Posts in EDITORIAL
Taking a Funny Thing (Like Television Animation) Seriously

I want to tell you about my favourite personal interest and ruling passion as a scholar, the thing I find it hard to live without; television animation. But you should know something about me first. I was diagnosed very young with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is considered to be on the high end of the Autism spectrum. People with Asperger’s can function well by themselves and amongst friends and family, and work well when given tasks that they can do, but find it very difficult communicating to others if they don’t know how to, or if they have never met or interacted with someone before. They find it particularly difficult understanding language if it is of a non-verbal nature, and can embarrass themselves in public in consequence of this. From an early age, I was attracted to animation on television because the majority of the characters were the opposite of who I was.

Read More
How Nature Influences Fantasy, Through Norse Mythology

Nature inspires all forms of creativity, playing an important role in a range of fantasy stories and feature films. The context of the natural environment is not only often vital to the atmosphere of each story’s setting but, equally, the direction and drama of the unfolding plot. In this blog post, I wish to discuss how natural symbols in Norse legend influence in particular some of the animated fantasy media we see today; including the film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson, 2001-2003), the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero franchise, and the recent series Vikings (Michael Hirst, 2013-).

Read More
Super-Psych: Into the Discourse Verse

Released in 2018, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman, 2018) explored the visual storytelling possibilities of animation. A computer-animated superhero feature film that retells the story of Miles Morales, a boy bitten by a radio-active spider giving him similar powers to those of Spider-Man, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse bucks many of the traditional techniques of animation, and the production team used novel techniques to depict motion, depth of field, and emotion. Particularly notable is the combination of comic book elements within an animated feature. How do these novel techniques, alongside the combination of comic book mythology and animated storytelling, impact viewers’ comprehension of and experience of the story?

Read More
‘Come Along with Me’: Adventure Time’s Invitation for Imaginative Complexity

In September 2018, after ten seasons following a human boy named Finn, his adoptive brother, a shape-shifting, talking dog named Jake (Fig. 1), and their zany hijinks, quests, and adventures in the post-nuclear apocalyptic land of Ooo, cult-pop cartoon series Adventure Time (Pendleton Ward, 2010-2018) finally drew to a close. With themes of temporality, cyclicality, the apocalypse, and growing up, the narrative of Adventure Time seems to be in direct conversation with its time-constricted episodic television format, as well as its time-and-physics-bending medium of animation. Adventure Time takes advantage of the very non-reality of its animated medium by incorporating fantastical and musical sequences, elements that might stand out from a live-action show that, by nature of its physicality in the real world, cannot as easily convince viewers to suspend all notions of rationality.

Read More
Fantasy, Animation, Violence

A little while ago I did some work on fantasy cinema and, while I’m keen to avoid the slightly unedifying spectacle of trawling through that material again, I would like to spend a little time thinking about a couple of its omissions: animation and violence. One reason for visiting these topics now is that I wonder whether violence in fantasy and/or animation may run the risk of not being taken seriously at all, possibly on grounds of realism. If the violence is so obviously signposted as fictional through its animated or fantastical nature, aren’t we missing the point if we start talking about its meaning and significance?

Read More
Niggun by Yoni Salmon

Niggun is a science-fiction hand drawn animated film that mixes the theme of spiritual quest with a space odyssey. It takes place in a post apocalyptic future where earth is gone and Jerusalem has become a legend. The original idea for the film began with a small illustration I made of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, depicting major Tom floating in a tin can. The theme of being lost in space representing some kind of existential crisis made me look for a story behind that astronaut

Read More
The Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Superhero’s Ambivalent Relationship with Technology

The term ambivalence was coined by the psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler to describe two opposite ideas that coexist in uneasy union. While superheroes are often understood as narratives of assurance, comfort and security, it is ambivalence, or even anxiety, that provides the more useful concept when it comes to interrogating the dynamics at work in the cinematic superhero phenomena. This is particularly the case in its relationship with technology, both aesthetically and philosophically.

Read More
Fantasy Animation & Costume: The Unexploited Potential of Costume Design and Costume Designer in Computer-Animated Films

From a costume design point of view, a combination of the words ‘fantasy’ and ‘animation’ directly creates an impression of visually innovative costumes. After all, in animation anything imaginative can be designed, breaking the laws of gravity (with costume) or establishing textiles which are not bound to or are replicated from the real life. What a fruitful starting point for costume design! However, unfortunately, mostly the words ‘fantasy’ and ‘animation’ are not reflected in many animated characters’ costume design in the computer-animated films.

Read More
The Relationship Between Fashion Film and Animation/Fantasy

My own initiation into fashion film was a hesitant one, uncertain as to whether fashion films could ever be situated on the same spectrum as traditional film. The role that fashion film plays within cinema is still relatively undiscovered. Films dissected by Stella Bruzzi have often explored both fashion and film as two separate entities which combine in challenging identity and metaphorical gestures, as well as for aesthetics (1999); whilst auteur of the early fashion film, Guy Bourdin, created voyeuristic moving images which have only in recent years, begun to emerge to a wider audience.

Read More
Making Delirium

My name is Mani Haider and I am an indie games developer. In this post, I would like to discuss the creative and technical process behind my latest game, Delirium, explaining how I became inspired to produce this sci-fi/horror game as my latest project. I was first inspired to work in games design in 2016 when I was working as a runner within the film industry and was exposed to the work of amazing concept artists working in the visual effects studio. I had always drawn as a hobby, but the experience working alongside vfx artists made me consider going into 3d work and eventually into games.

Read More
Soho: An imagined space of fantasy?

Wardour Street, Soho was once referred to as “Film Row.” In 1951, Sight and Sound published a list of British and Hollywood companies and studios in active production. The list featured over twenty-seven British film production companies, British subsidiaries of major Hollywood studios and documentary/short film production with headquarters located on Wardour Street and the surrounding Soho district.

Read More
Notes from an Angry Queer: Compulsive Heteronormativity in How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)

All too often, when a new game or film or television show that includes the barest representation of the LGBTQ+ community is announced, an inevitable, angry chorus of cisgender, heterosexual people shout out in unison: I’m fine with gay people, but why do you have to shove it down my throat like this? Thankfully, the media producers in question usually forge ahead, much to the delight (or chagrin – no one piece of media is perfect) of the LGBTQ+ community. But then, if even the smallest crumb of queer representation is enough to make cishet people choke, then is the same true for a queer person forced to navigate society’s constant stream of compulsive heteronormativity?

Read More
Creating People Cat People

My name is Eric Polley, and I am the creator of People Cat People (2018-). People Cat People is an animated web series that focuses on the day-to-day lives of the characters of a small group of feline humanoids that inhabit a fictional planet called the People Cat People Planet. There is no main character or single overarching plot line. Instead the series focuses on several shorts that aim to introduce and resolve conflict within one standalone episode.

Read More
Laika and the Two Worlds: Deconstructing the Illusion of Stop-motion Animation

André Bazin’s “Ontology of the Photographic Image”  states that “the photograph as such and the object in itself share a common being, after the fashion of the fingerprint” (2005: 15). For Bazin, the fingerprint is symbolic of an imprint of the material object; the finger. Yet I cannot help but think of this symbol of filmmaking when I watch stop-motion animation – a process by which an animated world is created; often out of clay but also other materials, and brought to life by a series of photographs documenting miniscule movements to imitate life.

Read More
Fantastic German Fox: The National Identity of Reineke Fuchs (1937)

In the chapter “Fantastic French Fox: The National Identity of Le Roman de Renard as an Animated Film” for the edited collection Fantasy/Animation: Connections Between Media, Mediums and Genres (2018), I alluded to the three different versions of Le Roman de Renard – France’s first feature-length animated film – that existed over the course of its production history. These were the unfinished silent cut from 1930, the German edit in 1937, and finally the official French release of 1941.

Read More
Fantasy and the Re-Animation of Othered Cultures

The intersection of fantasy and animation is increasingly also an intersection of nationalities and cultures. The world’s best known animation studios often look beyond their own cultures for inspiration, exploring and representing people, mythologies and folklore from across the globe. Japan’s Studio Ghibli, for example, frequently adapt Western sources, creating fantasy-inflected variations on European countries (Howl’s Moving Castle [Hayao Miyazaki, 2004]) or indeterminate settings bearing both Japanese and European influence (Kiki’s Delivery Service [Hayao Miyazaki, 1989]; Arrietty [Hiromasa Yonebayashi, 2010]; When Marnie Was There [James Simone & Hiromasa Yonebayashi, 2014]).

Read More
The Fantasy of Animated Documentary?

When I attended the BFI launch of the book edited by the estimable conveners of this blog, Chris Holliday and Alex Sergeant’s Fantasy/Animation, I was that annoying person in the audience to ask the first, really obvious, question. Admittedly one that betrayed the fact that I hadn’t yet read their book (something now, ahem, rectified) and also my own research interests and agenda. Isn’t all animation, due to its constructed nature, in some way fantasy? And if so, if animation implies fantasy and fantasy implies animation, I queried, where does that leave animated documentary? And that, dear reader, is how you find yourself pressganged into writing a blog post…

Read More
‘Let’s do that again!’: How to reboot Shrek in 2018

Back in November, Variety caused a furore online by reporting that Chris Meledandri, the Illumination founder and Despicable Me (2010) producer charged with overseeing DreamWorks Animation after its acquisition by Comcast, was planning on ‘rebooting’ the Shrek series. ‘Reboot’ typically refers to starting from scratch with a film franchise, recasting the characters and restarting the narrative. If Variety had read their own interview, they would have noticed that Meledandri actually said that ‘while you certainly could make a case for a complete reinvention, I find myself responding to my own nostalgic feelings of wanting to go back to those characterizations’.

Read More
Documenting Fantasy: The case of the animated mockumentary The Last Dragon (2004)

If animation and documentary make an anomalous couple, fantasy, animation and documentary make an extremely far-fetched threesome. Yet, in Justin Hardy’s mockumentary The Last Dragon (2004) they conjoin. This TV movie purports to be a partially animated documentary that attests to the existence of one of fantasy’s iconic symbols: the dragon. More precisely, the film takes the form of “an evolutionary natural history “what if?”” (Foley in Murray 2005: 67) documentary that, similarly to Peter Jackson and Costa Botes’ staple live-action mockumentary, Forgotten Silver (1995), is composed of two interwoven stories.

Read More