Friday, December 9, 2022

Guillermo Del Toro's "Pinocchio" and Animation School UPDATE

Hello, everyone - 

I've been very tardy in my correspondence and my blog posting, and I apologize.  I'm working very long hours because I'm trying to finish my new animated feature, "Slide". 

However, I was able to sneak away a few nights ago to see a screening of Guillermo Del Toro's new "Pinocchio" film (I get all these e-mails about the Academy screenings taking place around town, but I've asked my office manager to only tell me about the animated films - I just don't have time for any live-action films right now). The screening I saw was at the Crosby Street Hotel, but Guillermo came to town and made a bunch of appearances all over, like MOMA and the SVA Theater.  I got wait-listed for a couple screenings, it took a few tries for me to get lucky!  

There was a wonderful Q&A session after the screening with (among others) co-director Mark Gustafson and Guillermo.  And then after that there was a reception, where I got to chat with my old buddies.  We talked about this wonderful version of "Pinocchio" - and it's a terrific film!  It's much more powerful and touching than the earlier Disney version, I found myself almost crying.  And visually, the film is stunning - it's puppet animation, which is something Mark has been doing for years with Laika (formerly Will Vinton Studios) and for "The Fantastic Mr. Fox".  When I got to talk with Guillermo, he's such a friendly guy, he talked to me like we grew up together.  I predict great things for his "Pinocchio" - and if you can't get to a screening where the directors are appearing, the film's going to be on Netflix later this week!  

As most of you know, I've decided to hold a Master Animation class at the beginning of 2023 - it will be eight 90-minute sessions, one per week.  I'll talk about everything creative involved in the making of an animated short or feature.  Originally the price was $1,600 - but now I feel that I was asking too much.  So, I'm now lowering the price to $1,000 for 8 sessions.  It's going to be a great class, where else can you learn from the King of Indie Animation, someone who's made 9 animated features, almost 50 shorts, won the Prix du Jury at Cannes and has two Oscar nominations?  

So, please tell your friends about this great deal - thanks for your support!

--Bill P.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Bill Plympton Animation Master Class

Hey, everyone, great news!  I've decided that now's the time to bring back the Plympton Animation School.  It was about five years ago when I last held my super popular set of Master Classes.

But there's a difference - because back then people had to fly in from all over to attend.  This time, it's going to be on Zoom, so it will be much more accessible. 

Right now, I'm finishing up my new animated feature, "Slide" and I've decided to use the creation of that film as a teaching tool.  I will start the class with the original concept and end with the premiere at some theater. 

My plan is to begin the classes on the first Monday in January, 2023 and finish on the last Monday in February - that will be eight 90-minute classes.  I will be drawing, showing films and talking on Zoom.  I will take questions and critique the work being done by the students.  

Here's a list of the topics that the classes will cover: 

1. Introduction: concepts, ideas, influences, financing

2. Outline & storyboards

3. Character design

4. Layouts & backgrounds

5. Animation

6. Coloring

7. Editing, music & voices

8. Festivals, distribution, contracts & promotion

The price will be $1,600 for the two months, or about $200 per class. So please sign up and tell your friends to check out Bill Plympton's Animation School, and all students will receive a diploma after the last class.

You can order the classes here:

See you there!

-Bill Plympton

Friday, October 28, 2022

October wrap-up - Simpsons, NYCC, Tucson FilmFest

Hey all you Scribble Junkies, I'm sorry it's been a while since I posted, but I've been busy working on the rough cut of "Slide".  It's been a very busy month with everything going on, all while I'm trying to edit this feature, record some of the voices and try to get some of the music for the film in place.  

First off, I hope you caught my new couch gag for "The Simpsons", which aired on October 2. It's called "The Rug", and it's the EIGHTH couch gag that they've let me animate, and I'm truly thrilled, and proud that I probably have the most guest animator segments on the show!  What an honor, seriously!  If you missed it, the episode is called "One Angry Lisa", and it's episode 2 of Season 34.  

You can catch it on YouTube here (I didn't post it...):

On my YouTube channel I made a playlist of (almost) all the couch gags I've animated over the years, you can find that here:

Then I spent four days in Artist Alley at New York Comic Con, I had a great time meeting fans and selling art, they gave us a great table very close to the entrance of Artist Alley.  The number of people attending was up this year, because last year they were still limiting attendance because of COVID.  However, this year I think there were a lot more panels and screenings going on, because there were times where it felt like nothing was going on down in Artist Alley. Oh well, I still had a blast signing things for fans and drawing caricatures, and we made some sales. Oh, and I got to meet Eric Appel, who's the director of the "Weird Al" Yankovic movie that's about to be released!  

with Eric Appel

A week later, I was off to the Tucson Film Festival - Herb Stratford, the director, arranged for me to fly out there and do two shows, one that was a collection of my recent short films and music videos, like "Demi's Panic", "Odd Duck", "Voodoo Doll" and "Lipstick of the Brave", then I did a second show with clips from "Slide" and a presentation about the making of the new feature.  I got to attend a couple parties there, so that was a nice little break for me.  

But since I got back from Tucson I've mostly been working on "Slide" around the clock.  I'm getting all of these notices for Academy screenings of animated movies like "Wendell & Wild", "My Father's Dragon" and the new "Puss in Boots" movie, plus a lot more, and I wish I could go to all of them, but I'm just too busy!  Maybe now that I have a rough cut almost done, I can sneak out to one or two of these this weekend, and take my son Lucas along.  

Lucas is also very excited about Halloween - and it's just about that time, too!  I may not have time to do much, but here are some photos of people in costume at New York Comic-Con, that were taken by my office manager, John H.  I hope you enjoy them, and have a great Halloween!  

Check out his whole Flickr album here:

--Bill P.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022


I'd like to tell you all about what's happening at the Plymptoons Studio.  I'm frantically trying to get the work done on "Slide". As you probably know, I'm finished with drawing all of the animation - and I'm very happy with it.  It looks very different and very close to my illustration style, pen and ink with water color on top.  So now I'm editing a rough cut - putting all my composited shots together - what fun!

But, as I do that, I realize how much more work needs to be done.  There are gaps in the animation that need to be filled, and the storytelling needs more attention.  And when the rough cut is done, then I'll need to add the voices.  I'm having Maureen McElheron, Tom Racine and the epic Jim Lujan create 90% of the voices.  Then I must finish the coloring.  It's a hell of a lot of work but it looks so good!  

Then I'll move on to the music by Maureen McElheron, with the guitar wizardry of Hank Bones.  I'm looking for a Hank Williams sort of sound - and then, finally, the special FX and final edit.  The goal is to finish it by March 2023 but the big problem is, because of the COVID pandemic, I lost a lot of work (movie screenings, film festivals, lecture appearances and such) so my studio is bare bones, with the great assistance of interns (God bless them). 

But, luckily, we sent out word that I'm offering my older animation artwork for sale.  I'm also running out of room in my tiny studio, so it makes sense to sell as much art as possible - I have to make room for storing all the "Slide" artwork.  Fortunately, we found out that there are a lot of collectors of Plympton artwork out there (YEAH!) and so my office manager has been putting in extra hours posting about the sale on Facebook and Instagram, and dealing with all of the requests to buy specific images from my films.  The money that's been coming in from these sales has been financing the post-production of "Slide" and keeping the studio's bills paid, so if you want to buy some art from "Your Face", "How to Kiss", "25 Ways to Quit Smoking", "The Tune" or my couch gags for "The Simpsons", now's the time to check out our sale or get in touch with us by e-mail.  

Speaking of "The Simpsons", my brand new couch-gag for them will be premiering this coming Sunday, October 2, it's pretty crazy so please check it out.  It's called "The Rug" - and I want to thank everybody at the Simpsons, Matt and Al and Tom, for letting me put my crazy animation on national TV. 

Also, I've got a short animated music video in the Woodstock Film Festival this weekend, it's called "Lipstick of the Brave", the song is by Tripping Jupiter, and this music video has been getting some attention on the festival circuit lately, because it references David Bowie and Tim Curry and Marc Bolan and other LGBTQ icons, so if you can get to the Woodstock Festival for the animation screening, please check it out!  My co-blogger Pat Smith also has a film in the program, and Signe Baumane will be showing her 2nd feature, "My Love Affair With Marriage" at the Woodstock Festival, which runs September 28 to October 2.

Also, remember that I'll be appearing in Artists Alley, Table H-05, at the New York Comic-Con, offering my original animation artwork for sale.  That runs October 6-9 at the Javits Convention Center in NYC.

Final thing, last week I took my 10-year-old son, Lucas to see "Luck", John Lasseter's new production from Skydance Animation.  It's directed by Peggy Holmes, who oddly comes from a dance background.  It's not really my kind of film, it's geared for the kiddie audience - But my real problem with it was that 90% of it takes place in the magical world of good luck & bad luck, and trying to understand how luck works there was so complicated, I thought my brain would blow up. I truly expected something better from the great John Lasseter, who I usually rank in the pantheon of animation geniuses: Winsor McCay, Walt Disney, Tex Avery and Chuck Jones.  

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Back from Oregon and Upcoming Events

 Dear Scribble Junkies fans, 

It's been a while since I posted, sorry about that.  In the hot summer I tend to slow down a bit.  In any case, summer's almost over and fall's coming, so there's a lot to report on.

The production of "Slide" is coming along very well.  I'm extremely happy with the finished artwork (see examples below) and the animation (drawing) is done.  I just watched a rough cut and I think it's a great movie.  But I still need to record voices, add sound and music.  We're shooting for a completion date in March 2023.

I just got back from Oregon, where I did a Q&A at the premiere of "Claydream", a new documentary about Will Vinton, the legendary Oregon claymation mogul.  It's really a wonderful and fair documentary about his career in animation, and there's a wonderful cameo from Phil Knight and his son Travis, the head of Laika Studios.  So watch for the film in your local theaters.  

Here are a few events coming up that I want to promote:

I'll be making an appearance at the fantastic Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival, Sept. 10 in Vineyard Haven.  Daniel Leonard, the writer of "Demi's Panic" and I will be there to do a Q&A with the animation program, screening at the Martha's Vineyard Cinema at 4 pm.                         

Then, the following weekend, September 17 + 18, we're throwing a mega Open House Party and Animation Art sale at my studio, 151 West 30th St., 4th Floor, from 10 am to 4 pm, here in Manhattan. I'll be there signing cool stuff - we're selling all my animation art, DVD's, everything - and if you buy anything you get a free poster.  So please come by, say hello, it should be a blast.  Please spread the word among the animation community!

And then in October, the New York Comic Con is roaring back, bigger and better.  I'll have a table somewhere in Artists Alley, so be sure and stop by for a free sketch, at least.  It's October 6 to 9 at the Jacob Javits Center in NY, NY.  See you there!

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Upcoming Studio Art Sale and two film reviews

I've got two film reviews and a major announcement to cover today - 

If you saw my review of "Cryptozoo" you probably remember I voted it the worst animated feature of the year.  Well, now I believe it's got stiff competition.  I just saw "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" at an Academy screening and apparently the producers have hopes for an Oscar.

As I was watching this technically pretty film, I was wondering,"How the hell did they get the money to make this piece of crap?" It's about a talking sea shell (with a very ugly design) who lives in an empty house and he talks about his mundane life.  The only event in the film worth mentioning is when Lesley Stahl visits to interview Marcel for "60 Minutes". 

Who would invest money is a script like that?  I was fuming, why can't I get money to make my films?  Is Lesley Stahl a big investor?  Is there a huge body of snail fan backers?  Then, after talking to people I found out that apparently Marcel began as a star on the internet with a huge fan base and the investors figured "It's a ready-made audience."  

In any case, apparently it's doing well in the cinemas and has already made a million bucks!!  Imagine that?  My next film will be called "Snail's Face".  I give it a D-

The other film I watched was "The Gray Man" directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.  And it was a gas!! The story has Ryan Gosling's character being recruited from prison to be a U.S. Special Ops hitman who has morals. However, another branch of the Special Ops needs a pendant (McGuffin) that Ryan has, so they send an immoral hitman, played by Chris Evans, with an unlimited budget to retrieve the pendant any way possible.  

What's really unique about this film is that there's so much crazy surreal action.  These set-piece battles are like mini-features that build and build and climax in glorious and surprising ways.  I would guess there is about ten times the action of a James Bond or "Mission: Impossible" film.  It was interesting that the Russo Brothers showed up for a Q&A after the screening and they talked about what fans they are of Hollywood action films and how they were influenced by their predecessors.  I give "The Gray Man" an A.

The last bit of news I want to talk about is a Studio Art Sale I'm having in September to offer a lot of my artwork and merchandise for sale.  This will include art from my classic shorts "How to Kiss", "25 Ways to Quit Smoking", "Guard Dog" and "Your Face", plus original art from my features, from "The Tune" to "Revengeance".  I haven't done this for a few years, but now that my work is a big hit at auction houses I feel like it's time for me to cash in on the many fans I have.  More details will be posted here soon, but we're shooting for the weekend of September 17-18 at my studio in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.  

I hope to see you there - I have to warn you though, I'll probably have Matt Groening and Steven Spielberg on the phone. 

--Bill P

Friday, July 1, 2022

Film reviews - "Lightyear" and "The Sea Beast"

I've been able to see a couple of films recently, despite my busy deadline schedule.  Both of these films were preview screenings, in order to get some buzz going - so, I took my son, Lucas, with me, and we got free soda and popcorn!

The first film was "Lightyear", from Pixar/Disney, directed by Angus MacLane.  It's the back-story for Buzz Lightyear (from "Toy Story") and his adventures as a young space commander.  It measured up to Pixar's beautiful visual standards - but the film took place over many years, and for me, that took away a lot of the potential in-the-moment excitement. 

The only character I really loved was the cat robot - he was kind of a synthesis of R2D2 and C3P0.  In a film without much humor, he added a lot of laughs, which I appreciated. 

But my big problem with the film was at the end, it got very confusing as to what was going on, there were so many rules and characters that my brain kind of shut down and I just watched the visuals - which were very nice. 

I give "Lightyear" a B-minus.

The next film I watched with my son - to get a little children's perspective - was "The Sea Beast", directed by Chris Williams ("Moana", "Big Hero 6", "Bolt).  Immediately at the beginning of this film, I could feel that this was something very different from your usual Pixar/Marvel-type movie. 

The visuals are exquisite.  I saw elements of Herman Melville and N.C. Wyeth, and characters straight out of an Errol Flynn film from the 1930's and I was hooked.  The action and battle sequences were fantastic - and the point of the film was very meaningful.  I'm sorry, I'm going to give away the ending - but the monster is really a hero and everybody sings "Kumbaya" at the end.  

The hint at the beginning that the beast is really a good guy was that the design of the monster fish was way too cutesy and pink.  That was not a scary monster. But, nevertheless, I loved this film and my son kept yelling throughout the film, "I love it!"  

So I'll give "The Sea Beast" an A. 

If you're looking for some more movies to watch on this long holiday weekend, I just found out that 
"Adventures in Plymptoons", a documentary that was made about me back in 2011 is available on Tubi for FREE.  It was directed by a friend of mine, Alexsiya, and it's really a fun watch, but you didn't hear that from me...

Here's the link:

My distributor, the wonderful Shout Factory, has also made most of my animated features available on Tubi, and they're also FREE, so if you've got some extra time this weekend after the BBQ and the fireworks, you can make a whole movie marathon out of it!  

"The Tune"

"I Married a Strange Person"

"Mutant Aliens"

"Hair High"

"Idiots & Angels"


"Revengeance" (co-directed with Jim Lujan)

Well, I guess you don't have to ask me what my new favorite streaming service is... (It's Tubi.). My thanks to Tubi and Shout Factory for making all of these films available for FREE!  I think you have to watch a few ads, but so what?  You could watch all my features in a day, instead of waiting for the DVDs to arrive in the mail!  But if you still like DVDs, too, which is OK, I sell them on my web-site...

Boy, when did the Fourth of July get so commercialized?  Anyway, if you can't make it to the movie theater this weekend, I've given you another great option!  

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Mendocino Film Festival, June 2-5

I've just returned from my exciting trip to Mendocino, CA - 

I was invited by the great Herb Stratford to do some programs at the Mendocino Film Festival, in this Northern California gem of a town, which was made famous by the classic 1969 hit by the Sir Douglas Quintet.  Also, it was the filming location of the famous 1950's James Dean movie, "East of Eden" (along with Salinas and Monterey).

But my first stop was in Sacramento, where two of my cousins were promoting their business, Nitty's Cider, by having a lively party at their tasting bar in downtown Sacramento.  Since I designed the company's logo, I was invited to do caricatures of all their guests.  They had a great lap-steel guitar band, which seemed very appropriate since that's the favored instrument of Slide, the main character in my upcoming animated feature, also named "Slide".  

By the way, their cider was delicious and next year, they'll name a cider for Yours Truly.  Yum yum!

The next day, I drove the winding narrow back roads, 200 miles to Mendocino.  It's a charming, historic, cookie-cutter town overlooking a cliff above the shark-infested Pacific Ocean below.  Herb put together a great list of films.  He also kept me busy, with an animation panel, a work-in-progress screening of clips from "Slide", a Master Class, and finally a screening of 10 of my favorite Plymptoons.  

I was lucky to stay at the Stanford Inn, a delightful hotel nestled in the forests of Mendocino.  I even got my own fireplace - lah-de-dah!

The opening night gala was terrific!  And even though I knew nobody there, and the weather sucked, it was all rain and fog - they had unlimited fresh oysters and wine, now THAT'S how to throw a party.  I eventually met a lot of people and fans, and had a great time there. 

Even though it was a crazy drive to get there - it was still worth the trip.  I love the Mendocino Film Festival!  

--Bill P.