Michel Gagné’s (An American Tail, The Iron Giant, Osmosis Jones, Ratatouille) short film The Saga of Rex was released online this week, adapted from his graphic novel of the same name, the film follows the daring cosmic adventure of a clever fox that has been abducted to the arcane planet of Edernia.
Originally published as a serialized story in volumes 2 through 7 of the comic anthology Flight, it was then repackaged as a trade paperback by Image Comics in 2010. The 4-minute short was funded by raising over $57,000 on Kickstarter last year and is to be the first installment of a classically drawn independent animated feature film that Gagné is planning. “I would like to believe that there are still some people out there who want to see good old 2D classical animation being done,” Gagné told Cartoon Brew. “I know that my big donors love this type of animation and want to see it continue. We can’t rely on the big studios to keep the art of 2D full-animation going, so it’s up to us.”
His 1995 film Prelude to Eden was created using the now defunct 2D animation software Animo, which had remained his “go-to” production software up until 2012 when he began looking for an update. He gave Toon Boom a try and was pleased with the results. “I quickly realized that I’d just upgraded my old Model T Ford for a car of the year.” So, with Toon Boom in hand, along with Photoshop, After Affects and Premiere, Gagné set out to see just how much progress could be made adapting The Saga of Rex for the screen. “I wanted to test my limits and see what I could do single-handedly in a set period of time. What you see here is about six and a half months of work.”
The short, which is subtitled The Animated Film Project Pt. 1 – Abduction is animated in pantomime, which is Gagné’s intention for the entire film. “I’ve toyed with the idea of adding narration to the film, but then again, I realized it would take away some of the mystery,” he said. “In a way, I’m not sure I want people to fully understand what is going on. I want them to ask questions and create their own meaning.”