Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts

Neil  Gaiman

Kristen  Collier 
A History of Animation

Neil Gaiman: The Road to Self Identity and Personal Development

Animation began in the late nineteenth century when innovative artists tried to capture movement in their art. Since early European animators like Paul Roget and Joseph Plateau, animation has advanced into one of the most common film techniques and continues to grow with several new motion picture films produced each year. One of the most recognizable figures in the history of animation, not just as a director and producer of animated films, but also as a genius in the art of animated storytelling, was Walt Disney. In 1937, Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs which became the first American-made feature-length animated film. He then continued to release many other successful animated films. In 1995, the world of animation changed when developments in software and computers enabled animators to produce the film Toy Story, which became the first movie completely animated on the computer. By the early twenty-first century, nearly all feature-length animated films produced by Hollywood Studios used computer animation. Without the early artists in the late nineteenth century who explored new ways of making art come to life, animators today would not be able to create new techniques based on earlier advancements.

The 2009 puppet animated film, Coraline, was inspired by Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novella based on a little girl’s alternate-reality. In life, everyone has dreams of another world beyond imagination, a world where everything is perfect. Some use this as a means of coping with reality safely. In his novel, Coraline, a young girl comes across a mysterious door that leads to the “other” world that she almost becomes trapped in forever. At some point, everyone wants to escape to a new place and leave his or her life behind. Throughout Coraline, Gaiman introduces characters like the “other” mother, who constantly test Coraline’s strength and courage by creating a world where everything mirrors her reality. This other world helps Coraline to find herself in her real life and leads her to grow into a strong and courageous character. All of Gaiman’s characters experience a personal epiphany which helps them find their own identity and leads them on the road to self discovery.

Major Works Consulted:

Beckerman, Howard. Animation the Whole Story. New York: Allworth P, 2003.
Gaiman, Neil. Coraline. New York: Harper Entertainment, 2008.
Gaiman, Neil. Anansi Boys. New York: HarperCollins, 2006.
Thomas, Bob. Disney’s Art of Animation #1. New York: Disney Editions, 1992.
Photo Credit: Gaiman, Neil. American Gods. New York: HarperTorch, 2002.