What is your name?
How did you become interested in animation?
Watching Saturday morning cartoons
and after school cartoons. bugs bunny, bullwinkle, underdog, superÂ chicken, johnny quest, sid and marty kroft, monty python. i thought “someone drew that stuff” so I tried to
draw a cartoon character, i think it was Lyle Lion with overlappingÂ cartoon eyes. yellow submarine was a big influence as far as beingÂ inspired to draw weirder, abstract stuff.Â and sunday comics, Cathy, Fred Basset. No actually I loved Tumbleweeds, Peanuts, figments, the Wizard of Id. I was always drawingÂ comics and trying to create my own comic strip. Then I got into MAD, National Lampoon comics and RAW, Gary Panter had that scraggly punk look that changed my outlook on trying to draw perfect perspective cartoons. I started drawing comics without sketching them out, just pen and ink improv stuff, totally fun and scrappy. That’s how Glue started, a comic that turned into an online animated series for Wildbrain.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from a northern Cal. town called Fremont. How convenient, right?Â IÂ moved to San Francisco and worked in an art supply store. The peopleÂ that worked at Colossal Pictures would buy supplies there and I’d alwaysÂ bug them about working there. So finally I got hired in the Ink andÂ Paint dept, painting animation cels for things like cereal commercialsÂ and MTV’s Liquid TV with a bunch of like-minded SF artists and musicians.Â I eventually started getting pulled out of there to do cartoonÂ designs for things like music videos, Disney channel interstitials,Â Cartoon Network.com interactive cartoons.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Well right now I’m in development mode. I’m not at aÂ studio, but developing a project with Mary Harrington (Rugrats, InvaderÂ Zim) whom I did a Nickelodeon animated pilot with a few years agoÂ called Kung fu Spy Troll.Â I also teach cartoon art classes part time to kids which is really fun.Â They love seeing my animated stuff and I show them the process ofÂ cartoon development. I may start working with troubled teens as art therapy, even though I myself probably need therapy from my art.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
DrawingÂ with pencils.Â And an ink pen, on really nice Bristol paper. DrawingÂ creatures and characters. It’s what I’ve done since I was a kid and it still feels awesome, there’s nothing like jumping into a blank whiteÂ piece of paper. Sketching in blank drawing books is pretty fun too. When IÂ didÂ Glue, WildbrainÂ gave me free reign to draw, write , direct, even doÂ voices, so it was pretty much my weird comics come to life.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The sellingÂ yourself end is always a chore. Pitching projects, the planning of thatÂ isn’t too fun but sometimes if the pitch goes well that’s fun.Â especially if they eventually give you money for your efforts.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
WhenÂ the rug gets pulled on projects you love. Having a pilot come withinÂ inches of going to series is pretty devastating. I really felt Kung Fu Spy Troll would have made a cool series.Â I was developing thisÂ project with Cartoon Network called Floaty Goat that went south. It was this little goat who wanted to be aÂ river rescue ranger, he rode around on an inflatable raft powered byÂ tiny frogs.Â There was a monkey involved, and an elf. C’mon, what’s notÂ to love about that?
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
IÂ write my stuff on a computer. Photo shop for coloring characters. And
put things together on the computer. One day I’ll have my ownÂ robo-assistant. I will name him Artbot 6000. “Artbot, bring me coffee.”
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Tom Kenny (Sponge Bob) did a voice for my pilot, he was a snake namedÂ Fang. Great guy. I think everyone in animation knows him though.
Mark Hammel from Star Wars tried out for Kung Fu Spy Troll too. Luke!Â That gives me geek bragging rights, although I didn’t actually meet him,Â he recorded it somewhere else. But i guess it’s like meeting his tinyÂ hologram. But Jane Lynch from Glee auditioned for the pilot and I didÂ meet her. But she wasn’t in Star Wars, but she sang a song.Â Oh wait, the guy who played JarÂ Jar, him too, he was in Star Wars.Â Â Â Ok I’ll stop here.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.Â Any side projects you’re working on you’d like to share details of?
I’m working on some book things,Â a novel about my freaky middle school years. I think thatÂ answers both questions.Â I haven’t sent it to any publishers yet and mayÂ turn it into a script. If it ever becomes a film it will have animatedÂ comic sequences.Â Â but I’mÂ writing a lot these days, I really love it. Collaborating with James Proimos, writer/illustrator, on a graphic novel coming of age teen comedy thingy.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Create DIY projects to build up a reel.Â Â There are a lot more outletsÂ these days, obviously.Â Â Study Spongebob. And Invader Zim.Â Know your main character if you’re developing a show concept.Â And most importantly, make it funny of course. And don’t have anyone say “You go girl!”. Â Â ItÂ never hurts to throw an elf in there, too. Maybe an owl?