Mike Judge is famous for making cartoons like "Beavis & Butt-Head" and "King of the Hill." These days, however, he's more interested in watching the animated adventures of others.
"It's hard to put your finger on it — it either makes you laugh the loudest, or you just go, 'Wow, that's really cool,' " grinned the influential cartoonist, discussing this week's DVD release of his latest "Animation Show" spectacular (Volume 3), as well as the currently touring Volume 4.
"The thing about animation is it's not real, obviously," Judge said. "It is drawings made to look like they're moving — or it's a bunch of computer pixels — and so when you can take all that and make it trigger something that's purely emotional, that's a unique thing. And that can happen with a kick to the balls, or a really clever line."
Both volumes of the short-film festival, overseen by Judge and fellow animation innovator Don Hertzfeldt, once again bring together the very best of the medium. In a rare interview with MTV News, Judge discussed a few of his favorite Volume 4 contributions, from the ingenious to the infantile:
"Psychotown": "There's actually a series of them. The first one is just a couple guys slapping each other in the face whenever one guy says 'Oranges.' All three of them are made by a deaf guy [Dave Carter]. I don't know how he does the sound mix or whatever, but somehow he figures it out. They're really great and filled with a lot of silly stuff."
"Mr. Schwartz": "Every time I see it — especially seeing it in the theater in front of an audience — it really, really impresses me. It's a clever story and really funny the way the characters are drawn. [Director Stefan Müller] uses a kind of hybrid CG and almost cut-out-looking stuff, and it's just really amazing. When CG technology came along, the first thing people did with it was 'Toy Story'-type stuff, and what John Lasseter and those people did was the best of that. I think now these younger people are discovering really cool ways to use it, and 'Mr. Schwartz' is one of those things. It's hard to describe, but I get a little jealous of that one."
"Key Lime Pie": "The 'Key Lime Pie' [directed by Trevor Jimenez] thing is really great. That's another inspired short. The writing, the guy's voice — it's got that film-noir thing. It's about a guy who's eaten too much key lime pie. I really like that one."
"Yompi the Crotch-Biting Sloup": "It's funny, because something like 'Yompi the Crotch-Biting Sloup,' you'd think it seems easy. But the truth is, it's just as tough [to do a short around one big joke]. I just know that it came out of pure inspiration — it wasn't calculated. ... I'm not all about crotch-biting and balls-kicking, but when it's inspired, it does make me laugh."
"The Usavich Episodes": "The one that made me laugh the hardest was this one 'Usavich' from Japan. But it didn't make the audience laugh quite as hard. We had five of them, so we took two out. The three that are in [Volume 4] are great. It's just completely silly."
"Love Sport: Paintballing": "That one's an example of very simple animation, with all these little squares. But it's just really well done and fun to watch. That one gets over as big as something that's had tons of money spent on it, some really rich CG thing; instead, it's just these little squares fighting."
"Far West": "That guy, Nieto, he's from France. We also have one of his
new ones in the Volume 3 DVD [called 'Carlitopolis'], and I really love that guy's stuff. He's going back to where animation started, which was vaudeville, really. You don't even know it's animation. He has another one where he's doing [what looks like a live-action] demonstration, and he has an overhead projector. He's just showing how animation is done, and he's got a razor blade and is cutting some paper and he cuts his thumb off! And then it grows arms and starts playing the banjo and dancing. ... He does some cool-looking stuff."
"Jeu": "[Director/animator Georges Schwizgebel] uses paint on glass, and that's a really long process, animating that way. He does most of it that way. That stuff looks really amazing on the big screen, and it's probably the only non-comedy in our show this year. [Because we wanted to make Volume 4 a midnight show], we put in a lot of short stuff that's all funny. But that one qualifies for the midnight shows, because it's kind of trippy."
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