Master of animation

Frederic Cone

Frederic ConeNews Editor

A passion for animation results in mass publications and multiple awards.

Bill Plympton began his career as an illustrator and cartoonist in New York City in the early 1970’s after finishing his service in The National Guard.

Plympton’s illustrations have been published in The New York Times, Vogue, The Village Voice and Vanity Fair. His cartoons appeared in magazines including Rolling Stone, Viva, Penthouse and National Lampoon.

In 1975, within The Soho Weekly News, he began Plympton, a political cartoon strip. By 1981 the strip was syndicated in over twenty papers by Universal Press Syndicate. Plympton said has been interested in animation ever since he could remember.

“I’ve been interested in animation since I can remember,” Plympton said. “I think it was Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck who showed me how funny cartoons could be. Then of course Walt Disney demonstrated how beautiful animated feature films could be, and I was hooked.”

Animated features have gained in popularity in recent years ever since Toy Story came out with such rave reviews.

“I think it’s very interesting that each year it’s usually two or three animated films on top of the box office top ten list, yet Hollywood generally doesn’t care about animation,” Plympton said. “Well screw “em. Hollywood should get with the program and realize the public loves fantasy and animation delivers their dreams, or nightmares, in my case.”

His latest feature Idiots and Angels premiered at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, where it received reviews and applause from audiences. Initially, the film was not selected by any distributors, though later on Passion River Films took on handling all of the art houses and now, theatrical venues.

“For some reason, I don’t know why, the distributors (and we showed it to a lot of them) were afraid to handle the film,” Plympton said. “Perhaps adult animation is such a specific audience, they didn’t feel comfortable handling the genre.”

Two projects are in the works for Plympton, set to release in 2011. The first is a big book for Rizzoli titled Independently Animated Bill Plympton, which will have a forward by Terry Gilliam and is set to be out in April.

“It’s a big coffee table book that covers my entire career from high school to my brand new projects,” Plympton said.

The second project is a feature-length documentary about Plympton. The film will be produced by Alexia Anastasio and titled Adventures in Plymptoons. The documentary will contain interviews from leading animators and artists and is set to come out in the middle of 2011.

For aspiring animators, Plympton’s master class and Q&A session provides some of the most relevant insights and advice about the industry.

“In order to make it in the cartoon biz, you must draw all the time and truly love cartoons,” Plympton said. “If you don’t have a passion for the craft, it’s best if you go on to some other profession.”