What is your name and your current occupation?
Christopher Hicks, freelance writer/illustrator/toy designer.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
In college, one of the admins would pay me to watch her desk and phone while she ran off for quikies with one of the professors. I don’t think I was an Accessory to Home-wrecking, because at the time I was too dense to realize what was going on (not that I am any less dense now.)
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
A lot of stuff that has never seen the light of day, but I will always be proud of my comic book series Mister Blank, and the Mighty Muggs toy line I designed for Hasbro.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
Rocky Point a crap stain of a town on the north shore of Long Island. Comics (see above) exposed me to people in the animation business. I met my writing partner Francis Lombard, and starting cranking out original properties.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Lots of plate spinning. Sketch a bit here. Write a bit there. Phone calls. Hustling online. Rinse and repeat.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Drawing. I love drawing, even when I hate it. I even draw when I write. Drawing characters, even for screenplays, helps me get to know them.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Networking. I’m terrible at it. Schmoozing over beers and all that. I got a great memory for faces, but no memory whatsoever for names. I blank on the names of my closest friends, so you can imagine how bad I am with some producer I met with once 5 years ago.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis, how has technology changed in the last few years in your field and how has that impacted you in your job?
Cintiqs have been such a game changer. No need for scanners. The huge variety of brushes available. The ability to draw in layers or simply Undo some mistake you made. I couldn’t live without it.I haven’t sat at my old drawing table in over 7 years. Makes me sad, but hey, onward we go.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
One of the most annoying/devastating thing about developing original properties – and this will happen to pretty much anyone in development – is pouring your heart and soul into a project only to find out someone else has a project eerily similar to yours, but farther along the pipe. Not much you can do expect put it aside and maybe revisit it in a few years.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?I went to college with Seth McFarlane, although I can’t say I really knew him, just of him. Pitched to Craig McCracken, who is super cool and chill. Did a pilot for Disney with Phil Lamaar and Frank Welker, both of whom are brilliant.And I once rode an escalator behind Matt Groening. :-\
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Hmmm. Life is full of tough situations. After my daughter was born, I was getting maybe an hour of sleep a night. I was so tired I was in pain, and my brain was complete mush. I’d sleep in my car on lunch breaks. That was tough, but totally worth it!
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
An outbreak of rabies at a sex resort for werewolves.…I should probably clarify that its a screenplay about an an outbreak of rabies at a sex resort for werewolves. I’m not trying to wage some kind of germ warfare against horny mythical creatures.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?Not really. I can’t cook (although I sure can eat!) I can’t sing, but that rarely stops me. Oh! I am an award winning dancer. My dance moves have proven so fresh that they have moved a complete stranger to honor me with accolades and laurels. A stranger that was in no way compelled, beyond the pure aesthetic majesty of my dance performance, and knew that she must recognize that dance, or humanity would be poorer for her oversight.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
The people that succeed in this business, or most any business, are not necessarily the smartest people, or the most talented people. They are the people that don’t give up. They are the people that can shake off setbacks and rejection and continue on with bulletproof enthusiasm. That’s not to say you should ignore feedback and criticism. There’s always room to grow and improve. And sometimes that criticism might be less than constructive, or even downright insulting. The key is to shake it off. The people that fail are not the people that crank out bad work. The “hacks”, so to speak. The people that fail are the ones that quit. There are thousands of people out there that have sway over your success, but there’s only one person who has sway over your failure. You.
Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.