Video Gamers unite
My favourite reading this week was “The Video Game as a Medium” by Mark Wolf. I have so many fond memories of playing video games as a kid, so I really enjoyed this reading. As I was always so involved in the games stories, and how to complete them, I never sat down to think of the differences between computer games, games consoles, or the gameboy. I find it really interesting that some gaming devices are portable, whilst others require a TV/ computer (so are not so portable – assuming the player is using a desktop computer), and how this can influence socialising in the gaming world. The Arcade strikes me as a lot more of a social way to play games; almost all games have the options to play two-player, where as in my experience, consoles that require the TV, and computer games seem to be a more solitary activity. Personally, I would always go to the Arcade with a friend, or my brother/ sister, so I found I would almost always play two player games, and therefore gaming became just as much about the people I was with than the games we were playing. I would never feel comfortable walking into an Arcade on my own to play games, and so when Arcades were the only options when it came to gaming, users were forced to be a lot more sociable about it.
When games consoles started coming into peoples houses, gaming seemed to turn into a more solitary activity, as one could sit in the comfort of their own home playing games – there seemed to be no real reason to need to meet up with someone to game, unless playing multiplayer before consoles came with the internet built in. When consoles started to be produced with the internet, and so users could play with ‘strangers’ online from any where in the world, gaming seems to start to become more sociable, but in a different sense before; players speak to other gamers, and play games together, but very often these individuals remain strangers. In a strange sort of way, modern day gaming has become more sociable, but not sociable in the same sense that it was when players would play at the Arcade; players can still play alone in their homes, with ‘virtual’ company.
“The Video Game as a Medium” and “Archtypes on Acid” are the two articles that I chose to focus on this week.
The article “The Video Game as a Medium” was quite interesting to me because of the fact that I grew up playing video games from a young age. I have many fond memories of spending Saturdays with my grandfather, my brothers and cousin at arcades across Chicagoland. My grandfather would hang out on a bench, smoke his cigar and read the Chicago Tribune while we played to our hearts content.
One aspect of gaming through the years that I found to be interesting is the way it flows through being a completely individual experience to a multi-user social experience. Also, the definition of a game has changed dramatically over the years due to the advancement of technology. While the definitions given in the article (conflict, rules, player ability, etc) may prove applicable to many games, it may not apply to all games in today’s age. The article actually states that as well on page 16 when the author speaks about “Mario Teaches Typing” and other educational games.
Some games like Clue: VCR Game and others like it could be referenced as some of the early transmedia worlds. Multiple mediums were used to play the game. (p.16)
The true social networking of games emerged as LAN games rose in popularity. In my opinion, Video Gaming started to reach beyond the typical demographic at this point. Also, I think employers started to feel the wrath of gaming on company time. There were many days during my stint at eToys where I had to wrangle a coder away from playing Half-Life with the rest of the programming team.
In “Archetypes on Acid”. the opening sequence drew me into the article. It reminded me of my brother and his love for gaming. My nephews (7 and 2) are already ingrained into this world of gaming from watching my brother. My 7 year old nephew sat with us for over an hour explaining the ins and outs of a zombie game to us (he already beat the game after having it for a month).
I haven’t ever thought of Frogger or Pac Man in those specific ways (using psychological profiling) but can see why video gaming companies employ psychologists on their team. The ability to theorize why someone would spend hours on a specific game could be quite valuable to a company.
Because I am presenting the history of video games in class this week I found Wolf’s analysis of the video game as a medium intensely interesting. Due to its “game” status naturally the medium was and is slow to be recognized as an art form. To a certain extent this is very understandable, after all it would probably be difficult to claim that Monopoly or Scrabble are artistic pieces. However, as the video game continues its evolution, I think the argument for the genre to be considered artistic has value.
It’s also interesting to think about what might be the future of the video game. It is very natural to assume that eventually rather than having to look at a screen and pump a game paddle to interact with the video game, gamers instead will be directly connected and plugged into the video game world. And if gamers are then able to interact with this world simply through mental impulses received by the game console directly from the mind, the art they could then generate would be like nothing we have yet seen as a culture.
If a gamer were to have unlimited power to create visual images and interact and shape those images, going into the virtual space of an artistically minded person would be like entering a different plane of existence. What started out as a 2 dimensional forum for playing games such as pong could one day be the host of some of the greatest and most enveloping types of art.
I enjoyed reading the article, “The Medium of the Video Game,” for the way in which it broke down how a video game is constructed and how the images appear and can be interactive with the viewer. However, the most intriguing accomplishment/ creation within the video game realm is how it has been constructed by humans for humans to construct their own separate environment detached from reality to create a new fictional, yet very real other reality. As social networks have grown, I find computer games, and video games that are connected through the internet one of the largest “adult” imaginary games ever constructed. I think that it’s intriguing how through the realms of science, fictional art worlds have been created earning capital and can create at times lasting new friendships.
Earlier in the semester JP presented some of the work he had done prior to entering the program. He was hired, if I’m not mistaken, to photograph “in world.” This concept is fascinating to me. The idea that one can take their profession and within the created fictional world professionally photograph other characters with their character.
I thought that the moral authority of the game designer was the most interesting subject for this reading. In the article “The Video Game as a Medium” Wolf discusses the video game as art and compares it films and other visual media mediums as a kind of an art form.
I found Wolf’s comparison very interesting and disturbing because art as we know it might try to get into people’s faces. I think that the interesting thing about art is that it tries to tell a story and it knows that the story has to have a lesson that the audience can learn from watching/reading that story. I think we can find examples such as Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” or Todd Solondz film “Happiness”‘ those are two examples of a hero doing something that is very wrong according to society and by the end of the story he realizes it and the audience realizes it as well.
Video games are very different from drama and they have only one goal, to win. And my issue with it is what happens if someone decides to develop a video game that the hero is Jack “the reaper” or Adolf Hitler? Basing on the fact that the main crowd for this games are young kids, can we be sure that they will be able to know the difference from right and wrong?
Like a lot of people in my generation, I grew up playing video games. A lot of the time I felt I was missing out on the gaming childhood because I did not own a gaming consul until I was an adult — time spent at a cousin’s house or neighbor’s and gaming was a favorite childhood activity.
What interests me about gaming are the aesthetic aspect, the social quality and changing interaction between gamer and game/gaming community, gender in games, and this concept that Bolter and Wolf both talk about of interfaces. The way they broke gaming genres down in what they remidiate (either television or film) was interesting, particularly how the authors drew comparisons in the evolution of gaming to things like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the book as a medium of entertainment. Both of these articles were written in the early 2000s and gaming has changed dramatically since then. Not only have images advanced technologically, the video game industry has expanded, and online gaming has completely changed the way we approach gaming. Gaming has a much LARGER social aspect than ever before (though, I battled Pokemons with friends on the elementary school playground with the best of them). The online game, whether it be WOW, Facebook games, LOL, DOTA, HALO, or other 1st person shooter games, etc. The internet has allowed a community that was considered subculture to connect and create a space they could belong to (even if it is a virtual space). Gaming is no longer just for pre-teen and early teen boys (heterosexual boys). Adults who grew up with gaming systems are a large consumer of the industry, teenagers are still playing them, but girls are becoming more and more included as well as other gender minority groups.
Wolf’s reading talks about the nonlinear narrative in video games and how a player may have to go through the game multiple times to experience all got he games content. It reminds me of the chose your own adventure books , perhaps a precursor to these games, in which I did the same thing reading and rereading the book to explore all the pitons in the story.
The challenge for me in doing this with video games is the lack of skill, especially games that requires a “twitch factor” skill, and to get around this I would embrace the social aspect of playing these games and joining a group of friends and watching them play in order to get the story as well as just spend some social time with my friends.
It is reminscient of those adventure books but I never kept reading through them, I’d hold my thumb and flip back to make a better choice if I didn’t like what I chose. That’s probably why I’m indecisive now. As for games, I did the same thing. I’d save then if I didn’t like what was happening, I’d shut it off and re-load from last save point. I wasn’t a very “fair” player.
Before we begin I would like to do my best impression of an internet troll…FIRST!!!
There, now that we have that out of the way we can get down to business. This week’s reading was pretty interesting. I was impressed because so far Furniss’ readings have left me wanting. I have found them to be a tad dated but this stuff was pretty interesting. It didn’t hurt that The Empire Strikes Back was mentioned in this chapter either.
I was at a slight loss as I haven’t seen to many clay-mated or puppeteered works. Of course I’ve seen my fair share of The Muppets but I guess I’ve never considered that animation. I have seen The Nightmare Before Christmas. Not only that but I wasn’t introduced to the movie by walking into a Hot Topic…I saw it in the theatre because I am old.
All the stuff about Gumby was pretty fantastic. I had no idea he came about in the ’50s. I was sure he was a product of the ’80s but that is probably because that’s when I was introduced to the character as a dumb little impressionable kid. I was also pretty surprised to find out he was created by the same guy who made Davey and Goliath. Worst of all I was mortified to find out Gumby had religious undertones! Bleech! Luckily I never picked up on any of the morality that show offered.
It also warmed my heart that Clokey thought Eddie Murphy’s portrayal of Gumby was pretty funny. I wonder how he would have felt about the Gumby satire from MadTv where the character explores one of his dad’s playboys. I tried to find a link to this to no avail. Sorry 🙁
Christien undertones… I agree, though politicing and religiousity are present in the manipulation of belief systems in most media, it should not be a part of animation. With that said, in all fairness, how would one seperate ones personal beliefs from what one creates? I do agree though, i think he should have created a seperate character for the Christien films. Leave Gumby out of it.
I think he invented Gumby with that intention. It said that he was very invested psychologically in each short, and while it may be Christian undertones, was it controversial? I remember it being a sweet, heartfelt animation, so I sort of disagree with you that he should “leave Gumby out of it.” I think someone can draw upon inspiration from whatever they like, and I think the cartoon benefitted from it.
Also, was it by the same Studio who made Davey and Goliath? It certainly looks the same, and hey, by that title you can’t blame them if you didn’t know some of their other works had Christian influence, y’know? 😛
Ah yes, Gumby and his Christian undertones. Well just remember that it was the 1950’s and it was all about the Atomic family. Religion and some of the messages were big at the time as they were seen as good family values to have. The SNL and MADtv bits about the show I found funny as well.
Yes, sometimes those undertones do seem manipulative or unnecessary, but I think the influence of religion (and Vorkapich) on Art Clokey’s work shows just how diverse artistic inspiration can be. We may not always agree with the animator’s beliefs and feel a bit peeved at their presence in animation, of course, but at least “Gumby” does demonstrate how a filmmaker brings more than just imagination to the screen. Who knows where or how you might find your muse. Adam Elliot, for instance, is an Australian animator who made the Oscar-winning short “Harvie Krumpet” and the 2009 feature-length claymation “Mary & Max.” Elliot, one of the coolest dudes in both the known and unknown universe, is heavily inspired by his own life and by the lives of people around him. He frequently carries a journal around with him, observing people on buses and in other public places, taking notes on all of humanity’s idiosyncrasies and peculiarities, and then taking these observations and incorporating them into his films. Both Clokey and Elliot seem to bring quite a bit of themselves to the screen…which leads me to wonder how often animators (especially independent animators) integrate aspects of their lives and interests into their films.
I’m so glad i’m not the only one who thought he was from the ’80s! But I’m also in the same boat, I haven’t seen as many stop motion works as I would have liked to before reading this, however the insight into the process of making it is still pretty interesting nonetheless. I feel like it’ll make me appreciate works more in the future.
Clokey was a genius in editing, simplicity, and getting across a message. It seams that shows like Howdy Doody, and the Mickey Mouse Club came as a necessity, as something fresh and entertaining, but most of all cheap to make. Art Clokey’s Gumby came at just the right time. It was cheap and successful enough to maintain 127 episodes, although each episode was only 6 minutes. Gumpys constant appeal was attributed to his lack of violence and good heart, which was attributed to Clokey’s background as a Christien Scientist.
The interesting part of this is that Clokey was interested in psychology and self awareness. I believe this to be one of the most important aspects of being a creator. If one can successfully communicate with ones inner self as person, then one may create work as a true reflection of ones self and not just something entertaining. This reflection in turn serves as a conduit for the other or viewer to more successfully and safely engage with the piece created. This was most likely Clokey’s strongest tool. Even the clay being a basic symbol for humanity and life was able to create another connection.
I really appreciate Vorkapich’s methods here. Focusing on the emotional values of distinct motions. The value of film ideagraphy and montage used to make any film interesting. It seams like now a days, we don’t put interest on emotional value and experience. Too much emphasis is put on the explanation of the piece, or the credibility of the creator. Too often are the people behind the work put under the microscope. Can we not simply enjoy the relationship that becomes through the engagement of the viewer to the piece? I believe the creator should be completely separate. And that a successful piece is one that can stand alone without some credible human to support it.
I agree about too much emphasis being put on a piece’s explanation. Sometimes I think this can be interesting. For instance I once read something about how there are a few books Stephen King doesn’t even remember writing because he was doing so much blow and drinking heavily. That’s pretty interesting (and also gives some insight into why his books are so shitty). However at the same time I really hate waxing poetically over what thoughts were ambling through someone’s head as they made something s insignificant as a pen stroke. That was basically my senior year English class in high school and it was brutal
I also liked the part about the emotional value from Vorkapitch as well. The point you make about the credibility of the creator is very interesting as well. Even though it is not stop-motion, the new and last piece from Miyazaki will be judged as a piece of work from his name. Too much emphasis on the name attached to the piece is a bad thing.
Going back to what Johnathan said about the creator being separate from the work, I agree with both of you that a film should be bouyant on it own merit, but that’s like completely throwing out the auteur theory. Wouldn’t you want your work to be a representation of you, in most cases? I also find it interesting you mentioned Hayao Miyazaki and The Wind Rises, who has gone on record recently talking about how the animation industry (or at least Japan’s animation industry) is full of “Otaku” (I quote him directly) which essentially means “geek” or “nerd”, or someone without social skills. I’m offended, by the way. 😛
But he makes a good point in saying that, because as an animator you should be social, and at least surround yourself with references from which to draw upon. This is why Miyazaki’s films have much more realism in their motion as opposed to, say, “cowboy Bebop and Spike Spiegel’s stiff legged walks. Stylized, yes, but kind of unrealistic. Miyazaki has meetings with his animators to ensure that they know exactly how something is supposed to move, and he more often than not uses real world references (which sometimes go over the heads of his young troop).
Emotional value should definitely be given more merit. Part of the wonder of the cinema, after is, is the emotional experience of it, of becoming hopelessly engrossed in a great film and connecting with it on some psychological or emotional level. After watching “Gravity” last year, for instance, I remember tumbling out of the theater in a kind of stupor, emotionally drowned and a little unsteady on my feet. The emotional resonance of that film is what will stick with me the most. The movies are about a lot of things, but people, including scholars, should not forget cinema’s emotional appeal and impact.
I have always found stop-motion animation captivating. I love the whimsical touch stop-motion lends to films, the unique look that develops in a stop-motion animated film. A nifty, while nonetheless painstaking and arduous, medium for filmmakers, stop-motion always succeeds in amazing me. I love to see how it cropped up in oldies like “The Man with the Movie Camera.” And, more recently, we have great masterpieces of stop-motion like “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Coraline,” and “ParaNorman.” (Great Halloween movies and great anti-depressants too.) Laika studios will also be releasing another stop-motion film this year, which I hope will go to show that the stop-motion genre is still alive and kicking today. “The Boxtrolls” will be Laika’s third film, and, judging from all those tantalizing trailers, it is going to be another marvelous entry in stop-motion’s history. Laika films reassure me that while computer animation does seem to reign in American theaters today, stop-motion animation will be there to both refresh and strengthen the contemporary animation scene. “The Boxtrolls” will be released this September, so the only thing I need now is a time machine and a person to operate it.
Stop-motion excels in bestowing life and energy in inanimate objects, transforming them into characters that somehow really do seem alive. I remember that, after watching some of Jan Svankmajer’s work, I half expected the eyes of my stuffed animals to wink or my spaghetti to start worming its way off my dinner plate. It’s silly to say, but after watching movies like his I had these giddy feelings that the objects around me had some sort of life locked inside them, stirring restlessly and fighting to get out. I love how stop-motion embodies the idea that objects are not just mere objects, but are rich with meaning and history and dreams. I guess that’s part of the “uncanny object” syndrome.
Also, clay’s ability to capture so many subtleties, emotions, and moods is truly astonishing. Claymation not only requires dexterous sculptors, but a degree of intuition (and a ton of patience and perseverance), I think, from the animators involved. But when it all comes together in the end, well…I guess that’s when the filmmakers know for sure all the frustration, sleep deprivation, headaches, and cups of coffee were absolutely worth it.
I really like stop motion animation as well. I haven’t seen a ton but what I have I appreciate. Even if the story is turdsville the amount of work that goes in to even a halfway decent feature demands respect.
You are absolutely right about stop motion. It’s just got that little something extra. Some of the stuff gets creepy though. What was it, thunder birds with the puppet guys? Some of the christmas stuff as well. I think it boils down to the dolls to make or break into a child’s nightmares.
Completely agree with you, stop motion has just something about it that makes it fascinating to watch. I don’t know if i’d have the patience for making a feature length film using armatures and clay figures though!
This week’s readings really were very interesting to read for me, especially because my ‘media of choice’ if you will leans more towards 3D environments. While I know Furniss and Frierson were both talking about 3D objects in a stop-motion environment, it’s still cool to see elements and stories that aren’t just flat/drawn images, it makes it more relatable for me because honestly — I can’t draw. I found the discussion about claymation with Gumby to be fascinating and the overview of clay, objects, and pixilation as techniques to be very informative and interesting. I like to relate these back to my own interests with sand animation, with the sand being built up in certain areas so there is more dimension within the piece.
The discussion Furniss gives when talking about animators trying to figure out a material to use that wouldn’t be so much work while doing claymation is an interesting one. It’s interesting the comparison of claymation or other object animation to pixilation methods of animation, it seems like animators just can’t win as far as ease of movement of subject and accuracy in either method.
Hey nice job relating it to your own areas of interests! I’d just like to comment on your final statement, Furniss actually talked about how The Empire Strikes Back utilized a method with a computer that gave the still frames they used a little bit of “shake” and motion blur, to imitate realistic moving photography.
While the previous Furniss entries, to me, have taken their time in terms of getting to the “meat” of their chapters, Chapter 8 on stop motion drew me in a little closer and pleasingly quicker to the good stuff. I could go through the people it mentioned, but I assumed you’ve already gone through that so i’ll avoid that piece of fluff for ya. I really enjoyed a few of the actual techniques it illustrated, particularly in stop-motion after it detailed pixilation a little bit (which is so similar to pixelation, had me a little confused at first). Furniss talked about the way an object on set would be replicated on a larger scale in order to accommodate for the feeling of closeness in a stop motion set. While not a stop motion film, The Lord of the Rings utilized this method for minimizing it’s smaller characters while super-sizing it’s actual sized characters. I would love to see the deformed set pieces from another angle, such as Gandalf’s cart, that were positioned in the perfect position to generate his proper size on the camera. With the intro to 3D in Middle Earth, the couldn’t use this any longer because you would notice the depth between the characters, and therefore they used a method with “slave” cameras that would exactly replicate the other’s moves in a larger or smaller scaled set nearby. So, when Gandalf is among the dwarves in Bag End for the first time, Ian Mckellen was not even there, and never interacted with the other actors in the scene apart from hearing their dialogue. Sorry, end of shameless LOTR plug, the meticulous design of stop motion sets just reminded me of such!
On page (jeezus, can anyone distinguish this five from a three?) 158, Furniss talks about the difference in absorbtion in light in different materials in contrast for each other. She mentions how clay figures are usually lower saturation as opposed to their harder, more rigid backgrounds. Maybe this is a reason why Henry Selick and Tim Burton favor such sickly looking characters? Kidding, kidding, it’s probably just because he’s demented and dark…
I also greatly enjoyed the mention of Empire Strikes Back and the method they used to give stop motion a little motion blur to make it jive more realistically with the live action components in certain scenes. Go George Lucas for pioneering new tech with your movies (I know Irvin Kershner directed it though). This kind of made it mesh more with the rest of the movie compared to Ray Harryhausen’s choppy moving beasts (albeit incredible for the time).
In the Gumby reading, I’d just like to say Kudos to Clokey for trying to stray away from the cartoonish violence that was present everyday in shorts like Tom and Jerry and the Looney Toons. Like seriously, if a realistic Wiley Coyote actually did shit like that to a realistic Roadrunner (MEEP MEEP), it’d be rated R. And they’d both be dead in the first five minutes.
One of the anime’s I have seen in full is Neon Genesis Evangelion. I find NGE interesting for many reasons, but what I want to discuss is both its anime heritage and its innovation. NGE continues the tradition of Mecha and technological Japan in the face of post-WW2. Giant robots exist in NGE as they did in previous animes, such as Gigantor, Gundam, etc. Like in many animes such as Astro Boy, we also see Japan as technological advance, but still dealing with trauma. Despite its advances, the antagonists, or angels, keep attacking. The angels are also connected to a cataclysmic event that shattered Japan years ago. There is also conflict with the protagonist Shinji (New Japan) and his father Gendo Ikari (old Japan). While its place as the first of its kind is sure to be debatable, Neon Genesis Evangelion is said to pioneer psychological anime, as shown with its Freudian themes and use of psychoanalysis in the series. For example, Shinji’s ambiguous relationship with Rei Ayanami, a character that is a clone of the mother angel, and is strikingly similar in appearance to Shinji’s deceased mother, echoes the Oedipus Rex complex. Like wise, Misato Katsuragi’s attraction to Kaji for being similar to her father is reflective of the Elektra complex. Other examples of possible influence include what TVTropes.org calls the Rei Ayanami Expy, which is a list of characters that either modeled after or at least, in its words, codified by Rei Ayanami. These characters are often similar visually and in personality.
This is for the assignment given in class about connecting a cartoon to anime it may have drawn inspiration or style from.
The work of Genndy Tartakovsky is very well known among western animation, although it is not always attributed to him right away. His series include The Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, The Clone Wars miniseries, and Dexter’s Lab to name a few. Within each of these he utilizes the classic Hanna-Barbera library of sound effects mixed with his own distinct style of animation. He draws upon many things for inspiration and content it seems; Dexter’s Lab has it’s own Superhero league, including Major Glory (Captain America and Superman hybrid), The Infraggable Krunk (purple body with green trousers), and Valhallan, Blond-haired Norse Rock god with some gnarly rifts. A few of these episodes with the League of Justice include giant mechas forming in ways similar to Voltron or floating in space the way Gundam’s are often seen. There’s even another off-shoot, I believe also from Dexter, involving Space Monkey and a female heroin, who look very similar in appearance to Racer X and Speed from Speed Ra- i mean, MACH GO GO GO!!!
Tartakovsky was a genius! Everything that was made by him was enthralling to watch and kept me interested the entire way through. How he was able to mix so many different ideas from animations throughout different cultures (as you presented so well), was just a work of art really. The 5 minute clone wars shorts were by far some of the most intense I have ever seen. Truly, a master of his craft.
Not sure if this is the right place to post this as we are a week behind, but I’m going to put it here. I didn’t grow up watching Gumby or the reruns for the show, but I heard a lot about it from my father who was an avid fan of the show. I did, however, feel the far reaching effects of the link between children’s programing and children’s advertising during my childhood. The evolution and subsequent power of children’s advertising in the 1950s and 1960s is fascinating — and a little despicable. The discovery of the children’s market parallels the discovery of the teenage market post-WWII during the industry/commerce boom of the 50s and 60s; more money is moving around a larger section of the populace. I did find it interesting that the power of children’s advertising allowed animators to develop and experiment with different styles and mediums – giving birth to claymation. Purchasing power/Capital has/does spur innovation — the purchasing power of teenage Japanese girls has deeply influenced global culture and the visual landscape.
Art Clokey’s attempt to infuse his animation style with Eastern philosophy is admirable and in my opinion a good model for how animation can be used to help problem solve contemporary societal issues. I didn’t fully understand the how he was incorporating Eisenstein’s theories of montage, but I’d be interested in talking more about this in class so that I have a clearer grasp. From a materials perspective, I identify with what he had to say about clay and it being a medium that is at the very core of humanity and understanding. Clay seems like such a personal medium.
This was a pretty decent read on Stop Motion animation. I never really knew too much about it and all the work that went into it, but I had a round about idea of what was done in order to produce such things. I am a fan of stop motion though, considering one of my favorite movies is The Nightmare Before Christmas. I remember seeing it in theaters when I was really little and I was blown away because it was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Plus, the music was amazing!
In the chapter Furniss speaks about how puppet animation has been invigorated over the years. I can honestly say that I would agree with that statement. James and the Giant Peach is one of the movies mentioned for the praise it received for its puppet animation. This movie was also one of my favorites because it brought me back to the same feel of The Nightmare Before Christmas.
As for the Gumby reading, when it talks about Clokey trying to stray from cartoon violence, it all makes sense either way. Gumby had some serious Christian tones and you could definitely pick up on them as you watch the series.
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