Sunday, February 22, 2009

Part-01 The idea that won't die

Back in the late 1980's, while I was living in NYC, I discovered Spanish "pocket" comic books, better known as " Novella Romantica". I was inspired to do my own Romance thing and create a Pop-up book. I wrote a short story and titled it 'American Chop Suey'. However I was not yet a cartoonist, I was studying classical life drawing @ the Art Student's League. I did a few sketches, doodled some thumbnails, but the Pop-up book idea stopped there. At this time I was doing my photography thing, so I decided to created a 'photo novella', I titled it "Atomic Romance'. Here's a small sample of the photos I shot.

A few years later in 1994 I was working at Warner Bros. Animation as a layout artist and designer. 'Batman the Animated Series' , the show I was working on, had gone on hiatus and we were invited to bring in ideas to develop. I brought in Atomic Romance. They liked the idea and the project took on a new name...
'True Romance. We used the original story I had written which was about a young nurse who left her small New England town to work in a Big City Hospital. The concept of the series was presented as an animated Hospital Soap Opera. Here's some of my original art work. The final product we development was a 3min. limited animation animatic, edited together on an AVID. True Romance was a bit ahead of it's time. There were questions by the studio as to whom this series would be marketed to; was it for adults, was it satire, was it "camp". What the hell was it. It was shelved.

8 years pass, it's now 2002. I've rapped production on 'The Powerpuff Girls Movie' I'm now working at MTV on a show called 'Clone High' (Our production office was in an abandoned Hospital where they shoot SCRUBS. My office was in the PHYSICATRIC REHAB wing ). At that time Cartoon Network was taking pitches for their new evening time block " Adult Swim'. I pitched the 'Atomic Romance' concept with a new name... Bedside Manor.
Cartoon Network liked the idea and in a collaborative way suggested that we make a few alterations to the project. The 1st thing we did was to change the focus of the series to a male character. Next, we changed story local from "The Big City" to a small coastal town. This location switch lead to changing the name of the series to Beaver Bay Harbor. Here are some character designs developed for our new direction in the project.
Timing is everything in animation and unfortunately our timing was off. At this juncture, there were a lot of studios going through interdepartmental restructuring, including Cartoon Network. It was 2003 and I was back at Warner Bros. Animation studios when I was told that Beaver Bay Harbor got lost in the shuffle and was dropped.

I was a little disappointed , sure. But then again, I had just finished a 13 episode series that was canceled because an entire country protested against the misrepresentation of a holy man. So in the case of my project, as they say," it could have been worse".


  1. What incredible expressive faces.
    Love it.

  2. Hi Dexter! Really nice to see your work again. This show would have been incredible, the concept and drawings are perfect. sorry it didn't happen.

  3. I worked on a similar animatic in 1985 at another (now defunct) animation studio. It was aimed at adults but starred a cast of realistic ANIMALS in a soap opera setting. Despite the hiring of first rate voice actors and a crack team of artists, the thing did not arouse enough interest (save for one country on earth, not this one) to make it happen. The true soap genre has never been done justice in animation, even now, by anyone, though your "True Romance" came closest in its embryonic form. It could still fly today if Warners had any huevos.