Brooklyn-based artist Wizard Skull has been locked in his studio giggling, nay, cackling, gleefully. The reason for his laughter is his latest series of work, which he calls the ‘Michael Bay series’, after director of the same name, responsible for such cultural pinnacles as the Transformers films and Pepsi advertisements.
Mr. Skull has been painstakingly altering original animation cels from beloved cartoons such as My Little Pony, Masters of the Universe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Wizard Skull’s artistic exploits may at first seem to be mere pranks, upon closer inspection they reveal another truth: the cartoons we were raised on could be pretty damn weird! Did our parents never notice that there was only one female Smurf in all of Smurf Village? Or that My Little Ponies had long, luscious eyelashes and possible access to Napoleon products? Or that He-Man wore little more than furry red jocks and a bondage chest-harness with a variation of the iron cross on it?
He is messing with our memories, but, considering that our childhood shapes us on so many levels, this is somehow completely understandable
With each subversive change Wizard skull makes to the cels, he comments upon the increasingly-dubious authority of the ‘original’. The average cel-animated cartoon would require around 24 frames per second of footage. This means that there are potentially millions of frames out there, all paradoxically originals, but lost in an incremental multiplicity of their intended sequence. This means that alteration imbues the cel with the authorial presence of Wizard Skull, thus making it an ‘original’, ironically moving it away from the ‘original’ status of the Filmation studio animators.
Did our parents never notice that there was only one female Smurf in all of Smurf Village?
Not that it is all-too-self-serious. Wizard Skull obviously has a fondness for the characters and the era, and there is a certain nostalgia alongside the pathos. He is messing with our memories, but, considering that our childhood shapes us on so many levels, this is somehow completely understandable.
-Jonathan McBurnie, Sneaky Arts Editor
Wizard Skull’s work is for sale, and available at wizardskull.com. Wizard Skull is on Instagram, too (@WIZARDSKULL).