My first impression of Ross Bollinger’s Pencilmation: It’s nice to know someone is out there keeping it real. While 3D animation soars to ever higher heights (see what I did there?) and cartoons are made for late-night potheads instead of early-morning children, Pencilmation takes it back to Looney Tunes-style simplicity.
By “simplicity” I mean that the main characters of the show are: a pencil, and whatever the pencil happens to draw. (The acting is phenomenal.) Like Stickman Exodus, the series consists of a bunch of doodles on a piece of paper, though where Stickman Exodus tells a story, Pencilmation simply plays with the pencil and the drawings. Draw a line and write “Quicksand” over it, and the poor stickman will start to sink. Give the stickman his own pencil, and he’ll start trying to save himself from the animator’s abuse – until the animator escalates issues by picking up a pen. And so on. All set to some playful chiptune-esque tracks.
In order to get an insight into the mind that created Pencilmation, we decided to get in touch with the creator himself, Ross Bollinger:
Tubefilter: How’d you come up with the Pencilmation web series?
Ross Bollinger: The first Pencilmation I made when I was in high school. I had just seen the Chuck Jones Looney Tunes short, Duck Amuck, and I thought I’d do my own take on the creator vs. creation theme. Since then I’ve taken inspiration from many places, books, music, movies, and of course the world around me.
Tubefilter: What is your plan for developing the show further?
RB: With the simple Pencilmation style, I’d like to tackle any idea that pops into my head; the sort of spontaneous, back of the napkin ideas but in an animated form. Sometimes that’s where the best ideas are cooked up, and I’m not opposed to expanding on an idea that comes out of a Pencilmation short. As for a schedule, I’m trying to release a new episode every two weeks. We’ll see if that really happens.
Tubefilter: What equipment do you use to produce Pencilmation?
RB: Right now I’m using Adobe Flash to do the animation, but I’d like to explore other programs, specifically software that could recreate a much more realistic pencil line.
Tubefilter: I’m guessing it’s a pretty low budget for the series. Have you considered any sponsorship yet?
RB: My budget is pretty much nil right now, and I would certainly not be opposed to a sponsorship. I currently support myself with various freelance animation jobs while trying to devote the bulk of my time to Pencilmation as well as performing with my band, the Dead River Company and working on a children’s album with my mother, Cathy Bollinger. Most of my work has very little financial gain, but I’m hoping to turn that around in the near future. Anyway, I’m young.
Tubefilter: What kind of response have you gotten from the teeming online public?
RB: I recently redid my website in a blog format, hoping to facilitate more of a dialog between myself and my audience, and I think I’ve mostly succeeded at that. People are eager to tell me exactly how they feel and fortunately, the public response seems to rest somewhere betweened tickled and thrilled. When I did the first Pencilmation cartoon it really took off on the internet, and since then I haven’t really recreated that viral sensation, but I’d like to believe that my viewership is slowly growing. I don’t think I’ve met anybody sincerely disgusted by what I do, and my mother seems to approve. So far so good!