Animation Art Comics

A Visit to the Chris McD Workshop

Chris McDonnell is not only one of the original progenitors of Meathaus (more than a decade ago, we gathered in his Greenpoint apartment to draw issue #1), but he has been the driving editorial and production taskmaster for each issue and sketchbook collection, as well as the man who has kept this blog running and chock full of exciting posts day after day for many years. On top of that, he is an accomplished animator, published author, college-level teacher, father of two boys, and a great person to bounce creative ideas off of. He’s been taking a much-deserved break from daily posts on Meathaus while he focuses on some other work, so it seemed like a great time to virtually poke my head into his Philadelphia home and see what’s cooking.

Chris! Send us a photo of your workspace/work area/work cubicle.  Is it in your home or in a studio?

I have a designated home workspace, which means I can work that extra hour before everyone else gets up.

If you could change one thing about your work environment, what would it be?

A designated synthesizer station. A decade or so ago, I visited Rodney Alan Greenblat‘s home studio in SOHO and he had a midi synth always ready to be jammed on. I have an old one, on the shelf. Almost living the dream.

Do you work better in the nights or mornings? 

Mornings have so much potential, they have more productive energy and less economy wine jugs. 

What are you reading right now, comics or otherwise?

I have Brandon‘s Catmaster collection going on in the studio toilet, True Grit on the downstairs toilet and a small stack of recommendations from friends that I asked for a year ago and am still working through interspersed with animation and filmmaking books and business magazines.

What are you working on these days?

I’m animating short segments for a some upcoming TV shows (an as yet-unaired HBO show, as well as bits for Adult Swim’s Eagleheart that just aired a few weeks ago) and designing books. When I catch a break, I’ll be back on Meathaus and working up some personal projects.

Do your two kids inspire your work in any way that you didn’t think they would?

Kids are fun and yes, they do all those “Family Circus” things, but I don’t go and make comics about them. Not directly anyway.  In a bit of self-analysis, I realized that the disturbing, transformation and body horror comics that I created for Meathaus S.O.S. and Go For the Gold! 4 both coincided with the final months of my kids’s gestation and then birth, which are monumental experiences that alter one’s brain lobes permanently even when you’re not the one doing the birthin’. The main way my kids influence my new work I think is that because of them I’m re-immersed in children’s literature and stories and remembering how deeply the imagination works as a child. My older son is also drawing really cool monsters now that he is four, and I find his designs to be innovative–so he is inspiring me directly in the monster arena.

Any big art/work plans for the rest of 2012?

I want to record more doofus music with Jungle Ben, put out another Meathaus zine, and get my time lapse video set up for HD with better lighting so I can experiment with shooting and animating paintings as I work. I’d like to come up with another photo shoot idea like the lasers and fog machine one that is an excuse for a party again.  I want to keep making pitches to cartoon studios and publishers, and I want to catch up on my daily drawings. Also, I’m going to Alaska for the wedding of my ancient friend Ben, who I’ve known since kindergarten.

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