience, plus we'll send you a copy of "Slide" on DVD once it's released (after theatrical and Oscar-qualifying screenings). can provide a voice for one of the characters in the film "Slide" and I'll draw a caricature of you as a bad guy (or gal) right into the film!

OR...a set of three frameable prints, based on artwork from the film.

OR...better yet, original color-pencil art from "Your Face", "How to Kiss", "25 Ways to Quit Smoking" or a "Simpsons" couch gag.  How about that?  

OR...we've just added copies of my hardcover book "Independently Animated: The Life and Art of the King of Indie Animation"!  I will sign the book, which is another great gift if there's someone in your life who studies or loves animation!  

Please check out the campaign at to see a list of all the awesome rewards you can get by pledging.  We've just updated the rewards based on fan comments we got during my LIVE Facebook sessions - so if you want to combine rewards, upgrade your pledge or want something else, please let me know! But do it quickly, because we've only got a week left!

I'll be honest with you - it's tough being an independent filmmaker in these days of no cinemas, no comic-cons and no live film festivals.  Plus, I'm going head-to-head against $200 million blockbusters from Disney, Pixar and Sony.  

I believe that people want to see animation that is unique, different and a little more adult.  And I hope you do, too!  So please help me complete "Slide".  I think it's going to be my greatest film ever.  An epic with the best art, funniest story, greatest characters and coolest music.  Imagine if Mel Brooks had made "Blazing Saddles" in animation!

Anyway, please help spread the word and get other people excited about "Slide"!  Direct them to so they can check out the campaign!

Thank you so much - this week's gag cartoon is below.

--Bill P.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Support SLIDE on Kickstarter!

So maybe you've read my recent blog posts about the COVID-19 pandemic.  We closed my animation studio for about two months, but by June I'd had some projects lined up, so we re-opened as soon as we could.  I only had to furlough my long-time office manager for 6 weeks, and I kept my other two employees paid with one of those PPP loans from the SBA.  

Now that those projects are finished and I'm back working on "Slide", my staff and I debated about whether this would be a terrible time to raise funds for the new film, what with Trump basically ignoring the pandemic, rampant unemployment, and long lines at food banks.  But with film festivals and even Comic-Cons going virtual, and all the NYC cinemas still closed, a lot of my revenue has been cut off.  Thank God for music videos, "Simpsons" couch gags and royalties from international streaming services like Kanopy.  

But all is not lost, it turns out that it may actually be a great time to crowd-fund a project - most live-action filmmaking went on hold when the virus hit, and nobody's spending money right now on exotic vacations, expensive Broadway shows or even fancy dinners at exclusive restaurants.  So maybe we can raise some money to keep my studio open and continue work on my new cowboy comedy, "Slide"!  

Our Kickstarter campaign began a few days ago on November 30, and it ends on December 17.  Yikes!  That's only two weeks from now!  So our little studio cooked up a bunch of reward tiers to raise some much-needed moolah and we've got some incredible prizes:

You can be part of a Zoom-based holiday party with me and my staff in our NYC studio!

One hour of private tutoring in animation, combined with my nine Vimeo lessons, which cover all aspects of animation production, from concept and storyboarding, to financing and distributing your own film!

An opportunity to be in the voice cast of "Slide", for a character based on your own photos!  This includes getting your name in the film's on-screen credits and on IMDB!  

We've also got an 8-DVD set of my classic features and shorts compilations, plus a DVD copy of "Slide" after it gets released and a streaming link once the film is finished!  

Also, we're offering tickets to the NYC premiere of the film, because we believe that someday theaters will re-open and we can watch movies together again in public!  Hey, call us crazy dreamers, that's OK.  

And if you want to give any of the rewards to someone as a holiday gift, we can supply a gift certificate that you can give to the intended recipient, so there will be something to unwrap!

Please check out the campaign at to find out more!   You can also watch a cool video of me there, in which I play my pedal-steel "slide" guitar and talk about the inspirations for the film.  

Also, I'll be on Facebook Live Thursday, December 3 at 3 pm - go to my Facebook page and I'll see you then!  Thanks for watching!

--Bill Plympton 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Virus news + Animation News

As I was watching the news recently, I heard about something called "coronavirus fatigue".  Apparently, Americans are tired of staying in their homes, not partying, not going out to restaurants, always wearing a mask and such.  They feel they need to get out and be free, after all, this is America - and what about personal liberty? 

Then, I was reminded about the book by Tom Brokaw, called "The Greatest Generation".  My parents, who were part of this generation, lived through the travails of the Great Depression, 25% unemployment, massive homelessness, and a terrible standard of living.  And then along came World War II - which meant food and gas rationing, forced migration, terrible deaths, and wounding of civilians.  Plus there was the constant fear that the Axis powers would conquer Europe and maybe even invade America.  People fought back when they ran paper drives and scrap metal drives, practiced blackout drills, and women took over shifts in factories and manufacturing plants while men were off fighting in the war. 

And the Greatest Generation survived.  I never heard anything about "Depression fatigue" or "War fatigue", they battled on, they did what they had to do, they were American tough.  And what do we have today?  A bunch of babies whining about being forced to wear masks. 

Where's our "Greatest Generation"?  What are we, a bunch of wimps?  Come on, America, show the world that we can be tough, too.  Our collective enemy is just an invisible virus, instead of a couple European dictators, but the fight is similar, it's just going to take everybody pitching in and doing their part. I rarely talk about politics here, but this is something that's been bugging me, and we all have the power to do something about it.

On another front, I have some very exciting news for animation fans, but unfortunately, I can't disclose it at the moment.  But I swear, after Thanksgiving, I'll have a terrific announcement to make.  So please check out this space in about 9 days.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, here's this week's gag cartoon.  

--Bill P.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The Last Trump Cartoon?

In a previous Scribble Junkies edition, I talked about my experience going to the polls to vote.  Well, my prayers were happily answered - eventually.  So yesterday, I rushed to my drawing board and created this cartoon.  I hope it's the last time I have to draw this fat piece of doo-doo.  

Please feel free to spread the art around and send it to all your friends.  It's my gift to the world - 


Bill P.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Indie Features, Part 4: Window Horses

In my campaign to highlight indie animation features, I would like to let Ann Marie Fleming tell her story about the production of her film, "Window Horses". I met Ann Marie at a number of film festivals and we bonded as indie animation survivors. "Window Horses" is a lovely film that was a big hit on the festival circuit and she has an in-depth story to tell about its production, so I'll turn it over to her:

I have a million reasons why I made "Window Horses" - my little peace, love, and understanding film through the power of art, but since you asked me how I got an independent animated feature actually MADE, I’ll concentrate on those boring but essential things.

I am a Canadian independent filmmaker, and I work in a variety of different genres, so when I decide to make an animated film, it comes from several places, both creative and practical. "Window Horses" primarily takes place in a poetry festival in Iran. I wanted to talk about overcoming differences by seeing what we share in common as human beings - and I am not just talking about the obvious cultural and language differences, I’m also talking about generational, experiential, political and personal. I wrote the script in 2008 and it would have been impossible to make as a live-action film, for many reasons, including that Canada was about to cut off diplomatic relations with the country. I thought this was all the more important to make the film in an environment of rising tensions and fears of others. What we have in common: Poetry and family and sharing stories.

I am not Iranian, and it was intimidating deciding to tell this story in this time of “not about me without me". So I embedded myself in the story by having Rosie Ming, half Iranian-half Chinese Canadian young woman, be played by my avatar, Stickgirl, who I have had many filmic adventures with for over 30 years (gasp). She’s always been my more open, braver self. The story is told as an outsider yet is deeply personal… traveling to the poetry festival is definitely a parallel to the opportunities and hospitality and education I’ve received from accompanying my films to festivals around the world. Anyway…because this film was about different points of view and how the imagination can change how we see the world I was able to have the privilege of working with many different artists who created different segments of history and poetry. So the film has many textures.

I often write, direct, produce and animate my own films. Originally, this was supposed to be a very low-budget art film, animated completely by myself and the incredibly talented Kevin Langdale, who I have worked for on many projects. So, I was thinking of the design of this to be very simple, mostly negative space, and line drawings. We have the good fortune to have a few avenues of government support for film funding here in Canada. I applied for a Canada Council grant. Even though it is not much money, it’s totally arms-length, peer-reviewed process and gives you the most freedom. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful. I then approached the National Film Board of Canada to come on as a co-producer on my project. The NFB takes copyright of your project in proportion of the amount they contribute to funding. Again, no. They weren’t funding features. So, I applied for Telefilm development funding to rewrite the script.  I hired Kevin to work on design and storyboard with me. Although there was a lot of enthusiasm for what we’d created, I was discouraged from applying for production without a distributor. I tried the NFB again. Nope. I then got some executive producers involved who had experience making, with Edison and Leo, a much more financially-ambitious stop-motion animated film. That’s when the political situation in Iran worsened, and Canada cut off relations. I was told to change the location to China, as I have Chinese roots. I tried. I rewrote it but was not satisfied. The story wanted to take place in Iran.

I made a comic book out of our storyboard and thought I could use that as a promotional tool, or even get it published (it now looks so crude compared to how the film turned out - I ended up making a graphic novel from the final artwork from the film). I decided I would go back to the Me-and-Kevin model and fund the film myself out of my line of credit. I could pay Kevin and I could just not pay myself. (Of course, I was not counting all the other expenses outside of actual animation :-) )
A friend had run an Indiegogo campaign and recommended that I try it. I was not very excited about the idea of crowd-funding, but thought “why not?” I realized that I needed a voice to amplify my message and reached out to my old friend Sandra Oh, who I had been trying to work with since the early 90’s when her career was first starting. I thought there would be some synergy between her and my story. There was! And, unknown to and lucky for me, she had just stepped out of 10 years as Christina Yang in "Grey’s Anatomy", becoming an international household name for a generation for Asian Girl Empowerment. And she was happy to throw her voice behind "Window Horses". Also, she was really familiar with Stickgirl over the years. 
Indiegogo really helped us hone our campaign. We didn’t want to listen to their game theory that you have to ask for a very small amount, get it early and build on it. But they were right. I thought you should ask for what you really need and when you achieved that, the donations would stop. I liked the idea that you could keep the money you raised and it wasn’t all or nothing like Kickstarter, which was where most film projects went. People like to support a winning thing, and once you’ve achieved your goal they give you more. Weird. What was unexpected and unpleasant was that there was a backlash from celebrities raising millions of dollars for their pet projects by crowd-funding. All the attention was on Sandra and people didn’t realize it was little old me trying to make the film. Also, hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers do not translate to financial support. Anyway, it was a full-time job, I had to hire a crew just for the social media updates and materials for the Indiegogo page, and created a website. And Kevin was animating trailers, promo poems (we had a contest), and we were creating designs for merchandise.

All of this was happening while I was traveling all over the place to record voices. I wasn’t even incorporated at the beginning, and suddenly we were in production because Sandra had said “yes” and I didn’t know how long her window of opportunity would be. Also, because she was involved, suddenly the expectation was of a higher caliber of artwork than what I’d been happy with. And my little CrazyLife automated animated message updates weren’t good enough. Speaking of crazy life, we were animating all of our material for the campaign. Which was nuts. (Thank you, Kevin). So the campaign cost me quite a bit of money. But it worked. It raised the profile of the film. Press from all over the world wanted to hear what Sandra was working on and we got to talk about diversity, inclusivity, girl power and ART as a way to a more peaceful world without any film! Sandra was totally a wind under this film’s sails and her involvement was instrumental in getting it made. We did an incredible amount of community outreach.
Shohreh Agdashlloo, Sandra Oh, Ann Marie Fleming in Toronto
Also, traditional funders paid attention. I applied for a small amount of funding from Telefilm, again, and got it. Mongrel came on as Canadian distributor with an advance. The NFB offered to come on board. That and our Canadian tax credits built this film. This was still an incredibly small budget - under $750K US - which may sound like a lot to someone creating a masterpiece in their own kitchen but there was no way that I could be doing any animating. BIG Production is more than that per minute.   
Money did not come in all at once - tax credits don’t come in for up to 18 months AFTER the production is finished - and I covered the interim financing because I am lucky enough to own a home and stupid enough to go in to my line of credit. People were extremely generous with their time and everyone agreed to basically the same rate (and the SAG/AFTRA performers worked under Favored Nations). Everything was new to me and I was learning on the fly. There was a revolving door of production managers and animators as other gigs offered better pay and more security. Ruth Vincent, who had been involved in the early days when I was trying originally trying to raise Telefilm money, came back on as line-producer with her connections to the larger animation community and brought the project home in terms of budget and the overwhelming amount of paperwork. I feel such amazing appreciation for everyone who worked on this film. I hope they loved what we made together. 

This film was made incredibly quickly, once production started. The Indiegogo campaign started Oct. 2014 and the film premiered at Annecy in May 2016. Animation started around Spring 2015 and I was having trouble finding animators. Kevin was designing as fast as he could. The script was written as slightly futuristic multi-cultural pluralistic world but real-time changes meant design changes. For instance, I thought we could do a lot of beautiful, reusable backgrounds with smoke, since a lot of people smoke in Iran, adding mystery and diminishing the need for details. Then, like the rest of the world, smoking was banned in public spaces, etc. So much for my airport scene. Suddenly, we needed architecture. I had many Iranian consultants over the years, helping with poetry selections, telling me to take the tie off of customs officials, because that was associated with the old regime. Telling me the fortune-telling bird at the tomb of Hafiz was no longer allowed to be that close to the steps or that the music that I loved belonged to a particular group that was very politicized. I tried my best to represent a variety of experiences without alienating others. Hard.

Music is always a huge part of my work, and I was connected with a young Iranian composer, Taymaz Saba, who did the score. Taymaz was steeped in world musical history. I was attracted to his choral work, and even though there are not a lot of vocals in the film, save the wordless interpretation of the call to prayer,  I think that sensibility resonates. Music is something that I think about as I am writing the script and of course its mix is one of the satisfying finishing touches.
Then, it was a year an a half of traveling with the film, presenting it in front of so many different audiences, cultures, in different languages. The NFB was in control of its festival life. It was seen all over the world as the same film - I mean, people had the same questions and took away many of the same answers. That was incredibly gratifying as a storyteller. But it did not find broad international distribution, to understate it, although it was shown broadly in Canada and around the world, if you happened to be sitting in an Air Canada plane. Because my equity partners were from the government of Canada, I have to share revenues with them forever but the repayment schedule is not defined. As much as they are investing in the film as a revenue-generating product, they are investing in me as a filmmaker, in Canadian film production and in representation of what we stand for as a country, if that doesn’t sound too grand. So even though the film has not made back its money yet, my partners are relatively happy with their participation. Oh, and during this time I am still trying to fulfill my Indiegogo contributors' perks. Note: distributors don’t like it when you’ve already promised artist copies to your contributors. 

Okay, so that’s the boring stuff. What this film does, apart from its content, is show that a few people can do amazing things. It just takes a lot of passion and tenacity. You’ve got to really be obsessed with your project because it is going to ask everything from you. It sure helps to have a name involved with your project but my film scaled up a lot because the expectations of it grew. Yes, it ultimately helped the film, but the whole ship became a different animal, to mix metaphors. It’s hard to follow the complete trio of your  Plymptoons mantra: “keep it short, keep it cheap, keep it funny” when you are making a feature. I feel a bit re-traumatized reliving the nuts-and-bolts process of financing this film. Amongst other things, I suffered double frozen shoulder, hair loss, a concussion, a threatened lawsuit and was called an enemy of the state. Never, once, in the whole process did I ask myself “why am I making this film?”  A lot of other people asked me, but I never had to.  I love my work.
BILL: Wow, that was very a informative piece about the production of "Window Horses".  Check out the film's web-site at for upcoming screenings or to learn where you can watch the film online. I believe it's on AmazonPrime, it may be on other platforms, also.  Ann Marie also has a new short film, "Old Dog", which had its festival premiere in September.  So keep an eye out for that, too!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Early Voting and Christmas Gift ideas

I'm happy to say that I just returned to my studio after early voting in NYC.  (I'm not going to tell you who I voted for but you can probably guess...)

I went through the whole process very quickly - it was very well organized, with lots of cops and poll workers around, so I completed the act in about 30 minutes.  And after all the preparation and questions, once I got to filling out my ballot, I got very nervous.  What an ominous moment - I felt like I was the one person who controlled the political future of America - I better not screw it up!

As I exited my early voting site (the famous Madison Square Garden) I felt cleansed, like I'd just saved the United States!  I'm Superman!  I'm an all-American hero!  What a great feeling!

On to a totally different topic - after Halloween, Christmas is just around the corner.  It's that time of year again, and I've got a fabulous idea for the coolest, most unique Christmas gift EVER.  I'm now doing caricatures of fans for the bargain-basement price of $200 (plus shipping).

As some of you may know, I began my career as a political cartoonist and caricature artist.  Before I was animating, my work appeared in many different newspapers and magazines, like Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Playboy, Penthouse and even the (failing?) New York Times.  Well, now you too can have "your face" or the face of somebody you care about, or even your pet drawn by an internationally famous artist - ME!

All I need is three or four photos of you (or your sweetie, relative, friend or whatever) and I'll send you an original colored-pencil caricature drawn by yours truly.  Imagine their joy as they open your package beside the yuletide tree and the crackling fireplace.  They'll be completely delighted to see this masterpiece of art that they will cherish, frame, hang on the wall and show off to their friends throughout their life.

You can find out more about ordering this cool gift in my web-store here:

And I'm including some of my most famous caricatures below to give you an idea...

Also, I'm very excited that my intrepid office manager, John H., tracked down some more copies of my book "Make Toons That Sell...Without Selling Out" and it's BACK IN STOCK in my web-store.  This is a book published a few years ago by Focal Press that details my whole creative process.  So many fans and interviewers were always asking me how (and why) I make independent animated films, that I decided it was easier to just put it all in a book!  

Now YOU can learn all the secrets of animation production, plus I included some great anecdotes from my travels, secrets on getting in to and attending film festivals, and tips on getting animation distributed.  This also makes a great gift for students, designers or anyone who just loves cartoons!

We're trying out this print-on-demand ordering system, so hopefully if (or WHEN) we sell out again, we won't have to wait so long to get the next batch in!  But I suggest ordering NOW while we have books on hand!

OK, sales pitch over, but if I think of any other cool gift ideas, I'll be sure to let you know!  Next we've got to work on getting more DVD's of "The Tune" and "Plymptoons" made! I'm going to steal Trump's acronym if he doesn't need it any more - MAGA: Make Animation Great Again!

--Bill P.

Monday, October 19, 2020

New Animated Features

Now that Oscar season is beginning, I'm starting to receive all the new Oscar-eligible animated feature films that are in the running for nominations.  With this being the year of the COVID virus, I'm expecting to get a smaller group of films, since many cinemas are still essentially closed (at least here in NYC and in L.A.), so in some ways it's a lot more difficult to qualify, but the rules are new and a bit vague.  I think films that have gone directly to streaming services are now eligible, so for some films that might even make it easier to qualify.

Already, I've seen two high-quality contenders:

Two years ago, master animator Glen Keane won an Oscar for a short film he created with the late Kobe Bryant, called "Dear Basketball".  With that Oscar, he was able to attract money and backing for a half-Chinese feature film, called "Over the Moon", co-directed by the wonderfully talented John Kahrs ("Paperman").  I'm not sure how much input they received from their Chinese backers, but the film looks like it was made in China.  My big complaint is that the film is very saccharine - in fact, it's almost too cute for a Disney movie.  The palette is heavy on pastels, with lots of giant eyes - and the fantasy story sort of loses meaning for me halfway through. 

However, there is some beautiful animation and imagery throughout the film.  And it's definitely important to see because of Glen Keane and John Kahrs' involvement. 

The second film I watched online (no more DVD's?) was "Wolfwalkers", made by Cartoon Saloon and directed by the very talented Tomm Moore.  His previous films were Oscar-nominated fan favorites "The Secret of Kells" and "Song of the Sea" - both wonderful tales of Ireland told in a unique and decorative style.  

The new film kind of fills out an Irish trilogy.  According to Tomm, it's apparently an ancient legend about wolves who can become human, and vice versa.  Like his earlier films, it's told with a very decorative and colorful style.  I like the concept and subject matter, but had some trouble with the visuals.   The backgrounds were wonderfully water-colored nature, but the characters themselves were simplified to ultra-basic shapes and designs.  For a while I thought I was watching a Hanna-Barbera film.  I expected Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone to enter the screen.  

And that brings up another issue I have with both films, "Over the Moon" and "Wolfwalkers" - there was very little humor in them.  It's my own prejudice, I know, since I make comedies, but I always like a few laughs in my animation, even if it's a film noir.  That's my own personal taste. 

I believe both films are well-made and very deserving of Oscar nominations, so I wish them both good luck.  

Now here's this week's gag cartoon.  See you next time!

--Bill P. 


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Indie Features, Part 3: My Love Affair with Marriage

I'm truly fascinated by the whole concept of independent animated features - I think if there's some ambitious writers out there, this would make a terrific idea for a book.  When I was growing up, I'd be lucky to see a new Disney film every three years.  Then in the mid 1980's, animated features exploded - every studio was producing a feature and we have perhaps 6 or 7 animated features being released every year.  

Then along came Sundance, and up popped the whole scene with DIY filmmakers - so it seems to make sense that the two movements would combine and spawn a whole new art form, indie animated feature films.  And THEN the Japanese animated features came in and helped to create a larger audience for the movement.  There are now so many animated indie features out there, it's impossible to count them all. 

The Annecy Animation Festival in France is burgeoning with this films.  And some of them are just fantastic - "Klaus", "The Red Turtle", "Mind Game", and "I Lost My Body", just to name a few.  So for a few issues of "Scribble Junkies", I'm talking about animated features that are now in production, and how they're surviving.  If you're at all interested in the art of indie animated features, this is the place to be.  

For Part 3 of my series, I spoke with Signe Baumane, who worked for me as a cel painter, art supervisor, production manager and camera assistant for years after she first came to the U.S. from Latvia.  She was instrumental in the production of my second feature, "I Married a Strange Person" and after working with me on "Hair High" in 2004, she returned to making her own shorts in her own studio, and released her first feature, "Rocks in my Pockets", in 2014.  For the last few years, she's been focused on her second feature, "My Love Affair with Marriage", another semi-autobiographical film, this one focused on her relationships and, from a scientific point of view, the roles that biology and society play in the human process of forming partnership bonds and also separations. 

I interviewed Signe by e-mail, since her studio is out in Brooklyn and despite re-starting production, she's still under a modified pandemic lockdown, with a limited crew back in her studio. 

BILL: What motivated you to make an animated feature by yourself? 

SIGNE: The same forces that make a bird want to fly make an artist want to find new challenges.  Back in 2009, before I started working on my first animated feature film, "Rocks in My Pockets", I had made around 15 short films, and the short form kind of exhausted itself for me.  An artist, like a pirate, wants an adventure of exploring new lands and new opportunities.  So, I set for myself the most difficult task I could imagine at the time - making a feature film, live-action or animation.  I wrote about 4 or 5 scripts and met with a couple of producers. 

The reality of feature films is that it is quite an expensive medium and is treated more like business than art.  Money is a big part of it.  The producers I met with didn't see the money-making potential in my proposals, and of course, they were quite right.  I am an artist, not a business woman.  For me, storytelling is a way to express and share my thoughts and visions, rather than a money-making device. 

Once I understood that it would be very hard to get support from producers, I decided to start a feature film project on my own.  I didn't know how to go about making a live-action film, but I knew how to make an animated film, so started with what I knew.  I knew that I am a better writer than I am an animator, so I decided that the film would have a voiceover, so I would have to animate less. 

Around that time, I had been making paper-maché sculptures for a living, and I loved doing that, so I decided that 3-dimensional paper-maché sculptures were going to be part of the project.  And since I didn't have to appease some producer's idea of what kind of project would bring them money or an Oscar, I decided to make a deeply personal film - a journey into my bi-polar mind.  The strange thing is - once I started the project, and I started it with almost no money in my bank account, the Universe organized itself to help make it happen.  Producers and support came.  

Now I am working on my second animated feature film, "My Love Affair With Marriage", and I applied the same principles - take a personal story, start the project and see how it unfolds.  You can get more on the back-story of how we got started, and learn about the entire process on the film's web-site at:

BILL: Where did you get the funding?

SIGNE: For "My Love Affair With Marriage", the support comes from several sources - we ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2017, with 1,562 backers that raised over $132,000.  Some income came from my previous feature film, "Rocks in My Pockets", and we also registered to receive private donations through our non-profit sponsor, Filmmakers Collaborative.  We also received several grants in both the U.S. and Latvia that have helped to keep us going.  

We are still taking donations to help get the film completed by mid-2021.  If anyone would like to donate, they can find details here:

BILL: Who are your inspirations?

SIGNE: I have a lot of inspirations artistically - Eidrigevicius, Svankmayer, Miyazaki and many other artists whom I admire - but on a practical level YOU, Bill , are probably the biggest inspiration.  I had seen closely you animating, working with your team, promoting your work, and it looked not impossible. "I can do it, too," I thought.  Of course.  

But when I tried to apply your principles to my reality, not everything made sense to me.  Like, why wouldn't you include rent in your feature film budget?  It deflates the budget to an impossible number - one can not make a feature film for $200,000 if one pays studio rent in Manhattan, and has 2 or 3 assistants being paid minimum wage ($15 per hour) like you do.  

And the one thing I can not do that you do - is to get commercial work and use that income to cover the feature film budget.  Commercial people are aggressively not interested in my work.  So, I had to figure out, differently from your method, a way of financing my films.  

You are still a beacon of inspiration to me when I sit down at my animation table and start animating.  Your single-minded focus and joy of drawing inspires me.  You being professional and nice to your team inspires me.  When I get discouraged and depressed by my inability to perfectly draw what is in my mind, I ask, "What would Bill do?"  And then I remember that you never get stuck on trying to be perfect in one drawing, perfection comes when all of the drawings come together.  Your working speed is an inspiration.  Maybe this is an idealized version of you in my mind, but every day I am grateful that you exist and that I was privileged to observe you at work. 


BILL: Who is your target audience? 

SIGNE: For most of my films, my target is an adult audience with a taste for thought-provoking content. 

BILL: How long does it take for you to animate a feature film?  

SIGNE: I animated "Rocks in My Pockets" in two years.  Animating "My Love Affair With Marriage" is taking longer because it is a more ambitious project.  It has 29 speaking/singing characters, and over a hundred non-speaking characters.  I will finish animating in January 2021 after about 3.5 years of working on it. 

BILL: How many seconds can you animate in a day? 

SIGNE: On the days when I get to animate for 8 hours, I can do 60 to 80 drawings (pencil on paper). Many days I don't get to animate for 8 hours because I have to do other things - look over footage, work on line tests, lip-sync, shading, colors, producing, etc.  So I aspire to animate 5 minutes a month and every month I feel like a failure because I only did 3.

BILL: How important are festivals? 

SIGNE: Festivals are important for a feature film because that's where the buzz may start, if the film will get a buzz at all.  At a festival, a film gets reviews and coverage.  Why does Netflix even bother with festivals?  Because without reviews and buzz no one - even on Netflix will know to watch the film.  How do you pick the film to watch on Hulu or Netflix or Amazon? Because you have heard about it somewhere, and festivals are where it started.  I want my film to be seen by millions of people.  So, to me, festivals are a big part of a film's release.  I keep my fingers crossed that they survive the pandemic. 

BILL: Where do you get distribution? 

SIGNE: Not at the festivals, if that is your question.  For "Rocks in My Pockets", we and Zeitgeist Films found each other through word-of-mouth.  For "My Love Affair With Marriage", we have no idea what is going to happen, as the indie distribution is changing at a rapid speed.  Will art-house movie theaters exist in 2021?  Will Netflix be interested in purchasing an indie animated feature film for adults?  The uncertainty can cause ulcers, so I try to think of my studio tomato plants instead of distribution.  

BILL: What are the budgets for your films? 

SIGNE: The "Rocks in My Pockets" budget was around $300,000 (including studio rent during production).  The budget for "My Love Affair With Marriage" will be over a million.  Check out our numbers and how close we are here:

BILL: Will you still be making features in 10 years? 

SIGNE: If anyone will be interested in watching them - definitely YES.

BILL: Will you return to making shorts? 

SIGNE: YES, right after I finish animating "My Love Affair With Marriage", I would love to make a short film.

BILL: Do you know other women making animated features? 

SIGNE: To name a few: Ann Marie Fleming, Anca Damian, Ilza Burkovska Jacobsen, Roze Stiebra.   But I think maybe they don't animate their films, they direct them - not that it makes any difference.  Nina Paley directs and animates her films, like "Sita Sings the Blues". 

There are many more women animators and directors now compared to when I started out.  Still, making an animated feature film is a daunting task and it takes a certain kind of personality to want that particular bone-crushing experience.  A man may be driven by ego, by his desire to raise his status from an obscure short film maker to a feature film director and be treated by festivals and press on an equal level with such famous directors as Wes Anderson or Charlie Kaufman.  As a woman, I have been trained since childhood to tame my ego and to be cooperative with the needs and desires of a larger group.  My ego doesn't need a balm, although, of course, it certainly enjoys it when it pours on its wounds and bruises.  

I make films, despite the hardships of making them, because I feel I have something to say.  I want to provoke a conversation on the subjects that I find fascinating - sex, body, fate, womanhood, motherhood, depression and the interior life of a person.  I am driven by a desire to connect with an audience.  I think that is a basic instinct of an artist - to connect - regardless of gender.  But somehow women have a harder time connecting their stories/films to audiences, maybe because for 100 years, audiences have been conditioned to expect from movies a certain type of story - male adventures and a male point of view.  It goes with the old stereotype - that men are visual creatures, so movies are a perfect medium for them, but women like writing and reading novels, so they should stick to that.

My film "Rocks in My Pockets" was accused of making the gravest sin in filmmaking, breaking the rule of "Show, don't tell".  The characters are expected to move through a movie without their interior lives made explicit, so that the audience could project on them whatever the audience feels.  Does it sound familiar?  A man looks at a woman and projects on her his needs and desires, disconnected from the reality of that woman.  Can we turn this around?  Can we endow our characters with thoughts and desires of their own, apart from the desires and wants of the audience and still leave the space for an audience to feel and think?  

That is my challenge - to bridge the visual part of a character's life with their interior world.  Is this a particularly female approach to making a film?  Being on the margins of the film industry (as a female filmmaker and as an indie animator/director who makes films for adults, I am indeed on the margins of the film industry) allows me to experiment and try new storytelling forms.  This is a privilege, not a disadvantage.  Women filmmakers, let's go for it!

Signe Baumane (center) with Sturgis Warner (producer/set builder), Sofiya Lypka (sets/digital prep), Yasemin Orhan (sets), Yupu Ding (maps/digital prep) with the set for a Sakhalin village.

BILL: Thanks to Signe for taking the time to answer all of my questions.  Keep an eye on her web-site for updates on the progress of "My Love Affair With Marriage".  Portions of the film screened as a work-in-progress at the 2020 (virtual) edition of the Annecy Animation Festival, and Signe was JUST awarded the prestigious ASIFA Prize at the Animasyros Festival in Greece.   So congratulations to Signe, and we're all looking forward to screenings of the new film, hopefully sometime next year!

Monday, September 21, 2020

Indie Features, Part 2: The Orbit of Minor Satellites

In the last posting on "Scribble Junkies", I talked about "The Adventures of Prince Achmed" by Lotte Reiniger, which was probably the first independent animated feature film in existence. 

Today, I want to discuss Chris Sullivan's feature film "The Orbit of Minor Satellites", an animated feature that Chris has been working on since 2017. He told me that he first got the idea for it in 2010 and really didn't get serious about it until a few years ago. 

If you think his name sounds familiar, that's probably because he did another wonderful feature a few years back, called "Consuming Spirits". 

Now, there are a lot of animated features in production right now, but I really want to focus on Chris's film because his style is very creative - 2-D animation with 3-D puppets and claymation - and it's very adult noir. So, it's the kind of film I love to watch. 

Chris told me that "The Orbit of Minor Satellites" is an independent animated feature about a psychiatrist, Derwood Richards (played by T.J. Jagodowski) and his long-time patient, Rosemary Hamm (played by Sylvia Abelson).  The narrative unfolds through their last sessions, during a period of healing and breakthrough where the patient is ready to leave her doctor's care, and both are negotiating this triumph and loss.  Rosemary is a Hebephrenic schizophrenic, her condition showing signs after a family tragedy that claimed the life of her younger sister.

In her condition, she has conjured a fantasy world which is a Soviet/American space station, located on an undiscovered moon of Saturn.  This hallucinatory world of her mind is in fact 2/3 of the film and includes the Giant Buffalo, voiced by Boris Karloff. 

The film is a conversation between these two parallel narratives, the psychiatrist's office and the Moon Maelstrom.  The film is black and white, created with hand-drawn animation on paper, digitized and composited, with three-dimensional sets and live-action scenes as well.  The running time will be two hours, with an expected release in 2021 or 2022.

Chris said, "The film was first funded by Creative Capital, then my own finances, and in 2017 we ran a Kickstarter campaign - of course, all of that money has been spent, and we are seeking funding to continue production.  At the moment, my partner Laura Harrison (also an animator) and I are keeping our productions afloat with our paychecks from teaching."

Chris created the story, storyboards, character design, did the casting, directed the live-action scenes and is now directing all of the animation, doing about 1/3 of the animation and most of the body keys.  The primary production team is Chris, Olivia Rogers, Sara Payne, Guillermo Rodriguez and Pablo Lorenzana, with about 12 other people who have worked on the film, off and on, over the last 4 years in his garage studio - although presently they are all working remotely.  

I asked Chris why he spends so much time and money to make this film, when now it's very difficult to get distribution and make that money back.  He told me that his income is from teaching, and although he hopes the film will do well financially, this is what he does, just like a writer would sit in his garret and write a novel for 8 years.

Also, Chris says, "I prefer making features because that's the way my mind works narratively, and also that long-form animations are viewed as feature films, and therefore are part of a much larger viewing community, and, to be honest, the critical community.  After the release of "Consuming Spirits", I went from having zero reviews of my work to over 40.  I also love the reality that in a feature's festival or theatrical screening, the audience is film watchers, not all people who make animated shorts." 

The world of short films is a wonderful one, but it has its limits - so here I agree with Chris.  That's one of the big incentives behind making animated features - being able to reach wider audiences, and give them two hours of dark and luminous emotions.  Of course, I still make shorts myself, too, because I love them - they're a beautiful art form, and one can tell terrific, beautiful, funny stories in five minute films. 

Chris talked to me about the experience of working on a film for multiple years, and the pros and cons of that.  He said, "When you work on a film for years, there is a dark side to it - it gains importance, as a chunk of your career and a chunk of your life.  You are also pulling your employees along on this ride without an end easily nailed down, they are also spending a part of their life on the piece.  The more years added, the more wait for the boat to float when launched.  One thing I do to help me through this is to make it my fault.  My fault and my responsibility to get the film right.  Its failure is only survivable if I feel I did everything in my power to bring it to people's eyes, and hold them in the theater with what unfolds. 


On the positive side of long-form productions, the film starts to guide you, and it becomes its own complex structure, you are dwarfed and lost somewhere in it, and you become more of a film shepherd than a carpenter, you have to follow it.  Just this year, I added a character and about 4 minutes of animation that galvanized some very important missing links in the narrative - it took time for this to make itself obvious to me.  I also am actually enjoying drawing these days, it does not feel like labor, but as an activity in itself - it's funny that took 40 years to happen.


I also feel good that I am a place of employment for some very talented artists, and they are making this feature, "The Orbit of Minor Satellites" instead of waiting tables. 

This spring and summer, I have been watching a lot of other feature animations that are made for adults, and being interested in visual inventiveness, I also love watching  the "making of" videos for these films.  They help me realize I am not alone, knowing that Anca Damian, Fernando Cortizo, Bill Plympton, Signe Baumane, Tomáš Luňák, and even historical figures like Satoshi Kon, Mamoru Oshii, Michael Arias, Mamoru Hosoda and Masaaki Yuasa go through these same struggles while creating independent features. 

In the end, I hope "The Orbit of Minor Satellites" speaks to people and is meaningful for all the years put into it.  To quote Mamoru Oshii, from an interview about "Sky Crawlers": "I did my best."  It will be exciting to see how this film lands, and what audiences think about it.  Corona has slowed us down, but I am pretty confident that it will be hitting the screens in 2022.  Check out our progress on:

The Orbit of Minor Satellites website

You can make a donation to the films production there as well, if you are so inclined."


Chris and I are part of a strange group of maybe 100 people on this planet who make films the way we do.  For my part, there's nothing quite like presenting your feature film at Sundance, Cannes or Telluride, where you can hear the gigantic applause from thousands of people, for something you spent three years (or more) making. It's one of life's greatest experiences - and it's as addictive as heavy drugs.  

Next issue, I'll talk about Signe Baumane's work in progress, her animated feature "My Love Affair With Marriage".  But before I go, here's this week's gag cartoon!



Friday, September 11, 2020

Indie Features, Part 1: The Adventures of Prince Achmed

I could talk endlessly about independent animated features - but I won't waste your time with my rants about them right now.  But perhaps someone should write a book about the subject - within the last 30 years there has been an explosion of wonderful animated indie features.

In Europe, of course, a lot of the feature films get their funding through local governments, and so it's somewhat easier for filmmakers there to raise money to finance their films.  And the quality of the films is usually quite good.

But, as you may know, here in the USA, the government doesn't really support the arts (and I've got a separate rant about that, also) so almost all of the indie animated films made in the U.S. are labors of love, and self-financed or crowd-funded.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to discuss three indie animated feature films - Lotte Reiniger's "Adventures of Prince Achmed" (1925), Chris Sullivan's "The Orbit of Minor Satellites" (currently in production) and Signe Baumane's "My Love Affair With Marriage" (also in production).

Right now, TCM - my favorite channel - is airing a retrospective of female directors throughout film history and this includes some of the more obscure ones.  For example, I was watching this morning and up popped "The Adventures of Prince Achmed", directed by Lotte Reiniger.  Over the years, I've seen excerpts of this groundbreaking film at festivals and such, but I'd never seen it broadcast on TV - and there it was!

This classic film is important because it's essentially the first (oldest) surviving animated feature -  Disney's "Snow White" came along 11 years later.  Plus, it was animated by just one person.  There was an animated political feature film from Argentina that pre-dated it, but apparently that was destroyed in a fire.

I was very impressed with the craftsmanship and artistic power of the "Prince Achmed" film.  It uses cut-out articulated paper, moved around under the camera.  But the characters had such grace and beauty that I forgot how it was created, and just enjoyed the story.

A little bit about the technology of the film - it was created between 1922 and 1926, so four years total in the making.  Reiniger created all of the characters with paper and scissors, all by herself, and then she manipulated all of the characters under the camera, while her cameraman handled all the technical aspects of filming them. And some of the sequences had multiple characters, sometimes up to 10 moving characters at a time!  Whew, what a job!

The print I saw had orchestral music, which of course was added later - plus there was limited color throughout the film, which added to the dramatic storytelling.  From what I understand, Reiniger had some rich patrons that helped finance the film, and although it was a critical and public success, she didn't get rich from it.  But as soon as Hitler came to power, she refused to work in Germany and became a vagabond animator, creating numerous shorts up until the 1960's.  As the first indie animated feature, "The Adventures of Prince Achmed" is really a landmark film!

I'll discuss one of the other features next time - but here's this week's gag cartoon:

--Bill P.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020


Now that I've finished or caught up with most of my current projects - a new Simpsons couch gag, the Big Daddy sizzle reel, the "Vagina Song" video short, and the Whoopi Goldberg pilot short, I'm able to get back to the project I'm most excited about.  Not that I wasn't excited about the other projects, but I've been working on "Slide" for almost three years now, and I'm barely halfway through the animation.  But, now that I can concentrate on drawing it without any interruptions, I'm building up a big head of steam.

I know pretty much how to draw every character by memory, which speeds up the process a lot.  Also, I've really hit a good groove with the backgrounds, they're going very fast.

And the best part is - I love the way that the art looks.  It's a new technique that I've used for the music videos, but never for a feature film.  It's ballpoint pen - and I'm really loving it!!

Here's a bunch of samples of the artwork:

Plus, I'm including one of a series of unicorn gags.

Until next time,

--Bill P.

Friday, July 31, 2020

R.O. Blechman

When I was in college (Portland State University) long ago, my buddy and mentor David Harriman turned me on to all the great New York illustrators: Seymour Chwast, Milton Glazer, Saul Steinberg, Tomi Ungerer, and a guy by the name of R.O. Blechman.  Later, I found a book titled "Illustration: Aspects and Directions" in an old, dusty Portland book store, and in it I found a marvelous sequential cartoon by Mr. Blechman - I was thunderstruck!  The drawings were so delicate and shaky, yet the idea and concept was so powerful.

Then I saw one of his animated ads on TV - the famous Alka-Seltzer spot where a guy was talking to his stomach.  In fact, his art had such an impact on me that when I started to create animation, I used a derivative of his style.  Now I tell young artists to never copy other people's work, but I think that it's inevitable that we're all infuenced by the other work we see.  In fact, I've borrowed from so many people I've admired that my work is essentially a hybrid that appears to be unique to me.

I didn't meet Mr. Blechman until I moved to New York in the early 1970's.  I believe we probably met at some gallery opening or some similar cultural gathering, and I found him to be very friendly.  I remember later using his hole-punch machine to make my animation paper, and I showed him my new film, "Your Face".  Since then, we've become good friends and we even planned on a couple of big projects that, sadly, never got funded.

I bring up Mr. Blechman because I recently visited him and his lovely wife at their estate in upstate New York.  I felt privileged to enter his studios and check out his library - I always love examining another artist's library.  He had some wonderful obscure art books that I was fascinated with.

Later we had a nice lunch and walked around his very large estate.  Then I took a lovely swim in his pond and felt very refreshed. 

If you're not familiar with Mr. Blechman, please check out his masterful work, and especially his animation, including "The Soldier's Tale".

Here's my cartoon for this week - it's very relevant for these hot beach days.

--Bill P.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Haunted World of El Super Beasto

I'm a member of Netflix, as probably most everyone else is, but I haven't yet made the leap to streaming - so I still get the DVDs mailed to me from a list of available titles.  The problem is, I'm often too busy to keep updating my list with the titles of films I want to see.  So now they're sending me films that some algorithm seems to indicate I'll be interested in, based on my previous viewing history.

Well, one of the films I received lately was called "The Haunted World of El Super Beasto", from 2009.  I'd never heard of this film, but I was very intrigued by its description as an animated film for adults.  And since that's usually the description I use for my own films, I was excited to watch it. 

Also, the film was directed by Rob Zombie - I briefly met him and his wife once in a limo going to the airport while leaving a Spanish film festival, possibly in Sitges.  As weird as he looks, he was very gracious and polite - perhaps he knew who I was.  In any case, he never mentioned making an animated feature film, and I wish that he had.

I knew of him, of course, from a lot of his live-action films - "Halloween" (2007), "House of 1,000 Corpses" (2003) and "Devil's Rejects" (2005).  Looking him up on IMDB, I see he made a mock trailer for "Werewolf Women of the S.S." that was part of the compilation "Grindhouse" - now THERE'S a film I want to see.

So, anyway, I liked "El Super Beasto".  It had everything I love in animation - raunch, violence, sex and nudity.  I almost expected John Kricfalusi's name to appear in the credits, because the artists seemed like they were heavily influenced by John K.'s unique style.

The voice cast for "The Haunted World of El Super Beasto" included Rosario Dawson and Paul Giamatti - Paul's a former animator who generously supplied the voice-over narration for my short film "The Fan and the Flower". 

I wish I'd kept in contact with Rob Zombie, because I think we have very similar tastes.  If anyone out there knows how to reach him, please let me know.  And definitely check out "El Super Beasto". 

Below is my gag cartoon for this week - Keep Healthy,

Bill P.

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.