Good Reading : March 2017
UP CLOSE 2 I n 1943, Walt Disney released a short animation called Der Fuehrer’s Face. It was the only Donald Duck film to win an Academy Award. It begins as Donald is marched by bayonet-wielding Nazis to an artillery factory, where he spends 48 hours screwing caps onto mortar shells and manically saluting portraits of Hitler. The beloved feathered character was featured again the 1944 animation Commando Duck, in which he parachutes into a Japanese airfield, intent on destroying the entire compound. It’s the only Disney film that portrays a character directly engaging in war. Disney released 32 of these animated short d ntent on force between Sharon and Mel, the two main characters of her debut novel, The Animators. Cartoons e one of the first types of electronic media that children e introduced to, but there is an increasing adult audience for cartoons who want something ond the staples of The Simpsons amily Guy. The popular Cartoon Network channel in f a c T e elec e an in to on a toon films between 1941 and 1945, which were commissioned by the US government to instil a loathing of Hitler and other enemies of the Allies. For self-described cartoon fangirl Kayla Rae Whitaker, the headhunting of Walt Disney as a vehicle for propaganda is no surprise. ‘Cartoons have a compelling power because they are seen, on some level, as innocuous,’ the Kentucky-born author explains. ‘There’s a reason the US government recruited Walt Disney to produce pro-Allied propaganda during World War II; a Donald Duck short is a compelling way to hammer home a message.’ An obsession with cartoons and a respect for the disarming effect that animation can have on an audience drove Kayla to write her undergraduate thesis on cartoon representations of hillbillies; this obsession is also the binding 30 GOOD READING MARCH 2017 America dedicates screen time between 8pm and 6am to Adult Swim, a programming block of animated TV shows notorious for derisive parody and salacious content. ‘There’s an audience out there that yearns for nuance and complexity in animation, and they cannot be overlooked. The Adult Swim line-up is probably the best example. BoJack Horseman, for example, is about a cartoon horse with extreme existential angst who wants to kill himself most of the time. It’s an art form with as much space and possibility as any other. The way Sharon and Mel manipulate that space is a huge facet of this story.’ Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses, who meet in an art class at Ballister, a private college in upstate New York, are among the few students to attract some scraps of praise from their belligerent tutor. Reticent Sharon is sheepish about the scholarship that allows her to attend the prestigious college; Mel is brash and, in Sharon’s eyes, ‘hellfire and balls all over’. GOODREADINGMAGAZINE.COM.AU Drawn Together Kentucky-based writer KAYLA RAE WHITAKER tells gr about her debut novel, The Animators, which follows the turbulent creative partnership between two indie animators in New York City.