Ask the Listeners: What do you recommend?

This is the first of the ‘Ask the Listeners’ posts, inspired by Ikumi’s comment in Show 15. She loves Manga and says that there’s much more inspiration out there than mainstream art.

So I’d like to pose this question to you, the listeners:
What is something that everyone should see, but probably haven’t?

It can be an artist, a comic book, a film, a short film – anything that you think is great that doesn’t get enough exposure. For example, I’d like to know that if I was to read only one Manga in my life, which one should it be? Or which European short film will knock my socks off? Or what is an awesome Anime film?

Let’s see what inspires you…

77 Comments on “Ask the Listeners: What do you recommend?

  1. I’ll start this off by mentioning a comic that always makes me laugh called Grickle. The artist Graham Annable has such a simple style of drawing that is perfect for maximizing his wild expressions. I love the mouths and eyes on his characters. He doesn’t always hit it out of the park for me, but he’s had me laughing out loud plenty of times.

  2. Lately, I’ve just been incredibly inspired by the drawings of the classical artists. Especially Rembrandt, but also many others. I pick out Rembrandt cause there is so much of his observational work available. He didn’t have the best anatomic knowledge of them all, but his work’s just so full of life. His gestures were amazing, and the way he observed everything, I’m sure he would’ve been a fantastic animator.

    Just look at this stuff: (this one always makes me think of Jim in Treasure Planet)

    Or look at this! It’s a selfportrait, but as probably one of the only old masters, he put true personality in it. Most of his selfportraits are serious as well, but this one just stands out because of the personality and life.

    great site:

    There are many many many more inspirations, but this is one bigger one right now.

  3. Disney:

    Snow White… I know that it may be obvious, as it was the first animated feature film, but still alot of people i know havent, or rarely watch it… i my self fell into this category… I bought the dvd, but like a lot of people tend to watch my favourite, more high-tech and recent movies. Watching this movie enables yourself to really critically analyse the quality of animation of recent times, and after seeing it for the first time in years, only the was i able to realise just how far animation has come in recent, and the years after this movie. Just remember when watching it that it is very old, and if you are like me and cant quite get over how squeeky her voice is, the 2nd and following times, just press mute!

    Also, the older disney shorts (ie. the old mill) are impressive and should be viewed for their use of special effects, and are easily obtainable in the Special features of most Disney DVDs….

  4. Manga:
    The series “Monster” written by Naoki Urasawa. It is similar to a John Grisham novel but executed much better in my opinion. The art is excellent, it does nt recycle the same faces with different hairdo and the plot is really intriguing. And unlike A LOT of manga, this one has an ending.

    Azumanga Daioh
    It’s a warm sitcom about 6 highschool girls enjoying their life before university. There’s no typical male crush, just 6 girls enjoying their lives. Cleverly written & funny.The humour style seems like a perfect mix between “Friends” and “Monty Python”

    Excel Saga
    It’s basically a parody of EVERYTHING. From anime, musicals to even “animating”!! It is a whacked-out , weird series that I can’t really describe you should see for yourself

    Bande Dessinee (French Comics)

    Le Petit Spirou
    It’s about young Spirou and his adventures in his small neighborhood town before he becomes the famous adventurer in the Spirou series

    Lucky Luke
    A tale about Luke’s adventure across America. There’s a whole lot fun in it and really well researched. Stories are based (more often than not) in events in the “West”

    A tale about a Native American (Oum Pah Pah) and his French friend (Double-Scalp) back when the French are trying to colonize the “New World”. Runs for only 3 books and an experimental series done by the same people who does Asterix.

    Le Scorpion
    A story set in 17th century France about a rouge who travels to find about his heritage and his past. The story is executed really well. The guys will most likely like this book due to gratuitous amount of sexy ladies accompanying Le Scorpion himself.

  5. Jack Kirby’s Fourth World / New Gods saga is awesome.
    New Gods (

    Great stories, great poses, lotsa life in the drawings, and good themes to inspire. It’s in four volumes now, but I’ve only linked to one. The others shouldn’t be hard to find from there, though.


  6. One film that I’ve been watching alot recently is the film ‘Whisper of the Heart.’
    Released by Studio Ghibli, it is one of their first films that was not directed by Hayao Miyazaki (though he did work on the storyboards and screenplay). I won’t go into a lot of detail, but it speaks to me because of it’s message of art. The lead, Shizuku, is a young girl who likes to read. Along her journey in the film, she meets a young boy named Seiji Amasawa. Seiji is actually studying to make violins. His goal is to study abroad in Italy and continue to work on honing his skills. This makes Shizuku do some ‘soul-searching’ into herself. Seiji is also her age, but he seems to have a clear sense of direction, something she can’t find in herself. This causes her to declare that she will write a story.
    It has some basics of a Japanese manga, but there’s a lot of heart in this film. It’s wistful, and also contains references to a time when libraries actually had card cataloguing (Shizuku actually finds that all the books she’s checked out were previously checked out by Seiji).
    There’s some wonderful limited animation here (I’ve come to the conclusion that much of Ghibli’s filmms are done on 2’s). The characters are not constantly moving about, but even their subtle moments read well.

  7. As much as I love Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo’s earlier manga, Domu, always left an impression on me as a work just dying to be animated. It’s kind of a cliche at this point, but FLCL also is a must see anime, as it feels like version of a more adult Warner Brothers short filtered through an animation studio at the top of its game.

  8. I’m inspired by many different artists. Recently, as in the past 4 years I’ve been very inspired by the work of Mike Kunkel. His work can be seen in the wonderful comic book known as Herobear and the Kid. The site to view his work is Consequently, Mike’s work got me inspired by other Animators turned comic book artists. Tom Bancraft Has a wonderful book called Opposite Forces. I just picked up Lions, Tigers, and Bears which has some amazing artwork as well. Just look at the artwork and I think you will see why it is inspiring to artists that love animation.

    Regarding actual animated films. Miyazaki continues to inspire but I also found an awesome short film called Le Building. If you haven’t seen this, PLEASE DO! It is a great mix of 2d and 3d. Other things that inspire me are the “art of” videogame books. I highly recommend that Art of Final Fantsy 9 and 10 as well as Chrono Cross which all can be purchased at various Japanese import shops. Take care!


  9. The Mysterious Cities of Gold (or “Les Mysterieuses Cites D’or”). Fantastic series about three children in search of their history during the time of the conquistadores. Giant golden flying condors, Spanish invaders hunting for treasure and an ancient civilization in its final days… need I say more?

  10. This may seem strange to mention, but lately I’ve been inspired by more ancient artworks, such as Mesoamerican art and early Greek art, especially from the island of Crete. The artwork and architecture coming from Crete always remind me of cartoons & I think their style would translate very well into an animated feature.

  11. There’s only one film I think every animation fan should see:

    The workprint version of Richard Williams’ “The Thief and the Cobbler”. It’s on my list as my most favorite animated film of all time. That film really convinced me that animation can be a true expressive artform to its extreme, and it shows from 25+ years of production. It’s too bad the public didn’t get to see it as its creator intended. You’ll immediately fall in love with this movie. It’s a work of art.

    Also, I highly recommend Bob Clampett’s cartoons from Warner Bros. I love the animation, style, and charisma he puts into them. There is such lovely and specific acting in them and you can always tell a different animator drew them. It shows in “Falling Hare”, “The Great Piggy Bank Robbery”, “A Gruesome Twosome”, and many others. Watching them frame-by-frame really shows you how the animation works, and that’s half the fun 🙂

    It’s also nice to see some of Chuck Jones’ earlier or more obscure work. He’s not just known for “One Froggy Evening” or “What’s Opera, Doc?”, There’s a bunch of other films of his I love, like “The Dover Boys”(the first stylized cartoon), “Feed the Kitty”, and “The Rabbit of Seville”, and “The Bear that Wasn’t” (an MGM short)

    The black and white Fleischer cartoons are really worth watching, as well.

    There’s also a really great article on Ed Benedict( who sdesigned a lot of the Hanna Barbarra characters) from John K.’s blog.

    Enjoy my suggestions!

  12. Little Lulu comics by John Stanley. These are perhaps the best written character driven comics ever. I’ve become addited to them lately. The stories are the definition of simplicity and very, very funny. The character Tubby is more real to me than most people I know. OK, I’m exaggerating but it’s that essential.

  13. Interstate 60:

    A Bob Gale (wrote and produced Back to the Future) film. Great cast, great writing – one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen. The distributor went out of business so it never got the attention it deserves, but do yourself and your friends a favor and pick up a copy. =)

  14. Hey everyone,
    If you wanna know what can really be done with the animation medium, you need to see Studio 4C’s MindGame. It’s amazing beyond anything I’ve ever seen before, yet also extremely overlooked. Track it down if you can – you won’t regret it.

    Also, take a peek at London’s very own Studio AKA. This is highly talented bunch of guys and gals, to say the very least.

    And these suggestions are just for starters! As Ikumi rightly said, there’s a great deal more out there to draw inspiration from than just the Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks stuff.

  15. For inspiration, I like to check out the blog’s of Pixar artists Ronnie Del Carmen and Enrico Casarosa (just add a “.com” to those names to find them!). They post sketches and bits of their personal comic book work, which I find very full of life and always makes me want to pick up a pencil and keep trying.

    In film, I will second Michael Howe’s recommendation of Whisper of the Heart. I do need to see that one again. But all wonderful Ghibli work aside (you should see it all), I truly recommend anything by director Satoshi Kon. Mainly I recommend his films Millenium Actress and Tokyo Godfathers. He has a way of filling his movies with heart that all ages can appreciate, but never sacrificing the drama or insulting an adult’s intelligence. (His first film, Perfect Blue, while good, is definitely NOT a film all ages should see!)

  16. I agree with the original comment. I’d love for America to get away from the idea that animation is just for kids. It’s funny that two of the longest running TV series in the US are animated (Flinstones/Simpsons), yet animated movies are considered kids fair. Anime, Manga/Am. Comics are considered geeky and looked down on.
    It’s great that the recent trend of animated films often includes jokes for the adults accompanying their kids. Some newer shows are doing well (Venture Bros., robot chicken), but even they are pushed off into late night, small channel venues.
    I’d love to hear about some others animated forms, like claymation (Wallace and Gromit) or Stop motion (Burton’s work). And how about some Warner Bros?
    I’m glad smaller companies like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network are finally making an impact. When I saw Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars, I wished I could have seen all of Star Wars in his style. I also like the look of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends (Craig McCraken).
    As for outside US influences: it’s endless really. Some of my recent favorites would be: Princess Tutu, Triplets of Belleville, FullMetal Alchemist, Azumanga Diaoh, Samurai Champloo, Spirited Away, Fruits BAsket. It’s astonishing that there is such a wide range of subjects and ages in Japanese animation.
    I love Disney and Pixar, their stuff usually amazes me. But I admit, that when I hear they’re doing something new, I’m secretly horrified at how much whitewashing may go into the story line.
    So my advice is Watch everything, Try it at least once!

  17. I always, always have to push seeing films that are insanely good, but little known–or sometimes well-known(by reputation), but misunderstood and never actually seen–in that last category I’d put the great Busby Berkeley musicals of the pre-code period: Footlight Parade, 42nd Street, Golddiggers of 1933 and 1935; the musical numbers in all those films are mind-boggling–they actually outdo a lot of animation without benefit of what we think of as special effects–they’re a pure use of movement to music and GREAT imagination. As I was saying just yesterday, they’re a lot more than just “overhead shots of girls whose legs make kalideoscope patterns”. Check those out, for starters…

    Also, some of the rarer British films: anything by the writing, producing and directing team of Powell & Pressburger: “Stairway to Heaven(aka “A Matter of Life and Death”), “Black Narcissus”, “The Red Shoes”–and their other work. There’s some of the most intense use of Technicolor and monochrome in those ever seen or attempted.

    Also “Dead Of Night”, an omnibus ghost story…and anything by David Lean–see “Great Expectations” again; also check out some GOOD prints(i.e. restored)on DVD of silent films–a Mary Pickford like “Daddy Long Legs”(I know it sounds corny but it’s really great), Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, or a drama like “The Wind” or “Sunrise”–some of the most beautifully photographed films ever made. Okay, that’s it for a taste!

  18. I recommend you visit a place. A place that I didn’t know existed until last weekend. The Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA is a castle built by William Randolph Hearst who lived around the turn of the century and met wide-spread fame through yellow journalism. He is also the man responsible for creating a film studio in the 1910’s which If I’m not mistaken created the Betty Boop cartoon series.

    When you first hear the name of the town, San Simeon, you may wonder where this enchanting place is. My parents dragged me down on a roadtrip from Monterey down Highway 1 to San Simeon which is approxiamately forty minutes north of San Luis Obispo. The extremely small town does not deserve to be called a town. There were like five hotels, three mini markets, and like four restaurants all within a distance of a hundred feet.

    The Actual castle that I recommend you visit is filled with art. The grounds are covered with sculptures from ancient Greece and ancient egypt. Mr. Hearst was a collector of art and created his hilltop castle to create a proper shrine for the art and to create a suitable getaway. He built the castle with several differen’t European castles in mind. The main buiding of the castle looks more like a mission than a castle. This part was modeled after a tower in Spain where Mr. Hearst had taken many trips in his youth. I completely recommend you look into this. Just Google ‘the Hearst Castle.’ The tour we did only costed me ten dollars, but only because I’m seventeen. 🙂

  19. I second the call for Satoshi Kon movies… I especially loved Tokyo Godfather’s. It is amazing.

    However, I believe that Koh’s greatest work is a show they placed on the Cartoon Network last summer… and totally dismissed.

    PARANOIA AGENT was interesting to me because it was about modern Japan. No robots, nothing unworldly… or so I thought.

    The story is… amazing. It is SO psychologically twisted, but it isn’t twisted in the way that americans look to twists. Not funny, not scary, but different ideas on psychology and sociology that are weird and very Japanese.

    There are 13 episodes available in the US from Geneon.

    And the Miyazaki films should all also be seen… especially Nausicaa, Castle in the Sky, Poco Rosco, Totoro, and Princess Mononoke. Aw, heck… see everything from Ghibli!


  20. How about Russian made animation of Shakespeare plays with voice talent from the Royal Shakespeare Company? The styles vary from play to play, some are cel, some are stop motion puppets, some are oil on glass. The title of the set of four dvd’s is “Shakespeare The Animated Tales”


    How about that animated feature that George Lucas produced in 1983 called “Twice Upon a Time” made with an animation technique called “lumage”? Synonamess Botch is a great character. Lot o fun.


  21. I would second the recommendation of titles such as FLCL, Excel Saga, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Paraonoia Agent.
    The things that really makes me go crazy about said Animes is that everything is so well though out, from the Music to the Characters, the Backgrounds, etc… some of it brings tears to my eyes.

    Speaking of which… does anyone know of an excellent book(s) talking about origins of Anime or the inner workings of it ?† la Illusion of Life, Animator’s Survival Kit? It just seems that its pretty easy to find out about Western Animation but Anime and Manga are kept on the low. I’m sure there’s so much to learn from it regarding timing and form…


  22. I love this podcast but animation isn’t just limited to the Disney style or just for all ages content.

    Anything by Hayao Miyazaki
    he is a true master, if you could set up an interview that would be fabulous. But he only speaks Japanese so you’d have to get a translator.

    This wonderful, cool, awesome thing. If Tex Avery did anime.

    The Animatrix
    a wonderful collection of Matrix inspired shorts

    Heavy Metal
    I know the animation isn’t up to Disney snuff but it’s got style and heart

    and I’m going to say it…

    Beast Wars
    Aa 3D animated series from the 90’s. The animators are not masters, but they have been very inspiring to me personally in my own hobbyist work.

  23. Hi people!
    Sorry for the long voice message! I hope I didn’t come across sounding like an ass in my voice mail. I am so embarrassed with my fifteen minutes of fame (partially because my boyfriend thought that I was hitting on Clay. I don’t know what he’s talking about, I flirt with all men equally!)
    But anyway… since this thread was originated by my comment, I will contribute to the list of recommended reading this weekend…with link to sites and pictures! Oh, and I want to clarify that I have nothing against Star Wars or Hellboy! I just wanted to say that there are many different stories that could be told through graphic novels and cartoons…especially when it comes to cartoons for girls. Not all girls want to form a rock band or be girl spies!


  24. I love the painting “The Girl With the Pearl Earring” by Vermeer. It’s HOTT STUFF! I love the French animated film “The Triplets of Belleville.” I’ll let you borrow it if you want.

  25. Ikumi…

    I have heard that name before…. do you work on a manga series? I think my sister has a book by you or something cos i have heard that name before…..

  26. I’d like to share two of my favorite illustrator РCharles Robinson and S.C Hua. Both of them drew delicately yet their work speaks in bold. You could find some of Mr. Robinson’s work on’s gallery page. And some of his children’s book still can be found in Amazon. I put 8 of S.C Hua’s work in my site since I can’t find any related page in google.

    **off topic
    **To Emma:
    I googled Ikumi and to my surprise she worked on gotham girls . I saw the flash animation a year ago and liked it very much (I love Bruce Timm’s style of character design). She also worked on a comic called “monkeysuit”. I guess I have to get myself a copy next week to find out more.

    **To Ikumi: well, at least you didn’t sound like a crack-head. I thought I was rather humorous when I send Clay the massage few weeks ago. But to my horror mine retarded voice message show up on the first Glen Keane episode, I mean if the guest was John Kricfalusi I would of felt fine, but for god sake GLEN KEANE?! I was seriously wondering if committing Seppuku is the right thing to do.

  27. Clay!!!
    Here is a list of things that inspire me!!!

    Anything by Simon Leturgie. He is a french comic book artist who draws in a fun cartoony style. His books include “Spoon and White”, “Space Cake” and “Polstar”. These are available at Amazon France.

    If you’ve never seen Walt Kelly’s Pogo, go now and get it! Kelly was an animator at Disney in the 40’s and it definatly informs his drawing. He’s a funny writer too.

    I dig Rurouni Kenshin, and Dr. Slump.

    If you’ve never seen “Freaks and Geeks” or “Undeclared”, bye, borrow or steal them. Great stuff.

  28. Hi Clay, since I’ve left a voice message, I might as well post something here as well.

    Check out a comic book called Blacksad, by former Disney Paris animator Juanjo Guarnido. The art is absolutely awesome (and Juanjo deserves to be successful, he’s a real cream !)

    Also anything by Nicolas de Cr?©cy, the artist who influenced Sylvain Chomet for “Les Triplettes de Belleville”.

    I’d recommend anything written by Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman (and certainly NOT the movie adaptations…), as well as (in no particular order) bande dessinn?©es by Cyril Pedrosa, Boucq, Olivier Vatine and Guy Delisle.

    And of course, the great master Franquin. If you have never read his Spirou comics or Gaston Lagaffe, go get them. Now. You’re in for a treat. The Gaston comics are some of the few books you can read over and over and still laugh like it was the first time.

    For animation, everything has already been covered by previous posts (couldn’t agree more with the recommendations), except maybe films by Canadian animator Frederic Back, which I really love.

  29. As far as inspiration, The Complete Calvin & Hobbes is a wonder. You get to really see Watterson’s illustration and storytelling style evolve. It’s fairly expensive, but worth every penny.

    For cool shots, you can’t go wrong with Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil re-edited by Walter Murch. A masterpiece even in its earlier incarnation, it has now achieved perfection.

    For Anime, I really like Serial Experiment: Lain. The story is really convoluted and sometimes incomprehensible, but the backgorunds are extraordinary. There are also some great money-saving animation techniques (such as showing a closeup of a character’s eye that slowly pulls in even closer while the character is talking).

    For classics, the Fleischer Studios Betty Boop and Superman, the Otto Messmer silent Felix shorts and the Disney features Melody Time and Make Mine Music are great.

    And as for modern: Lilo and Stitch, The Emperor’s New Groove and (of course) The Iron Giant .

  30. Here is my long list of manga that I love. Most of them are from the 80’s or early 90’s therefore the drawings may look dated. But they still look good to me, none the less! Many of them have been made into anime form, but I still suggest reading the comic version.
    Most of them don’t follow the typical “rules of drawings” that is stressed so much in American cartoons, but I personally think that they’re unthreatening, soft, attractive and just plain cute! I don’t really care for the rules as long as I find the art attractive.
    The images on the links are rather large for easier viewing.

    –Akira Toriyama
    Dr. Slump
    (Available in English)
    Comedy. From the creator of Dragon Ball. I used to read this when I was 6! It took over 20 years to finally be translated into English. Trust me, just read it and laugh to your heart’s content. No brain work required to enjoy, yet so much fun!

    – Koi Ikeno
    Tokimeki Tonight
    Romance-comedy. Ranze is a girl from the underworld who can transform into anything she bites. She has a big crush on her classmate Shun, a normal human being. But her kind is forbidden to fall in love with a human, so her dad (a vampire) and mom(a werewolf) try whatever they can to have her fall in love with Aaron, the prince of the underworld. Despite of seemingly tragic theme, this is a light hearted comedy.

    – Aoi Hiiragi
    Hoshi no Hitomi no Silhouette
    A comic book by the author of a Ghibli film, “Whispers of the Heart”.
    Kasumi is a painfully shy girl in Jr. High. Her treasure is a “piece of a star” (actually, a crystal) that she received from a boy when she was little, and she longs to see the boy again. Meanwhile, she meets a boy named Kuzumi from her school, and begins to have feelings for him. But her best friend also has a crush on him, so Kasumi decides to suppress her feelings and root for her friend instead.

    -Bill Presing
    Rex Steel: the Nazi Smasher
    I swear that I’m not being partial, just because I’m dating this guy! Bill is an excellent artist, and I fell in love with his drawings the moment I saw his sketchbook. Then I fell in love with him much later.

    – Hidenori Hara
    Heya ni Oideyo (Come on a my house)
    This is a realistic love story between an aspiring photographer, Mikio, and an aspiring pianist, Fumi. They fall in love and move in together, but their relationship gets strained as their careers take them to different places, respectively. The author does a great job at depicting the icy silence during their break up by just using series of panels of drawings. The comic book ends with a 2 page spread of their empty apartment. Sigh.

    – Naomi Yamauchi
    The Change!
    Based on a novel written during the Japanese Heian peiod (794-1192 )
    Kira and Kira are twin prince/princess. However, princess Kira was raised as a boy, while prince Kira was raised as a girl. One day, Mikado sees the girl Kira bathing in the lake, and falls in love with her, not knowing that she’s usually disguised as a prince. He assumes that girl was princess Kira(who’s actually a boy) instead, and he schemes to make him his bride. Kind of twisted, but soooo much fun! It’s my all time favorite!

    – Osamu Tezuka
    Black Jack
    (Available in English)
    Drama. A story about an unlicensed, but superb surgeon named “Bladk Jack” that handles many strange, yet fascinating medical cases.

    – Tsukasa Hojo
    Cat’s Eye
    Action-comedy. Toshio is a cop, whose mission is to capture “Cat’s Eye”- an elusive thieve that steals the most heavily prized artworks and jewelry. What he doesn’t know is that “Cat’s Eye” is his very own girlfriend Hitomi, and her two sisters.

    City Hunter(Available in English)
    Action-comedy. Ryo Saeba is a private marksmen/bodyguard with a weakness for beautiful women. He constantly has a huge erection. (yes, THAT erection) and gets pounded by his partner Kaori with a big sledgehammer that she pulls out of nowhere. But he never fails to deliver when he needs to, and that makes him oh, so cool.
    This page gave me a good belly laugh.

    Angel Heart
    Drama. A sequel to the City Hunter story. A girl assassin who struggles too make peace with her dark past

    – Katsura Masakazu
    Video Girl Ai
    (Available in English)
    Romance, action, comedy. A LONG love story between a shy boy named Yota, and Ai, a girl robot who appears from Yota’s TV to “cheer him up”. I empathized with Yota’s low self- esteem as a young teenager in the beginning, and was touched by his transformation that was brought on by Ai. This was the one and only time I cried from reading a comic book.

  31. All 14 Movies in Disney’s Platinum Collection:

    Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
    Beauty and the Beast
    The Lion King
    Lady and the Tramp
    The Little Mermaid
    The Jungle Book
    101 Dalmatians
    Sleeping Beauty
    Peter Pan

    All of Pixar’s Features, more specifically:

    Toy Story
    Finding Nemo
    The Incredibles

    All of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio ghibli Features, specially:

    Kiki’s Delivery Service
    My Neighbor Totoro
    Princess Mononoke
    Spirited Away

    Anything by Tim Burton, specifically:

    The Nightmare Before Christmas
    Corpse Bride

    The works of Bruce Timm specifically:

    Batman The Animated Series
    Justice League

    Classic 20th Century Japanese Anime, especially [not as bad as the crap they show nowadays]…

    Gundam Wing
    Dragon Ball Z
    Sailor Moon
    Neon Genesis Evangelion
    Rurouni Kenshin
    Astro Boy

    All the Looney Tunes Cartoons, especially:

    What’s Opera Doc?


    The Triplets of Belleville
    Heavy Metal
    Family Guy
    The Simpsons
    Beast Wars
    Disney’s Tarzan
    Disney’s Pocahontas
    Disney’s Lilo and Stitch

  32. What do you mean ‘crap they show nowadays’? Agreed there is quite a bit of trash anime but in all genres actually. But there are plenty of good shows to go around, you just keep on looking 😉

  33. Carl Campbell

    Hi, I think I can give you little pointers on what NOT to get for the books for anime/manga type of “Illusion of Life”. I’m a big imported book whore, so yeah. Firstly, I don’t think there are such things of “Illusion of Life/Animators Survival Kit” type book out by the anime industry titans. (Miyazaki, Kon, etc) However, there ARE books like that sold in (usually) North American Chinatown bookstores. I don’t really reccomend these types. (ie the “How to do ANIME! with crappy cover that’s both cheesy and cheap-looking) Why?

    They suck 😛

    They explained about the “really general” stuff. Stuff that had been explained in Illusion of Life like overlay, underlay, FX, animation layers.How they’re painted in cels and shot in computer/rostrum camera. So if you really want THAT sort of knowledge, you should apprentice under a Japanese animation studio. I did apprentice in the Japanese system for 3 month on a subcontracted studio that does inbetween for Japanese shows like Slayers. They had one copy of Animator’s Survival Kit, which the animators find far more helpful than the stuff that the Japanese animators ask them to do. But perhaps, the Japanese animators who came there on briefing what to inbetween were just looking at us as “lowly inbetween subcontract studio”. I’ve heard people coming in to the REAL Japanese sudio (in Japan) as apprentices said many good things about the studio they worked in. (ie: they were helpful, friendly, etc) So perhaps it has something to do with where I apprenticed at. I apprenticed in Indonesia, where usually anime shows are inbetweened. Perhaps we got one of those “middle manager animators” in our studio.:)

    Anyway, good luck!

  34. I second the recommend of Whisper of the Heart. It’s one of my all-time favorite Ghibli movies….really deep and about the terrifying leap of faith it takes to pursue a life as an artist. It’s the one animated film I’d show anyone who hates animated films. It’s utterly without the conventions and cliches of animation.

    There’s a lot of great stuff… not a lot of it is obscure. I’m not going to recommend something everyone knows already.

    Here’s a great one. A film called “The Magnificent Dope.”

    It’s a great little screwball comedy that symbolizes everything that was great about old hollywood comedies when the formula worked.

  35. From the children’s book world, I highly recommend “The Gardener” by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by the justly Caldecott Honored David Small. It is a perfect example of the picture book with an engrossing, emotional story told simply…and there’s nothing harder than simplicity.

    For movies, I love “Whisper Down the Wind,” a sixties british film with Hayley Mills and Alan Bates as an escaped murderer who a group of children mistake for Jesus. Unsentimental, powerful storytelling with some of the best child performances I’ve ever seen. Stunning black and white cinematography, too. Sadly, it seems to be only available on VHS…

    I also second all of Jenny Lerew’s recommendations, especially Keaton.

    Thanks for the great and inspiring shows, Clay!

  36. HOLY COW! What a jackpot of resources! I’m going to really take my time and check out as much of this as I can. There’s enough here to last a very long time, but if someone hasn’t thrown in, go on and do it. There’s no qualifying required. If you like something, that’s good enough for us.

    I have another recommendation that’s kind of out of left field. Whenever I talk about great screenplays I have to mention Lethal Weapon by Shane Black. Even if you’ve seen the movie too many times to count, you owe it to yourself to read the script. It’s almost more fun than watching. Black has his own writing style which, surprisingly, isn’t often immitated.

  37. the five obstructions (foreign “reality” film… great great show)

    pre-american-cinema john woo and sergio leone spaghetti-western flicks.

    invincible and the walking dead by robert kirkman (comics)

    rubin and ed by trent harris (cult flick here in utah starring crispin glover – weird)

    darkstar (i remember watching this with my dad when i was a kid, crazy-campy sci-fi, but so fun to watch)

    and i am a junkie for adult swim. most notably: aqua teen hunger force (can’t wait for the movie), sealab 2021, home movies, venture brothers, and space ghost: coast-to-coast.

    i’ll second clay’s recommendation of shane black. i’ve never read the screenplay for lethal weapon, but he writes some of the coolest stuff. when long kiss goodnight came out i saw it at least 5 times in the theatres. and kiss kiss bang bang was great too. i wonder if he wrote his own dialogue in predator?

  38. I think that the Gorillaz is some of the most relevant traditional work being done today. It’s current, engaging, progressive and above all else, (to me) the character work has a flat, cartoon-y movement that looks best when done in traditional animation.

  39. Well, there are quite a lot of great mangas and anime films but if you ask me, THE ultimate manga would be ‘Bleach’. There are abotu 22 volumes up until now (23rd would be coming out next month I think), and it’s really, really popular in Japan and in other parts of the world as well. I really would recommend that manga, because the story is just awesome, it’s always so exciting, and it’s also quite funny hehe.

    And now, since Bleach has just been released in Europe a month ago, I shall go by myself the second volume (I’ve read all 22 volumes, but I just buy them to collect them)

  40. This anime show always helps to keep feeding me with ideas, and inspiration for furute projects that I may work on. Though I’m still young i still practice on my computer animation skillz.

  41. I’m not a big fan of anime but i reaaaaaally like a short filme called “Dead Leaves”, I think that the guy who did it is really a genius.

    In live action movies I’m really looking for some films called The Cre Master Cicle, from the director Mattew Barney, I think. Those are non-story films that are visually amazing, as far I saw.

    And take a look at Rembrandt scketchs on Benjamin DS post (top of the page). I’m like those very much, I like to take a look on them when I’m reading Walt Stanchfield notes on

  42. Haha, Diego, that film is lasts around an hour so I hardly think it qualifies as ‘Short Film’. =)
    That is an awesome film by the amazing talents of the folk at Production IG, always delivering quality entertainment. They really go out of their way with perspective distorsion and interesting timing, there’s SO much to learn from them. I even know some people that find this movie too shaky and dizzy, but I just love it to bits!

    The more I see all this new up and coming animation I really feel like some of these people are making a stand against the statement that CG Animation is the replacement for traditional. And I mean, come on! Let’s face it, no matter how good the Character TD’s or the Animators are on any sort of CG production, the freedom of ‘simply’ being able to draw all this wacky stuff directly on paper really adds to the expressiveness of it all.

    They’re not even drawing the character anymore, its more like a few abstract paintings per second, and in CG unless you modelled a different image for each frame, I really doubt you’d be able to do most of the stuff these new experimental shows and movies are doing…


  43. Awesome Anime film ?? sure…

    One of the Artistically Favorite one’s iv’e seen is this Film called “Beyond the Clouds , the Promised Place .” . You Guys might want to check that out , since it really has some quality artwork , animation , and a good solid story and great enviormental setting to go along with it . It was dont by a Guy known as Makoto Shinkai , who was famous among the Circle’s for a while back since he managed to make a Great Movie known as ‘Hoshi no Koe’ , which is an Anime too , all by himself , including all the Pre-Production , Animation and Post-Production , and that too on an 800 MHZ Mac Laptop (PowerBook) . So yeah , definitely he can create some magic with his movies .

  44. Ok…I’m gonna make this short and sweet…Trigun. It’s an anime that been out 4 a while. It’s the perfect anime 4 anyone who’s never watched anime before. Why should you use your valuable time to watch this you ask? Because this 27 episode series will keep you hooked till the heart gripping climax. The animation is excellent, espicially since it still holds up since around 1998 or so. It’s funny, action-packed, sad and just plain lovable. I can GUARANTEE that everyone that has listened faithfully to your show , has at least heard of it, if not tried to watch every single episode. So, that’s my recommendation. Trust me, you’ll love it.

  45. Pocoyo, yes! Animated frame by frame I’m sure, the key behind their style is ALL about the timing and poses. Its so simple yet SO entertaining.
    I’d like to add that it’s a Spanish show but it doesn’t screen in Spain… just goes to show what kind of TV our country likes to watch…


  46. Pocoyo is CGI animation with XSI and will be on screen in spain next september, now is on air in Japan, UK, Australia, and Canada
    theres more info at

  47. Well that’s good news! I thought they’d made a terrible mistake by selling it off to so many other countries but underestimating the potential it could have on the Spanish market… strange forces are at work here =D