Thursday, June 21, 2007

Kevin Gamble, I would take a bullet for you.

In the shoulder, sure, and the left one, because I play the Wii with my right arm.... but still.

From the George of the Jungle "discussion" at Cartoon Brew where Kevin Gamble, the Executive Producer of the show, stuck his stick into the hornets nest of daring to defend his cartoon:

06/21/07 6:17pm

Oh man! Holy smokes, this is awesome. An network friend of mine just emailed me and said “you are a brave man to step into that shark pit with your real name”. Look at all these responses! This is awesome! This is like a nerd gang fight. Waaaarriors, come out to plaaaay!

And they’re off!

Mel says: Jay Ward’s stuff was never visually brilliant but the writing was first class. This very episode also has a subtext about the stupidity of selling out to big moneyed interests. When’s the last time a contemporary, ‘cutting edge’ corporate-backed piece of cartoon crap dared seriously broach that subject?”

REPLY: We don’t, Mel. And we probably never will. That’s the point. A story about big bad corporate interests? What nine year old wants to watch that? None of them. Because they don’t give a shit about corporate finance structures. BECAUSE THEY’RE NINE.

LISTEN UP, GUYS. You all drone on about how evil I am to use phrases like “kid relatable” and how I’m a horrible corporate monster or how I use “myopic angling” (whatever the hell that is). Here it is in plain, easy to follow, angry artist terms:


How’s this for an example: If Kellogs made a Breakfast cereal for kids that was an amazing fusion of 12 year old Bourbon and limes, I would leap out of my pants and buy a dozen cases. But guess what? the cereal would fail in 2 months and be taken off the shelves, and the guy who green-lit it would be fired. So Kellogs is probably never going to make that cereal (much to my chagrin).

“why not make a show that funny to you, me, and kids”. Because if I said that in a pitch, I’d never sell a show. Shows that run on kids channels have to hit hard with kids. It has to appeal to 6-11 year old kids. Anybody else it attracts a fun bonus. Kids first. Everyone else a way, WAY distant second.

Elliot Cowan says: “Kevin - just for fun let’s assume that you’re correct and everyone here has completely missed the point.
Your defense still doesn’t justify why it is ugly.”

REPLY: Come on Elliot, surely you understand that art is subjective. Some people think Basil Wolverton’s stuff is amazing. Some people think it’s a slightly nicer version of what you’d find doodled on the inside cover of a 9th Grade math textbook. Who’s right?

The art director on my show, Josh, is AMAZING. He’s got a clothing line that he does on the side that sells in Toyko, London, New York and Paris. Apparently some people think he has talent. Man, I took my 5 year old neice to see a small Monet showing here in town and she declared all the paintings as being “messy” and “outside the lines”. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

Vincent says: “This is patently ridiculous. Johnny Bravo A great show? Failed because of his V shape? Who writes this crap? How much money was wasted to have someone study Johnny Bravo and decide that his shape was what drove people away from that show?”

REPLY: I was trying to be nice. I’d say Johnny Bravo failed to get a big audience because it’s about a 30-something guy who spends all his time trying to get laid and has no success in doing so. Me? I love the show. Because I’m a 30-someting guy with a similar success rate! I can totally relate! But to Skippy Skipperson, age eight, Johnny Bravo is a big fat guy with no friends because he’s fat and a poo-poo-dum-dum head. Skippy would rather watch Fosters, which has a funny blue character named Blue who says really funny things and does funny stuff. How is that so hard to understand? Our show’s main character hits trees. A LOT. It’s big and funny and goofy and it’s designed to make kids laugh.

Don says: “I think Kevin does deserve a kick in the nuts. Using kid’s tastes today as a scapegoat for bad designs is atrocious. ALSO: “One last thing….your knowledge of flash animation was demonstrated very clearly in the earlier video. Please leave the flash talk to the professionals, like Jayson”.

REPLY: Kick away, Don! For Christmas, my aunt bought me a puffy green sweater that has this massive reindeer head knitted on the front, and a red LED light on the nose that you power with a 9 volt battery. She thinks it’s “absolutely the funniest thing in the world” and declared it “the best design ever”. Do you have one of those sweaters? Why don’t we just agree to disagree and say we each have a different sense of style. Throw me a link to your work and show me what good design is, please!

I’ll spot you the point on the Flash thing. I don’t know Flash to save my life. I can open a scene to view it, but that’s about it. This is my first Flash show, having come from 3D. I can’t even draw a stick man – I came from live action. But I’m not claiming to be an artist. I haven’t even watched the interview (it’s just to painful, I get about ten seconds in and just moan about how bald I look and close the window in disgust). Did I even try to talk tech on the show? I don’t remember doing so, but I guess I did. Eesh, that was a bad idea. Point taken, I’ll STFU next time!

DanO says: “its fitting that you mention the Muppet Show, a show made over 20 years ago that can still entertain people of all ages today as much as it did all those years ago.”

REPLY: Dan, I may be crazy here, but do you honestly think today’s 8 year old boys will sit still and watch a musical variety show featuring Crystal Gayle & Julie Andrews singing love songs? I don’t. I think they’d probably fall asleep, or more likely just switch over to the Xbox.

Rose colored glasses, man. The show was great back in the day. American Idol, I guess, would be the latest incarnation of that genre? Which is a shame, because I’d pay good money to see another “Pigs in Space”.

I’m 34 – when I was a kid, I LIVED the Transformer cartoons. They were AWESOME! My first gig in animation 10 years ago was as a coordinator on the CG Beas Wars series. Jackpot! I was so excited! So I went back and watched a bunch of the old 80’s episodes on VHS to get back in the groove. Know what? Man, the rose colored glasses didn’t just fall off, they EXPLODED all over my face. It’s old stuff, old style, old storytelling. It wasn’t at ALL what I remembered. The kids of today want different things. My neice won’t watch Totoro because she can’t get through the first 15 minutes because it’s too slow. Which is a real shame. But what can you do? Go all Clockwork Orange on them and force them to watch what’s “good for them”?

We’re making cartoons for kids. If kids don’t turn on the dial and dig it, we’ve failed.

My job is to make sure that for half an hour a day, when a kid turns on his TV and sees my show, that he forget about everything else. I want him to bask in the glow of the TV, and feels like my show is speaking directly to him, telling stories he relates to, by characters he understands and cares about. So for twenty two minutes he can tune out mom & dad fighting in the kitchen about the gas bill, and forget about that asshole bully who made fun of his goofy plastic backpack, and not think about how hard math is and stop thinking that he’s stupid because everyone else in his class seems to get it, and how unfair it is that Susy next door has a kick-ass brand new bike while he’s got a shitty rusty hand-me-down that his brother gave him before he went off to fight in some stupid war in a place he can’t even spell.

That kid is going to watch my show; he’s going to see George hit a tree and he’s going to laugh. He’s going to watch a groaner of a gag that you and I and all the animation nerds have seen a thousand times before and he’s going to laugh too, because it’s new to him. He’s going to laugh and have fun and for twenty two lousy minutes, none of the stuff in his life that crap that grinds him every day is going to matter.

Because I make stories for kids; for six to eleven year old kids. I make stories for those kids, which I think is the greatest job in the whole god damned universe.

And I know my crew feels the same way, and we all do the best job we can with the time and resources we have at our disposal. Every episode of George ships to the networks still warm, having just coming out of the D-Beta machine. We’re busting out asses to make a great show for those kids, milking every last second out of every day until we are absolutely and completely out of time.

And if some 30-something art nerd doesn’t like what we do, well, I don’t really give a rats ass. My team and I make it for the kids, and they’ll decide what sucks and what doesn’t.

Kevin Gamble,
Producer, “George of the Jungle”."

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

PIng! Pong! Now, a post from Cartoon Brew I disagree with

It's Underdog, folks. And he hasn't been on TV long enough for three generations of dogs to have died in the real world.

Usually I'm pretty on board with Jerry Beck over at Cartoon Brew, but the rage on this - in the comments section, not in his post - and in the animation community, seems pretty silly. To me.

Cartoon Brew, which we likey. Even when we disagree... ey.

Underdog was a cartoon about a dog that put on a costume and battled crime. It has been turned into a live action movie about a dog that puts on a costume and fights crime.

Is it stupid? Yeah. Is it good stupid? Who knows. Spider-man 3 thought it was art, but it was ass. Maybe this knows it's not art and will be something else. Something better than ass.

It boils down to this: I'm up for giving it a chance. If something you love from your generation is "upgraded" for the next one, it can go one of two ways. Batman Begins, or Nipples on the Batsuit. The first Spiderman, or a maskless Tobey McGuire sitting on a rooftop, clearly five carmel apples to the wind, losing a battle to both Venom AND Funyons.

But Underdog was a knock off of Superman. And now, somebody knocked it off.

My Jury's out.