Year End Reflection?
This time of year always has me looking closer. I don’t know why. This morning at breakfast, my daughter Casey told me she thought it was cool that I’ve made a career out of being ” weird”. Yes, I thought,,, that’s pretty true.
Yes, I had a TV fall on my head when I was young. And I suppose it made me see the world in a skewed way. Truths became satire. People turned into characters. Animals talked.
I published my own newspaper when I was 12. Who was going to listen to this weirdness in my head? . Yes I tried drugs and drinking, but nothing did it for me except making cartoons, characters and telling stories.
My weirdness at times crossed over into commerce. In my teens and 20′s, I worked in advertising, editorial, books. I even won some awards. I helped others communicate ideas and got paid for it.
But the work. I loved the work. I started animating my characters and stories, and suddenly these characters who have always been alive in my head, starting talking on the screen. My films got watched and also won awards. Got into some cool festivals.
A new cable channel called Nickelodeon asked if I thought my weirdness could translate to an animated series for TV. I first said no, but then thought it was a challenge I would like to try. Luckily the people in charge at the time were as weird as I was and Rocko’s Modern Life debuted in 1993. At the network, some mainstream people replaced the weird people and tried to get me to be not so weird. So we stopped making Rocko’s.
I launched another weird animated show on Cartoon Network called Camp Lazlo in 2004. We even won some prime time Emmy’s, which made me worry that I was becoming mainstream. That what I did in television was not cutting any new ground. Lazlo ended.
I’ve been trying out new weird ideas on the web and in other media. New film projects which may find an audience, or may not.I mentor and teach others to cut through the mainstream and get to “new and exciting.” If I’m not finding the sweet spot, I love to watch others do it.
I continue to make characters and stories. Sometimes they find relevance in commerce. Sometimes they don’t. Even after some of the “successes” I’ve had in mass media, I still have entertainment “people” tell me ” I don’t get it.” My stuff isn’t fitting in to what is selling out there.
Well, I’m kinda proud of that. It tells me I’m on the right track. I’ll find others who connect with my work. I’ve heard “no” a million times. If you don’t get buried by them and instead build stairs out of them, the “no’s” will get you where you need to be.
But it still comes down to the empty page and the pencil. That’s where life is. That’s where my life has always been.