During my time in art sk00l, I briefly flirted with the idea of studying animation. After several nights spent hand-drawing a walk cycle using a light board and sketch paper and then logging in another late night photographing the drawings onto film only to be left with a few seconds of a figure jerkily making its way across a sketched landscape, I was left too exhausted to be disappointed. I went directly from Attempt to Abandonment of this ill-advised exercise in creative expression. As a result of this crushing defeat,* the world will never see the realization of such concepts as "SS Love Convent 69" (to be hand-rendered in a glorious acid palette, make no fucking mistake).
*Otherwise known as "one of many disheartening encounters with reality"
It's a good thing that other folks have more patience for their artistic endeavors than I've got for mine, and it's an additionally-good thing that there are more channels for exposing these creations to audiences that will love them. Changing gears into similarly-related gears: in the spirit that any party worth attending is worth showing up to late, I discovered a recent (as of June 2010) addition to Cartoon Network's beloved-by-mind-altering-chemical-enthusiasts Adult Swim lineup, "Mary Shelley's Frankenhole" that does many of the things I'd have loved to do with animation.
The premise of "Frankenhole"** is that the lab of Dr. Frankenstein (modeled after Kenneth Branagh's portrayal of the character) can be accessed through a series of time-travel portals scattered across the earth. His mad science services are available--at a price, of course--to any historical figure who happens to wander into his domain. And wander they do, from Hitler to Lyndon B. Johnson to Jesus "The Christ" himself. Populating Dr. Frankenstein's world are familiar faces from horror films past, including a Larry Talbot-like werewolf, Dracula, and--natch--the doctor's creation, who is closer to Shelley's vision of an articulate, grief-maddened abandoned son of science-gone-awry than he is to the square-headed Karloff kreature.
**It's seriously gross to type that, but I love it at the same time.
Those familiar with the other raunchy, bizarro shows that are part of Adult Swim's offering will know the kind of humor they're in for here. Lots of off-color, politically incorrect dialogue and willfully blasphemous gags make for the majority of the content. I'm not too proud to say that I laughed during the episode in which a foul-mouthed (and thus probably-not-too-far-from-the-truth) LBJ shows up at Dr. Frankenstein's lab asking to have his brain placed in the body of the now-deceased JFK so that the new president can Have Relations with the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy. One of the elements that makes "Frankenhole" more appealing than other "mature content" shows is the layer of loving horror humor. Monster fans will find plentiful glee in the horror-movie in-jokes that abound.
While I do enjoy the risque humor, the main source of delight from this show is in its absolutely stunning animation. The paper-craft characters bear a similarity to the creatures from Rankin/Bass' "Mad Monster Party?"***, but advances in technology allow for smoother movement and clever cinematography that makes for some serious eyecandy, the likes of which audiences might expect from a Tim Burton production. In a way, "Frankenhole" is the "Meet the Feebles"-ization of the Rankin/Bass movie, with its jaw-dropping inappropriateness somehow complemented by the painstaking and--yes--beautiful execution.
***Confound that in-title question mark...!
Alas, it appears that "Frankenhole" is relegated to the programming wasteland of Sunday nights at 12:30, and I'm not sure if we can expect new episodes. This show is just perfect for folks seeking Halloween-season giggles, and I just can't recommend it enough! For those looking for a seasonal treat, check out the "Mary Shelley's Frankenhole" section of the Adult Swim website here.