See the first episode here!
I wrote about Hearts and Hammers in the old format FLIP, but the embeds are obsolete, so I am reposting the abridged text here:
In the spring of 2000, my agent, Trudy Wurthlyss-Heimer, sent each of her animation clients Flash 4 software. Flash was the new kid on the block, and there was a big push from its creator, Macromedia, to get animators hooked. First one's free, kid!
So I loaded the Flash CD into my tray-loading lime green iMac and watched the wheel spin. As the program revealed itself, I found myself completely lost in a foreign interface. My eyes glazed over and I fell asleep. I woke up an hour later with keyboard marks on my forehead. I closed the file and forgot about Flash for a while. In the ensuing months, it seemed like every new cartoon show on TV was created in Flash. Flash, Flash, Flash. I decided to take another look, to do something simple with it. I came up with Hearts + Hammers.
I had no experience with this software, so the simpler the better. I did not own a stylus pen, so all artwork would be generated by mouse. I immediately discovered that I had very limited drawing control with a mouse, so I would make drawings look deliberately crude. Work with that limitation! I thought about doing an animated New Yorker cartoon; something for adults. It would done in a single scene, where I could re-use a lot of animation.
The end result was something that, in the process of making something different, I learned a lot. I got to have some fun writing. I got to ignore some animation laws, and try something new. I got to work with my friend Trace Turville, who is a really great actress and carries the whole thing with her vocal performances. I also had an outlet for material I could never use in studio animation. Some of the funniest lines in these shorts are from actual quotes.
The Hearts + Hammers shorts ran on Atom Films for years. I've made new ones when I could, mining from the past. They're a little harder to do now that I'm married, the edge had gone off I bit. One thing that's certain: they strike a nerve. People really love them and people really hate them. Some "reviewers" have deemed them "retarded", "misogynistic", and the animation "horrible". But most people get it.
A very good Valentine's Day to you! Or else!