Tuesday, March 20, 2007

This American Life + Chris Ware + Animation = Fantastic

This American Life is a poignant, long-running radio program on NPR hosted by Ira Glass. It's content is fairly simple: short audio essays (with music) describing the diverse lives of Americans here and abroad. The intimacy of radio is a great antidote to being stuck in traffic for an hour enduring the 8 mile commute from Santa Monica to Hollywood. But when I heard about how they were taking the program to television, I was a bit skeptical. Would the poignancy and intimacy be lost?

This example suggests not. One of my favorite comics artists, Chris Ware, who has collaborated with Ira many times for live performances, has created an animated sequence for the TV version out of one of the stories. It's a story about how a child at school made a fake TV camera as a craft project, soon imitated by the other kids and how during recess, every kid began acting as news reporter, camera person, or some role within a play-newsroom.

This story definitely resonates with me. When I was at the Happy Hollow elementary school up in Wayland, Massachusetts, we had arts & craft supplies ready to go whenever it was raining. I had watched way too many Saturday Morning cartoons and decided one rainy indoor recess that I would make my own wrist communicator out of paper. On mine, I drew a speaker and lots of knobs and "lights." Soon, everyone else had made their own imaginary communicative contraptions.

Fortunately, unlike the story above, we did not reveal any disturbing observations about human behavior.

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posted by Brian at 11:32 AM


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