Monday, June 27, 2005


I'm a fan of anthropromorphics (using animals in human form, ie Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny or the characters in Maus) for various reasons and have favoured using them in the past. I had a few vague ideas today for some possible stories and I'm not sure if to go the 'funny-animal' route or not. Think of it like this, would some of the more socially pointed Dr. Seuss stories (The Sneetches, Yertle the Turtle and the amazing Lorax) worked as well if Suess used humans? Is the Once-ler in Lorax had just been a guy who owned a factory and depleted a forest and poluted the enviroment would the story have seemed preachy and a little flat, or would it have given it more power and impact? Would we accept the humour? Does the use of animals in Maus shock us all over again or does it diminish the reality of the situation? Does the use of animal allow the creator to make barbed comments and observations palateable, or does it trivialise them?
Okay, that's a whole bunch of questions, but basically, what do you all think, animal or humans?


Danny said...

Good question, but it depends on the strength of the material. Using animals allows more room for the fabulous, or fantastic.
Also having animals actout a human situation allows you that space to satirical, barbed or whatever. I don't know if sweetening the pill's the right word... but if you present the ordinary in an extraordinary way, it allows you fresh perspective on things.

Plus I just like animals.

paul said...

i just saw 'the cat returns' which made excellent use of cats. there was something about them when they walked on their hind legs with paws outstretched, a kind of sinister yet cute mimic of people - especially the black-clad bodyguard cats. but i do find it hard to put my finger on exactly what i like about this kind of thing... allowing room for the fantastic is definately a good point, there's something about the use of animals that the brain just accepts (personality goes a long way?).

i've not properly read more serious stuff like maus, so i can't really answer that side of things, but i would suggest that the use of animals gives the necessary distance from a painful subject to bring about a more objective and consequently more encompassing viewpoint (like shaun tan's rabbits). i'm not sure if you'd manage that using real folks.

Katy said...

Having not actually read many of the examples, and just thinking off the cuff here, but using an anthropomorphic protagonist would give you more leeway and artistic licence as an illustrator/writer, the ability to fuse recognisably human actions with non-human, animistic attributes. A kind of two-for-the-price of one shorthand, I suppose. And I agree with Paul's point that it provides a necessary distance. After all, Tom and Jerry would hardly be so comical and entertaining if it were two humans constantly torturing one another.