Tuesday, October 17, 2006

why rock stars should be animation executives

When I do work on music videos, whether for Bjork, Weird Al or Tenacious D, the creative process is always super simple. They give me a song and I do some sketches of ideas I have to illustrate it, they say "do it". Then we go ahead and make it as good and fun as we can and no one stops us every two seconds to throw monkey wrenches in the works and force us to make everything ugly, stupid and depressing.I sent the intial sketches I did on napkins for this video a couple months ago to Jack and he sent me his network note: "Awesome, Dude."
funny animals blogurl:johnkstuff.blogspot.com
If I sent a one page outline of a story idea to a network executive, I'd get back 10 pages of retarded notes telling me to ruin every creative thought and make all the drawings bland and ugly and make the story not make any sense.
Kyle's only note for the video was "make me sexy" which was a completely reasonable request and easy to fulfill.
Rock Stars seem to understand that creative stuff is a treat and you should leave creative people alone to make their ice cream. Executives want to mix in poo and cigarette butts with your ice cream.
So if you ever see Jack or any other rock stars who like funny cartoons, give them a big sloppy kiss (or give 'em your sister).
http://uncleeddiestheorycorner.blogspot.com/2006/10/one-of-most-beautiful-cartoons-ive.html



And who absolutely shouldn't be animation executives?





actual size


Find out in the most offensive article ever written about animation!

94 comments:

Sean Worsham said...

Depends on which rockstars you are working for too. I did some character designs for a Smashmouth video (for free of all things back when I wa starting out as intern) way back in 1998 and all I got was garbage from the lead singer, Steve who didn't want us to show his best features(he is enormous but looked like he could pass for a gentle giant and that to us were his best charms). Even when we thinned him down he complained about his weight problem and eventually his best characteristics were almost unrecognizable. Eventually the great designs we the artists had were "poo-pooed" downed to the point where the rockstars looked like a bad imitation of drawings by the artist Shag (not knocking on Shag, I meant imitation in terms of making a bad imitation)rather than actually being recognizable as the band members themselves.

Today I consider that video some of the worst stuff I've ever done, but a great lesson on how the creativity should be given to the artists more.

Maybe the reason it turned out so bad was because Smashmouth is more mainstream and therefore more like a corporate band as opposed to someone who's more independant-minded, artistic and funny like Tenacious D, Bjork or Weird Al.

The odd thing was they eventually hired Shag to do one of their album covers, which is funny since we imitated Shag and the art that Shag did looked like it was partially inspired by the work we did for the video. Especially on the designs for Steve!

I'd say as a whole rockstars are better animation executives, but it depends on which rockstar or musical artist you are working for. I hope what John's doing get's more of us artists work doing videos and such (it seems to be doing the trick so far!)

Alicia said...

Geez John, that article is horrible! It definately answers a lot of questions though. Over the summer I met a girl who develops protocol for the Alberta Government and she thinks your cartoons are crap. Maybe we should put her in charge of Teletoon. Cripes!

Ted said...

The article or what the article is tlaking about? Don't shoot the messenger...

mike f. said...

Wow, the "smoking gun" article.

Everything that's wrong with modern entertainment - presented proudly and apparently without shame.

Fucking retard.

sajdera said...

On flip side, we can't just hire fanboys either ó somebody who knows everything about animation and thinks that makes them a good development person. They have to understand when a character or a story is sitting in front of them and when itís not.

I'll bet this guy sleeps like a log, too.

Sean Worsham said...

One more thing: The smashmouth video never aired on tv, but was only shown in their concerts at around 1999-20001.

JohnK said...

>>They have to understand when a character or a story is sitting in front of them and when itís not.<<


funny how they don't feel the need to explain how someone who doesn't know ANYTHING about animation and is not a writer, artist, actor or anything remotely creative should be able to know a character or story when it is sitting in front of them.

I'm amazed that the writer didn't challenge everyone on the fact that no one had any qualifications to become decisionmakers in a business they don't have any experience in.

WIL said...

THANK YOU!

EIBass said...

Great stuff man!
I especially like the backgrounds in the frame with the jaw dropped bunny and the one toothed mouse. Great palette choice, straight out of Playboy magazine. Its almost like a subdued background from an early Porky Pig only in beautiful colors.

Can't wait to see the finished product.

S.G.A said...

WOW, those frames LOOK INCREDIBLE !

I can't wait to see this video.

The colr everything , and that bkgnd painting in the theatre WOW!

Finally something interesting by guys who aren't dead or not feelin' to well!

Anonymous said...

animation executives shouldnt even exist.

Todd Oman said...

I often wonder if the stuff we see on TV is the best that is out there or if the development people are turning down the good ideas, characters, and stories. I think sponge bob is the only cartoon on television right now that I would actually say is entertaining. Most of the cartoons I see are just annoying to watch.

Trevour said...

That was a rather sad article. I got the immediate impression that these development executives think they're the answer to success, superior to EVERYTHING animation, when it seems they don't even know what they're doing. That the actual creators/animators of a cartoon are somehow being 'touched by the hand of God' through a high-ranking exec's dirty intrusive decisions.

Trevour said...

Oh and by the way, I can't wait to see the Tenacious D video. Looks AMAZIN'!!!

Jorge Garrido said...

Is that Hot Stuff?

Anonymous said...

That rabbit looks like Katie Rice in the video. That's cool! Now she can say she was in a rock video. I'd have animated myself into the video too, if I could.

Jennifer said...

Hi John,

What a fascinating article that you posted re: the mind of an animation decision maker. I think this explains why today's animation trend is "writer-driven cartoons". Most of the execs that were featured in the article came from fields that involve writing(advertising, journalism, law).

(What I thought was amazing - if the network execs picked a web developer as an animation decision maker, then in their eyes, I'm probably qualified to be an animation exec, too! Wait - maybe I'm overqualified...)

I have a theory as to why the trend went to "writer-driven cartoons". I think it's all about money.

To me, it's faster (and therefore cheaper) to write a story than it is to develop a visually appealing animation. Since nearly all of American networks are owned by publicly traded companies, the bottom line is to make money for the shareholders. The quicker a cartoon can get released, the quicker the network can make big profits on syndication, dvd releases, etc. The more money the network saves, the bigger the profits for the shareholders and the larger the network exec's bonus.

JohnK said...

Jennifer

I'm afraid you are very wrong. The last thing these executives care about is making money for their networks.

The second last thing they would understand is good writing.

None of these cartoons has any writing skill whatsoever.

The writing is even more amateurish than the drawing. Any idiot can write this stuff and fool an executive.

Peggy said...

So the best people for making important decisions about animation are... people who don't even necessarily like it much? I love this industry. God, I dunno how you've managed to keep plugging away in it for so long.

Waiting to see the video, it looks good. I need to try and find the Weird Al video too; I've just seen snippets.

Roberto González said...

John, I guess I already know the answer, but just out of curiosity, is there any "writer-driven" cartoon which writting you don't find "amateurism" or you think it's good writting, even if you dislike the visuals?

Some people managed to get some possitive commentaries for isolated modern cartoons, so I think I had to try. Cause I actually agree with you in a lot of things, but I don't really think things are SO bad these days. I enjoy/enjoyed the writting
in The Simpsons, Futurama, Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends (I don't even know if this one is considered a writer-driven cartoon) and, yes, Batman, Tiny Toons and Animaniacs (even if the last two were highly irregular in both writting and animation).

Anyway, cool designs. I like the Weird Al clips better, but this is looking really good too. Looking forward to a clip of this, too, with the music. Incidentally, I LOVED F**ck Her Gently (can I use the F- word in your blog?).

JohnK said...

>>but just out of curiosity, is there any "writer-driven" cartoon which writting you don't find "amateurism" or you think it's good writting, even if you dislike the visuals?<<

Beavis and Butthead was well written and made me laugh out loud.

All those other shows seem like they are written by 12 year olds.

None of them can touch Fleischer's Popeye or the Looney Tunes or Tex Avery for good writing and structured stories....let alone the brilliant execution all around.

Max Ward said...

Why do executives take pride in the fact that they know nothing about animation, or anything creative?

Jorge Garrido said...

>All those other shows seem like they are written by 12 year olds.

NOT Futurama. Funny is funny.

David Germain said...

I'm afraid you are very wrong. The last thing these executives care about is making money for their networks.

Aha! The old "making money for themselves so they can retire with a golden parachute as well as all the money they secretly embezzled from animation projects over the years" routine. I'm sure that's the first thing they learn in Admin School.

Ryan G. said...

Wow John! these stills look great! I cant wait to see it! I picked up Al's album and your video was awesome! It was by far the best video of the bunch. Congrats to all who worked on it!

Evan said...

John, can you go into any detail about like the budget for a project like this or the weird al video vs. like the budget for the average animation of like an adult swim cartoon?

i get the feeling if these shows used methods like you used for these videos, it would be just as cheap if not cheaper. am i right or wrong?

Marlo Meekins said...

Kyle can have me now after seeing his badass hardcore guitar solo

Hryma said...

Now I should read but when it comes to reading I have the attention span of a, did you do the the animation for Primus's 'Tommy the cat', I've never got a straight answer.
I know that Les is a great all round artist and does some animation and so does Ler but it's got a nice Ren and Stimpy kind of look, maybe they were really inspired by your work and it is there animation? 'Nature boy' of the album 'Pork Soda' does have reference to Les owning lots of Ren and Stimpy (videos).

Anyway Rock!

Roberto González said...

"None of them can touch Fleischer's Popeye or the Looney Tunes or Tex Avery for good writing and structured stories....let alone the brilliant execution all around."

If you put it like that, I don't think Beavis and Butthead can touch Looney Tunes or Tex Avery either...and I like Beavis and Butthead too. I don't know if they can touch Popeye, I'm not such a big fan of the stories in Felischer's Popeye overall (I do love some of them and the main character is a swell guy, but others are a little formulaic for me...I am a big fan of E.C. Segar's comic strip, though).

Man, not even Foster's? I think the character writing in that show is great. It's kind of a kid cartoon, but it's far more clever than something a 12 years old would write.

Well, this takes me to another question...you said the stories are not structured. You talked about the pacing before, but I don't remember anything about structure. I'd like to know what is good structure for you. In my modest opinion, most of those shows are all about structure in some way. In fact, a problem of them could be that the structure is too clear and too rigid, instead of being more espontaneous like the old shorts or Ren and Stimpy (sometimes). But I don't think that makes the story useless, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I thought Cartoon Network was a live action channel.

I thought I might have gotten depressed over this same article a couple of weeks back, but I don't think they profiled as many 'execs' in the article I read before. It is just that it looks exactly the same with some of the same head shots, and self cudos.

Brian Romero said...

That octopus is one lucky guy! Those theater backgrounds look amazing. I see a Milt Gross dog in the audience too. Is this video going to be on the Tenacious D CD like the Weird Al video John?

It doesn't surprise me that animation execs aren't qualified for their jobs... I mean just look at the unqualified jackass we have a president!

Stephen Worth said...

Roberto

Not to answer for John, but... If by spontaneous you mean random, that doesn't describe the stories in Ren & Stimpy at all. The thread of the stories always progressed in a structured fashion. You can't make extreme emotional turns and have the audience feel them along with the characters if you don't set them up and play them out in a way the audience can understand.

The problem with a lot of current TV shows is that they either follow simplistic narrative rules laid down by wannabe filmmakers (read executives) or they don't have any rules at all (random jokes for the sake of jokes). Really good cartoons have gags, plot and personality all working together to move the story along in an interesting and unpredictable way. It may feel spontaneous as you view it, but it's totally structured.

I just put up another section of the Big House Blues storyboard on the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive site. This was the pilot for Ren & Stimpy, and in it, you can see the nuts and bolts of how a Spumco story is constructed.

See ya
Steve

Stephen Worth said...

Roberto

Not to answer for John, but... If by spontaneous you mean random, that doesn't describe the stories in Ren & Stimpy at all. The thread of the stories always progressed in a structured fashion. You can't make extreme emotional turns and have the audience feel them along with the characters if you don't set them up and play them out in a way the audience can understand.

The problem with a lot of current TV shows is that they either follow simplistic narrative rules laid down by wannabe filmmakers (read executives) or they don't have any rules at all (random jokes for the sake of jokes). Really good cartoons have gags, plot and personality all working together to move the story along in an interesting and unpredictable way. It may feel spontaneous as you view it, but it's totally structured.

I just put up another section of the Big House Blues storyboard on the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive site. This was the pilot for Ren & Stimpy, and in it, you can see the nuts and bolts of how a Spumco story is constructed.

See ya
Steve

Duck Dodgers said...

When this short will be available on-line?

Eddie Fitgerald says that it would have to happen soon......

Alberto said...

Well the animation bussiness is not better here in Spain. The rule at our national animation studios is "the cheaper the better" and that means poor scripts and awful animation so you can imagine the results

Anonymous said...

My wife and I run GC (www.gcrecords.com) and each release is it's own independant project and with each we utilize completely different artists for layout and design etc. We always give them complete creative freedom and usually only request changes for text typos or certain placement of items in relation to CD packaging etc. Never character design or any of that. The usual response?:

"This has been the raddest/easiest job we've ever taken on!"

That's when the best work comes out. When all are happy.

Jorge Garrido said...

>Kyle can have me now after seeing his badass hardcore guitar solo

Hardcore doens't have guitar solos, it has breakdowns and hardcore dancing. What kind of music is the song? Is it power metal or something?

>"None of them can touch Fleischer's Popeye or the Looney Tunes or Tex Avery for good writing and structured stories....let alone the brilliant execution all around."

Well anyone who isn't a complete retard knows that's true, but if Beavis & Butthead's writing can make you forget its visual, shall we say, shortcomings (aka looking like shit), can't Futurama?

I mean Family Guy, post 1996 Simpsons, Tiny Toons, I'll agree, they are written by men dumber than most 12-year olds, but isn't Futurama an example of creative puns, wordplay and intelligent humour, and isn't South Park an example of brutal Conservative satire that just slices and dices its left-wing targets? Aren't they at the very least amusing? And I'm not saying they're better than pre-1960 cartoons, because they're not! And the visuals are HORRIBLE and take away from the show's OVERALL quality.

How come you can overlook the ugly drawings of B&B because of it's writing but not those of Futurama?

>or they don't have any rules at all (random jokes for the sake of jokes).

*cough Family Guy *cough*

Quit overusing the word Random, english speaking part of the world. I hear it enough at my school which is full of illiterate morons who don't know how to articulate specific feelings, and instead use the vaguest possible adjectives.

Steve, those storyboards are terrific! Thanks of million! I want to buy the Ren & Stimpy DVDS so I can see these cartoons for real. I've only seen clips and what they currently air on Nicktoons TV (the same 4 Spumco episodes over and over, and the same 3 Games episodes, and I wasn't allowed to watch R&S when I was a kid.)


>The writing is even more amateurish than the drawing. Any idiot can write this stuff and fool an executive.

Can't they cut out the middle-man and write the cartoons themselves? Instead of HIRING idiots, they can write Family Guy since they ARE idiots! A geniously self-fulfilling agenda! OH wait, cutting out the middle-man would be LOGICAL. I overestimated them once again.

Anonymous said...

I still think the good stuff's out there, it's just that most of it isn't caming from within Amercia anymore and all you have to do is take the time to look. I've seen some phenominal stuff coming out of Europe and Asia. Sure they have their fair share of mass-produced garbage, but there's some good gems to be found.

-Sir Christian Staunts

CawfeeGuy said...

your Bjork video is one of my all time favorites!
you're AMAZING!

NARTHAX said...

Hollywood studio buildings need an executive chute, to eject the smegma when it becomes overly rancid. They wouldn't even have to grease it, which saves money.

LH said...

(Don't worry, I wouldn't even DARE talk down to such a great animator like yourself, so don't mistake it as such)

OK, John, so you're telling us that most animation and writing in general sucks ass these days, mainly due to network executive interference.

1. What sucks about them then? Is it crap plot, poor gags, or these and something else?

2. Other than Golden Age toons and B&B, what animated shows do you like?

3. If you say that execs don't care about their animated programing OR money, then what exactly DO they care about?

4. Can you give us tips for making kick-ass animation writing?

Vanoni! said...

The rule at our national animation studios is "the cheaper the better" and that means poor scripts and awful animation so you can imagine the results.

Good writing skills and good drawing skills aren't exactly a raw commodity.
"I'm gonna need 23,000 pounds of good drawing for this project! How much is that per pound??"

Am I super naive?
Does 'lower budget' always have to mean 'lower quality animation?
(I know I've seen plenty of 'high budget' eyesores!)

The guys at Termite Terrace didn't need a huge budget to turn out good cartoons (did they?)

Why can't a group of talented artists get together and, using their super talented art brains, cut out all the bureaucracy and put a cartoon budget to good use?

Yeah - that sounds really naive, actually.

- C

Blanco said...

Pre 60 had great cartoons

60 had it's fair share of good cartoons aslo

70s had a similar problem as we do now... where executives are shitiing out crap.

80s lacked funny cartoons but it had great action orriented series.

90s had a revival of funny cartoons such as Ren and Stimpy, Animaniacs, Rockos Modern Life etc.
90s also had it's share of good action oriented series.

The 2000s trend which started in the late 90s is all about crap after crap after crap.


That's my opinion anyways. Cheers.

Eric Dotseth said...

Jack Black seems to have a natural affinity to caricature this month. In addition to this video (which looks great...wonderful colors and backgrounds), 'Mad Classics #11 November 2006' does a satire of 'The School of Rock' starring Jack Black.

KoolAidMan said...

John - I work in music videos and commericals (I met you at the Santa Monica showing) and I would have to say that the experience really depends on who you are working with. Some artists are more creatively open minded than others, some have better taste than others.

I suspect you had such a positive experience with these particular artists because they are the kinds of people who would go ahead and hire you in the first place. They have strong identities but at the same time they want to work with someone with a strong creative voice, someone they can work off of and who can bring something interesting to the table.

99% of the time this is not the case.

Most people I shoot are either too vain/insecure, creatively timid and want to do the same thing everyone has seen a thousand times, or have no control and let the video commissioners and record company people run the show as far as the creative (which again leads to the same crap you have seen a thousand times).

Or they just have no taste.

I do what I can on my end but I can safely say that a lot of what I work on is crap. Some of this crap starts out ok but by the time the artist and the record company is done fiddling with the edit it is turned back into crap.

Every now and then I get to work with an artist that gets it and we all end up with something great, but those opportunites are far and few between.

I suspect it's a similar story with animators who want to stretch themselves creatively but are mostly doomed to working on projects they can't bear to watch themselves.

So yeah, maybe you should narrow it down to "Why Tenacious D, Bjork, and Weird Al should be animation executives". :) Believe me, if more artists had great taste (Bjork has NEVER had a bad video) then music videos would be much better than they are now.

Shitbitch said...

"I mean just look at the unqualified jackass we have a president"

Better than the unqualified jackass before him!

"90s had a revival of funny cartoons such as Ren and Stimpy, Animaniacs, Rockos Modern Life etc.
90s also had it's share of good action oriented series."

No, not animaniacs. You're giving me a heart attack!

John said...

Two of the least hands-on guys, in terms of deciding all the details about what should go into an animated cartoon, were Max Fleischer and Leon Schlesinger -- the former stayed closer to his workshop and was more interested in the technical details of the process, while the latter just stayed on his yacht or at Santa Anita. It's a pity today's cartoon studio execs can't follow the same successful models.

Brian Romero said...

"Better than the unqualified jackass before him!"

At least Clinton could form cohesive thoughts and sentences. Any success W has had in his life is thanks to his daddy's connections. Without them he'd probably be a used car salesmen, fast food chain night shift manager or even worse... a cartoon executive!

:-P

The Butcher said...

Wow, I got through a page of that shit you linked at the end of your post, and I'm surprised I got that far. "I went straight from defense lawyer to thinking I could be creative without knowing jack shit about it." Boring, boring, boring.

I defend some Adult Swim shit, but not Harvey Birdman. That show ia an abomination.

The Butcher said...

"Depends on which rockstars you are working for too. I did some character designs for a Smashmouth video (for free of all things back when I wa starting out as intern) way back in 1998 and all I got was garbage from the lead singer, Steve who didn't want us to show his best features..."

Smashmouth is pure t shit anyway.

Pedro Vargas said...

They all look beautiful. I love the composition on that first picture. The placement of the characters look real cool. And fuck all those dumb executive-driven cartoons. Those aren't even cartoons at all. It's just poo smeared all over people's television screens. I think I described that well.

Alberto said...

"Does 'lower budget' always have to mean 'lower quality animation?"

Vanoni! low budget at least here in spain means the production must end as fast as possible and also means having a producer telling the animators to reuse 3 or 4 times the same shots without even changing the background, and I mean dialogue shots. It also means having to work at such high speed thet sometimes you don't have time even to think about secondary animation. Take a look at any D'Ocon films production if you don´t believe me (poor designs, odd colouring and an animation that is almost painful to see).

The only chance to make a living in animation here is working for foreign companies that's why most of our animation studios do stuff for clients like Warner brothers (for example The Batman Animated series, which was in part animated in Dibulitoon studio) or for french studios.

Kurenai said...

Playing a bit of Devil's Advocate, the reason the piece sounds so smug and thinks it's actually progressive is because people unrelated to the medium working in TV are a rarity. That's how Seinfled came to be, and as such is seen as an example of the good that comes when a TV show is made by people who had no previous knowledge of how to make television.

I believe the article thinks Cartoon Network is edgy and innovative by hiring people that can inject new life, a new twist that insiders (in this case, professional animators), so caught up in their own vices, can no longer produce. You yourself have said in numerous occasions that animation is an inbred art form right now, and blaming it only on executives isn't fair: there has to be a fair share of animators that just aren't creative, that can't think outside the box.

Having said that, the right thing to do if you don't want an animator to be in charge shouldn't be to put complete strangers in charge of animation, but legitimately CREATIVE people that maybe don't know a big deal of animation but can bring something new to it. Musicians, sculptors, painters, poets, really inventive people, not ignorant common folk from the street.

Which I guess is what you said in the first line of your blog. =)

Greetings from Mexico

Roberto González said...

Steve, just to clarify, I didn't mean spontaneous as a bad thing at all...I meant that a Ren and Stimpy episode would work on the emotion of the characters and it would have a different structure that those writer driven cartoons, which use a more "classic" sit-com, movie structure. For example, I doubt too many writers in actual cartoons would began an episode in the way Ren Seeks Help began. It began right in the middle of the story with Stimpy crying and there was even a cammera movement in the first or second shot. But I loved it, it's a good thing, it totally worked to reflect the emotion of the scene.

So I didn't mean random at all. I see the structure of episodes like Stimpy's Invention, Sytimpy's Fan Club, Son Of Stimpy, The Royal Canadian Kiltsmen, Sven Höek or Ren Seeks Help is excellent.

But some Spumco wannabes did very bad structured cartoons and sometimes I wonder if a writer driven cartoon is better than a story writen by a good artist but non-talented story-teller. Maybe it's just the art of doing both things is kind of lost and some artist should learn it again before they do anything.

On the other hand, in cartoons like Foster's I know at least two of the writers, Craig McCracken and Lauren Faust, are also cartoonists (I don't know so much about the rest) but there are more series like that today, in which cartoonist and writers seem to not have a great conflict with each other. Correct me if I'm wrong, cause I reckon I haven't got enough information of Hollywood bussiness here in Spain.

Anyway I agree that cartoon executives should dissapear, I'm only defending (some) of the writer-driven stuff. I am not even saying I'm sure those series couldn't be better if they were written by cartoonist, I'm only saying that ,to me, they're not so bad the way they are.

On another topic, I recently watched the entire Weird Al videoclip in youtube and I loved it. I have watched it like thirteen times right now and every time I discover something new. Did John say that was done in flash? That's amazing! How do you work in these cartoons, do you draw everything directly in the computer or you use the scanner? Cause God knows I've tried to draw directly in the computer and it's extremely hard to get something decent! (I'm sorry if you have explained it before, I don't think you told a lot about the process, though).

Anthony Rockwell said...

I think the Beastie Boys should be executives.

Anthony Rockwell said...

I think the Beastie Boys should be executives.

Jorge Garrido said...

> It began right in the middle of the story with Stimpy crying and there was even a cammera movement in the first or second shot. But I loved it, it's a good thing, it totally worked to reflect the emotion of the scene.

That was more of a film type cartoon anyway. It wasn't supposed to be a sitcom, it was a film noir.

>On the other hand, in cartoons like Foster's I know at least two of the writers, Craig McCracken and Lauren Faust, are also cartoonists (I don't know so much about the rest)


Craig McCracken doesn't let anyone write on his shows if they can't draw. That's his rule.

Stephen Worth said...

Having said that, the right thing to do if you don't want an animator to be in charge shouldn't be to put complete strangers in charge of animation, but legitimately CREATIVE people that maybe don't know a big deal of animation but can bring something new to it. Musicians, sculptors, painters, poets, really inventive people, not ignorant common folk from the street.

The first thing a talented musician, sculptor, painter or poet would do is tell the animator to go make his cartoon because he knows best. It's his job to entertain through the medium of animation. You wouldn't put Rod Scribner in charge of the man building your house or ask Pablo Picasso to tell Margaret Mitchell how to write Gone With The Wind. Why would a Rodin be qualified to tell a cartoon director how to direct a cartoon?

See ya
Steve

JohnK said...

>>I think the Beastie Boys should be executives.<<

No, I met with them before. They are really dumb. They wanted me to do a video that looked really "real". Rotoscoping is what they were trying to say.

Anonymous said...

How long is this intro sequence going to be?

LH said...

http://www.cartoonbrew.com/archives/2006_10.html#002376

Looks like other famous animation people seem to share your pain too.

Shitbitch said...

"No, I met with them before. They are really dumb. They wanted me to do a video that looked really "real". Rotoscoping is what they were trying to say."

And they call themselves socially-conscious rebels.

Shitbitch said...

Should Gnarls Barkley be co-executives, or do they not count as rock stars?

Jennifer said...

Hi John,

I'm afraid you are very wrong. The last thing these executives care about is making money for their networks.

While the cartoon decision-makers may not care about making money for the network, don't you think the network execs who hired them do, only for self-preservation? If they don't turn a profit for the network, they're out of a job.

The second last thing they would understand is good writing.

HAHAHAHA! You're wicked! :D
Do you think that the problem is the execs don't really know (or underestimate) the audience?

-- J

P.S. The drawings from the Tenacious D video are very nice.

JohnK said...

>>While the cartoon decision-makers may not care about making money for the network, don't you think the network execs who hired them do, only for self-preservation?<<

No. There are too many levels of middle management and no one knows whats going on. They are all thinking about their next job.

They like to pretend to play creative, because it's fun. It beats working at a 7 Eleven, which is what they are qualified for. Read the damn article. They admit all this with their own bloodless lips!!

The Mighty Robolizard said...

Well you know what? At least the Beastie Boys can lay down some sweet beats...

[I don't think there's anything wrong with using rotoscope, as Waking Life has shown us, it can be quite cool... but why did they come to you... you're the antiscope...]

Gogol Bordello on the other hand should have an amazing animated music video. Their current ones are sweet, but 'Start wearing Purple' with horrific demonic animation would be quite the amazing work of awesome...

Who IS that guy in the photo?

And as a Mike Judge fan, how do you feel about King of the Hill?

Jorge Garrido said...

>No, I met with them before. They are really dumb. They wanted me to do a video that looked really "real". Rotoscoping is what they were trying to say.

Wow, that's ana mazing story! They probably wanted a Korn "Freak On a Leash" style video, like Batman The Animated Series or something.

Plus they're a hip-hop group, right, John? ;)

>http://www.cartoonbrew.com/archives/2006_10.html#002376

That Joe Barbera story sounds like the one John Lasseter had about his kid sitting through a bad animated feautre and blurting out, "Dad, how do you spell my last name?" When they go off ona tangent like that you know you've lost your audience, but at least Quimby wasn't the target audience.

I heard he let Hanna and Barbera alone but disliked Tex. I think Leon was a great executive since he didn't care one way or another.

I don't really care said...

Executives want to mix in poo and cigarette butts with your ice cream.

Of course you already know this, but to paraphrase:

genuinely creative people tend to understand creative process and RESPECT it, whereas uncreative types have no real defined sense of purpose and can only feel alive by injecting themselves into a genuinely creative person's process, in the self-appointed role of gatekeeper, riding on his back like a beast of burden, taking credit for his successes and deriding his failures.

It should be no secret why anyone posessing neither talent nor shame should aspire to such a post.

That there are so many eager to fill this role in EVERY industry is the horrible secret about humanity.

The real function of these executives is as salad-tossers for their masters, who love seeing reflections of themselves in layers of untalented, overpaid unnecessary upper management. This is how they make a castle with 20-foot thick stone walls.

lastangelman said...

1.)not all rock stars are hip enough to let other creative artists do their thing - they can be as bad as the jerks in that article
2.)nobody has approached this guy in person and said,"You make soulless unfunny cartoons and I will prove it"
This fellow should be ambushed on live television and made to weep.
3.)The stills from your Tenacious D cartoon looks gorgeous and so tasty - man, I know you should get nominated for Oscars if that runs in the theaters.

Ryan G. said...

>Should Gnarls Barkley be co-executives, or do they not count as rock stars?<

Speaking of Gnarls Barkley, there video for "crazy" was awesome!! A very interesting and original mind fuck of a video..

Jack Ruttan said...

I don't think executives were any more sympathetic in the studio days, just that the system was more solid and continuous, allowing more creativity inside it. When there _was_ creativity, that is.

Now, it's more or less a team assembled for every project, no one has any job security, and so no one wants to take risks.

Producers can only hope that a team can actually complete the project, and finally a studio has no chance to nurture its talent (they get shunted from project to project).

Maybe the most reliable teams also produce so-so product, but they get it done on time, and inside budget. There's very little space for risk.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, man this is freaking depressing. Then on top of this the article on cartoon brew about the state of picthing. I feel like hanging up my pencil and crawl into a corner and cry,preferably in a fetal position. I guess it's better to be informed,about the state of the real world, than to be a naive fool.

P.S. Jonk what are your thoughts on Nickelodeon's Avatar the Last Airbender

Anonymous said...

>>The writing is even more amateurish than the drawing. Any idiot can write this stuff and fool an executive.<<

This is great news for idiot writers like me! Please post the contact info of these executives! I promise to cede total control to animators once I've fooled these executives and taken over... Or will I betray you all? A-HAHAHA-HAH!

akira said...

dang john! the classico video is sooo deliciously good! yeah what people say is true, simply being a rock star doesn't make you a good executive candidate, but JB and KG obviously have taste and THAT makes all the difference in the world.

The D couldn't have just given the assignment to any old animator and left them to their business and gotten these results... in fact they couldn't have given the assignment to ANY other animator that i know of and gotten close to the magnificence that you created....

and you didn't just masterbatorilly animate any old thing that you wanted to, rather in much in the way that you do your caracatures, you must have gone over the works of tenacious D until you digested them and memorised all their nuances and subtlties, until you distilled the true essence of tenacious d and presented it back to us in your own unique style. thanks so much for making it and for continuing to make better and better entertainment in general.

i hope someone with money starts giving a ton of it to you soon so that we can see more and more john k art soon and often!

sean said...

ha, yea. thats amazing. musicians are sinister. they want something differnet then everyting else. now i have a question for you, are these executives looking for changes in style, in other words they want things drawn in a way that meets a larger demographic (sticking with whats "in") or do they limit you from expanding a scene because of financial reasons?

Anonymous said...

-------------------------------------
>>I think the Beastie Boys should be executives.<<

No, I met with them before. They are really dumb. They wanted me to do a video that looked really "real". Rotoscoping is what they were trying to say.
--------------------------------------

... so why not just explain that you do cartoons and send them packing to your pal Ralph Bakshi? Like it or not you'll find most people aren't familiar with the term 'rotoscoping'. That makes them ignorant, not dumb.

Shitbitch said...

"are these executives looking for changes in style, in other words they want things drawn in a way that meets a larger demographic (sticking with whats "in") or do they limit you from expanding a scene because of financial reasons?"

That perfectly ephitizes the corporate mindset.

diego cumplido said...

John, can you give us an idea, of what Uncle Eddie tried to say when he mentioned "The New Way of Using Flash" on his post about the 'Classico' Video?

Pico said...

John, I work in the videogame industry and have done my own kind of animation within the 3D world with Maya and other assorted tools. I have been doing it for a long time, and in the beginning it was fun and creative, but now that the giant corporations have crushed or swallowed the small independent development places, the lack of creativity and retardation at the higher marketing weasel level is similar to what you explain in your post. I can empathize with you. Once $$$ gets involved, everyone and their inbred mothers get jobs at the top telling creative people what's good, what's funny and take all the fun out of what we like to do. I still make games, but don't work for any major studios full time. A few contracts here or there, but for the most part, I surf the web, doodle in my sketch pad, and occaisionally think about making another game, but the barbags at the major studios pretty much keep me from seriously working with them ever again.

the plummer said...

dude, power to the rock stars and animators. end of story. =D

Anonymous said...

I just bought the Preston Blair book on animation, and it's helping me out, quite a bit, but I was just wondering if you had any suggestions on what animation program I should buy. I'm 16, and I think it's time I started learning to take my drawings to the next level.
I like that I get to ask one of my childhoof heroes this, I mean, I grew up watching Ren and Stimpy.please don't approve this comment, i just wanted to ask you those questions, please email me back about it!
scrubpod@comcast.net

Shitbitch said...

I have a semi-relevant post on my blog, if you wish to view it. Just click on my name above.

paul etcheverry said...

I screened the great cartoon FIELD AND SCREAM (Tex and Ed Benedict SO ROCK) recently and loved it, loved it, loved it when hip audience members cheered Tex Avery and booed Fred Quimby.

Fred Quimby fired Milt Gross. End of that story . . .too bad, Gross would have revitalized the black & white cartoon much as Clampett was doing as Warner Bros.

I have found over the years that many archivist/writer/collector types - those who, like you, John, are working their mojos to keep the art form alive - tend to be jazz or rock musicians. Of my collaborators on the Psychotronix Film Festivals, one is a musician currently working feverish to complete an album and the other is the walking encyclopedia of classic indie rock - surf, garage, rockabilly, pre-punk, "Nuggets", etc. And me, I've sung the theme song from "Yogi Bear" publicly in the style of Harry Connick, Jr. . .
really!

And, only somewhat off topic, check out my blog for a killer-diller clip of The White Stripes.

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Eddie Fitzgerald said...

I just read the article about animation executives. Unbelievable! I know I'll be thinking about this for weeks. How could things have come to this?

sink sink socks said...

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Anonymous said...

Hey John that's real swell! Keep it up! Long live Mr Andy Kaufman!

Gillian said...

my favorite quote from that terrible article is-

'Meredith Metz believes that the main part of keeping talented people at a studio is to truly make they feel valued. '

Is this woman living in this realm?? i know I 'truly' feel 'valued' when I get pages and pages of stupid and pointless revisions on every single scene in an entire episode! That's totally the way to make us artist feel 'valued' ... stupid bint >.<

TP said...

Hey John! Earlier you were talking about the well structured stories of Tex Avery and Looney Tunes in getneral. I'm an animation student and I find the story aspect to be the most difficult. What is your process, as far as creating entertaining characters and stories?

Eric C. said...

John, Network Executives censored you before because they were afraid that certain jokes would offend people right? What is your theory on if you should or should not take caution because of the fear of offending people.

_Eric

Eric C. said...

Bye the way, I loved your actual size satire on that network executive. HEY JOHN, I GOT AN IDEA FOR YOU! Do a full satire cartoon on Network Executives and how cartoonists can beat the crap outta them!

_Eric ;)

Roberto González said...

Is this stuff going to be showed in the title credits from Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny? I think this is a total different videoclip but you are doing another animation for those title credits, don't you? I'm a little confused with that.

Anyway, if I ever go to watch The Pick Of Destiny it would be because it includes some animation of yours. Cause, really, I'm sure he's a good guy and all, but I can't stand Jack Black's acting anymore.

pedrohombre said...

a few rambling thoughts
Most tv cartoons are crap. In fact, most live action tv is crap. In fact, most breakfast cereals, popular music, architecture, etc etc etc is crap and this is generally because it's commerce. The yardstick is profit. So when an excutive says "We want a show like Spongebob Squarepants", they might as well be saying "We want something super successful." Hmmm, clever. TV cartoons exist because you can surround them with commercials for toys, candy, and breakfast cerals. An extrememly gifted artist from termite terrace who was making maybe 5 six minute cartoons a year by hand could not survive in a business that that needs to put out 13 or so twenty-two minute cartoons a year. Well, they could survive, but they'd be all pissed off, too. The volume of tv production is huge and the commerce of it leaves little room for truly gifted creators to see their work get done as they would like it. There is a decent circuit of animation festivals all around the world showing some really good work and that's open to anybody. Of course, there's no money in that. Not that anybody cares about making money.

A few things about why all this crap is writer driven - and I know it's crap because I've written a bunch of it. One is the aforementioned volume/schedules/commerce. A script is a currency that everyone can understand (particularly non-artists) and execs are all comfy with that. They can hold it in their hand and take it home and not read it there, and it doesn't fill up a room with pages and pages of drawings that need to be explained. Unfortunately, a script, even a good one, is lacking the very best aspect of animation - character drawings that move. Most writers have little or no concept of this, they're not making cartoons, they are writing scripts, scripts that they hope the execs like and sign off on so they can sit with their writer friends and bitch about how they aren't covered by the Writer's Guild. But here's the other unfortunate thing I've noticed after several years - most artists don't know anything about how to make a good cartoon either. They may know how to draw, but they don't know how to make a good cartoon: design, timing, layout, CHARACTER ACTING, are often missing from professional work. Just because you play guitar doesn't mean you can write a song. A board artist once showed me a panel of a character frantically boarding up a door to keep someone out. We've all seen this gag maybe fifty (thousand) times. So I said "Let's find a new way to do this gag, something surprising" To which he responded "What if he covered the whole door with bricks?" And is this guy is a good artist.

It's lame to put all the blame on unqualified execs or un-visual writers. I've seen what happens when you let artists do whatever they want - most of it is lame and derivative (yes, just like most writing). Drawing expressions does not qualify you as a story teller (neither does typing). John K. is a very talented artist with a lot of insight into his craft and can make a story out of a cat taking a shit. Because he knows how to make it about the cat and not about the shit. But most people don't. There are only a handful of people who can put together all the pieces - a few.

When you are working at a professional level in your field, it takes a lot of work just to be average. And maybe your Mom, your sister's husband, and that dude you smoked pot with in high school who busted your super NES think that your original idea is just as good as all the crap on tv, but think harder about it, because there's a good chance that's all it is. Showbusiness is pretty lame and good things are overlooked all the time, although great stuff usually sticks around.

saint_Kibitzer said...

I was working on some ads featuring a Space Ghost gig, and the exec-in-charge left notes. Notes like,
"He has to move kind of stiff, but not too stiff. If he moves with the right amount of stiffness, he looks good..." for 5 paragraphs. The information density of these comments was equal to blank page. Now I'm in education, where there's nothing but Blowhards.