July 4, 2007
The Platform festival is helping to widen how the audience thinks about animation and looks at its use beyond traditional platforms of the television and big screen. Festivals have begun to feature Internet competitions and Platform was no exception. However, it was notable that they included a competition specifically for mobile devices and jaw-dropping installations, curated by artist Rose Bond.
An entirely different medium can also help us reconsider what makes some elements of animation tick: comics. While not all animators are into comics and vice versa, there are many who enjoy, derive inspiration from and create in both media. Many current animators are producing comics in printed and digital format. Walt Kelly and Osamu Tezuka were both animators and comic book artists, as is Hayao Miyazaki. I've recommended comics on fps before that I think some animators will enjoy, because of the cinematic quality of their stories.
Running concurrently with Platform was a Graphic Novel intensive at the Pacific Northwest College of Art and Platform attendees had the opportunity to hear a lecture by Scott McCloud, creator of Zot! and Understanding Comics, a treatise on the mechanics and form that underlie comics. As he notes, comics and animation both deal with sequential art and time. Comics are images laid out one after the other to denote a change in events over time, and animation is sequential images displayed in the same space that also denote the same thing.
Another important element of successful comics and animation is storytelling - graphic storytelling - and on top of all this both types of creators have to rethink the impact of the Web on distribution, exposure and format. Both media also are changing due to the intersection of influences from North America, the Europe and Asia. These and other themes were explored during his lecture and whether audience members agreed with him or not, they came away with something to think about.
McCloud is currently on a year-long tour with his wife and two daughters in conjunction with his new book, Making Comics. You can find out if he'll be in a city near you by keeping up with his family's Livejournal account of the tour. If you went to the Portland lecture, he can read your comments here.