I was recently reminded of a brilliant cartoon short which I’ve loved since I first attended the New York premiere in 1988. This is The Cat Came Back, an animated version of the children’s song by the same name. Written and directed by animator Cordell Barker and produced by the National Film Board of Canada, the short received countless awards and was even nominated for an Oscar.
As earworms go, you could do a lot worse. I’ve also included another of Barker’s well-known shorts, Runaway. His style is refreshingly simplistic while his subjects are darkly funny. They remind me (in a good way) of cartoons in the sixties.
Barker had this to say about watching his films with a live audience:
“Watching with an anonymous audience is the only real reaction you get. When I’m finishing production of a film I never get any feedback of any kind from anyone. It’s only ever complete strangers that seem to give an honest reaction. And it is immensely satisfying to hear an audience react to a specific moment in my film by laughing on cue. That’s the advantage of trying to make a funny film – if it works you actually get a quantifiable reaction – an audible laugh. That’s why making an intended funny film is such a difficult project – If you don’t get the laugh, the moment just hangs there and you feel like a failure.”– Cordell Barker interview with Animondays blog
Not a fan of digital animation, Barker does things the old fashioned way, with thousands of hand drawings shot and cut together. No wonder his projects typically take him between 4 and 8 years to complete!
You can follow Cordell Barker on Twitter.