738. The World of Stainboy – Tim Burton

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SUMMARY: A superhero with the power to spread dark stains is employed by the police to deal with social outcasts who are a nuisance to the public.

WHY IT’S HERE: ‘The World of Stainboy’ is a series of six short Flash animations written and directed by Tim Burton which appeared online in 2000. Based around characters from his 1997 poetry book ‘The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories’, ‘The World of Stainboy’ follows the adventures of a gormless but effective superhero who is pressed into action by bullying police chief Glen Dale to deal with social outcasts in the Burbank area. Although they sometimes commit criminal or disruptive acts, in other cases the ‘bad guys’ seem to have committed no wrongdoing and are just punished for being different, something which Sgt. Dale cannot tolerate. Stainboy himself is also a freak of nature but the police have harnessed this for their use, even though Stainboy is still treated with disdain (should that be de-stain?!). Although fairly trivial in content, the Stainboy shorts showed an encouraging inclination towards dark satire which was disappearing from Burton’s increasingly predictable oeuvre. ‘The World of Stainboy’ shows Burton at his most charmingly innovative, seizing upon the relatively new medium of Flash animation to create something truly unusual. It’s fair to say that the series showed signs of running out of steam by about the fourth episode, with episode five running a scant two minutes and the final episode breaking from the format to tell a Stainboy origin story instead. Although he stopped the series at the right time, Burton obviously has an affection for Stainboy, returning to him for a Twitter story-writing competition in 2010.

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