Bill Plympton on Al Jazeera Bill Plympton on Al Jazeera
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Bill Plympton on Al Jazeera

Who would’ve thought that Arab news networks would give more time to American indie animators than cable programs in the US? This is an in-depth 22-minute interview with Bill Plympton that recently aired on Al Jazeera’s One on One hosted by Riz Khan.

(via Michael Sporn’s Splog)

  • Al Jazeera really is a very good network, and it’s good to know that Bill is at peace with the world.
    I’m just glad he didn’t uncross his legs.

  • Gaston

    I like Bill Plympton’s work – but I rather don’t want to know why he would give Al-jazeera an interview. Like many artistist he probable knows very little about Islam and considers it “tolerant” to appear at that station.

  • Arlo

    I took this as more of an indictment of US networks than praise for Al Jazeera.
    Because it would be pretty ignorant to praise a network that put together a birthday party for released terrorist Samir Kuntar—a monster who shot a child’s father in front of her, then bashed the little girl’s brains in with a rifle butt. Al Jazeera presented him with a cake and all of the trimmings.

  • Guy

    Is anyone actually watching this or just jumping into a US networks vs Al-Jazeera debate?

    I had no idea that Bill turned Disney down, in pursuit of his own freedom to create the films he wants to make. That’s really great and inspiring.

    It’s really nice that ANY television station has interviewed him in an intelligent, non-condescending manner. If only there were more animators making their own films like Bill !

  • Chiskop

    Leave politics to politicians. We are here to discuss Film and by far Al Jazeera covers ALOT of GREAT indie cinema. I watch a lot of Al Jazeera. Especially the entertainment slots.

    God, Bill is an inspiration, he is my godfather. A joy to watch speaking. I wonder why he doesn’t try to use hollywood actors for voice work, that might help his movies go a step further. And i am sure there are high profile actors who won’t mind a pay cut to work with him.

  • Steering clear of the Al Debate … Great to see this interview. I’ve yet to see any of his work in its entirety but I want to. I think I’ve just been given a reason to see them. Very smart, confident and interesting fellow. And obviously has to be one of the hardest working artists around!

  • Chuck R.

    Thanks for the perspective Gaston and Arlo. Like most of us, I’m an admirer of Bill Plympton, and yes, I enjoy my daily fix of behind-the-scenes trivia. Try as I might, I can’t forgive Al Jazeera for fanning the flames of hatred in the Middle East just because they give me an extra hour’s worth of entertainment trivia. Some things aren’t worth it.

  • Bill Plympton is living my dream right there. One of my top inspirations alongside Oliver Postgate (RIP) and Nick Park. What a guy!

  • I’ve always been proud to be from the same town as this guy. When he left Portland, my home town got a little less cool.

  • I’ve never seen unfiltered Al Jazeera programming before so this is interesting on several levels. Was this just for their American channel or was this used internationally? Hopefully it gave people around the world a chance to see an American not connected with our more egregious foreign policy mishaps.

    I like the part at the end where he explains he’s “not rich”. Wouldn’ta guessed that from the fancy duds.

    I once bought Plympton’s “Mutant Aliens” book from him and he said “Now I can buy myself lunch.”

  • Norm

    Plympton is probably right in that he would’ve gotten fired in a month at Disney working under such corporate micromanagement.

  • Gaston and co are you sure you’re not thinking of a different channel entirely?

    Off topic, there’s a really interesting fly on the wall documentary about Al Jazeera called “The Control Room”, well worth watching especially for those whose ideas about the channel come third hand from republican blogs or fox news.

  • christopher

    I enjoyed that interview but does anyone else think Riz Kahn asked some pretty useless questions? I don’t understand why he’s such a superstar journalist.

    just fyi for those who (obviously) don’t know, this is taken from Al Jazeera International, the English speaking 24 hour news channel broadcast… internationally… from Kuala Lumpur, Doha, Washington DC & London. This is their website:

    It is not directly affiliated with the arabic news channel (in terms of content, but they receive funding from the same government / people), and they have some great feature segments including interviews, travel segments and documentaries. A lot of their ‘star’ presenters and readers were poached from BBC, ITV, CNN and ABC.

    There may be some underlying bias, but it pales in comparison to some of the news networks we have here in the US… if you want to talk about fanning the flames, why don’t we turn on FOX news and cry..

    Also Jon Stewart interviewed the Al Jazeera Washington DC bureau chief last week, you can watch it on

    sorry for the digression…

  • Amid and Jerry, one question. Why don’t you do this kind of stuff for BrewTV? It’s great! Obviously a lot of work, though. But with all of your contacts I’m sure you could pull something together!

  • Chuck R.

    Excellent comment, warren!
    In fact, after reading it Amid’s opening remarks sound more like a self-indictment than a jab at cable. If animation bloggers aren’t interviewing their geek-gods for their readership, why should they expect it from mainstream media?

  • amid

    Warren: We have, in fact, filmed a couple of interviews and studio visits with animators. They ended up not being appropriate for BrewTV but perhaps we’ll share them on the site in some other format. Filming people requires at least a half-decent cameraman and lots of editing time, both of which are beyond our current budgets.

    However, we are stretching our resources on BrewTV by licensing animated shorts and then including comments from the filmmakers. People can even ask questions from the filmmakers after they’ve watched a film. There are a million things we’d like to do if we had bigger budgets. Right now we have to make do with what he have.

  • That was interesting. I can’t imagine how Plympton might have made his mark at Disney. He probably would have helped immensely to get out of the rut and be more fanciful with the medium. But, then again he would have been fired before that ever happened. Thanks. I like this blog, but you’re luring me to Brew TV. I wouldn’t have to read anymore.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Shame I didn’t notice this was on, I can get the Al Jazeera English channel on my dial!