Reviews: Quasi At The Quackadero

Truly a gem of animation

Sally Cruikshank is one of the best independent animators out there, having been around since the 70s and still making wonderful animation today. This cartoon is her best-known and rather characteristic of her work.

What makes this cartoon a gem of animation?, you may ask... It's the fact that it's one of the few cartoons to truly master the art of surrealism. Not Pythonesque surrealism such as Rocko's Modern Life and Cow and Chicken, among others, practiced. Surrealism recalling the work of Salvador Dali, a kind not seen in animation since either Krazy Kat or the first years of Betty Boop. It's a truly surreal cartoon, with bizarre landscapes, outrageous characters and a plot that makes sense only when you think about it long and carefully. You haven't seen surrealism until you see this.

A key ingredient in the cartoon's surrealism is its soundtrack, composed by Robert Armstrong and Allan Dodge, members of the excellent San Francisco string band the Cheap Suit Serenaders. The soundtrack is as surreal as the action on screen, with musical saw, duck call, slide guitar, banjo and accordion providing a backdrop to Quasi and Anita's antics. There is an interview online where they explain how they composed the soundtrack, creating "futuristic-sounding" music by banging on autoharps and violins. (Incidentally, it was this same Bob Armstrong who coined the term "couch potato." The More You Know.)

There's also a sequel, "Make Me Psychic," which is somewhat easier to follow, has most of the original crew returning (with saxophone player Paul Woltz added to the musicians on the soundtrack), and features a wonderful musical number sung by Allan Dodge. It's about as good as the first in its own way and also ought to be checked out.

Do I recommend this?... HELL YES!

If you enjoy any cartoons that have a surreal edge to them, take a look at this for a peek into the next level of surrealism. You won't be the same afterwards but you'll thank me.

Jerry Beck put this on his list of The 50 Greatest Cartoons and I'd say that position is well-deserved. The only problem is that he put it too low.