Friday, August 29, 2008

Random Animation News

The newest Cartoon Network original series, The Secret Saturdays, is set to premiere this October on a new Friday night fantasy/adventure block. Created by Jay Stephens, the series is about a family of cryptozoologists that work to keep the truth about cryptids from getting out, to protect both the human race and the creatures themselves. 26 episodes were produced for the channel by Porchlight Entertainment.

The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, Cartoon Network's newest comedy series, has been picked up for a 20-episode second season that is likely to start airing next summer. Also, the remaining 8 episodes of the first season will start airing this winter. Created by Thurop Van Orman, the series is about a young boy named Flapjack who dreams of becoming an adventurer. Produced by Cartoon Network Studios.

The animated short Adventure Time, created by Pendleton Ward for Nick's Random Cartoons, was picked up by Cartoon Network as a series. Pendleton Ward is currently a writer on the animated series Flapjack. Adventure Time is about a boy named Pen and his dog Jake, and there adventures in a strange land. Where the show is being produced is currently unknown. Short can be seen here.

The animated short, Fanboy and Chum Chum, has recently been greenlighted for series by Nickelodeon. Originally to air as part of Random Cartoons, the short is about...some boy who wants to be a superhero. Created by Eric Robles, the series is being produced at Frederator Studios. 26 episodes have been ordered. More information available at production blog.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cartoon Review - Interview with Jay Stephens

Hello and welcome to Cartoon Review! Instead of doing that late Cartoon Review of Phineas and Ferb, I decided to do an interview with Jay Stephens. Jay, if you didn't know, is a cryptozoology freak who is the creator of the upcoming Cartoon Network show "The Secret Saturdays" (which I think will be one of the best action shows ever, maybe even better than Avatar). It's a rather short interview, which just answers a few short questions. So without adu, here's the interview!

Me : Where did you grow up, and did your childhood have any affect on your work?
Jay: I grew up in a traditional North American 'broken home' where I was abandoned for hours-- even days-- at a time in front of a TV or with a stack of comic books. I found the love and nurturing I needed in junk culture, and it definitely sent me on this screwy 'career' path. I had to hone my imagination while dreaming up a happy childhood.

Me: How did the idea for your other animated series, Tutenstein, come about?
Jay: When I was 7 I saw a touring exhibit of 'The Treasures Of Tutankhamen' at the Art Gallery Of Ontario, and it blew my mind. Much later, I thought the idea of cross breeding a living mummy with Frankenstein's Monster would be wicked cool.

Me: Before Tutenstein and The Secret Saturdays, I hear you worked in comics. What was some of your work in that and how did you end up in animation?
Jay: I worked in comics (and continue to) for 15 years before coming to animation. You could do some homework on that stuff at my website:
Basically, an executive saw my comics and thought they might make good TV. First Jetcat for Nick, then Tut, and the rest is history.

Me: How was it, working on The Secret Saturdays? And if the channel lets you, would you work on a third season?
Jay: We don't have a second season yet, so I'm not sure of what you mean (the first season order was for 26 episodes). CN has been my best experience in animation to date, by a wide margin. I would be delighted to continue the relationship.

Me: How did the Saturdays end up with Cartoon Network?
Jay: They were the only network we shopped it to with the vision to see it through. As luck would have it, the success of Ben 10 had executives hungry for more action stuff. I've been trying to get in that door for years, so it came as a kind of anti-climactic shock to suddenly be doing business with the best animated network out there.

Me: How did you end up being so interested in monsters and cryptids?
Jay: I've been told I have a sick mind. Monsters creep into my thoughts pretty naturally, I guess! When I was in grade school, I was voracious in my private reading habits, sneaking off to the Library across the street from my house as often as possible. It was there that I first discovered the secret science of cryptozoology, and I used evidence for the existence of Bigfoot as my grade 4 Public Speaking project. I won first prize. Cryptids have been good to me ever since.

Me: What do you do in your spare time?
Jay: Get well in a Mental Hospital. For real.

Me: Are there any significant people that influence your work?
Jay: Far too many to list here, and it's an ever expanding list. I can tell you that I was looking to Alex Toth, Doug Wildey, Warren TuftsMilt Caniff, Roy Crane, Harvey Kurtzman, Daniel Torres, Jack Kirby, and Hergé as inspiration for the Secret Saturdays.

Me: Are there any secrets you can reveal about upcoming episodes?
Jay: If I told you, I'd have to sick my chupacabras on you.

Jay Stephens' "The Secret Saturdays" is set to premiere in October on Cartoon Network's new fantasy/adventure/action block along with Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Friday, August 15, 2008

PVoA #3 - The Cartoons That Weren't

Welcome to my PVoA, my Personal Views of Animation. Unlike the past two PVoA's, this one reads more like a Cartoon Review, since I'll be reviewing the two pilots I'm about to talk about. The first pilot is called "The Wizzard of Krudd", and was created by both Greg Miller (creator of the Cartoon Network series "Whatever Happened to Robot Jones") and Mike Stern for Nickelodeon. The second one I'm to show you is called "Zoot Rumpus", and was created by Kaz (of Spongebob Squarepants and Camp Lazlo fame) for Cartoon Network. So I don't have to spend time making a bunch of screenshots, I'll just post the videos.

Creator(s): Greg Miller and Mike Stern

Running Time: 7 minutes and 32 seconds (the 2 minutes after that are a quick, soundless summary of the pilot)

Network: Nickelodeon

Rating: B+

Status: Stored in a Viacom warehouse, never to see the light of day...except for the occasional "Shorts in a Bunch" airing. 

The Wizzard of Krudd is basically about a young rocker Gordo McMullett who is enslaved by the evil wizard Butterbeard and his two idiotic goblin side-kicks in the strange land of Krudd. However, from the pilot, you can see that Gordo doesn't even realize he's a prisoner. If you have watched Whatever Happened to Robot Jones, then you will realize the 70s-80s feel Greg gives the cartoon. In fact, it wouldn't be hard to believe if both shows did take place in that time.

It feels like it could have made a good, retro styled cartoon if it was truly given the chance. However, it wasn't and it ended up not getting picked up for a series. It has a quirky humor and style to it that I really like. It would have made a good show, and I would have watched it. And the thing truly fits the Nickelodeon name.


Creator(s): Kazimieras G. Prapuolenis (aka 'Kaz')

Running Time: 6 minutes and 34 seconds (this is just the first half of the pilot. Once the second part is put up on Youtube, I'll edit this post with it)

Rating: B

Status: Still a chance for the short to be greenlighted.

Zoot Rumpus is about a junkyard dog named Zoot and his attempts to prove that he could run the junkyard one day. It's a pretty zany cartoon that really feels like an old-school Nickelodeon show (like Rocko's Modern Life and The Angry Beavers). At first glances, it feels and looks like a Nick show, but after a while you can see that it has the markings of a Cartoon Network cartoon. In terms of humor, it's somewhere between Camp Lazlo and Rocko's Modern Life (both which were created by Joe Murray). The artwork is pretty appealing to my eyes, and the animation is decent.

Zoot is a good cartoon, but could it still get picked up for a series. It may depend. If Cartoon Network airs it as part of Cartoonstitute, then positive viewer response might make CN execs decide to greenlight it. After all, they do need some more shows going on. However, if it was up to themselves, Zoot could get the boot. We just need to wait and see...

Thousands of cartoon pilots and ideas get submitted year, but only a small handful end up getting greenlighted. The two I just showed you are but two of the many pilots out there. If you were in the position to choose, would you have accepted these shorts or toss them out to the cold? If it were up to me, I would have accepted these for at least one season, to see how they would do. After all, I liked them a lot. But that's all I can really say for now. Both these pilots were good comedies, even though they didn't make me laugh (Zoot Rumpus came close though). Anyway, come by next week for my next PVoA on Toon Disney. Racattack Force, over and out...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What's Coming Up...

All these blog posts will most likely happen in the order listed. Also, Tednut has been put on hiatus for the time being, I'll explain it next month. As you can see below, I plan to do four more blog posts this month, and a whopping nine posts next month.

Later This August...

This September...

  • A PVoA on Nickelodeon, and most importantly, it's animation.

  • A Cartoon Followup Review of "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack".

  • A PVoA on Disney XD, and it's possible future effects on current Toon Disney animation.

  • A Cartoon Followup Review of "Total Drama Island".

  • A PVoA on Williams Street, the company that made Cartoon Network's Toonami and Adult Swim blocks.

  • A Cartoon Followup Review of "Chowder".

  • Where's Tednut!?: Why the webtoon is on "hiatus"...

  • A Cartoon Review on The Secret Saturdays, if not done the previous month.

  • The start of my "History of Animation" series, in which I will write (for over a year) about animation history: in the United States and all over the world.

Friday, August 8, 2008

PVoA #2 - Cartoon Network

Welcome to my PVoA, my Personal Views of Animation. This is the second part of my writings on Time Warner's animation library. For this part, I'm going to be focusing on Cartoon Network, and what the channel could do to improve itself. Sure, it's going up in the ratings now, but it still has some work to do. Basically, I'm going to be discussing programming and schedule. Oh, and that WALL-E review...I may never get to completing it. If it isn't up by the end of the week, then don't expect anything. And just so you know, I saw the movie on July 1st.
Cartoon Network...ah yes, the ESPN of animation. The channel is doing fairly well in the ratings. Each month, the channel continues to get more an more viewers with it's "Har Har Tharsdays" block. Tweens 9-14 (my age group) went up 69% in just weeks. If that happened because of shows like Total Drama Island (which I've grown to love) and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack (which is now tied for #1 series on the network), then just imagine what will happen when The Secret Saturdays, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, & Batman: The Brave and The Bold premiere in the next two months. The channel will go from a distant third to a closer third. And just add Cartoonstitute, the original movies (based on comics) they are developing, and anymore future projects to the mix. Cartoon Network could be heading towards it's former glory. But, that doesn't mean there isn't anymore room for improvement. No, far from it. There's some things the channel must do before it becomes truly great...


First off, Cartoon Network can keep the live action if it wants. As long as it continues to make up less than 5% of the weekly schedule (it currently makes up 1% to 2%). And I'm okay with them making The Vanishers comic a live-action instead of animated TV movie. In fact, the creator wants that, since he said he wanted it to be portrayed as realistically as possible. As long as animation continues to more than dominate the network, it's okay by me.

Second off, Cartoon Network should consider airing more classical programming. They air close to two hours of Tom and Jerry every day, so the least they could do is air some of The Flintstones and The Jetsons. Maybe some Smurfs and Snorks would do. And I don't care when they air the stuff. They could air in in the early mornings or in the middle of the afternoon, just air the stuff.

Third off, in addition of airing classic programming, they should air some of their old Cartoon Cartoons. Dexter's Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls just have to air on the channel again. In the early mornings or late at night, I don't care, I just want to wake up and see them. Same for the 90s Warner Bros. cartoons. Which brings me to my own example schedule idea...


This is an example schedule I made for Cartoon Network. It features classical cartoons, the Warner Bros. cartoons of the 90s, the old Cartoon Cartoons, current CN programming, and future CN programming. The red is for the "Dynamite Action Squad" block, if it still exists at that point. The green is for an after school block, the light purple for "Har Har Tharsdays", and dark red/brown for "Fried Dynamite" (it has started to get some real ratings, so it's gotta stay). Oh yeah, the black is for "Toonami", and the blue for the "Flicks" movie premiere block.

With this schedule, HHT is now three hours, and both "Fried Dynamite" & "Toonami" are four hours. Monday mornings feature action cartoons, Tuesday mornings show comedy, Wednesdays have Cartoon Cartoons, Thursdays are the classics, and Fridays are the 90s Warner Bros. cartoons. Saturday and Sunday mornings are just simply random. Like now, movies are on at 10 am every day except Saturday. And there is also a marathon every Sunday afternoon. Saturday afternoons show encores of premiere episodes that aired earlier in the week. In case you don't know, Cartoonstitute is a shorts project Cartoon Network is currently working on. It's similar to the What A Cartoon! Show that aired years before. Ironically, Cartoon Network seemed to have trademarked the phrase. Maybe as a new slogan for the network...who knows?

Of course, in the summer, Cartoon Network is free to do what every other kids network does: air their most popular shows 50 times a day. But for fall, winter, and spring, they have to mix it up a bit a give us some variety. And that's it for today. Next week, I'll talk a bit about some cartoon pilots that never got picked up for series, one or two from Nick, and one or two from Cartoon Network. Whatever pilots I can actually show you...

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