Graham Annable: storyboard/comic/animation artist
Welcome to Cultural Zest, the new online magazine that’s all about culture! We’re getting things started with an interview, with Graham Annable. Graham is probably best known for his Grickle comics and short films on YouTube, but he has also worked on video games and animated feature film ‘Coraline’. Now, Telltale Games are making a pilot episode based on his work, which will hopefully be developed into a full episodic video game series. In this interview, Graham talks about that game, his work, and his opinion on the ‘games as art’ debate.
How would you describe yourself?
Well, professionally, I’d describe myself as a storyboard/comic/animation artist. Characteristically, I’d say I was a fairly quiet fellow who enjoys drawing cartoons and playing ice hockey.
Growing up, how did you turn into a cartoonist/animator?
I don’t know how it happened really. Neither of my parents are artists and I didn’t go to any special art schools in the beginning. I think reading tons of comics and watching far too much animation on television as a kid are the culprits.
Do you prefer drawing comics or animating? Do you approach them differently, or do you use techniques from one in the other (like treating a comic as a storyboard for a non-existent film, for instance)?
Both mediums have their strengths and weaknesses and I’d have to say I like them both for it equally. My art style doesn’t really vary much between the two although the types of ideas I can convey in each do differ a bit though. As just one guy creating the art I find animation fantastic for simple, impactful moments and the comics allow for a larger and longer scope to be conveyed within a story.
‘Channels’ is a great example of a video where Graham uses animation to convey quick moments of absurd humour
So far, what has been your favourite project that you worked on?
That’s a really tough one to answer. I feel I’ve been really fortunate to work on a lot of great projects over the years so it’s hard to single one out. A couple that are up there are the Coraline feature and the unreleased Sam & Max: Freelance Police game. Both experiences were amazing in terms of the teams I worked with and the knowledge gained artistically.
The trailer for ‘Coraline’, on which Graham Annable worked as a storyboard artist
Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent is an upcoming game based on your work. How do you feel about translating your work into a game?
I feel great about it! After doing the Youtube cartoons on my own for so long it’s been really fun to get the momentum of a whole team behind creating a Grickle style art project. The types of games that Telltale creates make it a perfect fit to translate my art into a video game format.
How heavily have you been involved in its development?
Quite heavily for this first pilot episode. There is just a ton of art direction involved and stylistic choices that need to be conveyed so that as a team we’re all feeling on the same page for the game. I think as time goes on my role will evolve and perhaps lessen as the process is more fully defined.
Do you have an opinion on the whole ‘games as art’ debate? Do you think video games will gain a greater cultural status, much like comics and animated film have achieved over the years?
Certainly. Games are every bit as much art as anything else out there. It’ll just take timely events and specific projects to help change that cultural mind-set. It’ll happen for sure.
Where do you find your inspiration? For instance, in some of your videos, you use quotes from the 1951 science-fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still. Where do things like that come from?
Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. Certain films and books just push all the right buttons for me and The Day the Earth Stood Still definitely falls into that catergory. It’s such an impossible thing to define where inspiration comes from though. One day it’s a film, the next it’s just something your friend says or a weird memory you recall. My ideas seem to happen a lot when I’m just driving home from work or washing dishes I find.
An example of a short film where Graham uses the legendary ‘Klaatu barada nikto‘ phrase from ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’
Do you have anything else on your mind that needs to get out?
Well there’s plenty kicking around in there. You’ll just have to keep an eye on the Grickle channel to see what gets out next.
Thank you for your time, Graham, and good luck in your endeavours!
For more information about Graham Annable’s work, do check out his Grickle web site. If you want a source of near-endless amusement for a rainy day (or a sunny one), the Grickle channel on YouTube is the place to go, where you can watch more hilarious shorts than at a gathering of stereotypical tourists.