Monday, March 31, 2014

"Plumb" by Caleb Wood..
I've been a fan of Caleb's animation since his film "Stay Home, a film we put in the Scribble Junkies festival years back. "Plumb" is an interesting approach, a film made entirely on a wall of a gallery. It's a nice technique that I wish we saw more of.. far removed from this digital crap that we see all the time. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Suggested Donation Podcast..

Painters Tony Curanaj and Edward Minoff talk art on this new podcast "Suggested Donation". Something to put on in the background while you work.  I particularly enjoyed episode 2, with Graydon Parrish. Both Tony and Ted worked back in the days at MTV with me on Beavis, as well as a score of other projects. Ted headed up the Amp NYC Animation Studio, that produced some great work in the late 90's before heading into painting full time.
Tony and I shared our Tribeca studio for a decade prior to my move to Singapore.  These two artists paintings are so refined and astounding that it forces you to consider every word they say. Enjoy.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Wind Rises review from Yestoyellow (commenter)..

Here's a well written comment responding to me and Bill's reviews of "Wind Rises".. comment is from Diana Tantillo. and there's a spoiler in there (although, we of course know how this story ends). Enjoy:

A friend of mine once told me that she played video games for the social interaction with other people. She didn't play 1 player games because if she was going to do something for the story, then she might as well read a book and have the same experience.

I know this sounds random, but I have a point to it. You say "The Wind Rises" could have been told as a live-action film. You're right, it could have been. But so can almost every story. With that kind of argument, why are films even made in the first place? I might as well just experience life. This film is not about the medium, it is about story. It just happens to be animated.

I think the story in The Wind Rises is amazing and I think you misunderstood many aspects of it. Miyazaki is not glorifying the war, but quite the opposite. What he talks about is Jiro's pure dream of making a beautiful aircraft, something that the other designers and engineers also wish to do. The film takes place in Japan, so of course things like the relationship between the Japanese and the Germans are going to be shown as "everything is sunshine and daisies, yay". But, did you not feel the tension every time the German character was on screen? The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end…. Maybe it’s just because he was kind of creepy…?

This film has so many sweet moments that "distract" from the main point. I think this is done on purpose. This film is about war, but you don't see any fighting. This makes it relate-able to the average person who, like me, has lived through war but never experienced it. When the war in Iraq was going on, I was going to school, having fun with friends, not thinking that across the sea thousands of people were dying.

The film's end is so incredibly sad. The thing that makes it sadder is that it is something that anyone, no matter what country, can understand. Jiro wanted to make beautiful planes, but now they are going to be used to kill and bring terror to people. This is exactly how the creators of the atomic bomb felt. This is exactly how scientists working at NASA felt. They knew they were creating this technology that eventually was going to be used to kill people, but what they really wanted to do was to learn more.

I think the film couldn't have come out at a better time, when war seems to be at the doorstep of every home. I think people, especially those in power, need to think more about the ethical and moral implications of what they are doing and I think this film tries to touch on that.

I'm sorry you found this film so boring, but I have to disagree with your review. I think this film has a deeper meaning that goes beyond the visual and I think that shows amazing storytelling.

CHEATIN' - New York Premiere

Exciting news!  My new feature, CHEATIN', is finally screening in NYC!

Yep!  The film will have its NY premiere at the prestigious Friars Club Comedy Film Festival.  They're going to screen it in the large New York Institute of Technology auditorium (1871 Broadway), so there will be room for everyone.

The film has already won 5 international festival prizes and awards - so come and see what I've been working on for the past five years.

Bring your friends and tell all animation fans, we need a big audience.  I want legions of people trying to get in to the screening.  I want riots, cops and paddy wagons taking rabid CHEATIN' fans off to jail...

Plus, everyone who comes gets a free drawing on a CHEATIN' card!  So I hope to see you all at the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival at 7:30 pm on Saturday, April 5!!!

Be there or be a chair...

Bill P.

For more information and tickets, please visit:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Wind Rises... Patrick's review.

Once again I find myself going against my esteemed colleague. Please read his review below (which I have bumped up the date) Sorry it took so long to get to this review, the film has just been released here in Singapore, and I don't have anything that resembles the Plympton early access to these films.
No disappointment here for anybody that appreciates the symbolic and emotional impact of Miyazaki's trains.

In the midst of the typical glut of gag driven, uninspired, and contrived Hollywood Animated Movies, comes a fresh Miyazaki masterpiece, "The Wind Rises."  Finally released here in Singapore, I watched it last night and could not have been more pleased. The artwork of the trains alone is worth a glowing review, but this is topped off by the interesting story about Jiro, the famous designer of the WW2 fighter plane, his ambitions, the state of Japan from 20's to the late 30's, and lastly a poignant (yet historically fabricated) love story. The contrast to other animated movies was set perfectly and immediately by showing a handful of trailers for upcoming animated movies, including Rio2, which promises absolutely nothing outside overly timed gags, cliches, and tired parody. I was expecting to see a matrix slow motion shot in there.
Jiro's love story with Nahoko serves the story well, giving the work obsessed airplane designer a distinct humanity.

Where other animated features rely on quit hit gags (even if they are funny), celebrity voices, and ridiculous broadway antics (that I think nobody ever enjoys), The Wind Rises is held up by sweeping panoramas, patient timing, smart storytelling, and sincere characters and acting. Everything about this movie screams sincere!  You get the feeling that you are being treated as a very intelligent person, a very engaged person, one who is ready to be told a great story with fantastic imagery to match. Some of the artwork was literally breathtaking. There's plenty of caricature and cliches, but they are used effectively as a story telling tool, and not sloppy fuel for a throw away gag engine.
Jiro studies an imagined wreck of his dream. Many of the most effective scenes in "Wind Rises" were dream sequences.

There are subtle moments in this film that I think are the greatest achievements of not only Miyazaki, but of the animation medium. When the main character, Jiro, looks into the distance as his prized ambitions are flying directly in front of him, the viewer understands the drama of the moment, the subtle suggestion of the war saturated future and destruction of Japan. This type of subtly springs up time and time again in this film creating an overwhelming feeling of an impending force that the current story is contributing to. Compare this to some of the blatant "on the nose" approaches to his earlier work, and you can see just how far this auteur has come in his legendary film career. I've always believe that subtly is the mark of a great storyteller. For the audience to understand what is happening clearly, particularly within an emotional context, with a minimal amount of screen information is a truly a masterful skill. My other favourite Miyazaki film "Kiki's Delivery Service" uses many of the same wonderful forms of subtly and character sincerity. Any film that can make a little girl that rejects her grammas pie into a demon more horrible than any big gnarly monster is a result of a master.

The Professor is happy to give this film an  "A."

The Wind Rises.. Bill's review

I believe that Hayao Miyazaki is getting too old to animate.  He keeps claiming that each animated feature he directs will be his last.  Well, I hope he keeps his promise after his most recent film.

I saw the highly anticipated film "The Wind Rises" at the glorious Telluride Film Festival, and it saddens me to say this, but it's his worst film to date.

First and foremost, the artwork is the same - bland big eyes with two circular highlights, no lips and stiff walking cycles that have plagued him for over 30 years.  This has become the trademark of animé.  And if Miyazaki is such a genius, why doesn't he try some other ideas, freshen up his look?  Experiment, perhaps.

Secondly, the story is minor and melodramatically maudlin.  His previous film "Up on Poppy Hill" was equally minor and unexciting.

Thirdly,  there are only a few sequences that are visually amazing.  In fact, the whole film could have been told in live-action.  It's my belief that animation is primarily a visual medium, and to have these straightforward soap opera dramas in animation, it kind of goes against the essence of animation.

Where is the glorious visual imagination that we witnessed in "Princess Mononoke", "My Neighbor Totoro" or "Spirited Away"?

And to top it off, the film is about the designers of the Japanese Zero and other WWII aircraft - the same planes that rained destruction on Nanking, the Philippines and Pearl Harbor.  Why Miyazaki wants to glorify the exploits of the Japanese war machine is beyond me.

My favorite Miyazaki film is "Porco Rosso".  In that film, he also glorified aviation. (His father, after all, was an aircraft engineer.)  But, in that case, the flyers were more whimsical and romantic.  They were more involved in early airplane races and not in the war in the Pacific.

In fact, "The Wind Rises" was so boring that my eyes wandered over to the lit "EXIT" sign in the theater, and I found that was more entertaining.  I was praying for someone in front of me to pull out their phone and text their friends.  That would have been more engaging than the stuff that was on the big screen.

I have to give Miyazaki's "The Wind Rises" a "D".  But please, I invite you to see the film yourself, and if you disagree with me, please let me know and I'll reprint your rebuttal.

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Anima Festival in Brussels

I've just returned from an extended trip to Europe, 2 stops to publicize "Cheatin'".  It's very important for me to go to Europe, because here in the U.S., it's more difficult to get distribution for an independent, hand-drawn, adult animated film.  So I have to go where my audience is.

My first stop was the great Anima Festival in Brussels, Belgium.  I've been going there since about 1988, and I've always seen great films and had a lot of fun.  I have a lot of fans there because Brussels, as you probably know, is one of the hotbeds of comics (The Smurfs and Tintin).

                                                            Bill's Master Class at Anima

While at Anima, I gave a Master Class, with a drawing demonstration, and screened some of my most recent projects.

But I was also there to check up on my competition.  Anima is one of the best showcases for animated features, for both kids and adults.  Although I was only there for 3 days this time, so I was only able to see one feature: "Lou Lou's Incredible Secret" by Eric Omond, adapted from a very successful book.  I loved the style a lot, but I had difficulty following the story - my French is not so good.

While I was there, the Oscars took place in the U.S.  I was surprised that "Mr. Hublot" won the Oscar for Best Animated Short - I loved the film, but I thought "Get a Horse" from Disney would win.  So much for the Oscar being bought...

As for the animated feature category, "Frozen" was a lock - it was such a popular film and made so much money.  It was no surprise, however it sure would have been great if "Ernest and Celestine" had won.

Speaking of winning, "Cheatin'" won the BeTV award for Best Animated Feature at Anima!  

                                         signing artwork for the crowds at Anima in Brussels

Next, I moved on to Paris, where I did publicity for "Cheatin'", or as it's called there, "Les Amants Electrique".

--Bill P.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Cheatin' reviews

Now that "Cheatin'" is hitting the festival circuit, we've been getting a lot of very cool reviews. For those of you who are following the film - and I hope you all are, here are some of those reviews:

"Loads of sexual of his best longform toons, an energetic romp...with distinctive, freewheeling visual imagination on giddy display. Without sacrificing his trademark surreal physicality...the writer-director-producer’s pulsing, pencil-etched, pastel-hued animation style is a pleasure to behold" - Dennis Harvey, Variety

"one of Plympton’s most accessible and fluent feature-length works." – Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter

"the Kickstarter-funded Cheatin’ is a sublimely dialogue-free dreamscape. It’s also a story of mad love in a lurid world (akin to David Lynch’s Wild at Heart)...Plympton also affectingly visualizes emotion...Has a Disney movie ever captured such a raw human ache?" - Kristi Mitsuda, Willamette Week

"one of his most accessible and oddly entrancing works to date...gorgeous piece of animation. One of Plympton’s prettiest and most surreal works yet...Inherently absurd...there is certainly no feature quite like this gorgeous romantic picture." - Joshua Brunstine, Criterioncast

"Bill Plympton is back with his first feature in five years, and fans of his signature, hand-drawn style and/or his demented sense of humor are in for a treat....Fresh and alive."
- Marc Mohan, Oregon Live

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


I first met Jim Lujan through my good buddy Ken Mora in 2009. If my memory is still intact, I recall he came to interview me on one of my visits to L.A. - perhaps I was there for the ASIFA Hollywood awards show, The Annies.

In any case, during the interview, he told me that he himself was an animator and I should check out his shorts online (how many times have I heard that request?)

Naturally, I never got around to it. Yet, I kept running into him at various animation functions: San Diego, The Annies, Burbank Film Festival, etc. He then gave me a DVD of his cartoon shorts and one day while I was bored, I slipped it into my DVD player and discovered a truly original writer, humorist, and designer.

Last year, when I was at the San Diego Comic Con, he had a booth and we hung out. Then, on my return flight, a wonderful thought occurred to me. His characters are so funny and original – Jim Lujan should do a feature film – and I could be the one to produce it. Hell, we should co-create an animated feature.

The only drawback to his animation is that the animations are very crude and raw – which in some cases is their charm. However, to do a feature film, the movement should be a lot more professional and I think I can deliver that.

When I finished the production of Cheatin', my bank account was empty and I was exhausted. Although I love the film and think it's the best thing I've done,

I was looking for a project that wasn't so labor-intensive and so complex.

So I called Jim up to suggest we work together to transform his wonderful characters onto the big screen. He loved the idea – and now he's creating a feature length script that hopefully my studio can turn into a major motion picture starting this summer.

Stay tuned to this blog for more updates on this fantastic project.

We may need to raise some money via Kickstarter so keep your checkbooks close at hand.

If you're interested, you can see Jim's wonderful shorts on

And tell him hello for me.


Monday, March 10, 2014


I was reading DVD reviews in some obscure film magazine last month, and I stumbled on an animated feature called "Metropia", from Sweden.  I liked the dark semi-realistic visuals of the still image, so I got the film from Netflix.  What a unique and amazing film!  It's a sci-fi film set in a dystopian 2025 Europe. 

Roger, a mid-level bureaucrat, decides to track down these voices in his head, only to discover a nefarious conspiracy, spread through a giant transportation system and shampoo. 

The characters in the film are voiced by Vincent Gallo, Juliette Lewis and Udo Kier, and it's directed by music-video veteran Tarik Saleh.

But what interested me most was the look and style of the film.  It's a digital film with very minimal movement.  The lip-sync is the only real movement - except for an occasional eye-blink.  And the walking is your typical Japanese animé stiff-leg walk. 

In fact, the whole film is very stiff and limited, yet I was seduced by the backgrounds, lighting and story.  Of particular interest were the faces - they used real actors as models, and the resulting imagery was quite powerful. 

I wish this film had enjoyed a bigger release - it's really a fascinating feature film.  But thanks to DVD, it's hopefully finding its audience.

I give "Metropia" a "B".

Bill Plympton

Friday, March 7, 2014

"Hitler's Folly"

I recall that my first intense introduction to Adolf Hitler was in high school. I was reading "900 Days" - I believe that's what it was called - about the German siege of Leningrad, written by Harrison E. Salisbury. After that book, I was hooked - then I read the famous book "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany" by William L. Shirer.

When cable came into our lives, I was constantly watching the History Channel, or as some have called it, "the Hitler Channel."

Now mind you, I'm a staunch liberal who loves democracy, but the whole Nazi mindset was very fascinating to me. The regimentation, the brainwashing of an entire nation, the super-weapons, the fashion, and just the whole personification of Evil.

Then, about a year ago, I read something that said Hitler was a big "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" fan. In fact, he watched it many times. The image of this totally evil guy laughing at the dwarfs as they play with the cute forest animals made my brain turn inside out.

His early career as an artist and his love for Disney inspired me to wonder what would have happened if his art career had been more successful and he had turned to animation? Not that far-fetched!

So as soon as I finished "Cheatin'", I began in earnest to write a script for my new (and much lower budgeted) mockumentary film about Hitler's animation career, and I'm calling it "Hitler's Folly".

The film will be primarily a faux documentary using archival WWII footage, Hitler's early artwork and a few animated shorts "made" by the fuhrer. We will also have some live action sections that we're casting now. The biggest problem is finding a Hitler look-alike - either the guys are too shy to claim their twinship, or they're in denial.

Already the film is causing waves - 3 of my studio staffers have quit because they were so offended by the project.

But I believe it will be one of the funniest projects I've ever worked on. It's so outrageous and absurd - I'll announce its progress in this blog.

Keep tuned in,

Bill P.