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Hellboy: Pancakes

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The world ends not with a bang, or a whimper, but with a… pancake? That’s the pivotal item of focus in this endearing animated short film “Pancakes” from the Hellboy comic universe. Inspired by and adapted from Mike Mignola’s two page comic of the same name featured in the graphic novel “Hellboy: The Right Hand of Doom”, the comic focuses on a little known chapter in Hellboy’s life as a young child. The animated short follows the popular character’s reluctant attempt at eating a pancake for the very first time and unknowingly thwarting the forces of darkness in the process. The short was an enormously satisfying endeavor on two fronts: A chance to spin a whimsical take on the topic of nature versus nurture, as well as the opportunity to craft a true comic book experience with dynamic animation and sound design.

One of the appeals of Hellboy’s character arc through the comics is the struggle to answer questions that touch every human throughout their lives. One of the more prominent questions being: “Am I defined by the circumstances of my birth or by my own free will?” The “Pancakes” story provides an answer by way of the simple joys of childhood discovery, demonstrating that a little love can subvert even the worst of origins.

Before diving into the 3D development process a cohesive style had to be selected. Several artists teamed up to pre-visualize models and textures for the desert scene, mocking up elements in a variety of styles ranging from exaggerated photo real to highly illustrative flat drawings. The final result was a hybrid of the hand drawn inked comic feel in combination with the nuanced depths of a full 3D render.

Once the style of the short was locked, production began in earnest. In keeping with the modern meets retro aesthetic, all animation was built “on two’s” - a more stylistic rhythm of movement and throwback to animated classics. A cinematic mini origin story was also dropped in to set the stage in the opening titles. As animation was approved and renders started falling into place, an epic opening score and layers of sound design throughout brought all the pieces together and over the finish line.

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