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Short of the Week: Sally Cruikshank's hallucinatory 'Face Like A Frog' (1987)

Face Like A Frog

American cartoonist and animator Sally Cruikshank is known for her subversive works like Quasi at the Quackadero that elude conventional definitions of art. Born in New Jersey, Cruikshank studied art and filmmaking in college before she began translating her bizarre artistic visions to the cinematic medium.

Her style is influenced by several brilliant artists, including Fleischer, Crumb and early Bob Clampett, among others. Cruikshank combined counter-culture elements, her unique sense of humour and psychedelic visuals to create animated pieces that manage to transport the viewer to her quirky world.

Cruikshank’s 1987 short Face Like A Frog is one of her finest works, one that constructs a hallucinatory nightmare involving a cartoon frog. The film does not care about the limitations of time and space, indulging in constant distortions of spatial boundaries and laws of physics. In doing so, it strikes the perfect balance between the experimental visual narrative and the soundtrack, which was composed by Danny Elfman.

In an interview, Cruikshank once explained her approach to art, stating: “I think I have a different concept of motion than most other animators. One thing that bothers me about so many contemporary animators is that they’ve learned a language from other animators. You see the same hand movements, the same ‘blink’ ‘blink’ ‘blink’ when a character asks a question. 

“Too many animators don’t try to picture the dynamics of movement, to use it creatively. I’m not that great an animator per se, but I do think I have a sense of motion that makes for an offbeat view of the world.”

Watch Sally Cruikshank’s beautiful 1987 short Face Like A Frog, below.