Thursday, April 12, 2007

Why don't animation writers have more of a community?

Simple question, I think.

One of the things I'm always struck by is the fraternity of artists. And the other thing I am occasionally struck by is how distant and in their own world writers tend to be.

I think part of this is shared history. Artists commune from the past and have a shared history of toiling to learn their craft by learning from others and learning with others.

Writers tend to seclude themselves - in their own offices, or in their own head - and crack their ideas internally.

I wonder: Does the fact that artists tend to be more collaborative than writers lead them to be more connected with people that share their skills?

Late night pondering, as I forwarn Gordon Biersch, is all.

- Steve

P.S. Got a blog over at that I'm particularly happy with. If ya get a chance, peek at it. But since it's not about animation, I'm just linking.


Anonymous said...

I think it just appears that writers don't have a community since the number of animation writers to "artists" is so much smaller. I hang out with animation writers all the time, most of them are my closest friends. And yes I'm even close friends with many "artists".

I agree that writers tend to work in a more solitary fashion, not by choice, it's just the nature of the job. It's difficult to write in a noisy environment filled with interruptions - and don't point to the posers at StarBucks, I don't know any real writer who writes in public.

From my experience "artists" are collaborative within their own community, and so are writers. Whenever I'm on staff, the writers are always at each other's door talking through premises, gags, stories, dialog, etc. - I've been part of many writer rooms and roundtables where we've had an "artist" or "artists" present... I've attended several board pitches and punches, but not nearly as many as I would like.

So, I'd say it's really 50/50 within each community, just handled differently on both sides. But between the two professions, there's not much collaboration usually, and not by choice really, it's the system, flawed as it is.

None of the above is an endorsement for how I think things ought to be, nor do I feel one group is better than the other... that's just my personal experience.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's time for you to face the sad reality that nobody likes writers - especially other writers.


See you at Gordon Biersch!

Anonymous said...

Beer. A writer's true friend. ;-) See ya' there.

Anonymous said...

Actually... I think this post is a good example of demonstrating that animation writers don't have a community.

Only four posts (now) from the same two people-- and just the first post on the topic.

Where's the angry "asswipe guy" when you need him?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


I feel so much better now!

Abby Goldsmith said...

I'm an animator (CalArts alumni) aspiring to be a writer (screenplays and novels), and I've often wondered about this. Why is there such a disconnect between writers and artists in animation? Why can't they at least work in the same building. I'm sure that some actual collaboration could lead to good cartoons.

Steve said...

Actually, Abby - writers and artist do work in the same building, most of the time.

At Disney, on "Replacements" and "Phineas and Ferb." At Nick on "Fairly Oddparents" and "Spongebob."

Interesting factoid: One script show, one board driven show each.

My big thought here is that writers don't have the same "community" that artists do... at least in animation... and while I don't have an answer as to why, I wanted to voice the question.

Do you network with writers? I try to. That, I think, is how it starts.

Anonymous said...

Almost every show I've ever worked on the writers and the artists have been in the same building and usually all in the same work area.

I'd worked in animation for several years before I discovered that there was a rift, or disconnect, between "artists" and the writers. And this came as a huge disappointing shock to me. But when it really hit home was during the 839 negotiations back in the 90's - THAT was an eye opener as to how the "artists" view the writers and how the union views its members.

But I digress, that's off topic I suppose for this post.

Steve said...

Oddly enough, I think you'll find that writers and artists as individuals get along fine.

It's "groups" that don't get along with "groups" in theory.

In practice, and in person, it's a hell of a lot harder to dislike a person because of the function they serve on a production.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed that we artists like to get together and admire each other's ... artwork. You know, like gallery openings, etc. (We have also found that in other circles, being a nerd is not nearly as cool as we've managed to make it in our community.)

But I can't speak for you writers. I suspect that there just is not a really long "animation writing" history there to speak of.

I actually recommend that you look at this a little differently.

Don't ask where the animation writers' community is. It SHOULD be exactly where the artists' community is. Ask yourself why the writers have not become a part of it. (And, no, you can't blame the few disgruntled artists that hate writers.) After all, as an animation writer, you really should consider yourself an artist of sorts by now. Attend some gallery openings of the artists on your team.(The ones that take place in the lobby of your studio don't count.) Get to know the craft you are working in a little better, it's history etc. and be willing to talk about it.

I know of some writers who are somewhat proud of the fact that they know practically nothing about animation history...and yet this is one of the subjects animators love to blather on about.

Trust me, if the artists overheard the writers on their show discussing the genius of Bill Scott, they would be truly impressed...if they hadn't already died from the initial shock.

Anonymous said...

I found this intriguing entry through the Mayerson on Animation blog.

What an interesting parallel to computer programmers I wasn't aware of! I made note of the lack of visual tools in the design and communication of software on my blog (, but was unaware of this behavioral divergence between animators and the writers before. I wonder if this isolationist tendency is endemic to writers of all media types.