Monday, March 31, 2008

And to prove a point

Just as a test, to see if maybe I'm wrong, I decided to animate my entire life from the age of 20 to the age of 30 as Episode 1 of My Medicated Cartoon Life. It's sort of the story so far. Of course, given that I was taking a whole decade, I couldn't include everything but this covers most of the major events - the highs and the lows.

I thought it would take me longer to finish but, hey, here it is -

Yeah, that about covers it.

I think I'll go back to Astro Andy.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Was the real show staring me in the face?

A show based on my own life! Coming soon to SAD TV!

No, that's a complete lie. There's no show of my life. There is no SAD TV. I made it up. Firstly, a show based on my life would be so boooooooooooooooooooring. Seriously. I missed most of my twenties just sitting around doing nothing. And then I settled down in my thirties. I don't know any interesting people. Nothing ever happens to me.

Part of me wished I had a horrendous childhood so I could at least draw on those experiences.

But I didn't. There's not one part of my life that isn't dull. So I guess making a show about that would be a really bad idea.

And, anyway, there is no SAD TV. There should be. But there's not. Someone should set up that channel. They could show Eastenders but replace the music with tracks by the Smiths. For the morning kids block, they could show Watership Down. Yeah, if anyone with money fancies setting up that channel, give me a shout. I'm full of ideas.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Everyone's a critic

I'm not always asking for a critique. Okay, yes, sometimes I am. You know, to improve my work. But if that's the case, I'll ask for it.

Otherwise I'm just looking for you to tell me how great I am.

Actually, on this subject, I once told someone I was working on a script for a short film. She asked if she could read it. It was a work in progress but, what the hell, she asked so I let her read it. Weeks later, I was dragged out for some reason (some work thing) and her boyfriend was there. Drunk. He sat beside me and for about 2 hours told me what was wrong with my script. Not that there were 2 hours of comments to make. No, 48 seconds would have done it. But he felt the need to repeat himself over and over.

And over.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Blogs I read

The above image is a little unfair. There are way more blogs about animation or by animators or cartoonists.
Here are just some of the blogs I've been reading and, if you get a chance, might like to check out. These are in no particular order and is in no way a complete list - they're just the ones that pop into my head right now this very second. I do read the usuals like Cartoonbrew and Drawn and so on but I like to browse the ones below.

Uncle Eddie's - Always worth a look for his excellent photo stories which seem to get better and better. I honestly think Mr.F should sell a book of expressions for cartoonist and animator reference.

Double Date Collective - Jeaux Janovsky had a blog here, and I adore his style and, actually, the name of his old blog. He seems to have finished that blog and moved on to this Double Date Collective. I love that 'Self Promotion' album cover.

On an unrelated note, I seem to have something stuck in my teeth. I've been poking at it and now my mouth tastes of blood. That's not good. The last time I had something stuck in my teeth, it turned out to be a piece of tooth that had chipped off.


Ken Levine's blog - Ken Levine wrote on Cheers, MASH and a whole rake of fantastic sitcoms. He also has a very entertaining blog. Anyone interested in writing should check it out. I'm a huge sitcom fan in general so, well, like reading about sitcoms.

Animation Writers - And, also on writing, here's one I'm watching with interest. There's not a hell of a lot on it at the moment but people in animation on the drawing end are often so into it and you'll find blogs and sites everywhere. Enthusiasm among animation writers, well, I can't find that anywhere. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, which is why I'm keeping an eye on this one. Animation writers - show us you care. Please.

Loth Beg - Mr.Trombley's blog is generally an odd mix but my favourite posts of his are his music posts. He has introduced me to much I never would have discovered otherwise.

Fat City Cigar Lounge - Surf music!

I'll also add to the list any blog that featured the clip of Alex Mack kissing that girl from the doctor show who used to be in that one about aliens.

Seems it was a piece of pepperoni. In my teeth, I mean.

Lastly but certainly not leastly, I'm going to mention two more -

Andy's Animation - Andy was the first person to comment on my blog. He's a good guy and is getting on great with his animation. I'm looking forward to seeing how he gets on.

Worldwide Containment Policy for Stratification - I don't really know what 'stratification' means but this is the blog of someone calling himself 'Tool' (likely not his real name). Tool is applying to the experimental CalArts programme but, man, I love what he's up to already. He's got these continuous painted bits in his animations that I think are great. I also like the ideas behind them.

So that's it for now. I occasionally browse more and find some really great stuff but there are just so many blogs out there. Oh, check out Ron's blog for som great Shatner clips. Oh and that Studio Headz blog is really interesting for anyone wanting to get an insight into what really goes on beyond your desk, though there's not much going on there at the moment. Oh, actually, just went looking for the link and it looks like it has been taken down. Oh well.

The taste of blood seems to have gone. I'm going to see if I can dig up that kissing clip again. If I hadn't done a blog on whatever it is I blog about I'd have done one about girls kissing.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Bloggiversary! And Easter.

It's Easter Sunday and also a bloggiversary for me. I began this blog in September of last year, six months ago. It was a place I could get stuff out. Just write things about... whatever. Just things that affect me I guess. We all have to conduct ourselves in certain ways out in the real world and I go every day without saying certain things or saying other things that I don't mean.

That's just what we have to do to go about our business.

So my big thing was my depression, which is something I have to battle since it was diagnosed some years ago. Most times, I'm fine but I have to be aware of it. That's not something you can really say to potential employers - "Hey, by the way, I know we're supposed to make funny cartoons for young children but I tend to get crippled by bouts of depression every now and again and can't deal with the fact that the world is full of horrors, killings, torture, greed resulting in profit being more important than the welfare of people and, um, I wish things were better."

That's not really what people want in children's cartoons.

I also can't say, when asked about animation, "I hate the business, despise how it is run by people who have no love for the craft, absolutely no interest in the welfare of children, are more than happy to rip-off stuff and churn it out on the cheap regardless of quality, eat up public money and yet make sure all your contracts are complete buyouts so the creative people who invent, design, write and make your shows won't see a penny afterwards and, besides, I'm actually bored of the whole making things a frame at a time craziness, hate some of the psychos who seem to be drawn to this business and, in general, don't actually watch cartoons any more and haven't drawn for pleasure in, hmmm, about eight years."

Not a good idea.

We all have things we keep to ourselves. Every single one of us. That's what being professional is all about. Keeping that sort of stuff deep inside, plastering on a smile and delivering the best work we can on time. And that's what I do. But, man, the shit has to come out somewhere.

So I chose here.

As it turned out, a few months later, I think it's been really good for me. I've got a lot of stuff out of my system and I know I have an outlet for more. I started drawing those crappy little cartoons as a way of illustrating what was going on and, with those, it was the first time I drew straight in with a Wacom tablet and dropped the pencil, simply because I had no time to actually do them properly. I didn't care how they looked - they were a means of communication. This isn't an art blog. But, in doing those, I've actually got much more used to using the Wacom and that's been good for work.

More than that, I've actually enjoyed drawing many of these as crappy as they are. I coloured my spambots for no other reason than I wanted to. It has been years since I've really just wanted to do something like that. It has to be a good thing. I've had regrets about not nurturing what little talent I may once have had but, man, I'm just enjoying the Wacom-doodling.

And also, as a result of this blog, I have found many more blogs. Read many insightful posts and comments. And seen some work that inspires me. Me who, artistically, was almost dead inside. I'm inspired by work I'm seeing. I'm also getting lots of points of views on blogs that I just never would have seen before.

So, overall, this has been a really good thing for me. In the next couple of days, I'll post up some of the other blogs I've been reading but, for now, I'd just like to say thanks for putting up with my rambles. I'm enjoying the conversation.
And if Easter is something you do, have a happy one.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Ultimate Truth

The internet contains words, thoughts, sounds, images that not just represent our civilisation, they are becoming our new civilisation. Like real life, there are good areas and bad areas. Like real life, corporate control and advertising in an everyday attack. But, unlike real life, you are connected to almost everyone who exists in that world at once. There is almost nobody you can't reach. It is like that one big collective consciousness that I, in part and sort of, believe we'd have already if not for personal greed. But, looking at the internet as a whole, there is something much simpler that gives me no use for my soap box.

If one could tap into every corner of the internet at once, wiring oneself to every bit, every kilowhatever, and be aware of each of those parts at the same time, one could learn the ultimate truth about mankind.

And the internet is blue.

So much blue.

Why so much blue?

I wonder, if we evolved past our human bodies and could be anything we wanted, would we just end up the colour blue? Is that the ultimate truth? We're blue?

Friday, March 21, 2008

The internet is us

Man, what a crappy couple of days. I'm sitting trying to focus on something, anything, and I just can't do it.

So browsing more sites, partly for inspiration and partly to kill time.

There really are common things running through many websites. Like, when given the opportunity to create our own space, our own little home where we can invite others to (which is kind of what websites are, whether trying to hawk products, services or just discuss things or whatever), we seem to do things in similar ways. And we seem to be drawn more to certain websites.

Of all of these similarities, there is one thing that seems more common and more prevalent than anything else. I kind of picture moving through the internet like the end of 2001 (the film, not the year) and seeing only that one thing.

And now, if an alien being were to ask me, "what is human?" I would answer just one word. What is it? Well, it would be no fun if I told you now but I'd love to see if anyone comes to the same conclusion.

I'll tell you tomorrow. How crappy is at? Stretching one post out for two days? Man, I'd be pissed. And not even a picture? Worst blog ever.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Where do those clouds come from?

Sometimes there's just an empty feeling. For no reason whatsoever. It's like being a teenager all over again only with the added pressure of knowing just how fast you're getting old. And I'm getting old pretty damn fast.

I've been blogging almost six months now.

In that time, I have come to a realisation. The internet is like a reality that we create. For the most part, it's free from many real world restrictions so often represents our true nature. And, if that's the case and if we can study the internet as a study of ourselves, what does that say? Well, I've come to my own answer but I'll leave it for a day when I'm feeling better.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Astro Andy's Miserable Life and Hopeful Death on Planet Doom

See? See what a great show it would be?

You see, according to experts, the way to write a good cartoon for young children is this: you give them an age-appropriate character they can relate to and then give the character a problem to overcome. It doesn't matter so much if the character succeeds or not. If the character does solve their problem, the viewer will feel a sense of empowerment through that and, if the character fails, the child will feel superior in the knowledge that they would have done a better job.

It's all about child empowerment. This is what sold Bob the Builder - child empowerment. If you earwig on broadcasters or distributors of shows for vey young children, you'll hear that phrase a lot. Effectively, they mean telling children what they want to hear. That they don't need parents, for one thing.

So Andy here has a problem: he's going to die in an hour. The children can relate to him because he's only five. Perfect story structure.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Why don't you guys buy my show?

I don't get it. Astro Andy's Miserable Life and Hopeful Death on Planet Doom* isn't good enough for your channel? But you'll show Dora? No kid will grow up to be Dora no matter how many Spanish words they learn. There's nothing left to explore for one thing.

But, more importantly, by the time they reach adulthood, any dreams will be completely crushed, their spirit sucked dry and they'll slot nicely into the corporate machine feeding the beast.

And that's the life Astro Andy can prepare them for.

Oh, and it's set in space!

*The new evolution of what was once 'Derek Versus Life', named after this blog's first reader, though of course I don't wish a miserable life or death on you, Andy!

Monday, March 17, 2008


I find some pop culture references quite funny. I enjoy Harvey Birdman and without the constant references to old Hanna Barbera characters that show would be nothing. But there's just too much of it. Robot Chicken, Family Guy and others are completely built on their pop culture references and many other shows that have more to offer still don't seem to be able to resist peppering their shows with 'humorous' nods.

I guess I wouldn't mind if they really played with them or parodied them well or whatever but, for the most part, it seems to be enough just to show a scene from something people know.

It's like the television equivalent of a band shouting 'anyone here from Bristol?!' to a Bristol crowd. People hear it and think, 'Hey, I know what that is!'. Like recognition is all people need to feel involved. Maybe it makes them feel special and part of something bigger.

Just seems a bit lazy to me though.

So why am I bringing it up? Well, as I'm sure many of you know, Family Guy is getting a Clevelend (Cleveland?) spin-off. I enjoy Family Guy. It certainly made me laugh, especially early on. But it's run its course and it's a shame to think that another show just like it will take up the space and resources that could have been given to something totally new. That isn't built on just pop culture references.

Oh, and happy St.Patricks Day to all you Irish/Americans/Irish-Americans.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Settling into the new routine

Spending a whole week being pissed off is tiring. Like, really tiring. It has just worn me out.

It's not good for me and it's not good for anyone around me. But you get to a point where you fully absorb your rage into your system and what comes out is apathy.

I'm just too tired. So very tired.

At least it's Friday. Hoping for a nice relaxing weekend doing mostly nothing at all. That sounds good.

Oh, I've just noticed there's a word missing from that image above. I'd fix it, well, there's the apathy...

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Yeah. That about sums it up.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

One down

In reality, he didn't use a crayon. And the results of his DIY restoration work, while not perfect, weren't actually all that bad. There's a damaged part at the bottom of the painting but the main large offending mark right on the front has been taken off quite nicely.

Hard to believe it's only Wednesday. I'm wondering now if I'll survive the week. I feel like wrapping myself up in a sleeping bag and hibernating for a season or two.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

As the rage builds

Yesterday's post was written (and drawn) in a very quick angry reaction to what I encountered when I came in. Since then, my rage just built and built.

Thing that pissed me off the most, well, that's in the drawing above.

His workmen, under his supervision, wrecked my stuff. I got almost no work done yesterday as I was consumed by anger. On top of that, other unrelated crap was heaped on yesterday. Not a good day in general.

Today, I am just left with thoughts of revenge.

One tip for company owners and producers: a homicidally pissed-off worker is not a good worker.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Goddam pack of wankers

I am so pissed off right now. So pissed off.

The studio is in the process of a revamp. So I come in this morning and workmen have been in all weekend. Here's a partial list of what I've found -

A box of my cds has been stood on, breaking the cases.
A painting on canvas has some kind of industrial strength glue all over it.
A rare and pretty priceless movie poster has been torn.
Mr.Potatohead is in pieces (okay, he's used to that).
And to top it all off, my workspace is smaller than ever.

Did they think the painting was a collaborative effort and it needed more white? What the hell does it take to be careful?

Friday, March 7, 2008


I'm sure not all producers are like this but I swear our producer will hire anyone who walks in off the street no matter how much the director protests. It's always, "well let's see how he gets on" or "we'll just give her a go and if she doesn't work out we'll know soon enough".

Then things get really awkward when there's actually a bunch of really talented people looking for work. We've hired all the students and mountain goats and have no room for actual animators.

Stop hiring livestock. Please.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Amidst the chaos

Things are changing around here. The studio is about to start full production on a show (Mr.Hat or some such shit) and it's to be made completely in Flash. We were on something really small before that so now we have a bunch of new kids and are expecting more.

I've seen some studios that look like they are beautifully ordered. A shiny machine of animation creativity, where everything is as it should be.

This studio, however, has always existed in a state of total chaos. I've noticed that all producers are blind to certain things. It seems part of their job. They end up disconnected in some ways. Different producers are blind to different things.

My current producer, who is generally pretty good with most things, has always been blind to the fact that most of us are working in a bit of a shithole. And, in terms of floor layout, arrangments and facilities, nothing is ever sorted until several months after it was actually needed. So now, with the new guys coming in and new computers and desks arriving, it takes me about half an hour to climb over the crap to my desk. And another half hour to cut my way back out again.

It's messy and I don't like it. Also, I've had to empty my shelves with all my toys on them. That stinks.

What's a telling sign of things to come is that I'm currently having to fight to keep my animation desk. In an animation studio. Oh, that's that wind of change, or whatever that Scorpions song was.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'm going to be a millionaire. Seriously.

I get the bus a lot. Buses, as you probably know, are hideously boring places. Yeah, I can play a DS or listen to music but I actually spend a lot of time just looking at the back of peoples jackets and coats. Collars. Seams. That sort of thing.


But, what if people had cartoons on the backs of their jackets? Then the people sitting behind them would have something to read. Wouldn't that be cool?

This is the best invention ever and will make me rich beyond my wildest dreams.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Need to get out for a bit?

This is my plan for the morning. I'm exhausted and sitting in work is no good for that at all. I may go looking for some DVDs (important question on that below).

This method works every time, I guarantee it. So, if you need to go out to get the latest DS game or there's a DVD you want to pick up or you want to go flirt with that girl in the coffee shop or you're just plain bored of that dumbass computer crashing or whatever, just follow the steps above and off you go.

Just remember not to come back with obvious shopping bags. And it's best to leave your phone to reinforce the idea that you're still there and also to avoid answering it in HMV by accident if the boss is looking for you.

So, on my DVDs - can anyone recommend some limited animation to me? Like, extremely limited yet appealing? The more limited the better. I have Roger Ramjet sitting here, which I love, but I'm looking for more. I'm thinking Japanese anime has good examples of putting effort into the drawings but not the frames and they have some good action sequences but the only anime I have is film budget and nowhere near as limited as I'd like. There's the old HB stuff too. But what would you recommend?