Several readers have expressed concern that corporate art-- big institutional projects from major studios and multinational software companies-- will swallow up individual creative voices at Comic-Con. But each year I encounter artists who are indigestible and irreducible stones in the belly of the dragon. They refuse to compromise their creative vision (or perhaps they're just incapable of reining in their personal eccentricities).
I encountered Bill Plympton, the famously independent animator and illustrator, sitting at one of the few tables without a ten foot full color banner of semi-nude space nymphettes. If his booth had a Dolby soundtrack, it was out of commission during my visit. If Plympton brought a funny barbarian hat, it was nowhere in sight.
What Plympton's booth offered instead was Plympton, sitting on his ass and drawing with a plain old ball point pen, surrounded by piles of original animation drawings and books about his work.
Plympton has become justly famous for his offbeat, highly personal, subversive animation:
|From Santa: The Fascist Years (2008)|
Plympton maintains such control over his art, he is one of the few artists in the history of animation who insists on doing every single drawing himself.
You'd think with that much drawing, his fingers would be worn to little nubs. Yet, as we compared notes on illustrators we both admired, he picked up a pad and drew my portrait with his ball point pen. He is apparently inexhaustible.
Here are scans of his original drawings:
There is an excellent book about Plympton's life and career. His description of Disney's lucrative contract offer rivals Faust's meeting with Mephistopheles:
I was hoping that I could work on the Disney projects during the week and during my off-hours and weekends I could work on my own weird offbeat projects. "Sure," the lawyer said. "That's fine, and you have our permission but we'll own whatever you create."
"What about if I tell someone a funny story?" I rebutted.
"We own that," he said.
"What if I have a dream?"
"That's ours too."
Plympton walked away from a lot of money in order to save his work from the corporate de-flavorizing machine. He has made good use of his expensive freedom.
I think Plympton is the real McCoy, with a distinctive individual voice. I would never have had an opportunity to chat with him and look at his originals up close, if not for Comic-Con.