Mr. Lawrence

The artwork above was from a presentation I created when I was an exec at Nickelodeon 13 years ago. It was (and still is) my mission in life to revive Viacom’s Terrytoon characters, then under Nickelodeon. This Heckle and Jeckle piece was drawn and designed by my friend “Mr. Lawrence” – and I’ve always loved it, as it retains their classic look, yet feels updated in a smart, slick way.

Mr. Lawrence is one of the true multi-hyphenates working in the animation industry today. He’s been a stand up comedian and actor, he’s made live action short films and created comedy series (Lost on Earth). He’s also written and directed TV cartoons – and is the voice of such Nickelodeon characters as Filbert on Rocko’s Modern Life and Plankton on Spongebob Squarepants. What’s he up to now? In addition to his continuing role on Spongebob, Lawrence is developing for Nick a new series The Kumquat Kwadruplets and, in his spare time, boarding his own independent animated horror-comedy feature.

One of the best pilots I’d ever seen was one he created for Film Roman about ten years ago, Hairballs. It’s co-directed by Lawrence and Craig Kellman, with character layouts by Kellman, Carey Yost and Mark Colangelo, and timing by Genndy Tartakovsky. The rights to this show have since reverted to Mr. Lawrence and I’m still hoping someone (Fox? Adult Swim? Comedy Central?) will pick this gem up.


  • http://MoreTerrytoonsart? Michael E

    Jerry,

    Is there anymore art of the new Terrytoons that you were working on?

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

    Michael E – Yes, there is more art… I still use it occasionally when I meet with Paramount/Viacom/Nick execs, so I’m not comfortable with posting any more of it at this time. But someday it’ll make a helluva post.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    Nice.

  • uncle wayne

    Bravo! A VERY funny film…and with great style!!

    And, yes yes YES….bring BACK the [9 million] Terrytoons on the air, Pa-leeeeeeeeez!!!

    • Stephen Rhodes Treadwell

      What are you talking about? It’s very stupid & inappropriate!

  • http://goldenagecartoons.com Matthew Hunter

    Maybe if they hadn’t killed the mouse off, this would’ve gotten picked up. In fact, I think it stands a much better chance of getting picked up now than it would’ve ten years ago. It’s mean, it’s gross and it’s foul-mouthed, but it’s nicely drawn and animated…that would certainly bring something to the table for Adult Swim.

    I mention the mouse because even in his brief life in this short, he seems like an interesting, viable character. The little girl, too, isn’t too unlike the one in the Tom and Jerry cartoon “Baby Puss”…and if you put those three cats, that mouse and the little girl into an adult series, you’ve got a laugh-out-loud, twisted version of Tom and Jerry. Wouldn’t be too unlike the cues “South Park” took from the “Peanuts” specials. Seriously, with a little tweaking, this could give Seth MacFarlane a run for his money. And he has lots of money.

  • http://goldenagecartoons.com Matthew Hunter

    In fact, lose the “Hairballs” title, call it “Ted and Wally”, and keep all these characters under the same roof with the little girl and her family, in constant conflict without making it too sitcom-y. You’ve got Ted, the cat who is clearly friendly, naive and doesn’t realize that just being a cat (like spraying) is offensive to humans. You’ve got the white cat, who is a stuck-up, heartless jerk. And the “fixed” cat who is stupid, sexually confused and potentially vulgar. Then “Wally”, the mouse who gets along with Ted but not the others, the little girl who tortures them all, and the unseen parents. Really, this has potential.

  • stavner

    It’s great, they just need to punch it up a bit more, make it a little faster. “Family Guy” would be funnier if they’d just do the same.

    Good luck on reviving Terrytoons, Jerry!

  • http://chrisallison.blogspot.com Chris Allison

    Woohoo! Carey Yost RULES!

  • EatRune

    I really like Mr. Lawrence’s work, but it’s so hard to find his stuff (especially since his name isn’t easy to Google).

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robcat2075

    I saw that “Hair Balls” short at the World Animation Celebration circa 2001. Killing the mouse after we got to like him sort of killed the vibe in the room I recall.

    I almost had to shut it off this time when I remembered what was coming. If it were something that happened in every episode, like Kenny getting killed in SouthPark, it could work but it was hard to digest in a one-off short.

    The Heckle and Jeckle looks great.

  • http://www.onanimation.com Daniel Caylor

    Definitely funny. Thanks for sharing Jerry.

  • http://vincemusacchia.blogspot.com vince m

    Any cartoon that has the line”…I sold my scrotum to the Devil.” in it is an instant classic in my book. I do have to admit that I would have probably cut away from the kid being sprayed and would have relied on sound for the exposition instead. But this is a disturbingly funny premise that would fit well on late-night Comedy Central. I like the way it pushes Funny Animal to a dark place.

    Much more adventurous than just another Family of Idiots show.

  • http://weirdocorner.blogspot.com Eric Noble

    That was very funny. I love Mr. Lawrence’s voice. He was absolutely fantastic as Filburt on Rocko’s Modern Life. Why didn’t someone greenlight this thing. Adult Swim, you could use some good programming besides The Venture Brothers. Look at this.

    BTW, awesome cartoon art. I would have loved to have seen that show. Too bad Nick and Paramount are too shortsighted to understand the potential goldmine they have with these old characters.

  • Tim Schuit

    Holy shit haha that pilot was AMAZING! Why aren’t there more cartoons around like that???

  • http://yeldarb86.deviantart.com Mr. Semaj

    Film Roman needs to start making their own shows again.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    Re:
    —-Killing the mouse after we got to like him sort of killed the vibe in the room I recall.—-

    But… but, that was what made this thing.

  • corey

    I don’t think that Adult Swim would be interested in making anything that is going to cost them more than 10 bucks

  • Mike Johnson

    This was just great! Laughed out loud several times, and even though I liked the mouse and was thinking it would be great to have him as a continuing character to interact with the cats, the sudden death was equal parts shocking and funny to me, so I suppose it was a good move to kill him off the way they did.

    I noticed that for me at least this had a definite Ren & Stimpy vibe, which is not a bad thing at all.

    I too would like to see this picked up by someone…it’d be on my “must watch” list for sure.

    I also vote for the return of the Terrytoons library. Growing up in the 1960′s they were among my first exposure to animation, and I really loved watching them.

  • http://twitter.com/dansicle DN

    Exactly, FP. (And he’s not friendly and naive. He sarcastically cheery and malicious.)

    This is the sort of thing Adult Swim *should* pick up. It’d make me watch them again.

  • Professor Grandiositypants

    I found this somewhat annoying, stock wear-it-on-your-sleeve edgy; Spumco derivative… although I’m certain that the people who made it are very talented, cool and great to know on a personal basis.

  • Richard Gadd

    Thanks for sharing that – very funny.

  • http://www.warrenleonhardt.com warren

    “I don’t think that Adult Swim would be interested in making anything that is going to cost them more than 10 bucks”

    Their loss.

    The writing was okay in this pilot, the acting was interesting because it was relatively natural, but the drawings really made it worth watching. Not the greatest animation (must have been done overseas), but with really thought out keys with nice poses. I’d watch it just for that.

    At least Nickelodeon ‘gets’ it. Mighty B and Spongebob are the only shows that seem really successful at posing things out…if there are any other suggestions for funny drawings in a show, I’d love to hear ‘em. I’m starting to lose faith in tv.

  • doug holverson

    I may be alone here, but I think that it was long overdue for a cartoon cat to unapologetically kill a meece and eat it.

  • dr. giraud

    Those are great characters. I’d watch this–I’d buy the DVD.

    As someone who finds Tweety, Itchy and, especially in the Chuck Jones T&J toons, Jerry annoying, I agree it’s way overdue for the cat to eat the mouse. Or bird.

  • http://signorestudios.blogspot.com/ Christopher

    I wholly agreeing with Matthew Hunter’s comments on the “Hairballs” pilot. The artwork and style is great but the writing could definitely use a tune-up – so far as I know it’s the biggest downfall of any show that has promise if it’s not done carefully.
    Least we should forget, the likes of Looney Tunes and Tex Avery *never* had to rely on constant bad language or shock factor to gain laughs; the character-driven acting and cartoon-based comedy was what really drove them home to survive in the present day. Case in point when the cats were thrown out and slammed in the ground. That’s good cartoon writing right thar :)

    Seriously, as great a VA as Mr. Lawrence is, if they could try to be more “Lawrence” and less “Kricfalusi” – better still, lesser than “McFarlane” – this show could really be something original and fresh but with less of the crude humour. Fun styles with even funnier writing while still having some heart here and there.
    Oh, and do bring back the mouse; I adore the interaction between him and Ted and could be a fun formula to toy with there.

    BTW, provided they don’t follow the same path as the horrendous MTV revival, I’d give to see Heckle and Jeckle in new adventures. Really lovin’ the updated artwork there 8-)

  • Tim Schuit

    @ doug holverson

    I couldn’t agree more….I think that’s what made that moment so surprising, and delightfully fulfilling. It brought all my childhood fantasies regarding characters like Sylvester and Tweety Bird to life.

  • Andy

    Good cartoon. I thought it was very funny (and there are few modern cartoons I laugh out loud at), but I am kinda tired of everything being so Kricfalusi-esque. The little girl looked like George Liquor in drag. As much as I loved the gag, I’d have kept Wally and have his nameless friend killed off. My two cents.

  • Dock Miles

    A character(s) sketch, but an excellent one. The mouse had to die to enliven the personalities of the two cats (plucking the head off may have been a bit much), and there’s clearly more mice waiting in the wings.

    Thought the profanity added a very apt and natural amount of salty — that’s the way these cats would talk.

    And what’s with this notion that gross is gross is gross, in cartoons let alone in all of humor?

    This comment, though bizarre, raises an interesting question –

    “the likes of Looney Tunes and Tex Avery *never* had to rely on constant bad language or shock factor to gain laughs”

    Yeah, like they had the option of using “bad language.” Frankly my dear, they had to give a damn.

    Question is — would they if they could have? Not sure about Jones, for instance, but Avery used implied swearing many times and I have no doubt he would have used the full language pallet if allowed.

    As for shock factor, come on — Clampett and Avery and the Fleischers used *loads* of shock-factor moments.

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robcat2075

    “But… but, that was what made this thing.”

    I can’t explain the reaction of the other 500 people in the theater other than to suppose that since it resembled mine that it was for similar reasons.

    But their reaction was what it was. A few nervous titters, no guffaws, no approving applause.

    Perhaps in the 8 years since that screening we have become more eager for blood thirsty entertainments (UFC?) and less remorseful over the mishaps (mistake war?) that befall others? I can only guess.

    This topic could be a goldmine for media academics.

  • http://MoreTerrytoonsart? Michael E

    Jerry,

    Thank you for the reply. As for Mr.Lawrence’s short, I thought that the designs were great in it.

  • VGREER

    Wow…I mostly liked it (Hairballs) but I have to admit I don’t have the stomach for that kind of violence.

  • http://thadkomorowski.com Thad

    I love just about anything by these guys. And FYI it’s spelled Mark Colangelo, regardless of the credits.

  • http://williamwray.blogspot.com/ William Wray

    I like I was shocked. A drop of set up with the other character would have made it work– we had to deal with the shock of the mouse death and a brand new character of the cat and other mouse all at once. The third cat while great crowds the moment even more. These are quibbles however. Everyone on this cartoon are so talented I can only imagine the networks are afraid of them with power. This would work for Adult Swim if they would spend more that $7500 for an show. That’s to bottom line: no great artist can get around it. Adult cartoons is still the biggest untapped gold mine out there. I have no idea why people can’t see the money there.

  • Jason

    A feline version of “Family Guy”.

    Pass!

    (Nicely animated, though).

  • Hannah

    “I don’t think that Adult Swim would be interested in making anything that is going to cost them more than 10 bucks”

    Have you seen the Venture Bros?

  • Jonah Sidhom

    I thought it was awful.
    It’s boring, I don’t like the language, and the jokes just don’t work for me. Diarrhea spraying? really?

    The Heckle and Jeckle art is really nice though.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I guess I’ll be in the Matthew Hunter camp for this too. It would be nice to see this develop into something quite interesting if more was produced.

    Aside from reading the other comments here over the language/violence, the situation in this pilot kept reminding me of the old Cheech & Chong album where they’re playing dogs and it was the same scenario of what one would think a dog’s life REALLY is (of course that was a record and you had to visualize the action). That is what “Hair Balls” kept bringing to mind, also it’s spin on the familiar cat & mouse formula we’ve seen again and again for years. While I may not agree with the gross parts of the pilot, I otherwise found the characters quite interesting and dialogue pretty dead-on to their personalities. I’d love to see more!

  • Dock Miles

    “I can’t explain the reaction of the other 500 people in the theater other than to suppose that since it resembled mine that it was for similar reasons.”

    Oh, they laughed their asses off and you’re just lying about it. Since there’s no way to verify such anonymous remarks, it’s worth pointing out again and again and again that they carry no weight at all.

    Good on that Celebration for honoring the Title Sequence on Invader ZIM and the “A Lick Is Still a Kiss” episode of [i]Teacher’s Pet[/i].

  • Celia

    I also saw the Hairballs pilot at The Animation World Celebration (2001), and thought it lacked charm. Other pilots shown with Hairballs also had that mean spirited “in-your-face” humor. Maybe it was a millennium thing.

    I would keep the art, but lose the nasty stuff. People have the internet for that.

  • http://debbiessketchbook.blogspot.com/ Debbie

    It was well-drawn, but not my cup of tea. There’s too much swearing and it’s too mean-spirited for my tastes.

  • http://mruttan.ca Jack Ruttan

    I think some people seem to prefer their care bears and ponies!

  • Jason R.

    **I can’t explain the reaction of the other 500 people in the theater other than to suppose that since it resembled mine that it was for similar reasons.

    But their reaction was what it was. A few nervous titters, no guffaws, no approving applause.**

    And that, my friends, is why Tom never caught and killed Jerry, why Sylvester never snacked on Tweety and why Wile E. Coyote never got his paws on the Road Runner.

    Because it wouldn’t have been funny. Cathartic, maybe. But funny? No.

  • http://twitter.com/jsidhom Jonah Sidhom

    Jack Ruttan: I don’t like hearing the f-word, seeing heads being ripped off, or seeing diarrhea being sprayed out a cat. That means I must like Care Bears and ponies? It’s comments like that that make me afraid to click the link attached to your name for fear of what I might see.

    But I do see this fitting in with Adult Swim nicely. Which is why I don’t watch Adult Swim.

  • pheslaki

    I thought the violence was very funny. That, and spraying . . . that’s what cats DO, you know.

  • Lindsay

    Just a small aside: Jonah, the cat was spraying urine, not diarrhea. That’s how male cats scent-mark their territory. ;)

    Still, dunno if that makes it less distasteful or not… LOL!

  • http://2dwannabe.blogspot.com robcat2075

    “you’re just lying”

    Joe Wilson? Is that you? You read Cartoon Brew? I’d never have guessed.

    Shouldn’t you be back in Congress shouting “liar” stuff about… health care?

    But really, this is an example of the coarser tastes of the times I mentioned above. Disagree with someone? Call them a liar! That’s what passes for debate today.

  • Grayson

    I think I ran into Mr. Lawrence when I visited the Nickeloden Animation Building in 2006. Also his fist name is Doug if you are going to google it.

  • http://www.danyboom.blogspot.com dany

    i LOVED IT ! really funny drawings.

    why is everyone here so NEGATIVE ? fix this in the script, i dont like pee pee jokes, its too violent … it is what it is ! loverly, hand drawn, expressive stuff.

    dany

  • Dock Miles

    “But really, this is an example of the coarser tastes of the times I mentioned above. Disagree with someone? Call them a liar! That’s what passes for debate today.”

    I’ll let everyone else decide if “robcat2075 ” has accurately characterized the essence of my disagreement with him or her or it.

    This remark is more head-shaking odd:

    “And that, my friends, is why Tom never caught and killed Jerry, why Sylvester never snacked on Tweety and why Wile E. Coyote never got his paws on the Road Runner.

    Because it wouldn’t have been funny. Cathartic, maybe. But funny? No.”

    But … but … it’s happened lots and people found it funny. From the landmark *National Lampoon* strip where the cat-n-mouse violence is made explicit to “Itchy and Scratchy.”

    I’m astonished that apparently there’s a not-small cartoon-fan contingent that considers “Itchy and Scratchy” not only kind of an outrage but utterly unfunny.

    Culture consciousness has gone downhill since the early ’90s. But not in the way the detractors suggest.

  • EatRune

    @Grayson

    Yeah, but there are also people who share the name “Doug Lawrence” as well.

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    I’m usually a big fan of expressive stuff, I love Tartakovsky, I love Spumco and John K’s stuff and Plancton’s one of my favourites characters in Spongebob.

    I still didn’t like that pilot too much. Like others said there are way too many characters acting in a mean-spirited way to each other with too much swearing and shocking value for the sake of it, and the pacing is not even that great.

    It has potential, though. The killing of the mouse is one of the violent jokes that I found partially funny here. There’s some potential in the relationship of the two main cats (the “gay” one doesn’t quite work for me). The girl design is pretty funny, though the pee joke seems to be quite cheap to me.

    I’ll probably watch this show if they decided to do a series, but they should fix a lot of things or it will be another Ren and Stimpy APC type of show (which actually had a couple of good episodes) or worse, a Seth MacFarlane type of show disguished with animals as main characters and decent animation.

  • Scott Multer