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Ted Rall posts first animated editorial cartoon

Ted Rall has posted his first foray into animated editorial cartooning with a near four minute short depicting a would be President Barack Obama’s first day in office. Ted wrote, drew and designed the characters for “President Obama’s First Day.” The animation was done by David Essman a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago whose films have been screened across the country at film festivals including San Francisco Shorts, Animation Block Party, and the St. Louis International Film Festival. The video is described as “a tongue-firmly-in-cheek look at liberal Democrats’ fantasies of how an Obama Administration would instantly change things for the better.”

See video below.

Community Comments

#1 Ryan Sohmer
@ 9:24 am

Glad to see a professional showing us how it’s done.

#2 Drew Price
@ 9:28 am

That wasn’t funny at all. I kept waiting for it to be, but it fell pretty flat. Rall should probably stick to 4 static panels, his work doesn’t translate well into motion.

#3 josh shalek
@ 10:42 am

I thought it was really well done. Kind of reminded me of TV Funhouse on SNL, except the animation was smoother.

#4 Beth Cravens
@ 11:05 am

Not bad at all for a 1st attempt. In fact pretty funny.

#5 Monty Rohde
@ 1:07 pm

Very poor pacing and flow. Instead of creating an animation you animated a static editorial cartoon. Yes I know it is supposed to be an “animated editorial cartoon”. The point is that ideas that may work well in 2D do not work well when time is added.

In this cartoon time was handled as an after thought. In animation time is ESSENTIAL. You need to look at Fiore more (best at it yet among editorial cartoonists though I have looked at Ann Telnaes’s work yet.) and study the work of Cal Arts animation students on Youtube. Start with Unicorn vs. Narwhal and you can find links to other projects. These shorts may not have much of a plot but they are amusing to watch and hold the viewers attention.

#6 Kelly McNutt
@ 1:31 pm

Timing is everything. Cut this down to two minutes and it would stand a better chance… maybe. Of course, this is simply IMHO.

#7 Stephanie McMillan
@ 5:48 pm

It’s hilarious! The bike lock made me laugh out loud, as did the song at the end! I can’t wait for more.

#8 Charles Brubaker
@ 5:53 pm

Came out pretty good. Some parts dragged on, but otherwise, OK for your first try.

Ted, if you’re reading this, mind if I ask who did the voices?

#9 Ted Rall
@ 6:28 am

Voices were supplied by an elite group of stand-up comics, veterans of “The Tonight Show” and voiceover professionals with decades of experience in TV, and a psychotic homeless warlord from South Ossetia.

#10 Gary Swygler
@ 9:02 am

#11 Gary Swygler
@ 9:04 am

More fun with animation (3D though)..
Stars O’Reilly, Obama, Hillary, Bush, Cheney, etc.

#12 Tom Wood
@ 4:26 pm

Suffers from the same problem that afflicts Mark Fiore’s cartoons. There’s too much invested into the animation style and production, which forces the author to go with a broad subject because it takes so long to produce a single cartoon.

Produce these regularly the day after a story breaks, and it’s an animated editorial cartoon. Take a week or more to do it, and it’s just ‘me too’ commentary. Yawn.

Tom Wood

#13 Ted Rall
@ 6:49 am

Thanks to everyone for their comments–especially the negative ones. They’re helpful. For the next one, top priorities are voices and editing. We ran long this time because we viewed it as kind of a pilot, but we’ll go shorter from now on.

Tom Wood, you bring up a fair point in general, but as a non-staff editorial cartoonist I have long been accustomed to drawing pieces that wouldn’t be published for almost as long as a week. Besides, I prefer doing stuff with a longer shelf life–they’re more fun to read in a book, for example.

Animation is like learning how to cartoon all over again. It’s daunting, but it’s also fun to enjoy a steep learning curve (hopefully).

#14 Tom Wood
@ 11:21 am

Keep in mind that there are other tools outside of Flash. A video editing program can bring a lot of new options in terms of transitions to move the story along.

Leaving Flash behind completely, there are bitmap video paint programs that aren’t being used effectively yet. For example, a digital version of the old stop-action sand on glass technique could be a fast way to do online cartooning. I’m not suggesting these are right for what you are doing Ted, but I don’t see many people getting out of the Flash box.

It will take a new approach to make fast production work. Story and dialogue will take first priority, and the visual part will have to become suggestive to the story rather than being so absolute as it is now. IMO.


#15 Mike Cope
@ 11:40 am

Considering the fact that this is a pilot episode, it was executed quite nicely.

What’s interesting to consider is the possibility that animations like these can actually support the need for traditional editorial cartoons to co-exist. A static cartoon can provide a sharp perspective on a timely topic, whereas an animated editorial asks the audience to invest more time to entertain broader ideas and issues. Of course, if you’re expecting the audience to watch a 4 minute short, you’d better deliver!!!

Although the timing was off on some elements in Ted’s animation, the characters did seem to move with a personality that matched their visual design … no rubber-hose limbs!

But the use of 3D overlays (i.e., Hello Kitty flag) tends to stick out the same way that a static photograph does when editorial cartoonists Photoshop them into their cartoons … usually because they just can’t be bothered drawing the same image in a style that matches their work.

Look forward to watching more.

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