BAD FELLAS: THE BROTHERHOOD TRAFFICS IN GUNS, PORN, DRUGS AND CHEAP ANIMATION.

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Toronto-based animation company The Brotherhood is the feisty fraternity house run by animation director Darwyn Cooke and producer Wayne Bayley-Hay (they're pictured above, Cooke with sunglasses). With a little help from some of their occasional pledges and Cooke's beloved pup Bud, these two have created not only a growing name for themselves but an inimitable and burning style, one that mixes drugs, porn and gratuitous nudity all in one. Once you've thrown in a kegstand, a backwards white baseball cap and a stogie of your own, damn, is it smooth, even without the Greek letters and sorority girls.

Cooke and Bayley-Hay met not too long ago as neighbors, and then again at one of those testosterone-fueled virtual combat games. Bayley-Hay soon thereafter tripped and dislocated his shoulder in Cooke's presence, and Cooke knew he had found his man, "a rough and tumble character." Weird first impression, no doubt, but taken in context, it all makes a little more sense.

Cooke, 34, began his animation rites of passage at age 20 working for DC Comics. A self-taught illustrator, he also realized there wasn't much money to be had in that arena, so he moved on to be the art director at first Music Express magazine (distributed at a music retail chain called Musicland) and then fashion rag Flair. He also had a quick stint at agency Doner Shur Peppler, Toronto, but seems to prefer not to regard himself as an ad guy. It's more like he just creates cool stuff. If it sells something in the process, then, hey, all right. Bayley-Hay admits he just likes working alongside Brother Cooke.

A few years ago, Cooke opened Ace In the Hole, another animation company, also in Toronto, serving advertising agencies, and there he designed a line of snowboards. But it wasn't everything he had in mind, so he moved into The Brotherhood realm with Bayley-Hay, 31. The company's difference, as compared to his work at Ace in the Hole, is style. "It's a different era; I wanted to make a real clear break," explains Cooke.

The Brotherhood's been in existence for just about a year now, and in each of the spots they've created they've managed to include something that's arguably indecent to outright deplorable and, yet, so much fun. For example, there's The Voyage of the Damned, a somewhat self-promotional animated short that savagely mocks the advertising industry (see Creativity's Upfront, December '96). Drugs and sex are represented, respectively, with work for Longs Pharmacy and XXX Rated jeans (yeah, it's porn, but soft porn since it's spec). There's also gratuitous nudity in their Dove bath and shower wash spot and, of course, a Canadian Tire spot which makes one think of, well, rubbers. Rounding out the oeuvre are some 10-second pieces that air over live broadcasts of Hockey Night In Canada. They couldn't bail on the violence.

Despite the already wide mix of work on their showreel, they nevertheless have bold plans for upcoming works. Cooke and Bayley-Hay share the optimistic notion that there are opportunities for animation today that have not been approachable in the past, and they're planning on making the most of it all.

Cooke and Bayley-Hay are thrilled with the growth of The Brotherhood name, but are playing it cool. There's a very specific girlie-gangsta film-noir (with an occasional Monopolyesque or organic line-drawing character thrown in) quality to the work they produce, and they have no desire to compromise the integrity. "We're trying to cultivate a new image, to do a 180, a stylized ideal," admits Cooke, and they're doing it with entirely hand-drawn animation and hand-painted backgrounds, manipulated and accentuated via Photoshop, for what they call a "badass, world class look." It could also be called a very simple look with an irreverent kick. Here, too, is where their small harem of freefloating characters help out on specific jobs, their involvement all based on volume. Cooke credits Tim Dashwood for composite and effects work in particular.

Theirs is an unorthodox style that may intimidate a more traditional-minded potential client, but The Brotherhood is fearless. Says Cooke, "I just have a strong desire to create stuff, to express ideas, and I'm finding a way even in advertising and retail. I can get kind of cranky when I'm working with the suits. But, jeez, I hope they don't stop sending us stuff."

The Brotherhood's personal work illustrates their image ideal vividly, and it's primarily geared at giving its viewers (and the company's potential clients) a better understanding of The Brotherhood as a concept. The Voyage of the Damned is, as the Brotherhood refers to it, "an animated descent into advertising hell," and opens with a hacking Marlboro Man straddling the back of a smoking camel. Four thugs and a rodent-like ad guy drive through the adlands in their Selldorado. As the little exec-rat discusses his ingenuous ideas for Wet Willy incontinence products, the mob that surrounds him conceives via mental telepathy some way of shoving him six feet under. All the while, semi-retired and long dead ad icons of yesteryear litter the road. It's dark, sardonic and damn funny.

Their general intro piece is Kiss Me Deadly, animated. And it blows Lita Ford's version out of the water. In it, Bud, Cooke's dog, takes viewers on a tour of a world filled with gun-toting, scantily clad vixens and vulnerable men. The Brotherhood is also in the midst of creating a series of cartoon shorts, perhaps applicable as a major cable channel ID, entitled Whiteman and Morality Gal. Whiteman, whose head resembles a square-jawed loaf of Wonder Bread, stars in a superhero parody with political overtones; a dim-witted senator by day, Whiteman and his "plucky" secretary, Morality Gal, struggle with the sensuous She-Devil, glorious sado-masochism incarnate. One episode traces the abduction of Morality Gal by She-Devil and intricately illustrates the sinister pleasure-torture she inflicts. One would be hard pressed to describe the scene without some vulgarity, and few could refrain from blushing.

Speaking of sinister pleasure-torture, Toronto's the mecca of neither She-Devils nor creative hot shops. So why are they there? According to Bayley-Hay, it's difficult to tell if location is an advantage or disadvantage. There's quite a bit of local appreciation for the Brotherhood's style, then again local work won't receive huge international exposure. Says Bayley-Hay, "The happening work is being seen less and less up here. Really great work is coming out of the States." Cooke doesn't disagree, but attributes much of their laid-back style and license to provoke to being where they are at the moment. "A great deal of who I am has to do with where I am," Cooke concludes.

So Toronto is where The Brotherhood's at for the moment. And where it'll stay, provided Cooke and Bayley-Hay can continue to produce the velvet sleaze they so

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