Wisconsin (partially found Chris Moeller animated short film; 1994)
Christopher "Chris" Scott Moeller (1967-2014) was an American animator and director. He worked on numerous animated series, including King of the Hill and The Simpsons, and was the creator of the 2004 CGI animated sci-fi series Tripping the Rift.
In 1994, Chris created a production company called Dark Bunny Productions and began producing animated shorts. One of these shorts was the now-lost Wisconsin, which notably introduced the character Chode McBlob, a purple, tentacled alien that would become the main character in Tripping the Rift.
While a copy of the film exists on a VHS tape at the CalArts library, no master copies have ever surfaced, with only an unfinished workprint available online.
A description of the short on the now-defunct Dark Bunny website reads as follows:
"It was a quiet evening on a farm in Wisconsin. The ornery farm dog is awakened by a noise in the pantry and goes to investigate, only to discover a purple, tentacled monstrosity stealing a box of candy bars. The dog chases the startled alien through the farm and corners it, forcing it to surrender the candy bars and to beam back to the mother ship. Just what the hell are those aliens up to, anyway?"
Furthermore, Moeller adds:
"This is easily my best work and is the reason I managed to get a job in animation. It won the 1994 Walter Lantz award at the Producer's Show and will someday be put on cels and colored (time willing... King of the Hill keeps me pretty busy)."
It's unknown whether Moeller ever got around to putting Wisconsin on cels and coloring it, but the above quote was still present on the Dark Bunny site in 2012 (the most recent available version).
Walter Lantz Award
Wisconsin won the 1994 Walter Lantz Award. From IMDB:
"Since 1992, California Institute of the Arts Character Animation Program gives its highest-rated student film the Walter Lantz Award; also nicknamed "The Woody"."
CalArts Producers' Show 1993-1994 Footage
Footage of Wisconsin is known to exist on a VHS tape of the 1993-1994 CalArts Producers' Show that's held at the CalArts library. Wisconsin is the first short on the reel and has a runtime of 3:20.
On October 10, 2023, X (formerly Twitter) user Jon W. posted that he had acquired shorts from CalArt students and posted them to Mega. One of these shorts included an unfinished version of Wisconsin. The version is uncolored and has a runtime of 3:13.
Unfinished version of Wisconsin
- An archived version of Darkbunny.com from 2000 that includes an image and a description of Wisconsin.
- Wikipedia page on Tripping the Rift, mentioning the short film.
- Christopher Moeller's obituary.
- Archived version of darkbunny.com from 2000. Retrieved 22 Mar '21
- 2012 version of darkbunny.com. Retrieved 22 Mar '21
- CalArts library record for the 1993-1994 Producers' Show footage that includes Wisconsin. Retrieved 22 Mar '21
- Jon W. Post on X. Retrieved 17 Oct. '23