My Cartoon top ten
It's late and I'm on instagram surfing through Richards profile. A combo of client work for the likes of The Guardian, Medium, New Yorker and countless others rub shoulders with posts of his daydreams musings up and down his time line. With the one hand soft velvety tones are massaging my eyes, with the other, a flurry of
slightly deranged commentary is preparing to slap me in the face! But it's not crazy, it's fun, refreshing and keeps you right on your toes. With a wicked quick humour that verges on the neurotic we talk to Richard about all things ... Rich.
Studio Ghibli is an absolute staple of animated films! I remember watching Spirited Away as a child and being completely blown away by how intricate the drawings were, especially all the hand painted background which sit behind the animated characters. Another thing that really resonates with me about this studio is that Miyazaki starts the production of the films before he’s decided what the ending will be, just making it up as he goes along. This translates into the care free, meandering feel of his works. It is also how I enjoy working as I always find I come up with new ideas and inspiration as I move on with a project.
My favourite Ghibli film I’ve seen recently is Princess Kaguya which is done in a slightly different style that the rest. It seems to be all done in pencil and watercolour which gives it a slight roughness and flicker which I absolutely love! There’s one scene where the princess is running away and shedding all her kimonos as she goes and the organic pencil marks give such a raw emotive feeling to the scene. Really one of the most beautiful bits of animation.
Akira is a classic cult anime and watching it you can really see why. All the animation is so smooth and intricately drawn, you can pretty much pause it anywhere and it just looks like a carefully composed drawing out of a manga novel. Definitely one worth watching
The favourite of favourites! This series of short episodes which aired on MTV in the 90s has something so mysterious about it, probably due to the very ambiguous plot and the fact the the heroine dies at the end of each episode (of the first season at least). The Egon Schiele-esque figures and their overly sexualised outfits have definitely influenced my own art and the show’s sexual focus has always really fascinated me. There’s a lot of licking of teeth, hair and ears and also a moment where Aeon Flux derives intense pleasure from cracking an egg in her palm. This show has also created some iconic images such as the eye catching a fly in its eyelashes just as a Venus flytrap would.
This film has such a clever concept. It’s about a middle aged man who feels depressed and detached from the world around him. The models are made with 3D printed faces and to symbolise this man’s feeling of distance from everybody all the figures have exactly the same face and are voiced by the same voice. The man finally finds a woman with a different face and voice who he thinks will change his life and stop him feeling so numb..
Although the film is animated all the figures are so life like and are barely stylised you forget its animated at all. The effect of this can be very surreal, especially as everyone apart from the main two characters have the same face, it can also be uncomfortable at times, especially at some of the more intimate scenes because you feel like you’re watching something slightly unnatural. One thing I do love though, as someone who in interested in creative process, is that they’ve left the lines from the 3D printed mask on show. They would have to change the masks for every blink or facial expression and they haven’t tried to hide the cracks where the forehead mask meets the face mask which I find and interesting insight into the technicality of the animation.
BELLADONNA OF SADNESS
This film was animated in the 70s and you can definitely see a psychedelic influence. The story follows a peasant girl who is raped and then accused of being a witch although a lot of the imagery is dreamlike and symbolic rather than completely literal. Far from being a slick production most of the drawings are watercolour paint where you can see the brush strokes which gives it a really whimsical more personable feel.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND - JAN SVANKMAJER
I’ve always been in complete awe of Jan Svankwajer’s short stop motion films. I love when any art leaves you wondering how they hell they managed to pull it off - and that is exactly what his work does. Stop motion is such a long and laborious process, you have to move objects a tiny bit at a time and photograph them to give the impression of constant movement. Its hard to get right but somehow he manages it with porcelain dolls and animal skeletons which I imagine must be hard to manoeuvre.
I found his full length feature of Alice in Wonderland recently which has life action of a little girl (Alice) with stop motion all around her (how does he do it??). Like all his other films it is immensely creepy and menacing, the creepiest character being the white rabbit, a taxidermy animal who breaks out of of his glass display box and eats sawdust to make up for him losing his stuffing through a small hole in his chest.
Similarly to Studio Ghibli films this movie also has animated characters against beautifully painted backdrops, in this case portraying a run down, dilapidated city, populated by two mischievous orphans who claim to run the place. My favourite part of this animation is during a trance experienced by one of the orphans which features a minotaur figure. This whole segment is completely surreal and the characters distort as if they are underwater creating a really eerie sight.
Another film from the 70s with a surreal style. This one plays with the idea of humans being pets to an alien species with drawings that remind me of the Codex Seraphinianus book. The creators of the film have thought up a whole world of different plant species and animals and the overall creativity is captivating if not bizarre. The way the film is animated reminds me of paper cutouts moving on top of each other which has a very nostalgic feel to me and adds to the otherworldly effect of the movie
IT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY
This film is complete proof that you don’t need to be incredible at drawing to relate a powerful and compelling narrative. The film is by Don Hertzfeldt who also created the infamous rejected commercials for the learning channel. His animations never go past simple stick men drawings but still somehow manage to hold such depth of character, maybe this is because you focus less of the artist’s process and style and more on the story. The film follows a man and his decent into a serious neurological illness as he begins to lose his memory and see visions. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend but get the tissues ready because you’ll be weeping