It may come as no surprise that Ray Harryhausen is one of your humble cartoonist’s idols. He was not only an amazing pioneer in special effects but he was also a genuinely lovely guy. I met him very briefly once at an animation festival in Seattle, where I had the enormous pleasure of seeing some of his diminutive and very detailed models up close, and it was one of the highlights of my life. When Ray died in 2013, I cried like a baby. I truly did. I’m tearing up now writing this.

My first experience with one of his films was seeing 1981’s Clash of the Titans as a kid. I was HOOKED from frame one. Pegasus was my absolute dream (I was a seven year old girl at the time, we love horses, we worship ones that can fly.) I wished Bubo was real so he could come live at my house. And Medusa and the Kraken scared me silly in the best possible way. There was something about that jerky yet smooth motion that they made, straight from the uncanny valley, that added a wonderful sense of surreality to the scenes that you just don’t get with modern CGI. To this day, I am a total sucker for stop motion animation in all its forms, and I completely lay the blame for that at Mr. Harryhausen’s feet.

Do yourself a favor and check out one of his classics, like Sinbad or the insane and wonderful Valley of Gwanji (dinosaurs vs. cowboys, for real, no kidding!) for a great look backward into the old but still wonderful methods of bringing the imagination to life. You’ll be glad you did.