By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
The hand that every day draws Homer Simpson is also the hand that draws — in fine pencil detail — King Kong fighting a tyrannosaurus rex in a swamp. Discovering this is not unlike learning that the same god who made the puppy and the kitten also, on his time off, made the ocellated spiny-tailed Uromastyx lizard. This discovery came at Film Roman, the people who draw The Simpsons and King of the Hill and who, on Thursday night, held an employee art show on the second floor of a studio office in North Hollywood. Aluminum pie-tin UFOs dangled from the ceiling over bottles of wine and cubes of cheese. Spacy Mars Attacks! music played while Darth Vader, Boba Fett and a Stormtrooper contemplated a painting on the wall.
“Excuse me,” said the Stormtrooper in a computery voice, “do you know what time it is? I can’t get to my watch under my laser shielding.”
Turning to Darth Vader, he pointed to the painting, No. 27, by Ken Hayashi. It is a purple-suited superhero embracing — no, make that spooning — a man-sized tiger. “What do you think is going on in this picture?”
“I don’t think I want to know,” said Vader.
Across the hall, Boba Fett was talking on his cell phone: “After this I’m going to the 99-cent store . . . yes, the 99-cent store. Where am I? I’m at an art show. An art show.”
The exhibition was a chance for the studio employees — the animators, directors, producers, character designers — to show off their non-Simpsons, non–King of the Hilldrawing or painting or sculpting skills. “The theme,” said event mastermind Dusty Abell, “is pick your favorite film from the following three choices — fantasy, sci-fi, horror — and create a piece of artwork.”
Thus, there was piece No. 21, Sean Cashman’s Bart Wars, a meditative study of Bart and Lisa Simpson reconfigured as Luke and Leia Skywalker. Bart-Luke holds aloft a slingshot caught in a tractor beam of light, as loyal sister Lisa-Leia gazes into the distance. Above them, the dark specter of Homer-Vader looms, while the menacing sphere of a Donut–Death Star (with fancy sprinkles) floats eerily in the upper left corner.
Painting No. 32, by veteran Simpsons animator Paul Wee, features a hip duo of wasp-waisted Star Trekwomen. In No. 15, Hot Rod Riding Hood Meets the Wolfman (crayon, paper collage, pencil, pastel, watercolor and marker), muscle-boy Hot Rod Riding Hood is driving his red top-down convertible while daintily toting a picnic basket. But beware! The full moon is rising, and the Wolfman has caught Hot Rod’s scent.
Everybody was in awe of No. 20 by comic-book coverlord Dave Johnson. It is a set of four original characters drawn with black marker on plain brown cardboard: A man with a bulbous nose. A robot. A sexy vixen girl with Cleopatra eyelashes. An alien.
“I love the bubble wrap in the eye socket,” a woman murmured.
“Dave’s line quality is so good,” said someone else.
“Dave has a thing for creatures with one eye,” said animator Glenn Dion, who painted No. 23, a scene from Excalibur. Glenn draws for King of the Hill. Before that he sold shoes in Seattle. He reminded me of the nice, shy guys in high school who sat in the art room during lunch, who spent hours perfecting the angle of the Punisher’s jaw line, the guys who would have gone insane had it not been for drawing. “Tonight was cool,” said Glenn, “because we never get to see how good people really are when we spend all day drawing the same characters in the same way.”
Although the opening was supposed to go to 9:30 p.m., Darth Vader and everyone else had left by 8. As a building maintenance guy herded us out, I told Glenn that my favorite was No. 53, the only piece that doesn’t show off the artist’s badass kung fu drawing skills. Two origami animals — a chicken and a unicorn — have been glued to the inside of a wood box. On the back of the box are printed scenes from Blade Runner. Glenn grabbed the guy with the office keys and slapped him on the back. “This is Juan Raymond Aguilar,” he said. “Without him this whole operation would collapse. That’s his piece.”
“I have one of those jobs where they start you with one title and then add 50 more,” said Juan, grinning. “When I watched Blade Runner, it was the first time I
realized . . .”
What? I prompted. That he wanted to be an artist? That he loved art?
Juan nodded sagely. “It was the first time I realized I liked origami.”
Mike Savage’s Next Big Thing
At 82 years of age, Mike Savage could be forgiven for coasting through his afternoons at the tony Beverly Hills offices where he still runs a mergers-and-acquisitions business. But after a lifetime of wandering through the arcana of high finance and leveraged equity, he’s on to his next deal — satellite phones in Iraq that he’s not supposed to talk about; an IPO for a vast underground storage space beneath Kansas City; a handful of patents.