Bill Plympton’s childhood friend says Bill took up sketching in order to meet girls, but Bill says it was more about the fact that his only playmates were trees. Born and raised near the Clackamas River in Oregon, Bill led a fairly isolated life so he began drawing simply to entertain himself.
By the mid-seventies, Bill had turned his hobby into a career, selling sexy cartoons to Penthouse and Screw and later did work for Rolling Stone, Vanity Fare, and National Lampoon. Pympton’s exaggerated, fluid style captured the attention of the “keep on truckin” generation but it also earned him an Oscar nod in 1987 for a short called “Your Face.”
Not your average animator, Bill credits his success on three things, luck, the desire to keep learning, and the hunger for success. Where other cartoonists were all about art for art’s sake, Plympton desperately wanted to make a living and that pushed him to achieve where others, even more talented others, failed.
Adventures in Plymptoons! is a documentary about this king of indie animation. It features an odd variety of well wishers including Keith Carradine (who is a distant relative by marriage), porn star Ron Jeremy, the deadpan Ed Begley, Jr., musician Moby, Weird Al Yankovic and Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam.
Their humorous comments often make this feature sound more like a mock-umentary than a documentary but that’s totally in keeping with Plympton’s strange, comedic style.
Adventures in Plymptoons! is a must see DVD for anyone interested in the field of animation. For everyone else, it’s an entertaining and inspiring look at a man who went his own way and still came out on top. There are lessons to be learned. (Note: many of Bill’s pieces contain sexual content, so save this one to watch when the kids are in bed.)
Plympton was offered a big paycheck to draw the genie in Aladdin but he turned it down when he was told that Disney would own everything he drew.
Plympton animated the opening Couch Gag on The Simpsons episode “Beware My Cheating Bart.”
He’s the only artist to have animated six feature films all by himself.