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Barbara Hicks | Event - Animated! & Hot Ink

November 15, 2008 | ‘Animated!’ and ‘Hot Ink’ | MMAA – St. Paul

In my opinion, the short animation film festival was just sort of a bonus added to the installation of comics and graphic novels on exhibition at the Minnesota Museum of American Art.

It probably has something to do with my age, but I just didn’t GET most of the animations. The music and graphics were cool, but the meaning of most of them was lost on me, and, since I stopped using drugs of any kinds many years ago, things usually need to mean something to me in order for me to enjoy them. (Also, there was a guy with really big hair in front of me and I couldn’t see half the screen.) What I did appreciate was the moods that were created by different graphic styles and sounds. I found that I enjoyed the hand drawn animations much more than the computer generated ones. It seemed to me like the hand drawing supported the stories, where in the computer generated ones the stories supported the characters. Does that make sense? It was like the computer generated characters and the process of creating them was primary and then a story was created to give them a purpose. Not that I think that’s always so…it just felt that way for these particular animations…as if the stories weren’t primary and sort of paled next to the importance of the characters. That’s the best way I can describe it.

Of much more interest to me was Hot Ink, the installation of comic art. Works by a variety of comic artists with a wide range of drawing styles, stories and formats. The graphic novel idea is really beginning to intrigue me and I have recently remembered how much I enjoyed certain comics when I was a kid – both for the art and the stories. I remember practicing drawing Betty and Veronica for hours on end. Funny how I forgot about that. What impressed me most (and what I most enjoyed about the comic art) was just how skilled these artists are. Comic art is deceptive, and probably unappreciated in many circles, because the genre can appear rough and childish. Even when the work is finely finished in intricate detail, it still gives the impression of simplicity. Upon close inspection, however, these artists have incredible skill with the elements of design, creating complex settings, situations, moods and telling stories using simple media and little or no color.

Techniques that I noticed were a predominance of hatching and cross-hatching, some neat and clean and some very messy and bold, resulting in very different looks. Lars Martinson and Tyler Page uses this technique throughout their work in very controlled and precise ways. Reynold Kissling varies the width of his lines much more and also throws in dots, splats and smudges and blocks of color. His work seems more moody as a result. Then you have King Mini – very King of the Hill style drawings, muted colors and pattern backgrounds for a kind of sloppy, screenprinted, grunge feel.

Since attending the event, I have spent no less than five hours on the internet checking out the showcased artists and the links from their sites. A person could get addicted. My favorite, both in style and content, is Tyler Page. His ability to draw from any perspective is truly awesome, and his storytelling is actually interesting. He has a daily sketch that is very interesting and a story called Nothing Better that is updated weekly and I can’t wait to read the next post. I’m definitely thinking about what story I want to tell…


So glad you went to this! I will have to check it out!

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