An Interview and Studio Visit with Bill Plympton

Every morning Bill Plympton wakes up at six, goes to his drawing board, gets a piece of bond and a No. 2 pencil and sits down to the business of animating the indelible, noirish figures that have garnered cult status as Plymptoons. What began in high school with drawings of bugs and plants for the Portland Yellow Pages has grown into an empire that encompasses political cartoons, animated shorts, features, advertisements, music videos (his first for Madonna; his latest for Kanye), and a forthcoming Rizzoli book (Independently Animated: Bill Plympton) with a Terry Gilliam forward. Along the way he’s filled his shelves full of awards, not to mention earned two Oscar nods. On the eve of the release of his latest feature, Idiots & Angels, we caught up with the industrious illustrator at his Chelsea studio to talk about the new feature, working with Kanye (vs. Weird Al), and what’s really going down on the animator groupie circuit.

—Michael Slenske

photographs by David Potes

Drawing on LSD

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