Monday, December 31, 2007

Is 2D dead?

No, it's just starting over. It's a whole new animation world out there. The days of inking and painting cels are gone, and that is not a horrible thing. Cels were extremely difficult to work with, organize, and keep clean. I was lucky to have some remarkable people working for me over the years, thank you, oh powerful universe. Knock Knock could produce some very innovative styles even with the limitations of an acetate world. Todd Myers and David Fedan were master inkers, Bev Chiara, one hell of a cel painter. All those talents are still valuable, but there are thousands of styles to be explored now due to that digital thing that seems to be happening everywhere. The digital age that gave birth to 3D animation, that has changed photography forever, and that has now changed 2D production as well. 3D had to innovate since it's inception and now it is 2D's turn. Programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, After Effects are all getting more sophisticated. It would have been impossible to create the image above in cel work. Well, maybe not impossible but would have been a huge pain in the ass. It probably would have taken most of the day instead of ten minutes. As 2D artists, we must continue to innovate, create new images and styles , we are at the beginning of a whole new art form and even though old production techniques still have some value, we now have the tools to finish without limitation.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy New Year and Chuck Jones

Well 2008 is at the door and knocking like an impatient delivery man. Did I order pizza? I am not ready to open the door to the new year just yet. I have to wrap up 2007 first and I am not sure what kind of bow I should use. Probably another Chuck Jones story would be just right. Again, just like the Thanksgiving, a story from a lecture Chuck Jones gave at Boston University sometime in the mid 1970's. Wouldn't mind opening that door again and letting that year in. At any rate, Chuck told another great story about his experiences producing cartoons for Warner Bros. He told a tale concerning the production of the first Daffy Duck cartoon. Several of the other directors and animators were sitting around and wondering what Daffy would sound like, how would he talk and what would be funny. An animator by the name of Cal Howard jokingly suggested that Leon Schlesinger's voice would be perfect. Leon, the head cheese of the cartoon division did have an unusual lisp to say the least, and Mel Blanc could do a remarkable impression. So Daffy was born and to Chuck and many others it was a source of great enjoyment during the production of the cartoon. Unfortunately, Mr. Schlesinger was accustomed to screening the cartoons upon their completion, a fact , that Chuck and his partners in crime had forgotten during their intense production schedule. So Leon sat in the screening room on his throne, yes, an actual throne from one of the Ben Hur movies, apparently he enjoyed the power it seemed to convey. The animators and a terrified Chuck Jones sat scattered about in their folding chairs sure that they would soon be looking for another job. Leon screened the short and sat silently through out the film. After the screening was complete, Leon called for Chuck and loudly proclaimed in his natural Daffyr voice, "Where did you get the voithe of that duck? Where on earf did you get that voithe?" (Leon had no clue it was based upon him.) Chuck was stunned, but he still had a job!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


A very cute character for me, I know, and if he wasn't all ready flat, I would squash him.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Maktar Revisited

In 2002, Knock Knock produced two shorts for the Cartoon Network, Longhair and Doubledome's "Where There is Smoke...There's Bob" and the fatally flawed Maktar. Maktar got hammered in the online forums as a bad "rip-off" of Invader Zim and rightfully so. Maktar ended up being very close to "Zim" but it was never meant to be that way. The original concept was entitled "Maktar and the Hickuloids" and included a group of alien "hicks" that accompanied Maktar on his quest to prove himself. During production it became clear that there was no way to create a pilot that would provide adequate exposition of the story and the characters in 7 minutes. We requested to do an 11 minute short. When we were told by the Network that we must keep to the 7 minute format, the Hickuloids had to be cut from the cartoon. It was a miraculous bit of editing, but completely changed the concept of the show. Unfortunately, the "rip-off" was born. Ironically, the next year the Network allowed 11 minute shorts and that would have saved the "Hickuloids". Oh well. I do not blame the Cartoon Network or anyone else for any of this, it was just not meant to be. As many an animator knows, this business is predicated on being at the "right place at the right time" and Maktar is a stellar example of the opposite. Overall, I am glad that Maktar did not succeed, I am better for it.

Monday, December 3, 2007


As requested by my fan (yes, singular) I should put more artwork on the blog. So here is my sketch of Gavzilla.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Knock Knock Memory

Beautiful Background by Todd Myers.

Why Horrendous Fiasco?

Yep, my new business name is Horrendous Fiasco Cartoons. Why not call this business exactly what it is? If you don't understand the name then you haven't been in the animation or the production business for very long. I just got tired of trying to find a "cool" name. I can't even take credit for thinking of it first. It was a phrase commonly used by a fiery animator from Spain who used to say it whenever a ridiculous animation problem arose. Which was daily. "This is a Horrendous Fiasco" he would thunder. I was reminded of this by my good friend and tremendously talented colleague, Todd Myers. I mean how else can you say, "Make your next production a Horrendous Fiasco". It will probably be one anyway.