“It’s hard for me to separate serious topics from my sense of humour”: Mario Meneses on his comical animations

“Some people say that my characters look like me and I don’t like it because I once heard Hayao Miyazaki say ‘If you can’t draw well, your characters will always look like you’ – though it is cool that they are distinguishable,” says Mexican illustrator and animator Mario Meneses, reflecting on his illustrative style. Despite possible resemblances between himself and the protagonists of his work, there’s no denying their charm and memorability. The dark-haired figures in his illustrations navigate surreal worlds and absurd situations, acting and reacting in a humorous fashion to the objects and settings that surround them.
The comical side, at least, Mario can trace back to his childhood. “Humour has always been an important part of my life,” he says. “Everyone in my family is constantly joking around. A long time ago, I even learned the art of clowning, because I like to make people laugh, but performing for people scared me and I looked for alternative outlets for my comedy.” Along with his sense of humour, Mario also attributes his creative sensibilities to his parents. “My parents are stylists but they have always had the impulse to create, write and dance. Growing up in my family it was very normal to think about being an illustrator or an animator.” He goes on: “Although the truth is that for a long time, I always believed that I would do something related to mathematics, until a crisis in my adolescence whereby this goal vanished and a more expressive need arose in me.”
“I like to think that my work expresses sentiments of existentialism and self-exploration, though I don’t mix them consciously,” explains Mario. “I think that each moment of life is very surreal but we are so used to it that we don’t see it. What I do is extract the essence of the moment, accentuate it and expand upon it to make it more obvious.” Studying his illustrations and short animations, we can see this idea in practice. His characters are frequently placed in either comical scenarios, such as two friends taking turns in sanitising and throwing a frisbee back and forth during the pandemic, or in the middle of seemingly existential questioning, looking out over a landscape that appears normal, but from the viewer’s perspective is actually the body of a fleshy, god-like figure.

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