Joltin' Joe

Several years back on the old blog I wrote about my first experience listening to Joe Frank. 

By Alvimann @

Joe, like millions of others who never met him, I feel like I can call him "Joe" died this morning after continuing and compounding health issues.

We are fortunate that he created the work he did, and we can revisit his singular voice anytime through

More still, his impact on radio broadcasting played no small part in the tone of the podcast boom where personal narrative and exploratory fiction have become dominant forms.

His work was famously "borrowed" to form the basis of Martin Scorsese's "After Hours". Other than a few bit parts and cameos, it's a disappointment that his involvement in cinema will largely be remember for that film he "didn't write".

The great Chel White made a few pieces with Joe's scripts, including "Magda".

I've never really understood when musicians or artists say they're "influenced" by another's work. What does that mean? How does it look? What are the results?

With Joe, I think I get it. His approach to form, to narrative, and most of all to emotional honesty is truly something I think about almost constantly in work we do. I've never met him, but he's been between my ears. There's probably no other artist who "influenced" me greater. 

Here's a thing that is almost embarrassingly close to showing that influence.

Dig It!

Here's something we recently finished -sequences for a documentary by Lomax Boyd of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute published by the great Nautilus Magazine.


This is a good example of a simple design development process.

We had a couple graphic ideas that we liked. On one end, we felt the story called for resolute but fluid line work. Counterpoint to that, I love mid-century dinosaur art and felt that could be a rewarding inspiration. 


This book of postcards is probably the best 25 cents I've ever spent

This book of postcards is probably the best 25 cents I've ever spent

The difficulty, of course, is creating a reasonable visualization of pre-history (at a very specific place and era) within the parameters of a short documentary's production.

This is an early concept drawing.

This is an early concept drawing.

The illustration style has to support the mood and concepts of the film, but is ultimately secondary to the narrative development of the sequences (generally speaking). The great trick in this was to demonstrate concrete things -like a mummified caribou (which is very hard to depict!) -while the narration touches on broad, semi-abstract ideas.

Mummified caribou

Mummified caribou


 In science and educational animation the visuals usually need to match the spoken script. It's important to note that this isn't always the case in other genre. A fictional film or personal narrative is often illuminated when the picture plays differently from the script.


Scimitar Cat

Scimitar Cat

Fortunately, Lomax, the director, has some great ideas and input to get the narrative aspects of the animation working.


Pleistocene Party!

Pleistocene Party!

Million Dollar Movie

Riding the coattails of Yusaku Maezawa's record setting purchase of Jean-Michel Basquiat's Untitled (1982), here's a little film we did for Sesame Street several years back using the artist's work.

The budget fell slightly shy of $110.5 million.  Actually, it was probably close to $1105.00.

Outrageous fortune aside, here's what the auction winner had to say about the painting: 

When I first encountered this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art. I want to share that experience with as many people as possible.

I wish to loan this piece — which has been unseen by the public for more than 30 years — to institutions and exhibitions around the world. I hope it brings as much joy to others as it does to me and that this masterpiece by the 21-year-old Basquiat inspires our future generations.

I love a man who loves a thing so much he wants the world to share it.

With this new incarnation of the website, maybe we'll keep up the news/blog page more. Keep checking to find out. The old blog is still archived here: