Who's the biggest badass on AMC's The Walking Dead? Undeniably, it's Daryl Dixon, as portrayed by Norman Reedus. This fact hasn't escaped a 13 year old fan of the show who has gone so far as to immortalize the crossbow wielding redneck with a heart of gold in an animated film that he drew and compiled completely on his own. Nicholas Mastrangelo wants to be an animation filmmaker. According to his Maverick Animation website, he's heavily influenced by sci-fi and horror staples like Star Wars, Alien, and, as you'd expect, Zombieland.
Nicholas’s animated short takes Daryl on a gory solo adventure that’s parts Metalocalypse, parts Indiana Jones as he slays his way through hordes of walkers, dispatching them in an endless number of creative ways as he takes on a quest for a mysterious artifact that will turn the tables on the undead masses. He’s even got a fan in the comic and show’s creator, Robert Kirkman, who tweeted earlier this morning:
@RobertKirkman: Here’s the coolest thing I’ve seen all day: DARYL DIXON cartoon! by Nick Mastrangelo (who happens to be 13).
So sit back and drink in the hard work of a 13 year old animator. I think we’ll be seeing him on the credits of a major animated series a few years from now.
UPDATED: We were lucky enough to get Nick to talk about how and why he makes animated films…
GEEK: Why did you choose to make an animated short about Daryl Dixon from the Walking Dead?
Nicholas Mastrangelo: Because Daryl started out kinda like a negative team player, and then he warmed up to the group. I like people who change. I also wanted to twist the story into sorta “Walking Dead” meet “Indiana Jones” which explains why he’d find a map of a “legendary holy crossbow” inside a squirrel… Also the song I had fit his personality more, and my style of action animating. Plus it was an excuse to stray from other type of films I’ve done. Wanted something gritty loud and heavy metal to do!
How long did it take you to draw and animate the film?
Like 2 1/2 months. I draw All. The. Time! Even during school holiday vacations. I made the Dixon “my summer mission”. I hate wasting time. I like to finish what I start. I also like drawing at night. My ideas come together clearer.
What is the hardest part about making an animated film?
Human character designing can be tricky for me cause I’m so inclined to create robots, creatures, aliens, basically non-human faces. I also have to make sure I complete my storyboards before animating, and it’s tempting to skip that process. My mom really gets on my case over that… I also got to practice getting my characters to talk more.
What tools did you use to create the film?
I’ve been using old school Flash Macromedia 8, then I edit in iMovie. I know I’m due for an upgrade really bad, but when old school works, it works. But just over the weekend I went to a convention called The Creative Talent Network, and I got to check out the kind of animation software I ought to be using. Got a taste of it too cause they let me use them.
If you could professionally work for any cartoon series on the air right now, what would it be?
My dream job would be working on a show like “Regular Show” on Cartoon Network, or “Adventure Time”. I love the gritty humour. I get it!
What is the next video you’re working on?
I’m deciding on choosing 2 stories to work on. (A stray dog desperate to be adopted, or an alien who befriends a dog on earth). This time I’m going to use more interaction dialogue, plus I’ve got funny neighbors I’m going to ask to participate. This will also challenge me to tighten up my storytelling and not rely so much on effects.