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Calvin and Hobbes in motion - sorry Bill, they had to move
April 14, 2014 12:41 PM   Subscribe

Animator Adam Brown took two Calvin and Hobbes comics as keyframes and animated the pair in motion, with some sound: dancing in the forest (Vimeo; YouTube; GIF without the background) and a fireside tiger attack (Vimeo; GIF).

You can see more of Adam's animation on his Vimeo and YouTube accounts, as well as his Tumblr. Here's his animation reel on Vimeo, where he notes that he has worked on Ugly Americans, Bounty Hunters, Brickleberry, Glenn Martin DDS, and The Magic Hockey Skates. He has set two of his clips to April Showers by ProleteR (Bandcamp page).
posted by filthy light thief (51 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
But they didn't have to actually move....Watterson's art is so vivid, they've been dancing and flying and etc. in my imagination for years!

(Kind of cool, nevertheless.)
posted by LooseFilter at 12:48 PM on April 14 [13 favorites]


The dancing one feels more genuine than the fireside one. In the latter there are intermediate facial expressions he had to draw that weren't at all right, and since there's little else going on in those moments you really notice it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:57 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


I've got a five year-old at home who reads Calvin & Hobbes before bed every night who will love these. Thanks!
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:58 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Maybe this will flush him out of hiding.
posted by Danf at 1:03 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Where's the one in which Calvin is walking along and finds himself in front of a big Ford or Chevy logo...
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:07 PM on April 14 [6 favorites]


Here's the Calvin & Hobbes dancing without the background GIF.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:20 PM on April 14


Maybe this will flush him out of hiding.

He poked his head out recently for a documentary.
posted by Spatch at 1:22 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the facial expressions in the fireside one are wrong no wrong terrible no no wrong.
posted by straight at 1:27 PM on April 14 [4 favorites]


The dance made me wonder why Watterson never wanted his characters animated; the fireside showed me the answer.
posted by scrowdid at 1:30 PM on April 14 [9 favorites]


No no no no no no no no no no no no no.
posted by duffell at 1:44 PM on April 14 [10 favorites]


This made me smile, and remember how much I love C+H. With all respect to Mr. Watterson, I wish he would return.
Has he commented on this? I hope he finds it an homage, and not an impertinence.
I agree that a short piece can work, but a longer one would have issues in that it would increasingly be less like the original.
posted by librosegretti at 1:58 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


yeah, it's definitely weird how the fireplace short hits the Uncanny Vally of cartoon characters. You can tell exactly what is wrong
posted by edgeways at 1:59 PM on April 14


I'm with duffell. Dear god no. This belongs in the same heap with all those Calvin peeing on things decals.
posted by aspo at 2:01 PM on April 14 [4 favorites]


I must admit I'm a little surprised at just how annoyed this makes me. Double plus ungood.
posted by the bricabrac man at 2:05 PM on April 14 [5 favorites]


I loved 'em!

If there were voices, though, that woulda spoiled a party.

(cough achewood trailer cough)
posted by entropone at 2:08 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure the Germans have a word for this sort of thing -- something that combines impertinence with atrocity?
posted by aramaic at 2:09 PM on April 14 [3 favorites]


aspo: This belongs in the same heap with all those Calvin peeing on things decals.

For me, that's a pretty tall heap, which I'd cover with gasoline and set on fire. That is not Calvin in any form, just some smirking kid image that holds a passing resemblance to Calvin. This is the work of someone who did more than trace over a single image, but filled in (sizable) gaps between frames. Where there was motion in the original dancing series, the animation really came alive for me. I get that the pouncing tiger one was more off, and I'd consider that because Adam had to use more artistic creativity to fill in the gaps, and he didn't capture Watterson's style.


entropone: If there were voices, though, that woulda spoiled a party.

I agree completely.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:12 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


But this turns a few still images that capture the soul of just DANCING, and turns it into something rote and boring, like the Macarena or something.

Calvin and Hobbes is amazing for (among other things) the expressiveness in the drawings. Trying to animate that by just turning the images into key frames is just blah.
posted by aspo at 2:25 PM on April 14 [8 favorites]


The action in comics is what happens between the frames.
Animating it, especially as literal as this, is kind of missing the point.
posted by signal at 2:28 PM on April 14 [5 favorites]


Maybe this will flush him out of hiding.

Why would you want to? I have a whole mess of respect for someone who is willing to stop at the top of his game. To say nothing of creatives who prefer a quiet life.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:37 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


The action in comics is what happens between the frames.
Animating it, especially as literal as this, is kind of missing the point.


Yeah. Regular animation is to these animations as a play about Abraham Lincoln is to an a series of dioramas with animatronic Abraham Lincolns. I don't think this sort of thing can work while slavishly following the source material.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 2:44 PM on April 14


Hmmmmm .... I think this is ok as long as its limited to these couple of examples and short gifs.

I didnt like the fireside gif but did like the dancing gif.

But I do sincerely hope that even after people like these gifs so much, the guy, if he really likes CnH, will refrain from doing more work like this.

Other wise, this is just an audition tape for attempts to succeed off someone else's imagination.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 3:10 PM on April 14


I think the real crime here is adding that awful hip hop beat to that wonderful jazz music.
posted by hydrophonic at 3:13 PM on April 14 [3 favorites]


Things like this make me wish Watterson was as aggressively litigious as Salinger was or Prince is. This would promptly disappear, and we could go back to pretending it never happened. There is something kind of dickish to me about the artist releasing GIF versions of his animations. As though he knew the actual movies may not be long for the world, but a GIF is forever.
posted by mediocre at 3:28 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


I thought it was pretty charming - not a patch on the originals, but not sacrilege either. Also, Bill Watterson wasn't as opposed to animating C&H as some in this thread have implied; mainly he was nervous about the voice acting and about relinquishing control over the art.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:56 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


I think the real crime here is adding that awful hip hop beat to that wonderful jazz music.

Were you trying to find the thread about grumpy old men?
posted by en forme de poire at 3:57 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


Terrible.
posted by ReeMonster at 4:25 PM on April 14


Were you trying to find the thread about grumpy old men?

Combining hip hop and jazz should involve a bit more effort than laying a lame beat over an old track with no regard for the the original rhythm or the changes in the music. Quite a few musicians have done it well.
posted by hydrophonic at 5:02 PM on April 14


For the record, I kind of liked the animations.
posted by hydrophonic at 5:03 PM on April 14


I would like to visit an alternate reality where Watterson relinquished his work the way Schultz did, pick out what little of worth resulted, then come back to this world where Calvin and Hobbes remains a singular beautiful work of art.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:03 PM on April 14


Combining hip hop and jazz

Ron Carter says that he thinks that this is an experiment that failed, because the beat in hip-hop is too rigid, and can't be assimilated with the more fluid time of jazz. He was discussing the collaboration he did in the 90's with, I think, A Tribe Called Quest.

source: this master class
if I remembered this wrong, sorry I made you watch the whole Ron Carter class for nothing
posted by thelonius at 5:28 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


Combining hip hop and jazz
the beat in hip-hop is too rigid, and can't be assimilated

But the linked tracks here aren't supposed to be jazz fusion. They're instrumental hip-hop tracks that sample heavily from jazz standards. A more appropriate comparison would be Araabmusik sampling pop-trance chart hits on Electronic Dream.
posted by en forme de poire at 5:37 PM on April 14


Unnecessary. I didn't like the facial expressions in the dance either. Calvin is squinting too much.
posted by OHenryPacey at 5:44 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


I respect Watterson greatly for his desire to resist the cheapening of his work with merchandizing tie-ins, and I wouldn't ever want C&H to be turned into just another IP to be exploited by the powers-that-be.

But, one of the things that actually disappoints me about Calvin and Hobbes is that it feels like there are very few "fan" works based on it. (And with the reactions to it I'm seeing here, yikes, I'm not surprised!) Yes, yes, Sturgeon's Law and all of that, but I'm almost certain that Calvin and Hobbes will fade into relative obscurity as time goes on and the generation that grew up with it grows older. It's a bit of popular culture that, while timeless and beautiful, just isn't referred to very much anymore, and it feels as if there really isn't any major force keeping it from being forgotten. Is it because we're all to afraid to party on Mr. Watterson's lawn and somehow "corrupt" his vision by doing fan works? Is it something where Mr. Watterson or Universal Press Syndicate is actively hostile towards fan works? Or is it because it is one of the few things that wasn't milked to death that there just isn't the same kind of fandom around it that you have around, say, Star Trek or My Little Pony to start with? Some combination of the three?

Anyway, I'm glad to have seen this. Hopefully it'll be allowed to stay up, and perhaps we might see more like it.
posted by Aleyn at 6:00 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


en forme de poire, Carter is a traditionalist, what can I tell you? Certainly other jazz artists, like Robert Glasper, would not agree with him.

I'm sorry I don't recall exactly where the discussion of this is in that master class video; I thought it was really interesting. Carter took the ATCQ session really seriously at the time.
posted by thelonius at 6:12 PM on April 14


Metafilter: shitting on free pancakes since 1999
posted by fungible at 6:33 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


np, thelonius - I don't necessarily agree or disagree with Carter's viewpoint, my point was more that I don't think these tracks were even aspiring to a deep, integrated fusion of hip-hop and jazz in the first place.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:42 PM on April 14


Marginally relevant and hilarious: Pearls Before Swine strip from last week.
posted by LarryC at 7:03 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Are there fan works of comic strips? I think comics are so much the work of the individual artist that fan versions would be rather pointless. Look at the current state of Nancy--why bother?

I don't think Calvin & Hobbes will fade to obscurity, unless you mean obscure as in beloved by people who treasure the art form in the same way Pogo, Little Nemo, and Krazy Kat are today.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:12 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


This is far worse than the sum of its parts.

I'm sure this fellow is a perfectly decent animator, but he hasn't managed to grasp the little spark that gave Watterson's still drawings such life.
posted by barnacles at 8:27 PM on April 14


I had only watched the first link when I commented. I've now watched the tiger attack one, too, so I take what I said back: this fellow is a bad animator who does bad work and should feel bad.
posted by barnacles at 8:30 PM on April 14


Awful, and almost as sad to see as the rip-off bumper stickers.
posted by anadem at 8:42 PM on April 14


Aleyn: It's a bit of popular culture that, while timeless and beautiful, just isn't referred to very much anymore....

And that's perfectly okay. Is anyone doing fan works of Mark Twain stories, or Beethoven symphonies? I don't see the Krazy Kat comic being referred to much nowadays, yet people manage to find and appreciate it without constant homages reminding them it exists. Sometimes it's fine to let a thing be what it is precisely because it's "timeless and beautiful".

I don't want to come off as a purist or some sort of self-styled Protector of an Inviolate Work - I'm not against animating comic strips per se. But if nothing else, if one is going to "update" a bit of art (or music, or writing, or whatever) that is so exquisitely realized in the first place, and means so much to so many people, it behooves one not just to do justice to the original but add something as well - not just zombify it because one can. Because a thing is beloved by the public doesn't mean it belongs to the public to do as they will with it.

The weak points in these videos grate on me like hearing a cover of a well-known tune where the band doesn't have the chords quite right.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:24 PM on April 14


Cover songs are a good analogy, but in the way that people complain that "the original was better." Covers aren't about trying to improve on the original. They're just a different take, a tribute, something fun. The animator isn't as talented as Watterson? That's kind of a tough standard.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:29 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


I've never really felt like fan works based on C&H were really necessary. It's this well-crafted comic strip put together by a guy who knew what he was doing, and it's entirely self-contained and - this is probably the biggest factor - it says everything it needs to say. Nothing needs to be added. Every element of the strip is intentional. Watterson has a gift for using the strengths of the form. When he draws two characters dancing for several panels, he's not doing it that way because he wishes he could animate it and this is the best he could do; he's doing it that way because that's the way he wants to do it.

I get that we, as consumers of media, are not used to having our usual ways of interacting with works stymied. And I don't think it's a crime to want to see adaptations or expansions of works we like. But I also think that not everything needs to have copious fanworks and headcanons and AU pairings and a fan wiki (although C&H does have a wiki, for some reason, and it's awful) and whatnot. Some creations can just be. I've always thought Calvin and Hobbes was one of them.

In part, yeah it's so inviolate because of Watterson's narrow view of fan works. But it's also because there's really nothing anyone can add. I've seen a bunch of cartoons attempting to expand the universe of C&H and they just don't work - there's something missing. It's not that Watterson made something perfect and no one can do better, it's that Watterson made something singular, something which was entirely in his voice and of his mind, and no one can sound more like him than he did.

From a technical perspective, I do like the dancing cartoon, and clearly it's a labor of love. I don't want it to seem like I'm shitting on this post, because I can certainly appreciate it on its own merits and I'm glad we get to have discussions like these.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:27 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


hydrophonic: Are there fan works of comic strips?

Cthulhu Family Circus springs to mind - but of course it's a parody.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:09 AM on April 15


It's a bit of popular culture that, while timeless and beautiful, just isn't referred to very much anymore ..

I'm not sure that is entirely true.

posted by mediocre at 6:06 PM on April 15


Interesting to note that the MUCH more egregiously awful bastardization of Wattersons work, the fake trailer for a live action dark and gritty Calvin & Hobbes reboot, didn't get the same sort of negative response from the MetaFilter. I wonder why.

And just because I am not just being a grump about it, not EVERYTHING about the animations is terrible. I think the fire background animation of the "attack" video is very evocative of Watterson and well done. Everything else sucks, but the fire itself is well done.
posted by mediocre at 6:20 PM on April 15


didn't get the same sort of negative response from the MetaFilter. I wonder why.

Probably because it didn't put its filthy meathooks on the actual drawings like this did.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:31 PM on April 15


Interesting thought, George_Spiggott. That makes the comparison between the two works seem like something that could be graphed out along an uncanny valley graph, with the original comics on the far right, so the closer you get to the source material, the more likely the work in question falls into the valley.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:57 AM on April 16


Three points along that graph would include the fake live-action "gritty" trailer, these animations, and the Calvin and Hobbes playroom murals in a shelter for homeless women and children.

Personally, I slide the dancing animation closer towards the originals and out of the valley, as I liked the style (and the music, but that's beside the point), but I'll agree that the fireplace animation is not as well done.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:08 AM on April 16


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