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William “Bill” Merton Plympton (born April 30, 1946) is an American animator, cartoonist, director, screenwriter and producer best known for his 1987 Academy Award-nominated animated short Your Face and his series of shorts Guard Dog, Guide Dog, Hot Dog and Horn Dog.
Bill Plympton was born in Portland, Oregon, to Don and Wilda Plympton. From 1964 to 1968, he attended Portland State College, where he was a member of the film society and worked on the yearbook. In 1968, he transferred to the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where he majored in cartooning. He graduated from SVA in 1969.
Plympton’s illustrations and cartoons have been published in The New York Times and the weekly newspaper The Village Voice, as well as in the magazines Vogue, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Penthouse, and National Lampoon. His political cartoonstrip Plympton, which began in 1975 in the Soho Weekly News, eventually was syndicated and appeared in over 20 newspapers. His distinctive style is easily recognized.
Plympton is reputedly the first animator in the history of animation to hand-draw every frame for an animated feature film (The Tune, 1992) by himself. Signe Baumane, also a director and animator, has been inking and painting Plympton’s cels for many years. As of 2006, Plympton had created 26 animated short films and five animated features. He has also published a comic book, The Sleazy Cartoons of Bill Plympton. Plympton usually publishes a graphic novel version during the production of each feature in order to raise money for the film itself.
Plympton, together with other independent New York City animators, has released two DVDs of animated shorts, both titled Avoid Eye Contact. His work also appeared on the 1992–1993 Fox comedy series The Edge; on MTV during the late 1980s; and on MTV’s animated series Liquid Television in the early 1990s. In 1995, he contributed animation and graphics to a computer game collection, Take Your Best Shot.
From 2001 to 2003, he teamed with Don Hertzfeldt for the touring “The Don and Bill Show”, which played throughout the United States. In 2005, Plympton animated a music video for Kanye West‘s “Heard ‘Em Say“. The following year, he created the music video for “Weird Al” Yankovic‘s “Don’t Download This Song“.
The actress Martha Plimpton, a distant relative of his, served as associate producer on Plympton’s animated feature Hair High (2004), doing much of the casting. The movie’s voice cast included her father Keith Carradine and her uncle David Carradine. Plympton contributed animation in the History Channel series, 10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America, to illustrate the events of Shays’ Rebellion.
Plympton’s 2008 80-minute feature, Idiots and Angels presented by Terry Gilliam, had no dialog. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on 26 April 2008, and was nominated in the feature film category at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival 2008.
In 2011, a documentary on Plympton’s life called Adventures In Plymptoons! by Producer/Director Alexia Anastasio, with Executive producers, Edward A. Anastasio, Katy Anastasio, Mark Steiner, and Ken Mora was completed.