Story from North America

When I presented my 2008 animation picks last week, I didn’t offer up any student shorts on my list. That’s not because I didn’t see any good student work during this past year. Far from it, I saw quite a few nice pieces. Nothing blew me away though to the extent that I had to include it on the list. That’s all changed now because I’ve just seen Story from North America, an awesomely excellent film animated by Kirsten Lepore and Garrett Davis, with music written and performed by Davis. Created at the Maryland Institute College of Art, it is a combination of surprisingly poignant song-driven storytelling and some of the most crazily inventive and funny hand-drawn animation I’ve seen in recent times. The short may have less polish and sheen than other student films, but its originality and creative use of the animation medium makes it one short I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.


(Thanks, Kelly Toon)


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

    wow. That was very cool. So unique and i love its analog rawness.

  • http://mattjonezanimation.blogspot.com Matt Jones

    Insane! Very funny & inventive.

  • http://www.autodaddy.blogspot.com tom

    See, this is why we need the Brew. I would probably never have seen this little gem without you guys keeping watch for us.

    Thanks, Amid!

  • Saturnome

    That was fantastic! The animation was great, the father is fun and the subject is good!

  • http://www.fooksie.com Fooksie

    It was nice for a student film, but I just couldn’t watch the whole thing.
    Good job.

  • http://victorboquera.blogspot.com victor

    Hey!! the song is cool!!! Could you tell me the chords??

  • http://www.frankrause.com Fran Krause

    Awesome. The part where the musician turns the page is the kind of inventiveness I would love to see in every film.

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    Lovely and too long!

  • http://stephenneary.blogspot.com pizzaforeveryone

    i saw this last week–it’s great! it really grew on me throughout.

  • Paul Noth

    I loved this.

  • Chris Webb

    Terrific vocal performance from the father. Lots of fun!

  • http://pyatyletka.blogspot.com Nick Cross

    Absolutely fantastically excellent! Thanks for that mid-winter holiday treat!!!

  • Tom Pope

    Triple wow! One of the best shorts I’ve seen in a very long time. Great underlying message for our times too.

  • http://www.kellytoon.com Kelly Toon

    Oh I am SO glad you posted this! I have had bits of the song stuck in my head for two days now.

  • http://www.gagneint.com Michel Gagne

    Hehehe… that made my morning. Crazy funny. This student film gets an A.

  • http://UncleEddiesTheoryCorner Eddie Fitzgerald

    Haw! Very nice! Pencil on paper animation is a terrific and under-rated medium.

  • http://www.kirstenlepore.com Kirsten Lepore

    Wow! Thanks so much for posting this, Amid! I’m honored! :)

  • http://dailygrail.com/blog/8389 red pill junkie

    Not to criticize your pick—because it’s definitely an incredible short— BUT, technically it couldn’t qualify for the list of your 2008 animation piece, because it was made in 2007.

    But Hell, it’s your list so I guess you write the rules ;-)

    Thanks again for posting this.

  • gary Doodles

    I laughed and then I laughed some more. Great little flick!

  • http://tomboycomics.blogspot.com Emily

    awesome. a new classic.

  • http://www.rauchbrothers.com Tim Rauch

    that was great.

  • http://chrismcd.com Chris McD

    “Finally you’re becoming human!” Haha!

    I love this cartoon. There are a load of inventive choices made in the animation. The song and performance are good, and the father part is the best with a very “Beat Happening” sound that matches the rough visuals. Everything from the designs, movement, lyrics and concept are full of perfect quirks.

  • http://hand-drawn-animation.blogspot.com David Nethery

    “Finally you’re becoming human” .

    Maybe that should be our slogan for hand-drawn animation .

    So nice to see some animation that is warm ,and artistic , and flawed (i.e. not perfectly “tweened” to death) , and human.

    Long live weird and wonderful animation magic. (drawings that live) .

  • emily’s friend

    Whoah. i think i met garrett davis at a party once. Good chap.

  • Chris

    Loved it.

  • Benjamin De Schrijver

    Oh this was just absolutely wonderful.

    That’s what happens when talented people do something THEY want to do, and not attain to what they’ve seen other people do.

  • http://eggheadcheesybird.co.uk Alex

    That was fantastic.

    (I still heartily endorse spider genocide, though)

  • Radrappy

    That was entertaining but a little overly preachy for my tastes.

  • Fred Cline

    What kind of drugs do Kirsten and Garrett use? (…and where can WE get some?)

  • rodan

    loved the cartoon..though it is a bit freaky…. The spider was cuter than the kid or the dad…. I wanted the spider to sing and the kid to get squashed… The dad looked like some biker leather bear from the Castro… (no offense intended to any biker leather bears here)

  • 21st century man

    Radrappy says,
    “That was entertaining but a little overly preachy for my tastes.”

    That is the hell of living in this day and age: that something so *clearly* absurd – and stated by the filmmaker to be so! – can be taken as an actual reflection of an actual person’s actual beliefs. What a world, what a world.

  • http://www.theblogofkells.blogspot.com tomm moore

    loved it. Thanks!

  • Chris L

    Loved it. Great song, and really fun animation.
    The art style reminds me of some of the weirder stuff you might see in a Fantagraphics book.

    And heck, whether it’s “preachy” (serious), “absurd” (not), or a little of both, the message is good.

  • i’m enlarged

    “And heck, whether it’s “preachy” (serious), “absurd” (not), or a little of both, the message is good.”

    So, the “message” is good, despite being indiscernible. I guess you are just a fan of didacticism in general. And absurd now = “not serious”. Got it. You sir, must make your parents proud to have such a genius in the family.

  • Leonardo Omezzolli Kop

    too cool!!! this video is very interesting and beautiful: the animation and the song, WOW!!!! Could you tell me the chords of this song?

  • bolw

    i don’t think it’s preachy. if the animators wanted to get preachy they’d do something more over the top than the story of a boy and a spider. it’s simple and sweet, and clearly not designed to ‘spread an important message to the otherwise oblivious people!’.

  • Shizzlesquid

    You are not getting it, its a reflection to the united states policy to attack before knowing its a thread… the bomb in which the old guy turns is another indicator for this

  • It Sucked

    The story is lame and oversimplistic about world issues. Basically the author is telling us that we should stand by and not defend ourselves from the many enemies of the world. Our enemies are misunderstood. Its okay for them to blow you up, but not strike because that would mnake us more human. What a load of bullshit.

  • You suck

    Or it could just be about kid that wanted his dad to stomp a spider, and his dad talking about appreciating life. You know, without the overthinking and stupidity?

  • Mel

    Hah! I found the Easter egg at 1:14! The initials of the animator are spelled out in the eggs.(KL)