Yet more animation. Long Drawn-Out Trip was Gerald Scarfe‘s first foray into the medium, produced in 1972 at the request of the BBC who sent the artist to Los Angeles to try out the new De Joux animation system. The process needed only six or eight drawings per second of film thus reducing the usual amount of labour. Scarfe says in the first book collection of his work, Gerald Scarfe (1982), that the 16-minute film was still very labour intensive.
The subject of Long Drawn-Out Trip is Los Angeles and America itself, the concerns being the same ones that Ralph Steadman was depicting that year in his illustrations for Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72: venality, violence, vulgarity and the omnipresent spectre of Richard Nixon, a president who had the good fortune to be drawn many times by two of Britain’s greatest living satirists although he wouldn’t have thanked them for it. In Scarfe’s film we also find Mickey Mouse being reduced to his constituent lines and colours after smoking a joint. In the 1980s Scarfe regularly drew Ronald Reagan wearing the famous mouse ears, something that nearly got him fired from his post at the Sunday Times after Rupert Murdoch saw one of the cartoons. Long Drawn-Out Trip had a more favourable effect when it was seen by Roger Waters who asked Scarfe to create some animations for Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here tour. The animated sequences for The Wall have their origin in this short film.
Long Drawn-Out Trip can be viewed here where the 4:3 ratio has been grievously stretched to 16:9. For those who know how, I’d suggest downloading it then watching it in the proper aspect ratio.