Marv Newland - The EccentricTuesday, September 14, 2010
The two most eccentric persons I have met in my life happen to be men that I first met in Vancouver in the late 70s. Both are my friends. One of them, Mark Budgen recently decided for a pastoral existence in Oliver, BC. And since he was trying to downgrade and live a simpler life he has purchased a four-bedroom house to replace his little heritage house in Strathcona. Because he has severe back problems and other ills that prevent him from sitting down for much of the day he now gardens. Once when I was having terrible stomach problems in Montevideo, Uruguay after I had a peach blender drink from a street vendor he fed me a pill the size of Springfield rifle round and I became well in a jiffy.
The other eccentric (a mysterious one at times) is illustrator and animator Marv Newland. He does not want anybody to know that one of his first works, his 1969 Bambi Meets Godzilla, an animated short of less than two minutes, has made him a cult figure around the world. I have told people I have just met on the elevator (Bentall II) that I know Marv Newland and several of these people have had apoplectic seizures of amazement and joy.
When I first met Newland at Vancouver Magazine around 1977 his International Rocketship Limited Animation Company was next door on Richards and Davie. He never gave me the time of day when he visited his pals, Editor Malcolm Parry and Art Director Richard Staehling. I asked him once where he was from and he told me, “I’m from North Korea.”
Sometime around 1979 I took a picture of the Subumans for a Les Wiseman Christmas piece for his rock column In One Ear. Soon after, I got a congratulatory note from Newland. He was to send me letters and postcards for the next 32 years always in his neat handwriting. Suddenly the Invisible Man became visible but that did not mean that he became more forthcoming on his origins now that I was no longer transparent. I do know that he graduated from the highly rated Arts Center College of Design in Pasadena, California like his buddy Staehling. The rest is pure conjecture. For years we have shared a delight in the nautical novels of Patrick O’Brian. With Newland’s way with handwriting, letters and notes he was able to visit and spend time with O’Brian in his house in Southern France.
For years he has eschewed modern technology such as word processors and computers, email and cellular phones. For many years, beyond what many would consider advisable, he stuck to what he did best and this was and is classic animation all drawn by hand. One of my favourites is one he hoodwinked ICB into paying him good money which is an animated film on car safety called Hooray for Sandbox Land (1985).
It was a shock to get an email from Newland inviting me to this Thursday’s shows featuring the many postcards he sent his friends from his many travels around the world. He says he rans out of postcards and had to print more and that mine will eventually get to me.
I went through my files and discovered that I had photographed him around February of 1986 and then requested that he draw a cell on my 11x14 b+w photograph. I sent it to him on Monday and his reply is as follows:
Under no circumstances should you use this ancient image, no matter how good it looks. Please save these things for articles in the Courier after I have gone off of this mortal coil.
I asked Newland to send me a little essay for the blog that precedes this introduction. For someone who has avoided computers he somehow made sure it would not be easy for me. He sent it as an attachment that was an OpenOffice.Org Writer and I had to download the program (it took forever). Then I could still not open it. I was being told I had to download a java update!
Yes, Newland is an eccentric, but we who are lucky to be his friend must tolerate his eccentricities, after all, should we make an issue we just might not get invited to the best party of the year and that is his Fireworks Viewing Party where you just might meet all his other eccentric friends.
I sometimes not only feel out of it but invisible, too.