“About Face” by Chris James

It still sends a tingle down my spine when I discover a piece of amazing animation that I didn’t know existed. That’s the feeling I experienced this afternoon when I randomly stumbled onto About Face, an animated short made by Chris James in 1978. With tension and surprise in every transformation, the film is a reminder that pen and colored pencil can still create effects impossible to achieve with any other tool.

Here is a description of the film found on-line:

About Face is set to the music of Claude Jouvin and features caricatures of Henry the VIII, Mick Jagger, Oscar Wilde, Lord Alfred Douglas, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, The Marx Brothers, David Bowie and a worm.

The film was runner-up in the Grierson Award for Best Short Film of 1978 and was screened on the inaugural day of Channel Four television in November 1982. Other showings include The Arts Council Film Tour and the film festivals of Annecy, Zagreb, Los Angeles, Tampere, Varna, Lucca, Wellington and more.

Written and drawn by Chris James
Music Claude Jouvin
Camera Julian Holdaway


  • Robert Schaad

    Really nice…thanks for posting this. Beautiful transitions throughout.

  • http://jeremiahdickey.com Jeremiah Dickey

    Another forehead-slapping reason to lament the Arts Council ending its longstanding tradition of funding short form independent animation.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I feel sad for that. This was the stuff I loved watching.

  • AaronSch

    I was mesmerized. That was an amazing pairing of “Sound and Vision.”

  • http://www.thepra.com.au Eddie White

    wow Thanks for that gem from the past. Really blew my mind over and over.

  • http://www.webcomicsnation.com/dholvrsn/index.php Doug Holverson

    1978? If you hadn’t said that, I would have swore it’s from the early or mid ’80s.

    Plus, of course, it’s slopping over with technique!

  • http://thedirtonmyneighbortotoro.blogspot.com/ Ju-osh

    Chris James now works at Pixar, where he works in an elite, thirty-six-man team coming up with the pun-ny names for the many side car-acters in the upcoming, multi-million-dollar-grossing Cars 2.
    Naw, just kidding.
    But does anyone know what he really is up to?

  • http://www.twinkleland.com Gary Leib

    Thanks so much for digging this up, great fun and a true labor of love.

  • http://www.taberanimation.com Taber Dunipace

    Wow, looks like it was a lot of work, but you’re right, can’t imagine that being done in any other medium.

  • Michel Van

    FANTASTIC !

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com Frank Panucci

    Delicious eyeball candy for me.

    Nothing prevents this technique from being emulated digitally, but few are doing it. It’s a lot of work!