Wednesday, February 28, 2007


"Keep out of this, Betty, it's man talk". Ouch.

I really like this kind of stuff. The most recent homages to this type of animation can be found as extras on The Incredibles DVD (wherein we get a tv show with limited animation showing Frozone and Mr Incredible and their sidekick who happens to be a rabbit striking lots of dynamic poses), and in the video game, Freedom Force, which has Kirbyesque origin stories animated in much the same manner.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Okay, I've not posted much comic related news of late. It's all been animation animation animation (guess which one pays the mortgage). So, here's a little something from "Variant Edition"; a weekly show. I like how it's presented just like a CNN Newscast. Also, there's an interview with artist Khary Randolph.

Monday, February 26, 2007


Ray Harryhausen. What's not to like. The Skeleton fight from Jason and the Argonauts is great, but what I really love is the t-rex lasso scene from Valley of the Gwangi (which you see on this excellent compilation roughly 03:04 mins into the film). And I really love Mighty Joe Young in terms of 'big ape' movies.

Whilst on the subject of monsters (having had a monster of a Monday), check out this great little film from Calarts student, Jonathan Kim.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Okay, so this week on Illustration Friday the word is Communication.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


1983. He-Man and Dungeons & Dragons first aired. Uni, the bothersome unicorn who would week after week emotionally blackmail Bobby the Barbarian into staying in the world of Dungeons & Dragons (or at least it seemed that way), was voiced by Frank Welker who also voiced Tiamat the multi-headed dragon and Megatron (as well as many others) in Transformers in 1984. But the best was yet to come. 1985 brought us Thundercats which I'm pleased to see finally has a region 2 release on DVD. Above are the titles from Ulysses 31 (1981) which was a Japanese-French anime series I used to watch as a kid. Another great example of eighties animation. Mysterious Cities of Gold was another great Japanese-French show (the Japanese studio (Studio Pierrot) now makes Naruto).

I was going to put the opening titles to Thundercats up, but the theme song for Ulysses 31 simply won hands down. Plus, it's good to have as a comparison to this next video:

The above animation is a wonderful homage to shows from the 80's. Made by Ron Doucet and Mike White of Collideascope Digital Productions. It first featured in an article over at Cold Hard Flash last year, where you can read more about it and watch two documentaries about the making of it. It was made entirely in Flash.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Liquid Television was an animation showcase from 1991 to 1994 (or there abouts). It was the "Saturday Night Live" of Animation and launched shows like Aeon Flux and Beavis and Butt-head. This particular segment from the show really stood out for me. Stick Figure Theater was beautifully simple and well executed. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Personally, I used to own a ZX Spectrum while all my friends had Commodore 64's. Now, I have a Mac and all my friends have PC's. What's with that? This animation (which, as far as I know is animated in Flash) is from admirable genius Josh Faure-Brac and is an episode of SuperNews! which airs on Current TV. Excellent it is too.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Here's my entry for Illustration Friday in response to this weeks topic: "Gravity".

Friday, February 16, 2007


It's Friday! Here's some Duckman. Excellent series which ran from 1994 to 1997. Created by Everett Peck.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Batman has apparently been sighted in Arizona.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- To an Arizona middle school, Batman! Three schools in the north Phoenix suburb of Cave Creek were on lockdown for about 45 minutes Wednesday morning after a student at Desert Arroyo Middle School reported seeing a person dressed as Batman run across campus, jump a fence and disappear into the desert, Scottsdale police Sgt. Mark Clark said.

The student described the person as 6 feet 3 inches tall and possibly male.
"We're assuming it was male, although they did have a mask on," Clark said. Officers combed the desert around the middle school. A nearby elementary school and high school also were on lockdown as officers sought the caped crusader.
The result - no Batman.
"It's just one of those interesting little stories that we looked into but we couldn't find anyone," Clark said.
Nedda Shafir, a spokeswoman for the Cave Creek Unified School District, said putting all the schools on lockdown was a precautionary measure. "We didn't want to take any chances," Shafir said. "We just don't want to put anyone at risk."

And too right too. Could have been the Joker he was chasing after.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Katedra (The Cathedral) is an Oscar-nominated film by Tomasz Baginski. The composition here is epic in proportions. Some utterly beautiful scenes, notably where the cathedral takes root as it were. Next time I'm in Warsaw I think I'll see if I can visit Platige. So much has changed in Poland since I was last there.

Fallen Art is another film by Tomasz Baginski. Terrific film, great design and quite macabre humor.

Undo, I think, is directed by Marcin Wasko who works full time at Platige in Warsaw. Quite a simple idea deftly played. I love the design here, the composition and the use of sound.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Had a meeting in London today concerning a commercial I'm going to be working on over the next few weeks (more about that when it goes on air). Had quite a wait for my train home so I went shopping and bought some Sigur Rós (Ágætis byrjun (An Alright Start), and (); I would love to do a music video for any one of their songs) and Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet (an apt time for it I suppose). The album () uses Vonlenska (Hopelandic), which is a constructed language created by the lead singer, Jón Þór Birgisson. It's not an actual language, it's simply gibberish that emphasizes the vocal's place as another instrument in the composition.

I'm half Polish and bilingual... though I don't speak it that much anymore, I still dream and think in Polish from time to time. I was never formally educated in Poland so I don't read or write it (I can read a little, but that's mostly down to the fact that the language is relatively phonetic in that it's written how you would speak it, unlike English). When I was a child, in England I was recognized as being Polish (once people found out I was half Polish) and in Poland I was recognized as being English (once people found out I was half English). Which made me feel as though my sense of cultural identity was alien to both. In the early nineties I was a builder working in the south of France with French builders who didn't speak a word of English (and I didn't speak a word of French). We would have conversations non the less, finding consistent familiarities in both our worlds to such a degree that by the end of my stay there we were able to understand one another without having to speak one another's language. I was 'foreign' there. Not English, nor Polish. It was comforting then to be referred to not as English nor Polish. I was neither. I was just me. So, I guess the songs of Sigur Rós, in their Vonlenska babel speak volumes to me for that reason. Their songs remind me of the conversations I used to have in France. Of waking up atop a building site overlooking the Ardèche valley and going for a swim in the river after work each day.

When I was at University, this is after being a builder in France (I was also a candlestick maker once! though never a butcher nor baker, tinker nor tailor, soldier nor spy), I made a few films on my animation course. For the most part my animation was silent (as in no dialog). When asked if I would make a film with dialog I opted to make it in French. The film was called "Mon Frère Raoul la Tortue" (My Brother Raoul the Turtle), a story about fratricide and understanding or misunderstanding. I think my time in France and my experiences of communicating without speaking someone's language most certainly prompted this. Grimmwood, it should come as no surprise, has no dialog in it, though the suggested language is German.

Also, whilst in London, I visited GOSH! which now stocks a wonderful collection of Golden books.

The return train journey afforded me the time to work on some roughs for a comic strip I'm drawing which has been written by Selina Lock. I am quite excited as the story is great and it'll allow me to try out a few things in color that I've been meaning to try out for a while now.

Monday, February 12, 2007


I first watched Mad Monster Party when I was a wee lad. I loved it then and still love it now. If you haven't seen it then I would urge you get hold of a copy and watch it. Glorious stop motion (or "Animagic") from Rankin Bass. Mad Magazine and EC Comics artist Jack Davis designed the characters. Also, a sequel was made (the year I was born... again, it'd freak me out if it was the same month, same day etc), which was done in 2D and was called Mad, Mad, Mad Monster Party, though I've never seen it.

Whilst on the subject of Mad Monsters (the mention of sequels has reminded me), I have a children's book recommendation also, especially if you're a fan of things Frankensteinian and Universal Horror. A book called "Frankenstein's Aunt" by Allan Rune Pattersson, in which Hannah Frankenstein (a wonderful character) visits her nephew and decides to put things in order at Castle Frankenstein. A lot of fun. The reason I say sequels is because a few years ago I managed to track a copy of the book down (it was a favorite from my childhood) and discovered it too had a sequel called ... wait for it ... "Frankenstein's Aunt Returns" (which I have since acquired and read) which serves as a direct sequel to the first book, in which Doctor Pretorius and Doctor Frankenstein create a boy named Franklin. Fun, but the first outing was pleasantly pocked by nostalgia for me. A fun return all the same. There was also a TV series (seven episodes in all) made in Sweden in 1987 and starring Viveca Lindfors as Hannah (though I've not seen that either... apparently the series was recut into a movie called Freckled Max and the Spooks).

Saturday, February 10, 2007


There's news from Muppet Central that the Muppets may well be coming back. A ten minute presentation pilot has been filmed and this could lead to a new series. What's being proposed is a mock documentary (ala "The Office") showing the Muppets trying to create a new show. It's a format I think would work really well.

The above clip really brings back memories. My older sister and I used to sit in the back of the car when we were kids singing Mahna Mahna. I imagine it drove my mother up the wall.

One of the very first jobs I had in animation involved working at the Henson studios in London one weekend. I was working at Passion Pictures at the time and we were told we would be working the weekend (to get a job finished). We were all a bit glum at the prospect, but the minute the production staff mentioned we'd be working at the Henson Creature Workshop in Camden, suddenly we were all incredibly enthusiastic. It was an amazing building stuffed with Muppets. The reception had display cases with Skeksis in them, one of the meeting rooms had Statler and Waldorf sat either end of a couch (so you'd sit between them). The workshops were full of animatronic creatures.

A year or so later I went there for a meeting along with Curtis Jobling to develop or pitch tv show ideas (I can't quite remember which). I remember sitting in a development meeting at one point with Rygel from Farscape sat at the head of the table. There were Muppets everywhere. I also pinched one of their coffee mugs which had Jim Henson Company written on it with a picture of Kermit, which they were perfectly happy for me to have, but, I think I would have been pushing my luck if I'd picked up Statler or Waldorf and stuffed them in my bag too.

Friday, February 09, 2007


"The director has a big job and a very important one. He has to be an idea man, a gag man, an artist, have a knowledge of music and many other things."
-Walter Lantz

You tell 'em, Walter. I want that on a t-shirt, or on a coffee mug.

The Walter Lantz studio (responsible for cartoons like Woody Woodpecker and Chilly Willy) closed the year I was born. I'd be triple freaked if I found out it closed the very month I was born, the very day, the very hour, the very minute, the very second. That'd be weird.

Boy, how things have changed (for me anyway). No timing sheets (there are various ways I work my timings out, usually with an animatic), not even animation paper. Nearly nine/ten years ago now, when I used to work at Passion Pictures, I used to fill out timing sheets. The last time I worked on animation paper at a desk was about four or five years ago.

In other news... I'm still ill, so no trombone for me today. I have that pounding inner ear thing going on now, where it feels like someone switched air cabin pressure on in my head, or dropped a few depth charges.

I once saw an episode of Batman The Animated Series in which Bats defeats Mr. Freeze with a flask of steaming hot chicken soup. So as a result, regardless of whether it's true or not; that the best thing for a cold is chicken soup (or so Batman tells me), I eat a lot of chicken soup when I've got a cold. I do as Batman says because I want that illness gone. No more nasty Mr. Freeze.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

We walk short-stepped but high of heart...

... Through honey-dew and flowers.

It's been a tremendously long time since I last posted on this plog, leaving promise of a trailer that was soon to arrive. Well, a tremendously long time in the real world, in production however, where time is relative to that of time in the kingdoms of faerie, it has been the blink of an eye. Fear not! I am not writing now to tell you that production has ceased. Far from it. I have been busy. I return now, now that things are slowly falling into place, though future posts may still be few and far between, production soldiers on.

I was almost good to go, back in September, when I decided to get some paid work in so as to tide me over whilst working on Grimmwood, but, I got so much work in I found myself with little-to-no time for the project. So, with what time I did have for the project I found myself going back to the drawing board (concerning backgrounds) and re-addressed where I was with that. And boy am I ever glad I did. I went back to address the character of the Grimmwood itself. Because the Grimmwood is not just a background. It's a living, breathing, environment, it's a character as much as Thomas Hardy's Egdon Heath was in Return of the Native. The Grimmwood is not just some outcrop of trees or knot of brambles. This is a place rich with history. And I felt that as I had it back then, last September, it just didn't have enough character. And so I immersed myself in early Victorian fairy art. Artists like Edward Dulac, John Anster Fitzgerald, Richard Dadd, Richard Doyle, Edward Robert Hughes, and John Everett Millais, artists who gave voice to the hedgerows and briar thorns and breath life into the deep dark woods. So the Grimmwood itself is somewhat different now to how it was before. It's alive.

Currently putting the work together so I can show a small teaser trailer of sorts, and then I'll be posting up the trailer along with artwork and various notes on how certain shots were achieved etc. When? Quite soon.

In the interim, day to day (or there abouts) work stuff is discussed over at the parent blog to this one, Strange Planet Stories which has details of work I've just completed among other things.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Found this while I was backing up some discs and clearing space on the old hard drive. This is from an old pitch for Nickelodeon for some spot or other. It wasn't successful unfortunately. All done in Flash utilizing the blur feature. I did a pretty rough ziptone for the sky, and the interior was paneled with a deep wood texture. The kids originally have different colored hair. Notably, I recall that the bairn in the car seat had blue hair to reflect the Nick Jr. channel, and was also wearing a blue romper.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


This week I've been working on "the job I can't talk about", so I'll say no more than that on the matter. I'm also working on two commercials that I will be able to say more about nearer the air date. I'm working, honest.

This week sees the start of the Animex international animation and computer games festival up in Middlesbrough for which I did the festival intro sequence which shows a boy and girl fighting over a TV remote. The girl wants to watch an old black and white cartoon while the boy wants to play video games.

As mentioned in other posts, this was also a testing ground for incorporating 3D elements, something I'm now currently doing in Grimmwood (though the 3D elements in Grimmwood will be used quite differently, there's a large amount of multi-planning in Grimmwood that then works into 3D, much like you see in the opening to Vermitterte Melodie). For the Animex intro the characters are the only 2D elements in the spot, everything else is a model, including the spaceship in the video game you see below. Because all the 3D elements are vector based, it fits snuggly with 2D vector Flash animation (Swift 3D was designed for that purpose). It's a lot of fun to use and I'm slowly learning just how much it can do, which is quite a lot.

Unfortunately I can't make it up to the festival this year (and I was really hoping to) due to various deadlines (as is usually the case this time of year). But I'm going to make definite plans to go next year and will be marking it in my calendar with a great big marker pen.

Monday, February 05, 2007


As if Hyacinthe simply wasn't enough... from the excellent album "Monsters In Love" by Dyonisos, "Tes Lacets Sont Des Fées". There's a nice cut-out quality to some of the scenes.


Hyacinthe is a track from Thomas Fersen's album 'Le pavillon des fous'(2005) which was animated by Sébastien Cosset and Joann Sfar (Sfar is a brilliant comic book artist from France who, along with Lewis Trondheim, brought us the wonderful Donjon).

The animation here is great, the colors are wonderful and the humor is lovely and dark as a psycho killer makes his way along the metro system through numerous victims.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Life on Mars is back on the 13th of Feb apparently for the second and final series (after which, rumor has it, we get a spin off series set in the eighties called "Ashes to Ashes").

I LOVE this show regardless of its anachronisms. This is a teaser trailer for the second series in the style of 'Camberwick Green' and 'Trumpton' (children's TV shows from the late sixties watched by a generations of children in the seventies).

For anyone that doesn't know about this show; it's a live action BBC drama, modern day cop (Sam Tyler) gets hit by a car, wakes up in 1973 to find himself serving in a rather different police force.

Friday, February 02, 2007


One very good reason I was terrified of Doctor Who when I was a kid. Two, actually. Tom Baker's eyes (relieved to hear from this snippet that I'm not the only one and that the presenter felt the same way). As for Superman's knickers ... utterly priceless.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


A much earlier example of 3D animation from 1942.

During the second world war, one of the many things Goebbels mandated for the German cartoon industry was the development of "three dimensional" effects that were to rival the Fleischer's "Stereo-optical" process and Disney's "multi-plane" camera.

Hans Fischerkoesen made this film, Verwitterte Melodie (Weather-beaten Melody) which really is a technical spectacle. The film is actually a rather daring albeit subtle criticism of Nazi ideals (daring because the Nazi party banned Jazz and swing music. The film also promotes positive cultural diversity, among other things).


Some footage here from an early Disney CG animation test directed by John Lasseter. The footage the spot refers to I remember seeing quite a number of years ago now (I think it was an Arena special, something like that, some BBC 2 animation special back in the earlier nineties). I was hugely inspired seeing this. In essence this is pretty much the technique of combining 2D with 3D that I'm using now for work like "Animex" and "Grimmwood".