Fanboy and Chum Chum: Breaking the TV CG Mold
Nickelodeon debuted its latest CG series from Frederator Studios, Fanboy and Chum Chum, on Friday, Nov. 6th. Only following the latest SpongeBob special, the series debut posted huge numbers, ranking as the #2 basic cable program of the week. The series began as part of the shorts series, Random Cartoons, which Frederator Studios produces as well.
The series centers on a fearless, comic book-loving 10-year old named Fanboy and his best friend and trusty sidekick, Chum Chum, whose wide-eyed acceptance of the bizarre is the perfect complement to his friend's hyper imagination. I recently had the opportunity to speak with creator Eric Robles about his first off-the-wall series.
Rick DeMott: What inspired the series?
Eric Robles: What inspired the series for me was just wanting to tell stories about being a kid. Basically, I'm a latchkey kid. I grew up at a 7-11. It was like my home away from home. So I thought what better place to tell stories as a kid and growing up than at a 7-11 where you basically come across every individual you can think of. Back then when I was growing up, 7-11s were the place to be. You had your convenience store. You had your Slushies. You had your videogames. Back then they actually had the videogames inside the 7-11s. You had all the junk food you could get, and all your buddies were there. All the action, the drama, the suspense happened at your local 7-11.
RD: How did the original short on Random Cartoons come about?
ER: At the time I had an option over at Cartoon Network. I had another series I was developing over there that got put on hold for awhile, so around that time I got a phone call from [Frederator's] Fred Seibert and he had heard of some of my work that I had done throughout the years, and he was really interested in my work. So he said that he really wanted to meet me, so we had lunch and we had an amazing meeting, and he asked me if I had anything to pitch, because he was doing the Random Cartoons. And I actually said no. I turned him down the first time, because I said, "I know who you are, I know what you've done in the past, and I said I'm not going to pitch you something unless I'm ready for you." I mean he did Powerpuff Girls. He brought in Genndy [Tartakovsky] with Dexter's Lab. So I knew if I wanted to do something with Fred, I really wanted to take my time and do something special with him. I said, "When I have something, I definitely want to call you, and if you have a shorts program going on at that time and you like what I have then we'll do something, and if not then I'll wait until you do have something."
Fortunately, about four months after the initial meeting, I said, "I have this story I want to do about two kids who hang out at the convenience store all day in their superhero outfits." I got this idea together and boarded the thumbnail out. I pitched it to Fred and Eric Homan and immediately they gravitated to it and said, "Let's do something. Flush it out some more and then re-pitch it." So I flushed it out some more and re-pitched it and we got the thumbs up to do it.
RD: How long did it take to get from that initial short to the series?