Gentle Readers, welcome to another installment of Turk Theater Presents. Today, we step outside TTP's usual scope (see sometimes good, but usually bad movies) and discuss an important and contemporary art form - flash animation. Several months ago, Video Games and Myth discussed Terry Cavanagh's "Don't Look Back" as an artistic re-imagining of the classic Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice. In that segment's introduction, we discussed the prevalence of flash animation on the internet and elsewhere, and flash's importance as a cheap alternative to studio production that allows animation artists to cut their teeth. While "Don't Look Back" was a creative and impressive use of flash animation, its minimalist style fails to demonstrate flash's incredible range. So, instead of reviewing traditional films, TTP introduces two flash artists from whom I'm always excited to see new creations.
Name: Adam Phillips
Online Alias: chluaid (pronounced "Clyde")
Known Best For: Brakenwood
Website: Bitey Castle
Website: Bitey Castle
(Picture property of Adam Phillips)
A prodigy illustrator from South Wales, Phillips is a former Disney artist who began making his own flash animations in 2000. By 2003, Phillips created Bitey of Brakenwood, a second installment in an award-winning series that most of his flash-work now surrounds. The series Brakenwood is set on an arboreal planet of the same name, mostly absent of human life. The series predominately follows the exploits of Bitey, a mischievous, satyr-like creature whose advantage lies in his incredible running speed and the possibility that he is the sole, sentient being in a vast forest of unique wildlife. A rascally trickster figure, Bitey spends his days taking all that he wants and running the forest rampant by pranking the unwitting inhabitants on sheer whim. In each installment Bitey attempts to avoid the consequences of his actions at the hand of a different foe, slowly learning the value of camaraderie and friendship in the process. Most episodes feature minimal-to-no talking and entertain the audience with mostly sound-effects, an impressive soundtrack, and the animation on the screen. Below you'll find a link to Phillips' latest work, The Last Dashkin - providing an official introduction to the series protagonist, complete with "Nature Channel-esque" narration (and the option to go without).
As you've probably noticed, Brakenwood is full of beautiful, otherworldly landscapes featuring flowing and smooth animation to aid its story telling. Each installment in the series is, at its worst, impressive and, at its best, breathtaking. If you like what you've seen, you'll be delighted to know that Adam Phillips is currently outlining plans for a Brakenwood feature film to come out in the near future.
Name: Michael Swain
Online Alias: The Swain
Known Best For: Blockhead
(Picture property of Michael Swain)
A jack-of-all trades, at 27 Swain produces flash animation, flash games, and internet comic strips streaming directly from his website (link above). According to his website and interviews with Newgrounds.com and Brainwash Studio, Swain began animating flash in 2005 - depicting a character he had been doodling on notebooks since the 6th Grade. Originally a mockery of his friends, who could only draw stick-figures, Blockhead quickly evolved into a character that embodied, "ill decision without consequence... bliss through ignorance, and... knowledge without responsibility." In each episodic installment, Blockhead has an "adventure" where he traverses out into the real world with complete disregard for all social standards and morays. Accompanied only by his conscience - an old, fat, mulleted, jersey stereotype - Blockhead commits atrocity after hilarious atrocity at the futile protest of his bitter, tired inner voice. Starting out as a one-note gag, Blockhead's evolution quickly produced musical episodes, fictitious holidays, and a selection of story-telling styles. The entire updated run of Blockhead can be found in the link below - with more to follow in the future:
What I like about Swain is that he's always improving and trying something new. Each Blockhead progressively tweaks and changes, keeping his material from being static and stale. In addition to blockhead, Swain has created the Mastermind series, a collection of webcomics (including... Racist Vampires!?), and his newest work, a flash game/Japanimation Ninja Warrior spoof titled Ching-Chog Beautiful: A Game of Great Endurance Challenge. Swain maintains an interesting, clever, yet slapstick approach to animation while paying apt attention even to the subtle details of his own works. He is always working on something new - keep an eye out for more Swain in the future.
I hope you enjoyed this installment of Turk Theater Presents, Gentle Readers. While unorthodox, I hope it allowed you to explore artistic and entertainment avenues you would not have normally. What did you think? Any favorite artists or animations out there? Post below.