FESTS AND EVENTS Hartman Designs Tee for Free Comic Book Day
A design by acclaimed animation artist Butch Hartman will grace the official Free Comic Book Day 2017 T-shirt.
The original artwork created by Hartman captures the spirit of diversity that thrives in today’s comics scene — both on the page and in the fan community, centered on the local comic-book store. Free Comic Book Day is set for May 6.
In the roughly 4 million years I’ve worked at Animag, one piece of advice I have heard from successful animators over and over again is: Draw Every Day. Easy enough to grasp as a concept, sometimes harder to put into practice.
That’s why the Sketch Wallet is brilliant. It’s the same principle as a combination wallet and phone case, but instead of digging out your debit card at the coffee shop and thinking, “I haven’t checked Neko Atsume in at least 20 minutes,” you will be spurred to sit down and bust out some creativity.
The made-in-the-U.S.A. wallet (4” x 6”) is available in black or brown leather, with space for cash and cards, and comes with a standard size 3.5” x 5.5” sketchbook to insert. Replacement saddle stitched books with blank or lined bright white paper are available in three piece refill packs from Sketch Wallet for $12, or use your preferred brand.
21Today’s home offerings: Assassination Classroom: Season 2 Pt. 1 BD, Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. S1 & S2 BD, Noragami Aragoto: Season 2 BD, Ultimate Otaku Teacher: S1 Pt. 2 BD, Unbreakable Machine-Doll: Complete Series BD, Freezing Vibration: The Complete Second Season BD, Busou Shinki, Curious George: Egg Hunting, Air Bound, Transformers Rescue Bots: Protect and Explore, LEGO Friends Vol. 3, Blaze and the Monster Machines: Race into Velocityville.
The superlative voice cast also includes Seth McFarlane, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Hudson, Nick Kroll, director Jennings, Beck Bennett, Nick Offerman, Jennifer Saunders, Scarlett Johansson and Jay Pharoah.
Change of Pace For Jennings, who directed many of the most-lauded Britpop music videos from the 1990s and the live-action films Son of Rambow and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, working in animation meant getting comfortable with a new pace of filmmaking.
“I think it was five years from the time Chris (Meledandri) and I first talked about the script for Sing to finishing (the film), so, yes, that’s quite a long time,” says Jennings. “But every day you’re working with all these incredible artists, looking at their amazing work each day, and that can be very addictive.”
The director decided early on that although the characters would be embodied as different animals, the world that they inhabited would not be modified to fit them. So when you see a tiny mouse or a little koala, they don’t drive a tiny car created to their scale, for example. All the creatures are working on a level playing field and walking into the same buildings and houses and using things like cars and buses to get around the city. The idea was to keep the focus on the story and the inner lives of the contestants rather than make it a movie about making a world that conforms and fits to each animal we see during the course of the story.
He also took inspiration from his own life and plugged it in to the storytelling. For example, Buster draws on Jennings’ own optimism at being able to conquer any project and make it a huge success. Rosita, the housewife with a couple of dozen piglets at home, was a take on his wife.
“I’m not sure how she feels about being seen as a pig,” says Jennings. “But my wife stayed home with our four children and decided she wanted to do that and stop working for a while. So when she went back to work, she really questioned whether she still could do it, whether she could manage creative dreams and being a mum, or even whether it was too late after she’d stayed home a bit with her children.”
Character in the Details Jennings worked with directors of animation Patrick Delage and Pierre Leduc and character designer Eric Guillon to take the cast of characters — all animals with more human mannerisms — from the page to the screen. The director was determined to see that the details immediately pulled the audience into the story of each member of the ensemble cast. Everything from hairstyle to clothing had
Guillon. “Ash (voiced by Johansson), who is a porcupine, has been the most difficult. The porcupine is not an easy animal to ‘read’ visually, not really cute. We usually only remember the quills, therefore we needed to reinvent it, try to give it an appealing aspect and add Garth’s idea of Ash: a rather rebel/punk/goth character. This was a very long process, I can’t count the numerous drawings it took to find her. Also, there was all the work done by (Frédérick Alves-Cunha, a.k.a. Fredus), who is a ZBrush sculptor, who did a first interpretation in 3D of the drawing. What is interesting is to see that this character is, after all, graphically pretty simple.”
Delage and Leduc also worked with Jennings on creating a style of animation that made the most of telling the story in the art form but also stayed grounded and focused on characters. “We didn’t want something like a Warner Bros. style from long ago for this movie,” says Leduc. “But there was still a chance to do something that was more ex- pressive, more silly.”
Jennings, Leduc and Delage all point to a scene in which Buster Moon hits rock bottom. At that moment, Buster’s only option to support himself seems to be to start a car wash in which he is not just the car washer, but his fur becomes the actual brush that washes each car. Buster’s most despondent moment is undercut but the comedy of seeing his stubby, furry little body squeegee the windshields of his clients.
“You feel for Buster, you really do,” says Jennings. “Seeing him brought to that level in a comedic way makes him sympathetic and you can forgive him for lying about a lot of the details of the competition to the singers.”
Your Name. er via smartphone, notes and even writing on the other person’s arm.
On the anniversary of a major disaster caused by a comet crashing to earth, the swaps stop. Taki searches for Mitsuha and, in a twilight moment, discovers some surprising truths that turn the story on its ears and propel the movie into a breakneck paced finale that
required a complex structure, Shinkai says. “I really wanted to incorporate elements of comedy as well as unpredictability for the audience, and in doing so, I came up with this very complex timeline narrative structure,” he says. “At that point I didn’t necessarily feel like understanding the complex structure and timeline was necessary for the audience and, if anything, I wanted to shift the focus to the relationship between the two main characters.”
Shinkai also pushed the tempo of Your Name. to make it faster and more engaging to a young audience than his previous movies. “A lot of the younger generation has so much information at their fingertips, they always do something with the smartphone in hand,” he says. “I wanted to create a movie that didn’t even give them a chance to do that, so that’s why I packed a lot of information in a short period of time that wouldn’t even allow them to pull their cell phone out and try to chat with their friends.”
While he considered having the characters connect over distance via technology, he instead stuck with the more mysterious idea in the final movie of body swapping and a bit of time travel.
“Perhaps it didn’t need the fantasy element of body switching — it could have just been a simple online site or some kind of social media,” he says. “But was there any sort of social commentary woven into that? I would say no.”
Shinkai was flattered to find that the film had so far been so well received by fans and critics. The audience for Shinkai’s previous films was mostly an otaku — or fan-based — group. But the wide success of Your Name. has taken it to the wider general audience that filmmakers like Hayao Miyazaki reached.
“It was always my intent to create something people would be able to engage with,” he says. “Any time I made a movie it was the best I could do with what I had, both creatively and team wise, at that moment. And the people who ended up supporting it was just a result of what I was able to create. But after I had a few projects under my belt, I think I increased my capacity and I was able to create something of this nature.” [
‘It’s a bit old school special effects and it’s not cutesy, so it’s been brilliant. Technically, it’s been a challenge from day one. We can’t just throw money at it like in other productions, so we have to be very clever.’ — Sam Holland, Head of Puppets