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Memories of a Teenage Robot

November 15th, 2006

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Frederator Veteran John Fountain, looks back on his time spent working on Rob Renzetti’s My Life As A Teenage Robot.

“I haven’t had time to do any new doodles or paintings lately, so I’m just going to wax nostalgiac.
Unfortunately, tragically and disappointingly, not all that many people are familair with the show ‘My Life as a Teenage Robot’.
It was created by Rob Renzetti who, apart from just being an overall good guy, has been instrumental in shaping some of the better cartoons from the last decade or more.
‘Robot’ was, originally, part of the ‘Oh Yeah! Cartoons!’ anthology series on Nickelodeon.
Anyway, it became a series and I had the honor of working on it in a number of capacities.
Rob let me write, direct, storyboard and - oftentimes - design entire characters. Rob was one of those rare directors who was able to step back, hire folks he trusted and just let them run.
This is not to say, of course, that Rob wasn’t always at the helm… but he recognized that animation is, by nature, a collaborative medium and - as such - he valued the contributions of all who worked with him.
As a result, I did some of my best work and had some of the most fun of my career on ‘Robot’.
Unlike many cartoon productions wherein you are given a script, we were given rough outlines that just gave us - the board artists - a general idea as to where the story should go.
Consequently, being the renegade that I am, I would oftentimes BLATANTLY ignore the outlines and go in my own direction… but much to my absolute shock, Rob not only didn’t MIND this, he actually ENCOURAGED it.
This is not to say we didn’t occasionally have our disagreements… but they were always in the spirit of making the cartoon as great as possible.
One of the major challanges was the fact that the main character’s head was - for all intents and purposes - perfectly round. And this show wasn’t done in FLASH, so we couldn’t just rely on computer software to make it easier… and I just hate stencils for some reason, so most of the time I drew it freehand which - to this day - has taught me to draw virtually perfect circles freehand.
But I had fun, and I think it shows in the episodes.
To see what I’m talking about, go to:
http://teenagerobot.tk
The episodes I worked on include:
Season 1
Shell Game (featuring my personal favorite character - Sheldon)
Daydream Believer (please note the semi-truck that almost hits Jenny says ‘O-Prime’ on the side… that’s an homage to Optimus Prime of the Transformers)
Season 2
Last Action Zero (one of my all-time favorites for a whole variety of reasons)
Dancing with my Shell (I love it when Jenny loses her temper)
Robot Riot (one some of the best robot-fighting I’ve ever gotten to dray - and, hey, I’M THE VOICE OF LIL’ DIPPER!)
Bradventure (this has one of my favorite lines of any cartoon EVER in it… can you guess what it is? And, no, I didn’t write it)
Season 3
No Harmony with Melody (c’mon - two girl-robots in a midair dogfight… what’s not to love?)
Legion of Evil (the ‘head cozies’ that the bad-guys wear are based on actual garments)

I also got to do the first half of ‘Robot For All Seasons’ - the Christmas episode - in which Jenny takes the most savage beating of any teenage robot cartoon I’ve ever seen. It was way fun. I can’t find it anywhere on YOUTUBE or anything, so you’ll just have to buy the DVD or something.

Anyway, despite the fact that it got ‘good’ ratings, the fact of the matter is, television is a competitive arena and networks don’t want ‘good’ ratings - they want ‘blockbuster’ ratings.
The good news is, Rob is doing great things now as is everyone else from the show… but that’s another blog.
Speaking of which, the MLAATR blog’s address is:
http://teenageroblog.blogspot.com

Thank you for allowing me to indulge my online flashback…”

Thanks for giving us permission to reprint your memories John!
Feel free to check out John’s Online Portfolio @ Fountain’s Portfolio.

Stick with Channel Frederator, Yr #1 SOURCE for the Animation News & Interviews!
-JX!

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We will publish the “Robot for all seasons” episode on teenagerobot.tk when the “season” comes.
(TIPP: “jingle bells” ;) )

 

Cool. Thanks for the info Pix.
-JX!

 

Thanks for the post, guys!
I would also like to point out that I am well aware of how hideous my sketch of Jenny is up there… I feel like a hack with that thing looming next to all of the amazingly beautiful work by all these other artists…
Unfortunately, all of my ‘Teenage Robot’ stuff is in storage, and rather than have no illustration for the essay at all, I doodled that in about 20 seconds.
She deserves better, but it’s better than nothing (I hope).
I CAN DRAW BETTER THAN THAT - HONEST! Not MUCH, but…
(sob whimper)

 

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