- I admit it; I am getting older, and I have completely different thoughts on what animation is than most people half my age. I have no intention of apologizing for that, because that’s what I believe and cherish and enjoy.
This past week there was a program of animated work by George Griffin. He ran the show in achronological order starting with the most recent material and ending with the oldest. That show was animation. Everything in every frame (though there are no more frames) or bit of particle of George’s work and being is animation. He not only loves animation, but he is animation. It was a wonderful show to attend.
George enjoys showing the hardware and the techniques, the guts of the animated creature and the sprockets of the projector, if in fact there is a projector. His first “films” were bits and pieces live and animated. His very first piece was a filmic trick that Méliès and Blackton probably did in their first movies. George took the crumpled piece of paper in his hands and unfolded it to a crisp, new sheet of clean paper – he played the film backwards, of course, and with that, he started the show.
All of the films shown utilized such tricks and bits, punching and stabbing with animated games, study and punctuation. Even taking his film, Flying Fur, in which he originally took a great Scott Bradley score for an MGM cartoon and put his own visual accompaniment. Not leaving well enough alone he remade his own film with Flying Fur Fragments. This has George, himself, go into his basement and rummage through odds and ends and artwork from the original short and we see these pieces come to life in his hand with a reconstructed, rehashed version of the great Bradley score. Skips and hops, walks and chases are pulled from the original to accent the accents in the music . It’s just pure joy in early 21st Century seeing what feels like be bop animation to a wildly modern musical score written in 1944.
Speaking of be bop, George did just that when he animated a short homage to Charlie Parker in the film, Ko Ko. Taking a piece of music performed by ther great Parker in 1945, George visualizes every note and muscle of that great piece of music. The animator has found the heart of the music and given us all the fun in it with his very singular view of that score. This film’s a treat that can be watched over and over.
George shared a commercial he did in the style of Keith Haring, and though the animator apologized for the “bad animation” in the film, I didn’t see a bad bit in it. As a matter of fact I’ve seen about a half dozen Harings animated, and I can’t think of a better match for that graffiti artist than George and his own style.
The one film that was very representational was a film he did with his daughter, Nora. It’s a very sweet movie called A Little Routine. It’s a wonderful little piece that illustrates the daily routine with the father putting the daughter to bed. George uses lots of imagery in a semi-abstract way as something so simple as escorting his daughter from the bathroom to the bedroom involves trekking over countryside terrain bringing the little girl to the safe part of the woods where she will have no worries or fears. When she wakes in the night desperate for a glass of water, we hear daad shouting miles away that he’ll bring the water and we see him making that routine trip to the bedroom to protect his little girl. It all happens in a flash, of course, something that can be done so easily in animation. The film seemed to touch many in the audience that wanted the more representational world for the break of it, and they didn’t seem in any way disappointed when we were back to sterner stuff.
George Griffin understands animation; it’s in his lifeblood and he offers it to us an any way he can: flipbooks, mutoscope, dgital refilming of 16mm, movie files or purly digital sections. He feels that there is no need for the apparatus as long as we want to get out the animated bits.
The evening was an inspiration. Thank you, George.
- Some friends and past employee/friends have been busy writing and illustrating children’s books. I thought I’d show off three of them and write a few words about them. (If you can’t promote your friends’ work, who can you promote?)
Three long-time very close friends have joined together to do a children’s book. Maxine Fisher has written most of my scripts (including POE) and she and Tom Hachtman put together a book about a dachshund. Max loves her pet, of course, and has now immortalized her in this book. Tom did the illustrations and Max’s brother, Steve (who does all those brilliant Sunday photos for me) put the book together and they self published on Lulu. That means you can buy it directly from Lulu, and I think it’s worth it. They’re still looking into Amazon, so maybe soon.
But I thought I’d post a few of the pics from the book and let you see how great it turned out. Tom wrote that he was finishing the last illustration as his yard (and eentually house) was being flooded by Hurricane Sandy.
Go to Lulu to find out more about the book.
- Laura Bryson worked with me for years doing backgrounds for a number of the half hour shows (like The Red Shoes and The Marzipan Pig). Now she’s out freelancing and painting and has recently turned out her second children’s book which she co-authored and illustrated.
The book uses the Chinese Zodiac within the theme of the book offering Laura plenty of opportunity to paint nature and animals. The color palette is quite controlled as is the quiet story. The book can be found on Bestboypublishing.com.
Here are a few other samples from the book:
- Finally, we have Stephen Maquignon. Steve’s illustrated many books since he left animation, and each one gets more sophisticated than the last. I asked him to send me some art from a couple of books he wanted to highlight, and he did. I’ve chosen the following pieces from both books.
This second book, Why Am I Me? seems very clever. Steve wrote the following about the book:
When I read this one I could not see one main character in it, a big question, and
I thought it deserved many voices so each time the question why am i me pops up
I put in a different kid in a different situation.
Kind like the ride at Disney world “It’s a small world after all”
Stephen has a number of sites on which you can see more of his artwork and order copies of his books if you’d like to:
This is a link to his bio page on amazon it shows all the books he illustrated.
likewise Barnes & Noble
This is his primary personal site as a Children’s Book Illustrator