Bill Plympton: Independently Animated at SVA

June 1, 2011

On Wednesday, May 18, Academy award-nominee and SVA alumnus Bill Plympton (1969 Cartooning) celebrated the release of his most recent book, Independently Animated: Bill Plympton: The Life and Art of the King of Indie Animation (Universe, 2011), with a screening and book signing at the SVA Amphitheater. Joining Plympton on stage was co-author and fellow SVA alumnus and faculty member David B. Levy (BFA 1995 Cartooning).

The evening began with a quick introduction to the process Levy and Plympton undertook to create the book. Levy noted how honored he was to work with his “hero” and remarked that Plympton is “an amazing human being.” A rare screening of Plympton’s crowd-sourced short film Guard Dog Global Jam followed. This short was made by 70 fellow animators from around the world who each re-created one shot from Plympton’s 2004 Oscar-nominated short, Guard Dog.

In the Q&A that followed, Plympton discussed his time at SVA, his transformational early years in New York, and his need to create animated feature films outside of the studio system. In discussing his passion for making feature length films as opposed to shorts, which are more profitable, Plympton noted, “When I was a kid, I really wanted to emulate Walt Disney. He certainly had big success with Mickey Mouse and The Three Little Pigs. But he didn’t become really respected until he did Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Dumbo. That was what I wanted to do. I wanted to make these films that last ages and decades. You’re taken so much more seriously when you make a feature film than when you do a short. You’re not seen as a hobbyist.”

Audience members were then treated to a pencil test of Plympton’s latest film Cheatin’. This rough”work-in-progress” screening highlighted Plympton’s unique storytelling abilities using his signature hand-drawn animations.

Images: (first) David B. Levy and Bill Plympton. Photo by John Wyszniewski; (second) clip from Guard Dog by Bill Plympton; (third) cover art for Independently Animated: Bill Plympton: The Life and Art of the King of Indie Animation.

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