Animation World Magazine, Issue 1.12, March 1997

QuickTime Excerpt from Buy My Film. © John Schnall

Reviews in Brief

by Wendy Jackson

Death Laughs Among UsDeath Laughs Among Us: The Films of John Schnall

Independent animator John Schnall has put together a home video of his short films in association with Poteet Music, an independent record distributor based in New Jersey. Among the community of East Coast independents, Schnall is notably prolific; in this regard, his colleague Steve Dovas said that, "To me, what has been most admirable about his career has been the regularity with which he's turned out his funny, wierd, and wholly singular, self-produced animated films." All this abundance has driven Schnall to be able to release a 40-minute video collection at a relatively early age.

Death Laughs Among Us features seven of Schnall's 2-D animations, most of which, as the title indicates, are at once humorous and macabre. I Was A Thanksgiving Turkey and Goodnight Norma . . .Goodnight Milton reveal his dark sense of humor by presenting atypical perspectives on everyday occurences. Buy My Film! and Opposing Views are like little animated punchlines to jokes formed in the depths of the filmmaker's mind. Independents will particularly appreciate the humor in Buy My Film!, which portrays the feelings of any independent filmmaker seeking distribution for their work. My personal favorite is Frankenstein, which uses 35mm photography of live actors for an eerie, almost pixilated stop-motion effect.

Death Laughs Among Us is available in the US for $20.00 each (including postage) from Poteet Music, Schnall Tape: AWN, 625 Washington Street #5, Hoboken, NJ 07030 USA,

John Schnall

Björk Gets Animated With John Kricfalusi.
Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi has made his first music video for Icelandic beauty Björk, who is an equally outrageous and innovative artist. Illustrating the song "I Miss You," the video features John K's stupid yet loveable character Jimmy the Idiot Boy cavorting with a bubbly animated version of the singer. A variety of techniques are used, including traditional 2-D cel animation by Kricfalusi's own Spumco Productions and Colorkey Productions, 3-D computer animation supervised by Charlie Gibson at Rhythm & Hues, real-time motion-capture animation by House of Moves, plus blue screen mattes bringing in live-action into the mix. (The live-action sequences with Björk were shot in a Los Angeles studio in just one day.)

Björk, a long-time fan of Kricfalusi's work, insisted that he do a video for her when they met at one of her concerts. She was so pleased when she first saw John's storyboard that she apparently proclaimed, "It's just like Christmas!" and did not ask for any changes.

I Miss You. I Miss You.

The video is becoming something of a novelty, since MTV edited the director's cut to remove an end sequence featuring the animated Jimmy and Björk dancing underneath what look like a cross between rubber nipples and condoms on top of her actual (live-action) chest. It is ironic that the network cut that sequence while keeping shots of Björk violently ripping up a chicken, and even Jimmy himself. But fret not, devoted fans; the director's cut can be seen in rotation on that other music channel, The Box, as well as on MTV's new alternative sister network M2. The video is also included in promotions of the new RealVideo technology, which enables full-motion video to be displayed over the Internet.

John Kricfalusi and his production company Spumco are also turning heads with its new toy lines (see Toy Fair article, this issue). At this rate, maybe it's time to stop calling him Ren & Stimpy's creator and start calling him the creator of Jimmy the Idiot Boy . . . Yeah, I think there's a nice ring to that!

To purchaseDeath Laughs Among Usby John Schnall, visit theAWN Store.

Wendy Jackson is Associate Editor of Animation World Magazine.

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