Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Taking Cartoons to Another Dimension

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Taking Cartoons to Another Dimension

Article excerpt

Mark Fiore does award-winning political animation for the Web

Mark Fiore creates a single editorial cartoon a week, yet he's among the hardest-working artists in the profession. That's because Fiore does political animation -- a compelling mix of words, pictures, motion, voices, sound effects, and music.

A prime example is last month's animation marking the second anniversary of 9/11. As a piano plays mournfully in the background, title cards announce: "Two years after more than 3,000 innocent people were killed, we present... A Nation Remembers." Then Fiore shows scenes of Ground Zero workers "who were told by the EPA the air was safe"; the 19 hijackers, "none of whom were from Iraq"; and New York City firehouses, "six of which have been closed due to budget cuts." Meanwhile, a cartoon version of President Bush frantically advises viewers not to remember all that. But Bush does want people to remember things like his wearing of a flight suit this spring. "That was sure cool," intones the president, as voiced by Fiore. "I'll never forget that day!"

Fiore, whose clients include newspaper Web sites, spends more than 35 hours on each 45-to-60-second animation. Part of the process is familiar to any print editorial cartoonist -- a position Fiore once held as a freelancer and San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News staffer. Fiore checks out the news, comes up with an idea, and does research before writing and sketching a storyboard showing various scenes.

Then, Fiore does anywhere from 10 to 30 drawings the old-fashioned way -- ink on paper. "That's really important to my work," he told E&P. "I want to have a line so it doesn't look too 'computery.' My goal is to bring my style from the print world to animation." He also letters some of the text by hand.

After that, Fiore scans in his work and tackles the technical elements with the help of Flash software. He colorizes, creates eye blinks, draws different mouth positions to convey people speaking, links scenes together, adds audio, and the like.

Fiore does more than 90% of the voices himself, including a very convincing Arnold Schwarzenegger. Among those handling the rest is Fiore's girlfriend, who imitated Condoleezza Rice in a recent animation. …

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