His only companion is a lightning cloud: Bill Kopp’s CalArts animated short “Mr. Gloom”

By on August 26, 2019

“Think your life is terrible? Wait until it ends. God has a sense of humor after all — but you won’t like it when He finally gets tired of putting up with your nonsense.”

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That’s the description for prolific actor, director, animator, voice actor, and writer Bill Kopp’s Mr. Gloom, an animated short film dating back to 1983 and Kopp’s time as a student at CalArts.

We read that description on this great Youtube channel, ScreamingScallop, which we believe is where Kopp posts examples of his work (for instance, you can also watch Kopp’s 1984 animated short, Observational Hazard).

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“He’s Mr. Gloom and he’s not so proud, his only companion is a lightning cloud.”

There’s not a whole lot else we can tell you about this hand-drawn brief and semi-incoherent absurdist bit of animation — we’ve culled it from an episode of “Toone Theatre” (which we sometimes spelled “Toon Theatre” for some reason) — except to say that it features a pointy-nosed protagonist being attacked by demons, ghosts, a starry-eyed clown and a giant set of yellow Number Two pencils.

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Mr. Gloom also features electronic music and sound effects by Drew Nuemann, and an excerpt from the Leonard Bernstein-conducted New York Philharmonic recording of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Slavonic March,” Op. 31.

Oh, and we can also tell you that Kopp won an Academy Award-Student Film/Animation for Mr. Gloom and a year later he won his second Academy Award for Observational Hazard.

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As we told you in this previously-published Night Flight blog, that’s Kopp who voices “Rad Boy” in Wes Archer’s Jac Mac & Rad Boy, Go! (Archer himself voiced Jac Mac).

It was produced at a tiny, obscure animation studio Klasky/Csupo, where Kopp, Archer and David Silverman also elaborated/collaborated on Matt Groening’s rough black-and-white sketches for the first season episodes of “The Simpsons,” beginning with the earliest ones that aired on “The Tracey Ullman Show,” a variety TV show that aired on Fox.

After the first season, Kopp left to work on other projects while Archer and Silverman remained at Klasky/Csupo and continued working on the long-running cartoon series.

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Mr. Gloom cels can be seen hanging on the wall behind Kopp at a show at CalArts (photo found here)

Read more about Bill Kopp below.

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Bill Kopp (photo found on Kopp’s Facebook page)

Bill Kopp — born April 17, 1962 in Rockford, Illinois — studied animation at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in the early ’80s.

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Bill Kopp at Cal Arts (photo found on Kopp’s Facebook page)

Below, we’re listing what’ll probably turn out to be a partial list of the many, many projects Kopp was worked on, whether they originated with him or not (all of these cels and more were found on his Facebook page).

In 1985, some of Kopp’s animation appeared in Savage Steve Holland’s Better Off Dead, and in the spring of 1986, Kopp provided ten minutes worth of animation for Holland’s feature film One Crazy Summer, starring John Cusack and Demi Moore.

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Kopp animated the Whammy on the 1980s game show “Press Your Luck,” and voiced the title character on Nelvana’s “Eek! The Cat” and Kutter in “The Terrible Thunderlizards,” which he created with Savage Steve Holland.

He also voiced/voices Tom in Tom and Jerry: Blast Off to Mars and Tom and Jerry: The Fast and the Furry.

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Kopp also created “The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show” and “Mad Jack the Pirate,” and worked as an executive producer and writer for “Toonsylvania.”

He also wrote “Hare and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “The Incredible Crash Dummies,” and worked up the story on two Roger Rabbit shorts — Tummy Trouble and Roller Coaster Rabbit.

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Kopp was also the writer/director/co-producer on “Tales from the Crypt”‘s series finale, “The Third Pig.”

He is also the director of most of “The Twisted Whiskers Show” episodes.

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Kopp is also a regular on Cartoon Network’s “Mighty Magiswords,” providing the voice of Man Fish the Fish Man, a character creator Kyle A. Carrozza developed as a kid for Nintendo Power’s then-contest for Robot Masters for the game Mega Man 6. Kopp’s animation work, specially Shnookums and Meat, were Kyle’s favorite as a kid

You can purchase a watermarked, signed animation cel from the film Mr. Gloom (as seen down below) straight from Kopp himself at his website, where he also sells original animation cels, art and prints, posters, towels, t-shirts and other items.

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Mr. Gloom & Other Shorts — which also includes the experimental animated video college Machine Song by Chel White, who back in 2015 described it to us as “as a minimalist vision of the post-industrial human condition, depicted in xerox cutout animation” — is available for streaming on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.