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Archive for December, 2010


That was the year that was.

December 31st, 2010

2010-kk-camaro-3.jpeg

Wow!

For some Friends of Frederator, there was no bigger 2010 news than the reissue of the Chevy Camaro, but our extended family had a banner year at work too. Cartoon hits, original internet hits, hits hits hits everywhere.

Fanboy from fredseibert on Vimeo.

At Frederator, 2010 actually started in November 09 with the stellar launch of Eric Robles’ Fanboy & Chum Chum, the first series spun off of our Random! Cartoons shorts series. The show was Nickelodeon and Frederator’s first original CG series (Penguins and Jimmy Neutron both started as features) and went where very few computer images had gone before. Namely, great characters and great stories combined with the classic squash and stretch animation innovation of the 1920’s.

Adventure Time from fredseibert on Vimeo.

Five years in gestation from its start on Random! Cartoons, Adventure Time premiered in early April to equally fabulous reaction. Aside from all the great reviews and great ratings, you went beyond the call of duty and on day one you’d already submitted hundreds of pieces of fan art. No one’s ever seen a show like AT, and going into our third season the thrills (and chills) continue to be mathematical.
…..

Moving on to my parallel existence in the New York internet dimension, Next New Networks, the company I founded in 2007 but never officially worked at, asked me this summer to become the interim, part time CEO. I agreed mainly because of the talented staff had worked incredibly hard to build the most successful online television company in the world, and if there was anything I could do to help them I considered it an honor. And boy, have they delivered.

First, in June came the news the company had amassed 1 billion video views and 8000 episodes since it’s founding, in addition to 10 Webby Awards in 2010 alone. By September our monthly view count jumped to 150 million, up from 30 million a year before. As of today the company’s up to 200 million monthly views, with over 1.2 billion in calendar 2010 (remember, it took us three years for the first billion).Then, we got the word that NNN videos were the top two most viewed of the year on YouTube, the world’s largest online video platform, and Next New’s biggest distributor.

#1. Without my help, a lot of you have already seen The Gregory Brothers‘ “Bed Intruder Song,” YouTube’s most viewed video of the year (60 million views), proudly distributed by Next New Networks. At the NNN Christmas party the other day, I told Michael Gregory that their indie cred is completely shot. Now, that they’re at the top of the charts they’re like The Bay City Rollers or Britney Spears or something.

#2. The Key of Awesome (part of our Barely Political network) is one of the most popular shows on YouTube in 2010 (last I looked it was number two). With musical parodies almost every week, they’ve taken on everyone from Justin Bieber to Lady Gaga (where do you think she got the idea for her meat dress? Seriously.) Well, one of their Ke$ha videos, a parody of Tik-Tok called “Glitter Puke” has almost 58 million views, 20 million more than the original. Go Awesome!

So, like I said at the top, WOW! Thanks to all of you who’ve been loyal fans throughout the year, and of course, thanks to all of the creative and production folks who’ve made all this great stuff.

Smile! (more postcards from Frederator)

December 27th, 2010

Frederator Postcards Series 11
Frederator Postcards Series 11 [soundly rejected]

Frederator Postcards Series 11.1 Frederator Postcards Series 11.2 Frederator Postcards Series 11.5 Frederator Postcards Series 11.5 Frederator Postcards Series 11.3

We’ve been so incredibly busy this year, especially in the last couple of months, I completely forgot to post about the latest Frederator postcards, Series 11. Sorry about that. So instead of putting them up as they go (went) out, here’s the whole kit and caboodle, even the unpublished ones.

A new series timed with the official release of our title cards book will be out soon, chock full of cartoon images familiar to Frederator Blog readers, but for this one I was hoping to get at the essence of why we even make cartoons here. When people ask me about my work I pretty much tell the that my job’s the greatest in the world because we get to make people happy. What’s better? Really.

And to answer a question already received, no, none of these pix is me or my kids.

Be happy.

Book> The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip Hop by Dan Charnas

December 26th, 2010

The Big Payback

“The young … have no reference for the time before hip-hop: when rappers couldn’t get their records played on radio or show on TV; when Black artists of any genre were asked, literally, to make their music sound and make themselves look Whiter; when Black actors and actresses didn’t star in summer blockbuster films; when Black women who actually looked like Black women didn’t grace the covers of magazines; when Black men and women didn’t own multimillion-dollar companies based on selling their own culture to the nation and the world.”  
–from Dan CharnasThe Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip Hop

Most of the books I post about here are about the cartoon business, though on rare occasions I’ll let you in on what’s on my personal bookshelf. Rarely, seeing as my reading tastes are often off the beaten path of cartoons; fiction-wise I read mysteries almost exclusively. But in non-fiction I spend a lot of time (too much time) reading about pop culture (including a lot of animation), with a lot of focus on the behind-the-scenes machinations on the business behind the culture. (It probably explains why, when I stopped playing piano, I flipped onto the other side of booth and started recording music, which eventually led to producing television and film.)

Today, a twitch from Mark Zuckerberg makes headlines, but back in the day a simple rock star’s simple statement could shake the world. Before internet philosophy came to dominate world thought, music culture –more than movies, television, and yes, sadly, cartoons– defined American culture and therefore, at least in our last century, world culture. And, of course, to anyone who’s paying attention, whether one loves The Beatles or Megadeth or Josh Groban or Fela Anikulapo Kuti, or even the Monsters of Folk, the defining force in music (and back around, for the whole world’s culture) for over 100 years has been American black music.

Last year, my obsession was Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock ‘n’ Roll Pioneers (Music in American Life) by John Broven, about the indie pop record business in the second half of the 20th century, which, along with Arnold Shaw’s Honkers and Shouters, gave me a thorough view of the cutting edge of pop culture. Both those books trailed off before hip hop, the last defining black musical –and cultural– explosion of the century.

Dan Charnas has done a great job reporting the cross currents of “joy and pain, triumph and failure, grace and greed” (Jeff Chang) that created, nurtured, and eventually, got the better of hip hop. I’ve tried to read a lot of hip hop histories over the years, but inevitably been turned away by the terrible writing, editorializing, and inaccuracies. But the final chapters Tony Fletcher’s excellent All Hopped Up and Ready to Go: Music from the Streets of New York 1927-77 and Jay-Z’s Fresh Air interview last month whet my appetite for more and Charnas delivers the first book that makes me want to get over my listening limitations (after Rapper’s Delight I was a big fan from “Sucker MC’s” through the mid-90s, but I pretty much got lost at Wu-Tang).

Whether you care about hip hop or not, if you’re reading this blog you’re involved with pop culture. If you want to know more about what makes it what it is, read The Big Payback. If you like to read, you won’t be disappointed.

Bonus track: Here’s what started the whole thing, the Sugarhill Gang’s original 12″ of Rapper’s Delight.

An interview with director Robert Alvarez.

December 17th, 2010

Photograph of Robert Alvarez @ Cartoon Network by Steve Hulett, 2010    Robert Alvarez

Listen to Robert’s two part interview here and here.

Director & artist Robert Alvarez is one of the great ones, and incredibly important to me (and Frederator). So I was very pleased to listen to the oral history interview posted this week by feature film writer Steve Hulett of Hollywood’s Animation Guild.

As you can hear in the interview, Robert’s wanted to be in the cartoon biz since he was in the 8th grade, he succeeded in getting into the industry very early, and he’s been a thriving, creative stalwart for over 40 years. His imdb page has its first credit as 1969’s animated Winky Dink and You, and he’s worked on the full range of projects from The Smurfs to Samurai Jack (where he got his first Emmy®) right through to Regular Show.  You really can’t keep a good man down. Every new generation of talent is eager to make their own mark on the business and looks skeptically on the people who came before them, as if they’re somehow not good enough for their masterpieces. After initial doubts, Robert has won over every new group of creators that have invigorated cartoons for the almost 20 years I’ve known him. He’s done it with his skills, certainly, but it might be his patience, excitement, and generosity that have most triumphed.

When I arrived at Hanna-Barbera in 1992, Robert was one of the veterans who’s respect I seriously desired. He was the real deal, a talented, serious professional who was also a complete animation fanboy. If only I could convince him that my plans for the studio weren’t frivolous or mercenary. We had a minor tussle early on, when he thought I might be treating the characters recklessly and I think he was convinced my love for them was genuine. But, it was after he started working with Pat Ventura on his first short for us that we really bonded. I was extremely proud that Robert went on to create Pizza Boy and Tumbleweed Tex for What A Cartoon! (He’s nice enough to mention moi in the second part of the interview, talking about the changes we brought to Hanna-Barbera.)

I want to put in a word for the Animation Guild and its Business Representative Steve Hulett too.  There’s probably no institution more dedicated to keeping show business animation alive than the Guild (no, not Disney or Pixar), and Steve’s right at the front of the line. I was once a Doubting Thomas having grown up throughout my life in management (my parents owned their own business, and I’ve been running companies for quite a few years) and having had a few particularly unpleasant run-ins with a past Guild president. But, now I send every single new Hollywood animation arrival straight over to Steve. I know he’s there to make everyone’s entry into the industry as smooth and productive as possible, and that the Guild runs classes and events designed to broaden everyone’s skills and networking possibilities. They’re a bunch of solid citizens over there, and I encourage everyone with an interest to check out their site and blog as often as possible. We’re all indebted.

And I love these oral histories, four of which are posted on the blog now. Keep ‘em coming Steve, we’re all waiting.

Available on Amazon.

December 15th, 2010

Book cover illustrated & designed by Carlos Ramos
Original Cartoon Title Cards from Frederator Studios [cover]

OK, here ’tis on Amazon.com, Original Cartoon Title Cards from Frederator Studios, before Christmas, as we hoped. Not sure if they can actually deliver it by next week, but you can check. The official release date is in March, so at least you can get a head start on everyone else. In the meanwhile, you can preview the whole book below to see if it’s worth it to you.

Here’s the blurb (and here’s the entire introduction):

Please, consider the unconsidered art of the original cartoon title card.

For almost a century, the art of the cartoon title card has not been disparaged, disregarded, or dismissed. It has been completely ignored. And by the 1970s it had almost completely disappeared.

Over 200 full color original title cards from hit Frederator cartoon series, including The Fairly OddParents, Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!, Fanboy & Chum Chum, Adventure Time, and eight more.

Frederator loves you.

Original Cartoon Title Cards from Frederator Studios