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Monday, October 29, 2012

Indie Spotlight: Sweetmilk

Every now and then, while perusing the vast informational highway of the interwebs, I'll come across something that is both inspiring and interesting. Outside of all the pictures of cats in hats, dogs on computers, and hedgehogs holding hammers, there are some things that bubble to the surface. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you...Sweetmilk.

One might think that Sweetmilk is about the dainty exploits of a happy-go-lucky dairy farmer somewhere in the English country-side, or an orphaned cow who charms its way into the hearts of the farmers so it will never be butchered. It probably wouldn't be someone's first guess to think that it's actually about a space captain and the serialized events that happen aboard his ship and on other planets. It certainly wasn't mine.

Upon further review a feeling began to gloss over me. It wasn't hungry, or even angry. It was excitement. The art design, backstory, and influences from other aspects of well-renowned sci-fi geekdome planted a desire to see this come to fruition. This is when I reached out to Jason and his team over in the UK to shed some daylight on where and when this show could be viewed by interested audiences such as myself.

Pictured above is the Sweetmilk team. A humble group of young creatives who were very proud to show what they have been working so hard on. I got to correspond with Jason Lee Weight, the creator of Sweetmilk, who provided a strong resume of sci-fi knowledge and inner workings of narrative from the get-go.

"Stylistically our main influences in making the visual aspect of this cartoon have been Cowboy Bebop, in terms of the slightly retro feel to the costumes and the lithe character design, and the later series of the Venture Bros," he explained, "Which is truthfully just the most similar-looking thing in production in terms of background art and concept – because our series’ look is, I’m happy to say, quite unique."

"In terms of story content, my influences, from major to minor, have been the humour and aimlessness of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy," he continued "The wit and wordiness of Blackadder and Dr. Who, the antihero charm in FX’s Archer, and – I hope – the unpredictable silliness of Adventure Time. In terms of structure the series is very much serialised, and differs from all mainstream teen-to-adult cartoons in that the episodes roll over into each other, and part of the appeal is getting to know the characters as they develop. Most of the series, truthfully, isn’t about Sam at all, but instead focuses on elevating the secondary characters until they cease to be secondary."

The goal of the Sweetmilk team is to finish out their pilot episode from their 3 minute sample animation. Originally penned for a pilot, Jason and his team quickly encountered the vast plain of concerns that any development team would encounter upon initiation.

"Once the characters were designed and I’d written most of the first series, I thought seriously about the problems of funding a new breed of cartoon. Who would trust the huge amounts of cash involved in animation to someone who a) had never had a project before, much less a successful one, and b) couldn’t give an example of a similar project that succeeded?"

Jason further elaborated, "Archer has been proving wrong the notion that adult cartoons need to be family-based sitcoms (Family Guy et al) or grouped together to survive (i.e. the Adult Swim subnetwork) but nothing like this has been done before, much less in England – a place whose animation industry has been largely restricted to advert shorts and Wallace and Gromit."

To help chronicle their progress, the team has put out a series of shorts giving a humorous look into behind the curtains of their animation process. The wit here is obvious, with quick cuts used in comedic gems such as Arrested Development, and a confidence that seems to stem with a strong belief in what they are producing. Check out part one below.

There is a lot to get excited about on this series. The feel to this is crisp and refreshing, with a degree of humor that is lacking from a lot of modern comedies. Granted, what we've been able to view so far has been limited, but if the show is an extension of the same kind of comedic timing and cleverness that is coming from the promotional material then we might have a sleeper hit on our hands.

Check out their Facebook page for the latest updates and news from the team, their youtube channel, and keep checking us out here at Dork Torque, as we will be following this project with a lot of anticipation.


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