Comic & Animation mit Harri Römpötti (Helsingin Sanomat)

Thu., May 7, 9pm + Fri., May 8, 7pm, both at Metropol 3

Both comics and cinema are usually said to have been born in the 1890’s, in America and France respectively. Of course the roots of both go back further.

For example Swiss Rodolphe Töpffer, working in the 1830’s and 1840’s was already a master in comics; plus: Before the invention of photography, all moving images were animation. But in the dawn of the 20th century animation and comics boomed as mass media.

The Beginnings

One of the pioneers on both fields was American Winsor McCay (c. 1869–1934). An amazingly talented artist, McCay was also able to work incredibly fast producing comics and the vast number of drawings required for animation. He’s the natural starting point for an excursion through the common ground with comics and animation. Little Nemo is McCay’s most famous comic strip and the movie with the same name is based on it. Also the second sample, How a Mosquito Operates is loosely based on another strip, Dream of the Rarebit Fiend.

In Japan in the 50’s Osamu Tezuka (1928–1989) similarly helped the progress of both fields. Our samples show his artistic animation from the 60’s rather than popular Atom Boy of more often seen works from the 80’s. In Europe early samples of interrelations of comics and animation are rare, but Berthold Bartosch’s (1893–1968) L’Idee is based on Frans Masereel’s wordless comic and is a true classic of short film.

Especially in America many of the successful comics were turned into animated movies, including the most poetic American strip, George Herriman’s Krazy Kat. Also many comics were based on animated series, most famously Walt Disney’s Donald Duck.

 The 90′s TV Boom

The European classic comics have been adapted to animation later, mostly for TV, starting with the growth of the industry in the 90’s. But they were mostly commercial side products of each other. The screenings at ITFS’ Comic & Animation rather look for more artistic than commercial endeavors. So Superman and Tintin are not included. Also, for limitation of two screenings, features like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis of Joann Sfar’s Rabbi’s Cat are excluded.

Interestingly the comics and animation went their separate ways artistically for a long while. The commercial link between them has been less disjointed. From the 60’s there is Gene Deitch’s (1945–2006) Oscar-winner Munro, based on a comic by Jules Feiffer, father figure of political comics. By the way, Gene Deitch’s son, Kim Deitch is famous underground comics artist.

 Comic Artists do Animation

As the esthetic development of comics speeded in the 90’s and perhaps also the technique of film making got more accessible, there have been more and more comics artists making animation. Of the Europeans Stéphane Blanquet (b. 1973), Winshluss (Vincent Paronnoud, b. 1970) and (Florent) Ruppert (b. 1979) & (Jérôme) Mulot (b. 1981) are French. Dave McKean (b. 1963) is English, Anke Feuchtenberger (b. 1963) German, Pushwagner (Terje Brofos, b. 1940) Norwegian, Claudius Gentinetta (b. 1968) Swiss, Kolbeinn Karlsson (b. 1982) Swedish, Éric Lambé (b. 1966) Belgian and Hanneriina Moisseinen (b. 1978) Finnish. Richard McGuire (b. 1957), Lilli Carré (b. 1983), Chris Ware (b. 1967) and Dash Shaw (b. 1983) are American.

Together these artists demonstrate how the common ground between comics and animation has spread wide and turned into fruitful territory. Both are narratives created basically from a scratch and out of thin air. Perhaps that’s why they serve well stories of imagination and dreams.

The biggest difference between the two is probably the aspect of time. In comics the reader is in control of the pace, at cinemas it’s the director. These two screenings are your chance to step into the world of some comics artists in animation. Take your own time to check out their world in comics.