November 11, 2006

Don't Let PBS Kids Blow Your Mind Away, Baby

Maybe it's a problem of overfamiliarity causing design blindness, but if I relax a bit and just watch, some of the graphic design on the kids' TV channels is actually pretty nice. The Noggin graphic identity, for example, with the Moose and the bird's world, is clean and fun and really well resolved.


But my favorite is the PBS Kids bumper where the little circle girl runs up and peers out from the TV screen. What I don't know about graphic design could fill several blogs, so forgive me if I'm the only one who's surprised to learn the designer here was Richard McGuire, who's well-known for his work in the NY Times and especially the New Yorker.

And if you already know McGuire, then you also already know he was the bassist for Liquid Liquid, an early 80's experimental band whose track, "Cavern," is the foundation and structure and lyric leaping-off point of Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel's "White Lines." [The lawsuit between 99 Records and Sugarhill bankrupted both companies, though the issue was evenutally settled when Duran Duran covered the song a few years later.]

mcguire_orange_book.jpg mcguire_night_day.jpg

But did you know McGuire did an animated film version of "Cavern"? [Can't find it. Anyone?] According to an NPR report [it's in the audio, but not, oddly, in the transcript], McGuire made the film in 1997 by laying the "Cavern" audio over pioneering abstract animator Oskar Fischinger's 1927 short, Spiritual Constructions. Like Pink Floyd and The Wizard of Oz, it turns out to match up perfectly. [The Fischinger Archive has since put the kibbosh on the video's distribution, though they haven't yet sued McGuire and themselves into bankruptcy. update: it turns out McGuire licensed the film for a while, but that license expired, and it didn't cover online exhibition.]

And that he also did four childrens' books in the mid-1990's? They closely mirror the style of his PBS Kids work [and thus suddenly make PBS Kids look less up-to-the-minute and more late-to-the-game]. None of them is currently in print, but they're all available used on Amazon for criminally low prices.

mcguire_goes_around.jpg mcguire_whats_wrong_book.jpg

They all look fantastic and got great, smart-sounding reviews. It's scary how something can be literally right in front of our faces every day, and yet simultaneously disappearing from sight.

Buy Richard McGuire books on Amazon [amazon]
Richard McGuire's studio page []
An interview with Liquid Liquid, which means McGuire []


Can't believe I didn't see the connection before! The books are great.

Now how do we get this guy to come out with a line of children's clothing!

[get him to stop working on his new movie, I guess -ed.]

Hi Dot I'm going to ask my mummy if she can help me make you a 3 year old one but your 4 years old.

Hi Moneay I hope you'll baby sit us when May is over then it becomes June.

My image wis when I heard that voice say, Kooookie. Oh no but it's not, KOOKIE!

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