How 'mad-looking alien dolls' became animation pioneers
It is their contributions to Bosco that remain most instantly recognisable and evocative for audiences of a certain vintage. The creations he’s still most frequently asked about, Jim says, are the Tongue Twisters, a gruesome twosome whose elongated necks and high-pitched shrieking made them unforgettable, and occasionally unsettling, Bosco staples.
“The Tongue Twisters dolls were designed by a girl called Monica McCormack,” says Jim. “She did the dolls for an American production about aliens that I was doing that fell through.”
“It was a promo,” says David. “It didn’t proceed. But we had two mad-looking alien dolls and asked could we use them on something, and Joe O’Donnell, head of young people’s programming at RTÉ, said, ‘Jesus, they’d be great for Bosco.’”
In David’s recent work, which he says is being produced “on tabletop setups, with no budget, by one guy”, there are traces of this past. His internet series Rinkydink, featuring a bickering, foul-mouthed hedgehog-and-snail combo, is a twisted Gregory Gráinneog for the 21st century. The ability to showcase work online has proved a huge boon for animators, he says.
Not only does it provide them with a quick and easy way to get material “out there”, it also gives them a chance to develop characters over time, in ways that might otherwise not be possible.
He even hints at casual plans to revive The Tongue Twisters in an online milieu, rescuing them from the obscurity of a Thurles attic and beaming new adventures into the homes of a nation that has never quite managed to get them out of its collective psyche.
David Quin’s favourite Irish animations
Give Up Yer Auld Sins
Dir: Darragh O’Connell. Brown Bag Films, 2001
“I’ve great affection for this short film and for the subsequent series, having worked as part of the production team. It features some great Alan Shannon character animation and was nominated for an Oscar.”
Secret of Kells
Dir: Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey. Cartoon Saloon, 2009
“A tour de force. Ireland’s first full-length animated feature, showcasing the artistic skills and the filmmaking potential of the Cartoon Saloon.”
Trouble in Paradise
Dir/prod: Shane Collins. IADT, 2004
“A graduate film from IADT. Simply animated and making the CGI technique look responsive and effortless. A beautiful comic performance.”
The Rooster, the Crocodile and the Night Sky
Dir: Padraig Fagan. Barley Films, 2008
“A quirky, beautiful piece, produced for Frameworks, the scheme established by RTÉ, the IFB and An Chomhairle Ealaíon.”
Dir: Steve Woods Camel Productions, 2010
“A ‘pixelation’, produced as part of RTÉ’s Dance on the Box, mixing Steve Wood’s filmic eye, profound animation sense and some punchy choreography.”