sitaposter* Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues is one of the ten best animated features I’ve ever seen, period.

No, correct that:

Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues is one of the ten best animated features ever made.


My ol’ cartooning buddy and fellow Tundra survivor Mark Martin brought the film to my attention back in December of last year with links and forwarded emails concerning the blues Nina is still suffering over the music rights — Sita juxtaposes Nina’s own recent experience being dumped by her heartless hubby with the epic Indian tale of Ramayana and his relationship with the beautiful and faithful Sita, told in part via ingenious use of 1920′s tunes sung by Annette Hanshaw.

Those ravishing Henshaw songs have indeed added to the heartbreak, but thankfully Nina has been able to get Sita seen, and I urge you to do so ASAP — preferably at a festival and on the big screen, as Nina’s breathtaking use of color, animation and design is integral to the film.

What’s even more breathtaking is that Nina did this essentially herself, applying all her storytelling and art skills from decades of creating comics — and the reason this is among the ten best animated features I’ve ever seen is the seamless perfection of Nina’s orchestrating of all elements: story, characters, narrative flow (between centuries!), design, movement, music, wit, dialogue, and the full range of emotions.

Sita Sings the Blues is the greatest animated first feature ever made, too, a fact all the more remarkable given Nina’s limited animation chops — prior to this, Nina made two shorts: Dandaka Dharma (2005), which was the seed for Sita, and Fetch! (2002), and she animated a stork character in Childless by Choice (2003). I’m eager to see those, now, if only to grasp the scope of Nina’s accomplishment with Sita and ‘fit’ this new arc into what I’ve enjoyed of her comics creations.

sitaposter2But I want to keep the focus here on Nina’s film — what it is, how fucking amazingly good it is — rather than the hubbub over music rights and the controversies associated with that.

Just see the film, and again, I recommend you do so on a big screen — not a digital stream, download, or on a pathetic monitor. Projected, with an audience, is the way to first savor Sita Sings the Blues.

  • Here’s Nina’s blog/journal, which is jam-packed with backstory, images, art and a whole lot of Nina’s current views on copyright (which I’ll get into another time — suffice to say, I never thought I’d see Nina so in such accord with Dave Sim on such essential matters!) — take the time to check it out, explore, enjoy.
  • Marge and I saw Sita at the Green Mountain Film Festival this past weekend,
  • and there are two more showings this weekend — SATURDAY, MARCH 28 at 6:30 PM and SUNDAY, MARCH 29 at 11:30 AM — both with Sita voice actor Aseem Chhabra there to introduce and discuss the film (Nina was scheduled to appear, but had to bow out in the eleventh hour, sadly).
  • The links just provided will give you all the ticket info you need to pre-purchase your tickets and go, if you live in driving distance of Montpelier, VT.

    However you see it, see Sita Sings the Blues.

    I’ll be writing more about the film down the road, but I can’t recommend Nina’s masterpiece highly enough — and it is a masterpiece, folks.

  • (Adventure Time is the second-greatest animated creation I’ve seen in the past six months, and for that I owe the dedicated CCSers who said, “Steve, you have to see this,” and CCS alumni Colleen Frakes who saw to it I did see it. See it. Word is Cartoon Network is picking this up; time will tell, and — can they possibly extend what makes this short work?)
  • george* And speaking of completely and truly independent filmmaking and filmmakers:

  • Marge and I will be going back to the Green Mountain Film Festival tonight to enjoy a free evening with George Woodard and Gerianne Smart, showing clips from and talking about soon-to-be-completed feature film The Summer of Walter Hacks (here’s the details on tonight’s event).
  • I wrote at some length about George Woodard, Gerianne Smart and The Summer of Walter Hacks waaaaaaay back in May 2007 (here’s the link, give it a read or a refresher), noting how George and I go back to our Harwood Union High School days and what Marge and I have seen of Walter Hacks, and how good it is.
  • We’ll find out more tonight.

    And in the words of Annette Hanshaw, “That’s all!”

    lostskeleton* Meanwhile, on an entirely different plane of cinematic accomplishment – and please, don’t think for a nanosecond that Sita Sings the Blues deserves placement alongside these carefully calculated exercises in turkeydom! — there’s news from the other Massachusetts cartoonist Mark (as in Mazstal) I should have posted long ago, too:

    The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001) fans (and you know who you are), keep watching the screens!

    Writer/director/actor Larry Blamire and his team of creative compadres are at it — well, no, they’ve done it — again.

  • The Lost Skeleton Returns Again is soon to bless us with its, uh, return! The sequel has been playing some festivals, and hopefully will be more widely available soon.
  • I’m a bit behind the curve, though: I’ve yet to see Trail of the Screaming Forehead (2007) by the same filmmaking team.
  • I’ve got some catching up to do, don’t ya know.

    Since Lost Skeleton, Blamire and company completed Johnny Slade’s Greatest Hits (aka Meet the Mobsters, 2005) and have Dark and Stormy Night about to come out, too.

    Given the fun I had with Lost Skeleton, I’ll be tracking all these down eventually; let me know if you hear of them coming out on DVD, please!

    * I usually don’t post paleo news, though I keep track of it all I can. Still, the occasional ossification news item does demand attention here at Myrant.

  • The recent discovery of a ‘gang’ of young Triceratops indicates gang violence and mortality is literally millions of years of status quo, and proves the ceratopsians did enjoy a social life.
  • Teen triceratops dying in a flood – even 66 million years ago, you kids didn’t know enough to come in out of the rain!

    princeofstoriescvrakimbo* Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman updates:

    1. The paperback edition will be out later this year, we’ll keep you posted on that.

    Alas, it looks like it won’t be incorporating the corrections we gathered from Neil himself, Bob Heer and others; hardcover sales haven’t justified a revised edition, so our loss. Thus, if you were waiting for the paperback hoping for the revisions, don’t. Snag the hardcover while you can.

  • 2. In the meantime, reviews are still going up online, including this one from Christina Tsichlis at (“…It is clearly a book written by friends of the man himself and has a jovial feel to it, almost like friends telling stories about one of their own to one of their own. As a reader, one feels almost included in the circle of friendship that clearly helped to generate this book. Virtually everything a Gaiman fan could want is included in this book…”)
  • and this one from Bob Heer at Four Realities (“…The section on Miracleman has a very clear summation of the legal situation surrounding the incomplete and out-of-print status of the series… The book also has a 50-page interview with Gaiman conducted by Wagner and Bissette, which covered …a book that we unfortunately didn’t see last year and won’t see in the near future, a “Sandman issue zero” story …here he goes into quite a bit more detail than I’d heard before about the disagreement which is a fascinating look at the sometimes short-sighted nature of the comic book industry. …the book also has an excellent selection of some rare, sometimes previously unpublished, bits of Gaiman’s work that he made available to them. …Gaiman’s extensive and amusingly fannish “Notes Towards a Vegetable Theology” is a treat, and a glimpse at what might have been if he’d had a run at Swamp Thing as was once planned.”) — check it out.
  • For that matter, check the book out, too.

    Given all the revelations we saved up for over a year to reveal in this book, it’s been disappointing how little has been noted in the so-called comics press — is nobody paying any attention at all any more?

    Were they ever?

    In the words of Annette Hanshaw, “That’s all!”

    Discussion (4) ¬

    1. Colleen

      “Word is Cartoon Network is picking this up; time will tell, and — can they possibly extend what makes this short work?)”

      All signs point to yes! Makes me almost with I had tv.

    2. mike dobbs

      I’ve wanted to see this film as I’ve been hearing about it for months. If I wasn’t busy this weekend I’d consider driving up there.

      At this stage, what IS the comics press? Considering how fragile it was way back when in the Tundra days, has the Web allowed comics news and criticism to advance and grow or is it’s just fans in chat rooms and forums talking about the same old stuff?

    3. BobH

      I think the “comics press” is largely concerned with stuff that’s handed to them on a platter, via press release or an easy link from which they can cut-and-paste an excerpt and add a flippant comment. But yeah, I was surprised, as I think I e-mailed to you, that when I read PRINCE OF STORIES some months after it came out that in all those months no one had picked up on either the new player in the MIRACLEMAN field or Gaiman’s frank discussion of the reason we didn’t see “Sandman Issue Zero”, both of which seemed like big news to me.

      A shame you won’t be able to revise for the softcover, though most of the errors I noticed were relatively minor, fortunately, a matter of years or incomplete art credits.

    4. srbissette

      Thanks, Colleen — here’s hoping!

      Mike, you’ve GOTTA see SITA — it really is an amazing film.

      Mike and Bob, if I needed any confirmation how completely useless the ‘comics press’ remains, this was it. I was rather astonished, while working on my part of PRINCE OF STORIES, how attentive to the particulars of the McFarlane/Gaiman trial certain venues were in the 1990s — then, it was like a light had been flicked off early in the 21st Century. Lots of opinion, rumors and suppositions, precious little real information, and almost NO news reportage.

      Needless to say, this ill-serves what’s left of the Direct Sales Market, and leaves the powers-that-be to operate with relative impunity. In the case of long-standing comics-related matters, it’s all fan blogs and the occasional puff piece repeating what came before, with the notable exception of Tom Spurgeon’s blog.

      That said, it was a crashing disappointment to sit on the info we have in the book for months on end, needlessly worrying someone would ‘break’ the stories — and then find that not only did nobody ‘break’ anything, but that nobody cared or commented once the information was out and in print.

      That’s when I flew a few red flags up the blog posts here at MYRANT. News of positive nature — project announcements, news items, etc. — nothing. Not a whisper. Negative comments on some old ‘story’ — e.g., Ditko controversy, etc. — links and comments on a multitude of boards, blogs.

      Other communities are livelier: libraries, academics, the various horror sites/blogs (did a single comics venue announce COTTONMOUTH in October?) have discussed some of the items in PRINCE. But nada in the so-called comics community.

    Comment ¬

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