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Guard, Candy (1961-)

Director, Writer, Animator

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Candy Guard once disarmingly described her job as "writing funny stories and then drawing pictures to go with them", which goes some way towards explaining her success as both an animator and newspaper cartoonist. Her instantly recognisable style combines extremely simple line drawings with scabrous humour, paying particular attention to the frustrations encountered by ordinary women in their daily lives.

Born Candida Guard in Ealing, west London, she grew up avidly reading comics like The Beano and The Dandy, not least because they often contained feisty female characters such as Beryl the Peril, an acknowledged influence on her adult work. After studying Fine Art at Newcastle Polytechnic and St Martin's School of Art in central London, she dabbled in live-action filmmaking before being commissioned by Channel 4 to make a series of short vignettes to be screened as part of the current affairs series Woman in View (tx. 6/1 - 14/9/1988).

Alternative Fringe, Fatty Issues, A Little Something and Wishful Thinking (all 1988) established Guard's reputation as one of the most trenchant voices in women's animation, with a particularly acute ear for female insecurities. The scripts, usually voiced by Sarah Ann Kennedy, were as important as the artwork. Guard continued in a similar vein with Untitled, Moanologue, What About Me? (all 1990) and Fantastic Person (1992), and also co-wrote Penny Woolcock's live-action feature Women in Tropical Places (1990). By the mid-1990s, her cartoon strips were appearing regularly in the Observer's colour supplement.

Her second breakthrough came in 1996, when Channel 4 commissioned the animated series Pond Life (1996-2000), revolving around the misadventures of the single, neurotic and sartorially-challenged Dolly Pond. For the first time, Guard had to work with a team of assistants, having previously made her films largely single-handed, but in terms of style and content it marked a seamless continuation of her earlier work. Scheduling problems marred its reception - originally intended for a 9.45pm slot, it was eventually broadcast four hours earlier, necessitating cuts to the language. More damagingly, it was scheduled directly opposite the BBC's popular Australian soap Neighbours, aimed at more or less the same audience. However, it went on to win several awards and a prestigious Writer's Guild nomination for Best Sitcom (Guard was particularly pleased it was up against live-action series such as Only Fools and Horses), so a second series was screened in 2000.

Well aware of the precariousness of animation as a profession, Guard has continued to express herself in other media. Her first novel, Just a Little Disco on an Open-top Bus, was published in 2006.

Michael Brooke

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Alternative Fringe (1993)Alternative Fringe (1993)

Simple but perceptive animation about an unfortunate haircut

Thumbnail image of Fantastic Person (1992)Fantastic Person (1992)

Candy Guard animation about an idle dreamer

Thumbnail image of Fatty Issues (1990)Fatty Issues (1990)

Animation by Candy Guard exploring women's paranoia about their bodies

Related collections

Thumbnail image of Channel 4 and AnimationChannel 4 and Animation

How Britain's fourth channel became an animation powerhouse

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