Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Puppet 101

I started making a puppet last week. Sorry, that the pic isn't the best. I really liked working with Sculpey and made a wire armature. I just can't decide whether to make clay clothes for it or doll clothes. For all the low down on wire armatures, tips and tricks on modelling and effects go to and check out the FAQ section.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Sarah Van den Boom

Well on skimming the waters last week I found this surprise catch o' the day in my net. Sarah Van den Boom just put up a website of her work. Most of it is under construction but most importantly you can watch her entire 17 minute long first film, Novecento! This ENSAD grad sites the works of Frédéric Back, Youri Norstein, Alexandre Petrov, and Satoshi Kon as inspiration. So go and enjoy this obvious labour of love film.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Sunday Inspiration: William Kentridge

This is Wunderbar!!! The Deutsche Guggenheim is exhibiting the new work, Black box/Chambre Noir, by William Kentridge. William Kentridge has his feet firmly planted in the art world but hovers into the field of animation. The nature of animation helps him explore the theme of memory and passing time and inversely he rejuvenates and elevates the process itself. Using the charcoal technique he sets about creating and destroying geographical spaces and history's forgotten memories. The monochromatic marks of the charcoal reveal the blur of politics and the smear of social class. His work stands firmly on the shoulders of the German expressionists of the Weimar Republic, i.e. Grosz, Dix, Heckel and Beckman, in both style and theme. William Kentridge's work may border between two disciplines but in the end he enriches both by expanding the narrow view that each hold towards the other and demonstrates the creative force that animation is. I end this weeks focus on a high note and hope that this musical medley of german noise wakes the neighbors!!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Scratched surface

This is the midnight run before the close of this weeks focus on the German scene. Of course, I just lightly scratched the surface of the current films coming out let alone the long history that the 'Trickfilm' has in Germany. The origins starting with the beautiful silhouette films of Lotte Reiniger, Prince Achmed(1926), which is attributed as the first feature animated film going up to the Academy Award winning Balance by Christoph and Wolfgang Lauenstein. I remember seeing this short at the local indie film theater in the Spike and Mike festival and was blown away by it's simple yet powerful social and political statement. So I was pleased to see that the twin brothers are still at it.
This survey would not be complete without mentioning Raimund Krumme. Influential independent filmmaker who like Phil Mulloy uses a simple figural style to convey complex ideas. The Cinémathèque québécoise just screened a retrospective of his work. Hopefully, that most excellent fpsmagazine will have a review of it in an upcoming issue. I also want to mention the Periwig Maker by Annette and Steffen Schäeffler. Which is a gorgeous puppet animation short about plague striken London adapted from the writings of Daniel Defoe. A strong U.K. connection with Kenneth Brannagh narrating, it was nominated for an Oscar in 1999. You can see it in it's entirety at Atomfilms.
Lastly, I want to point out Harold Siepermann's blog. One of the industries current top notch character designers. Join him as he shares drawings, thoughts and advice on design and animation. He is now teaching at the German film school which was sponsored by CARTOON as a professional training center and of which Raimund Krumme is a founding member of.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

connect zee dots

Wie ich mich traf or meeting me by Angela Steffen was one of the great student films at this years OIAF. A nicely stylized black and white film about the artist trying to find out about herself in various transformations all set in a colouring book world. Angela is in her second year at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg and under the supervision of Andreas Hykade (animation pimp designer fame)! Andreas's films, Ring of fire and We lived in grass, are depth charged fields that trip the wire and explode the genre into frail and wounded territory. He won the music video category with Die Toten Hosen WALKAMPF for FilmBilder studios. Great timing with seemingly simple design gives in to psychadelic sequences that capture the addictiveness of the song.
Also, from the Filmakademie site there is this great find of their Animation Institute. From the projects page you can find snippets or full versions of the latest cool short films...some of my favorites are No Limits (on Ars Electronica 04 dvd), Das Floß(the Raft) which is part of a touring german animation program, and 3 Phasen which is just cool. They also have Bunnies which was used for the Internation Trickfilm festival in Stuttgart and an Mtv ident which was produced by Studio Soi. There was a good 'new german animation' program at this years Leipzig festival for documentary and animation films. It had both Angela Steffen and Andreas Hykade works in it and Ego Sum Alpha et Omega by Jan-Peter Meier. Which is appropriate for closing the cirle here, I also saw Jan-Peter's graduate film in Ottawa this year and is a film that ends where it started. And at the end I heard someone say, "that was sooo German!"...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Jens Harder

Well, I must admit that my exposure to german comix is downright smaller than my pinsized skull. Although this fall I was fortunate enough to pick up Leviathan, a cool word-less comic by Jens Harder. Jens Harder, along with Tim Dinter, Kathi Käppel, Ulli Lust, Mawil and Kai Pfeiffer, founded the Berlin comic group Monogatari. So check them out and if you can get your hands on Leviathan it is certainly worth it.


I remember finding this publication on animation, Spacetricks, through the Zurich Museum of Design. It is in both German and English but unfortunately I can only find it to buy on the German Amazon site. There is not alot of detail about the exhibition or what films are in the book. However, I believe it was in collaberation with Surrey Institute of Art in the UK and the Fantoche animation festival. Just a curious find that I would like to find more info on.

Knowbotic Research

I have a confession to make...for someone (moi) who is a neophyte when it comes to computers, I secretly have a fascination (addiction) to new media arts! And when speaking of media arts, Germany is the gladitorial arena that sets the cult of technology up against the fierce lions of artistic expressions. The Knowbotic Research is a group that definately gets a thumbs up from this bigheaded caesar. They are a group that has been pushing the boundaries of interactive art for the last 15 years. The interface between user and information dissemanation has been a regular theme in their work as they continue to be at the forefront of this ever emerging art form. For more of what is happening in the world of new media go to the ZKM museum (Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe). They showcase the lastest and greatest in this Interactive Revolution that will supplant the old gods with A.I. robots and universal global tracking! Also, check oot the annual festival in Berlin, Trasmediale.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


This week I am going to have a german theme. So from Von Hagen I move to the Reflektorium. This studio is comprised of animator Anja Struck (work above) and the wickedly talented illustrators Lars Henkel and Mario Wagner. I saw Anja's film, Whisper of the Fur Cones, and really liked the sound loop driven images that are very Brother's Quay in tone but carry off their own atmospheric quality. You can view a clip of it here in the professional section.
Then you have the work of Lars Henkel who is currently a favorite of mine and Mario Wagner who make these great collage images. So go to Reflektorium and see yourself through the eyes of these unique artists. Also, if you have anything german that you would like me to highlight, send it in as I always love getting email to fill my cranial egomania!

Sunday inspiration gladly paid for on a Tuesday

Sunday Inspiration is brought to you by Gunther von Hagen. Well I am back from my long weekend journey to the netherworld of Toronto. I stand atop a stele where the dead emerge to reveal the secrets of humanity. Of course, I talk about Bodyworlds, a travelling exhibit where science/art surgically display the mysteries of our mortal coil. Von Hagan uses a 'plastination' process whereby he injects the cadavre with a synthetic material, i.e. epoxy resin, rubber or polyester, that replaces the bodies water which then preserves everything intact. This preservation can even get down to the smallest capilleries to show the entire circulatory system or nervous system. The bodies are often posed in 'action' or mimic a historic work of art and reveal the different layers (like the image above). Von Hagan pushes the boundary between art and science to the extreme and whether you agree or not with these sculpures of the once living, they certainly educate the layman and appeal to our curiousities of the inner workings of the machine of flesh and blood. I will admit that I felt like I was in some Barnum museum but instead of being fooled by some stitched together 'Mermaid Lady' I found myself in awe of the real complex systems of the human body. You can't take any pictures but as I found out too late you are allowed to draw!!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Franck Dion

If you haven't seen this great lil' short stop-motion flic(ker) of brilliance then pick up the monkey and join the freakshow wagon to welcome Franck Dion's, THE PHANTOM INVENTORY! This film was a surprise highlight for me last year when I saw it. Look at the behind the scenes look at the making of this digital/stop-motion hybrid that is essentially 2 movies into 1. And if that isn't enough I found his latest website, The Imaginary Travels of Franck Dion, which ingeniously shows his work in film and illustration wrapped in this nice 'Myst'-like environment. So this should hold you off until tuesday as I am going to the Waterloo Animation festival this weekend and will report my findings post haste in a nice pie chart presentation. Mmmmm...pie!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Guillaume Delaunay

This is a great little find that will quickly tickle that sensitive spot where you secretly liked being touched. Waterlili is the creation of Guillaume Delaunay and packs a visual wallop for a tiny flash site. The site is in french but don't be affraid to poke a couple of eyes to navigate yourself around in a world that showcases his distict graphic style and talent!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Speaking of cool new comix...check out R. Kikuo Johnson’s, Night Fisher!
@ seabread dot com!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Lorenzo Mattotti

There are so many great comix coming out that I can't wait to get my well licked paws on them! A great series that is coming out is the 'Ignatz' collection. It is an international collection of comic artists in collaboration with Fantagraphics and Coconino Press. The dozen contributors so far are from Great Britain (Matt Broersma), France (Epileptic’s David B.), Italy (Francesca Ghermandi, the legendary Lorenzo Mattotti, and series founder Igort), RAW’s Marti (Spain), and the U.S. (Anders Nilsen and Kevin Huizenga). I just ordered Lorenzo Mattotti's, Chimera. Lorenzo Mattotti is one of the italian masters of comix (fumetto) and his stuff will rob you of your senses faster than gypsies stealing your money. His art has been regularly seen over here on the covers of the New Yorker and you can get a translated version of his Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde published by NBM. I don't want to say much about him...just take the plunge into a world where art and sequential storytelling meet in a deep beautiful ocean. Pretend you never saw this and you discovered his site by some happy accident and then you can feel like it is just your own seed of inspiration.

Monday, November 14, 2005

JJ Villard

What to say about the strangled-guiltsweat world of JJ Villard! I was at the Ottawa festival when his film, Son of Satan(2003), won and this whirlwind of a dervish gets on stage. With teeth gnashing, adrenaline fueled shards of thanks and elation washed over us and filled us with his passion and brashness. Even when the lights went out to stop the baptismal tirade, he kept on shouting out into the darkness. This burned memory of the character of JJ Villiard is like a shadow under the glow of his films. For it is raw, brash, imperfection that summarizes the filmography of this CalArts graduate. At this years OIAF festival, Chestnuts Icelolly, won the grand prize for student animation. My gut reaction to his work reminded me of David Lapham's, Stray Bullets with more moles and warts thrown in. A strong graphic style holds up a limited animation technique that is then driven (full-tilt) by the characters. Which is what I like about his films! You can watch part of Son of Satan here and Chestnuts Icelolly here along with many other cool animations (the tree officer) to keep you occupied. Be sure to wear the HCB iron maiden ad sign box for me and be sure to tell all your friends to come by.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sunday Inspiration: Brian Jungen

This weeks oration comes from the Book of Brian...always look on the bright side of not that Brian! Brian Jungen is a native aboriginal artist that combines the Western 'religion' of Consumerism and Native symbols. In this case Brian uses Nike shoes and transforms them into the Masks of the Dane-Zaa Nation for whom he belongs to. The issues associated to Air Jordan shoes are one of fame, money and consumerism. It also addresses issues of Third world labour and exploitation as he mixes it with religious symbols of Native culture. This appropriation of the two cultures creates a hybrid of shapeshifters that take form in the guise of global homogeny and cultural identity. One of the things that comes to mind about the Nike shoe masks is about the 'pelting' feature in 3DStudio Max. It allows for easy skinning of the object for surface mapping. Only Brian's work literally 'pelts' the surface of theNike shoe onto a Native mask giving it a new meaning and power. The connotations of this is both cultural and technical and gives underlying meaning to the overt material used. Something to think about instead of trying to re-create hyperrealism. I leave you with one of my favorite pieces ,Cetology, where he uses white plastic chairs to create a museum-like installation of a skeleton of a whale.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Lest We Forget

George Leroux, Hell, 1917

Jon Foster

I know I am getting lazy in my I'll get off me arse and post this one for me mate in Kilkenny, Barry, who is drawing his wee heart out (he's a mean one!) at Cartoon Saloon! Jon Foster is one fantasmaliscious (that's right! I said it) illustrator and painter!
So go and draw and be mary...or jane or whoever you want to be...your an artist and that's OKAY!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Marc Ngui + Ho Che Anderson + Paul Roux

Now to catch up on stuff I saw on the weekend. This years BookFEST Windsor had a graphic novel component to it...finally! For the inaugeral year they graciously brought in Marc Ngui, Ho Che Anderson and Paul Roux. Unfortunately, I did not get to hear their talks as I was stuck in Detroit after watching a teeth gnashing horrible documentary at the Detroit DocFest. It was Detroit: A ruin of a city and if any aspiring filmmaker wants to know how not to make a documentary...this is THE film for you!! But that is another tale only told with beer in hand. So ANY-w-a-y, Marc Ngui did his cool book slideshow reading thingy that I encourage anyone to see if they get a chance. Also, I guess some of the discussions were about 'french' vs. 'english' comic support and audience. Quebec has the advantage of carrying over the BD culture from France and thus has much bigger support and ergo MONEY for comic artists. Hopefully, this 'Graphic Novel' shift will become something akin to BD or Manga and not just a fad so that artists such as Marc and Ho Che can earn a living off of it. Now with some of the bigger publishers getting onto the graphic novel scene more money and exposure can be brought to many overlooked artists. One last thing, I know I am not giving the artists just reward but do check them out! Picked up Ho Che's, King, and was blown away by the black and white intensity of his drawings.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Claire Wendling

This should have been yesterday's post as it fits with the Sunday Inpiration piece. Claire Wendling is an artiste extraordinaire and one of my muses. Her strong figural drawings are very much akin to that of Egon Schiele. She is a versatile artist that has a creative sense of design, colour and line. Claire is, in my humble opinion, one of the best illustrators working in the field of comix and animation. Although, I will say that I do like her more illustrative work and paintings than her animation designs. Viva Wendling and viva la rahr rahr!

Another artist who shows influence of Egon Schiele is Peter Chung. His seminal Mtv series, Aeon Flux, with its elongated expressive figures is a prime example. Too bad they didn't just give him the money for an animated feature length movie instead of wasting it on live-action.

Clyde Henry Production

I remembered reading about this cool puppet animation duo in Toronto a couple of years back but couldn't recall their names or where I had read it...until now!! Clyde Henry Production are Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski. They do some nice collage work but the best is their quirky and quay-esque animation, especially the Space Channel Idents. They alone are worth a perusal of their website. Unfortunately, there is no text or description and no updates to what they are currently working on. As I can recall from the now sadly defunct LOLA magazine, they had received money to work on a puppet animation that was about interviews with women travelling alone and something and something. Sorry, I can't specifically recall the exact premise but I do remember that Godspeed! You Black Emperor was supposed to be doing the music!! Theoretically, they should be done it by now so if anyone has any info give me a shout. So there ya have it, another worthy specimen to be cleaned, gutted and stuffed for that special spot over the mantle.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Phil Mulloy

Well I am finally back...the virus is still there but I am down from a fever to a Trojan (horse) fug by marauding cowboys of the randy kind! So I thought it would be appropriate to focus on Phil Mulloy. Independent animator and all around film anarchist, Phil Mulloy's black humour and ink will stain your soul. You can view snippits of the Intolerance series on his site and be sure to check out the 'news' section. His films address issues of religious fundamentalism like in the aformentioned series to social issues of consumer culture. But whether, you agree or not with his views, Mulloy's films are always penetrating and bleed with sarcasm and wit. Animation is used as a vehicle for reflective cynicism and thought that crashes head on with dry and sometimes nasty humour. So keep the kids up and glue their eyes open to watch the Wonderful World of Mulloy!

Friday, November 04, 2005


Hey all! Sorry about the lack of posts this week but my computer has been ravaged by computer viruses!! So hopefully everything will be back in order for tomorrow.