This is part 2. Read part 1 first if you haven't: http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com/2007/03/writing-for-cartoons-1.html
Skills you need to have to be a good cartoon writer:
Skills you need to have to be a good cartoon writer:
Here's the most important one:
Be a cartoonistThis is so self-evident, it seems crazy that it needs to be explained to anybody, but here goes...
You don't have to be the greatest cartoonist, but you should have some experience animating, or at least inbetweening so you know how cartoons work. That way you won't ask animators to do things that don't work in animation.
You shouldn't write for any medium that you don't understand, because the people who have to actually make the medium will think you're an idiot and will waste their abilities trying make your awkward "ideas" seem smooth by patching them together with bandaids. That's the basic system the studios use today.
Johnny Mercer wasn't as good a singer as Frank Sinatra, but he played instruments, read music and sang. He knew enough about singing to know what could be sung well by better singers. He knew the language he was writing for. He could carry a tune.
Would you trust a songwriter to write tunes if he had no way of playing you the tune-or even singing it to you?
"Trust me, the tune in my head is really good. I just don't have any musical ability to show it to you. Let me describe the tune. There are some really fast low notes, then they speed up and go higher. Then there's a short fat note that wiggles for a couple beats. I think I mean beats... uh...what's a beat again?"
I'm sure that's how this was "written": http://melaman2.com/cartoons/singles/mp3/tiny-toons.mp3
That's what cartoon writers who don't draw are asking you to believe-that they have good visual ideas but no direct way to express them. That is exactly how their idiotic scripts read to us and we shake our heads in disgust. It's why the scriptwriters are laughed at by artists. I don't know how these "writers" can walk down the same halls as the artists who know they've had their medium stolen from them and know what charlatans they are.
The language of animation is pictures- and simple pictures too, because you have to draw lots and lots of pictures just to make something move. The more complicated the pictures are, the less an animator can do per week and the lousier the motion looks.
Having experience animating teaches you this fast and cures you of wanting to write crowd scenes and complicated costumes and difficult camera angles.
Animation is also potential magic and you need to be able to draw and animate somewhat so that you can take advantage of what kind of magic animation can actually do well. An experienced animation artist's understanding of what cartoon magic is is much different than a non-visual person's is.
Here's what Jeffrey Scott and most animation "writers" think is the magic part of animation, "In live-action you have to write a lot of real-life stuff, like people's problems and crime. But in animation for kids I can make up wild stories, write sci-fi or fantasy, and dream about worlds and see them appear on screen. This would be too expensive in live-action, but in animation it only takes an artist to draw some pictures and there it is!"
In other words, the magic is that you can slough off all the responsibility of having to know what you are doing on an artist. You don't have to do the hard part. You can write a bad live-action style epic with huge elaborate sets and a cast of thousands, and magically some poor artist (or hundreds of them) is stuck with making it happen - at 12 drawings a second.
Here's a news bulletin for all cartoon writers: ANIMATION IS NOT CHEAPER THAN LIVE-ACTION. GET THAT CRAZY IDEA OUT OF YOUR HEAD. WE HAVE TO DRAW A PICTURE FOR EVERY 12TH OF A SECOND, SO MULTIPLY YOUR CROWD SCENES BY 12 AND THEN AGAIN BY HOW MANY SECONDS OF SCREEN TIME THE CARTOON IS ON FOR.
Obviously, drawing a storyboard gives you a much better idea if a scene or cartoon will work than writing it in words. You can just look at the storyboard in continuity and see it. Even artists who try to write scripts realize this quickly.
I learned by having to draw scenes I first "wrote" in words that some things I thought would work didn't. Then when I sat down and drew the ideas I invented many scenes, character bits and gags that I would never have thought of just by typing the ideas floating in my head and wasting time trying to verbalize them. Somehow, much magic comes out of your pencil without you consciously dreaming it up.
Someone who can't draw will try to argue that he thinks visually, but unfortunately for him, he can never prove his point. In order for a blind writer to prove that he thinks visually, he has to get an artist to prove it by drawing the pictures for him. He can't get his wonderful pictures out of his head without the aid of someone who can draw. If the writer doesn't like the artist's interpretation he has no way of explaining how to do it right.
On the other hand, artists who also have story ability can prove it by just doing it. As they did for the first 4 decades of animation history. In the 90s Spumco proved it again and for a while because of the huge success of bringing back real cartoons even executives went along with it,
http://www.animationarchive.org/2006/09/media-ren-stimpy-big-house-blues-seq.html until they started meddling again, and so much now that the business has reverted to the 80s system of hiring non-creative "writers" who can neither draw nor write, but are happy to steal the money while taking advantage of the ever gullible execs.
An original P.O.V.
and keep checking back for more things you need to be a good cartoon writer...