And so on.
Here are the very finest of the assorted whatzahoozies I’ve made over the last decade or so, some to promote my now semi-defunct folk-rock band, some for my own amusement, and some (too few) for money. You can find more videos on the Michael A. Charles YouTube page.
Garson Hampfield, Crossword Inker / Garson Hampfield on Broadway.
July & September, 2008.
The first Garson Hampfield cartoon, by far my most famous production to date, went viral in the online crossword-puzzling community and came to the attention of crossword blogger Jim Horne, who interviewed me for his site. Shortly afterward, Jim invited me to create another Garson cartoon for the launch of the official New York Times Crossword Blog Wordplay. Instead of reaching out to this enormous potential audience, I devised a script consisting mostly of in-jokes about Jim’s blog and my own obscure oeuvre.
This music video for my band Sea Water Bliss was filmed at a pub in Vonda, a village about an hour from Saskatoon. The 12 binders contained 3500 printed frames, which my friends and I flipped through at the rate of 2 seconds per frame. The whole shoot took just under three hours – preceded by, um, one or two hours of preparation.
Unsuccessful job application.
I made this cartoon to apply for a position as a marketing coordinator for a non-profit art organization. It took me most of a month, and I didn’t get an interview, presumably for the reasons spelled out in the first half of the video (I was completely unqualified) and implied in the second half (I find the modern art scene fairly ridiculous).
Another unsuccessful job application.
A few years later I submitted this comic-style résumé to a local video production company called Giant Ant. Never heard back. Haven’t had much luck so far with the “brutally self-critical” approach to job-hunting…
The Sexy Mathematics origin story.
I created this comic as a favour for my co-worker Chris, whose band Sexy Mathematics had just released their debut EP.
This was meant to be a rough draft, not the finished product. I wrote (and crudely drew) this six-page comic on the theme of “The End of the World” for an anthology an illustrator friend of mine was going to contribute to…but she got busy and never did anything with it.
Animation Highlight Reel.
I put this reel together in 2012 but its most recent highlight dates from 2010. What have I been doing since then? Seriously.
Before moving to Vancouver in 2012 I spent four years working for a software company in Saskatoon. My main responsibility was writing press releases, blog posts, and content for their various websites, but I also got to make some fun stuff, which is listed below in rough order of fun-ness.
MyFrontSteps.com presents “Goin’ Viral”.
This irreverent (or do I mean irrelevant?) spot for a social networking venture called MyFrontSteps brought back the Spokesmonster, hero of my earlier series of anti-ads for StepRep (see below). Sadly, MyFrontSteps was put to pasture shortly after this ad was released.
The StepRep Spokesmonster.
October 2008 – March 2009.
I tossed off the original Spokesmonster cartoon as a gag, with the hope of stirring up some attention for my company’s reputation management tool, StepRep. When the cartoon provoked angry complaints on one blog, we realized the controversy could profitably be addressed in a follow-up. The third episode, which populated the Spokesmonsterverse with a whole cast of creepy monsters, reached a zenith of weirdness to which the fourth and final installment could only be an anticlimax.
MashedIn – Recommendations from real people.
In my opinion, this rotoscoped ad is some of my best stuff, but MashedIn, the product it was designed to promote, was put on the backburner almost immediately after the ad was released. This was a recurring theme of my stint in the software marketing trenches.
MySaskDeals – How’s it work?
I needed to create a video for our group buying platform in only two weeks. I met the deadline by press-ganging my co-workers into service as assistant animators. (This process of “group rotoscoping” was also meant to have some thematic resonance with the concept of “group buying”.) Since the platform was sold to media partners all over the world, the ad was designed to be easily rebrandable – a different logo and colour scheme could be applied with just a few hours work.
The VendAsta mnemonic.
This little ad was made after VendAsta had hired me but before I was actually on the payroll – and excepting the MySaskDeals animation a couple years later (see above), it’s the most successful ad I ever created for them. I’d noticed that when the company’s CEO called me up to see if I’d be interested in doing some work for them, he had to repeat the name three or four times before I got it: “Ven-what?”
Reputation Management from VendAsta.
I kinda ripped off my earlier Clowns video (see above) for the concept of this ad. The footage on the monitor was played back at an ultra-low framerate, then the whole thing was sped up and synched with the audio. Of course it could’ve been done more easily and cheaply via video compositing, but it would’ve lacked that charming hand-made feel. (…Or, less charitably, that off-putting half-assed feel.)
Mobile Sites from VendAsta.
There are two hidden edits in this, where we were able to pause the camera and take a breather, but the idea was to do it in a single take. It took us about twenty tries to get one that sorta worked. (Incidentally, this video and the last one starred Maygen Kardash, singer for Saskatoon rock band Violent Kin.)
What have you done to make your house a home?
While MyFrontSteps was still a going concern, a couple of my bosses went down to the 2009 Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco and came back with some video footage. “Turn this into a web ad,” they instructed; and after much head-scratching, this is what I came up with.
Crashing the Windows 7 launch party.
This was doomed to ephemerality, but at the time it seemed a good use of my employers’ time to create a cartoon poking fun at Microsoft’s famously cheesy ads for their newly-released operating system Windows 7. It will make more sense if you watch the video first.
November 2008 – December 2010.
Soon after the release of the first Spokesmonster ad I inaugurated this blog, which I used for the next two years to share my occasional deep thoughts on cartooning, marketing, and making software. The blog was eventually deleted, but I managed to salvage a few of my favourite posts.