Whizzing, exploding, hopping, and boinging across our screens, animated cartoons have grabbed us from childhood and beyond. Feature-length movie versions have lifted the technology to amazing heights. This is potentially the greatest of art forms, combining nearly all the others into one. Graphic arts, literature, storytelling, humor, satire, drama, acting, music, song, ballet, poetry, can all be combined in this virtually limitless method of expression.
So how come on television it has been mainly cranked out as appallingly crude, repetitious, and mindless junk?
Budget and time limitations are the usual suspects, but there is more/less to it than that. There is the persistent perception by most producers that the audience is composed of mindless morons who will accept anything that moves and yabba-dabba-doos, however crudely. Unfortunately that is just true enough for them to get away with it. People, on the whole, will accept junk food, though many long for something chewier.
We cannot actually draw edible food, so most of us animators have to eat what the industry will feed us. Some of us who animate professionally do try to elevate the content of our work, and occasionally we get a chance. But for every gourmet production we accomplish, we inevitably leave a trail of garbage.
In this book I will attempt to guide you to creative success; to make the most of every chance you get, and to give you some grisly tours of the desiccated remains of some of my own shot-down productions.
First off, here is a joke that tells you exactly what you are up against:
A film writer, director, and producer were having lunch at a posh Hollywood restaurant. The writer ordered soup as a starter, and after the first couple of spoonfuls he exclaimed, "My God, this is the greatest soup I’ve ever tasted! He offered a spoonful to the director. "Taste this. It’s incredible!"
The director took one sip and his eyes rolled heavenward. "You’re right. This soup is ambrosia!" He took a few more spoonfuls and pushed the bowl to the producer. "You’ve gotta taste this. It is the soup of the century!"
The producer lifted a spoonful, took in the aroma, then rapturously downed two or three spoonfuls... "You boys are right. This is a magnificent soup. But I have an idea. Let us all pee in it, and make it even better!"
That sums it up. There will be plenty of peeing in your soup during your filmmaking career.