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Editor's Notebook

Home Videos and Animation Art: keeping a memory alive...

Home Video and Animation Art do not seem to have a lot in common at first glance but actually they have two distinct connections. The first one is purely financial and not nearly as exciting as the second which is the thrill of collecting and owning tangible reminders of distant memories.

Most major studios have created divisions solely to exploit these two relatively new, revenue-grabbing avenues. George Johnston's article, "Growth Looms In The Made-For-Video Animation Market," details the lucrative nature of direct-to-home videos and thus, this market's appeal for many companies, both large and small. In the same vein "Collecting Animation Art 101" by Steven Grossfeld outlines the many different forms of animation art that exist for sale. Fifteen years ago the average person probably didn't even know what animation art was. Now, they have a myriad of choices and they know they want this stuff because it is cool. It is trendy. With no shortage of product to choose from and outlets to purchase from, consumers have made studios realize the gold mine on which they have been sitting.

No longer a surprise, home video and animation art releases are now assumed. As I left the theater after Hercules, I had to have heard a few children saying, "Yea, I liked that one. Can we get the video?" And people have been musing, "I wonder when and who is going to distribute the Anastasia cels?" before principal animation was even completed. Furthermore, while true original production cels often don't even exist from newer productions, cels are created just to meet the demand that has been masterfully created. It should be noted as well, that a publicity campaign is not in the works advertising the fact that digital ink and paint is eliminating a lot of original production cels. I wonder how many people out there swear that they have original production art when what they really have is limited editions taken from original production art.

On the warmer and fuzzier side of home video and animation art, we have the fact that people love these products enough to buy them and bring them into their homes. I own both videos and animation art, only because each specific tape or cel has a special meaning to me. 101 Dalmatians sits in my box of videos at home because I love Cruella deVil with a passion. No matter how bad things get, the sight of her in her roadster, speeding around a snow covered mountain, you know the part, where the flames are coming out of all the exhaust pipes...it just makes me laugh.

The same goes for my animation art. While growing up, The Jetsons were my favorite, so when I saw that shot of Elroy, Astro and Rosie the Maid looking up in wonder - it had to be mine. No matter the cel is from Jetsons, the Movie and not some classic episode of the series, it is those characters that I love. When I was a kid the channel that The Jetsons was on didn't always come in so good. When it did, wow! What a treat. I have other television cels as well because those cels take me back to early Saturday mornings when my brother and I would wander out into the solitude of the family living room to watch television. Spilling milk on the couch from cereal bowls being tipped, getting jam on the carpet, being told to turn down the sound, the agony of Gumby coming to an end for another week...

I also have the limited edition cel "Anchors Aweigh" featuring Gene Kelly and Jerry, from Tom and Jerry fame, dancing together. I had to own a little bit of that 1950s optimism. A little bit of Americana. A little bit of an American icon who is now gone. That is the reason to own animation art. Don't own animation art because someone tells you it is a good investment. Own animation art, and videos for that matter, because you want to, because you love what they represent to you.

Once someone who was directing and producing his own animated show, told me that he didn't think the cels from his show were pieces of "his" art. Since so many hands had touched the characters in-between his desk and the time they ended up on a cel, he felt the cel only belonged to the characters. Cels are what gives a character life, so he felt cels only really represent the character. `They are artwork of the characters but are they art?' he questioned. Well, let's look at that for a minute. Did I love The Jetsons because it was art or because of the characters who made me laugh? As a child, I loved them only because they made me laugh. Today, I can love them because of my childhood memories, my fondness of animation, and I can also appreciate them hanging on my wall as art, animation art ... however murky that definition may be.

Why do you own your favorite videos and cels? Drop us a line...at editor@awn.com.

Until Next Time... Heather

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