Tuesday, March 20, 2007

And now, a word from John K's pesonal Anti-Christ, Jeffrey Scott

So, in the midst of all of this, I figured it was only fair if Jeffrey Scott had the chance to weigh in on things, since, you know, his name has been used as a hammer in this whole debate.

His response?


I appreciate your giving me the opportunity to respond to John's comment.
Truthfully, I don't have the time nor interest to respond. I'm too
busy writing. John doesn't understand me, nor does he understand writing.
Ironically I was a cartoonist before I was a writer.

And thanks for saying hi.

Best wishes,


Wow! Seems like a real jerk, huh? (Note: I am using a writer's tool called "Sarcasm" where I exaggerate to make a point. He is not a jerk. He seems like a class act.)

The point is this - you can talk until you're blue in the face about how writers don't belong in animation, but there are people out there who have been doing it just as long as you... but just in the written word.

And they are just as passionate about the form of entertainment as anyone else... and probably slightly less exclusionary than others.

- Steve

P.S. For more information about Jeffrey Scott that's not tainted by fury and hate, you can either go here: Jeff's IMDB site Or to his actual website: http://www.jeffreyscott.tv


RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

No, you were right the first time. He seems like a jerk.
Sorry Steve, I've read Scott's book. It's useless.
There is more usefull information in one post on John's FREE blog than Mr. Scott's entire $14.95 book.

Steve said...

Well, to be honest, that post isn't really about the book. I haven't read it.

It's more about pointing out that these writers a select few are so keen on demonizing are human beings.

Even if I strongly disagree with something or someone, I'm going to try very hard to word things in a way that I would feel comfortable saying to their face.

Of course, that's totally fear based. It's is a small industry. Someday, I might have to.

- Steve

RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

I'm aware that they are human beings. I just call 'em as I see 'em. Mr. Scott's book, like all books I've seen on writing for animation, is a bad book. If Mr. Scott were right in front of me, I'd tell him why I don't like his book.
The only one worth picking up is Storytelling in Animation by Michael Wellins. Good book. Michael knows what he's talking about.

Craig D said...

When Mr. Scott mentioned that he was a originally a cartoonist, I had a brain seizure: "THAT'S THE GUY THAT TOOK OVER THE NANCY COMIC STRIP BACK IN THE EIGHTIES!"

Turns out, no, it was a guy named Jerry Scott, of "Baby Blues" fame.

My bad.

Anonymous said...


Stephen Worth said...

John isn't demonizing people. He's pointing out the blinding stupidity of a process that doesn't follow any kind of logic. If you ever get a chance to meet John, you'll get the same sort of blunt, experience based, reasoned logic face to face that he uses on his blog. Good luck keeping up with him. He knows what he's talking about.

It's really simple. If musicians write music and choreographers write dance, why don't cartoonists write cartoons any more? All of the great cartoons of the past were written that way. Walt Disney himself swore that was the only way to write cartoons. Why aren't we doing that any more?

If cartoonists were writing most of the stuff you see on TV, it wouldn't be a big deal if a writer came in and wrote a yak fest once in a while. It wouldn't make for a truly great cartoon, but it might be ok as a change of pace or experiment. But that isn't the way it is. The whole system is locked in to a process that doesn't serve the medium. And the fact that cartoons are suffering for it is as plain as the nose on your face... Bugs Bunny? Bart Simpson. No contest.

Cartoonists have a right to be angry. If you don't understand why, you should spend more time with cartoonists. Writers generally spend too much time with the execs and not enough time with the people required to actually make what they write work. If they saw what was going on with their work after they move on to the next project, they might think differently.

By the way, John K has nothing but the highest regard for the work of Jefferey Scott's grandfather.

See ya

Steve said...

To Stephen Worth:

I understand your loyalty and respect for John K. I googled you, and your animation experience seems to be very much John K and Spumco related. I totally get that.

I absolutely understand loyalty. I've exhibited it, and I've received it.

But lets be clear: John K IS demonizing writers - all of us - the minute he describes us as charlatans because we have the gall to walk around a cartoon studio.

I have no issue with his opinions, as much as I do the fact that he takes his opinions and tries to convince an industry that it's a manifesto.

I have the same problem with this that I do with religious zealots who want to tell me what to think, what I can do, what I can wear and what I can watch.

I find it unreasonable, unfair, and depressing.

I think John and I ever meet face to face - and I'm sure we will - I can look him in the eye and tell him I respect a lot of what he's done, respect his opinions, but find his attitude on all writers to be narrow and unrealistic.

Perhaps we could even share a conversation about something OTHER than animation writing, and have a fine evening of discussion and debate.

But on THIS topic, clearly, there will never be agreement.

Marty said...

Um, Anonymous..?

For the record, I am a writer and am neither treated like gold nor do I go home at 5 PM. In fact, I usually get in a good two hours BEFORE the artists show up (to be fair, most of them leave later than me). I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for the artists I work with and seek their input and feedback at every step of the writing process. I view artists not as the enemy, but as powerful allies and a tremendous resource for my writing. We're all trying to make the same show and make it as good as we possibly can. I don't know what they say behind my back, but I've found the artists I work with to be equally respectful and open to creative collaboration. I'm sorry your experience has been different. But I would hope -- perhaps naively -- that you could find it in your heart not to blame ALL writers for that negative experience and perhaps seek to communicate better with the writers you DO have the misfortune to work with, 'cause they ain't goin' away any time soon, regardless of how much ranting John K or others like him may put out there.

Maybe there's a topic here for discussion. Assuming you can accept the fact that there ARE writers in animation, how about list of dos and don'ts from the artists' standpoint? Many contributors to this blog have clearly stated the "no complicated crowd scenes" rule. How about some others? I can only speak for myself, but honestly, I think most writers would prefer that you DIDN'T have to work 80 hours a week to fix mistakes that could have been flagged as early as premise stage. Any takers?

Stephen Worth said...

Responding to a couple of posts together...

I'll tell you one thing about John. He argues passionately, but fairly. If you come up with a good argument and can support it with proofs that are stronger than what he can come up with, he will go back and research the area that he wasn't aware of before, and if it holds up, he'll change his opinion. I've seen him do it. I've been a part of changing his opinions on certain subjects before. That's intellectual honesty, not dogma. Dogma is saying, "We might as well discuss something else because we will never agree on this subject."

The problem here is the fact that John is incredibly well versed on the subject of how to make cartoons. He's spent 30 years interviewing great animators and directors, and applying the principles they shared with him to his own work. He studies direction very seriously. He admits that doing things the most efficient way doesn't always result in a hit, but it at least gives you a chance, and if you fail, you've at least had the opportunity to experiment and learn from your mistakes.

I admit I don't know a lot of cartoon writers. The ones I worked with back at Bagdasarian and on Cool World weren't the sharpest knifes in the drawer and they almost never interacted with the artists. In fact, they didn't seem to care what happened after they turned in their script except to complain about how the animators "butchered it". Perhaps I just haven't met the right ones.

I'm interested in your suggestion of speaking about technique. As a cartoon writer, I'm guessing that you have done the same sort of research into the history and technique of your craft as John has with direction. The history of cartoon writing is something I have a particular interest in.

I'm currently working on building a museum, library and archive dedicated to animation for The International Animated Film Society: ASIFA-Hollywood. You probably know ASIFA from the Annie Awards. I serve on the Board of Directors.

I'm in contact with a lot of students who aspire to work in animation. I'm working with them to try to get them to fully understand the history of the medium so they can build upon the past, rather than reinventing the wheel.

I would be interested in hearing how you as a cartoon writer incorporate techniques from classic cartoons into your own work. I spoke to Jack Enyart about that subject, and he didn't seem to have any concept of how his work related to the way they did it in the past.

As I've said, to me, there seems to be a huge disconnect between the way story was handled in the first half of animation's history and the way it is done now. But perhaps there's something I'm missing. I'd be interested in sharing research on the subject of cartoon story if you've got info that I don't have.

At the archive, I have a great deal of material relating to golden age story. In particular, I some very interesting documents related to Warren Foster. I'm guessing you know a lot about him, since he was the Babe Ruth or Louis Armstrong of cartoon writing. Feel free to stop by the archive any time and I'm happy to share this stuff with you.

I'm working on a post for the archive blog on cartoon story, and I'm looking for historical documents relating to the process... story meeting notes, premises, outlines, etc. If you know where I can get copies of anything like this, I'd appreciate the tip. I'd also like to hear how the process used in the past relates to how you create stories for cartoons today.


Steve Schnier said...

Making an animated cartoon isn't limited to writing and drawing. There are many other processes involved, from voice direction and music editing to board timing and art direction.

I've seen cartoons that have been horribly miscast, animation where the music didn't suit the picture and cartoons with (believe it or not) bad layouts, posing and animation. I've seen great work, butchered in (of all places) the sound mix.

Point being - if there are so many people and processes involved, why blame the writer? A bad audio mix is just as deadly as a bad script. Perhaps worse.

And another thing - show me a series that was sold, purely on the basis of the art. Pictures, no matter how pretty or funny, won't hold the audience's attention. It's the jokes, the 'business' and the STORY, that people like to watch. Stories = Writers.

RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

Except "writers" aren't the only ones who can tell "Stories". Cartoonists tend to dream up better stories for animation than any said "writer". You want examples? How about John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Hayao Myazaki, Brad Bird, Chuck Jones, Michael Maltese, Jim Reardon John Kricfalusi, Bob Clampett, Frank Tashlin, Chris Sanders, Dean Deblois, Tedd Pierce, Bill Peet...

Steve Schnier said...

Very true. But in my experience, there are an awful lot of inarticulate artists out there.

RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

Inarticulate artists?
That doesn't suprise me, what with the overwhelming number of animation writers who turn in incomprehensible scripts and treatments for the artists to figure out,interpret visually and often repair for little thanks and no credit. It's amazing they even remember thier own names.

hey marty said...

why is it always up to the already overworked artists to fix everything? I can accept that writers arent going any where and I'm fine with that. when a script is well written and makes sense and is the right length I'm greatful for it. I'm not a John K cultist who wants all writers to just go away. I just want more of them to stop sucking so very much and give half a shit about the medium they work in. its up to WRITERS to fix this problem not artists. artists have enough bullshit to deal with.
and I garantee you that if you take the annual overtime worked by the hardest working writer and compare it to the laziest artist and the artists overtime will still be at least twice as much as the writers.
you should stop viewing the artists as a resource and try being a resource to them for a change. and the reason you dont think you aren't treated like gold is because obviously no one has treated you as badly as artists are treated.
thats why this whole blog with its weepy attitude about how artists should love writers no matter how badly most of them suck is so lame.
so quit your crying and go revise your script so that it makes sense.

Anonymous said...

hey, 'hey marty':

"why is it always up to the already overworked artists to fix everything?"

"artists have enough bullshit to deal with".

And you call this blog weepy?

Stephen Worth said...

I am guessing that there are no cartoon writers out there who have any kind of sense at all of where they come from.

When I visit with animators, the talk inevitably turns to discussions of classic cartoons and the animators who created them. Animators will argue at length about the relative strengths and weaknesses of Ward Kimball, Irv Spence or Robert McKimson.

I've thrown out over a dozen names of cartoon writers on this blog. These are the men who wrote the Mickey Mouse cartoons, the Disney features, Bugs Bunny cartoons and Huck Hound and Yogi Bear. They're the writers who built the industry we all work in.

I'm asking an honest question here...

Are there any cartoon writers who have any kind of interest in Bill Peet, Joe Grant, Warren Foster or Mike Maltese. Do you even know who these people are? If you don't, shame on you.

Animators can be no better about the history of their craft. I gave a speech at the Lion King reunion where I held up a picture of a man and asked if anyone knew who it was. There was an uncomfortable silence in the room. The picture I was holding up was of Ub Iwerks, the man who created Mickey Mouse. The inventor of the multiplane camera, animation xerography and process screen technology which is still used to combine live action and animation to this day. No one knew who he was. And the picture I was holding up was pulled from the trash can at Film Roman.

If I was standing in front of a group of jazz musicians and held up a picture of Louis Armstrong, they would know who it was. Directors would recognize a photo of Alfred Hitchcock. Painters would recognize Pablo Picasso or Salvador Dali.

Why do people in the animation business have such little regard for their own medium and its history? There are too many people in animation who just see it as a stepping stone to something else that they'd rather be doing.

If animation writers truly do have respect for their medium, let's hear about it. Lip service isn't good enough. Let's see some passion instead of studio politics and griping about not being loved.

Tell me about your favorite classic cartoon and the person who wrote it.

Wide shot of a quiet landscape at night.


See ya

Steve said...


You make a valid point, but here's my counter.

The things I like about cartoons are the writing. I can tell you about Matt and Trey, and if I sat and thought about it, probably name a lot of the people who wrote on their shows. I saw the first "Spirit of Christmas" short they made, and it made me laugh.

I can tell you about how Seth Macfarlane hand drew his pilot and sold a series.

I know who Matt Groenig is, AND I can name Simpson writers.

I can tell you how much I like Paul Dini and Alan Burnett's written work with super heroes, or how much I like Dwayne McDuffie, Stan Berkowitz and Rich Fogel's stuff now.

Batman the Animated Series, and Batman Beyond forever changed how super heroes were treated. Justice League and JLU forever washed the "ick" off Superfriends and as an avid comic book fan, I will be forever grateful.

I can tell you how much it meant to me to sit down with Mark Evanier when I first started getting involved in animation.

Moving further back, I can tell you how much I hated "Three Stooges The Animated Series" but how much I adore the old Bugs Bunny, Road Runner and classic warner brothers cartoons because it worked for adults and kids.

How I grew tired of the Flintstones and the Jetsons, but couldn't stop watching Jay Ward stuff.

I liked Super Chicken. Sue me. I liked Rocky and Bullwinkle and Roger Ramjet because there was subtext.

I know who Tex Avery is. I know who Chuck Jones is. Would I recognize a photo of Ub Iwerks? Probably not.

But I know Otto Messmer's creation, because there are things about that 1960s (ish) Felix the Cat cartoon that disturb me to this day.

You look to the artists, fair enough. I look to the writers more than artists, but that's my taste. And I'm not so ignorant as to say "Chuck Jones isn't a writer."

How about the other way around? What writers do you know and like?

- Steve