Interview: Pancake for the Table – serving up cool horror animation

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Ash vs Evil Dead – Pancake for the Table – Courtesy of Shai

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Shai, the face behind the awesome Pancake for the Table is an excellent artist and podcaster with a flair for horror. We had the privilege of sitting down with him at 1428 Elm to discuss his animation work.

“It’s like jamming with music – art jamming.” – Shai

The Way Back Machine

Shai is an artist and podcaster with a flair for horror. As a child of the 80s and 90s, cartoons were a big part of his world. When he was growing up, he channeled that love of animation and started making stop motion videos with his action figures.

Last year, he began tackling digital animation on his iPhone. His work featured stick figures recreating scenes from famous movies. One of them was Army of Darkness.

Without further ado, let’s get into the man behind the art!

Yes, I Like Horror!

1428 Elm: Are you a horror fan?

Shai: Horror movies like Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser, and Friday the 13th scared the life out of me. As a kid, I would go to the old local video store and run past the horror movie section in fear. But then sometimes, I would also get up the guts to look at the boxes and read the back covers.

(I’m still scarred by some of the pictures on the back of those Elm Street VHSs). On the other hand, there are certain genres within horror that I LOVE and are a huge inspiration to me. Horror/Sci-Fi, such as the Alien franchise, is near and dear to my heart.

And horror-comedy (for lack of a better term), which was introduced to me by Army of Darkness, is one of my absolute favorite genres of any movie/show, etc.

1428 Elm: What is it about Ash vs Evil Dead that inspired your artwork?

Shai: Ever since seeing Weird Al’s Jurassic Park Claymation video as a kid, I have loved the absurd combination of horror comedy and cartoons.  The Evil Dead saga in general has that same spirit of dark humor. Ash Vs. Evil Dead is special because after 30+ years, the creators and actors gave the fans scenes (IMO) that are as iconic as some of the moments in the original series.

I was blown away by Episode 1 of Season 3 – the whole band room scene and the dispatching of the school mascot. It was then that I decided to do one AVED-inspired animation per week for the remainder of the season. It’s been so much fun and a great way to challenge myself to try new techniques.

Twitter Success

1428 Elm: Your art has been shared by some celebrities on Twitter. Tell us about that.

 Shai: I am so grateful that people take time to look at my wacky creations.  I wouldn’t say it’s a primary goal of my work to get famous people to take note, but it is gratifying to put a lot of work into fanart (or fanimation) and know that it made the creators feel good – and that goes for famous people and non-famous artists that I admire.

A defining moment for me was when Adam F. Goldberg – the creator of the Goldbergs on ABC (my favorite show and spirit animal) – commented on my fanart for the Goldbergs. To have someone who’s made something I love so much and who also happens to be a mensch, compliment something I made means a lot. (Like the #Ghostweeters, the Goldnerds are an amazing community of awesome people).

I was downright moved when Janet Varney (Stan Against Evil, Legend of Korra) reposted a particular piece of art that I put a lot of heart and soul into. It’s always an emotional risk to put something out there and share with someone you admire, so having that validated is rewarding.

I feel the same way about Dana Delorenzo (AVED) who seems to be so genuine and cool to the fans. When someone like that appreciates my work or says thank you, it’s motivating and inspiring.

If a person seems to be a jerk, I’m less likely to make fanart (even if I love the actual property they are working on).  And I feel just as grateful for when people in the fan community engage, like and retweet.

It’s about the Work

1428 Elm: How long does it take to do your animations? 

Shai: I generally go for speed (over quality, as you can see). The timeframe can be anywhere between 30 minutes to 5-6 hours over a couple of days (usually while I’m doing other things like watching TV). It really depends on how many elements are moving in a particular scene and how many different character poses I have to create.

The AVED animation I made where Ash fights Evil Ash took many hours because I was moving limbs, cutting a character in half, having another character flip, etc. One of the most fun parts of learning to animate is all the fun brain teaser-style hacks I create to shorten the process or to get a particular effect. (I’m a dad of two who works full time so time is of the essence, even though I don’t sleep much).