Bill Plympton, Hardest Working Man in Animation

guide dog plympton.jpgAnimator extraordinaire Bill Plympton‘s newest films—the feature Idiots and Angels and the short Hot Dog—are now on the film festival circuit (this week, Hot Dog hits Belgium, Germany, and the Bahamas; find a full screening schedule here). Featuring the music of Tom Waits, Moby, and Pink Martini, Idiots and Angels is “much darker and more mysterious film than his previous comedies,” according to Plympton. The dark comedy about a man’s battle for his soul sounds a bit like the process of creating it. “I’d say it took about 25,000 drawings for Idiots and Angels,” Plympton told The New York TimesJohn Anderson recently. “I do about 100 drawings a day, which is about 10 an hour, and if I can do that times 250 or 300 days, that’s a feature film.”

It is, he said, a “zen thing.”

“You’re so focused. You don’t do e-mails or phone calls. I get up at 6, don’t shave or shower, just start drawing. It’s like a ride. I hear that novelists do this too. They’re so focused for a year or whatever that afterwards they just collapse for two or three weeks. Sleep. Or drink.”

And Plympton offers fans the opportunity to watch the magic happen. While he was animating Idiots and Angels, viewers to his website were invited to look over his shoulder via “the Anicam,” which broadcast a live feed from his drawing board on “most weekdays,” from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you missed out on the live action, Plympton has archived a series of 20 time-lapse movies of him at work.