Cartoon by Bill Plympton

Bill Plympton is an American cartoonist who is best known as an independent animator. He works outside the studio system by doing every aspect of his cartoons (writing, drawing, coloring, filming, editing, etc.) alone. Plympton deliberately aims for mature audiences and makes personal pictures with sexual, violent and sometimes political content. His animated films have often won awards. 

Early career
Bill Plympton was born in 1946 in Portland, Oregon, where he also studied graphic design. He later attended the School of Visual Arts in New York, and began his career as an illustrator. He ranks Walt Disney, Winsor McCayTex Avery, Bob Clampett, Al Capp, Charles Addams, Charles M. Schulz, Robert Crumb, Spain Rodriguez, Don Martin and Harvey Kurtzman among his artistic influences. His work appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Penthouse and Rolling Stone, and he also made comics for National Lampoon. He started his own comic called 'Plympton' in The Soho Weekly in 1975, which was at some point syndicated to about 20 newspapers. His cartoons and comics have been compiled in the books 'Tube Strips' (1976), 'Medium Rare' (1978), 'The Sleazy Cartoons of Bill Plympton' (1996) and 'We Eat Tonight!' (1998).

25 Ways to quit smoking
From: '25 Ways To Quit Smoking' (1989).

Animation career
In the late 1970s, Plympton turned to animation. At the age of 14 he had already tried to be hired by the Disney Studios, but was refused, though with an encouraging message that he certainly showed talent. Rather than waiting to be hired, he decided to create his own animated cartoons. Plympton achieved cult status for animating all of his films alone and in his spare time, without any assistance - much like Winsor McCay did in the early 1910s. He also aims for a mature audience, allowing more sexual and violent imagery to be used. His first attempts, 'Lucas the Ear of Com' (1977) and 'Boomtown' (scripted by Jules Feiffer, 1985) did little, but 'Your Face' (1987) was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Short. It launched his career and work for clients like MTV, Trivial Pursuit, AT&T, Nike, Mercedes-Benz and United Airlines.

I Married A Strange Person by Bill Plympton
Still from 'I Married A Strange Person'.

Soon Disney offered him a contract, but Plympton preferred to set up his own company: Plymptoon Presents. After several more hand-drawn and colored cartoons he made his first animated feature-length film 'The Tune' (1992). The success allowed him to make more animated features, like 'The Tune' (1992), 'I Married a Strange Person!' (1997), 'Mutant Aliens!' (2001), 'Hair High' (2004, with Matt Groening as one of the voice actors), 'Idiots and Angels' (2008) and 'Cheatin' (2013). His animated short 'Guard Dog' (2004) was also nominated for an Oscar. He also directed music videos for Kanye West's 'Heard 'Em Say' (2005) and "Weird Al" Yankovic's 'Don't Download This Song' (2006) and 'TMZ' (2001).

Plympton sometimes returns to comics, usually to finance his future animated projects or to make comic book adaptations of his films. An example of this is the comic book version of 'Mutant Aliens' (NBM Publishers) and his contribution to a 2006 anthology of Innovative Comics by Ballantine Books. In 2012 he published 'Make Toons that Sell without Selling Out', which explains his working methods. 

Matt Groening
He is a good friend of Matt Groening, whose father, Homer Groening, he met when Matt was just a child. Plympton liked Homer's films and claimed he was an influence. In 2004, Matt Groening voiced the character Dill in Plympton's film 'Hair High'. Plympton returned the favor by animating the couch gags in 7 episodes of 'The Simpsons', namely 'Beware My Cheating Bart' (2012), 'Black Eyed, Please' (2013), 'Married to the Blob' (2014), 'Lisa the Veterinarian' (2016),  '22 for 30' (2017),  '3 Scenes Plus a Tag from a Marriage' (2018)? the 700th episode 'Manger Things' (2021) and 'One Angry Lisa' (2022). 

Graphic contributions
Plympton illustrated Kathi Pathon's book 'Polls Apart' (1984), about U.S. Politics. In 1999, he illustrated the humorous verse book 'Monica's Untold Story', which lampoons White House intern Monica Lewinsky. He also visualized lyrics of 12 songs by rapper Kanye West in 'Through the Wire' (2009).

'Push Comes to Shove' won a Jury Prize for Short Film at Cannes (1988). Plympton won an Inkpot Award (2004), a Winsor McCay Award (2006), Lifetime Achievement Award at the St. Louis International Film Festival (2011), Pioneer in Theatrical Animation Award at the Burbank International Film Festival (2011) and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Action on Film International Film Festival (2011). 

Books about Bill Plympton
The book 'Independently Animated: Bill Plympton' (2011) covers his entire career and has a foreword written by Terry Gilliam.

Cartoon for Sketchtravel by Bill Plympton

Series and books by Bill Plympton you can order today:


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