Sep 112002
Authors: Dominic Weilminster

The tequila drunk of animation festivals came to CSU this week.

“Most animation festivals show the fine wine of animations, what we show would be the cheap tequila,” said Scott Haire, host of Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Animation Festival.

The festival, which shows annually, is a compilation of comedic, animated shorts focused upon a ‘sick and twisted’ theme.

“These are not your average Saturday morning cartoons,” Haire said.

Any one of the festival’s cartoons can make an audience shudder, laugh, and gag in a matter of seconds. However, the cartoons are not simply a random collection of offensive scenes.

“Each piece has a story,” Haire said. “We get a lot of cartoons in each year and many of them make absolutely no sense; randomness does not equal funny all of the time.”

Indeed, each piece, no matter how short, has some sort of story. And whether that means that a pair of raccoons will get run through a meat grinder or Chris Rock will have a bad night of phone sex, each cartoon will manage in some way to elicit reaction from the viewers.

“The cartoons are sex, drugs, and violence; they are the rock and roll of animation,” said Spike Deckers, founder of the Sick and Twisted festival.

From its beginnings in 1977, Spike and Mike’s festival of off the wall cartoons has been popular with college crowds. First playing midnight shows at a local Riverside, Calif. junior college and then moving to more campus venues, the animation festival has escalated exponentially since then.

“The show is really catching on, and, over the years, with all of the people whose careers we have started, we are beginning to get major exposure in the U.S. and internationally,” Spike said.

Spike and Mike’s show has evolved into an important source for some of the newest, most popular cartoon talents. The artists for such cartoons as: The Powerpuff Girls, The Simpsons, South Park, Monster’s Inc., Celebrity Death-Match, and Wallace and Grommet have found early, if not their first exposure through Spike and Mike.

“The list of people whose careers we have begun is too long to even remember, but through the years our show has been an important starting point for many of the top cartoonists working today,” Spike said.

The unique roll Spike and Mike’s festival plays in the world of animation has led to their exposure around the nation and even the world. The festival, which tours the U.S. independently, has also toured with a number of bands and has been a feature of film festivals in France as well as at the famous Sundance film festival.

The festival’s showings at prominent events and at venues around the world is opening up the boarders of Spike and Mike’s show and allowing them to work with international students of animation such as Israeli student Zogar Shahar whose cartoon is shown in this year’s show.

“If the cartoons have humor, timing, and a good story, they have a chance of getting shown in our festival,” said Spike who goes through around 600 cartoons a year before deciding the few that will be shown.

Those few cartoons that make it, more often than not, will be the starting point of many an independent animator’s career.

“Nearly every hit-breeding animator in the business was either launched or given early exposure through Spike and Mike,” said Michael Mallory of the Los Angeles Times.

So Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted animation festival, despite all of the rabid foxes, the drunken, suicidal birds, the Britney Spears parodies, and the deadly chickens, really isn’t just a source for jeers and laughs. It’s a valid source for the future of the animation industry.

“Spike and Mike are to animation what salad dressing is to sex,” said the creators of South Park, Matt and Trey Parker.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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