“Life in the Analog Age” by Gabe Swarr

Few industry artists I know are as committed to personal projects as Gabe Swarr who’s consistently been making his own work for as long as I’ve known him, which is something like twelve years. He hasn’t slowed down one bit either, an especially impressive feat now that he’s in the middle of producing and directing the hefty 52-episode order of Nickelodeon’s Kung Fu Panda: The Legends of Awesomeness.

For years, Gabe drew Big Pants Mouse — as a comic book, on-line comic strip, and even a pilot at Disney TV Animation (where in typical corporate fashion, they rechristened it Big Shorts Mouse). He retired the character last year to focus on a new pet project Life in the Analog Age.

The tone of Life in the Analog Age — which appears in both comic strip and animated webisode form — is more genteel and introspective than his earlier work. The slice-of-(childhood)-life tales are drawn from his memories of growing up in the late-1970s and early-’80s, which he portrays as a simpler and more innocent time “before digital dominance and information overload”.

His approach is refreshing for its lack of snark and attitude. Watching the shorts brought back plenty of stowed away memories, for example, the mandatory Valentine’s card exchange in grade school (embedded above). Beneath the rose-colored view of such events, Gabe acknowledges the weirdness of childhood rules and rituals. For example, in the Valentine’s Day episode, he observes that the card exchange “was a time to feel liked…a time to feel as if you were part of the class.” But, of course, not really a part of it.

The design of the series has plenty of quirky touches. Some of them, such as the animal-like features on human characters, work better than others, like the stingy color palette of orange and purple, which struck me as too severe for the nostalgic tone of the stories. The animation style is spare but applied smartly to fulfill the need of each story.

The animated webisodes have been released at the pace of one per month, with comics in-between, but beginning next month, Gabe will be releasing two animated shorts per month. I’m looking forward to seeing how the characters evolve as the series moves into a more regular schedule.


  • http://www.animationarchive.org Stephen Worth

    Go Gabe!

  • Gray64

    Funny, or perhaps it’s just to be expected, that everyone thinks their childhood era was a “simpler and more innocent time,” regardless of when it was. Imagine what it’ll be like in thirty years when kids today wax nostalgic about the turn of the century.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      And us old coots’ll be sitting there still clinging onto our analog memories until our time has passed!

  • Austin Papageorge

    “He hasn’t slowed down one bit either, an especially impressive feat now that he’s in the middle of producing and directing the hefty 52-episode order of Nickelodeon’s Kung Fu Panda: The Legends of Awesomeness.”

    Holy crap! I had no idea that Gabe was that busy! I mean, if look at Life in The Analog Age strips pretty regularly, and I assumed Gabe was still working in animation, but I never knew he had such a big job on a big series and producing a webcomic/webseries at the same time! That is just too much!

  • http://www.super-macho.com Jorge R. Gutierrez

    As much as I loved the craft in “Big Pants Mouse”, I must say I adore the heart and honesty in “Life in the Analog Age”. I think Gabe has found the perfect creative outlet for his personal stories.

    And I actually love the colors, they remind me of the old Pee Chee folders. The fact that he can balance his professional and personal work is so outstanding.

    Gabe Swarr, you are my hero. I hate you.

  • http://www.mukpuddy.com Mukpuddy

    Gabe rules!!!!

  • Steve Lambe

    Cheers to Gabe! Definitely one of the most creative guys working in animation.

  • Mick Collins

    Actually, his orange-and-purple palette reminds me quite strongly of the washed-out tones in the nth-generation prints of Hanna-Barbera cartoons I saw in my own childhood. Remarkable, really; I haven’t thought about Pixie & Dixie in *ages*…

  • http://justforspite.blogspot.com GeneRasputinHole

    i believe the colors are meant to recall the appearance of degraded photos from the era. I know that’s what all our old family pics look like… :-)

  • Phil Hole

    Gabe Swarr is one of the rare creative artists working in the industry with a functional creative outlet.

  • http://www.bobharper.net Bob Harper

    This made my day – Gabe always inspires!!!

  • Bob

    Hey, a positive pile on for once on CB! How novel. Let me add to it. Gabe is an incredibly easy guy to work with, and his creative instincts are fantastic.

  • http://los-utopicos.blogspot.com allari

    love his work, he knows how to picture the bittersweet flavor to childhood memories.

  • Michel Van

    i know Gabe work from Dumm Comics Blog
    like much “Big Pants Mouse” but “Life in the Analog Age”,
    is a wounderfull “Coming of age” story !

  • Dave Thomas

    Gabe’s a force of nature. Where he gets his energy and enthusiasm I’ll never know – but I sure wish I did. You never see him tired. He’s never in a rut. He’s always excited about whatever he’s doing. And whatever he does it’s always good.

  • http://woweh.com Kelly

    Hooray! I’ve been reading Gabe’s work over on DUMM comics for the last year or so. I love LitAA! Really happy to see him featured on the Brew. :)