Monday, February 23, 2009

Name that TOON

A lot of folks who don't work in the industry might think that Warner Bros. Animation is located on the actual studio lot. Currently the WB animation division resides at the WB Ranch. However during the 90's, WB Television Animation was located at the Sherman Ocks Galleria; more specifically in the Imperial Bank building.

In 1999 the Sherman Ocks Galleria was in the process of being completely gutted out in preparation for a major remodeling. At this time, I had transfered from WB's offices on the 8th floor of the Imperial Bank to Cartoon Network's ground floor offices in the Mall's Garden building. Needless to say there was a ton of falling debris in our office; ceiling tiles, electrical wire and huge scary rodents.

The Johnny Bravo series was created by Van Partible when Cartoon Network was know as Hanna-Barbera. However at the time I transfered over to work on Bravo, Time Warner., Turner Broadcasting /Hanna-Barbera and had all merged together and Cartoon Network studios was born. I think I was on Bravo for 3 seasons, I'm not sure now.

Here's some stuff I did while in production on Johnny Bravo. After I left this series, the show went on and so did my designs. I think there was a Bravo TV special and another season or 2 of the series.

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".

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Part-02 the Graphic Novel that won't end.

So (to back track) it's now 2004. I'm at Warner Brothers. Atomic Romance is still living in the back of my mind. Fox studio advertised a contest 'Pitch-o-Rama' and invite folks to submit ideas for a new animated television series. So I began the 4th wave of development on my "little idea" and I rename it.. DR. MOODY MD.. The interesting thing about this FOX studio sponsored "contest" was that, right before I submitted my material, I secretly heard "through the grapevine" that allegedly Fox had already chosen their contest winner; 'American Dad' created by Seth McFarland. Well... there ya go.
The 5th wave of development using my "little idea" came when a good friend of mine at WB suggested I do a Graphic Novel. As you can see I toyed around with another name for the project 'Pulpatations' , changed the style of the characters a bit and roughed-out the first chapter of the comic book.
But as production stepped up , I put this book away until I could find more time to devote to it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Part 03 - Before "Atomic Romance'

Ok , at the time I started my 'Atomic Romance' photo novella, I was working at a restaurant in NYC called 'LOLA'. I had written a short story about a nurse and her deranged family, but writing wasn't my milieu. So, I asked a couple of my "waiter friends" who where writers to read over my story. One of those waiters was Stan Wlodkowski who would later go on to produce a little Academy Award winning movie called....
'American Beauty'.

Speaking of "slinging hash". When I was going to school in NYC, the first restaurant job I had there was at a place called 'Company'; a flamboyant "Mafia" owned establishment on the East side of Manhattan. Every night they had these colorful "Happy Hour" lounge singers; most notably Phoebe Leger. The drunks loved her, we all adored her.

Anyway, Phoebe got SUPER famous after being in Warhol's 'Interview' magazine and did a couple 'Toxic Avenger' movies. Phoebe was an authentic East Village celebrity, back in the 1980's. I strongly suspect Phoebe Leger was the inspiration for the character "Phoebe Buffay' on the sitcom "Friends". However Phoebe Leger is a great singer and musician.

Anyway, one particular Halloween at 'Company Restaurant' a new Busboy was hired; his name was Lee Tergesen. The photo on the left has a white arrow pointing to Lee on his very first night at the restaurant. BTW he dressed as a sailor boy that evening. Lee went on to work at LOLA Restaurant and later Empire Diner, but he's best known for his work as an actor in "Misfits of Science", "Wayne's World", the HBO’s prison drama 'Oz'. The list is endless.