Review: 'Nudnik Revealed!' is a must have for people who care about the history of limited animationA book review article by: Jason Sacks
Gene Deitch is a legend in the cartoon industry. He was a pioneer in many different areas of animation, especially in the minimalistic approach to cartoons that resulted in the limited animation school of animated art. He produced Tom & Jerry, Popeye, and Krazy Kat cartoons in the 1960s, as well as the subject of this book and accompanying DVD, Nudnik.
Nudnik was actually a schlimazel (in Yiddish a nudnik is a boring person; a better name for him would have been schlimazel but I'm not sure Americans were ready for a cartoon character named Schlimazel) who would stumble, moment by moment, from misfortune to misfortune. He was the classic guy who could never get out of his own way, who was always stumbling over his own two feet in the grandest and most ridiculous ways.
Nudnik starred in a series of 13 cartoons, created on Prague, Czechoslovakia. These cartoons have a outlandish and strange feel to them that makes them feel both dated and timeless when you watch them today. I had trouble really enjoying these cartoons because of their strange designs and weird silent feel; the style felt oddly foreign and bizarre for a viewer today because sensibilities in animation have changed so much in the last half-century,
Who's better than Deitch to introduce you to these cartoons and characters?
Nudnik Revealed is a generous scrapbook of material related to these cartoons. Deitch shares hundreds of images that were used in the creation of thee Nudnik cartoons, including sketch art, character designs, gag sketches and production storyboards from the cartoons - some 120 pages of material that help to show how this very unique creation came about. Most people are going to want the DVD and book if they want to dig deep into this material.
After reading this book and watching this DVD, you'll come out with a much better understanding not just for what it takes to create animated cartoons, but what it takes to run an animation studio in a Communist country while trying to make money from the project. I was fascinated by the work that went into each individual cartoon, and the amount of raw manpower it took to create one of these six-minute cartoons.
This book is a must-have for anyone who cares deeply about the history of animation or about the career of Gene Deitch. For anyone who doesn’t know about this era but wants to learn about it, the DVD is a real necessity. But as you can see from the accompanying videos, you won't be bored spending time with this Nudnik.