Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cartoon Network’s 20th Birthday - part 3 of 4

What would it look like if Tuff-Girl and Wichita teamed up with alien-transforming Ben Tennison against their arch rivals The Tar Bear and Dr. Animo?

Digital color over cleaned scan of India Ink
I consider the first half of Cartoon Network’s second decade (2002-2007) the years that the network tried stuff.

By the numbers (which may be as misleading as they might be instructive), CN premiered 16 produced or co-produced cartoon series, more than its first five years (naturally), second five years or most recent five years (4, 9, 14). This period was also busy with seven shows that were still in production from the previous decade. With hits like Codename: Kids Next Door, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and Ben 10 and popular shows like The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy and Chowder this period had a respectable average show life of 2.6 years for it’s new shows, although not quite as healthy as the 3.6 years average for the prior five year period.

While the first decade drew heavily on the legacy of Warner Brothers’s and Hanna-Barbera cartoons, these five years has the Network seemingly trying to dial in on a winning formula. First identified by a colleague, the most repeated set-up popping up in these five years is the “boy and his best thing friend” show. For example, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends featured a young boy (Mac) and his imaginary friend (Blooregard). My Gym Partner’s a Monkey had Adam and Jake Spidermonkey. Squirrel Boy had Andy and Rodney the squirrel. Even “Billy and Mandy” is a little like that too.

Before the its 15th birthday, the Network showed that it was also willing to extend beyond the limits inherent of having a such a clearly and narrowly self-defining name of “Cartoon Network” by trying its hand with a live-action/ animation hybrid show, Out of Jimmy’s Head.

Here I drop Tuff-Girl and Wichita in the middle of the Network’s only second action show, Ben 10 (Samurai Jack being its first). With my choice of Ben’s many alien hero transformations, I thought Diamondhead’s sharp edge, crystal forming abilities would contrast well with The Terrible Tar Bear’s slop slinging. Dr. Animo then becomes a natural addition as the nefarious force that takes control of The Tar Bear’s mind, and perhaps imposes mutant changes on the goopy bruin.

I have worked as a staff illustrator for Cartoon Network since 2001.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cartoon Network’s 20th Birthday - part 2 of 4

What would it look like if Tuff-Girl and Wichita met The Powerpuff Girls?

“Puff and Tuff”
Digital color over cleaned scan of India Ink.

The second half-decade of the Network (1997-2002) are it’s formative years, the time in which are developed and created the shows that continue to be referenced as to what a Cartoon Network is. Within these years, Dexter’s Laboratory and Johnny Bravo are continuing with new episodes, and The Powerpuff Girls, Grim and Evil and Samurai Jack are launched. Also, with in this time frame, the late night block, “adult swim” is launched.

Tuff-Girl shares this with The Powerpuff Girls: super strong girl fights bigger monsters and bad guys. But then, that also describes a lot of super-powered heroines including Wonder Woman. 

I think each of the PPG’s is probably stronger than Tuff-Girl, and they certainly have more powers. The set up is in the tradition of most cross-over team-ups where the kick off event involves the bad guys in a cross-over team-up first. Here PPG nemesis Mojo Jojo manipulates TG villain, Rip Tyler into another overly complicate scheme against The Powerpuff Girl. Naturally the heroes must combine their forces in response.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cartoon Network’s 20th Birthday, part 1 of 4

Cartoon Network celebrated it’s 20th birthday officially earlier this week on Monday, Oct. 1, 2012.

Digital color over cleaned scan of India Ink.

I have already contributed my artist skills to the celebration. First with my piece “Monkeys versus Robots” which I have previous posted and discussed. The second was as one of five artists to create, develop and refine the Network’s official art of “a thousand characters”, not literally.

In a fit of “what shall I draw now?”, (they do come in fits) I started musing on the idea of having Tuff-Girl meet some CN characters. It’s a key part of my day job to draw like some one else, and frankly it just seems to be a primary artistic goal of mine (one such expression of which has yet to come in my postings of TAGS).

With all my ambitions, I can’t do 20 idiomatic scenes, but four, I believe, I can do before I start on my Christmas plans.

This first one represents the beginning, the first five years, because why not? The launch of this new 24-hour network began, as most do, with the acquisition of existing content. I was excited, 20 years ago, to have a destination to see again The Flintstones, Johnny Quest, Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes. I may have been less excited about The Snorks and Yogi’s Space Race.

In almost no time, the Network began producing it’s own shorts and before its fifth year, Space Ghost has his own wacky talk show and Dexter was creating mayhem in his laboratory.