Dead Pirates & McBess (2016)

Animated and directed by McBess.

Illustrator McBess has released his first 2D animation, a dark 1920s-style cartoon to accompany the release of Ugo, the new single by his band Dead Pirates. The video brings to life the delightful yet ghoulish world of McBess’ illustrations, clashing cutesy characters with sinister themes. A drum forces a perma-smile while hitting himself in the face, and hula dancers wiggle hypnotically alongside others cloaked in sacks, while a Mickey Mouse hand gives the middle finger. The happy imagery mixed with more sadistic happenings makes it all the more eerie.

“The idea behind the video was to finally make a proper 2D animated version of my illustration, animated more or less like they would have in the 20s or 30s with a lot of simple loops,” the artist told It’s Nice That. “Simple was key, since I’ve never animated in 2D before, so there was a good amount of learning during the process.”

McBess made the five-minute video on his own in less than a month, from composition to final edit. The deadline was set in stone due to the delivery to the vinyl press, hence the tight time constraints, but it sounds like he quite enjoyed the process.

“Working by myself made it easy, a bit like when I work on my illustration — nobody to tell me what to do or not, so every idea is a good idea. Smooth sailing.”

McBess also released artwork for the single, which will be on the forthcoming Dead Pirates album, Highmare.

  • by Jenny Brewer

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