The Animation Show
2003, NR Directed by Various.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Sept. 5, 2003
All hail. There’s a new animation show making the rounds, and it’s such a delight it makes you wonder why there aren’t more compilation programs like this circulating. Conveniently enough, it’s called The Animation Show, and it’s the brainchild of Oscar-nominated animator Don Hertzfeldt and Austin resident Mike Judge (King of the Hill, Beavis and Butt-head) – two of America’s smartest contemporary cartoon inkslingers. The genesis of The Animation Show stems from the desires of these two men to see more short animated films on a more regular basis. Since the studios stopped producing animated shorts to show before features several decades back, cartoons have had few screening outlets apart from TV reruns and Saturday-morning kids shows. The few circulating compilation programs that had any theatrical presence in recent years have fallen by the wayside, leaving only the annual Spike & Mike traveling shows to pick up the slack. Now another annual compilation program has stepped up to the plate in a noble effort to satisfy their own desires and, hopefully, public demand. The show Hertzfeldt and Judge have assembled is eclectic, international, and stylistically diverse. Included among the selections are some of Judge’s early efforts (including "Milton," the template for the character who was perfectly realized years later by Stephen Root in Judge’s live-action Office Space) and three hilarious new cartoons Hertzfeldt produced exclusively for this show. The show is subject to occasional edits and surprises, so the world premiere show I viewed in July at the Alamo might not be exactly the program a viewer might see tomorrow. So much the better. Details about the individual shorts can be found at www.animationshow.com. One of the show’s highlights is a trippy excerpt from Mars and Beyond, a 1957 program by Disney fixture Ward Kimball. Japanese master Koji Yamamura's "Mt. Head" and Polish animator Tomek Baginski’s "The Cathedral" are visually stunning parables, and Swiss artist Georges Schwizgebel’s painted "La Course à l’abîme" is a visual treat. Futuristic images dominate in Ruairi Robinson and Seamus Byrne's "Fifty Percent Grey," and Cordell Barker's multiple-award-winning "Strange Invaders," while claymation rules in Heidi Wittlinger's "The Rocks." Work from veterans such as Bill Plympton ("Parking"), Corky Quakenbush ("Ricardo Shorts"), and Aardman Studios’ Richard Goleszowski ("Ident") are among the show’s comic highlights. The Animation Show promises to present a new show annually, and we can hardly wait for next year.