Love and lust are emotions that, while subjective to each person, cover a lot of the same highs and lows among everyone who has ever felt them. They can be pure bliss at times, sure, but according to Oscar-nominated animator Bill Plympton (Your Face), they can also inspire a synapse-firing warzone. I had the pleasure of talking with Plympton about his newest eyeball-melting short Head Games, which was created for the recently-released anthology horror ABCs of Death 2, and he shared the – wait for it – headspace that the magnificently silly creation is inspired by.
Head Games is animated entirely with a ballpoint pen and paper, a technique that Plympton has mastered over the years. In it, a man and a woman begin to kiss, and each of their craniums and faces wage a river of chaos upon the other in increasingly heightened ways. Because it’s a short, it’s best to leave details up to the imagination for those who haven’t seen it yet, but it’ll be easy to grasp onto if you’re familiar with Plympton’s past work. (And you probably are even if you don’t know it.) Below, he explains how the concept was naturally born of his early works How to Kiss and Push Comes to Shove.
Part of what makes this short so effectively jarring is the wall of sound effects (like machine guns and bombs) accompanying the visuals, which Plympton says is definitely an important part of the short’s success. And while it may look like a fluid stream of consciousness leaking out of Plympton’s mind, he assured me that every sequence gets storyboarded and worked out before the animation process begins. Certainly Plympton had someone in mind to direct this cacophony of events at, right?
I love this man. He goes on, explaining his love for deadpan humor and citing Laurel and Hardy as influences on that aspect of his sense of humor and "Head Games" in particular.
We had a laugh at that, but it’s often true. It’s only when you have true feelings for someone that you can just mentally snap to seeing their heads explode, even while having a good time. And now you can take comfort in knowing that those mental jaunts look really, really awesome in ballpoint pen animation.
ABCs of Death 2 is out now on VOD, and will hit theaters on October 31. It’s one of the best horror anthologies you’ll ever see, and you can bet a giant hamburger with teeth on that.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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