In 2001, ChalkZone was the second series put into series production out of Oh Yeah! Cartoons. But CZ was one of the first shorts we produced; I greenlit storyboard soon after we started production in 1997, and production chief (and prime OY! supporter) Albie Hecht fell in love with the idea from the board alone.
Here a short interview with the creators and a scan album of the pages from Not Just Cartoons: Nicktoons!. Only MLaaTR to go; and here’s Oh Yeah!, Random!, and FOP.
Larry Huber, Co-Creator: It would be hard to find two guys with such incredibly diverse opinions–political, social, and otherwise–who work so well together that they can make a show as creatively in sync as ChalkZone. We drew on each other’s talents and styles, as well as our own eclectic viewpoints, to produce an entertaining, well-rounded show that features many different perspectives.
Bill Burnett, Co-Creator: Larry is a mountain man who loves to go hunting and camping. He uses flintlocks, like they did in the 1860s, and when Larry shoots a deer, he uses every last bit of it, down to the marrow in the bone. He’s conservative and methodical, always doing things strictly by the rules. The word “virtue” hangs above his door.
Larry Huber: My specialty is graphic drawing, and Bill’s is music. As a musician and performance artist, Bill is a boisterous, outgoing type of guy. I’m a little more laid-back and reserved. But our personality differences are really the strength of ChalkZone, because if two partners think the same way, then one of them is certainly unnecessary.
Bill Burnett: We found ways to work our different backgrounds and personalities into the show. My mother was an opera singer, and so is Rudy Tabootie’s mom. She sings in a high, sing-songy voice when she wants Rudy to come to dinner, just like my mom used to do. Larry’s father was a butcher, and so is Joe Tabootie, Rudy’s dad. Larry actually worked in his fathers’ shop and knows how to butcher animals.
Larry Huber: Bill brings experience from his days in an advertising agency, and he’s kind of like the grandmeister of jingles. I’ve heard kids in the playgrounds humming these songs in English. I’m talking about kids who don’t speak English as a first language–that’s how catchy they are.
Bill Burnett: ChalkZone is where Larry’s interests and mine converge. It’s a high-concept show about an alternate universe that’s really trippy when you think about it. In this universe, any place on Earth–a classroom, the “specials” board at a restaurant, or a hopscotch court–can be a portal to another world, where all the things that people have drawn over the centuries still live. The idea of ChalkZone is very empowering to kids: when they create a work of art, they’re actually bringing something to life.
Larry Huber: I’m a little emotional about the characters on ChalkZone. Rudy, Penny, and all the other characters are like living creatures to us, just like Rudy’s drawings of Snap are real to him. Bill and I are just two big guys who never grew up.
Bill Burnett: With our own magic piece of chalk.