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Graphic artist combines nostalgia and technology to create new art form

Press release from the issuing company

While most of his childhood friends enjoyed their teddy bears, Morgan Kostival was more partial to sword-wielding animated skeletons, giant monsters and giant gorillas.
"I loved the old Sinbad movies, where they used stop-motion animation to create all kinds of creatures," said Kostival, artist and author of the new children's book The Deep Black Pond. "The animation wasn't as smooth as some of the 3D computer animation of today, but the creatures all had depth and texture to them. For me, it made them more real."
And that's why Kostival decided to combine his love of the old art form with the graphic arts techniques of today to illustrate his children's book. For him, it makes the creatures that populate his Deep Black Pond that much more real.
"I try to imagine how people must have felt the first time they saw King Kong, and they saw this gigantic moving creature interacting with real people," he said. "Back then, that was state-of-the-art movie technology and it seems so simple by today's standards. All they did was make miniature figures with hinges and joints that made them moveable, and they'd adjust the arm or the legs or the head just slightly so, and then snap a frame of film – and then they'd do it again. It was time consuming, but not that much more so than the computer animation of today."
Kostival's process mimics the techniques of special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen, who crafted the ape in the classic Mighty Joe Young, as well as dozens of monsters and creatures for Jason and the Argonauts and a series of Sinbad movies in the 1950s and 1960s. He starts by actually creating the creatures for his story out of clay, plastic and other standard materials, like a master toymaker handcrafting his prototypes. Next, he photographs them against custom backgrounds, sometimes editing them into the picture using Photoshop and other computer-aided tools.
"Combining the hand crafted creatures with computer photo-editing allows me to give the characters that crisp, clean quality that kids today are used to seeing in 3D animated movies, but still retain the texture and feel of something that might – and actually – exists in the real world."
Finally, he combines his pictures with the story written on the page, in a story-telling technique that is distinctive and unique to the world he has created.
"I wrote this book while simultaneously creating and photographing the creatures that are featured in it," Kostival added. "I was interested in creating a world that was hitherto unknown. The whole point of storytelling is to take the reader to places they've never seen, places they never been, but still places that -- if they could -- they'd like to visit."


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