If you haven’t already noticed, it’s that time of year when numerous holiday specials take to the airwaves. For many of us (at least dinosaurs like myself) these were the first exposure we had as children to the wonderful world of stop motion animation.
Most of us probably had some experience with Saturday morning cartoons before we saw the first Rankin-Bass stop motion feature – Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. For me, Rudolf was the seminal event in my interest in stop motion. It remains my favorite to this day, even though it’s been succeeded by more Rankin-Bass productions, and a number of others. Rudolf got me interested in just how this magical three-dimensional world of “moving dolls” was created.
So I puttered around trying to find such information without much luck. There was no Google in the early Stone Age (that’s why you never see it on the Flintstones) so if it wasn’t in the school library you just didn’t need to know it. And that would have been the end of it until I came across a small paperback featured in the Weekly Reader catalog called Monsters of the Movies. I ordered the book, hoping it would have information about monster movies, not really connecting them to stop motion (I was vaguely aware that some dinosaurs on Saturday Morning TV might be related to Rudolf). There was a chapter there on King Kong, and Willis O’Brien, and the whole idea of stop motion.
I was hooked. Determined to try it. With virtually no real information on the process. Over the years I went on to find snippets here and there from Famous Monsters magazine, and Starlog. Then eventually books by Harryhausen and other professional texts (there are few).
But it all goes back to that kid watching reindeer fly.
So in this season of magic, I hope you and yours have the happiest of holidays, and if you haven’t already, turn on those old Rankin-Bass specials. They’re good for all ages.
See you next year.