Bill Plimpton discusses his current work, ‘Cheatin’ at a panel at Comic Con 2014. Photo by Zoe Simsay.
by Aly Runke, contributing writer
Krypton radio DJ, Willow Leafstorm has been able to catch some amazing interviews this weekend at SDCC, including animator Bill Plympton on Thursday afternoon. Plympton is a big advocate for breaking animation out of being a exclusively a kid’s genre.
He was born in Portland Oregon on April 30, 1946. He blames the rainy weather of his hometown for helping to nourish his love of drawing. Early in his career, his cartoons were featured in magazines and newspapers such as The New York Times, Vogue, Rolling Stones, Vanity Fair, and he even did his own political cartoon for a few year, published countrywide. Despite success in the illustrating field Plympton always wanted to be an animator and had such heroes as Walt Disney. He worked on the animated film Boomtown first but, he told Leafstorm, it was his film Your Face that made him “able to quit print…[and] go full time into animation.” Your Face even got an Oscar Nomination.
Plympton also spoke with Leafstorm about his new film, Cheatin, which comes out in L.A. on August 15, 2014. Plympton says it will be a dark, almost noir, romantic animated feature, a “typical Bill Plympton film,” he adds good-naturedly. Cheatin will premiere at the Downtown L.A. Independent Cinema and everyone who attends will get the chance to have Plympton draw them a quick sketch so go quickly and mark your calendars. Plympton also expects that Cheatin “will break the stereotype that animation is only for kids.”
This seems to be a campaign in which Plympton has much at stake. He is one animator fighting to show distributors that not every animated feature needs to be targeted at children, and he gets offended when distributors are offended by his films. He tells Leafstorm with a tired and exasperated tone, “I loved animation when I was a kid, why can’t I love animation as an adult and see adult ideas, adult topics, adult passion portrayed in animation? And that ‘s what I want to do with Cheatin.”
Cheatin isn’t his only project; Plympton has also started work on a film called Revengeance with Jim Lujan. He didn’t reveal much but he did say that the characterization was finished and that he would be working on storyboards and animating soon.
After hearing about Plympton’s work on Cheatin, it’s obvious that he is a very passionate man who loves his work and Leafstorm delved deeper into this love. What other films or cartoons does he love? Plympton listed off several movies, including some our younger generation will be familiar with: Tangled, How to Train your Dragon, Dumbo, and SpongeBob Squarepants, as well as some more projects geared toward adults, such as Yellow Submarine and Archer. These are pretty big compliments from a guy who has worked on 40 animated projects and three live feature films, as well as 14 episodes of America’s much-loved show, The Simpsons.
Of course after learning more about what Plympton was working on and about his favorites, Leafstorm asked about his animation process. Plympton said that he tends to be able to work on animation rather quickly, getting five to six shots done in a day. That adds up to about a minute of animation completed in a week, which seems insane to most of us. At the end of the day, animation is a time-consuming art, whether it’s done digitally or with pencil and paper. As to Plympton’s animation preferences, he says he’s done it all. He started with pencil and then dabbled a bit form there. His favorite method is more old-fashioned, right where he started with pencil and paper.
The animated feature, The Tune, was Plympton’s first full-length feature, but which is his favorite? Plympton said that working on Cheatin was fun and exciting but his favorite was I Married a Stranger, which came out in 1997. In all seriousness, he told Leafstorm that I Married a Stranger was his favorite for three reasons: “It’s very bizarre and violent and [has] lots of sex.” It would seem that I Married a Stranger goes right up there with Plympton’s other films made to break the animation is for children mold.
Plympton ended by saying he hopes to see everyone at the viewing of Cheatin, and he’s ready for a full weekend at San Diego Comic-Con.
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