Among the five films listed in the category of Best Animated Short Film at the Oscars (and, arguably, one of the highlights) was The Dam Keeper. Written and directed by former Pixar art directors Robert Kondo and Daisuke ‘Dice’ Tsutsumi, the 18-minute short film centered around an orphaned pig with one purpose: to keep his town’s dam running.
Even though Disney’s Feast took the prize, The Dam Keeper clearly won the hearts of many critics and was the subject of unanimous praise throughout the animation industry.
While the short focused on the burgeoning friendship between Pig and Fox, we are given hints all throughout the short that there is a larger world that lies beyond the walls of the dam.
So, how will Tonko House (a production company founded by Kondo and Tsutsumi) explore this world? By hopping over to a different medium: comics.
Entertainment Weekly broke the news last week that the story of The Dam Keeper will continue as a series of graphic novels.
These graphic novels will be produced in collaboration with, and published, by First Second Books, one of the premiere publishers of graphic novels (with books spanning multiple genres and age groups). The first of the two graphic novel sequels to The Dam Keeper will be released in 2016. Tonko House will also be producing a as-of-yet unannounced original graphic novel with First Second.
The story of the graphic novels will begin five years after the events of the short film. Pig and Fox will be on the cusp of adulthood and the dark cloud, that the dam protects the town from, will begin to dissipate for the first time. With the unexpected assistance of Hippo, Pig and Fox venture out into the world to uncover the mystery of the fog and to seek answers regarding the fate of Pig’s parents.
When asked about the inspiration behind the graphic novels, Kondo noted that both he and Tsutsumi were interested in exploring how the bonds of friendship evolve as we mature:
“When we’re eight or ten, the kind of friends we have is different than when we grow up and start to learn about the world and who we are in the world,” says Kondo. “Friendship can change. We think that’s a big part of the progression of our characters—how does friendship evolve? Growing up and changing, what does that mean to a friendship that you count on? And also, what sort of new friends do you make?”
I’m very confidant this news will come as quite a treat to both fans of the short film and lovers of the graphic novel medium. The ability of a graphic novel to tell a whole and engaging story, combined with the illustrative work of Kondo and Tsutsumi, make The Dam Keeper a perfect candidate for a continuation of this nature.
What do you think? If you loved The Dam Keeper, are you interested in reading the graphic novels?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes