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Back in the seventies I was a producer with TVC London (the animation studio who had made Yellow Submarine) harbouring a strong fascination, probably induced by seeing Fantasia as a child, for what I felt were the unexplored possibilities of the communion between music and moving image.

I attempted a project with the jazz-rock band Weather Report (1976) which failed, but later made a 30 minute TV special “Katya and the Nutcracker” using the Tchaikovsky ballet music, which was broadcast Christmas 2001 by ITV London.

Early in 2002 I read an enthusiastic review of a CD called “Sao Paulo Confessions” by a recently deceased musician called SUBA. I’d never heard of him, but I bought it and quickly grew to love it.

It was going to change my life.

A year or so later, in the spring of 2003 , I was contacted out of the blue by the Cultural Centre in Novi Sad, Serbia, a city in the former Yugoslavia. The organiser of their annual jazz festival had spotted my website,, which showcases my drawings of jazz musicians, and was inviting me to exhibit them in Novi Sad.

Intrigued, I accepted.

At this point it should be explained that these drawings of mine show the unmistakable influence of my artistic hero, Jean “Moebius” Giraud, as I’ve acknowledged in the catalogue of the collection. It was, therefore, a delightful surprise when, on the second night of the festival, I was approached by an artist called Zoran Janjetov, a local, but internationally known, comics artist. He was working on a project for a Paris publisher that had been initiated by none other than Moebius himself, and had taken over from the great man two years earlier. As a source of Moebius lore, Zoran was as good as it gets.

Not only that, he was also the closest friend of the late Suba who, I realised only at that precise moment, was from Novi Sad. (The small print of his CD sleeve reveals that Suba dedicated it to the bridges of Novi Sad that had been destroyed by NATO bombs in the recent war.)

This encounter, in which the essential polarities of my artistic life came together, and embraced, under one roof, seemed much, much more than merely coincidental. I felt it would be the height of insensitivity to ignore it.

Soon after returning from Novi Sad, the idea of a film based on a piece of Suba’s music began to take shape, and within a few weeks, in its own rather ramshackle, multi-national, multi-disciplined way, it had begun.

The titles were designed in Spain, one robot designed in Serbia, the other in Zagreb, Croatia. Animation was underway in New York, 3D computer work in London, 2D in Brighton, while backgrounds, secondary characters, overall design and direction were being handled in rural Warwickshire.

The film was completed in May 2005 and in October won the Best Animated Film category at the International Manga and Animation Festival 2005 in London.

But the Suba story is not over yet. A much bigger and more ambitious film is being prepared, based on several more tracks from “Sao Paulo confessions and on intimate memories of his life and tragic death. It will involve the skills of several world-class designers and animators and it will come to life charged with the brilliance, colour and undying energy of Suba’s wonderful music.

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