Although he's collaborated on projects ranging from Kanye West's "Heard 'Em Say" music video to elongated-couch gags to open episodes of The Simpsons, Bill Plympton's own movies have been famously independent affairs. In 1992, the Portland State grad and native Oregonian made animation history by hand-drawing each image of his feature-length debut, The Tune.
With his eighth feature, Revengeance, however, the 70-year-old animation legend sought out underground cartoonist Jim Lujan and entered into his first extensive creative partnership for this loose-limbed jaunt through a deranged '70s SoCal freakscape revolving around a Trump-ish U.S. senator named Deathface (prophetically created in 2013). Prior to his appearance at the local premiere of Revengeance at a Laika-sponsored PIFF screening where Plympton has promised sketches for attendees, we spoke to Plympton about the experience. JAY HORTON.
WW: Is Revengeance a full collaboration?
Bill Plympton: Jim Lujan and I did the film together. He did the story and the voices and the music. I did the producing, directing, animation and storyboard. Usually, I have to do everything myself, which I like, but this was so much simpler. I just had to worry about the artwork. I love doing the artwork.
How did the process work between you two?
Quite frankly, [Lujan] is not a great animator. I think he would admit to that. So, some of the stuff I had to clean up a little bit, but I thought his character designs were really excellent. All the details—the clothing, the hairstyles, the body builds, the facial hair—are just spot-on.
Was it a mix of animation styles?
Like I said, his drawings are a little bit more primitive. So, especially for the background and the cars, I had to stylize a little more—make it more, what should I say, professional looking. But Lana, Death-Face, all these character designs were really wonderfully drawn, so I copied them pretty closely.
What's the plot?
It's about the underbelly of Los Angeles society. All these druggies, outlaw bikers, wrestlers, religious fanatics and corrupt politicians, which is very timely. It's a sort of film noir adult animated cartoon about how these crazy, wacko people mix together.
I'm a big fan of Bakshi. He was a guy who was really the vanguard of adult animation and broke all the rules. And he was successful, wildly successful. I'm friends with him, we talk occasionally and discuss each other's projects. He was definitely a big influence.
SEE IT: Revengeance screens as part of the Portland International Film Festival at the Laurelhurst Theater on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 8:45 pm, and at NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 2:45 pm. Plympton and Jim Lujan will attend both screenings.