Victorian Cut-out Theatre Episode 12: The March of Progress

Victorian Cut-out Theatre remains for me a way to tell humorous, silly and macabre stories. Whenever I find myself explaining "what the show is", I have a difficult time. We draw connections to Monty Python and Terry Gilliam when promoting it, because these are things that people understand…well cool people do. However, these are not the things I considered when I started doing the animations. When I started, my inspirations were mini series adaptations of Jane Austen novels and the cannibalism discussed in A Modest Proposal. I was just using the form of cut-out animation *NOT* as an artistic choice, but an economic one. I needed to be able to finish an animation in a few weeks, and drawing every frame wasn't an option. Because I adore victorian illustration, I figured that the logical choice for material. The "look of the animation" spawned story ideas, and therefore dictated the subject matter of the series. At least I think that's how it went. I'll stick to that for now.

I have been told in certain social situations, amid nervous laughter, that I have a dark sense of humor. This is true. I think it has something to do with my family's blue-collar, immigrant history. The ancestors of Scottish, Irish, German and Cherokee people may know a little something about tragedy…and how to laugh at it. Because of this, I find it encouraging to know that others like monsters and elaborate words and laughing along with the macabre. A few of these people are Matt Conant and Stephanie Yuhas Conant, the folks behind Cinevore and Project Twenty1. They liked the show and gave it a life and a home, when I wasn't sure if I wanted it to continue. If you like Victorian Cut-out Theatre, you have them to thank.

This episode is all about the Industrial Revolution, a collection of ideas and events that we are still enjoying/feeling the harsh realities of. This time period gave us modern conveniences but is also responsible on some level for the fact that everything is disposable, and no one knows how to fix their own stuff anymore. This is also a time period directly responsible for the philosophical beginnings of steampunk, but I'll discuss that another time. My episode ideas usually form from a small piece, like a character, a line of dialogue, or a showpiece of animation. In the case of "The March of Progress" I wanted to illustrate a Rube-Goldberg death-machine, I didn't achieve the "Rube-Goldberg" aspect of it, but I think I ended up with a lot of really good dialogue and a superb ending. The marmalade bits seem to be the ones getting the most laughs, which I didn't plan for. Neat.

I'm glad we've premiered and that the show is finding its audience. At 9 AM Mountain Time, the episode has 250 hits and some very lovely comments like this one:

"It made me want to vomit. In a good way." -mitchkurt

Thank you, mitchkurt. That quote is going on the DVD, if there is ever a DVD.

-Rob