Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Space Madness Gets Extra Credits


This was an episode where I had to go back to Vanessa and ask if we could give more credits upfront. "Oh, John...This one time only!" was the response. Then later I did it again for a couple other episodes.

Original notes from lunch with Jim and John about space episodes above, then turned into a simple premise below:


I had to rewrite the "crazy talk" speech about 5 times to get Nick to approve something. This is one attempt

Jim Gomez wrote up a more detailed premise, then I fleshed it out to a long outline and went through many passes and revisions with Nickelodeon. It's a particularly long detailed outline or I would scan it to show you.
I wish I could find the notes where they told us to "drop the space episodes. We don't like space." Richard, do you have them?Jim designed the look of the future for the show studying old Popular Science pulp magazines and books about the Streamlined decade and 40s vacuum cleaner catalogues. The Spumco book will have lots of his art.




Chris did some great designs while he was storyboarding at the same time. He did the long vertical pan of the weird machine in the History Eraser Button room for one.

Oh, and David Koenigsberg did the cool waving credits and fx at the beginning of the cartoon-the old fashioned way, under a camera with ripple glass!

Henry Porch picked out Dvorak's "New World" for the opening music, which lent the cartoon a very serious ominous atmosphere.

Bill Griggs did a phenomenal job editing the music and Tim Borquez killed himself coming up with all the cool old style science fiction sound effects.

Mike Fontanelli did the layouts of Ren and Stimpy at the end for the History Eraser Button Sequence. Maybe I have some frame grabs somewhere.

A lot of other good artists all worked on the show. A cartoon like Space Madness could never be made as an independent film - or even at another studio with all the same people. It took a lot of top talent, a production system designed for talent and a sympathetic creative director who urged the best from everyone - oh and a network executive who allowed it to happen. More than what we all thought we were capable of, I'm sure.

35 comments:

Dan Jackson said...

Hey John, not sure if you've seen this... It's a clip of a story meeting you guys had with Ralph Bakshi on the New Adventures of Mighty Mouse. Interesting little time capsule.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZzjh1PgIbs&feature=related

Geneva said...

Great posts!

Pertaining to the little story about executives and the soap gag in Space Madness: when I first saw that cartoon (I was born in 1987, mind you, so I was pretty little), I KNEW that soap wasn't tasty. But I remember seeing the cartoon and thinking, "wow, maybe soap COULD taste good," because I liked the way it was drawn. I'll have you know that I tried it and was disappointed that it did not taste like it looked in the cartoon.

JohnK said...

Never do anything you see in cartoons, or just once so you know better afterwards.

Trevor Thompson said...

Jim Smith must be good at everything. What a good idea it was to reward good drawing with a real live girl!

Amanda H. said...

OH WOW. "Space Madness" is probably my absolute favorite Ren and Stimpy episodes. If I wasn't at the library, (heh) I would articulate my comment better and get a better look at your notes and outlines.

Besides some of the best examples of Ren's rubbery, spastic animations (especially when he has his soap), I love the post-modern science fiction-y backgrounds not to mention great use of the scary background music like "Night on Bare Mountain" by Mussorgsky immediately before Ren makes Stimpy guard the History Eraser button.

Sorry my comment is so long, they usually aren't :)

Kali Fontecchio said...

All those magazine photos are great. Especially Jim's and Eddie's. They are epic men. We need more of that breed today.

This episode definitely had an effect on me in terms of pressing shiny red buttons. I usually declined as a result.

Eric Carl said...

This is definitely one of my favorite episodes. As a kid I always looked forward to episodes when Ren might go crazy. I just loved how extreme he was.

drawingtherightway said...

I wonder if Nick execs were as strict with the content in the 80's show "You Can't Do That On Television". I never watched that show much, but the little bit I saw when I was young had some gross out moments in it.

Dan Jackson said...

drawingtherightway...

I think Nick was a little more lenient with "You Can't...", just because that was show that made Nick a success (they even stole the "YCDTOTV" color scheme and "slime" and adopeted it as their corporate identity). I recall that show had a lot of un-PC stuff in it that would NEVER be shown on Nick today

... Like the recurring jokes of the kid in front of the firing squad, the alcoholic dad, the bus driver that kept crashing the bus full of kids, the cafeteria cook that served the kids roadkill and vomit. They even had occasional blatant sex jokes and references. Any one of those things would have parents in an outrage these days (even though parents today probably grew up with that show).

wwhhaatt?? said...

hey john,

some of the gags in the r+s adult party cartoons are so gross they are almost unwatchable. they make the awesome sick stuff you did at nick look disney-esque by comparison. i'm wondering what was your relationship with spike tv suits?

JohnK said...

They actually aren't drawn anywhere near as gross as the original show, but the context makes them feel more so.

Too heavy sometimes.

tb4000 said...

Haha, the history eraser button scene is the one thing that me and most of my boys to this day remember from the original seasons. The camera pan revealing the announcer standing there is one of the better sight gags, for reals.

chrisallison said...

John, I don't understand how this kinda stuff isn't possible in an independent project.

The only difference between the two seems to be that the "studio" (corporate) side gets a paycheck BEFORE the project is finished, while an independent production is taking the financial risk and putting their money where their mouth is. In an indie situation, you only get money if the project sails.

Burt Klein self produces his own independent projects and gets a Disney quality product without studios (argueable whether or not that quality is something to be admirable of, but the point is that he's doing "studio" quality work). There's lots of independent animators like Nick Cross, David Gemmill and David De Rooj who are doing indie projects where I personally think their current projects look better and are FUNNIER than 99% of studio stuff out there. The tough part about being indie is that you also have the burden of being your own legal, marketing, merchandising, etc. But if quality products are really what drives people to watch stuff, shouldn't all that stuff fall into place?

This addiction to the "studio" is weird to me. If you got your cartoonist pals together and all agreed to donate your time without promise of a paycheck, you guys could FINISH a project and effectively put your money where your mouth is. The technology available makes this VERY possible. I mean, you'd all have a lot more to gain financially if you were willing to take the risk on this capitalist venture and owned the project instead of some studio. I think you have so many awesome ideas and I'd like to see them realized.

So maybe rather the problem isn't really one of studios, but one of motivating people to put in the upfront sweat equity of working on a project they believe. How and where do we find people with that kinda motivation? Well, I think we'll see them popping up on the internet really REALLY soon, like we have with Nick Cross.

jaystein said...

I love the "Drawing Class" spread.
It just goes to show that Cartoons need to be created by Cartoonists who are basically living Cartoons.

I am truly alone where I work.

HemlockMan said...

Oh! So cool! Historical reference work on the creation of SPACE MADNESS! You know, SPACE MADNESS is my all-time favorite cartoon. Hands down. Everything about that cartoon is hilarious. I started laughing as soon as it began and kept laughing until long after the end credits. It's just the most effective cartoon I've ever seen. Everything from the ridiculous suits to the maniacal screams of fear to the insane dialogue to the funny machines...

It's the funniest cartoon in the history of the Universe.

tata80 said...

Hey John! I actually love the Adult Party cartoon!Space Madness was a such great Episode Never seen something such good animated the best Scene is the ''Soap Eating''Yummyyyyyy that was so delicious...uhm...i think so,ren liked it :D yeah Soap actually isn't that tasty how it smells lol.We would probably see a sequel in the APC show of Space Madness (''Space Madness 2'' or something) if that bastards from Spike wouldn't fire you & your'e Team >:(
i really miss ren & stimpy and i can't wait for that ''ultimative dvd set''cause ''life sucks''sooo hope you can make one day new episodes of r&s :D Good bye.

Taco Wiz said...

I can't believe their fear about kids eating soap. Thank god they allowed it.

Anyway...how'd the Adult Swim pitch go? When's the book coming out?

You're my favorite cartoonist. Therefore, I must buy 100 copies of this book. XD

AShortt said...

Amazing...simply amazing.

JohnK said...

Chris

if someone's choice is to starve themselves for 3 years while they make 1 cartoon that will never make any money in return, then more power to them.

I wanna be able to pay my rent and work with the best people possible and make stuff that a lot of people like and have fun doing it. I don't wanna make stuff just for other animators.

But I'm not opposed to other people doing things the way they want to. It's just not for me.

I'm gonna retire soon anyway.

Someone else can fix all the problems.

Iron maiden said...

No john Id be really sad If you retired cartoons will probably never be the same again and your cartoons that you made really are the funniest cartoons Ive seen in my life


please dont retire soon

from your biggest fan..........

Booo Tooons said...

Hey John!

I know you don't think we're worthy, but could you some day do a post on what to expect when pitching a show and how to talk to executives?

I know I'm not good enough to be the creator of a new show, but I am young, hip and disheveled. Worse case scenario a hipster gets into the system under the radar then suddenly starts hiring the right people.

Wait. That will never work. The baby boomers tried that whole 'rebuild the system from the inside' crap and it never worked.

Nevermind.

Oliver_A said...

I'm gonna retire soon anyway.

That's by far the most depressing statement I have ever read on your blog. :(

ThomasHjorthaab said...

Hey John!
You have talked alot about the process of making a cartoon, from writer to ink and paint...
And you talked about NOT tone a drawing down, cause it's not cool when you're part of the process is toned down by the next on the ladder...
Could you explain in a post, how you could tone a drawing down, cause I'm not sure how you avoid doing that... I have some ideas but I would like to now for sure:)

Cheers man!

The Artist Aficionado said...

So they finally acknowledged the staff that executed the actual animation and creativity. And not credit some producer or writer that doesn't know what the there doing.

JohnK said...

Thomas, click the label on the side of the blog that says "maintaining guts".


I'll also post the latest assignment from the college blog tomorrow. It's about what you asked. How not to tone things down.

Tim DeMoor said...

Hey John,

I have an inking question for you, but I know this isn't the appropriate place for me to ask. If I type up my question in one of your inking posts, would you still be able to see it? Thanks.

- Tim

Niki said...

Your too young too retire. And if you do too early I'll get really pissed and make everybody revert to stiff 70's stuff again. But if I someday get to work for you and I get to be yelled at then I'll be fine with a well deserved decision. Also Here is my Lesson 4 for the 100,00 dollar cousre. Sorry it's late, but now I've stolen all the lessons off the site and put them into little folders so I can finish them without the net. Later Sir.

Niki said...

Hey John, I've found a really interesting website you maybe interested in. It's about writing but not cartoon writing, writing in general and I think it has some good information on breaking down the story in books and film. I figure that if we study novels and film and animation then we could shift between mediums and learn a lot about what each one has to offer in the end to cartooning.

Here's the link. I'm planning on making a type of makeshift study guide for writing first and then one for music cause I think all artistic fields are lacking and could use some work, tell me if your interested.

Mr.swindle said...

dear john
weel i dont write in english , because iam a maxican guy, por eso escribire en español . empezare diciendo que tus caricaturas , y tu animacion son de lo mejor , ninguna caricatura actual pudede competir con tus estilizados diseños, son hermosos , bueno tengo 18 años y para mi seria el mas grande honor que visitaras mi blog y me dieras tu opinion sobre mis caricaturas

Frank Macchia said...

I love the rough draft of Ren's insane speech...I always loved that little monologue.

When he says that Kirk Douglas line..."we're not hitchhiking anymore...We're RIDING!"...it kills me every time. Your delivery was priceless, John.

You've never posted about your experiences with voice acting (that I know of, I may be wrong)...But I'd love to hear some stories about that too sometime.

John said...

'I'm retiring soon'

Excuse me while I fall to my knees and scream NOOOOOOOOOO!!!

This harsh, stupid, boring world we live in needs people like you to make it funny, John!

Ollie said...

That looks like a fun drawing class. Where did you get that Kirk Douglas bust from? Do you still have it?

nagyaron said...

That is the first Ren ans Stimpy episode I have seen, and it is still my favorite!
thank you for reopening your blog!

Jim Rockford said...

"Space Madness" and "Stimpys invention" are my favorite episodes!
Rubber Nipple Salesmen has some pretty great moments too.(Mr.Horse and the walrus crack me up every time..."Call the poliiice")

Interesting to see that crazy Ren was originally going to use some great Kirk Douglas qoutes from Detective Story!

I sure miss Ren & Stimpy,man you've gotta make some more

Herman G said...

Thanks for re- opening your blog.. you never miss anything until it gone. There is a wealth of info here, to keep the realness going. thanks for all the time..