Saturday, February 24, 2007

Spotlight On Criminal Defense Executive P Girl

Riddle: Who is most qualified to "give notes" to a cartoonist:
A plumber? A nuclear physicist? An animation director? A public defender? Or a duck?


I sat down the other morning to do my business and grabbed a magazine to thumb through. It was "Animation Magazine", the magazine about executives.

It made me think to myself, "I wonder what makes an executive tick? How do you go about being an expert on things you can't do yourself?

What background, experience and study qualifies you to tell cartoonists how to cartoon?

Well, lo and behold the answer was in the magazine. There was a whole page devoted to answering all these mysteries! Let me share it with you.




If you thought about it for a minute what would you think would qualify someone to tell cartoonists how to make cartoons?

Having made some popular cartoons? Of course not. Having drawn a cartoon picture once? Nah...Having told a funny story to somebody and they actually laughed? Don't be silly.

Of course!
If you can defend burglars, murderers and wife beaters, I guess you can defend just about anything, even not having any logical qualifications to boss cartoonists around!

But then, surely you'd have to have some talent.... at least in a distantly related field, right? There has to be some way you can relate to creative people.

"I can't act and I can't sing." I'll have to put that on my resume when I go out trying to get a job in entertainment!

What would I have to do to trick you into buying a show from me?I'm gonna go back and rework all my characters so that they have transcendent adjectives! That's what the kids want in their cartoons!

"Reaaaaallly think about them"......after all, I've never created a world of characters, but I sure have some theories about it."

Poor old Tex Avery would fail under this criteria (Believing in his world of characters).

Do cartoonists ever make you roll your eyes patronizingly?

Can I say, "It's gonna be breakout like Sponge Bob?"

So basically to sell a show, you don't really have to have a good show or any experience. You have to know how to trick an executive with your enthusiastic and pretend sincere pitch.

If you can jump up and down and wear a retro outfit and make wacky faces, and listen sincerely to his "I can't act, write, draw or sing" comments, then you're in.

Tell him you "Believe in yourself." They eat that shit up!



A funny anecdote:

I actually did all these exact things in front of this very public defender and surprisingly, he didn't have any comments about the stories or the worlds of characters.

He was however intensely interested in my pants. "Where did you get those awesome jeans?"

Unfortunately, the pants weren't quite good enough to sell a world that day. Later, I burned the pants and sent them down the Ganges River to a better world.

(BTW, he isn't the only exec to focus on the pants during my pitches; it seems to be a common occurence)


What's your greatest preposterous fantasy?

Another mystery to solve!

Which part of the cartoon does an executive "make"? The drawings? The story? The voices? The colors? Can anyone help me out here? Have you seen one make something? Is there a photo of it happening?

I think I will make a hit song by telling a musician to write one and play it for me. But I'll make sure he plays it off key by giving him arbitrary notes.



The amazing thing about all this is that someone who went to law school - to learn about the logic of argument, in order to subvert logic to win court cases would willingly present his completely illogical qualifications, boldly in public -where all his little zany cartoonist worker bees could read it! That's even wackier than Sponge Bob!

Here, check out this rap sheet.


EpiLOG:


Is there an executive bolder than this? Share your stories.

106 comments:

Jeremy said...

This completely dumbfounds me..


.. and it's kind of depressing.

Max Ward said...

How would cartoonists be able to fight this? A massive strike? Very outspoken opposition for all of the world to see and hear? Do cartoonists need the sympathy of all the consumers in the world to bring these kinds of executives to an end? I really don't know. I want to hear everyone's two cents.

David said...

Wow. Well that certainly explains a lot.

How do these people get hired? Someone, somewhere, must have thought to themselves that this idiot was better suited to the job than all the other possible alternatives. Someone whose opinion of Spongebob, probably Nick's best and most popular cartoon in years, is "wacky".

GhaleonQ said...

A heads-up: 2 Dartmouth undergraduates in the same mold as the Tufts jerk are coming in 1 1/2 years. I apologize in advance.

Zoober said...

This is how just about every industry works. Things are often run by MBA's with no understanding of the product or it's development process. It's a rare treat to work for companies where the managers and exec's are one of your own.

But like John said, this guy is pretty bold to show off his seemingly totally un-related qualifications publically like this.

Jennifer said...

Holy [bleep].

After reading that article, I think that I should switch careers and become a cartoon development executive. After all, my qualifications nearly match the featured executive's qualifications(BS in Computer Science [with a minor in Law], MS in Management and Technology). Heck, they'll probably hire me! *rolleyes*

Paul B said...

Hahahahahahahahha, im dying of laugh!!!!

you've got all the points john!!

HEY, I PUT NEW FUNNY SKETCHES IN MY BLOG, COME TO CHECK IT OUT!

fluffy said...

Oh man, I'm totally overqualified to be an animation executive. So why am I a software engineer?

sean said...

gotta love the industry. I once had some script notes from someone producing my next effort and she said. "Why animate something if you can just explain it with a bit of dialogue? It would be much cheaper."

I went on to explain that this is a cartoon not a live-action description of a cartoon. She basically said, "all you artist types and your Roadrunner crap". I had no reply.

I’m compiling a list of such comments so I can really and truly become a great animator/animation writer one day.

Animation is my life but this business truly sucks.

Alex said...

*shrugs*
At least he didn't become a director.

Tom Dougherty said...

Swingin' with the Scissor Sisters and George Michael at the Backdoor Bakery, thinkin' 'bout John K's awesome jeans.

Don't be nervous! I'm not scary!

j-man said...

hey John if we desperately and hornily want to be a part of this vision that you're leading, what would you want to see in a portfolio? Would Spumco-esque drawings make you barf up shit? Or would funny original drawings make you shine with glee?

Joel Bryan said...

Gaaahhhh! I'm more qualified than this guy but I've never greased the right palms or rubbed the right elbows it seems.

I've always heard Harvey Weinstein is a genius, especially when he was at Miramax. I mean, he greenlighted "Pulp Fiction" and whatnot. And this genius told Zhang Yimou, China's premiere director, that he had to lose 20 minutes of his movie "Hero."

Because Weinstein knows more about the craft of movie making than China's premiere director. I guess because Weinstein once greenlighted "Pulp Fiction." Then Mr. Genius Executive gave the emasculated "Hero" a paltry release that guaranteed its failure.

He also sat on "Shaolin Soccer" forever, allowing it to become a hit in the U.S. via illegal bootleg dvds, and routinely ordered edits on other Asian cinema, then buried the films in limited releases. Leaving me, the non-genius, to wonder just why the hell he was paying money for them in the first place.

Oh, and then their inevitable failure "proved" over and over again that American audiences don't really like subtitled movies, or aren't ready for Asian films in general.

With guys like that lauded as geniuses doing the ultra-important work of bringing us sophisticated movies, it's no surprise this clown, this joke of an animation exec is calling the shots.

"I can't act, I can't sing, but I can tell others how to do these things. And I get to control all the money."

Wow... it's sick. Sick.

JohnK said...

Hey Akira

I couldn't publish that comment...too slanderous! Even if true...

Sorry!

SeƱor Chips said...

i'm surprised you didn't point out what he watches on tv, not one cartoon listed

PCUnfunny said...

What a way to add to a headache.

Cayen said...

somehow all my questions about why most mordern cartoons suck is now completely answered.....god I need to become friends with a cartoon executive.

akira said...

aw, that's okey, i wouldn't want "peter" "gal" to get his panties in a bunch.

good thing for Nick this guy wasn't "catching" when they were "pitching" spongebob!

The Cartoonist said...

I think this dude's on the money. I've been applying this philosophy to other areas of my life.
When I go see a mechanic now I say things like "I think that bit would look better there."
"I don't think we need that bit. take it out."
"I think it would look better red."
"Can you change the model and thew year while your at it, you know, make it more modern?"
If he complains then I know he's just being difficult and refuse to pay him.
Next time I go to a restaraunt I'll go into the kitchen and try it on the chef.

Tom said...

This makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry. But I won't do it since it is not the MANLY thing to do.

Really makes me wonder if I am wasting my time attending animation school? Only time will tell...

Jack Ruttan said...

Do you know any artists who want to become producers? Just askin'

Anibator said...

The scary thing is, this guy is exactly like every other development executive out there.
He is extremely typical.

Anibator said...

It's also interesting to note that two years ago he was one of the people screeching that what studios wanted was "the next Spongebob."

Tim said...

Wow, I always assumed your exec horror-stories were at least a bit exaggerated, but jeez.
You'd think more cartoonists would take a hint from you and get on the internet with their ideas, where no one can tell them that "this duck should be a woodpecker."
That's not to say your Spumco toons online didn't influence anyone, heck I think flash animation exists because of you, if only some other real artists could follow your lead.

AWD! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Dougherty said...

I heard that when Spongebob hit, and seeing as the Simpsons was already huge, a short lived edict came down that- it was obvious!- they needed more yellow characters and shows.

Cooler heads eventually prevailed.

Uffler Mustek said...

nice to see the great cartoon maker next to a picture of a gawdawful puppet.

S.G.A said...

fuuuuuuuu#k... ouch,.. Well then john tell these assholes what they want to hear... and then start deceptively, getting things done the way you'd like...

S.G.A said...

Nickelodeon rejected a cartoon I pitched once, they said they didn't want another spongebob..My cartoon was a about a town of cactus people in the dessert. ....?????

Stephen Worth said...

Animation Magazine is Tiger Beat for executives.

see ya
Steve

Mad Taylor said...

Ok well animation is plagued. I think we'll have to just leave planet Earth and inhabit somewhere else to do anything. We can open up a Backfist Bakery there too.

abwinegar said...

I trust that guy with cartoons, like I would a wolf in a chicken house.

WOW! That answers so many questions I had running in my head.

For a cartoon executive to "not" have a "Big Picture" in mind for the cartoon business, or even his career in that field, is cartoon suicide.

I guess the cartoon business is a "cool" job for him. I guess if he kills the cartoon industry, he thinks he has a job in law waiting for him.

If I was you John. I would have said, "That's nice little boy. Is your father home? You know, the one I came to see about making cartoons?"

Mr. Semaj said...

-Worked at Disney TV Animation and The Disney Channel

So an abomination like The Proud Family is HIS doing?

-Not sure who his role model is.

Also dangerous.

Peter's current job for Nick must explain why we're seeing that awful Mr. Meaty show.

If anyone happens to be hanging out at The Backdoor Bakery in Silverlake, don't forget to bring your crowbar. :P

:: smo :: said...

thank you for posting this.

there's been so many panels i've attended [in the hopes of hearing something uplifting? maybe i'm a masochist] where i had to grind the heel of one foot into the top of the other to keep myself from raising my hand and asking:

"so what would one have to do to get into a position like yours that determines what people like..."

rancor does not do the emotion justice...

RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

I used to work for David Stainton!!!
...that's the scary part.
That's all I got.
Need I say more?

mike f. said...

Check out the new UNDERDOG teaser trailer online, to see moronic Executive creative decision-making in action:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0467110/trailers

Lee said...

well that settles it..

in the time it's taken me to study and get a job..

i could have quit, became a janitor, applied to the company i'd like to work for, get the job and then be paid more than what i make now...for less ACTUAL work

it's all so clear now..
i've dedicated time and effort into something i'll never attain because i'll someday be qualified for it.

stupid me

mike f. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew said...

To be fair, I know a couple people professionally who have had dealings with Peter and all the accounts I have heard of him indicate that he's a very nice, down-to-earth guy (I've never met himself).

That said, you give an interview like this to an animation magazine you're asking to be mocked by animators and animation fans alike.

Anybody else notice that it's an article about an animation executive in an animation magazine and they show a picture from a puppet show? I'm a puppeteer and that seems messed up to me.

Maybe all the Nick cartoon characters were too ashamed to appear next to this...

Sandra Khoo said...

I see the light.

Rodrigo said...

Jesus Christ, this seems surreal. I, who, what, but if, . . . ah caca.

What kind of unholy fluke did this guy get to get into this field that so many aspiring funny folks never get a chance?!?

Ryan G. said...

Holy Crap! Anthropology? Law? I honestly could not believe what I was reading.. He should be embarrassed to set foot around anyone with artistic talent.

rajesh said...

I remember you making one of your shorts available for download through Cold Hard Flash! How did that go?

Making those results public, good or bad, would allow artists to invent alternative and modify existing business models so that it allowed them to retain creative control and not have to deal with these idiots.

I really believe if you had a business model and site similar to JibJab's, you'd be able to do your own thing on your own terms and make enough money to keep doing it.

Pat Lewis said...

Wow. If it weren't for the scans, I wouldn't believe someone actually said all those things.

Troy Little said...

Tooooooo funny. This is why I love the animation biz.

Geritopia said...

I just have a general observation about all this.

Most big companies were once small businesses guided by people with true vision. Later generations of management, however, tend to navigate in a world of protecting THEIR personal interest, compared to those with globally innovative minds. That's when the rot sets in.

Because they are human, corporate bosses will advance those who mirror them. So they'll appoint smartly-tailored people with an acumen for financial and legal matters. The Network Development person we're talking about here is probably well-spoken, astute, and knows how to season his lingo with a bit of color to sell his bosses on the notion that he is "hip to the kids" -or something like that. It's like an exotic mating dance: a meaningless display to outsiders but potent amongst the herd (and undiscerning readers of Animation Magazine).

The tension between creatives and their overlords is as ancient as prostitution. It's all very ugly and there's not much you can do about it, although there will be those lucky eras of upheavals and opportunities to take advantage of.

Craig D said...

...Tiger Beat!

BWAH HAH HAH HAH!!!

Maybe Gloria Stavers should be an animationa executive. No, wait! That was "16!"

David Germain said...

This isn't an executive story per say, but it proves that some people just don't have the brain to understand cartoons.

Back in animation school, one of our assignments was to do a rotation of Cogsworth's head. The teacher gave us a character whose head was shaped like a hockey puck to make it easier on us. Anyway, so to help us out even furhter, he compiled all of Cogsworth's scenes from the original Beauty and the Beast movie so that we could see what he looked like from all sides. And, if anyone here saw the movie, they'd remember that whenever Cogsworth either fell or hit a wall that gears would fly out in order to puncuate that action. Well, that drove one of my classmates nuts. "Where are all those gears coming from?" he kept asking. He actually stop-framed those scenes over and over again just to look for any secret compartments openning and releasing extra gears and such.

All I could do was shake my head and think "He's got a lot to learn."

The GagaMan(n) said...

"Oops, I appear to have walked into the completely wrong job interview!"
"Congratulations! Your hired!"

Lyris said...

This is just sick. Do we laugh or cry?

Rusty Spades said...

If I see one more post on the animation blogs about how stupid the animation execs are, I'm going to puke. I'm as frustrated as the rest of you, trying to figure out what it takes to get on the air. But all you dumbfounded blowhards need to take a step back and look at the big picture.

Development execs want to create hit shows as much as you do. Their currency is their track record of making hit shows. If they get it right, they get big fat bonuses. If they get it wrong enough times, they will be fired. And once they have a reputation of developing bad shows at one network, what other network is going to hire them?

Networks are not in this to make art or satisfy your creative ego. They are in it to make money with as little risk as possible. The execs taking pitches are looking at shows to see whether they have the longevity to create enough episodes to sell enough merch and home video to make a profit on the millions of dollars it's going to cost the network to create and market the show.

Have you ever seen how many pitches these development people get? Between the mail and in-person pitches, each development person is getting 10 or more every day. The quality ranges from a little kid's crayon scrawls on notebook paper, to celebrity vanity projects, to the latest hot underground artists, and, yes, even ideas from the best animation talent in the world.

And those thousands of pitches are all competing for the network's 20 or so development slots. And those 20 development projects are all competing for the three timeslots that network will open up. There are only three networks anyone cares about, so that means there are around twenty thousand ideas competing for the nine broadcast slots that become available every year.

I'm not saying that this is how things SHOULD work, only that this is how the system really DOES work. If you want to make groundbreaking, risky, never-before-seen ART, stop bitching about development execs on animation blogs and go spend your own six and a half million dollars to make 26 half-hours of your own shows the way YOU want to make them and put them up on YouTube. This also gives you the added benefit of being able to sell your show to networks around the world as an acquisition rather than going through the development execs!

Tony C. said...

This has been going on since the beginning of time. In his book "Chuck Amuck", Chuck Jones tells some great stories about moronic producers. Leon Schlesinger would always display his contempt for the cartoons he produced by shouting, "Roll the garbage", to the projectionist when he previewed this cartoons. Of course he had the good sense to stay out of the creative process.

John it might make sense to add a good example to some of these too. Are there any execs in Hollywood that actually made a cartoon at some point? Is there anyone who protects an artists vision all the way through the process?

That way all the John K. acolytes can pitch their great ideas to an individual with some class, and make some great toons. And perhaps that exec and creator will become more well known as people who protect ideas, and be able to make MORE great cartoons with new talented cartoonists!

Kevin W. Martinez said...

I'm one of those wide-eyed hopefuls who wants to work in animation someday. But if this is what you guys have to deal with, I'd better be looking for another college.

FLAMINGPINECONE said...

At least that Nick guy at Cartoon Networks Adult Swim wrote about cartoons and Kim Manning (I remember her name because she's puuuurty)worked at a comic book shop and had some knowledge of the medium. She also has great taste in anime. A nerds dream!

Still, at Nickelodeon it's like they get people who probably never watched any cartoons in there entire life, plop them in a comfy chair and tell them to decide who and how people should make cartoons.

It's silly.

Rodrigo said...

To be fair, I know a couple people professionally who have had dealings with Peter and all the accounts I have heard of him indicate that he's a very nice, down-to-earth guy (I've never met himself).

I'm sure he's a nice guy and would think twice before incinerating a basket of kittens, but I don't think that merits much slack. If my neurologist and I spent many a Sunday afternoons riding a two-man bicycle, but he didn't know the different between a scalpel and an butter knife, I wouldn't let him touch my noggin.

And about that puppet: I think having a real cartoonist, with a non-shitty puppet next to him/her would fit perfectly well. Cartoonists, all in all, are actors who have their creations act as their representatives for the public. So the picture is actually spot on for the interview.

JohnK said...

>>Networks are not in this to make art or satisfy your creative ego. They are in it to make money with as little risk as possible.<<

They are there to satisfy their own creative egos, even though they aren't creative.

Making money for their companies is that last thing they think about.

They spend an insane fortune just in "development" and focus testing and all kinds of mumbo jumbo without ever even making a cartoon.

If they wanted to make money they would hunt for the most creative cartoonists and stay out of their way, like Leon Schlesigner did.

That system produced the longest lasting most popular characters in history.

Why would a non-cartoonist know better what the public wants than a cartoonist?

Rusty Spades said...

Why would a non-cartoonist know better what the public wants than a cartoonist?

If neither of them have had a show on the air, neither of them knows better than the other. Likewise, why would a non-cartoonist who has had one or more successful shows on the air know better what the public wants than a cartoonist who has had one or more successful shows on the air? Again, parity.

But even if you have had a successful show on the air, that's no guarantee that you know what the public wants. Tastes change over time.

This isn't a science. It's all about gut instinct, and there's no accounting for taste. As much as there are hack dev folks, there are also very good dev folks who are perfectly capable of identifying a good idea and developing it into a good show.

Rusty Spades said...

BTW, I do agree with you that if they wanted to make money they would hunt for the most creative cartoonists and stay out of their way. Most people are too insecure to allow that to happen and feel as if they must have their fingers in the pie.

JohnK said...

>>If neither of them have had a show on the air, neither of them knows better than the other. <<

Uh...what? Who stands a better chance of knowing?

>>Likewise, why would a non-cartoonist who has had one or more successful shows on the air<<

Again...what?? How does a non-cartoonist have a successful show?

>>
But even if you have had a successful show on the air, that's no guarantee that you know what the public wants. <<

It's no guarantee that Chuck Liddel can beat up your grandmother either, but I know who I'd bet on.

>>As much as there are hack dev folks, there are also very good dev folks who are perfectly capable of identifying a good idea and developing it into a good show.<<


You must want to sell a show pretty bad.

Kyle said...

"You know, the only way I've found to make these pictures is with animators--you can't seem to do it with accountants and bookeepers."--Walt Disney, Illusion of Life p.159.

Stone said...

well, when you have Human Resources people that came from Harvard and have degrees in Law and Business hiring those that would be in charge of creative decisions, who do you think they are more likely to hire? The grizzled cartoonist with 25 years experience but no degree, or the young Charismatic go-getter that just so happened to be part of the same fraternity as them?

The problem is structural, these execs didn't just materialize from the ether. Standards should be set in place for the qualifications of these postitions that HR people hire for. I think a lot of HR people hire thinking an animation studio is exactly the same as any other mega-corporation so we should be fine having executives cut from the same mold.

Chris E said...

This is a joke. And you're right--Tex Avery would fail under these conditions... and I love Tex Avery's work.

This garbage has made me uninterested in the animation industry. Since all I see and hear about are how all they want is the same unoriginal dribble, why should I bother? Makes me feel like I wasted my life as a cartoonist for nothing.

Mad Max Winston said...

Yeah, this is pretty depressing. There's lots of depressing things in that magazine though... which doesn't seem right.

GinoMc said...

same old same old ,[look @leon or eddie @WB]only worse!the question is how long a truly creative type would survive inside todays meglacorp-and who would want to? what's happened to the music industry is starting to happen in the rest of the industry,[true]production costs are dropping @an astounding rate,as is distribution[with that comes creativeleverage] you want change? M A K E IT!

abwinegar said...

We need to make cartoons without these networks. Make the cartoons in Flash or Toon Boom. Low budget shorts like "Pie Pirates". Put them on Atomfilms.com or AWN Video Portal or develop a site like Youtube, but only for traditional 2-D animation.

If making cartoons is in our blood then that is what we should do. Just because a rejection happens doesn't mean to give up, If the great animators gave up years ago then we would not have some of the best of cartoons today, Ren and Stimpy, Bugs Bunny and pals.

Just because the horizon looks bleak for traditional animation doesn't mean we need to give up without a fight. We will need to prove to OURSELVES as cartoonist and animators. Not to the non-cartoon creative executives. We are not a TOOL!

We are the ones that pay for his sports cars, his home, his food. Sponsors give chucks of money to pay for air time. We buy the products that sponsors advertise. Do the sponsors hire lawyers to make their commercials? NO!

Stone said...

you want change? MAKE IT!

hmm, how? There are plenty of people doing animation online, hundreds in fact! But no one's breaking any ground. And bottom line is, if any of them do garner enough attention to the point of some network wanting to make it a show and put it on the air, they STILL have to go through this process where it'll most likely get watered down to pointlessness.

you can start your own studio but would still would rely on clients that have no clue about animation telling you what they want out of your studio. Maybe one day you'll make enough of a profit working this way to create your own IP and shop it to networks... but then again, you're STILL catering to someone else you don't necessarily agree with.

The only way anything would change the way anyone operates or even looks at this industry is for a few rich chumps gullible enough to want to start their animation network and start from square one and do it the right way... or as right as any of us may think is the "right" way.

Hmm.. BET is starting an animation division from the ground up. Could be a chance for some fresh ideas and a new way of thinking in terms of animation... oh wait... NO ONE HAS ANY FAITH IN BET. Not to mention they already seem to be making faulty steps before anything has even meterialized. There's an opportunity there, but I already fear the water has been tainted.

looks like we may have to just call it quits, move to siberia and draw on little flipbooks until we die.

so... aside from that, and aside from yelling at people to "stop complaining and DO something about it." Does anyone actually HAVE any ideas as to what we should do about the state of animation?!

abwinegar said...

If giving up is the answer. Why do we even bother drawing our cartoon characters that we have created?

The hundreds on-line, I bet, are not giving up.

If we do not try, we will never succeed.

Giving up is not an option in saving traditional animation.

S.G.A said...

I just discovered old Frazetta cartoon work, and the stuff he penned as Fritz.. amazing cartoon stuff... wow, What are your thoughts on construction and his stuff?

Gochris said...

Rusty Spades said...

"Development execs want to create hit shows as much as you do. Their currency is their track record of making hit shows. If they get it right, they get big fat bonuses. If they get it wrong enough times, they will be fired. And once they have a reputation of developing bad shows at one network, what other network is going to hire them?"

Rusty, I call this "Chicago logic." When I moved to LA from Chicago, I thought the TV biz ran based on a successful bottom line.
If you can show that you can make a network money, you'll be fine. That makes sense, right?

But if that were the case, JK would have several shows on the air, because he's had hits that make money.

I did many many pitches, some sold, some didn't. And it was a hard lesson for me to learn that often these execs have egos that are as large and fragile as any actor, writer, artist or creative person.

So to be a success, you must be able to play the game of working with their egos - and oh, yeah, you have to be able to make cartoons too. So "Chicago logic" - the idea that the things people do follows some kind of logic - does not really work in Hollywood - and show biz.

To get a show on the air, you have to be able to play the game of working with these knuckleheads who don't know a cartoon from a sitcom. That's really what's going on here. The most creative people can't always do that.

People keep bringing up how Tex Avery wouldn't survive in this atmosphere, and it's true - but Tex wasn't working in television. If he were, he's have to learn to water down his work, because TV is about placating people, not exciting them.

If you're an artist who can be happy working with a very low budget, the internet and indie distribution channels are the answer. Don Hertzfeld has the right idea - stay off of TV, but work like hell to find and please an audience. Perhaps Don and Bill Plympton may not make Looney Tunes level cartoons, but at least they have found a way to please audiences without letting anyone stop them.

That's waaaay too much of my yakkin'.

Pseudonym said...

Imagine if the rest of the world worked this way. Imagine if book publishers hired, as their editorial staff, lawyers who wanted a change of career. Instead they hire people who, while maybe they aren't professional writers, at least studied English or a related field like Journalism, maybe edited a student newspaper, maybe had a few magazine articles published...

You know, people who understand the written word in some capacity.

BrianB said...

Goodness, you're so frickin spot on. Infinitely depressing stuff. And the guy pretty much says during his leisure times he enjoys sitting around watching crappy live-action tv shows. It's like one of my slacker friends from high school - the only difference being the role of a high school student during the rest of their swapped for animation studio executive. Probably the same ammount of loathing it.

Pretty gross. I also love his list of favorite cartoons.

It seriously sucks living with such an shell of an industry. I think what we need is to sneak a rat in the ranks. Pretend to hate cartoons, be very opinionated but completely uncreative. Then when they land the right position they can upheave the dump. Or maybe we can bribe the highest executive with an early retirement. Then they can get back to not missing Survivor and Jackass.

John said...

It's the dumbing down of media in general. What better way to sell to the lowest common denominator than to put a dummy at the top. "I love TV" Of course you do! It's visual lobotomy for the masses. But do you read books?

When I show my work to editors it's frustrating to have it labelled "traditional" by a lot of young, semi-adolescent editors, simply because I can draw properly.

Being skillful, challenging or ground-breaking is no longer on the agenda for the media anymore. But if they see something that appears to be making a buck rest assured they'll be the first to jump on it, buy it, sanitise and re-package for the masses.

I miss Ren and Stimpy!

cemenTIMental said...

He was however intensely interested in my pants. "Where did you get those awesome jeans?"

:D ha, hillarious/tragic post!

Steve said...

It makes perfect sense... that this guy would come from the legal profession. Just think, they allowed cameras in the courtrooms to soak their fantasy of becoming the next Judge Judy (thus making the courtroom artist obsolete). Then go on into animation, pushing dialog heavy dribble, putrid puppets and live action crap-o-rama. Therefore: less opportunities for creative cartoonists.

Diego! said...

Wow... reading things like these make me sad. On the other side, I don't know how's Nick on the US, but the version we see here on Latin America, sucks a lot... so your post would be an explanation...

Peter F. Bernard, Jr. said...

It's a class thing. The uber-rich just lost control of the government, so they're clamping down on media making sure they don't lose control of that too. They want all media decisions made top-down, and entertainers are not on the top, so they don't get to make the decisions. The few execs I still know all know I feel this way, haha. I always hold out hope when new channels start that some 20 year old exec might be more open-minded, but usually they get overruled when they pitch the idea to their boss. If you do a cartoon that gets 50,000 views on youtube, the execs will contact you, it's hard to get their attention these days in other ways though.

Peter F. Bernard, Jr. said...

oh, I'm reading the comments and making money for the network is not in their mind, it really is about their ego. There are exceptions, Robert Smigel is interested in quality jokes, for one. But for the most part, it's about wht Mojo Nixon called, "The big-daddy boss theater of the retarded." I do better on pitches when I bring a charming, flattering person in with me because flattery is not my strong suit.

Ant said...

The problem is having large publicly-traded corporations responsible for making cartoons. Shareholders are naturally philistines - they prefer moderate predictable returns to what they perceive as more risky: investing in creative genius. Even if the latter would actually make more money.

So everything has to be standardised: a production line process for churning out commodity products made by people who fit into clearly-defined performance-measurable roles. This arguably works well for producing refrigerators but it is a disaster for creativity, quality or artistic expression.

Unfortunately, the public don't demand better. Sometimes it seems the more mediocre, the more they like it (or at least, less of them dislike it).

Somebody please give John K. $100million to fix this mess!

akira said...

sheesh! if only it were one person like this! check out what gets the green light at cartoon network:

http://www.cartoonnetwork.com/promos/upfront/

click on "new shows" and then click on "sizzle reels"... and watch closely how they are selling these piles of crap. i can only dream of what a sizzle reel of the next john k series would be like(i'd probably have to change my pants afterwards)

Mr. Semaj said...

C.H. Greenblatt says that Cartoon Network is committed to excellence.

I hate to be dumping on an ex-SpongeBob director, but COME ON! A network that went to a length to ban damn-near every classic cartoon in favor of junk like Class of 3000, and keeps crap like Ed, Edd, n' Eddy going forever? That's gotta be some cruel joke.

Stephen Nicodemus said...

This guy listens to George Micheal, wanted to be on Broadway, hangs out at the Backdoor Bakery in Silver Lake, worked for Disney. I don't get what is the problem with all of you. He is perfectly qualified to be an exec in Hollywood today.

brian said...

I'm gonna puke.

Sketch said...

Wow, Cartoonists and Musicians aren't that different.

brian said...

Rusty-

Whatever. One of these days, I'll have to post a side-by-side video comparison of my 6 year old son as he reacts to the latest Nickelodeon / Cartoon Network "hit" followed by what happens when he sits down to watch a classic episode of Tom & Jerry. One thing's for sure, in the case of the latter, he won't be sitting for long. For him, watching "The Flying Cat" could substitute for an aerobic workout (the kid litterally shreeks and jumps around, he can't contain his laughter). With such "successful" shows as Spongebob / Camp Lazlo et al, he might as well be watching CSPAN - totally depressing.

TP said...

Yeah, the system of making cartoons sounds really F'd up right now.
I'm working on a project right now and all these executives have to put their 2 cents in. It's impossible to get any real art done!!!
That having been said, you gotta give Cartoon Network some props. Most of that stuff looks like crap, but Camp Lazlo has some crazy stuff going on. It's not as funny as Rocko, but still. I'm not an Ed, Edd, and Eddy fan, but there is something about that show that is cool. Some cool expressions and poses show up from time to time...

Robert Hume said...

"If they wanted to make money they would hunt for the most creative cartoonists and stay out of their way, like Leon Schlesigner did."

I think this makes for clear sense that even a school child could understand. If Executives want to trully be successful and help contribute to the cartoon industry, they should study the Great Cartoon "Executives" of the past just as Cartoonists study the great "Cartoonists" of the past as well. Learn from what Leon Schlesigner did, and what he DIDN'T do as well...

Pat McMicheal said...

John, When their cartoons "TANK", who loses their job, the talented artists or this Bozo?
That article must have really gone up your ass! How does this happen?

Rusty Spades said...

Brian:

The reason your kids like Tom and Jerry better than the new cartoons (all the kids I know feel the same way) is because of the lawyers, not the development people. Tom & Jerry style violence is just not allowed on shows for 6 to 11 year olds anymore. You'd freak if you heard about some of the innocent stuff I've had to change. John, I'm sure you have some thoughts about S&P...

Andrew15 said...

I've pitched scripts and shows to probably 500 execs in animation, sitcom, one-hour, features & variety since 1976 (sold 60+ pilots; over a dozen series on air). I met ONE who had written anything, and he went back to screenwriting 6 months later. Nobody who is funny, smart and talented would want the job (or be offered it). Mr. Gal is no worse than the execs who greenlit every single thing you have ever watched on TV. I'm glad it's being discussed though. Suggestion: someone start an open blog (I'm not sufficiently computer-savvy) on which the stupidest notes all writers receive are posted daily. Some recent faves of mine: "A snake is not an animal." "Please replace 'though' with 'but' to avoid confusing our audience." "Please replace the Mona Lisa with a better-known image." "Cut cartoon bear pushing dynamite plunger - imitatable behavior."

ChristopherC said...

John you certainly know what you are talking about, I may have read profiles like that before and didn't put the dots together. Reminds of 3d classes with 90 percent of non-artists...

Steve K. said...

This is why I stopped reading Animation Magazine years ago. I see nothing has changed. Not the magazine or the industry. This is the typical exec that has been in charge of cartoons at just about every animation studio in town for at least 25 years....very depressing.

Darkefang said...

While the cartoon execs might be the botton of the barrel in the entertainment universe, dipshittery isn't limited to animation. In general, movie and television executives tend to crush any thought and originality out of all projects.

The entertainment industry as a whole seems to suffer from an acute case of the Peter Principle, where the bosses protect themselves from competition by promoting people until they reach a position where they are incompetent. In the business world, those bosses would promote those that are only slightly incapable, so as to not significantly damage the long-term health of their employer. In entertainment, they are more likely to hire the ragingly incompetent, since nobody expects to remain in their current company for more than a couple years anyway.

Kate said...

Maybe you just have an awesome ass, and they think it's the jeans. Yeah it is depressing, maybe you should just try going to a pitch in the buff

Frank said...

if the jeans are that mezmorizing, im sure theyd buy a show ABOUT the jeans..."Dani Denim and Jean Squad"

Acetate said...

Keep on telling it like it is John. There's no way in hell I can come close in terms of personal annecdotes, But I do have one qoute that's a fave. When I was looking for animation work in 88 or 89 (It was the summer of the writers strike) I dropped off some samples and a demo reel at Hanna Barbera. Later that afternoon this really irrate woman calls me at home and starts chewin' me out for leaving my samples. God knows why. She asked why did I leave that stuff? I said I was looking for work in animation. She yells..."This is Hanna Barbera, we don't do any animation here !" The woman was Andrea Romano, I kid you not. She then said the only thing she was intersted in was voice over artists. Thinking quickly I told her that on my demo tape I did several voices for some of my animated short films. She said, "Yeah well ya need an agent for that!" and hung up. She got to cut down a new storyboard/voice artist in one fell swoop. It was a two-fer ! Strange but true story.

Rodrigo said...

This is a bit dated, but I think you'll appreciate it:

Another New Bunny

BrianB said...

For more examples of people who don't have talent telling creative people how to do their job - check this out.

http://www.escapedgoat.com/stern/William%20Shatner%20in%20a%20recording%20session.mp3

I wish cartoonists were the rockstars actors are. Then they could be untouchable and in creative control again. And I'd love to see an executive handed a pencil or asked to direct on how to draw and be funny.

qeshi said...

to brianb

Is this the link you meant?

William Shatner

It's hilarious!

And for those who want to know how to post clickable links

Click me

GinoMc said...

well...this is going to sound a little harsh Stone,sorry[you seem a little sensitive],but if you can't see what's going on out there,and where things are going[and where you fit in] you're probably part of the problem,if you want somebody to hold your hand hire a nanny -you sound lost,enjoy Robert Hume said...
"....and stay out of their way, like Leon Schlesigner did." ya,well,leon wuz a putz, and he did get in the way, and they blew him off and worked around him [and hey,that provided part of the creative spark]yes it's different now [worse] but lets not sepia tint the past- it sucked then too,just not so much if making wagon wheels is what you love to do, then you're going find a way to make a living at it [or just do it regardless] if you want to make wagon wheels 'cause it's fun and the money's good...well then,you're likely s.o.l. - this thread is sounding alot like a animation nation wallowfest i thought this thread wuz about crazy anecdotes -i shall post no more[i promise ] .....but always remember,and never forget.... blame CANADA! copyright 2007 platitudes'R'us all rights reserved

reane nadina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

One exec at Nick turned down our cartoon (now on Cartoon Network) with these exact words "It's too funny".
I thought to myself "Yeah, what a fucking handicap for a kid's comedy show."

pete who? said...

makes me sad...

I once had a Disney executive tell me right before a pitch meeting "I dropped out of film school. Couldn't handle it. Went to law school instead, now here I am! What have you got to show me?" It went downhill from there.

But the good news is, with my resume as an animation director, I'm more than qualified to become an astronaut.

Jiff said...

Of course!
If you can defend burglars, murderers and wife beaters, I guess you can defend just about anything, even not having any logical qualifications to boss cartoonists around!

Theyre all Illuminati Mr K

Harley said...

http://www.cartoonbrew.com/biz/9-story-hires-brandon-lane-as-development-exec.html

"Brandon Lane began his career in entertainment at the age of 15, when he wrote his first award-winning play. The plays he wrote and co-wrote over the next three years went on to win 16 awards at the prestigious Sears Drama Festival.

At the age of 18, after training in “Commedia Dell’Arte,” he officially became a “Court Jester” at Niagara Falls’ Marineland, where he wrote the 15-minute silent one-man show which he performed for thousands of children a day as the opening act for the famous Killer Whale presentation. Lane received an Honours BFA from York University in Film Production and Screenwriting, as well as a Post-Graduate Certificate from the inaugural class of Centennial’s “Children’s Entertainment: Writing, Production and Management” programme.

He also created, wrote, produced and directed Alfredo Tomato, a musical pre-school comedy starring Fraggle Rock/Mighty Jungle veteran puppeteer Mike Petersen. Alfredo Tomato is currently available on DVD."

Harley said...

http://www.cartoonbrew.com/biz/9-story-hires-brandon-lane-as-development-exec.html

"Brandon Lane began his career in entertainment at the age of 15, when he wrote his first award-winning play. The plays he wrote and co-wrote over the next three years went on to win 16 awards at the prestigious Sears Drama Festival.

At the age of 18, after training in “Commedia Dell’Arte,” he officially became a “Court Jester” at Niagara Falls’ Marineland, where he wrote the 15-minute silent one-man show which he performed for thousands of children a day as the opening act for the famous Killer Whale presentation. Lane received an Honours BFA from York University in Film Production and Screenwriting, as well as a Post-Graduate Certificate from the inaugural class of Centennial’s “Children’s Entertainment: Writing, Production and Management” programme.

He also created, wrote, produced and directed Alfredo Tomato, a musical pre-school comedy starring Fraggle Rock/Mighty Jungle veteran puppeteer Mike Petersen. Alfredo Tomato is currently available on DVD."

Harley said...

Hey, sorry, I posted two different posts, I think the 2nd one has the proper link