KAW

artist. writer. little guy. problem solver.

Catenary(2021)

[. . .]the curve that an idealized hanging chain or cable assumes under its own weight when supported only at its ends[. . .]

Wikipedia

My thesis project from my last year at CSULB, Catenary is a comic that progressively reveals each compositional element on a given page. If you don't speak art major, this means that Catenary is best read through with the use of right or left arrow keys, to switch panels without scrolling between them. This creates the effect of new things appearing on each page as though by magic. Feel free to download the PDF to your desktop and open it in your favorite PDF viewer. If using Adobe Acrobat, I recommend pressing the CTRL+L keys to display it fullscreen, and using the same shortcut or the escape key to minimize it when you are done reading.

Development

Catenary began life as a short film called Visitor, about a bike messenger that loses their shadow after a freak accident in a crystal shop, and who is stalked by it before the two of them reunify. This iteration of the story proved to be too long to produce.

In an effort to slim down run time while keeping key story traits like a shadowy counterpart and a lingering sense of unease, I thumbnailed out a much lighter-weight version of the film, sticking to one location and doing away with the elements of the crystal shop and shadow loss. If you have read the comic, this animatic may look familiar.

I also toyed with the idea of using a combination of hand-drawn and 2D puppet animation, although nothing came of this.

In great part, Catenary was realized as a comic and not a film due to being produced during the coronavirus pandemic. After being sent home at the end of my junior year, I had been in entirely online classes for about two years when preproduction rolled around, and was living alone in a small rented bedroom in a mostly-empty house. I spent my days hunched over my laptop or cintiq at my desk, and left my room only to work on the weekends, to cook, and to get groceries. Focusing on my schoolwork was difficult and the general atmosphere of the world outside did me no favors. I realized something needed to change if I was going to tell a complete story before I graduated. Altering the medium allowed me to attack the problem from a less formidable angle.

Catenary was also produced as a comic for the sake of artistic exploration. I enjoy all parts of the animation pipeline, but I am especially fond of painting. Getting to develop a rich, painted look for Catenary without worrying about animating it, as well as the novelty of the progressive comic format, injected a sense of enthusiasm and enjoyment into my work that I hadn't felt for months, possibly even years. Overall I am quite proud of what I accomplished, given the circumstances I accomplished it in.