Yendor was first painted in 1973 by fantasy illustrator Rodney Matthews, who had a view to publishing a children's book However, Matthews' paid work (which included rock album cover art) got in the way and the project was shelved until 1976. By that time, Matthews had gained an international reputation for his poster designs, commissioned and published by Big O. The company's founder regularly visited Matthews' studio and one day asked if there was anything he had not seen. On a whim, Matthews presented his Yendor project and instantaneously was told, "I'll publish that." Of course, it needed some words first and Graham Smith, musician and lyricist, offered to do this. Inspired by the images and the loose plot that Matthews had simmering in mind, Smith provided an endearing story. The book was published in 1978!
Despite many requests for a reprint, the opportunity did not arise until 2020, when Rodney Matthews and his wife and business partner, Sarah Matthews, decided to republish it themselves. Sarah edited the story and together they worked on new layouts to bring everything up to date.
A couple of months of hard work later and not only did they republish the book in hardback, but they also produced and created a companion colouring book and sticker set as well!
The couple decided to complement the hardback edition with an audio version, which Sarah herself narrated. They turned to Oliver Wakeman (Yes keyboardist and composer) for an original score and he obliged with a full 17 minutes and 30 seconds to run alongside the narration!
With these elements all in place, the Matthews' minds fell quickly into animation mode and they dared to think, could they actually bring Yendor to life?!
Nothing ventured, nothing gained! The couple consulted with Jon Rashid (known to Rodney through Jon's association with Travellers Tales and Cosgrove Hall Films). Rashid then secured the talent of ace animator Matt Henry (MDH Animation) and in next to no time their small team of four was formed and set to work.
Animation is a time-consuming process and, of course, many hours of work needs funding! The Matthews turned to Kickstarter and with the help of supportive and encouraging backers they received 105% of their required budget, allowing them to complete the project. By early 2021 they had a finished animation in their hands.
Yendor then went on a year-long journey across the globe, exclusively screening at film festivals. It certainly was quite the adventure, Yendor was officially selected for screening at 43 film festivals, from which he has amassed a collection of laurels, including: 1 Nominee, 1 Quarter-Finalist, 3 Semi-Finalist, 6 Finalist and 30 Wins!
The full animation is now available to watch on Prime Video in the UK and in the US.
The Matthews are currently working hard to screen Yendor worldwide - watch this space for updates!