tales of the zeppelin artwork by frazer irving

The Boy in Winter's Grasp
Available now  - click here

It is Christmas 1914. As Europe descends further into the Great War, Christopher Flyte is sent home in disgrace from his school. He returns to the sleepy English village of Alton. It is there that he meets the mysterious traveller, Bailey - a master storyteller who fills the boy's head with stories of King Arthur's time. The more Christopher hears, the more he suspects that Bailey's stories are more than just simple myths.

Soon, Christoper is a pawn in a game that has been playing out for centuries....

Published by Fantastic Books

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ZombilleniumDirected by Arthur de Pins

Reviewed in Independent Film on Jan 30, 2014 by John Scotcher
Four minutes of animated ghoulies worth watching.  You'll be smiling and hopefully tapping your feet by the end of it.

This little short is something of an introduction.  Whilst it's great as a standalone animation, it's also an intro to the comic 'Zombillenium' and the band 'Skip The Use'.  It's probably a testament to the quality of this short that I had bought both a Kindle copy of the comic's first issue (I'll review it soon), and one of Skip The Use's albums, within half an hour of watching it.  However, this is a review of the four minutes of fun (you can watch right now by clicking on the link on this page), so I'll try to confine myself to that.  

There's a lot of animation out there.  The past decade and a half have opened the doors for thousands of animators, both 2D and 3D, by giving them the technology to realise their visions.  As with many things that technology has opened up to the masses, this means there's a lot of crap to sift through.   This is probably the tenth or so animation I've watched on Vimeo, whilst trying to find something that I wanted to say, 'Hey look at this,' to you.   Most of the others were good, but it was this one that brought finger to keyboard.  

The story has hints of the classic Blues ‘Crossroads Curse’.  The band (well, two of them; cartoon versions of Skip The Use's lead vocalist, Matt Bastard and lead guitar, Yan Stefani) have entered into a contract to play at creepy a creepy theme park.  What they haven't realised is who they have signed the contract with.  The four minutes of the film take us from their road trip to find the theme park to the grizzly fulfilment of their contract.  

I guess the first thing that pulls one into an animation is the way it looks. This one has the distinct advantage of being created by Arthur de Pins, the excellent French comic creator and animator.  His style, to me, is a cross between Hanna Barbera's 'Scooby Doo' and Hergé‎'s 'Tintin'.  He also throws a subtle amount of 3D into the mix, yet still retains the feel of his comics that this emulates.  In particular, the increasingly worried expressions on cartoon Matt Bastard had me grinning all the way through. During the course of the movie, you’ll also meet some of the characters that feature heavily in the comics themselves. 

Being a music video, the short is able to dispense with speech.  I love it when films or TV programs do this, whether it’s a simple device as part of the action, or a whole story.  It's somehow easier to further plot lines when you don't have to slow the story down with speech.  Think of the scene in 'Donnie Darko', when we first enter the school and meet half the cast in one go, or the Buffy episode, ‘Hush’, both screen gems.  The same thing works brilliantly here; the story very easy to keep up with and clever in its simplicity.

And finally, being a music video, I guess the music is a big factor too, right?  As I mentioned at the start, after I watched this, I got hold of one of their albums pretty much straight away.  That probably gives you a feel for what I thought of it.  It's light poppy rock with more than hint of Ska.  It is also very European to my ear, but don't take my word for it.  If you have managed to read this far without already sliding out the player and watching, then stop wasting time with my babbling! Watch it now.  I am pretty sure you won't begrudge the time.    

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