GIF-Comics – Explorations

I’ve been exploring animating comics. I’m above all in making comics that encourage the viewer to “read” animations. GIFs in comics tend to be a novelty, a background texture. These thoughts are rough. I’d love to hear what any one reading this has to say about the intersection of animation and comics.

Instead of seeing animations in that way in comics, I want people to see the arrranging of animations as a practice where the animation is an essential part how meaning arises from the sequence. As comics makers we get to be architects of time and space. I’m trying to figure out how this kind of sequencing fits into that architecture.

For example: Reading these sequences feel SIGNIFICANTLY different to me. (Click to enlarge for best experience).

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My big concern is that I want people to be reading animations as “words”. (I hope to find a better way of describing this). The animations that I put together occupy a physical space on the screen and their physical relationship to each other affects the way that those “words” are read. In video there is an ever forward moving timeline. By juxtaposing looping video sequences you can embed those timelines into a larger timeline.

Embedding these animations in the grid frameworks conventionally used in comics, that larger timeline can be interacted with by a viewer along the conventionalized reading hierarchies of a given culture. That seems really cool and novel. It’s exciting to me and is the reason why I’ve been making these sequences.

I hope that these comics can expand the 1-dimensional timeline into a 2-dimensional plane where there are co-existing timelines.

(The idea of having gifs sitting side by side with unequal numbers of frames is an interesting idea to me when mixed with the idea of percieved timelines.)

These are my recent animation collage experiments. This is how I’ve been playing around with this. Some are way more successful than others at playing around with this time-space idea!
(my suggested reading practice for these comics is to move through them slowly.)

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let me know what’s on your mind.


The Nancy Gif Experience

A fellow CCS student and friend, Luke Healy, and I have started putting together a collection of Nancy gifs that channel our love for Bushmiller’s world. We’ve just started, but we hope to go far!

Here are some peeks at the animations that you can find at the Nancy Gif Experience.

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Are there any panels of Nancy that you think are begging to be animated? Let us know and we’ll get on it. Until then, may your days be filled with Nancy!

(Big ups to the folks behind the Nancy is Happy tumblr. It brings me delight to no end! )


Appreciating Bruce Timm

I’ll be honest with you, Batman bores me unless he’s drawn by Bruce Timm. Ok, ok, you’ve got others like Mazzucchelli and Josh Simmons that also make Batman stories that blow the competition out of the water, but Timm distills and re-contextualizes the essence of Batman and the world of Gotham in his drawings spectacularly in a way that I’ve seen no other artist capable of replicating.

When I was a kid I grew up watching Timm’s creations, Batman the Animated Series and Batman Beyond. They were available for viewing on Cartoon Network both in Venezuela and in the States so I was weaned on those stories and on Timm’s aesthetic.

I’m writing this post because of a post I read a while back on Bruce Timm’s Color Guides. It brought Timm back into my life and it had me scouring the web for more images. Unfortunately I haven’t found much that has satisfied me. Most of it was pin ups. Hell, simply Google Image Search “Bruce Timm” and 60% of the results are busty babes. Honestly, that shit’s boring. But his comics? Holy hell are they great! Too bad there aren’t too many scans out there. Take a peek:

In his work there’s a beautiful distillation of character that moves towards a genuine iconography. What better way to handle these mythological characters than with a deserved minimalism?  While most stories in the world of comics have moved towards the razzle dazzle of photorealistim, Timm was doing some pure cartooning. This distillation of character parallels the distilled story-arcs both in the comics and the animation. Interestingly, Timm consciouusly told everyone on the Animated Series project to never touch Batman’s origin story. Batman’s story of tortured vengeance is so deeply entrenched in American culture that to go over the origins. Instead, Timm places the viewer in medias res  in such a way that I’m reminded of Jim Woodring’s Unifactor and the myth of Sisyphus. There’s constant suffering and anguish, and the efforts are for naught. The moment one villain is safely put away in Arkham, another is let loose or another is born. The universe of Gotham is reset to its natural state.There’s never any development of justice and what better way to show this iconic sense of eternal cycling through pain than the iconic world that Timm appropriated and redesigned in the ’90s?

His figures are carved out along flowing forms of organic solidity. The bodies flow effortlessly, but the way in which Timm depicts their mass(particularly Batman’s) lends the acts to become even more impressive and acrobatic. There’s a real satisfying sense of gravity and force in his drawings.It’s my belief that in these drawings, the adherence to formal structure and simplicity allow the flowing human form to really take the spotlight.

Additionally, the coloring is extremely strong and crucial to the series’ success. Long gone are the days of the 4 Color Process, but it’s impact is readily felt when one flips through quality colored comics of the superhero variety. Timm’s color work channels the principles that allow for a bold solidity to register on the page and on the screen. These stories have to be iconic. They have to fit in a place in our minds that and its color and an adherence to formal visual structures that lend themselves to this iconicity.

In line with this, the story has to act as a map and cluttered frames with garish coloring distract from that. They prevent the story from being internalized and effectively taking advantage of the comics medium’s strength. The artist is doing too much of the reader’s work. It becomes nothing but entertainment at that point.

What’s wrong with that? Simply put, I’m not looking to simply be entertained when I read comics. I want something to chew on past the narrative, even if it’s a mainstream DC or Marvel story.

Sharing this appreciation we have the lovely folks at Fuck Yeah Bruce Timm! who put together a little tumblr that celebrates Timm’s illustrations.

Additionally, I found a copy of the Writer’s Guide to the Animated Series over at Comic Book Resources. Check it out if you’re interested in.

Here’s a selection of morsels for you to chew on for now:

From The Batman Adventures Holiday Special 1995 – story by Paul Dini & Bruce Timm, art by Kevin Altieri & Butch Luki

Have you come across any Timm illustrations that you’d like to share? Leave some links and thoughts in the comments.


Spotlight on Norman Mclaren’s Animation

Almost finished with the semester.

You can count on drawings to be posted soon. For now, let’s bask in the vivaciousness of the following two animations by Norman Mclaren and Evelyn Lambart.

The following animation and its accompanying audio were both created by hand by painting and scratching the film.

Albert Ammons and Norman Mclaren team up to create this “boogie doodle”

then there’s the Oscar Peterson Trio’s work animated by Mclaren and Lambart.

Begone Dull Care (1949)

And in a more contemporary note. You should check out Cyriak’s 2010 video “Cycles”. It’s a fun experimental video done digitally.