Tim Burton’s “The World Of Stainboy”.

For a wee while now, I’ve been trying to write an album worth of scary children’s songs. I have about 5 so far which I think I’m happy with. The idea is to write them, record them and then illustrate some sort of accompanying book for them all by myself and WHO KNOWS whether I will manage this but I it’s enjoyable and not very easy.

Whenever I get hit with writer’s block, I get ideas for drawings and whenever I get hit with whatever the illustration version of writer’s block is (Illustration Block?), the words pour out of me. It’s almost as if my brain can’t process those two things at the same time and that doesn’t surprise me.

One of my go-to books for inspiration during these blocks is Tim Burton’s “The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy And Other Stories”, a book of clever wee macabre poems written and illustrated by Burton himself. That’s where I stole the idea from you see. But he stole it from Edward Gorey first so it’s all allowed.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway, one of my favourite characters from “The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy And Other Stories” is a poor wee unfortunate fellow called Stainboy and I’ve just discovered that Tim Burton wrote and produced a Flash Animation series called “The World Of Stainboy”!

I’m always late to the party. Burton did this in 2010 and even wrote the episodes based on ideas submitted to him on Twitter! I don’t know how I managed to miss that but I did and if you did too, here are all six episodes…

Episode 1. “The Girl Who Stares”:

Episode 2. “The Toxic Boy”:

Episode 3. “The Bowling Ball”:

Episode 4. “The Robot Boy”:

Episode 5. “The Match Girl”:

Episode 6. “Stainboy’s Day Off”:

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* How To Cope With Death
* “The Tannery” By Iain Gardner
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“Please Give Blood”: A Preview.

Hi folks,
I’ve decided to push back the new “Please Give Blood” instalment of my comic strip to Halloween 2012 because:
(a) I’m putting an animation video together.
(b) I’ve sent the strip off to the Scottish National Blood Donation & Transfusion Centre for their disapproval and as soon as I get their rejection/objection letter, I’m gonna work it into the plot.

You understand don’t you?
Until then, here is a link to the preview illustrations…

The strip will appear on Halloween 2012 right HERE.
Become a fan on Facebook HERE and follow me on Twitter HERE and I’ll follow you in real life!

*Disclaimer: Will contain blood. LOADS OF IT!

Stop-Motion Animation …On A Vinyl Record!

By Danish designer Michael Hansen, this is one of the greatest ideas for vinyl record design I’ve ever seen!

“An album cover for the modern classical composer Allan Gravgaard Madsen. My idea was to translate Allan’s sensorial music into a visual experience with elements of sensuality. The two pieces of music is separated on the records two sides. There is not an A- or B-side. Each piece has its own front page; Waves is a visualisation of the music performed by nine trompets. I made it as simple as possible with nine circles on a line. Crystal Tapestry is a pattern of crystals that has no front or back end, it refers to a crystal that merge into it self. Inside I made a visualisation that combines the two sides, a crystalized wave. On the record i created patterns that gives the design a visual sensuality. I made an analog animation with a 50 Hz strobe lamp and made it interact with the music.”

You May Also Be Interested In…
* Album Cover Artwork: “Love Lust Tales”
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“The Tannery” By Iain Gardner.

“The Tannery” is a short 2D animation film by Edinburgh animation artist Iain Gardner. I caught it on TV by sheer chance a few months ago and it impressed me so much that I was kicking myself for days later because I didn’t record it.

At under 10 minutes, “The Tannery” is a really short film and because it aired at 3am, I wrote it off as one of those amazing little films that you only manage to see once and then never again.

…Ah, but Channel 4
Good old Channel 4 aired the film once again and although it still had the same graveyard slot, I stayed up and enjoyed it all over again. I even managed to record it and I’ve been playing it for anyone who comes to visit me.

It’s hard to explain the film’s simple plot without completely ruining it for you but stick with me, we’ll get there.

“The Tannery” is the story of a young fox in the snow who one day gets his brains blown out by a huntsman and instead of being no more, the fox becomes a spirit and continues on his merry way through the afterlife.

The fox makes pals with the spirit of a wee bunny rabbit and together, they run around in the snow having a great time and occasionally watching the spirits of other animals sailing up into the stars…

…Well, that’s as much as I can really tell you but the ending of the film could give the ending of “The Sopranos” a run for its money!

Just like its IMDB page the trailer for “The Tannery” gives nothing away.

Like I said, I want to tell everyone I know about “The Tannery” but it’s a tricky thing to do without completely spoiling the film so I thought I’d do the next best thing.

I tracked down Iain Gardner who made the film and I asked him a few questions and wouldn’t ya know it, he actually answered them!

Q. Hello Iain! You’re from Edinburgh and I’m from Glasgow. Shouldn’t we be fighting each other in some bar somewhere?

A. Probably best we take it outside.

Q. I was lucky enough to have caught your short animation film “The Tannery” not once but twice in the wee hours on Channel 4. I was very impressed. How long did it take to put together?

A. Uuuuuurgh. Months. 6 months of protracted development, and then 8-9 months in production. Actually, I’m foggy on how many months it took to actually make, as I became the walking dead myself in the process.

Q. When and how did you come up with the idea for “The Tannery”?

A.  Drink. You get asked this question at Festivals, and I’m keen to build on my mythology that a bottle of wine started it, but I was drunk when I got thinking that there might be wee sad souls yearning for the furs that selfish arrogant vain humans wear. It was years ago – the film started as ‘The Fox Who Lost It’s Fur’ and was a much bigger, more epic, story but the practicalities of budget and time meant that the tone of my idea had to come across in a much simpler and shorter narrative – still, I constructed it in such a way that I may still be able to pick up the story where ‘The Tannery’ left off. Still can’t judge from audience reaction whether it’s worth mining that seam.

Q. The film manages to be very charming, sinister, lovely and bleak all at once. Did you set out to shock? 

A. I certainly didn’t set out to shock, and fought hard not to do so – there were many script advisors attached to the film, and their main proclivity seemed to be gore and pain. No, I wanted to break people’s hearts! That was the main experiential emotion that I wanted to channel via animation. I’ve nothing against comedy in Animation, but the plasticity of the medium manages to trigger that reflex within the diaphragm that makes us laugh. Do you remember Bambi? Whether you love it or hate it, and my film similarly has its detractors, but that is animation at its most wonderful, when it engages your emotions and makes you cry. I’ve had a few reports of tears in audiences. Can’t please all the people all of the time, but mission accomplished.

Q. The film certainly broke my heart and it’s refreshing to see a 2D animation film these days. How many artists worked on the film?

A. I’d like to say one, because essentially it was a one man band. However, the wonderfully talented animator and illustrator Rachel Everitt assisted me throughout with rendering the artwork (not in the computer rendering sense, but in brandishing pencils and creating soft lines and shades, much as The Snowman was created), and a team of enthusiasts joined near the end to help animate the Hunter in his lodge (thank you Ulrike Keil), and additional support was volunteered from Andy Macpherson, Owen Rixon, Neil McDonald and David Bell. Not to mention the CGI team at world class Axis Animation, headed by Wiek Luijken with Drew Robertson, Stu Shapiro, Richard Clay and Dana Dorian. So with reference to the actual frames, I’d possibly claim 75% blood from my fingertips, and the rest shared with those 11 talented individuals – there’s also the musical talent led by composer Mick Cooke, and volunteers who helped scan the drawings into the computer.

Q. How big a part did contemporary technology play in the making of the film?

A. There was the CGI work done at Axis for a few moving backgrounds, and all the shots were composited in After Effects, with artwork scanned into Photoshop. But the performances were hand drawn, paper and pencil!

Q. I’m starting to find big glossy Hollywood 3D animation productions almost…too glossy and perfect. What are your thoughts?

A. Come and see the McLaren Animation at the Edinburgh Film Festival in June. You’ll enjoy that. And the International Animation programme. June 20th-1stJuly. Programme announced on the 30th May.

But yes, there does need to be more variety in animated features, but sadly it’s dictated by box office. Rent ‘The Illusionist’ by Sylvain Chomet. Watch ‘101 Dalmatians’ again.

Q. I write and illustrate a comic strip using a black biro pen and people continually tell me to employ software for a helping hand so that I can churn it all out quicker.I feel that the strip would loose any charm it may have if I did this. Do you have any advice?

A. Follow your gut. Who are these people?

Q. EXACTLY! What kind of things influence your work?

A. Time and money!

And alcohol.

I love Eastern European Animation – the fine art created by certain film makers within a certain period of time, not the ‘cooing’ mole we saw on telly in the seventies. Frederic Bac from Canada is an obvious inspiration to me (if you know his work). And I love Jiri Trnka, both as Film maker and Illustrator – it’s his centenary April 2012, check your local cinema (GFT?) and see if you can catch his stop motion films.

2014 will be Norman McLaren’s Centenary, he’s an inspiration  – look out for events celebrating that also!

Q. “The Tannery” is currently going around the World film circuit. Have you had any feedback from insomniacs like me who caught your film on Channel 4 in the wee wee hours ?

A. Well, here are a few of my favourite anonymous tweets;

it was like the snowman only more violent!’

It’s heartbreaking.’

Inadertantly (sic) just watched The Tannery.. Quite possibly one of the saddest pieces of animation I’ve seen ☹ JESH… !’

freakin the f**k out watchin this ‘the tannery’ fox movie! Incredible

felt like I’d been on an LSD sesh

Just watched a sick animation called the tannery. Made me think. Now…bed.’

These reactions probably say more about insomniac tweeters than the film though.

Q. Do you happen to know if Channel 4 has any plans to run the film for a third time?

A. Well, it’s been on four times, and if it’s on again I’ll need to check the broadcast agreement in place for the film! I’d love it to be aired when people are awake next time. It’s been sold to SBS Australia, and I’m hoping more territories will follow suit. Silent film is perfect for international audiences.


Many thanks go to Iain for his talents and for taking the time to answer my questions.
Look out for “The Tannery”.

Here are some links:
“The Tannery” Facebook Page.
Iain Gardner’s Website.
Iain Gardner’s Twitter Feed.

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What Does A Tickle Look Like?

Well, I don’t think I need to introduce you to this guy…

Ah, Mr. Tickle.
Probably the first guy that I idolised.
I remember reading the Mr Tickle book as a wee boy and thinking how cool it would be if I could lie in bed and stretch my arms out of the window, down the road, across town, up and in through some unsuspecting victim’s window and tickle them!

I’d probably get arrested if I pulled a stunt like that in real life.

This week marks 40 years of Roger Hargreaves’ Mr Men books and I’m so glad that they’re still around.
I have all of those books (Including all of The Little Miss ones too!) and one at a time, I’m slowly giving them to my Niece and Nephew to read.
My Nephew likes to read them and my Niece likes to eat the pages.
“Whatever makes you happy!” I always say 🙂

The Mr Men story started way back in 1971 when one morning, Roger Hargreaves’ Son asked him this question:
“What does a tickle look like?”
And so, Mr Tickle was born!

From the Mr Men website:

The small, white square form at of Mr. Men and Little Miss storybooks were an instant success, selling more than one million copies in the first three years alone. From the books, the Mr. Men were later immortalised by the BBC in the 1970’s in a TV series with legendary British actor Arthur Lowe as narrator.

Since the 1980’s, the books, TV series and a weatlth of other products have become available all over the world. Today you can find the Mr. Men or Little Misses as clothing, DVD’s, sweets, toys, toiletries, medical care, bags, novelty gifts, stationery, homeware, digital apps and more. A Mr. Men book is now sold every 2.5 seconds worldwide!

In 2011, as the characters celebrate their 40th anniversary, the affection felt for the assortment of diverse characters by the generations raised with these books is stronger than ever before. Mr. Men and Little Miss are so versatile, they appeal to everyone. It really is the world’s biggest, brightest, funniest self expression brand.

Adam Hargreaves, the boy whose question spawned this global empire, is now the writer and illustrator of the world’s most recognisable books.

So it’s a very Happy 40th Birthday to The Mr Men and as a special treat, I’m gonna show you something REALLY COOL!
All you have to do is click HERE.

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