Hurry Up and Animate
A closer look at the Riddlin' Kids look, courtesy of local animator Lance Myers
From the Grateful Dead to the Gorillaz, artwork has played and important role in defining the look of bands. Locally, Tommy Pons did it with the Dangerous Toys' evil clown. Now, there's Lance Myers and the Riddlin' Kids.
"I've been telling them I'm their Pushead, their Dr. Death Riggs," says Myers, referring to Metallica and Iron Maiden's artists de jour, respectively. "If they want more, I'm here."
The local animator and former Gals Panic and Playdoh Squad frontman's art graces the cover of both Riddlin' Kids commercial releases, their Any Day Now EP and the new full-length Hurry Up and Wait, the former with a faux-comic book motif and the latter featuring a schoolgirl offering a suitor a swift kick to the family jewels. Myers has also contributed to the band's Web site and completed a series of trade ads that play off the album cover art with various radio program director's faces.
Even with all that, the association's crowning moment is the band's "I Feel Fine" video. It features 35 seconds of animated sequences that morph the Kids' Clint Baker and Mark Johnson into pizza-pushin' lotharios.
"I'm not typically a caricaturist," says Myers, who works at Acclaim by day, designing intricate video game cinemas for the Turok series. "I basically took 360 degree photos of them, traced over them, and simplified until they were virtual cartoon characters."
Myers got the initial EP gig at the urging of Riddlin' Kids drummer Dave Keel, who'd done a short stint in Gals Panic. Yet while Myers may be best known locally as a musician, it wasn't music that drew him here.
"I was in awe of Daily Texan cartoonists like Chris Ware, Tom King, Walt Holcomb, and Corey Coleman," explains Myers, whose sister attended UT in the early Nineties and mailed her favorite strips home to him in Nebraska. Once in Austin, Myers began contributing to Jerm Pollet's humor magazine, Powerball. After a stint as an auxiliary member of Pollet's Brother's Cup, the pair founded Gals Panic.
Towards the end of Gals Panic, Myers began work at Austin's Heart of Texas Productions, contributing animation to major features like Space Jam and Prince of Egypt. Later, after working on Barbie and the Rugrats CD-Rom projects at Human Code and video games at Acclaim, he completed a pair of his own critically acclaimed animated shorts, The Astronomer, a classy think-piece HBO recently picked up, and the "gross and irreverent" Gutsman super-hero saga. Though he's currently hard-pressed to find the time to pursue music, Myers says the similarities between animation and rock & roll are obvious.
"It's similar to being in the studio," says Myers, who with the help of Austin's Horesback Salad and Powerhouse Animation studios was able to turn around the Riddlin' Kids clip on a ridiculously short three-week timeline. "You pour yourselves into creating an album and camp out like soldiers until you get it done. Animation is an equally night-and-day job. You work meticulously nonstop and then you've eventually got something to be proud of. You can sit back with a little perspective and say, 'We did it.' It's really very fulfilling."