I was sitting in a kid sized camping chair in the backyard one summer night, looking up at the dark infinity of the stars. Having recently dumped my punk band and the band mates I once hung out with (long story), I considered what to do next. In the back of my mind I always wanted to create an animated series in the same vein as the Japanese anime I was so obsessed with as a kid. Series like Zeta Gundam, Captain Harlock, Robotech and original video animations like Fist of the North Star, Vampire Hunter D, MD Geist and many others were inspirations in terms of art, design and storytelling. Many of these animations seamlessly integrated the fantasy and sci-fi genres in a totally original way that made the content more than sum of the two styles.
Ever since the first cartoon I watched, ever since The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts, I wanted to be an animator. Ray Harryhausen, the animator who basically invented cinematic stop motion animation, fascinated me as well as everything else about the process. The design and production parts of the process where of most interest to me, rather than other aspects of film like editing and marketing. At the time (early 1980’s), finances were tight and my Dad couldn’t afford the 16mm camera needed to make my own stop motion animation movies. My aspirations to be an animator were buried by the circumstances of reality, like so many of our childhood dreams.
That night, sitting in the kiddie camping chair looking at the sky, I only wondered how cool it would be to make a story about a magic sword that could turn into a starship. And that is where my plan to Think and Grow Rich all started; with a crazy idea for a motion picture that would blow away sci-fi and fantasy audiences from six to sixty years old. An animated epic that takes place in a multiverse of heroes, dragons, angels and gods with the highest of technology and most advanced sorcery.
The more I thought about it the more excited I became, and the sore spot left from walking away from the former punk band scene quickly faded. During art school, one of my professors said to keep pushing and challenging myself. I would infuse my skills skills and experience in music, writing, illustration and design into the unlimited power of animation in order to express myself to the furthest limits of my potential as an artist.
With only my rough idea and a burning desire to create it, I looked at what I needed to learn and do in order to make it a reality. For one, I needed to study human anatomy. I bought Hogarth’s Dynamic Anatomy and began copying his drawings of arms and torsos. I studied the same pages many times, repeatedly drawing them until I has satisfied with my understanding of those muscle groups and could sketch them out by memory.
My reading of fictional literature was light, so I bought some some books from authors a few associates had recommended. Michael Moorecock‘s The Elric Saga proved to be a quick, accessible fantasy epic, and David Brin‘s first three books from The Uplift Universe were intricate and clever. I was inspired by the depth of the two author’s respective visions, excited to create my own with an equal quality of narrative imagination and engagement. Without basing my film on a good original story, I was wasting my time.
(Continued in two weeks)