Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Moving a post here because it's the start of a... dare I say it... civil conversation?

And by the way, crap.

I spent a couple hours on the plane to Toronto writing an incredibly vitriolic post that went point for point on the post Stephen had said I was evading...

...only to land, log on, and see this:

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.


You got it.

I'll say it up front - I'm not an encyclopedia of animation history, I just know what I like and I try to learn as I go.

But I am more than willing to learn from you, as well as talk (at the very least) about my theories on what I like in cartoons and how I like to produce them, as long as it's not some sort of ambush and I'm going to end up dead in a dumpster with a pencil jabbed through my heart and a wacom tablet smashed against my head.

(Note I used both pencil and technology out of respect to the evolving nature of the industry.)

I'll also winnow down the other post, as there's a lot of my theory in there and post that another day.

In the meantime... writers? Feel free to proactively talk about your influences (animated and written) and how it's shaped what you do.

From Toronto...

- Steve

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