Peen Zine is a series of short animations created by Simeon Kondev, a Bulgarian-born animator and filmmaker raised in middle America. The “zine” is a bizarre and grotesque mix of scenes that involve various forms of substance abuse, vulgar toilet habits and a character who constantly spits. “I’m still trying to figure out what it’s about,” says Simeon of the project. He continues: “This idea of a ‘zine’ helped keep production simple and kept the project from getting away from me, since I’m just one dude drawing at a desk. It was also a nice break to not worry about any big narrative or continuity.”
An animated short structured like a zine was intriguing to Simeon as he started drawing parallels between the physical, comic-like equivalent. “There were interesting formal things about zines; often black and white, artefacts of reproduction, poorly bound. It occurred to me that most animations on the internet, like zines, are ‘self-published’. So it was also a context to celebrate a personal, solitary work,” explains the animator.
His 2D short was drawn and animated using Flash and Adobe Animate and used After Effects and Photoshop for surface finishes. Each chapter was completed before moving onto the next until Simeon felt he had enough of them. “I wasn’t certain it would work until I stitched it all together,” he says. The real challenge was the initial visualisation of Simeon’s own ideas. “Most of the ideas have an obfuscated logic that can take some work to illustrate. My goal is actually for people to understand the stuff, not get confused. The problem was whether the audience would draw the same conclusions I did,” he explains. “I thought the cartoon ideas were most clear (and most funny) when in motion, so my solution was to animate through the problem – I basically drew more in between frames.”
Simeon’s low-fi style is raw and experimental by shifting perspectives and constructing weird characters throughout the film and this apparoach adds to the strangeness and humour of the project. “I’m trying to share some notions I have about cartoons and design, and they ultimately come out as jokes,” says Simeon. “I’m just trying to surprise myself.”
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