Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Animated Adventures of Steve Zissou and Friends

(click for larger)

Here we have "an original production cel and matching layout drawing from 'The Animated Adventures of Steve Zissou and Friends' from 1983". This is my piece for tonight's group tribute show to Wes Anderson at Meltdown Comics curated by Nico Colaleo.

I've always loved animation production art, so I thought this show would be a great chance to make my own cel. The thinking behind this one was that in "The Life Aquatic" Steve Zissou was a huge celebrity in the public eye in the 1970s, so it would be only logical to assume that he would have had his own animated series in the early 80s. When designing this I really wanted to match the look of early 80s Saturday morning cartoons. I realize that for this to make chronological sense I would have had to design it as a younger Bill Muray, but I did't think that would sell. People would want to see him as he appeared throughout the movie. I of course had to add an obnoxious anthropomorphic talking animal sidekick since that was pretty much a requirement for the cartoons of the time. It only stands to reason that if Steve Zissou were real and he were to star in an Saturday morning cartoon, that some dopey network execs would have said "How about a talking dolphin? We'll call him Squeaks. The kids'll love him. He'll open up a whole new area of merchandise possibilities.". I didn't want to just draw the characters in a boring, static pose. To really make this look like an actual production cel, I would have to create an image that looks like it was a still from the middle of the action of a scene, and I wanted the scene to reflect what looks like could have been a story typical of the cartoons of that time and genre. So here Steve is informing the crew that Squeaks has just found the enchanted jewel which will lead them to the mystic cave of the ancients, or something like that. I'll leave it up to the view to write their own story.
To create the cel, I drew the image in Photoshop and had each image printed onto its own acetate transparency sheet. Then, just as with traditional animation cels, I painted the backs of each. I then taped them onto a hand drawn layout sketch.

(click for larger)

Here are a few early concepts. You can see at one point I was considering putting Steve underwater and pairing him with a talking seahorse.