Tuesday after work I went down to the Vancouver Art Gallery to check out the Krazy! exhibit for animation, comics, manga & video game art. It's pretty huge, and I recommend anyone in the nearby woods to see it before the summer's out. Most of the larger wings of the exhibit are focused on comics, anime, manga and video games, with a slightly smaller wing dedicated to animation art. Included there I got to see original Lotte Reiniger shadow puppets, and original storyboards, concept art, cels & animation drawings from Gertie the Dinosaur, Dumbo, Wallace & Gromit, Over the Hedge, Toy Story, Gerald McBoing McBoing and Marv Newland's Black Hula. There are a few TV screens on the walls looping these films there as well. It was quite inspiring to see 4 flat screens grouped together simultaneously playing, clockwise from the top left, Gertie, Prince Achmed, Gerald and Dumbo's Pink Elephants sequence...like a tapestry of moving history! Nothing short of awe-inspiring!
The original Dumbo drawings were surprisingly small...at least a 12-field size paper or seemed like 10-field even. Most feature animation drawings I've seen are at least 16-field, but Dumbo was a smaller picture after all. The original Krazy Kat comics, both the original inked Herriman artwork plus printed ones from the Baltimore American newspapers were also quite amazing to see. After drooling over the exhibit I checked out Marv Newland's presentation on the history of animation in Vancouver and retrospective on his work. Marv is a great storyteller and spins hilarious yarns in the same dead-pan manner that his animated characters display.
Some points of interest and amusing anecdotes...
-animation in Vancouver was established first and foremost by Al Sens in the late 1950s, primarily because he had a few cameras which many other filmmakers were able to use, and they are still around! One of the cameras lived temporarily in the old arts & crafts building on Seymour Street which "felt like the bowels of the earth even though it was up six floors" due to the heat.
-Al Sens employed the "spit technique" of shooting animation by drawing on a cel with a grease pencil, spitting on it, wiping it clean and then making the next drawing.
-early studios in Vancouver included Canowest, Sync Pop and of course International Rocketship...lots of commercials done, some for Japanese TV spots and Hudson's Bay Company.
-Rocketship employed artist named Bill Schwartz who was on welfare, and he spent his first paycheck on a giant inflatable Godzilla to hang from the studio ceiling.
-Another animator Dan Collins would show up at the studio, sit for an hour waiting for someone to make coffee, get up when the last drop was ready, drink some coffee and then leave for the day.
-Black Hula was based on a 1929 Hawaiian record...Marv liked it because the music was "happy melancholy" and nobody understands the language. He pretty much animated the film straight ahead making it up as he went along. He says the only storyboarding or concept art he did for it was what was on display in the exhibit, which was only about 2 big drawings.
A big thanks to all who put on this exhibit!