Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Thingfish!

Happy holidays, everyone! Here's hoping your tides are...yuley?
But more than anything I hope that you, like myself, are spending the season with the person who matters to you the most:

Monday, 17 December 2012

Before I Submerge Fully...

Here's a brief overview of how the next few weeks of my adorable li'l life are looking set to pan out:
WORK WORK WORK WORK bit of Christmas holiday WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK and so forth. Best case scenario is that the world may end on Friday and grant me some respite.
Needless to say things may be quiet on the blog front, so here's one last pre-season entry before I'm submerged in deadlines and yuletide alcoholism. We have our last Skwigly Podcast of 2012 and, eschewing the variety of religious holidays that are active around this time of year, we've opted for the atheist favourite and made it a Christmas Special. Or Xmas Special, as I think I'm supposed to spell it.
Makes perfect listening for the long voyages home, hours of painstaking food preparation or to drown out unbearable acrimonious squabbling. Steve interviews Tim Searle from Baby Cow Animation who have two seasonal specials lined up, as well as Michael Rose of Magic Light Pictures whose not-especially-Christmassey-but-looks-pretty-good kids' short "Room on The Broom" will be shown on the 25th. There's also the second part of my interviews with the folks from Lupus Films following on from last episode, this time chatting with assistant director Robin Shaw and co-writer/director Hilary Audus about the hugely anticipated "The Snowman and The Snowdog", a follow-up to "The Snowman" which, along with Channel 4 itself, will see its thirtieth anniversary this year. All this and some needless trivia, cartooney Christmas nostalgia and I even wrote a little radio play. That's right, ya bestids. With sound effects and everything.
Stream it below, download it and/or subscribe on iTunes!
Elsewhere, the wonderful people over at Toon Boom (the Montreal-based animation software company) has picked my ol' Christmas toon "The Naughty List" for their showcase today. What lovely Quebecians they are! Granted, at the time the version of Toon Boom I used was incredibly basic and mainly just helped out with the clean-up, but I've since become rather enamoured of Toon Boom Animate. In fact, I'll probably be using it exclusively for the job I'm currently working on, so I may have become a full convert a few months from now. Now that I finally have a post-Intel Mac that can run it. Yep, I've been dragged kicking and screaming into the year 2006.
Lastly, today is most likely the last shopping day to get "Throat" in time for Christmas, so if you're still struggling to find the right gift for the indie graphic novel snob in your life - or if you just want to treat yourself - head on over to Amazon (US and now, for the convenience of my Brit compadres, UK) and grab one!

Monday, 26 November 2012

“It’s a Christmas Miracle of Closely-Monitored and Regimented International Distribution, Charlie Brown!”

Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba!...Too much?

Fabulous news, something I’ve been keeping under my hat (except to everyone I know in real life, on Twitter, Facebook and a cute bookshop girl I wanted to impress) – I’m effervescent with glee to announce that “Throat” has been officially published in the States! I’m not sure when it’ll start showing up in stores or to what extent, but it already has an Amazon listing and you can all order it just in time for Christmas! Think what a hero you’ll be to the impossible-to-buy-for, indie comic enthusiast in your life; Y’know, the one who only likes completely obscure comics that have no reputation whatsoever, so as to never be accused of following the crowd? I know, I know, I’ve saved your Christmas. You’re welcome.
A couple of important points to address, just to make sure everyone’s completely in the loop. To err on the side of caution the entire book won’t be published in one go, instead it’s been cut into three equal parts, effectively ‘trilogising’ it. Fortuitously the book’s three-act structure divides up more or less equally, so each book will be about the same length and stand up individually. At least I hope they will. This way instead of having one massive expensive book published it’ll be three cheaper ones. Which is even better, especially as two of the notable issues potential buyers voiced were the price and the length. So here’s the game plan:
•Book One: Coping Is Coping (November 2012)
•Book Two: Manageable Unease (February 2013)
•Book Three: Nobody’s Waiting (May 2013)
Each of these volumes will have a section of exclusive material, the first of which being a development sketchbook from which I put up excerpts last week. So how’s that for added incentive? The versions of each book that are being distributed to stores are black and white (cheaper and artsier), but after some humming and hah-ing there’s a full-colour alternative exclusive to Amazon. In every other respect it’s the same exact book, just a little pricier for the ink but still pretty cheap. To differentiate between the two when it comes to online listing the B&W cover has the title in black and the colour version in red. Fiendish!
Presenting the world's easiest spot-the-difference...
Unless the first or second volumes completely tank, all three will be out by the spring. Then depending on sales we’ll be looking into putting out the whole book as a kind of ‘Deluxe’ edition, like the original release but with all the extra bits included and maybe even some additional chapters I cut out as a sort of bonus. Like a DVD extra…in book form. I guess. It’s also worth noting that I’m still selling the original, self-published editions of the complete story on Lulu in the meantime.
So there you go, I have a bit of book out in time for the holidays, although you’d probably need to get your orders in pretty sharpish. Don’t forget you can preview the first nine chapters completely free in PDF form and find out more at the website throatbook.com and its Facebook Page.
I'd also like to personally once again thank all those who supported the book as it came together, either through direct feedback, marketing advice or just keeping me going in general. So much love and respect for Luca, Toby, Sam, Karin, Joanna, Jane, Michelle, Alison and Nusha, as well as everyone who has supported it by buying a copy or spreading the word and my ever-brilliant and supportive family for not being too freaked out by it. It's been a strange and unusual little sideline venture and I'm sincerely happy and grateful to see it get this far.
Now to start pimping the living hell out of it...

Friday, 23 November 2012

Naughty Listings

Quickie update regarding some upcoming screenings for my long-in-the-tooth Christmas short “The Naughty List”.
For those Spaniards amongst you who’ve yet to catch one of its TV airings on Canal+ Xtra, it’ll be on this Tuesday (27th) at 2:40pm. I suspect this will be one of its last TV showings – if not, the last – on that particular network, so do give it a pre-siesta watch if you’re so inclined. All told the channel’s been very good to me and my li’l film over the past year, screening it pretty regularly despite it being so season-specific, so gracias to the Canal+ folks for the exposure (and the extra chunk of change didn’t hurt none either).
Mere days before the film sees its third Christmas since completion - mother of God, time goes by fast – it will be screened on December 22nd at the West Side Cinema in support of “Rare Exports”, a Finnish Christmas film that passed me by but I’m tempted to check out as it seems to be quite highly regarded. Unfortunately I can’t make it to that one as it’s in Orkney which is pretty much as far away from me as possible without leaving the UK altogether.
Earlier in the month and closer to home, the film will be screened on December 6th at Bath Road Studios here in Bristol for CineMe Showcase 2012, a networking evening that will also include some of their previously screened films (“Naughty List” and a few others of mine were included at one of their events back in April). I’m aiming to be there to scope out the premises and hopefully not bomb. So if any of you readers decide that’s the night you want to start stalking me, I’m pretty much handing you my exact whereabouts on a platter. Spectacularly nearsighted of me, I’m sure I’ll come to realise.

Monday, 19 November 2012


For reasons that are probably pretty easy to discern but I don’t want to jinx by outright stating on here, I’ve been leafing through some old sketchbook for any early development scribbles and doodles for “Throat”. These go back to early 2010 when the idea was barely formed (it was originally going to be more of an illustrated non-fictional journal that would’ve bored and depressed literally everyone who glanced at it before I made what I suspect was the wiser move of of making it a more comedic, graphic novel project).
Original cover sketch got itself a tad smudgey over time
Unfortunately some of the really early stuff is smudged, torn or crinkled to the point of illegibility but I did find a few survivors, chief among them some very early Lyman sketches. Some of these were for specific, non-“Throat” purposes, like birthday cards or thank-you notes, but they show a fair bit of how the character developed visually before I started the book proper.
I sure do like to draw this guy naked a lot. Should probably look into that...
Here are a few more randomly sketched-out ideas, some of them found their way into the story, others didn’t quite fit:
On a not-entirely-unrelated note, here are spreads for an entire chapter that was part of a substory I removed completely about Lyman’s job as an app developer:

Hopefully this time next week I’ll be able to announce what all this rummaging is for, so stick around as it will be holly and jolly news indeed!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Boo etc.

Happy day-of-heightened-spooky-confection-sales, everybody!
We’ve been hard at work over at Skwigly central (a place that doesn’t actually exist outside of this sentence) to spread some cartooney godlessness about the interwebs. We now have episode six of the Skwigly Podcast up and, fittingly, it’s rather Halloween-centric. Courtesy of Steve there are some fantastic interview gets, such as “ParaNorman” directors Sam Fell and Chris Butler as well as Peter Saunders, one half (guess which one) of MacKinnon & Saunders, the amazing puppet-making team behind “Corpse Bride” and, more recently, “Frankenweenie”. Steve also managed to chat with “Hotel Transylvania” director Genndy Tartakovsky, an animation TV legend whose legacy includes “Dexter’s Lab”, “Powerpuff Girls” and “Samurai Jack”, three shows that, though I didn’t discover them until I was in my later teens, were the shiznit. I think all told this is one of the best episodes we’ve done and I’m pretty excited with the direction things are going. Listen below and don’t forget the subscribe on iTunes!
Skwigly Podcast 06 (Halloween 2012) - Genndy Tartakovsky, Peter Saunders, Chris Butler & Sam Fell by Skwigly Animation Podcast

If you’re still in the Halloween mood but are also itching for some Christmas spirit, you might want to head on over to the Arnos Vale Cemetary in Bristol - 8pm November 2nd - where “The Naughty List” will be showing. It's part of a program put together by CineFeatures, a new initiative for screening indie films that will feature it as a cartoon before the main film “Electric Man”. Just like in the old days!

For the benefit of those of you who paint Spain a light shade of green on this blog’s stat map, “Naughty List” is back on TV again in the graveyard (keeping with the theme I suppose) slot of 3am this coming Monday (12th) on Canal+ Xtra. Better than a kick in the baubles.

Monday, 22 October 2012

New look...

...Sort of. Actually the layout's exactly the same, I've just switched up the colour scheme and brought in a new design motif. The ol' pre-"Throat" concept sketch of me on the pishadoo was starting to seem a little out of place now the book's out and the character's technically not supposed to be me.
Adios, old friend...
One of the eighty billion current projects I have on the boil right now is another website redesign that'll hopefully make the accrued creative projects I've put out over the years a little more navigatable and less scattershot. It occurred to me that about half of them have vectorised logos for the purposes of EPKs and similar such promotion, so I've been designing some more for the remaining half. This way each film, album, book or whatever will have its own associated image. A bit like OS application icons or, as a friend pointed out the other night, video game achievements. It's just one of those staples of web design that I never really embraced so figured it'd be worth a shot. No idea when said website will actually manifest itself though, but I expect it'll be far less of an undertaking than my last site overhaul which got a bit out of hand; though fun to do, the pages were so densely packed they each took like a minute to load.
Will keep you posted. It's what I do.

Back in the real world - Bosnia & Herzegovina, to narrow it down a little bit - I'm very chuffed to say that "Ground Running" has been included in the line-up for this year's edition of the Banja Luka International Animated Film Festival. The 2009 edition of the festival threw in my first film "House Guest", and much like I was back then I'm amongst some pretty superb company this year. Other films being screened include "Oh Willy..." (Emma de Swaef & Marc James Roels), "Kuhina" (Joni Männistö), "Luminaris" (Juan Pablo Zaramella) and "Bendito Machine IV" (Jossie Malis), all of which I'm a big fan of. My screening is Competitive Program 1 which will be at 10pm tomorrow, repeated on the 24th at 2pm, both at the Dječije pozorište Children's Theatre. Apologies for the short notice for those of you who are too far away and may have been interested, I didn't get the memo and only just now found out about it by chance. Just in case you're a Bosnian or Herzegovinian (or both, I'm not sure how it works) and fancy giving it a look there's more info here.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Ah, foreshortening. We meet again.

The life drawing sessions I go to have started up again this month after an extended summer hiatus. Looking back over these entries it seems that the last batch I put up was in March. I know there were definitely some sessions after then, though I'd have to do some digging to find whatever the results of them were. The whole March-July period of this year was a bit of a manic blur to be honest, largely down to "Throat", but if I stumble on any worth scanning in I'll throw them up. In the meantime here are some drawings from our two most recent sessions this month:

Not too bad for a getting-back-into-it batch, although I'd taken a step backward as far as tackling faces; The one pose where she's not pointedly looking away (not sure if I should take that personally) fell prey to my old habit of saving the head until last and then running out of time.

This lot was a bit better, at least I managed to tackle more or less everything with each pose. Kind of a different approach with this model as we went with one single pose for the whole evening, drawn from four different angles. I'm okay with the heads in the side views, the ones from behind or in front were a massive pain though. Now that my Monday evenings are a little bit more free it's good to be back at it. Not sure what the next problem area to tackle should be, possibly my approach to shading or my insistence on using mechanical pencils (I know technically there are far better tools for sketching but these just seem to work for me). We shall see.
In the meantime if any of you want to constructively deride me, have at it. I'm eager to make progress.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Ben just doesn't stop talking...

The zen approach to dealing with BT's ungodly customer service...
Just a heads-up to any Bristolians who might find themselves in my neck of the woods: Keep your eyes peeled for any BT Homehubs that might fall from the sky and brain you, for I’m alarmingly close to chucking mine off my fourth-floor balcony with a previously-undisplayed athletic strength only made possible through being driven to the absolute edge.
After a 36 hour Mexican standoff wherein the crafty plastic s***head would choose to drop my broadband signal only at moments when I absolutely needed it, we seem to have come to some sort of understanding and it’s now being good. But any more shenanigans and the little bastard gets its first and only flying lesson while I use my free hand to call up Sky and switch services.
All this is a rather long-winded and excuse-laden lead-up to announcing that our latest Skwigly podcast special on Bristol’s Animated Encounters is now finally up. While nobody seems too miffed about the delays, a recent surge in audience numbers (hooray!) has put an added pressure on the future of said podcast, and we’re currently working out a way to make the process more consistent and audience friendly; Ideally we’d do two one-hour episodes a month rather than one massive two-hour chunk that leaves people hanging for 4-6 weeks at a time. There’s fine-tuning to be done, but we’re getting there slowly.
In the meantime you should probably get comfortable ‘cause this one comes in at over two-and-a-quarter hours. Granted there’s a lot of ground to cover, my enthusiasm for the festival and the many talents associated with it seeing me amass a lot of material. Not least of which is my own warbling self waxing-asskissey about all the festival highlights. As it turns out I enjoy talking about stuff I like more than stuff I hate. I know, right? I’m as surprised as anyone.
I also got to interview my lovely friends Paul and Jane of A Productions on producing the animated visual branding for the festival each year, as well as animation programmer Kieran Argo and this edition’s special guest Paul Bush, a man who, despite firmly residing on the artistic end of the animation spectrum (while I, as is obvious by now, am still at the coyotes-falling-off-cliffs end) was very down-to-Earth and a sincere pleasure to chat to.
With fortuitous timing playing a big hand I also got to interview David Sproxton, chairman of the festival and Aardman producer/co-founder (along with Nick Park and Peter Lord, who I also got to talk to back in March for episode one). While the podcast edit of the interview focuses on Mr. Sproxton’s involvement with Encounters itself, there’s an upcoming written piece that I expect will be a little broader and Aardman-ey, so stay tuned for that one. Good stuff indeed.
As usual you can stream it below or download it for later. Of course, if you want to subscribe on iTunes and possibly even give us a rating/review that’d be golden delicious of you!
Skwigly Podcast Special 02 - Animated Encounters (11/10/2012) by Skwigly Animation Podcast

On a final note, this has nothing to do with anything, it just made me very happy tonight:

Friday, 5 October 2012

It's Always Sunny in Belo Horizonte

Given that we’ve been mired in a state of perpetual winter for the last twelve months, it’s perhaps fitting that I can still find cause to pimp my seasonal short “The Naughty List” from time to time. I know it was finished over two years ago but little reminders that it ended up doing pretty well and still gets out there occasionally is a helpful assurance that yes, these projects do get done eventually as the ever-marinating “Bullies” still has a long way to go before the end’s even in sight.
So this month my pantsless Santa flick rears its head three times at the 10th MUMIA Festival in Belo Horizonte, Brazil as part of their ‘Internacional 4’ screening. Dates/times/venues are:

Tuesday 9th October, 6:30pm
Cine Humberto Mauro 

Tuesday 16th October, 7pm
Instituto Undió

Thursday 25th October, 7pm
Cineclube Joaquim Pedro de Andrade

All times BRT, which I imagine doesn’t need clarifying. So if the very small section of Brazilian readers (that region of my statistics map is a fairly light shade of green, I’ll admit) fancy popping over there I’m sure you’ll have a grand time. As ever my film’s amongst some pretty good company, including the likes of Grant Orchard, Juan Pablo Zaramella and Dmitry Geller.

Complete change of subject: "Red Dwarf X"didn’t suck.
In fact, after an admittedly shaky first five minutes I’ll be damned if I didn’t even laugh out loud a fair few times. And I pretty much never laugh out loud at TV; I’m a cold, soulless fellow after all.
So fair play, chaps. Here’s to an unexpectedly strong comeback. Yes, I know this isn’t the type of thing I usually put up here, and it’s probably the first time I’ve even mentioned being aware of the show at all (li’l prepubescent me was quite enamoured of it) so that aside might be a bit confusing.
Meh, such is the spice of life. You guys should just be grateful I don’t post naked pictures of myself up here every day.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Old Hat

I figured the expiry date on my first two films has been up for awhile and it’s a bit daft that I don’t have official full versions of them online. Especially as my third has been up for nearly a year. Granted, that was the only one that had any real demand I suppose, but I don’t want it to get lonely, resent me and not take care of me in my old age. That’s just too meta and weird.
Sooo anyway, you can now watch my first film “House Guest” (2008) in full HD (although the first-season-of-“Beavis-and-Butt-Head”-quality-linework is treated far kinder by these little SD blog windows):
Strange to think that this blog started as part of the UWE MA the film was made for. Four years on I’m still inexplicably not heralded as the Winsor McCay of the 21st century. Wuddup wi’dat, yo’s?
My second film was “Ground Running” (2009), most of the animation for which was done very shortly after “House Guest”, then it pottered around a couple fests in pencil-test format for a year or so before I added some bits and coloured it in the following year. I never really pushed this film because by the time it was finally done it didn’t really line-up with my artistic direction (if that’s what you can call it). Both these films are pretty rough for me to watch but there’s the odd moment here and there I’m quite proud of.

"Ground Running"
from Ben Mitchell on Vimeo.  

And what the hell, just as a reminder here’s film #3, “The Naughty List” (2010):

Quick TV plug - if for some reason Vimeo is acting up in Spain and you simply can’t last a week without seeing it, the next broadcast by those lovely people at Canal+ Xtra HD will be this coming Sunday 7th at 6am. So either get up extra early or stay up extra late.
Finally, while 2011 was pretty much work/“Throat”-centric, I did manage to whip up this mini-short out of my love for O&A. This one’s also been up for a while but at this point I may as well just make this entry a retrospective.
All being well, 2012 will indeed be the year I finally finish production on “Bullies”. Then the whole torturous quest for validation may begin once more.
Ah, it's all good. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it so much.

Monday, 24 September 2012


I’ve just slept off this year’s Animated Encounters, our town’s local showcase for established talents, up-and-comers and, on occasion, lucky gobshites who get their films in purely by chance. While me falling firmly into the latter category of last year’s edition saw me making a pest of myself akin to a mild dust irritation, this time around my constant presence was that of an all-body skin rash, froghopping from screening to screening to event to workshop to screening to masterclass to restrospective to scree– okay, you get it. This was down to my first outing as an ‘official’ member of the press. OooOOOoooh!
Yep. Officially a scumbag.
You can read my day-by-day coverage of the festival over at Skwigly, with a podcast special in the same vein as our Annecy episode to come next week. Continuing our trend of sheer good fortune I was able to land a particularly awesome, high-profile guest, while simultaneously my co-host Steve managed to nab himself an equally terrific get for the episode that’ll come after. All told, we’re finding ourselves on a bit of a roll and the whole Skwigly operation is gradually morphing into a significantly bigger deal. There are several reasons for this, the main one being that Steve will be taking over the run of the ship very shortly, with myself contributing in a more expanded capacity than before.
Contrary to what I’ve recently been informed is a widely-head presumption, I’m not the guy behind Skwigly, nor was I ever – in fact its first incarnation predates my own professional interest and involvement in animation by at least a year (well, sort of - it was back when I was still doing strictly mograph stuff). Since I got on board last year my role has always been limited to content producer – writing reviews, interviewing people I admire, producing the podcast and so on. In truth I was never fully aware of what the grand plan of its owner was. Sometimes I even felt that distancing myself from the ‘persona’ of the magazine would help avoid a conflict of interest. Ultimately though I’ve approached it as an opportunity it would've been foolish not to embrace, and I’m still amazed that in such a short space of time I’ve been able to talk to quite an in-depth degree with so many amazing talents and even some industry heroes.
At the end of the day, either the direction or overall scope of Skwigly has proved irreconcilable with its creator’s full plate of other work and so he’ll be stepping aside to let Steve and I do with it what we will. I don’t see this leading to any changes, aside from amping up its consistency and, knock wood, broadening its appeal beyond an audience who just happen to have taste that matches mine exactly. Whatever happens, we wish Mr. Skwigly the Firste a fond ta-ra and we hope to do justice to the venture he began.
¡Viva la Revolución!
ANYway, back to Encounters. I had myself a great time thanks largely to Jude Lister, Kieran Argo, Fraser MacLean, Paul Bush, David Sproxton, Jane Davies and Paul Hill who all made the effort to help out with my coverage, not to mention all the lovely friends old and new who kept me company throughout the week. You can read my daily reports via the links below:

• Day 1
• Day 2
• Day 3
• Day 4
• The Award-Winners

Of course the main point of these festivals is the short films that stand out and make me feel all a-tingly and gooey with inspirationeyness, so here's a few trailers for some personal faves:

HEAD OVER HEELS - Trailer from Timothy Reckart on Vimeo.

Don Hertzfeldt's IT'S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY (trailer) from Cinefamily on Vimeo.

1-KALi, the little Vampire -Trailer from Regina Pessoa on Vimeo.

"A Different Perspective" Trailer from Chris O'Hara on Vimeo.

THE PUB - Trailer from Joseph Pierce on Vimeo.

Oh Willy... trailer from Emma de Swaef on Vimeo.

Feral trailer from Daniel Sousa on Vimeo.

I'M FINE THANKS - trailer from eamonn o neill on Vimeo.

Also some of them are online in full already:

The Goat Herder and his Lots and Lots and Lots of Goats from Will Rose on Vimeo.

Gotye - Easy Way Out - official film clip from Gotye on Vimeo.

Phone Home from Lupus Films on Vimeo.

Bendito Machine IV - Fuel the Machines from Zumbakamera on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

'Casting Off Again

It’s podcast time again, though this edition has been somewhat delayed for a number of vague and slightly frustrating reasons. The overall Skwigly operation has had an overhaul on the cards that will benefit all involved, including its audience, though progress on this has been halted for some reason or other. At the end of the day it’s stuff I’m simply not in the loop about so until I know what’s up I can’t really elucidate further. But I’m confident things will get pretty exciting sometime in October at the latest.
Until then give this latest episode a listen and, if you so desire, download it for keepsies! There’s the usual dollops of cartoon geekery such as 90s cartoon nostalgia and Wacom Cintiq love, but as ever the real highlights are the fine folks Steve and myself get to interview. These include Neil Boyle, protégé of Richard Williams and director of the fantastic and nearly 100% traditionally animated film “The Last Belle”, along with Richard Randolph of Komixx, producer of the new kids’ show “Toby’s Traveling Circus” who has some very valuable insight into that side of the looking glass for any aspiring producers out there (who I consider myself to be amongst). Also there’s part two of my interview with John K, which I’m still over the moon about and expect I will be for a good long while to come. Now that his Kickstarter campaign has come to a successful close, this portion of our chat covers several other means of his pre-“Cans Without Labels” career, including a heartwarming tale of Bob Clampett’s…hormones. You can listen to the whole thing below or subscribe on this newfangled iTunes thingy the kids are all talking about.
Skwigly Podcast 05 (19/09/2012) - John Kricfalusi, Neil Boyle & Richard Randolph by Skwigly Animation Podcast
On a final note, I’ll be the beardy face of Skwigly at this year’s Animated Encounters, which is fairly convenient as the Arnolfini where it’s held is pretty close by. I’m in charge of pretty much all the festival coverage for the magazine so if you see me in the crows all on my lonesome then come say hi. Or just point and laugh derisively, as well you should.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Cover your damn mouth...

More line tests for the “Throat” promo. I’m not sure if calling them ‘pencil tests’ would really apply as the lines will still be penciled in the final animation. In fact to match up with the style of the book, the line quality is actually being coarsened and made scratchier rather than being cleaned-up, so if anything these tests are smoother than how the animation will eventually look when it’s done.

This one was really fun to do, especially the extreme poses:

Once it was all timed-out it made for some pretty interesting in-betweens.

In my head this shot would’ve been one sweeping hand motion, picking up the glass along the way to throw the contents in her face. This is how the panel looks in the book, as you can see there's not much to go on:
In reality to do that in one single move would be a borderline physical impossibility, so I acted out a few ways to go about it and came up with this fairly obvious breakdown:

This last one’s pretty basic, although the motion of the hands pulling up the sheets is a little too mechanical so I’ll probably add in a couple frames to the final animation to give it more of a natural settle.

That’s all for this post, so I’m going to stop writing. That’s how I roll. Though by all means, feel free to watch these all night if you like. Nobody judges here.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Return of the Magical Moving GIFs

It’s that fabulous time again: Line test season! That wonderful stage of an animated project (the animated "Throat" promo in this case) where the awful things I draw obtain the glorious power of movement (and with it, I can only assume, hopes and dreams). I’m a little miffed to note that Sitesled, the site that had hosted all my prior line test GIFs, decided to disappear without a trace taking all my files with it.
Those wonderful, glorious bastards.
While I’m sure they’re backed up somewhere it’s gonna be a pisser locating them, re-uploading them and fixing the embed links in all the prior blog posts. Which doesn’t mean anything as fair as these new ones go, I just like to complain because I’m a big complaining complaineypants.
On with the pixelly-pencilly stuff:

There’s something vaguely eerie about watching these characters trapped in their limbos, doomed to constantly repeat the same handful of seconds over and over until the end of time. By ‘eerie’ I really mean ‘gratifying and immeasurably pleasurable’; I’m so horribly empty inside.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Something new for you readers out there...

While writing for Skwigly has, on my part, taken a bit of a backseat to the podcast work, most of the interviews we do warrant separate write-ups or editorial pieces. Ideally I’d like to get at least one done a month but it’s proving somewhat tricky, available-time-wise. With the deadline for the “Cans Without Labels” funding goal looming, however, I’ve fast-tracked a piece on John K which went up this morning:

A Conversation With John Kricfalusi

He has lots of great stuff to discuss, some of which wasn’t included in the podcast last week, so I’d heartily advise any Kricfalusi (or general animation) enthusiasts to check it out. There’s also some rare, unbroadcast “Ren & Stimpy” animatic footage up there which he very graciously provided. As a certain metabolically-challenged feline once exclaimed, “I’m so happy I can hardly contain myself!”
I also want to take the opportunity to thank all my friends, Twitter comrades and complete strangers who have shown such support for what Dave, Steve, myself and the expanding pool of talented Skwigly contributors have been working so hard on. It continues to go from strength to strength and the sense of encouragement we’re getting has really gone a long way to keep us enthusiastic about persevering. So thank you all, and here’s to the growing community of cartooney fools such as we are!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Oh my...

Guess who's a happy fella today?

Thursday, 2 August 2012

As manly as a case of Labatt's 50

Hi everyone, I hope you’re having as happy and joyous a day as I! I’m pleased to report that the latest Skwigly podcast is now up. To date each episode has been more satisfying than the one that came before, and after the awesomeness of Podcast #3 this one would have to be pretty special to top it. Fortunately, thanks to a very impressive guest roster, that seems to be exactly how it’s turned out! As Steve and my respective work schedules have been ricockulously busy all through July we didn’t get time to record much by way of our chattier segments, so this one’s fairly interview-oriented. Which ain’t no bad thing.
Firstly there’s Steve’s interview with Ant Blades of Bird Box Studio, who has been knocking out some fabulous short-form animated masterpieces that have proved to be huge online hits of late. These include “Sketchy Guard” and "Chop Chop", although my personal favourites are “I’ll Get the Ice-Creams” and especially “Dinner” (because it puts me in mind of the adorably stupid little dogs in my life).
Steve also talks to Jonti Picking of Weebl’s Stuff, something of a Flash animation tour de force who has been going strong for a decade and counting. Sort of like our nation’s Homestar Runner.
I myself have an interview with Robert Morgan, someone who I’d been itching to talk to for years as he’s one of the most visually inventive stop-motion animators out there. I saw a bunch of his films at a Watershed showcase a few months back, including his student piece “The Man in the Lower-Left Hand Corner of the Photograph”, which won me over instantly for A) sharing a title with a particularly obscure Mike Patton track and B) evoking a good-years-of-David-Lynch sense of unease I hadn’t felt since, well, the good years of David Lynch. It’s hard to explain why being made to feel uneasy is actually kind of desirable, I imagine it’s down to the majority of film and TV out there leaving me completely unaffected, so any emotional response grabs me pretty tightly by the short’n’ curlies. By which I of course mean my facial hair.
Morgan’s latest film “Bobby YEAH” is no exception, with an added layer of unexpected but very welcome absurdist humour. It was made pretty much entirely on his own, which is an impulse I have monumental respect for and, given it was nominated for a BAFTA this year, I also find it pretty inspirational.
Closing this month’s episode is my aforementioned John Kricfalusi interview, or rather some of it. With the Kickstarter deadline approaching I wanted to make sure to get the word out , so part one focuses on “Cans Without Labels” and the backstory of George Liquor, with some brilliant industry musing and “Ren & Stimpy” nostalgia thrown in. I’m still ecstatic that I was able to talk to the man and he brings a fantastic energy to the podcast. Part two will go into some of his other projects, including his work on “The Simpsons”, the ill-fated “Art of Spumco” coffee-table book and a rather heartwarming tale of Bob Clampett’s ‘hormones’. So until then, here’s Skwigly Podcast #4! Skwigly Podcast 04 (01/08/2012) - Ant Blades, Robert Morgan, Weebl & John Kricfalusi by Skwigly Animation Podcast
As always you can direct download or simply subscribe on iTunes!

Monday, 30 July 2012


First, let’s get the self-appreciation horseshit out of the way: “The Naughty List” will be on TV again next week (12:15pm Wednesday, August 8th) on Canal+ Xtra. I suspect the high degree of Catholicism in Spain may account for their showing of my Christmassy whimsy all the year round. I’m all for it.
Some good news on the Skwigly front, our podcast has gone and gotten itself an iTunes listing. Hurray, visibility! You can now subscribe and get each new one automatically, which will free up your valuable time no end! Yes, yes, of course - you’re very welcome.

Okay, now the cool part:
Hot on the heels of getting the unprecedented opportunity to interview Billy West, the man behind Stimpy (of “Ren & Stimpy”, which probably didn't need clarifying), I got the even unprecedentedder opportunity to talk to John Kricfalusi, the man behind the entire show and, by extension, the creator-driven cartoon revival it put in motion.
While I was able to interact with him very briefly at last year’s Encounters festival (by fortuitous happenstance he was a special guest at the very edition one of my films was screened at) this interview was an amazing experience to hear all manner of firsthand anecdotes and recollections from his career and, surreally, watch him ‘pitch’ his latest short film idea to me live over Skype.
Obviously it’s not me he’s pitching to specifically, but the public in general. It’s being crowdfunded and boasts probably the most exciting array of incentives I’ve seen. Granted, I adore the Spumco universe so it’s kind of tailored to my taste, but I strongly urge any cartoon, illustration or film enthusiast to check it out and maybe toss a few sheckels in its direction.

Of course you can expect to read and listen to the interview in the very near future on Skwigly and our above-mentioned podcast respectively. Stay tuned!
John Kricfalusi's fine immortalisation of yours truly, overlooking my liquor cabinet all classy-like...