The webcomics blog about webcomics

Guerilla Animation

Quick programming note: both Webcomicscon and APE are this weekend, on opposite coasts (Norwalk, Connecticut and San Francisco, respectively), with plenty of webcomicky types at each. I’ll be at my niece’s wedding, and considering that for her college graduation we got her a complete set of Roast Beef’s ‘zines and a bottle of Ray’s Rad Chilies sauce, I think I’ll have somebody to talk webcomics with. Just a hunch.

Sometimes, the funniest material comes from working without a net. Grab the microphone, lay down some audio, minimal edits, just go with it. We’ve seen the results from Kris and Scott (Scott and Kris) with their Blamimation — free-associating on a premise into an audio track, then limited animations to provide a visual component are added. But what if the words and pictures could be recorded simultaneously?

Enter Wondermark Kinetic. Air Marshall Malki ! and his cohort, Zachary Sigelko (seen on the right, talkin’ ’bout bears), have bashed together some mouth-articulated puppets and static backgrounds (all looking very Victorian-engraved) and tell their funny straight to the camera. Eight puppet shows uploaded in the course of six hours — the only recorded instance of short, funny films being produced more quickly was when the Old Spice Guy was kicking out responses to tweets every 20 minutes or so.

It reminds me in a weird way of something NASA’s been doing for a number of years now. See, you could spend a couple billion dollars on a space probe, hope everything goes right for literally years while it travels to wherever it’s going, and it still might not work when it gets there due to circumstances beyond any rational measure of control. Alternately, you could bash together something quick and on the cheap (okay, $250 million isn’t “cheap” in the conventional sense, but stick with me) and even if some clown forgets to use metric and it smacks headlong into Mars, you’ve got eight or nine other devices working, some way beyond expectations. If the mission’s going to fail, let it fail quickly, and move onto something else.

I think of this because of a remark that Malki ! once made about having so many project ideas, so many things he wants to pursue, but to do any as fully as it could be done would mean not doing something else. But these animations make me think that he’s come around to the NASA model — try it, and if it turns out to not be as interesting or as fun as initially thought, ditch it and move onto something else.

Could the backdrops for these puppet shows (or for that matter, the cardboard-constructed Machine of Death he brought to MoCCA this year) look more polished? Sure, and if it warrants it in the future, I’m sure that polish will be added to the revised version. In the meantime, we get intense bursts of creativity, each of which stretches and strengthens the creativity muscle¹ of an already significantly creative individual.

Malki ! might decide after a burst of activity that Wondermark Kinetic wasn’t all he hoped it would be, but the things he learned will make the next 37 projects he drops on us all the better/funnier/more polished. Right now, the pace of building is fast, cheap, maybe even a little out of control — but now is just warmup time.

¹ Difficult to find on most anatomical diagrams, it’s usually underdeveloped and wedges behind the spleen.

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