Kickstarter at Comic-Con: Bill Plympton in a Nutshell
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This week we're at San Diego Comic-Con alongside tons of Kickstarter creators. Heading to the convention? Here's the low-down on the events, panels, and projects in attendance. In the meantime, we thought we'd profile some of the creators who are at Comic-Con, starting with legendary animator Bill Plympton, whose efforts to restore Windsor McCay's classic Flying House and his latest feature-length film Cheatin' were both Kickstarter projects.
In Bill Plympton’s now-iconic 1988 short “One of Those Days,” the main character has a terrible day. Told entirely through scratchy, frenetic colored pencils and drawn in first person POV, Plympton’s character accidentally shaves his nose off his face, drops his toast, gets beat up and, after a battery of rough moments, accidentally blows his own house up. It’s not dated, but it does feel out of time: it’s a far cry from Disney gloss, and even further from the Pixar-sheen that modern day animation has appropriated.
Plympton always existed just outside the mainstream animation world anyway. His work was often darker, weirder, and more adult than what else was out there. Watching a Plympton animation feels like you’re watching the whole process, like he’s sketching the entire thing live, right in front of your eyes.
Just the other day, we posted a guide to Kickstarter at San Diego Comic-Con. Bill Plympton will be attending and speaking at a panel. Last year, he funded his seventh feature-length animated project, Cheatin', through Kickstarter. It was, by all accounts, daunting to make. Plympton diverged from his rougher signature style, in favor of lush, hand-painted animation. It feels a lot calmer, but is still very recognizably his work. It's not without precedent, either. Though animated films are still released at a steady clip, they're often the work of large studios, which have a much wider reach than an independent production.
Last year, to get an idea of where Plympton was coming from, we asked him about some of his favorite animated films. You can see that list here. Tellingly, it features a couple early Disney productions and will probably make you want to re-watch Dumbo.
Plympton’s back catalog is deep, and there’s a lot to explore. All of it—right down to the commercial work—is idiosyncratic, but even during the most surreal moments, it still feels so relatable, so undeniably human.
Cheatin' Trailer (2013)
Excerpt from feature-length The Tune (1992)
"Summer Bummer" (2012)
Series of Geico commercials (1999)
Kanye West animated video "Heard Em Say" (2005)
"Bird is the Word" (2005)
Excerpt from Guard Dog (2004)