As reported on BoingBoing, underappreciated animation genius and illustrator Run Wrake has sadly passed away after losing a battle with cancer at the horrendously young age of 47.
By chance, we’d only recently stumbled over his YouTube channel, which seems to have gone largely unnoticed. Help remedy this by visiting it right now. If you need any special reason for doing so, because his work is so richly and wonderfully creative, the majority of it being from the 1990s, where opportunities for such weird and wonderful work to be seem by the public were – in comparison with nowadays – tremendously rare, cropping up in the likes of BBC/MTV’s Liquid Television or late night Channel 4. This also coming from the days before the ubiquity of programs such as Flash or After Effects made animation more accessible, Wrake became an inspiration for the new breed of offkilter animators, whose work now receives the audience such majestic oddness deserves. Think of Wrake’s work as being a midpoint between Terry Gilliam and Cyriak Harris, sadly without it ever really finding the audience it deserved.
A few examples:
PING BATTER PONG: In 1998, when MTV’s M2 channel launched on the new Sky Digital platform, it opened with an hour-long compilation of Run Wrake’s work. Those were (as we’ve said several times before) the days when M2 was quite simply the best music channel ever to grace television, happily playing host to acts you’d likely never see on the more mainstream MTV channels, as well as giving as much credit to directors of music videos as they would to the artists. Factor in that there were no adverts (hey, probably hardly any viewers) and it’d happily give up an hour of primetime to French hip-hop, and as we said, best music channel ever. And here are the first three minutes. Of it.
THE SHOWBIZ SET: In 2002, Channel 4 broadcast the wonderful documentary The Showbiz Set, looking from the formative years of television to its golden age. It was so wonderful in fact, that we named it 17th Best Television Programme Of The 00s. Chopping together a plethora of famous faces from the varying eras covered in the show, Wrake’s title sequence set the scene for it well.
NME GALLERY: We first came to recognise Wrake’s work from his artwork for the NME (when it was good, which was when we read it). Often taking a photo of the artist in question and transforming it into something otherworldly and fascinating, Wrake’s illustrations always seemed to leap out of the page and draw you in to a 700 diatribe from Johnny Cigarettes on the new Blaggers ITA album (or such).
JUST A MINUTE: More recently, Wrake produced this promotional piece for the BBC, highlighting (and we have to say, enhancing) sixty uninterrupted seconds on Sudoku from Paul Merton. Taking on the dual aims of being strange and inventive, but without being offputting to the Radio 4 audience it was aimed at, Wrake put together a piece that flows as expertly as Paul Merton’s yapping mouth does at its best.
FUTURE SOUND OF LONDON - WE HAVE EXPLOSIVE: Unsurprisingly, him having worked for the NME for so long, Wrake also lent his talents to a number of music videos. Many of which (such as his work for Howie B) are sadly unavailable to view in the UK (yeah, cheers BMG), but this example from Future Sound
of London shows just how well Wrake’s trademark style combined with similarly inventive sounds conjured by noise wizards FSOL.
MEAT STREET 2: Wrake’s most recent upload to YouTube, from just a couple of weeks ago, the second part of what was (at least intended to be) an ongoing narrative. While this may indeed have been part of an earlier work (the video doesn’t have a description), the abrupt ending to it comes across as a bit of a gutpunch, given the circumstances.