Monday, June 26, 2006


D: Bill Plympton, 1990, 6:45 minutes
Source: VHS tape called “The Complete Works of Bill Plympton

After considerable searching, I used a tape the Professor brought to class and used a selection as an example. The selection from the tape that I have used is called “Plymptoons.” The look of these shorts that are line drawings filled in with color pencils are avant garde in that they are a departure from the animation of such standards as Disney. Of the twenty or so different works in the complete set I choose Plymptoons, which gives the impression that there are funny like cartoons from which their name has evolved. Some are funny, some are bizarre but they are all thought provoking.

For instance, there is a short called evolution. In the first frame there is a crouching ape leaning over his knuckles. He slowly rises into an erect man. But he is only as such for an instant. Immediately, he slowly morphs into a football player bending down to a crouching positiowhich is the exact image of the initial frame that we saw. The irony of a wild ape changing into an athlete is effective, and one that is very funny to women. If one is criticized with humor and can recognize themselves, any criticism will not be hurtful

The early mob sketch is just bizarre. A lone cowboy is sitting on a horse in the middle of the range. We assume that he could be casing the joint, namely sizing up a herd of someone else’s cattle or hiding from other bad guys. In a scene that has been seen in every gangster films, such as The Godfather or Casino,the getaway car is blown up. In the twisted mind of Plympton, the lone cowboy and his faithful horse explode. The sheer visceral aspect of the act is gruesome if in reality, but a Plymptoon would be acceptably hilarious.

In 1968, when Bill Plympton started his career as a cartoonist, his visions were avant garde. They are very effective because they could show impossible situations like someone raising their eye glasses with the cartoon eye imbedded in the lenses in order to scratch their nose. Anyone who has ever tried to scratch their nose with their glasses on, sees the advantage of raising their glasses to scratch their nose. Impossible scenario? I do believe that people love to do just that.

Submitted by Debbie Zukas

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