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Creator / Bill Plympton

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Pictured: the artist. Also one of his more normal drawings.

"The thing I love about Bill's stuff is that I know it'd make Bart Simpson laugh his ass off."

Bill Plympton (born April 30, 1946) is an Acadamy Award-nominated American animator and director whose work is known for being...somewhat unique. His films and shorts have featured everything from outlandish 1950s-style monsters to musicals about sexual fantasies to the truth about Santa's fascist past.

His animated films are:

  • Your Face (1987)
  • 25 Ways to Quit Smoking (1989)
  • The Tune (1992)
  • Mondo Plympton (1997 shorts compilation)
  • I Married a Strange Person! (1997)
  • 12 Tiny Christmas Tales (2001)
  • Mutant Aliens (2001)
  • Guard Dog (2004)
  • Hair High (2004)
  • Idiots and Angels (2008)
  • Segment H is for Headgame in ABCs of Death 2 (2014)
  • Cheatin (2014)
  • Revengeance (2016)note 

His live-action features are:

  • J. Lyle (1993)
  • Guns on the Clackamas (1995)
  • Walt Curtis, the Peckerneck Poet (1997)
  • Hitler's Folly (2016)

He also did the videos for Weird Al's songs "Don't Download This Song" and "TMZ", and there is currently a documentary being made about him. In addition, he has provided Couch Gag sequences for eight episodes of The Simpsons to date, and made animated sequences for the Season 19 DVD menus.

All of his work up to 2019 is currently owned by Shout! Factory.

Tropes present in his work include:

  • Adolf Hitlarious: His live-action mocumentary Hitler's Folly, which presents and Alternate Universe in which Hitler aspired not to be a dictator, but run an animation empire a la Walt Disney. There are many, many jokes paralleling Disney's media empire and the Third Reich.
  • Animated Shock Comedy: Very fond of senseless violence and throws in Toilet Humor for the lulz, but shows the sex directly, up to plain porn, rather than just using sex jokes. He was, at one point, dealing with criticisms that all he did was over-the-top sex, violence and vulgarity, which convinced him to do the much more sombre and personal Cheatin'.
  • Amusing Injuries: He's at least on par with Tex Avery when it comes to mauling his characters. "When Push Comes To Shove" takes this to Eleven, with a brilliant subversion at the end.
  • And I Must Scream: One short features a couple in a romantic embrace. One of them says, "I wish this moment could last fore--" Several seconds later, his eye—and only his eye—moves, looking at the camera in despair...
  • Animated Music Video: Two for "Weird Al" Yankovic ("Don't Download This Song" and "TMZ") and one for Kanye West ("Heard 'Em Say"). He also did an entire half-hour featurette set to Jackie Greene's EP The Modern Lives, Vol. 1.
    • He provided animated sequences for Peter Himmelman's "245 Days", but apparently didn't direct the video.
  • Art Evolution:
    • His earliest films were low-tech even for their day. Backgrounds were often re-drawn on every frame a lá Winsor McCay, leading to a number of shorts with characters acting in negative spaces. In the late '80s, he started cutting out his colored-pencil drawings and pasting them onto cels for a much slicker look. This practice continued until the '00s when he began shooting digitally, often alternating between digital ink & paint and digitally composted pencil drawings.
    • His drawing style also gradually simplified over time, presumably as he's slowed a bit with age, going from exaggerated while still anatomically correct humans to more simplified and "toony" character to Noodle People.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: While he draws most of his shorts and features with a semi-realistic style, Bill's comedy could easily be described as Tex Avery filtered through David Cronenberg.
  • B-Movie: He likes to homage these
  • Bad Santa: Santa: The Fascist Years
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Underground animation would be incomplete without this trope, so to say. As usual, mostly played for Teh Lulz. Remarkably this is the only joke that backfires on the Troll of "Surprise Cinema" (see below): He changes out the wife for an octopus, but underestimates the power of the Anything That Moves trope. Hilarity Ensues.
    • This trope is actually a plot point in Mutant Aliens.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: For all his demented humor and bizarre films, the guy can really draw!
  • Central Theme: The Power of Love and finding humor in adult situations including sex, violence, jealousy, etc.
  • Christmas Special: Plympton made one, called 12 Tiny Christmas Tales, for Cartoon Network in 2001.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "Bird is the Word". A giant Visual Pun based on the "naughty finger".
  • Couch Gag: He's done six couch gags for The Simpsons so far.
    • His first one is for "Beware My Cheating Bart", and it features the love between Homer and... his couch. It's surprisingly sad.
    • His second couch gag is for "Black-Eyed, Please", which has the family seemingly prepare to kill eachother in a Film Noir shootout, only for things to turn out more wholesome when someone turns the lights on.
    • His third couch gag is for "Married to the Blob", which has Bart picking up the remote and changing the channel, which changes the Simpsons' TV room instead.
    • His fourth couch gag is for "Lisa the Veterinarian", and it's a short entitled "Roomance", and it features the love between the couch and the TV.
    • His fifth couch gag is for "22 for 30", which at first appears quite crudely drawn, then the camera pans up and it reveals it's being drawn by Maggie, who is being drawn by Lisa, and so on.
    • His sixth one, made for "Three Scenes and a Tag from a Marriage", is a Shot for Shot Remake of Your Face but with Homer replacing the original man. It has a happier ending than the original short.
    • His seventh one was for "Manger Things", the show's 700th episode.
  • Darker and Edgier: Cheatin', while still as weird as his other stuff, is noticeably more somber and very light on the jokes in place of a legitimate love story. Apparently, this was because he wanted to prove to critics that he could do films that weren't just slapstick sex and violence.
  • Deranged Animation
  • Domestic-Only Cartoon: Bill Plympton draws everything himself. He has assistants do the coloring and compositing, however.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: His first feature, The Tune, lacks much of his trademark political incorrectness in favor of a light fantasy musical with a very sincere romantic subplot, the absolute naughtiest thing about it being a brief (less than two seconds) shot of nudity during the "Dance All Day" sequence. His follow up, I Married A Strange Person, solidified his reputation for adult fare.
  • Happily Failed Suicide: Egads, which trope should this be filed under, Plympton screwing with them as usual? A man can't find his keys and hangs himself, and what happens is his life flashes before his eyes, until he knows where he left the damn keys. Cut the rope, exit happy man.
  • Humans Are Bastards: In his feature films, most characters outside the main protagonists, are pretty despicably unlikable. (The only decent, normal character in Idiots and Angels is the love interest)
  • Limited Animation:
    • Usually shoots on 4s (that's one new drawing every 4 frames, totaling 6 frames per second) as opposed to 2s or 1s, though it's more an aesthetic choice than a financial one. He wants you to know that these are drawings.
    • Though finance does play a part of it as well. His personal dogma is "make it short, make it cheap, and make it funny".
    • Ironically, Plympton loathes the kind of limited animation used in Hanna-Barbera cartoons, mainly because the technique is used not for artistic reasons, but as a blatant and unimaginative cost-cutting shortcut that relies entirely on dialogue at the expense of visual storytelling. In the back of his book "Independently Animated", he dismissed the whole studio's output as being "Slide shows with a voice track".
  • "L" Is for "Dyslexia": Dyslexic sex, to be precise. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: One is jobbing as ticket maid at the cinema, and the other..."The New Act at Aqua Land"...'nuff said.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Bill created "25 Ways To Quit Smoking" in an effort to convince his own mother to quit. And it worked!
    • Similarly, Shuteye Motel was based on his waking up after a night of sleeping on a very, very soft pillow to find it had completely caved in under his head, which gave him the idea for a pillow that eats heads.
  • Rule of Funny: His own storytelling technique is "Make it short, cheap and funny." So sentiment? Green Aesop's? All incidental.
  • Seemingly-Wholesome '50s Girl
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Quite on the cynical side but his films do acknowledge The Power of Love when the story focuses on them.
    • His first feature film, The Tune is mostly the opposite of his other films. This film is colorful, upbeat, and the only little mean character is the film antagonist, Mr. Mega.
    • Despite how cynical his films can get, all his features have a Happy Ending.
  • Take That!: One of the shorts Bill did was a scathing parody of abstract animation called Spiral. Was actually controversial within the independent animation community and angered many abstract animators. One of them, Steven Woloshen, did a film rebutting called, well, Rebuttal.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: In "Nosehair". Hairs?? Very simple — the female hair is curvy, the male one edgy.
  • The Paranoiac: A canine one in "Guard Dog". It doesn't end well for his master...
  • Toilet Humor: Loads. Best one: "The building left Elvis!"
  • Troll: "Surprise Cinema". It NOT only hurts when you laugh.