Time for Some Adventure with Pendleton Ward
PW: Cornelius Cole III was my mentor. I went to a summer camp at CalArts. The California State Summer School for the Arts and I was lucky enough to get into that. Corny was there and I was able to meet him when I was going to high school. He would always play his film Heaven and Hell. It's awe-inspiring and beautiful. Every drawing makes you weepy because it's so intricate, but drawn with such a wise tenderness. Every drawing is moving past you at eight frames per second. It's overwhelming to watch. In high school, I watched it every year. At that summer camp, it always got a standing ovation. It was just a gorgeous piece of animation, so it inspired me and pushed me toward making animation.
But it's hard because I'm conflicted. As I said I don't consider myself an artist. I try to make stuff that is funny. I really enjoy stuff that makes you feel happy.
I try to find the simple-ness in making a piece of animation that makes you feel happy. I think there is something both innocent and stupid about watching a cartoon and feeling butterflies in your tummy. So I try to pull from that feeling. I describe my process as stupid but I guess it's really just simple. I try not to make anything too heavy. I try to take the meaning off of stuff so you don't have to think very much and you can vegetate and feel like a baby.
PW: What do all viral videos have in common? Sort of this random humor that people dig on. I don't know if it was all an older audience or just the Internet community that look up YouTube videos. This random bull-honk that people dig on. Short bursts of it that are really entertaining. I think it had a lot of that in it.
RD: How did it make you feel that people created their own fan sites and fan art based around your creation?
PW: It's cool, man. Neat. When I was a kid watching The Simpsons, I just obsessed over it. I freezed framed it, I'd look at the backgrounds and I knew there was a barbershop in the background called Harry's Shears. It was just a background joke that no one would have gotten unless they know. People just eat it up. It's entertainment. I think it's cool that people are digging on it. It's awesome. That's the reason I'm doing it. I'm trying to recreate the thing I had with The Simpsons for the next generation. I'm not comparing myself to The Simpsons. Those early seasons were beautiful. Beautifully written. Beautifully executed. I'm just trying to help kids in the same way The Simpsons helped me. I was able to take all those ideas from The Simpsons and giggle about them as I sat through Math class. I'd take them out into the backyard and pretend I was Bart on the trampoline.
RD: Between the Random Cartoon version and the series, there were some changes. What were some of the big changes you made?
PW: One thing is, I almost made the whole short by myself. My buddies from college were all living together after we graduated. And then we got this gig and my roommates were helping me with backgrounds and props and character designs.
I wanted the show to look better, in my opinion, than the short. I wanted the world to be more fully realized than the pre-school vibe that I had. I mean I didn't know how to draw backgrounds. I was just drawing triangles.