Fanboy and Chum Chum: Breaking the TV CG Mold
ER: This series in particular, design-wise, I wanted to go with a simple design. I'm a big fan of Tim Burton's work and style. I really like a Jim Henson-ness; simple Muppet shapes. The bulging eyes coming out of the head. One of the key things I've felt with design was, something I discovered a few years back, that if I actually bulged the eyes out of the characters' heads, I'd have far more free range for expression. Because most of the time when you look at CG features or movies there is only a certain extent that you can do with the expression on the eyes because of the shape of the skulls. And just as humans, we can only be surprised so much, so with cartoons, if you look at the old Tex Averys, those eyes go huge, and I said, "We can do that if we bulge the eyes out of the head then we can make these eyes huge for an expression." And that's pretty much the approach I took with these characters as far as design.
Also, like everyone else, I've been a big fan of the old Rankin & Bass. So for a lot of moves in the show I do a lot of quick, snappy timing in animation, but then also what I do purposely is cut out a few frames so that it would look a little stop-motion-y. I've been a big fan of stop-motion animation, but nowadays it's tough to go into a studio and say, "I want to do a stop-motion animated show." So when you say, "I want to do a CG show," they're a little more inclined to do that. So what you can do is go and make a CG series, but give it the timing of stop-motion. So you play with it a little bit. When you need that stop-motion-y type of timing you do it, and when we need the fast, quick, in and out, squash and stretch kind of animation, we go ahead and do that.
RD: What are some of your general influences?
ER: As far as design, a lot of classic stuff. I'm really big on J.C. Leyendecker. You know, old Saturday Evening Posts are really one of my inspirations. As far as the cartoony stuff, I definitely love Tex Avery. I really try to push the cartooniness on this show based a lot on his silly gags. Chuck Jones for sure. Even stuff like John K.'s work. Even down to stuff that's being done now at Nick. I've always been a big fan of SpongeBob as well. Many different influences.
ER: I've always been into animation as a kid. It was always my dream to work in animation. I always wanted to work at Disney, as many kids wanted to. I was about 17 when I realized that my parents couldn't afford to send me to art school. So I didn't know what I wanted to do if I couldn't get into art school. So at the time I decided to try law enforcement. It was one of those decisions on careers if you can't do your dream. So I went ahead and went to school for that. Luckily I was discovered by one of my instructors, Joe Dean. He was a Burbank police officer and his sister-in-law worked in animation. Stephanie Graziano from Graz Ent. This was the time when they were doing the X-Men series, The Tick, Dark Stalkers. The most amazing thing was I didn't have much to show. But I would always be drawing no matter what. It was always my thing. Even in my law enforcement classes, I'd have, at the end of my blue book exams, drawings of a bunch of thugs all lined up. My instructor was always more pleased to look at my drawings than the answers on my tests. He said, "What are you doing kid, you need to be drawing." I didn't know if I was good enough.