A live-action cover?
Welcome to the first issue of Animation World Magazine to feature a live-action cover. Are we selling out? Are we giving in to the pressure of animation's "big brother" by featuring such a film? No way! We are celebrating the fact that a comic book property - something some folks might consider a limited market - is making it to the big screen in such a big way with the help of big special effects. Big stars, big budget, big effects. Looks like comics aren't such a narrow market after all. Moreover, as Rick DeMott outlines in his article, "Mutants Everyone Can Relate To: The X-Men," this script might just be the ticket to guarantee an action film that has legs, not just a pre-sold quota. If the film really flies, it might even bring a new group of people into comic book stores something the industry badly needs as Todd McFarlane points out in his must read interview with J. Paul Peszko. While some say Spawn is a prime example of the sort of violent media to which children should not be exposed, Todd is one of the most interesting interviews I've read in a long time. True, honest and intelligent, it is easy to see why everything he touches turns to gold. His ability to ask the right questions and challenge the assumed status quo are keys to his mighty success - in addition to all that raw storytelling and drawing talent!
And it's storytelling and visual style that have led to the recent flood in sales of comic book characters to the big screen. Now that effects are so advanced, these properties are witnessing a new lease on life. Moreover, some live-action films are taking on this look just because they can. Who wasnt thrilled during the first few moments of The Matrix when it became clear that we were watching a comic book in action? Obviously the Academy was, as The Matrix took home the Oscar for best special effects against the tough competition of Stuart Little and The Phantom Menace.
The history of comics and animation have long been documented as being intertwined, but this issue is special in that we have two very lovely remembrances from animators about working with very gifted illustrators. The first is Derek Lamb's look at working with Edward Gorey on MYSTERY! Gorey's strange, dark illustrations and books draw one in and Derek helps illuminate why in "The MYSTERY! of Edward Gorey." Bill Melendez worked to bring Charles Schulz' Peanuts to life through animation and the result are those classics that we all know and love. It isn't a holiday until the Peanuts special has been viewed! Bill speaks about how he and "Sparky" worked on these stories together. Jackie Leger also indulges us with a look at the First Lady of Funnies, Dale Messick in "Dale Messick: A Comic Strip Life." I was amazed to learn of the female artistic community living and working on strips in New York City. Dale was just one, but certainly her Brenda Starr helped guide a nation of women through some very tough times.
Finally... are there too many animation events going on or what? This summer is featuring a bumper crop of events. WAC, Annecy, Zagreb, Hiroshima, a special edition of Krok, Anima Mundi and SIGGRAPH are just some of the events taking place. Fall is also beginning to look crowded with Ottawa, LEAF and many others lined up until years end. I hope you are all choosing wisely and that the festivals are getting enough support to continue strongly on.
Until Next Time, Heather