Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Introducing: Sarah Mensinga!!!!

t's taken me long enough but finally we have the glory that is "Sarah Mensinga"!!!!...I had the good fortune of meeting Sarah when she started at DNA on the Jimmy Neutron TV series. With 200% of the recommended daily allowance of talent, Sarah is just good at everything she puts her mind to. She likes comic books, video games, animation, cool movies and is a kick ass artist (and yes guys, she's taken)...anyway, she was gracious enough to humor me and answer my list of questions. So without further babbling on my part I give you Sarah Mensinga...

*Ok Sarah, Is it true you were actually created in a top secret lab to have abilities far beyond those of mortal men...er, women...uh, folks?

Yes, but unfortunately they only gave me extreme tooth brushing and pogo ball skills.

*Ok, for those folks that don't know how to connect the dots between graduating from Sheridan College and the wonder that is the "Sarah Mensinga Sketch Blog" give the readers a quick rundown of your animation/art career.

I graduated from Sheridan's Classical Animation Program in 2000. Two rather depressing years of working occasionally on 2D projects
followed, during that time I attempted to teach myself how to animate on the computer, lived briefly in Halifax and tried my hand at improv acting. After sending out a third round of animation reels and not having the money to return to school to properly learn how to animate on the computer, I decided to give up on a career in animation. Just as I was starting to attempt to write some children's books in 2002, I got a job offer from DNA. So I found myself in Texas animating on The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron. It was half awesome job and half computer animation boot camp; not only did we have to animate anything and everything... we had to do it extremely fast. I worked late nights and nearly every weekend, but I had fun. Eventually I left Jimmy to be a character designer on another DNA project "The Ant Bully" and then eventually returned to work alongside my animation buddies on the film until the big DNA layoff. Fortunately for me I had already been planning to take a studio break. While working on The Ant Bully, I met my future husband Stephen. We were married just as my job ended and he encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing stories and drawing. So I'm taking a year off and have begun serious work on a graphic novel. I do miss animating, but being able to focus on drawing again and to finally have time to tell my own stories is a huge awesome dream come true.

*A lot of the older traditional animators have been very vocal about their dislike of computer animation. Being somewhat fresher on the animation scene but still having done both, what's your take on the two mediums?

I fought tooth and nail against computer animation initially and I remember calling it a trend when first seeing the Toy Story trailer, but the truth is I love animating on the computer. While I was in school animating traditionally was great, yet when I did it professionally it was frustrating and strange not to do all the breakdowns and in-betweens myself. My drawings got handed to someone else and then to someone else. At the end of the day, it never really felt like my work. However with computer animation, all the tiny nuances of acting are up to me. I'm also free to change and adjust movements endlessly, so it's much easier to focus on the acting. On the down side though... I imagine that if I'd been animating traditionally all these years I'd probably be a super kick ass drafts-person. I mean, I know I can draw, but I certainly have a long way to go and a lot of weaknesses to work on. It's kind of horrible to think that for half my career I haven't been drawing full time.... and that's the reason I got into animation in the first place. Hopefully I can remedy that now.

*I heard a rumor that you're wanted in Mexico for bank robbing under the name "La Bandita Juanita"...any truth to this...and if so, is there a reward?

Nope, I've been forming a crime syndicate that takes candy from babies. Lower risk and tastier profit....

*Female animators are sorta rare. What do you think is the biggest reason for the lack of women in the field?

Because the boys all want to date you. Ha ha.... no no kidding. I really don't know. It's not like pencils are heavy to lift. I have a shaky theory that some girls would rather not learn perspective, but yeah, a shaky theory. I do think the male/female ratio in the arts industry is happily changing, more and more I see great female artists and animators out there.

*There's a saying that I've heard thrown around this industry quite a bit..."Jack of all trades, master of none"...you kinda blow that myth out of the water. With all the things that you do (animation, art, writing....I really hate you sometimes...more art) Which one skill would you keep if God were having a bad day and told you you could only keep one?

Writing. I know it's an odd answer, because no one's ever paid me to do it and quite possibly I suck at it. Nothing makes me happier though than creating stories and characters. I don't think of drawing when I'm stuck waiting in a line somewhere, I think of stories.

*What would you do for a Klondike Bar?

Fight a bear... a bear with laser guns for eyes.

*I know a lot of folks on Ant Bully walked away with a wide range of feelings both towards the production and the film itself. You had the opportunity two work both in concept/character design as well as animation. How did you feel coming off production and is it any different now that you've had some time to separate yourself from the work?

Hmmm... initially I was delighted to have the opportunity to work on a feature film again, but as things
progressed I missed the creative freedom, clever wit and fast pace of Jimmy Neutron. Now that time has passed I don't think I feel all that differently, although I definitely miss hanging out with all my DNA friends.

*If you were a wrestler and you had to pick a partner other than your husband, who would it be and why?

To fight at my side? Supergirl. Then I wouldn't have to do anything during fights except cheer her on. It would be awesome!

*...would you wear masks?

Of course. And they would sparkle. (Mine a little bit more than hers.)

*Cut to the chase...when's the graphic novel coming out?

At least the first part will be out by next summer..... hopefully I'll have even more done. I had hoped to complete the whole thing, but right now I'm desperately trying to finish up a story for a comic anthology. So work on the graphic novel's on hold till that's done.

*Is the "Dindle" story ever going to make it into print form? I would really love to add it to my daughter's bedtime story collection.

Maybe :) I'd have to redraw it though, the dindle's character design alone changes a bunch of times throughout the story. Stephen thinks I should at least do a little version for the comic-con next summer regardless. We'll see.... there will definitely be more blog stories though. I have a couple already planned. The next is going to be a fairytale.

*Now that you've had a taste of so many parts of production on top of your own work, where do you see yourself going after you've completed your book?

Hopefully the graphic novel will be well received and I'll be able to write/draw more. I have about four or five other stories in various genres that I would love to develop into graphic novels.

*Why does Andrew smell like old people and whiskey?

It's a long story. It's my understanding it has something to do with Santa Claus and rogue lumberjacks.

*If you had 7 apples and Alex took 2 of them...how many times would you hit Alex with a hammer for taking them?

Nope, just with a steak. I think that would be more upsetting to Alex. (Sorry Alex, but apparently you took my apples.)

*Who/what was your biggest influence starting out as a traditional artist then moving into animation?

My family and friends were very supportive, but one specific thing? I guess I always wanted to be an artist/animator as a kid but it seemed like an unrealistic goal. Even though I loved to draw, took drawing classes through childhood and went to an arts focused high school, I thought I'd probably try to become a dentist or speech therapist. Not until I took a tour of Sheridan College's animation program at 15 (ha ha, mostly just to miss a day of classes), did I realize it was not only possible for me to become an animator, but a person could even make money at it. So I'd say taking that tour was the big pivotal moment... and good thing too because I'd pass out if I had to drill a cavity :)

...many thanks to Sarah. I hope you all enjoyed it. Make sure and drop by Sarah's site or pop over to her sketch blog. I've already got a couple more victims...I mean folks lined up for the next couple of "Introducing" posts so keep an eye out.



Alex Fleisig said...

yay!!! fun interview matthew and sarah. I feel honored to have been a part of a silly seguay question.

Kevin Barber said...

She's great. Really insightfull journey.

Matthew Russell said...

Glad you dug it. Sarah's awesome. Looking forward to getting the next one going.

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