The National Film Board of Canada’s commitment to Canadian cartoonists is once again at the forefront of their online presence. The NFB recently released two videos on Youtube adapting two of Diane Obomsawin’s graphic novels. The first is Kaspar, an adaptation of her 2008 graphic novel of the same name that was published by Drawn & Quarterly. Kaspar is a look at the odd life of Kaspar Hauser, a young German man who appeared to have been raised in a dark cave, free of human contact and whose only friend was a wooden horse. He eventually made its way in the streets of Nuremberg and into German society baffling many at the times due to his enigmatic upbringing. Was he a fraud or the first case study into what happen to someone when left to their own devices in life? Obomsawin’s short graphic novel was interesting in its approach, taking the central question at the heart of Kaspar Hauser’s case and exploring it in profound, poetic ways. Her minimalist style captured the ambiguity of his tale quite well. It was an odd book to read and this animated adaptation elevates the material in multiple ways, starting with the eerie soundtrack and voice over. The short film was originally released in 2012, but has been posted on Youtube earlier this week by the NFB along with Obomsawin’s latest animated short film, I Like Girls.
I Like Girls is an adaptation of her 2014 graphic novel On Loving Women, again published at Drawn & Quarterly. This one is a series of short stories about coming out, love and sexual identity. Here’s the description from the NFB of the short film: “four women reveal the nitty-gritty about their first loves, sharing funny and intimate tales of one-sided infatuation, mutual attraction, erotic moments, and fumbling attempts at sexual expression. For them, discovering that they’re attracted to other women comes hand-in-hand with a deeper understanding of their personal identity and a joyful new self-awareness.”
Diane Obomsawin also wrote a short text where she provides some insight into the genesis of this project.
The NFB has always been releasing really interesting and experimental animated features, and they’ve often worked with cartoonist on various projects. Just last year, they released works by Guy Delisle, Zviane, Aude Picault, Jean-Mathieu Tanguy and Lewis Trondheim. I’m glad to see these works turned into animated features and I hope they find a bigger audience. Diane Obomsawin is a fantastic cartoonist and animator and these shorts showcase her skills quite well.