Cartoonal Knowledge: Plympton's School of Animation
Skip Wrightson has followed through on his original idea: a bottle of Fizzy Beverage contains far more kick than the person drinking it was ready for. The pause between cause and effect is nicely timed, and Plympton suggests a few gags and sound effects to push the comedy further. Blue Bliss' Ticket Ted and Toad will have to wait until another day to pull their scams on the unsuspecting; instead she presents Hell's Kitchen, a vignette of a satanic chef cooking up body parts (including a hand still clutching its iPhone) and a frying pan full of eyeballs. Rich Pickens' Bard None depicts Shakespeare as being a little too picky for his own good in seeking divine inspiration, and winding up resembling poor Yorick for his troubles. Katie Smith's work in progress features a pair of mischievous kids at the lunch table. Lydie Greco's naughty knitting granny has her eye on a handsome jogger, and, in Pick Me!, Ashanti Freeman's frustrated schoolgirl takes extreme measures to make sure she's noticed by her teacher.
As the class draws to its close, Plympton offers quick lessons in creating a complex walk cycle as viewed from an overhead angle, avoiding unwanted strobing effects when artwork travels laterally through the frame (the secret: soft edges to the artwork in question). He screens some of his earliest work, including the madly mutating singer of Your Face and his very first animation, an R.O. Blechman- inspired college effort starring a pair of larged-shnozzed characters drawn as outlines. ("I was really into Blechman at the time…my timing was terrible and I broke the 'big nose' rule.")
Plympton rewards the creators of the screened films with their choice of the large sized sketches created in the course of teaching the evening's class. Bill Plympton's School of Animation may be over for the moment, but he asks everyone to complete their projects and let him see them when they are done. Will they do so? As he remarked at the outset of the course, "Ambition is a large part of someone's success; if you have no ambition you probably won't succeed."
Joe Strike has written about animation for AWN, New York Daily News, Newsday and New York Press He is currently teaching Mass Communications at New York's St. John's University and hosting "Interview With An Animator" at Pratt Institute.