Tuesday, April 10, 2012

is a highly animated fellow:

                                                  LANCE 'FEVER' MYERS

Lance Myers is currently working on a 20-minute animated video called The Boxer, featuring his character Twomey Martin, a pugilist with a secret. Myers has done plenty of big-studio work, too – A Scanner Darkly, anyone? Space Jam? Prince of Egypt? – even while crafting personal (and award-winning) projects The Astronomer (2000), Subsidized Fate (2003), and a comedy series called The Ted Zone for now-defunct SuperDeluxe.

We knew Myers first from Twomey’s appearance in Jeanette Moreno’s Moko comics anthology back in 1992, and were recently able to cajole the artist into creating an autobiographical comic for the final print edition of Minerva's Wreck.

(Eventually, Myers willing and the pixelcreek don't rise, we'll have those four pages up in here for your delight, too.)

Right now, we've got an interview with the man, conducted last year outside Tamale House on Airport Boulevard, both of us happily munching just, oh, perfect tacos at a storefront-shaded table beneath the big Texas sky …

                                             SCENE FROM 'THE BOXER'

 “The Boxer is sort of a snapshot of where I am, emotionally, about my work,” says Myers. “I’m doing everything myself, and I’ve had some very competent animators offer me their time to work on it – but I’m just not at the point where I can hand it off. I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m gonna work a day job – and it’s a great day job – but it’s not entirely creatively satisfying. So I’ll have my side project that I hold dear to my heart, and it will be all mine. I want to be able to just, if I spend a year designing a character and creating all the animation, and then I look at it and decide it’s not quite what I had in mind, I can redo it. And I don’t have to explain that to anybody, I don’t have to justify it, I don’t have to re-plan my schedule. And it’s not gonna sell, and it may show in festivals – I’d love for it to show in festivals – but I’m not creating it to sell, I’m not creating it for anybody else. This is what I want to do, so I’m gonna do it.

"I’m lucky enough that I have a job and a life that allows me that," says Myers, "so I’m gonna take advantage of that and just make something I want to make.”

Brenner: Where are you working, these days?

Myers: BioWare. I’m working on that new Star Wars MMO that’s going to come out soon. Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s gonna be enormous.

Brenner: So you’re doing The Boxer, which is your biggest thing so far, and like so many of your other projects, this one is animated. What is it that, uh, draws you to animation so much?

Myers: It moves. [laughs] Y’know, I went through various career aspirations as an artist. I wanted to be a cartoonist, and that’s why I moved to Austin in the first place. I was looking at the Daily Texan stuff, Jeanette [Moreno]’s stuff, and Tom King, and Walt [Holcombe]. Chris Ware and Korey Coleman and Karl Greenblatt. All those people who were doing that stuff in the early ’90s, at the Texan. And I wanted to be a part of it, so I moved here for that.

And then almost all of those people got interested in animation at the same time, and we all started working at Heart of Texas together. And of course there was the band thing. But as far as visual arts go, I went back to school and wanted to be a painter. And discovered that any time I did a painting, any time I did a static image, I was always trying to tell a story with it ~ and painting wasn’t the right medium for it. Some people can pull it off, like Robert Williams, but it just didn’t work for me. I felt like, if I’m trying to tell a story I should just tell a story.

And I love film, and I think that painting and static images hanging in a gallery are, for better or for worse, not as culturally relevant as film is. In the two years I’ve been at BioWare, I’ve never come in to work and heard anyone discussing a painting they saw at a gallery. But I do hear discussions almost every day about movies. And, occasionally, books. But mostly movies ~ and TV shows. Do you agree with me at all about this?

Brenner: Well, I think that people at BioWare might be a pretty distinct subcultural set … but, at the same time, you’re saying that film, that video, and even stuff on TV, is much more culturally relevant in how pervasive it is. And yes, I do agree. In fact, it’s currently less bothersome that it’s culturally relevant. Because, years ago ~ many years, even ~ there was only network television stuff, and that was mostly crap. And so the cultural relevance of it, you’d wonder, what the fuck is wrong with people that they embrace such shit? What are they, idiots? But these days you can’t say that it generally sucks anymore. Because, especially with cable and the Internet, there’s so much good stuff out there. So I don’t think the greater cultural relevance is a bad thing at all.

Myers: Right. And, for me, this is coming from somebody who’s very into visual arts. I mean, I go to art shows and museums on a regular basis. I plan vacations around places that have works of art that I can go see. And I had lunch with Michael Sieben the other day, and he’s somebody who’s made a splash in the visual arts scene, whose work I admire. And I was kind of surprised to hear him agree with me on a lot of these points.

I have a degree in studio art with a minor in art history, and I love talking about art and thinking about art. And it’s easier for me to justify a work that’s moving, that talks, that tells a story. It’s easier for me to feel, in creating something like that, that it justifies itself somehow. Whereas, when I finish a painting, I oftentimes wonder, “Why did I just do that? What is that?”

That’s just a personal hang-up, maybe. It’s a weird thing. I would love to have a better understanding of how to create static images and be satisfied with them. I’m a big fan of static images, I’m just not a big fan of my own static images.

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