Intro

The Art of Pho is a motion comic based on the graphic novel by Julian Hanshaw. You can buy a copy of the book, published by Random House, on Amazon and watch the movie in eight episodes on artofpho.submarinechannel.com. If you're short on time, watch the trailer below.

Like all the best comics, The Art of Pho combines off-kilter characters – such as the hero Little Blue, who as well as being blue is somewhere between a pig and a dog in looks – with an unvarnished view of the world steeped in both hope and pathos (something we’ve seen a lot of recently in indie comics from the likes of Luke Pearson and Tom Gault).

The plot involves Little Blue, who boasts a childlike innocence and charm, travelling to Ho Chi Min City (aka Saigon) in Vietnam. There he learns how to make the perfect pho, the Vietnamese rice-noodle soup much enjoyed as street food. We also see how, glimpsing the city as a foreigner, Little Blue feels lonely and alienated as well as a sense of wonder about his new environment that only a stranger can truly experience, mirroring the sense of being an outsider that most of us experience at some point while growing up.

Produced by Dutch collective Submarine Channel, The Art of Pho was directed by illustrator and animator Lois van Baarle. She aimed to retain the structure and feel of the graphic novel, while adding different layers and styles of animation.

“We not only brought the comic to life with movement but also added interactivity and a rich soundtrack to our adaptation,” she says.

Here Lois charts the various phases of the graphic novel’s transformation into an animation with interactive elements, and recalls the many different approaches and techniques used by her team to bring Julian’s charming comic to the screen.