Its the birthday of Willis O'Brien, the pioneering stop-motion animator behind King Kong. He began experimenting with articulated wooden figures with molded rubber muscles in 1913. O'Brien realized he could make the figures appear to move if filmed them one frame at a time and moving them in between shots.
He made several short stop-motion films for Thomas Edison's Biograph Company. In 1925, O'Brien worked on the film The Lost World, based on a novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He placed a small rubber bladder inside the figures to give them the appearance of breathing as they moved.
O'Brien is most known for his work on King Kong which has influenced many generations of animators after him.
When I teach Shaun Tan's comic, The Arrival, I project each panel one by one. I stop at the end of each page and ask the class questions and check to see if they are making the right inferences about the story. The questions are used as a springboard for discussion and to check for understanding. I've been using this book in my classroom in my classroom for three years now and have pretty much refined the questions I ask for each sequence. I also ask that students tell me what clues they see in the images that support their answers. This is not only good practice when looking at works of art, but also keeps the class on topic and avoids wide speculations that take away from the focus of the class.
"More and more I see fantasy worlds - as in The Arrival - as a way of tapping into the real world, of trying to understand reality better through a speculative lens. Shaun Tan"
I often start off reading this quote before having my students read Shaun Tan's graphic novel, The Arrival. I even wear a special pair of glasses while I read the quote. After each chapter, I put the glasses back on and ask the class what has happened in the story and what does it tell us about the real world.
Sometimes I get simple answers like:
"It was crowed when the people got off the boat and it was also crowded in the immigration office on Ellis Island."
Sometimes I get more complex answers like:
"The man in the hat had trouble keeping a job because he could not speak the language. He did better in the factory. In the real world, people who can't speak the language do better in jobs like factories, because there are less instructions to translate."
At the end of the book, I give them this worksheet to get a more formal written response to this question. (You can download the PDF of this file here.)