Saturday, October 13, 2007

Naoyuki Tsuji DVD

Here is a nice after-image to the last post, Naoyuki Tsuji!! It is very hard to find information on the independent animation scene from Japan so I was very surprised to find this DVD collection of Tsuji's work!!! This is from Facets Multi-media, which is a non-profit distribution house out of Chicago that focuses on art house, foreign and hard-to-find cinema. Here is a small clip of Tsuji's film Trilogy about Clouds. Naoyuki works on a single sheet of paper with charcoal in hand as he works in an almost stream-of-conscious process. He lets the images emerge and transform out of the ghosted thoughts of childhood and memory in an almost delicate meditation of subject and medium. Erasing, blurring and drawing on top of as the last image becomes the new memory of the memory. Animation is very much like how the brain and memory function but it is interesting to add on the creative process of re-enacting that in a contemplative and intuitive way of working.

Naoyuki Tsuji has become synonymous with independent animation as the discussions about the art form are now starting to take hold. He gave a talk at the MOMA earlier this year and was apart of a brilliant exhibit this year at Parasol Gallery in London called Momentary Momentum. From the likes of William Kentridge, Kara Walker, Michael Dudok de Wit, Paul Bush and David Shrigley this exhibit establishes the role of animation in Contemporary art and the impacts on both (I noticed you can buy the catalog and dvd of this in N.A. from the New Museum). Here is a review and an excerpt of Tsuji's new film Children of the Shadows from the Dazed Digital site! Also, Naoyuki will be in a group show at the Dorsky Gallery in Long Island from November 18th to the end of January. Finally, there will be a program of Tsuji's films at this year's Aurora festival (November 7-10th). You can now view the full schedule and programs for this coming-soon festival! That should get you caught up on everything that is Naoyuki Tsuji...enjoy!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Don't be BLU!!

Here is a fantastic animation that picked me up out of my doldrums! I don't know much about the Italian artist named BLU but here is his website. All I can tell you is that this film was done for the Fantoche animation festival that was just held last month in Switzerland. It reminds me very much of Naoyuki Tsuji's work in both look (as in seeing the ghosting of the previous images) and surreal subject matter but on a huge scale.

I need my bedroom painted...I wonder if he does house calls?!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sleeping Betty

I know, I know...what the! But, here I am finally awoken from my 'Sleeping Betty' sort of slumber. Alas, no Prince Charming came to my rescue but at least it was a horse's swift kick that has jolted this bunny back up and staring with a stiff upper lip at Claude Cloutier's new short film. Sleeping Betty (Isabelle au bois dormant) not only took the Best Canadian film category at this year's Ottawa International Animation Festival but it also took the Public Award! In fact, after the showing of the film they introduce the film maker and I think Claude was caught like a moose in the headlights of the audiences thunderous applause.

Here is the synopsis of the film:
In a sumptuous palace in the basement of a house in a Montreal working-class neighbourhood, Princess Betty sleeps in a narcoleptic stupor. The king is at her bedside. He appeals to Uncle Henri VIII, Aunt Victoria, an emotional alien, a cool witch and, why not, a handsome prince! This worthy Prince Charles lookalike has to leave his royal suburb, confront a Canadian dragon and brave a surreal set of road rules in order to save the princess. But will Betty be wakened with just a kiss? (watch teaser)

Sleeping Betty is an anachronistic romp and rout through a richly illustrated style that could have easily come out of the pages of Punch magazine or the satirical caricature papers of the late 19th century. Mix that with Avery-style slap stick gags and let steep with the absurd predicaments that enfold in order to wake the too much Nyquil hibernation that Betty is in. Stir in a couple of lumps of Canadiana and now you've got the perfect brew to serve up in that cracked Queen Victoria patterned china cup. I would say though, that it is the ginger-snappy timing that carries this wordless film and will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat. In the end it will make you want to plant your own sloppy kiss on Betty in order to end the tea party insanity!!

Bonus: watch Claude's film Overdose here!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ottawa International Animation Festival

I just returned from the Ottawa International Animation Festival. I mean...really...I just got home. So this is a quick post to tell you who won. The big winners include Persepolis (Feature film), Franz Kafka's A Country Doctor by Koji Yamamura (Grand Prize for Best Independent Short), Golden Age by Aaron Augenblick (Best Television Animation) and Madame Tutli-Putli by Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski (Best Narrative Short under 35 min.)!!! I will fill ya in on the rest after I get one myself!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Simply Helen Hill

Riding the pink bike of Helen Hill made me blue and smiling tears. In a happy coincidence, I witnessed the beautiful contradictions that make up the spokes and sprockets of the life and films of Helen Hill. At the Pacific Cinematheque last week I had the pleasure of sitting in on what would be an intimate and inspirational evening. I almost didn't go that night because there will be a retrospective of Helen's work in September at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. But luckily, I did because what I didn't know was Helen's husband Paul Gailiunas and her son Francis now live in Vancouver and not only were they there but Helen's family was there too. All of a sudden, the small theatre shrank and the flat white screen became the background where the silhouette of Helen was captured and we were moved by stories and song. The audience became a privileged few who got to listen in on and peer through the mouseholes of their tribute to her. Paul sang songs with Helen's playful words attached, children were restless and potbellied pigs squealed as their act of remembrance captured unto itself the essence of Helen's films: spirited, cheerful and personal.

The lights went down and the flicker of memory hit the screen joyously hard.

From Vessel (1992) to Bohemian Town (2004), each film was not only a recipe for DIY film making but a genuine reflection of life and the love of it. Unfortunately, I never met Helen nor had I seen any of her films before but I felt like I knew her after seeing them. Maybe it is because the 16 mm film makes it read like an animated home movie. It is as though we are secretly getting to read her diary frame by frame. Also, there is this experimental process of discovery where the film technique itself adds an innocent quality to the stories. Her films are spills of colour, a childhood filled with scratched-in discoveries, mischievously caught under a sun filled day. Simply they are Helen the film-maker, wife, mother, sister and daughter.
(Aside) my favorite memory from that night is when the silent film Your New Pig is Down the Road was playing and you could hear Helen's family whispering up front as her nephew repeatedly said 'Daisy' aloud. It was a very moving 'soundtrack'.
Needless to say that night was beautifully sad and inspiring. Paul summed it up when he sang her words ' ought to know what it is to wait'! As it is the simple quiet times of life that are the best and with patience the joys will come.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Prince Achmed in Detroit

Animation news on a local note...Lotte Reiniger's silhouette gets cast onto the big screen this weekend (June9-10) as the Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) overshadows the Detroit Film Theater. Oh and did I say that it is a newly restored 35mm offering up to the sun gods with live organ accompaniment! Check out the rest of the summer series and I will see ya there!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Japanese Classic Cartoon(1933)

Here is a nice piece of inspiration to kick this week off. I am no expert at Japanese animation but I liked the Fleischer likeness of this cartoon. I also really like the inventiveness of the scenes ala Felix the Cat kind of stuff. I don't have any info about the film as I just happened upon it on Youtube. But, here is a 4 set dvd collection of old classic Japanese cartoons put out by Digital Meme to fill this largely missed historical void! Oh and I would like to highlight Anipages for the source I use to fill in this gelatinous void of mine about the Japanese scene.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sweet Salt

While taking a break from devouring the newly served up morsel, the Animate! book: Rethinking Animation, I thought I would take some time to see what animators I could snack on-line on. So there, lo and behold, Dek from No Fat Clips! has Katerina Athanasopoulou stuck between his teeth and I thought I would pick at the Sweet Salt taste of it. I mentioned this film awhile back when talking about Suzie Templeton, who was the set designer on this film. Now you can see this short film in it's entirety in various concession stands on the net and better still nibble on a podcast interview with Katerina here. I will go more into the Animate! scheme later on but I just wanted to point out this short film. Katerina studied painting in Greece and that is very evident in the sensual mood and other-worldliness in each frame that is created by the effects here but unfortunately I think the story as a whole suffers from it's sumptuousness. The narrative isn't hard to follow it is the empathy of the characters that is too sweet rather that salty. The ending needs to be more apparently bitter rather than subtle to my taste. Nevertheless, Sweet Salt is still a beautiful digression and it's experimentation in it's effects and themes reminds me of Lorelei Pepi's short film Grace. Take knife in hand and go and gorge yourself on the layered fillings of these two films.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Russian animation part 2

I don't know where I found this but here is a mined mountain mother load of contemporary animation from Mother Russia. Rambler Vision has many prrreh-shh-us nuggets to stare at that will undoubtedly be forged into rings of grandeur, most notably for me is Konstantin Bronzit's At the Ends of the Earth (shown above)!! Yesssss! Not much else to say but to go open your omnipresent blood shot eye and spend thousands of hours watching the glowing cube. In the end you will look like troglodytes mesmerized by strange shiny Cyrillic symbols and not wanting to share with the rest of those in the dark. Just remember it was miiine first!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Animatsiya - Russian animation

Well there is a new blog on the block, Animatsiya, and it is pointing it's telescope up into the night sky to bring news and reviews from the animated stars of Ursa Major! Niffiwan's (0r ESN) website is devoted to exposing, highlighting and translating Russian animation. He has just recently finished translating, The Cat Who Walked by Herself (shown above)! It is an obscure film that dates from 1988 and is based on a Rudyard Kipling short story. Here is the Wikipedia synopsis of it. This is great stuff! Not only is it laid out like a Russian feast for our viewing pleasure here but it is a film that is little known even to the Russian populace. So please take the time and watch this unknown feature length film clocking in at 1 hour 9 minutes. It uses various animation techniques and has a cool 'soundtrack'! Also, check out the rest of his blog and leave lots of comments of encouragement. Thanks for exposing this film for us. I will certainly raise a glass of vodka to that...URA!

Friday, May 04, 2007


Well, the Clyde Henry train has finally pulled into the station and arrived with a suitcase filled with menace and particularities! Madame Tutli Putli, I have been awaiting your visual haunting for what seems an eternity now. Not that anyone is reading this blog anymore but the impending clickety clack of this film is enough to break my stopped motion and begin to turn the hamster wheel again!! Here is the synopsis of the film:

Madame Tutli-Putli boards the night train, weighed down with all her earthly possessions and the ghosts of her past.

She travels alone, facing both the kindness and menace of strangers. As day descends into dark, she finds herself caught up in a desperate metaphysical adventure. Adrift between real and imagined worlds, Madame Tutli-Putli confronts her demons and is drawn into an undertow of mystery and suspense.

The Clyde Henry's are the team of Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski. You wouldn't know it to see it but this is their first professional film. The trailer alone reveals beautiful animation, the sets meticulous and the music will no doubt be epic ( as it was composed by David Bryant, who was one of the founding members of Godspeed You Black Emperor). This film has been an epic in itself as it has taken at least 5 years to make. To see it you can go to Annecy this year or just go and collect the snippets of isolated mementos and details at the Official NFB site and watch the trailer and the interviews. But I am sure this film will be making it's way through a festival town near you!

Also, there is actual news on the Clyde Henry site about their future projects which include 'The Seige of Quebec' with Momentum Theatre for a t.v. mini-series. And, they are working with Bruce MacDonald's production company to adapt Chester Brown's, Ed the Happy Clown, to film.
Great STUFF!! So go my lemmings and wait for the Northern train to take you over the surreal cliff and into the desolate landmindscape of Madame Tutli Putli.

UPDATE: Cartoonbrew post
Drawn! post
and better still: Jason Walker's site (who worked on Madame Tutli-Putli)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ann Arbor Film Festival

First, I want to congratulate Guilherme Marcondes for winning the best animated film at this year's Ann Arbor Film Festival!! There was some stiff competition as this year's AAFF had a nice slate of animated films in this 45th anniversary of the festival. Here are some of the films I noted: Don Hertzfeldt's Everything will be OK (which won best narrative award), Osbert Parker's Film Noir, Kathy Rose's Life in the Web, Naoyuki Tsuji's Children of the Shadows, Takashi Ishida's Ema/Emaki 2 and a celebratory retrospective of the films of Helen Hill. I think you will be seeing alot more of Helen Hill on the festival circuit this year!! Now that I have let this tyger out of the post bag, hopefully my entrails of thought will continue to stain the page. Fire up the electrodes!!!

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Hello there kitties! I know that I haven't been posting much here in the last while but I have been posting my most terrible doodles at Squidinklings!! Don't despair though, there are lots of tasty scoops of goodness to fill those eye cones with here (like Squidulin's above!). Yeah, this is another communal drawing therapy group to help motivate us and others to draw for the fun of it. If you wanna join please feel free to scribble me an email or just leave a comment (please, it's for 'their' egos:) In the meantime, I am gathering back up steam or flatulence to climb up and poke my big melon outta the hole to report on all the edible independent g.m.o. (generally misrepresented organizations) carrots that I have been nibbling on lately.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Torill Kove

Torill who? You might be asking. Well, Torill Kove, this year's Academy Award winner for Best Animated Short film, that's who!!! Her film the Danish Poet took top honour this year beating out the household names of Disney and Blue Sky. So, it was nice to see the underdog take it for all the little independent guys who did not make it onto the final nomination ballot. Congratulation to Torill and her team!!! Here is the official film site! Also, be sure to check the interview.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Spared Change and Ryan Larkin R.I.P.

The fine art of wallowing is the walk that I have been trying to perfect for the last little while. Frantically but methodically I pace back and forth trying to remember all the steps that make up this Danse Macabre. It is like chasing an anamorphic shadow that can only be caught in the spinning reflection of my former self. Fractured soundloops of memory work up to a fever pitch as the skeletons emerge out of the shadow box. Looming over me, the parallax makes them gigantic and skewed and I move further away from myself. I try and look back but I can only squint at the bottom line of hindsight. Lost in this closed circuit, I finally find some solace in the passing light of Ryan Larkin. Here, let me stumble back to a beginning...
I first read about Ryan Larkin in an article that Chris Robinson wrote for AWN back in 2000. I was immediately taken in. A gifted animator fallen from grace at the hands of a 'rock n' roll' lifestyle. Cool! I thought that Walt being strung out on meglomaniacy was the only secret tabloid of the industry. So, it was here that 'the Pimp' got me hooked on Ryan and the animation world. I wanted to find out more about Ryan. I even toyed with the idea of making a documentary about him (believe it or not). Anyway, a couple of year's past and I heard a rumour that Ryan was going to be working on his first film in decades with the help of the Quickdraw Animation Society and the Ottawa Film Co-op. But, when I asked Chris about it, he said that the deal had fallen through because it would have hurt his welfare cheque and that was all he had left (see Chris's article for the details). It was like Ryan exuded a stench of pathos but did not want anyone to help clean him up. Like some medieval Flaggellant, he masticated himself with the drink and the harshness of life's blows. This was penance of beer, piss and brine that preserved an image of self no matter how grotesque. But then, Chris Landreth came along and held up a mirror. Landreth not only did "a" documentary, he tapped into the power of animated documentaries (i.e. Sproxton and Lord, Park and Fierlinger to name a few) and he brought a credibility to the plastic eye candy of CG. The finished product, Ryan, was a two-headed silver coin in Ryan's cup that exposed the face of failure, bitterness and all, on the one side. But more importantly, re-illuminated the films of Ryan on the otherside and the uncalculable face value that he has contributed to the animation world. Landreth, as everyone in the world should know, went on to win an Academy award but more significantly Ryan Larkin was given the Norman McLaren Heritage award (or was at least nominated) to much dismay of some people in the Animation community. My point is that the light source was turned up a notch for Ryan and the genuine outpouring of respect from everyone might of just spared some change in him. This was then magnified with the help and support of friend Laurie Gordon and his shadow shortened even more. Then lo and behold Ryan started working on a film called Spare Change. He also recently completed idents for Mtv!! I definately do not want to make this into some Disney film ending! I am just saying that even though he clung onto loss for decades, it makes me happy to see that he was starting to get that something back of his former self even if it was just more money for drink. But I do think it goes deeper than that though. Maybe it is the hope of seeing someone coming back from the shadows that I cling to? Whatever it is, my hat is tipped, as well as my perspective, to the life and work of Ryan Larkin. He has shown me that there are different kinds of walks and maybe I can find my own way back onto the path I started 7 years ago.
Cheers to Ryan for he was a gentle soul and an inspiration.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I know my friend, John Keane, will kill me for posting this doodle of his. But, since his website is being revamped I needed something to fill the hydrocephalic void! It also gives me a chance to plug his latest project, Blood Nation. John did the art work for this on issues #3 & 4! Check out more blood stained goodness here and here! Woohoo! Maybe I can convince him to start posting some of his daily doodles on my new blog, Squidinklings!! Wha' da ya say dere ya know, son?! Buh-Nneeeee!!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Guy Delisle

Alllright-ee then, let's keep this blog rolling! Let's hear your best singing voice raise in unison for a quebecois rendition of "Bonne Fete" pour Guy Delisle, as it is his birthday today. I realize that I have been neglecting the comics and art quotion so I will try and make up for it in the coming weeks. So, you might of heard of Guy Delisle's books, Pyonyang or his recent Shenzhen, both of which have topped multiple 'best of' lists over the last couple of years. Here is a nice interview from NPR with Guy speaking about his work and HERE is a recent article from the Ottawa Citizen shedding some light about his thoughts on the changing industry of graphic novels and publishing. More importantly, Fous D'Anim posted about an exhibition of his in France that one can see all the great pics from on the Lili & Beko site!! Huge Zoetropes and pictures from his experiences in China and North Korea. Check out the fun that we are missing over here on this side and hope a gallery or festival in Quebec will get this exhibition over here! Don't laugh, it could Amid Amidi at the Brew points out, Montreal is getting THIS!!! If you haven't read any of Guy's stuff, I encourage you to pick up a copy. Walk backwards to your nearest book store or your local library as it is probably there by now. Hopefully, the mainstreaming of comix is a good thing and not it's great undoing.

Tara Bryan

I am having trouble writing & drawing these days so I thought I would try and let the inspirational squid out of the jar or in this case the Jack! out of the bookbox?! If you squeeze hard enough the ink will ooze out like a concertina and you'll be absorbed by the master bookcraftery of Tara Bryan. I have always had a soft squishy spot for Artist's books, ever since I visited the Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts gallery. It made a lasting impression and doing an artist book myself is a constant on that 'to do' list before the ink runs out. That's why I have to wake up and take notes from Tara's bag of visual tricks. Tara's art books are stunning and creative in design. Sculptural, tactile and architectonic, the books take on a physical presence in one hand and a very functional play on the words in the other. In this case, 'Jack!' takes the form of a jack-in-the-box or 'Down the Rabbit Hole' expands or descends into the literary manifestation thereof. And it is this bunny that happily jumps in big head first into the paper walled world that she has built! Let the squid out tentacles and all.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Well here is a post that I should of done on Monday (well actually last year but curmudgeoness takes alot of work). So with that said, get yer arses over to AniBOOM!! A veritable one stop animation spree that will light a match under yer aforementioned area and make ya wanna do your own. But since their animation competition is now over, you can help decide who gets a piece of the $50,000 dollaro prize. That's right! A hand clenched, wee beady eyes, toothy grin kinda of prize. I am partial to Bendito Machine, Mr. Fortune and my favorite HUMANS!! Not that I am trying to influence anyone. Go vote. And light a match!!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

50 Greatest Cartoons time capsule...

I have been caught in the winter blahs of a mid-life crisis and I shouldn't be quite there yet. So, it was with a big bell over my head that I walked into this swinging list of the 50 Greatest Cartoons from 1994 (via Cityrag and Ticklebooth). The reverberations took me in a time capsule flashback with a big 'BONG' (although back then I was still sheltered and naive) and woke me back up to what is good in my life...animation and cheese.
You should dig a little hole, plant yourself down and bask in the warmth of your monitor where you can watch almost all of these classic cartoons. For example, numero 44 on the list is Frederic Back's, 'The Man Who Planted Trees' (shown above). It put a little smile on my face so I guess that makes me a 'Person of the Year'. Mmmm...spreadable.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Animation Show Round Trois!

As Game Over signals the death of my Dreams and Desire in this City Paradise, 9 Rabbits whilst in a fatal Collision with a Guide Dog gurgle in unison that Everything Will Be Okay and that in Overtime I will forge through the Strong Waters but tragicallly in the end there will be No Room for Gerold. What is this peyote inspired rambling you say? ...well it is the third round bout of the ANIMATION SHOW! Giant mouseketeer sea creatures take on the entire 'Flying Zambini' bros. air squad in this match to the death. Here is the schedule to go see this Amazing touring ocean battle semi-near you or not even close at all!! For those interested locally, it is playing in Royal Oak from Feb. 13th-21st @ the Main Arts Theatre.
Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt have put together another visual clambake that yields many pearls. Like the 'current hot potatoe' of the animation scene, Max Hattler, to last year's idolater, Run Wrake! The other films are festival faves and award winners, check out the full list here. The one that caught mes yeux was Eaux Forte (shown above) by Remi Chaye. Yeah Remi!! I had the pleasure of meeting Remi this summer as he is working on Cartoon Saloon's highly anticipated feature film, Brendan and the Secret of Kells. Here is to good coffee, a broken piano and broken noses!
Go see and enjoy the "spectacle" (I wonder if the french have a word for that).

Monday, January 01, 2007