Sunday, February 27, 2011

Some color

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Makinita by popular demand

Boy, he really digs around to find the most obscure stuff.
Here's a real diamond from Eddie's masterpiece.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Writing For Character, rather than plugging characters into a generic plot

Write For Character

I’ve always found that it’s much easier to write for characters that have strong distinct personalities – iconic characters.

Some cartoon writers like to begin with a high concept, (“Let’s start the picture by shooting the protagonist’s mother and then the son goes on a magical adventure to search for a replacement mother figure, but then finds out through trials that he himself is an individual and thus important to the uncaring universe and can solve his own problems with the help of a nagging assertive female.”) “Who IS the protagonist?, some junior executive asks. Everyone in the room agrees that that will come later and isn't. The story is what’s important, not who it’s about.

The writers then plug in stock animation character types, and randomly choose what species the characters are. These types of stories typically use generic plots and stock animated personality types. The last 25 years of animated features have largely been about finding and loving yourself. They are peopled by a wimpy ineffectual lead, the strong assertive liberated female, the wacky fast talking irritating sidekick, the evil hook nosed villain, etc. The creators just change the “arena” and the classes of animalia, but the characters remain essentially the same simple stereotypes, all out to find themselves and be OK with who they are.

The message seems to be: it's OK to be an individual, just not if you work in our unfeeling corporate-owned monster of a studio.


The easiest (and I think most successful) stories I’ve written or worked on were the ones that directly evolved out of the characters’ personalities, rather than just taking the characters and plugging them into a plot or situation.

Stimpy’s Invention was originally pitched as a typical “Character A makes crazy inventions that backfire on character B. Hilarity ensues”
It was rejected on that basis and I reexamined it and thought that it needed something that took advantage of Ren and Stimpy’s personalities.

Ren is a psychotic highly strung nervous wreck and Stimpy is a trusting, dumb but empathetic guy who loves Ren despite Ren’s meanness.

When Stimpy realizes that his inventions are driving Ren nuts, he doesn’t blame his screwy inventions, he instead thinks Ren just needs a cure for his unhappiness. Inspired with a new mission, he decides to invent something to make Ren happy. He gets the idea for a Happy Helmet.

Once we came up with that, the story wrote itself. (Well Bob Camp and I did, but it came much easier once it wasn't about wacky inventions) Now the gags were all about the characters, not about the props.

In Ralph Bakshi’s Mighty Mouse, the best stories were the ones about the villains. MM himself didn’t have much personality, so I found it more rewarding to write about the bad guys or quirky new superhero characters we created.

Tom Minton wrote “The Littlest Tramp” which, on the surface was a satire of “The Little Match Girl” and other sappy 1930s cartoons. The satiric elements were funny, but what made the cartoon exciting for me to work on was the character dynamics between Mighty Mouse, the Polly Pineblossom (the poor flower girl) and the villainous Big Murray, whose sole motive in life was to make Polly’s life all the more miserable.

The drawings of the acting of the well defined personalities was really what sold the story.
We had other stories that kind of went nowhere, demonstrations of how weird we could be, but the episodes which most developed the personalities were the most fun stories to tell – and to draw.


Once you have solidly defined interesting and fun characters, you can “write” endless stories about them. Conversely, the types of characters created for “Arena” cartoons or what I call “Mom-killer cartoons” rarely outlive their first appearances.

There is also the modern vogue of random cartoon writing where everything is supposed to be a rebellious non-sequitur. No plot, no character, no structure. I don't what can be said for that. You can't teach random because everyone can do it. It's a lack of purpose or plan.

Sorry I have no pictures today, but click any of the labels below and there will be other articles with illustrations.

Next: a bit about how to write strong character dialogue.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Saturday, February 12, 2011

even more HB Toys

sorry I haven't put any thrilling posts up lately
I'm kinda burnt out on cartoon theories for the moment-or at least writing about them
however, I always love when Mike Fontanelli sends me these wacky toy images, so I just put 'em up in case anyone else likes funny toys too
I would love to be in the board meeting when someone says "I got it! We'll make a line of Yogi toys where all the characters have flesh colored heads, but the bodies will be their regular colors!" I bet he got a bonus for that. Maybe another top exec added the oversized belly buttons.

here's a well groomed 70s Fred with vestigial ear mounds and webbed digits

Magilla Gorilla cartoons are pretty stinky but he sure made a great line of toys
Top Cat teaches our young the all-American happy art of killing. The cardboard hanger is as cool as the holster design. Is that a one-eyed Huck at bottom right? Musta had the other'n shot out by TC.
childs everywhere love giant fuzzy beasts

Thursday, February 10, 2011

More Makinita

He must know Ralph. He caught all his moments.
even his large sentimental side

Monday, February 07, 2011

Beautiful People 36a

Friday, February 04, 2011


Boy, here's a fan who doesn't fool around.
These are all by Makinita and they are just the tip of the iceberg.

Here's everyone's favorite cartoon personality, Wilbur Cobb.

You gotta admire the dedication of a guy like this!

Want more?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Funny Fan Art

Here are some color pictures that some of you folks did from my drawings and characters.

I forgot who did what, so if you remind me in the comments I can credit you appropriately!