Whatever the mysterious forces are which bring Oregonians to animation success, they were especially powerful in the mid-1980’s, when Will Vinton made the first feature length Claymation film in Portland. The following year, Matt Groening debuted The Simpsons and Brad Bird debuted Family Dog, both on network television, and Bill Plympton, working in NYC, was nominated for an Oscar for Your Face.
All four men are animation geniuses. If you are unsure that a successful advertising man like Will Vinton belongs in this group, see The Adventures of Mark Twain to appreciate just how miraculously odd he is as an artist.
If you remain skeptical of the size of Vinton’s contribution to American film, just watch the credits. Count the names who went on to other things — animator Mark Gustafson (The Fantastic Mr. Fox) and sound editor (now a director) Kelley Baker are just two.
It was Vinton who modeled the passionate engagement with technique which paved the way for Coraline.
I hereby claim The Adventures of Mark Twain as an Oregon film, based on many qualifying factors. It was made at the Will Vinton Studios in Northwest Portland, and written, directed, produced, animated — you name it— by Oregonians.
This post brought to you by the Oregon Cartoon Institute.