The Rough Canvas of Television
I’ve called the 90’s for animation on cable as the “Wild West” for it’s lack of rules and run of rogue outlaws creating new paths. It was a time when there were so many creative animators who had been stifled for so long in both TV and feature, that the first opportunity to do something weird and different was met by extreme passion and zeal. I was fortunate to have come into that with a concept (Rocko’s Modern Life) that worked as a foundation for incredible talent to find new and distant lands.
By the time Camp Lazlo came around, things had calmed down a bit, I had kids by that time, but there were still pockets of great stuff going on, one of them was Cartoon Network. I jumped on an invitation from Linda Simensky to bring a project there, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
One of the elements I found interesting and rewarding was that so many of my crew went on to amazing projects on their own. Steve Hillenburg, of course, who I coaxed out of independent film to work on Rocko, came up with a little known yellow sponge called “Spongebob”. Dan Povenmire and Swampy Marsh went on to create “Phineas and Ferb”. And many from Rocko like Mark O’Hare, Tim Bjorklund, Nick Jennings, Derek Drymon, Chris Savino, Doug Lawrence and Conrad Vernon, went on to great heights in directing and producing high profile TV and feature projects, for Disney, Dreamworks and the major networks. From Camp Lazlo, J.G Quintel was hired out of college to work on Lazlo and went on to create and produce “The Regular Show” for Cartoon Network, and Thurop Van Orman created and produced “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack” for the same.
I am proud to be a part of a tradition in television animation that started out with the likes of Jay Ward and Bob Clampett, the cartoons I grew up with from Hanna Barbara. I love TV animation because you cannot second guess your decisions. You are shooting from the hip. Something you create on Monday, could be on the air by Sunday. It is a rough canvas, but one that is ripe with possibilities.