Continuing with the idea of animators as self promoters…The animator/director/creator who seems most comfortable in promoting himself seems to be John K (he of Ren & Stimpy/Spumco fame). His blog is a daily self promotion tool and he uses it masterfully. He’s not shy about his opinions. He’s not afraid to knock what he doesn’t like or what he thinks stinks. But he’s not just a windbag about it, he posts examples of what he thinks are good and makes some arguments (some more compelling than others) about why this is good and that is bad. And when he makes something he promotes the snot out of what he does. John is the epitome of an iconoclast. He has an army of clones, fans and followers- as well as a list of enemies that no doubt keeps him off the air due to his big mouth and strong ideals. But that buys him some credibility when the time comes to get hired for work by those outside of that main stream of the media river- and that’s the crux of it all, kids. When internet start up company Raketu wants some clever fun online ad campaign, their mental list of candidates runs mighty short. Same for non-conformist musicians like Weird Al or Tenacious D when the time comes for over the top animated music videos. (actually both acts make fun of the formulas if anything.) The point being, John hammers the message and he hammers it hard. “What we’re doing is better than what anybody else is doing, and I have the examples and strong opinions to prove it! So hire us!” To someone of lesser talent, track record or intestinal fortitude this approach is akin to career suicide. But when the motion cog jobs dry up, or become so tedious as to be little more than pushing buttons in a factory, it’s those who have killed their careers who will still have one. I’ll let that sink in for a bit.
But there’s more to the John K. horn than blatant self promotion. He has a theory, which I think is actually kinda interesting. He believes the most interesting animation results when you allow individual artists and animators to do their own thing in their own kind of style -bent enough to fit the show of course- but still unique and highly personal. He believes that great animation shows a lot of fingerprints from the individual artists, that letting good talent do what it does best is chaotic, but can result in some pretty interesting stuff. And all of this happens under a strong director who invites these talents to come out and play. And he backs it up. He constantly promotes his favorite artists who work with him. He pushes their name out there and pumps up their pub value. He points out their unique touch in what they do. I don’t always like how he says things and a lot of times I don’t like the content of his work, but i have a lot of respect for a guy who’s not afraid to lay it on the line and at the same time push others into the limelight as well.
But these days it seems nobody else much feels like embracing such (potential) chaos. It’s the opposite of the film system where all voices must be subdued completely. Personally I like the idea, even if the execution of it in the Spumco universe leaves me feeling a bit cold. It’ll be neat to see somebody make this work, both creatively and financially. I’m following his progress to see where it lands him. Whichever way it goes it won’t go halfway, that’s for sure!