Two members of the constabulary Nips and Porkington, a cat and a mouse, are called upon by a pair of goose parents when their almost-new born (an egg) has gone missing. The two heroes take up the trail which leads them to the criminal, a rat planning to cook the egg. The description of the plot might seem a bit simplistic and cutesy, and admittedly it partially is, but that’s not what makes the film special. It’s how the idea is executed that makes it fun to watch. And sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy a lightweight and straightforward, well-made short with a brief running time and just be entertained by its adorable realization.
The Casebook of Nips and Porkington is reminiscent of classic Saturday morning cartoons, but filmmaker Melody Wang adds innovative elements by navigating her characters through an unconventional setting and combining the style of hand-drawn animation with a print media background. When telling the story of a robbery or murder and how the police attempt to track down the suspect, the insertion of headlines and photos in films and television shows is quite common. Wang however takes it to another level by utilizing other traditional characteristics of newspaper design to add a playful spin to her tale. The initial inspiration for the film’s unique style came when the director was “browsing a used bookstore and found a book full of newspaper spreads with wonderfully balanced graphics and intricate designs”. By using these well-known visual gimmicks and elevating them to become part of the narrative it not only adds a nice component to the overall style, but also enhances the story by making the animation technique a part of it.
Using the software Toonboom Harmony in combination with Adobe Photoshop and Premiere, with some help from friends and mentors at Sheridan College Wang was able to complete most of the animation for The Casebook of Nips and Porkington by herself, apart from the score and charming voice-work. The director admits she wants The Casebook of Nips and Porkington “to launch a career in animation and act as a last hurrah to our student days”, and with this strong proof of talent, I can’t imagine which animation house or production company wouldn’t want to take advantage of her skills.