Every year San Diego Comic Con brings together the brightest stars in movies and TV, as well as the fans. One of the highlights each year is being able to see the advances made in animation technology. The Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation is the home for animated pieces that are adult in nature and are produced by some of the finest up and coming talent in animation. The festival, which after debuting at Comic Con, tours around the world hitting over 100 cities, has its roots in San Diego as the company behind the festival, Mellow Manor Productions, is based in La Jolla.
Mellow Manor Productions was started in the 1970s by Craig “Spike” Decker and Mike Gribble as a showcase for underground bands. However, it didn’t take long for the duo to realize that animated films are what the audience wanted to see. Spike and Mike’s Festival of Animation, which was the predecessor to the Sick and Twisted Festival, was started in 1977 to present up and coming talent and several prominent artists got worldwide exposure by being featured such as:
- Tim Burton: His short piece Vincent premiered at the festival and afterwards went on to produce numerous Hollywood blockbusters including Batman, Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands.
- John Lasseter: After debuting his short piece Luxo Jr. at the festival in 1986 went on to be one of the founders of Pixar and the director of Toy Story in 1995.
In 1990, Spike and Mike realized that they were leaving out many talented animators by only featuring family friendly pieces and started the Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation. The Sick and Twisted Festival, originally presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla, featured more up and coming talent that went on to do big things such as:
- Mike Judge: The festival was the birthplace of Beavis and Butthead and afterwards Judge went on to create numerous animated and live action shows such as King of the Hill, Silicon Valley and Office Space.
- Danny Antonucci: After the festival featured his animated short Lupo the Butcher, Antonucci went on to create the popular show Ed, Edd n Eddy.
- Matt Stone & Trey Parker: The festival featured the two animated short films named The Spirit of Christmas, which were the precursors to the long running animated series South Park.
- Craig McCracken: The festival saw the premiere of Whoop Ass Stew, the first short film featuring the ‘Powerpuff Girls’.
It is amazing to know that all of these famous animators got their start in a festival based in San Diego and that the festival is now a featured part of San Diego Comic Con. San Diego is truly the mecca for up and coming artists!