Where would any of us be without Fairly OddParents director Gary Conrad? Let’s cross our fingers and hope we never have to find out. Mr Conrad was kind enough to answer a few questions for this interview where we learn… Something About Gary.
Frederator: Where did you grow up?
Gary: I grew up in August, Kentucky. Augusta is like a real-life Mayberry… truly Smalltown, USA. It’s also the hometown of George Clooney. And I want to say publicly that I wish George would stop boasting about us having the same hometown. Jeesh.
Frederator: Wait. So you grew up in Mayberry and Jim Worthy comes from a town like in Leave it to Beaver. Is this background common among animators?
Gary: Yes. I know several from Hooterville. But don’t get me started.
Frederator: When did you realize you wanted to work in cartoons?
Gary: Throughout my teenage years I made flip books and 8mm animated movies but never thought of it as an actual “job” (shockingly, Kentucky doesn’t have a big film industry… ). Fortunately, someone said to me “go west, young man” so I did. Good thing, since I’d be lousy at growing tobacco.
Frederator: Describe your animation education, please. Any mentors or big inspirations?
Gary: I attended CalArts for four glorious years, from 1980 to 1984. It was an amazing time to be there: the instructors were retired Disney artists, including the great T. Hee… and we were in awe of all of them.
Frederator: What was your first job in the business?
Gary: I was an animator at a commercial house in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was a wonderful little place, sort of a real-life WKRP. I think I was probably Les Nessman.
Frederator: How did you get the Fairly OddParents job?
Gary: I don’t remember exactly, but I vaguely recall a swimsuit competition was involved. But seriously… I loved the FOP Oh Yeah! cartoons and I knew it would become a series… I let Butch know I wanted to be part of it, and here I am. Which reminds me, I need to go wax his car now.
Frederator: What are the steps in directing an episode?
Gary: After the storyboard has been approved, we slug the board (an overall timing that also guides the track reader in assembling the dialogue track) then write exposure sheets that guide the overseas animators. In the final step, we screen the episode and eat free pizza. It’s very technical.
Frederator: How many FOP episodes have you directed? Remember your first? Favorites?
Gary: Yikes, I don’t know how many… I’ve been lucky enough to be on the show since season two, and it’s in season forty-seven now, so, it’s a bunch. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but a show called “Ruled Out” comes to mind… Timmy wishes his parents didn’t care so much and his Dad stops wearing pants. It’s much like Citizen Kane, only completely different.
Frederator: What’s the best part of your job?
Gary: That’s an easy one… working with the great and talented FOP crew every day… it’s a blast. Oh, and I also like the free pizza. Which is free.
Frederator: What’s going on with your documentary career?
Gary: Thanks for asking! I’m currently shooting a documentary following Debi (voice of Jimmy Neutron) Derryberry’s burgeoning children’s music career. It’s going really well… and Fred Seibert was kind enough to make an appearance in it. So in addition to documenting Debi’s story I also get to spread the Fred. And you know how much I enjoy that!!
Thanks, Gary. You are a gentlemen and a scholar (and fired by Butch if you don’t get back to work).