more dimensions

November 20th, 2014 | Uncategorized

UHaul woman dance 1
In 1995 the website Planet Out hired me to design a bunch of avatars that people could use in a chatroom. The technology back then was pretty primitive…I never actually saw the functioning chatroom. I didn’t personally get online until 1996, and by then whatever they were doing had already become obsolete.

So I never got to see my little characters in action, which was really disappointing. I put a ton of work into them. The assignment was complex: create 5 male and 5 female characters, then create  multiple poses of each character. (And multiple racial versions of each one.) The characters were: Goatee Boy and Pierced Girl (young hipster types), Mr. Downtown and Execudyke (corporate types), Lipstick and J.Crew (a femme and a rather prissy man), Gym Queen and Girljock, and Bear and UHaul Woman (slightly older types). I had to draw each avatar standing in a neutral pose, happy,  angry, flirting, etc….the idea was, when you wanted to have your avatar express an emotion, you’d click a button and there would be a brief animation—they’d move from neutral into a laugh, e.g. I didn’t even have a scanner in those days, and no Photoshop. So I was just winging it, trying to imagine these little animated movements.

So as I said, I never got to see them in action. Then the other day I ran across the huge packet of all the drawings and got inspired to scan them and try making some of them into GIFs. Almost 20 years later, technology has come along with another interesting way to recycle these lost images. I’ll paste a bunch of them in here…some work better than others. But it’s so very amazing to me to see how the rapid succession of two still drawings creates movement and life.


20 Responses to “more dimensions”

  1. Anonymous says:

    These all feel so familiar — like family. Glad to see them come to life after their long hibernation. Funny, I just came across my “Where’s Mo?” poster today, in the back of a drawer at work. I do wonder that at times, existentially at least. Where is Mo?

  2. KB says:

    Alison was always great at drawing hot men. I want gym boy!

  3. Fi says:

    All this movement in each of them, from just two drawings. Amazing. And do the stereotypes still hold? Oh yes, I think so!

  4. Sarah says:

    Amazing! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Tea says:

    Everything about this is amazing.

  6. Mentor says:

    [“Bechdel continued to make her rounds.”

    A nice article in the Vermont-based paper “Seven Days”:
    [Drawing From Life: Cartooning in the Medical Arts ]


  7. Jack Sky says:

    Girl with the coffee – Anjali! It’s great to see your work again, Alison.

  8. Pam I says:

    The glories of the human brain – all that movement in between images that isn’t actually there.

  9. Dr. Empirical says:

    What fun!

    I’m such a luddite, I still have no idea how to turn a scan into a GIF.

  10. Aunt Soozie says:

    These are such fun. Makes me want more… a little DTWOF animated short?????? 🙂

  11. Dane says:

    Anjali! I’m glad I’m not the first to have seen that right away.

  12. Wow. It is incredible how two drawings can come to life. How amazing that we now have gifs to use drawings made so long ago. And yes, because of dtwof, these feel like old friends, jumping off the page. So much personality in them, and they could have been done yesterday. Thanks so much for putting them together.

  13. Bettina says:

    Did I get something wrong? I can’t get them moving, I always see just one picture.
    I love moste the dancing woman in the first picture. The impression on the face! The glasses, half-slipped on the nose while dancing! Cute.

  14. Bettina says:

    Aah! Dunno what changed, but now I see them dancing! Cool!

  15. Mentor says:

    [Follow up: 360 Doodle Dare winners: [CLICK HERE] –Mentor]

  16. Kate L says:

    Bettina (#13, #14) I’m betting Mentor reached out over the internet with his mighty computer prowess.

  17. artist says:

    Thanks to my father who stated to me regarding this
    website, this weblog is in fact amazing.

  18. Feminista says:

    @Leanne: I’ve enjoyed your comics in the past. How’s small son doing?

  19. Andrew O. says:

    These are hilarious! I wish some website would use them.

  20. Andrew B says:

    I’ve been spending more time on social media lately, and I’ve recently discovered that you can download apps to make emoji, including animated emoji. (Yeah, I know, for most of you that’s probably like when great-grandpa discovered these newfangled cars that can shift their own gears. Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles.)

    Anyhow, it strikes me that these animations represent the artisanal, pre-industrial stage of emoji. Clumsy and terribly expensive to produce, but so much more expressive than a yellow smiley face that raises its eyebrows at you. It’s surprising to think that the (post-industrial) web had a pre-industrial stage. That’s all.

    (BTW, Alison, speaking of Planet Out, you know your link to their dtwof archive has been defunct for ages? If the archive still exists, it’s not easy to find.)