January 18, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kaboing TV and Frog in a Suit

It’s been almost a year since we launched Kaboing TV, and there have been a few inquiries into what the status is of both Kaboing and Frog. I have tried to explain where we are, but it seems to still be a grey area. I’ll try and elaborate. My pride sometimes fights again’st the need for full transparency.

The idea for Kaboing stemmed from an idea to bring original cartoon content to audiences via the web, from creators that may not have gotten through the door at a TV network. I’m still convinced that the web and TV will continue their merge, and as you can see from You Tube’s move to fund original content, it’s where things are going. It was never a money making venture for me, but I felt with ad revenue or subscription base, I may be able to support my family and help the animation community bring projects to fruit.

After the kickstarter drive, I started watching ad revenue ( CPM’s  Cost per 1000 impressions) drop due to influence from the big boys. I had meeting after meeting with investors and ad people trying to get them to come on board. Some nibbled, but only if we agreed on owning all of the properties that appeared on Kaboing. Since I promised that this would be an alternative to the network model, that was not a place I could go.

Most meetings were concluded with “lets see where your traffic comes out.”. Well, I poured all the kickstarter money into making the episodes ( as well as twice as much of my own money) and had little left for marketing. Most of the industry itself turned thier back on the project as ludicrous . My only hope was great traffic numbers to bring in more money for new episodes.

It didn’t happen.

At the same time, another project ( which would have funded more Frog in a Suit shorts) with a media giant, hit a snag in the negotiations and I wasn’t willing to lower the value I felt the property offered. The deal was way too lopsided.  I still own Frog, but there are a few people attached to it still,  that I would have to spend legal money de-taching them. I’ll still produce cartoons, and hopefully more shorts and story vehicles. Frog in a Suit is not dead.

With me out of money, Kevin Johnson stepped in to keep it going while we figured out what we were going to do next.( For which I am grateful).  I had to start focusing on filling the bank account again. It’s been a struggle, but as I said before, “The road through hell is paved with good intentions.”

I love the indie showcase to call attention to talented new filmmakers, and I love that my friend John Dilworth lent his support putting “Dirdy Birdy” on there. We are still reviewing submissions, but are at a crossroads.

I’m a little confused by the internet audience when my daughters show me a you tube video of a unicorn shitting rainbows that has a few million hits, and we have not even broken 6 figures. I had one investor say ” Just make a cartoon with a Dick talking, you’ll get a million hits. Puppetry of the penis. You know.”

I’m happy that the annoying fruit guys are getting their break via the web, as did “Adventure Time” ( which was originally  paid for by Nickelodeon, and let go, and Fred Seibert brought it back with the power of the web). When the value of what is offered for entertainment on the web is worked out, it will find more revenue stability. It’s still a mighty force, but it’s shaking up the music and visual arts business with value issues.

I’m so grateful to all of the kickstarter supporters and all those who have supported my work now and in the past, but we needed more eyeballs watching what we were doing. If it was because of the quality of the shorts I produced, I will take the blame for that. It was what I could do with the money we had. Some of the industry has put me in a penalty box because of the Kaboing project ( as well as some animation fans) but that was the risk I took. I still stand behind it, and I can’t think of things I would have done different with the information I had at the time. In hind sight of course, but not with what I was working with at the time.

I hope that fills you in. Kevin Johnson, Suzanne Kasch and I are still figuring out where to go next. Even in the phase we are in now, the site costs money. So we need to figure it out.

Thank you for all of your support.




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14 Responses to January 18, 2012

  1. Greg says:

    On a side note, have you considered getting into children’s eBooks? The start-up cost is minimal and I haven’t really seen any out there that have included outstanding animation. You already have professional experience in both children’s book creation and animation so matching the two would make sense.

    A lot of people are deterred because they think “I’m an artist, not a programmer, I can’t make an app eBook.” But with software like Kwik (www.Kwiksher.com), you only need to know how to paste artwork into Photoshop layers and it writes all of the coding for you. Last month I sold 500 copies of my first and right now only children’s eBook through Amazon and iTunes. I’m not well known and had no experience writing and I still managed to turn a profit.

    Someone like yourself who can not only draw and animate extremely well, but also knows what it takes to write a published children’s book could make a small fortune that you could use to fund all of your indie cartoons that we all love. The big name app studios pull anywhere from 1-5 million a month from app sales, if you could tap into a small fraction of that, FIAS could live on forever.

  2. Greg says:

    I’m actually working on my second children’s eBook as we speak. Drawing it all in Flash, then “programming” it in Photoshop using the Kwik plug-in. If you’re interested in going that route I’d be more than happy to walk you through the process of getting it setup. Once you get the Kwik, Corona, iTunes, and Amazon stuff out of the way, the only thing stopping you is your imagination.

  3. Gabe Swarr says:

    I love Frog in a Suit! I also love that you are continuing barrel down the road less taken! Good luck, you are doing the right thing and you will be rewarded for it at some point!

  4. I’m sorry to have to read such a sobering post, Joe. There’s no doubt it’s been a tough project to get up and running and you deserve a massive amount of credit for that.

    Kaboing TV is a pioneering venture though, and clearly you’re one of the very few people in the industry with the kajones to see it through. There’s no reason for anyone to put you in a “penalty box”. Those are the same people that would begrudge you for doing something they didn’t think of themselves.

    You’ve gunned for quality of quantity and I respect you a lot for doing that, rather than scraping the bottom of the barrel as plenty of other sites do. Besides, getting millions of hits is one thing but if all they’re doing is sucking your bandwidth then those eyeballs aren’t worth chasing.

    I believe in your project and I think it can work. The right solution will come along at just the right time, it always does 🙂


  5. Nick Fortunato says:

    Hopefully everything works out for the best. I love the concept of Kaboing and I hope it can continue to grow. The ebook idea that Greg suggested sounds really cool. I also don’t understand how some of these youtube vids get so many hits when most of them aren’t funny nor creative. And it seems like the ones that are just get overlooked. Maybe society is becoming more and more like the movie Idiocracy. Anyway, all the best to you and you’re endeavors.

  6. amanda says:

    Kaboing tv may be on life support but I believe it still has a fighting chance! Take Gutsy Moss for example, just when he was about to get fully dissected and it seemed like there was no hope, he was reprieved. Someone had finally realized that ol’ Gutsy was something special and that he deserved to live and thrive. So they sewed him back up and now he’s doing great! Sure he may have a few scars but hey, if none of that had happened he wouldn’t be able to do his really cool trick! Basically what I’m trying to say is that great things can come from unexpected places and even though kaboing tv may have hit a bump in the road there could be something really cool right around the corner! Let’s just hope it doesn’t involve any guts.

  7. Tom says:

    Hi Joe,

    It seems like the most popular Internet videos are either over-the-top stupid, offensive, or utilizing whatever search topic is trending at the moment. While this may generate hits, it’s not a good way to create lasting, high-quality content.

    Since Kaboing was always intended to be an alternative venue for cartoons first and a money-maker second, I feel like it hasn’t been a total failure. Even today, I still get e-mails from people who were exposed to my work through your site (and probably never would have seen it otherwise).

    Perhaps an approach akin to something like the old Channel Frederator used to be (using little-known preexisting shorts rather than original content) could help to cheaply grow a sizable audience which you could then use to sell advertising and finance your own episodes. I know you are all about making sure the artists get what they deserve (as more people should be), but I’m sure there are many young animators out there who feel like having the endorsement of a a great cartoonist such as yourself is more than enough payment.

    In the end, however, do what you need to do and don’t feel pressured to get Kaboing back up and running if you don’t think the time is right. I’m disappointed that there are any animation fans who think you didn’t give KaboingTV everything you could. Please be assured they are probably a very small (although vocal) minority. The rest of us are behind you and your decisions 100%!

  8. Corey says:

    Thanks for the update. You tried something different, went against the grain, & whether you won or lost, that is a sign of a true winner.

  9. In the Arena

    It is not the critic who counts;
    not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
    or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
    whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
    who strives valiantly;
    who errs,
    comes up short again and again,
    because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
    but who does actually strive to do the deeds;
    who knows the great enthusiasms,
    the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
    who at the best knows in the end
    the triumph of high achievement,
    and who at the worst, if he fails,
    at least fails while daring greatly,
    so that his place shall never be with those
    cold and timid souls
    who neither know victory nor defeat.

    -Theodore Roosevelt

  10. MackJ says:

    I’ve supported ( not financially, but morally) KaboingTV and Frog in a Suit since day one. Showing my friends if the opportunity presented it’s self, etc. I just want to express my appreciate for what you tried. As a young animator I find solace in your attempt to make a better creative outlet for us. Your blog, work and passion for animation and art inspire me daily.

  11. Ross Irving says:

    Joe, I don’t even know what to say. It stings because I was just talking about Kaboing’s potential to some people when the news broke just this morning that the place is virtually defunct. You and everyone who worked to put Kaboing together deserved better than this. I hope that your situation evens out soon, man.

  12. Mr. Semaj says:

    Whatever I’m about to suggest you’ve probably already considered, but you have made yourself available online long enough for people to connect with the creator of Rocko and Lazlo, two shows that people seem to remember fondly.

    I think KaboingTV is faced with two main challenges:

    1) Most cable TV channels started with a certain volume of programming based on a particular niche.
    Cartoon Network was launched with a large catalog of cartoons acquired by Ted Turner over a 10-year period, which due to their collective variety and appeal, eventually allowed them to start creating their very own content. Their new content became just one place where the latest CalArts graduates could find a job and launch a career.
    Kaboing probably could’ve started with more independent entries, from enough sources to support a bigger slate. With enough public and financial support, it could’ve led to a recruiting session for the newest animators, some from the top art colleges, and some from among your own students.

    2) There seems to be an eternal paradox between art and commerce. The beautiful things in life are works of art, yet art rarely speaks loud enough on its own. Commerce has the resources to get things noticed (hence the logic behind Citizens United), but it gets to the point where everything is defined by profit.
    I take it Kaboing tried to launch with moderation on both ends, but ultimately didn’t reach far enough.

    The good thing about the Internet is that there’s more room to try again if something fails the first time. I’m sure KaBoingTV will eventually mold itself into a winning commodity.

  13. Julian says:

    Joe, I’ve been reading your blog over the past year, and I got to say, I’m not surprised. Actually, the only reason I come here is to follow up on kaboing and hear your opinion on the state of animation (and get some Rockistory 🙂 ), which I have to say I mostly agree on. It seems there’s three types of viewers. People with the attention span of a dog looking for treats, who want a quick “LOL, THAT’S SOOOOO CUTE/FUNNY” (sell your soul for an easy but quick cash cow), people who actually like and appreciate animation and good writing (viewers who got shows like the Simpsons off the ground and kept it going), and the type who are either stuck in the past or just like older styles of things. Not judging, I think we can agree John K. fits the last type, yet I love Ren and Stimpy and think he and his crew did a great job on it. But that’s just it. If you want you want a quality animation outlet, you got to get a hold of the last two types, those who will get into and appreciate the stuff you and others like you make. And I’m not saying you did a sucky job either, the last two are hard to get. You have to do more than make some cheap flash video of talking fruits getting cut up and throwing the latest meme in the title. You got to do what you like, and make it known who you are, what you do, and what you stand for. Which you’ve already managed to do and you’re still not giving up, most people (like myself) would have thrown the towel in by now. I’m not trying to sound like an elitist know it all, just my feedback and observations as a viewer.

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