Penguin has released an animated trailer by one of It’s Nice That’s Graduates 2017 Katy Wang, bringing to life the opening story from Yrsa Daley-Ward’s memoir, The Terrible. The book by the London-based poet, model, actor and leading LGBTQ+ voice succeeds her acclaimed debut, a self-published collection of poetry titled Bone, and tells the story of her heritage and upbringing.
Narrated by the author, the short animation depicts Yrsa and her younger brother in their London home, and an incident with a unicorn that lends mysticism to the autobiographical details of Yrsa’s story. Yrsa told Katy that she wanted the film to feel like a dark fairytale, which inspired Katy’s aesthetic approach. “The first paragraph of the book is quite ambiguous and surreal compared to the realism of the rest of the story,” Katy says, “so I wanted to reflect this and make it feel a bit magical, with hints of darkness. It’s from the perspective of Yrsa and her brother as children, so the fairytale aspects, like the ghosts, suit the naivety of the tone of writing.”
These ideas fed into the colour palette Katy applied too, with dark blues and reds in gradients adding a surrealist style. Katy also felt it important to characterise Yrsa and her brother so the viewer could identify her voice telling the story, while keeping another more ambiguous character, Linford James, more abstract. “By not seeing his eyes we can’t really place who this person is, which suits the ambiguity of his introduction. My aim was to make the style quite simple with symbols that could be quickly interpreted by the viewer to follow along with the spoken word.”
The standout features of the animation are the beautiful and quick-fire transitions, which Katy says suited the format of spoken word, particularly in Yrsa’s case as a poet. “The writing in the first extract especially conjures up so many fragments of images which suits fluid animated transitions,” Katy concludes. “My overall concept of the animation was to create imagery that would go hand in hand with the writing and maybe reveal a little bit more darkness and magic.”
The Terrible is published by Penguin on 5 June.