Love that Plympton!
by Martin Hafer
I recently spent a few days at the Garparilla International Film Festival in Tampa, Florida and had a wonderful time. Although they had some very important celebrities appear there, such as Rita Moreno, to me the one I looked forward to the most was someone whose name many would not recognize. For years, I have been a big fan of the animation of Bill Plympton and I was thrilled that he’d be appearing to show off a few of his newer short films (including a recent guest illustrated into for The Simpsons which is shown at the end of this article). Not surprisingly, Plympton also showed up to talk about some of his upcoming projects as well as to answer questions from the audience. What was a surprise, however, was afterwards when he met with everyone in the audience in order to make them a personalized drawing as well as to pose for photos and sign autographs. I also picked up a copy of one of his DVDs for my daughter and she was positively thrilled when I gave it to her.
So why so much excitement over some animator? Well, Plympton is no ordinary animator. Unlike many in the field, Plympton has actually avoided success…or at least the usual commercial success. He has often told stories about having turned down a job directing Disney cartoons simply because he wants to do his own thing. His own thing often can be hilariously entertaining and, occasionally, rather sick…but in a good way, I assure you! Don’t believe me…take a look at a couple of his shorts below. The downsides to Plympton’s path are that he’s not a particularly rich man and he also is forced to often use crowd funding to produce his films. Plus, for Bill, he isn’t seeking huge bucks…just enough to allow him to keep making his crazy cartoons. And, although he has a small staff, he still hand draws the pictures used in his films…many, many thousands of them. He also says that he frequently works 12-16 hours a day and feels rested and relaxed at the end of these grueling days! You have to admire his artistic vision and unwillingness to compromise.
To see what the artist if planning next, check out his website at plymptoons.com and like him on Facebook. By doing this, you can also learn about his periodic crowd funding programs…programs which offer a wide variety of neat rewards for the donor. In fact, with one recent appeal, he agreed to animate folks into a cartoon when they donated a specific amount! As for me, I never gave that much but did have a chance to have myself illustrated for one of his fundraisers!