This morning we discovered the work of a Ottawa, Toronto, Canada-based cartoonist by the name of Nick Cross. Since then, I’ve spent my day watching his various animated shorts and work-in-progress clips, sifting through his print work and reading his blog. While finding employment through larger animation companies, Cross has managed to make the time to create quite a few gems of his own. His personal work has been nominated for numerous awards; often transcending the animated world and infiltrating larger independent film festivals world-wide. For someone such as myself, who has a very limited vocabulary when it comes to this type of work, Cross seems to utilize a very “classic” style of cartoon illustration in the vein of the New Adventures of Mighty Mouse, Ren and Stimpy, and The Powerpuff Girls. The dialogue is minimal, if present at all, and the artist is much more inclined to use silent era dialog cards, if anything, to “illustrate” his points. Beyond the occasional foley sound-effect, the audio is mostly comprised of old stock music, which is used to set the tone and pace. In other words, the actual animating and the detailed movements of the characters are relied on to relay the storyline and to move it forward.
The video that originally ignited our interest in Nick Cross was his latest animated piece, “The Pig Farmer” (posted below). The video, which we discovered via the great Canadian illustration blog DRAWN!, was created by the cartoonist over the last 10 months and financed through private donations. It is similar to Cross‘ previous work in that it focuses on such issues as rural innocence and nature vs corporate greed and industrialization. Another aspect carried over from his past shorts is it’s graphic nature, adult themes, and the fact that this is NOT a cartoon for the children. Don’t let the cutesy header image we’ve used fool you, this shit gets pretty hardcore. Plus, it’s chock-full of clever pig-related puns and references (Cops, The Pen, Manson Family, etc.)
View it yourself, after the following description from the vimeo page:
“The Pig Farmer is a short animated cartoon by Nick Cross. A simple tale of a wayward soul, awash in an ocean of tragedy and regret.
Animated using Flash CS3 and a Cintiq 21UX tablet.
Backgrounds done in Photoshop CS4
Composited using After Effects CS5 and Final Cut Pro 5.“
Make sure to view the following videos and links:
-“A lamentable tragedy mixed full of pleasant mirth.”
-“Persephone, the goddess of spring, is abducted to the underworld, causing an eternal winter to descend over the earth. It is up to the goddess’ servants to rescue her. However, they soon learn that to get help they need to compromise; and compromise does not always lead to an equitable solution for one and all.
Six years in the making, The Waif of Persephone was completed in 2006 and has screened in festivals around the world. ”
– An Eisner Award winning graphic novel picked up as an animated series by Canadian cable animation channel Teletoon. Angora Napkin is based on 3-piece all girl rock group that get into hijinks (again NOT for children). The project was co-created by Cross and friend/fellow animator Troy Little and the pilot is a 2-parter involving zombies, Evil Dead references, violence, and erotic moments with sea life.