Fan, student, creator of animation, you know the name Bill Plympton. Plympton’s bizarre animated shorts, and even more bizarre feature length films, have entertained and puzzled millions of people since the early eighties, some of them serving as self-help guides you’d be wise not to follow, while others offer obscenely graphic functions of the human body – never has a simple kiss, if a kiss can be simple, looked so pornographic.
Recently, Plympton’s latest feature, Hair High, has been doing the festival rounds. It’s a 50s high school romance story that at first comes off as one of the animator’s most cohesive storylines, but add the zombie element and the rampant chaos and Plympton style exaggerated reality and you have the man at his strangest and his most brilliant.
There has also recently been the inclusion of a new Plympton short on The Animation Show DVD, a collection of films shown throughout “The Animation Show” festival of shorts, orchestrated by Don Hertzfeldt and Mike Judge. The short is “Parking,” a Bugs Bunny/Yosemite Sam type battle between a pesky blade of grass and a parking lot attendant. Holding to the high quality of the festival, it’s a perfect addition to “The Animation Show.”
We spoke with Bill Plympton about “Parking” and his various other projects.
Has it been a positive experience being a part of The Animation Show?
Yes, it’s refreshing to be involved in an animation collection that is so professionally put together and that has such high-caliber work.
What makes this festival different from, say, “Spike and Mike’s”?
The professionalism of the whole operation, and of course the wonderful personalities of both Mike and Don.
What inspired your short “Parking”?
My apartment overlooks a parking lot that had a large tree growing off to the side. One night, someone came by and firebombed a car – and the flames also burned down this lovely tree that gave me shade and was a home to birds. After the tree was gone, I decided to make a film about concrete vs. nature.
Was this something that allowed you to let off a little steam between features?
Actually, the shorts make money – and also I have a lot of funny, short ideas that I can never work into the features.
Have you ever freaked yourself out? Say, you step back and take a look at a finished scene and go, “Jesus, what the hell is my problem?”
No, I usually step back and say, “Jesus, that’s funny as hell, people are going to love it!”
Have you made your dream project yet, or is it still out there waiting to be created?
I believe Hair High, my new animated feature, is my dream project – great cast, music + story.
Are there any new animators out there currently whose work you enjoy?
PES, Pat Smith, Alex Budovsky, J.J. Villand
Any advice you’d like to give to young upcoming animators?
Keep films short, cheap and funny and you’ll be a success.
So what’s up next for you?
I’m writing a book, a dark comic novel with occasional drawings, about a flight to Paris, called “Sky Hi”. And then I have a brand new short film called “Guard Dog”.
When cruising the web, visit Bill Plympton On-Line.