kirbyshow kirbyshow
Bad Ideas

Ruby-Spears and Sid and Marty Krofft Team Up

Jack Kirby

Pray for animation, these are scary times. The animation industry has been experiencing a nasty relapse into the crumminess of decades past. First, there was the news that Hasbro is launching its own toy-driven animation network and recruiting talented artists like Lauren Faust to shill My Little Ponies. As if that wasn’t depressing enough, now comes the news that shlock producers Joe Ruby, Ken Spears, and Sid and Marty Krofft have teamed up to develop new projects using characters that Jack Kirby created or developed in the eighties.

According to the NY Times, the combined stroke of genius of these four geriatric gents was to drive to their storage unit and pull out boxes of Kirby’s artwork. The Times doesn’t bother to ask why, if these ideas are so brilliant, none of them ever managed to get off the ground when Kirby first developed them twenty-five years ago. The quartet has somehow convinced Ari Emanuel of William Morris Endeavor to rep them and help turn these ideas into animated shows, live-action movies, comics and videogames. The ideas include:

“Roxie’s Raiders,” an Indiana Jones-style serial about a female adventurer and her allies; “Golden Shield,” about an ancient Mayan hero seeking to save earth in the apocalyptic year 2012; and “The Gargoids,” about scientists who gain superpowers after being infected by an alien virus.

The NY Times website offers a slideshow of Kirby’s development artwork. My humble suggestion to Ari would be to hook up Ruby-Spears and the Kroffts with these guys. They appear to share the same aesthetic sensibilities, and who knows, maybe they can even get Sean Connery to do a voice.

  • Who cares? I had the opportunity to share more than a few drinks with these guys at the San Diego ComiCon. I think that putting these guys back to work is hardly a bad thing.

    let’s see what they can do. It can’t be any worse than what we have now.

  • Demetre

    that sounds like the hash that’s already out there. Whats the big deal?

  • joecab

    I love Jack’s stuff but uhhh…… (and was that Gil Kane’s work on #9 in the slideshow?)

  • Lauren Faust’s heading up “Ms. Little Pony” referred to as “shilling”? Would you also call Joaquim Dos Santos directing “GI Joe: Resolute” or Genndy Tartakovsky’s “Clone Wars” as shilling? C’mon, Amid; Just ’cause it’s a girl’s toy doesn’t mean it’s any less valid a project than Transformers or whatever…

  • Artists come up with ideas all the time. The way you get as big as Kirby is editing, not all your ideas are all that good. A great artist is someone who can edit the crap from the exceptional.

  • I think there are plenty of examples of animation projects that were proposed but never completed for reasons other than the quality wasn’t there. Maybe it was a matter of budget. Maybe Ruby-Spears had another show in development that was targeting a similar audience. Maybe it was deemed to difficult to produce. Maybe it wasn’t what they were looking for at the time. I don’t think there’s any reason to jump to the conclusion that if these shows weren’t made in the eighties, it’s because they weren’t very good.

    Also, a show that starts out with the express purpose of selling toys can become something entertaining, interesting, and well-crafted if there are talented people working on it and they are given enough freedom to develop the show their way. Meanwhile, an animator can work for years on end in his or her basement for no financial compensation on a completely personal piece and the end result can still be garbage. The commercial content of a piece of animation is not guarantee of its quality or lack thereof. So lets withhold judgement until we’ve at least seen a little of the final product, shall we?

  • amid

    Chris Battle: Are you suggesting that My Little Ponies is the equivalent of Star Wars? However, one may feel about Star Wars, it is rooted in the integrity and creative vision of an artist’s work, and subsequent reinterpretations are building upon that foundation. MLP was designed be a faceless corporate entity for the sole purpose of emptying wallets. The only goal of updating that piece of junk is to move more product, and that’s a questionable role for any self-respecting artist to find themself in.

    Robert Kohr: I know these are the rejected ideas, but what were the good ideas that Kirby created while at Ruby-Spears in the 1980s?

  • Titanius Anglesmith, Fancy Man of Cornwood

    Oh my God, another experienced and creative mind in animation daring to pursue their own vision without getting the approval of Jerry Beck Amid Amidi first? The nerve!

  • First, thank you Amid for saying I’m talented. But I’d like to point out that The Hub is the only place in town interested in making and airing cartoons for girls. Those of us interested in trying to make stuff for girls that isn’t garbage don’t have a whole lot of options.

    I assume that most people will write off the MLP cartoon as dumb, girly crap whether they watch it or not. I just want to make things for girls that they actually LIKE and if doing it through existing girl properties is the only shot I have, I’m going to take it.

  • As Floyd said, wait and see.

  • You can take or leave it, but damn, Jack Kirby was one talented gent.

  • What do you have against Sid & Marty Krofft??

  • Tom Minton

    That indeed is Gil Kane’s work in slide #9, with the signature Gil Kane difficult angle on the foreshortened hands and wrists. Jack Kirby came up with tons of amazing visual ideas for Ruby-Spears in the 1980’s but the one that I thought was sheer genius that never went beyond pitch board was NUMBER ONE, a superhero who flies to the sites of hideous tragedies, explosions, train wrecks, then pulls out a mirror and grooms himself, because he’s NUMBER ONE. I think they were afraid to do it then. What’s stopping them now?

  • Maizekid

    So I have been reading the Brew less and less these days and now I don’t even know if I’ll bother coming back at all… Jesus Amid, serious… your gonna complain again? Wow what a shock. Hasbro has some of the most talented designers and board people I personally know working for them right now, and HOW do you know that anything they are going to produce is going to blow? Just because you don’t like the idea, or because it’s a rehashing of something that worked in the past.. People have been remaking movies forever why not remake some cartoons here and there, and why now remake them with quality people who just might care about what they are doing. The Industry is changing and I for one am glad that there is even still work out there, it’s been rough lately, and hell I’m glad there is work people actually might want to be a part of. Maybe do us all a favor and take a month to post nothing but positive stuff cause I’m pretty sure a lot of us are really sick of the whining!

  • robert pope

    there have been lots of interviews (mostly in the Jack Kirby Collector) where a number of folks have inferred that Jack became increasingly disenchanted with how many of his concepts were unable to move patch the initial pitch phase (Steve Gerber described Ruby-Spears to a studio that loved to pitch, or words to that effect) and as a result Jack’s concept sketches became increasingly loopy and scattershot. There are some gems there, but certainly some stuff that made Devil Dinosaur look like FF #51. And to be fair, ANYBODY in this business who takes a check is a shill on some level. Defending the current crop of Star Wars shows (which seem as driven to sell merchandise as anything else) as somehow less commercial than “My Little Pony” is something akin to splitting hairs.

  • Doug Abramson

    I don’t know if any of these ideas can or will be turned into good shows, but I do have some objections to the tone of the article. Describing these concepts as rejected seems to be incorrect. From what I red elsewhere, most of these concepts were developed by Mr. Kirby during his down time at the studio. He worked much faster than his job required. So, instead of taking money for doing nothing, or working on comic books while on the clock; he developed these concepts for the studio, in case they ever wanted to use them. I also don’t see how you can totally dismiss Ruby-Spears as a production company. If nothing else, they produced on classic: Thundarr the Barbarian.

  • CMcC

    When I was a kid I spent a lot of time playing with the artisticly rooted pieces of junk that George was selling me. My wife Lauren did the same the only difference was her junk was pink and had combable hair. Either way these toys were far from junk, in fact they were our lives. Everyday we would make up characters, worlds, and adventures for them. Lauren’s My Little Pony world was no less valid than My Little Star Wars world.

    So imagine little Lauren’s surprise when she heard there was going to be a cartoon of her favorite toy! Imagine her dissapointment when the cartoon didn’t live up to the world she had created in her head. Maybe she wouldn’t have been so upset if she realized that cartoon was only bad because it was produced by a bunch of dudes who couldn’t believe they were working on My Little Pony, uggggh. Imagine if they let HER make it, she knows why girls like Pony, she knows what will make it fun and cool.

    Now imagine 30 years later in some crazy cosmic coincidence she actually does get a get a chance to finally bring that world she’s had in her head since she was a little kid to life! Maybe just maybe if she can traverse the waters of notes, schedules, and executives she can finally inject a little a artistic integrity and creative vision into it and make a MLP that girls will actually really like.

    Heck I even like it now and I hated that lame Pony junk, it wasn’t cool like my Star Wars junk.

    Oh and Sid and Marty Krofft are awesome. My childhood would have been a lot less fun without them. I met Marty years ago and thanked him for warping my little kid brain.

  • Baron Lego

    Y’know… one can still be a Kirby fan and NOT defend every last idea he came up with. Some of those show ideas look pretty lame- they’re like toy commercial cartoons minus the actual toy tie-in.

  • Tim

    What’s wrong with My Little Pony? My niece loves My Little Pony. I’m glad they’re trying to make a better version for girls who want to watch cartoons. My Niece doesn’t want to watch He Man or the 1 girl robot in Transformers. And isn’t it better to bag on it when it is actually bad? Not while our fellow artists are trying to do their best? C’mon man.

  • Stone

    work is work is work. Job availability is hardly an excuse for rampant crapitude. However we should still be mindful that there’s ALWAYS going to be a lot of really bad product on the shelves no matter what. It’s the nature of this very greedy, insipid beast we call the modern animation industry. And you know what? It’s our fault for letting it get this way. Artists really need to start becoming business men and take charge of their craft. But that’s a whole other rant.

    I’ll hold out for the good stuff to praise and if I want to see any good stuff I’ll just have to go and make it. That’s just the way it is, so rather than complain about the smell, I’ll ignore it for now and plant some flowers to freshen things up.

    more time creating and less time complaining is the way to go. But this also a personal blog site made by fans who have every right to say what they want about anything they want, so complaining about that in addition is also rather pointless.

    there ought to be a blog dedicated to supporting grass roots animation projects. Perhaps a hub where people can see they aren’t alone in trying to make a patch of good in a sea of bad. A place to share ideas, visions and techniques and form a united front against hackitude and petty shillery.

    In short, stop whining and start singing. That goes for everyone.

  • cliffclaven

    I prefer the idea of marketing following the creative. Yes, you’re still going to have somebody in the room insisting that the hero have some totally unnecessary stuff that could be replicated in plastic, but the results will still be better than a bunch of executives brainstorming unholy hybrids of existing trends, or concocting incoherent/derivative stories around existing merchandise.

    Walt Disney did phenomenally well with merchandising from the get-go, but it’s hard to imagine any of the iconic short or feature characters surviving a corporate committee (“Seven old midgets? Can’t we make them like, you know, little pixies or something?”)

  • FP

    All those concepts are like “Let’s throw Kirby crap at the walls and see what sticks”. The concepts are so blank, their successes would depend solely on execution. THE BODYGUARDS and THE BAD GUYS look sort of cool, in a generic way.

  • RealityCheck

    Amid, i love how for some reason you’re an authority on what “a questionable role for any self-respecting artist to find themself in” is. If you were an artist, maybe you’d understand. Is it possible that artists working now were actually INSPIRED by things they grew up watching and became amazing artist BECAUSE of Transformers or GI Joe or My Little Pony?

  • Movie Rat Ian

    ….I thought it’d be a good thing that the My Little Pony people actually want a talented artist to redesign their “bland 80s” license. Faust already defended herself for “shilling”, but I thought that it’d be a good thing that they’re trying to look better. Wouldn’t having Lauren Faust work on it actually improve it beyond the shallow roots you’re complaining about? I mean, it can’t do anything but help.

  • Billy Batz

    I’d rather stare at that Kirby presentation piece than those last craptacular shorts you guys posted. at least Kirby can draw!

  • I always enjoy Amids post, and I never understand the hostility that is directed towards him for expressing his opinion on his own blog.

    Most Television is crap, so I’m sure that he’s right, and if this stuff is ever actually made that it will probably turn out to be junk… but I say bring it on anyway!

    For my mind an interesting concept can come from anywhere, and it is only the execution of that concept that determines its quality. I would point to the character of Robin Hood as an example, he was not created by a genius like Cervantes, or Shakespeare, instead he is developed over time by a number of hands of varying degrees of skill and dedication. It seems silly to think that just because an idea was initially conceived based on a toy, or anything else for that matter, that it would somehow be impossible for good work to be developed from it.

    My selfish need to see more original Kirby development Art outweigh any concern over the existence of another crappy show appearing on another crappy network that I don’t even watch.

  • captainmurphy

    I understand where Amid is coming from, and do not disagree, but let me don my crass power broker artless producer hat for a moment.

    The demographic the producers are chasing are running towards mythic fantasy, (such as The Percy Jackson book series based on greek mythology) so it is only natural they are going to dust off these old presentations.

    Another popular property would be Wimpy Kid, it is basically stick figures (hey, easy to animate). Its all in the attitude, the since of humor, which I guess is probably pre-pubescent Woody Allen. A Writers dream.

    The Toy sales however, might best go with the Kirby presentations.

  • Mike Cagle

    Most of the art in that slideshow isn’t by Kirby — maybe it’s based on Kirby sketches or ideas. I’d like to see the actual Kirby art. I’m sure some of it is fun, even though this was toward the end of Jack’s career. Mark Evanier says a book of the artwork is planned — I’ll look forward to that. As to whether any of these would make good shows, movies, comics or whatever — I agree that it would depend totally on what was done with them. They are only the germs of ideas at this point, based on what’s shown. In the hands of talented people, maybe they could be really cool. Or maybe, just more predictable schlock. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get to see.

  • it is rooted in the integrity and creative vision of an artist’s work, and subsequent reinterpretations are building upon that foundation.

    I’ll have to remember this reasoning whenever I get angry when I see A New Hope with new Lucas-mandated CGI. Except no.

  • To validate that snark, this news is nothing surprising. We’ve been reliving the 80s world of entertainment wasteland for awhile now (though the possibility of a new show sporting the brand “Ruby-Spears” is quite horrifying). So when are the 90s coming back to kick the shit out of the 80s again?

  • I can’t believe Ruby-Spears still exists. :(

  • James E. Parten

    First off, I have no objection to Hasbro starting up “The Hub”. They have every right to pitch their product in any legal manner. This is still a capitalist country, naysayers to the contrary!
    I firmly expect rehashes of “Transformers” and “G. I. Joe” and,yes, “My Little Pony”. But if you’ve ever seen the local television schedules, you know that children’s programming is virtually extinct, due to a combination of financial factors (stations can make more money by running court shows and talkfests) and the strictures of the Children’s Television Act. Even on cable, there’s always “room for one more”.
    Game show fans are actually looking FORWARD to “The Hub”. Consider that there are no game shows for kids currently being produced in this country. Also consider that the corporate heirs and assigns of the Hassenfeld Brothers control the libraries (if you want to use that term) of both Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers. This gives them ample properties, if they want to investigate them.
    Tomorrow’s fanboys need to get started somewhere. They are not going to get a good start on art-house orchids! Today’s fanboys started out watching the usual stuff before they discovered what they really liked!
    I hope that Sid, Marty, Ken and Joe have an amiable kaffeeklatsch, full of french roast and nostalgia. They’ve probably got some stories that they cold tell each other!

  • This isn’t much different than Rob Liefeld buying the rights to Kirby and Joe Simon’s Fighting American, except that Ruby-Spears already owns the concepts Kirby pitched to R-S in the 1980s. It’s Kirbsploitation.

    What I can’t get over is the idea of Ruby-Spears and the Kroffts teaming up. It’s so disparate, two past-their-prime creative teams trying to mount a comeback with archived material. I wonder if they’d even get the press if not for Kirby’s name and reputation. It’s not like R-S and the Kroffts are nobodies, but they’re anachronisms in 2010.

  • NC

    Personally I’ve never been a big Kirby fan. But come on guys animation is built on WEIRD IDEAS!!! I mean SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS?????

    What’s wrong with weird ideas and GREAT talent like Lauren having some fun with it and turning it into something new? Is that so bad? I agree with Craig, I grew up on He Man and Ninja Turtles. What’s so wrong with taking the idea of a potential toy and trying to make something fun out of it?

    As much as I believe in progressing the art form, let’s be honest, Miyazaki films aren’t exactly raking in the bucks. I mean this is animation’s bread and butter, TOYS! So why not try making weird toys and weird shows to go with it?

  • Kristjan

    “Weird ideas” you say? Don’t think animators would have come up with the crazy thing that happened in the Icelandic Banking system.

  • Kevin Dougherty

    I noticed (as did others) that most, if not all of the art in the Times slideshow was only nominally Kirby. It looks like Jack’s roughs were redone and slicked up more than a bit, losing a lot of his raw power. The project looks like a bit of a silly hype dreamed up by some guys past their due date. I doubt any more Krofft properties are going to get the big budget Hollywood treatment after :Land of the Lost.” That said, never underestimate the power of nostalgia coupled with a high profile track record. Heck, people still invest in Stan Lee start-ups.

  • Jeff

    #9 looks very similar to Microman.

    I remember reading something about Roxy’s Raiders a few years ago. Something about how the censors wouldn’t let the characters drop a rock on a snake or something.

  • Hal

    If that image of “Tempest” (?) stripping in a Kirbyspace gets animated at all, it was all worthwhile. I’ll personally volunteer to take cleanip… I MEAN CLEANUP duties on that scene!

  • amid

    Craig, man, Craig. I never thought I’d see the day. Was the dream really to remake My Little Ponies? Is that what all of you guys were nerding out about at CalArts a couple decades ago. “Dude, some day we’re going to take this toy designed in a corporate boardroom and make a prettier version of it!” I love you guys, but seriously, I never thought I’d see this day. Where’s the fight, where’s the enthusiasm, where’s the passion??? My Little Ponies and Star Wars revivals (if you insist on lumping them together) wasn’t the dream. It wasn’t why any of you guys got into animation, and if it is, then you sure did a good job of concealing your intentions. I said at the top of the post that we should pray for animation, but forget the prayer. What I really need to do is come to LA and slap some sense into everybody! Y’ALL TOO GOOD FOR THIS SORT OF THING. After I’m done slapping you guys I’m going to slap the execs who’ve brainwashed you into thinking otherwise. It’s not too late….It’s not too late!

  • Just want to say—whatever other crap Ruby-Spears cranked out back in the day, “Alvin and the Chipmunks” could be a pretty entertaining show. Unlike a lot of the stuff back then, the writing actually had some bite. Looking at it again recently for the first time since I was a little kid, I was surprised by how cynical it could get.

  • CMcC

    Amid I never said My Little Pony was my dream, it’s Lauren’s dream or more accurately Lauren’s dream is to someday make cartoons for girls that don’t suck. Growing up loving cartoons Lauren noticed that the cartoons that were made for girls were much worse than the cartoons that were made for boys. Seriously, can you think of a show from the 80’s that was made for a girl audience that was actually FUN and FUNNY and not insipid and saccharine? Now I’m not talking about a show that was gender neutral, that appealed to everyone, I’m talking a show made JUST for girls. It’s hard to think of because it’s never really existed.

    So Lauren’s dream as an animator is to do just that. Make good stuff for girls.

    Now of course she would much rather make an idea of HER OWN into a series, who wouldn’t, and she’s pitched a lot of them, but they never go. Why? because the rotten truth is that no Network in this industry wants to make an animated show for ONLY girls. They’ll make shows for ONLY boys only but not girls. It sucks but it’s true.

    So when Pony was put in front of her, she thought. wait here’s a toy she loved when she was a kid, they want to make it for just girls, no one else is doing that, maybe just maybe she’ll be able to use this property to finally make the type of funny, smart, fun show she felt girls always deserved. GIRLS, not boys, not fanboys, not animation afficianodos, LITTLE GIRLS.

    So what’s wrong with that? Isn’t that a dream worth fighting for? For being enthusiastic about, and having a passion for?

    I think so.

  • Gerard de Souza

    I’m not just saying this because it’s cool to like Kirby but those concepts look interesting to me. Just shows me Jack Kirby’s second best is head and shoulders above many.

    Why so hostile towards the producers?

  • Billy Bob

    Ummm, does anyone remember the last actual project that Ruby-Spears worked on? Do they even still have a studio? I am out of the loop.

  • Paul N

    Amid’s post to CMcC sounds every bit like the animation equivalent of what you’d hear from one of the political yakking heads – somebody with no stake in actually doing the job, yet more than willing to tell those that DO the job what they should do, or stand for, or fight for, or whatever.

    It’s so simple to tell others what they should do when there’s absolutely no chance that you’ll ever have to follow your own advice.

  • Dave

    Yeah, you know what? That slide show of concepts actually look fun to work on; I see lots of potential there. I’d like to see Amid’s perspective on what HE thinks is good and deserves to be made into a cartoon. I’d love to see how much of his own income he’d bet on these self-picked projects, like a lot of these so-called “schlock producers” do with their shows. The Krofts made well-loved programs in the 70’s. And if you look around now, most people making cartoons grew up with either Sid and Marty Kroft and/or He-Man, My Little Pony, The Smurfs, Transformers, GI Joe, Thundercats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc. I don’t think you’re going to get much sympathy from us when you bash our childhood favorites. Let’s see your “brilliant ideas” sir!

  • Agreed! Lets see what you’ve got Amid?!

  • To Lauren Faust – GOOD FOR YOU! You have every right to use your talents to make a living. More power to you.

    Don’t worry about what anyone says about “My Little Pony” – these guys aren’t the audience. My daughter grew up watching the show and loved it. Best of luck to you.

  • Amid – its easy to criticize. But it must be awfully embarrassing when the person who’s work you’re trashing stands up for themselves. Everyone has a right to earn a living. Their work may not be to your taste – but as long as there’s an audience, who’s to judge?

  • Casper the friendly executive.

    Please please please slap yourself around the head and show us what you come up with. You’re now crossing the line from critic to career guru so it’s only fair you show us how to do it in more detail.

  • Amid, you’re getting really presumptuous. How the heck do you know what a particular artist’s dream for the future is? Or more accurately, one of their dreams? Few people have just one dream project.

    We don’t live in an ideal world where all you have to do is come up with a really great and unique idea and someone will hand you the money to make it. I don’t think I have to explain to you that a lot of animators have to balance art and business and a lot of times, that means not doing exactly what they would do if they had all the money in the world. There are some cases where an artist is able to get his or her dream project funded, but it everyone stuck to their guns and said “No, I’m not going to do anything that isn’t my ideal,” it wouldn’t result in better animation all around. You’d have roughly the same percentage of good, creator-driven shows, a lot of very talented, very broke artists, and roughly the same amount of mediocre to bad animation from people who just want the chance to work.

    Why is your reaction “It’s so awful that Lauren Faust’s talented is being wasted on ‘My Little Pony’.”? Why not “Hey, if Lauren Faust is doing ‘My Little Pony,’ maybe it will actually be good.”? Ehy do you assume that the need to sell toys is going to obliterate her ability to make a good TV show?

    I have said repeatedly that you are entitled to your opinion and I still believe that. But I think it is ridiculous of you to be making decrees about what people should be working on or dreaming of working on. Not everyone shares your tastes or your views on what can nd can’t be good animation. Pursue your dream, by all means, but don’t assume that your dream is also everyone else’s.

  • Scarabim

    I’m with Lauren and Craig on this. Yes, My Little Pony is a toy line. Created to sell stuff. But so was Linus the Lion-Hearted (as I mentioned on another thread). And that show was awesome. Had Carl Reiner and Sheldon Leonard in it for crying out loud. Witty and a little subversive and funny as hell. Sadly, despite its awesomeness, it got yanked off the air by The Nanny State (circa-1960’s U.S. Gov’t. Yes, it was onerous. Get used to it, because bad as it was back then, it’s even worse now. Thanks Peggy Charren, you interfering b*tch) because too many of the characters had been originally created to sell cereal. But that fact had nothing to do with the show’s quality. The same could be true with a good version of My Little Pony. Lauren is right – if a caring and talented person were put in charge of it, something awesome could happen. There is a need for good TV toon geared more towards girls. Surely there’s an imaginative alternative to Dora the Creepy Explorer. Give the ponies a chance. They could be this era’s Smurfs (which was a damned good show for what it was). You go, Lauren.

  • John

    Who knew the Krofts were still alive? They must be at least 100.

  • sucka

    Wait. Lauren Faust is rebooting My Little Pony?? um, this going to be amazing. No complaints here. I’ll be tuning in with my girls for sure. TEAM LAUREN!

  • Aw man, sign me up for some Amid slaps. “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”

  • pappy d

    Lauren was very young when My Little Pony came out. If she has the budget to make it as good as she remembers, it should be very good indeed.

    #3 is also drawn by the late Gil Kane. I remember doing the insipid watercoloring myself.

  • amid

    I’ll put you on the list, Thad. There’s plenty of slaps to go around!

  • Hal

    AMID – Someone “suffers” the indignity of MY LITTLE PONY after a career of drawing adorable things (shame on Hasbro for GOING AFTER THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THE JOB, shame on any animator to work with a new studio that’s corporate…) and getting worked up because some second string Kirby stuff that will never EVER see the light of a screen got a New York Times fluff piece?

    The bard has said it better than I ever could:

    “All the world ‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.”

  • Hal

    Also – true story – at least 70% of the men I’ve worked with got into vfx/animation/film-making because of STAR WARS and almost 90% of the women in animation I’ve know have drawn a variation of PONIES so… seems like its the dream for a lot of people. Keeps everyone not into SW or MLP angry and bitter enough to make their own stuff (I personally thank Lucas for killing my love of STAR WARS with the prequels at the perfect time for me to move on and get some by something other than my hand painted green with tentacles glued on).

  • I’ve seen the toys for Lauren’s MY LITTLE PONY, and I think the franchise couldn’t be in better hands. Even if I’m not part of the intended audience, I anticipate it anyway, considering I’ve always loved Lauren’s work. (Plus, I actually used to have a few My Little Ponies in my collection as a kid! I just thought they were adorable.)

    Considering that THE MIGHTY B! got canceled, and THE MODIFYERS pilot was dropped (although both are gender-neutral), it just feels devastating. I feared that animated TV would be regressing back to the crass gurl’-hating-he-man era of yore (with shows like BEN 10), and that the days of THE POWERPUFF GIRLS are sadly behind us. I’d still love to see a *good* thing for girls to get into, something with good design, and something that didn’t ludicrously patronize them! With Lauren doing MY LITTLE PONY, I see really good things about it.

    I side with Craig and Lauren on the issue. Yes, there is a very unfortunate decline in original, creator/artist-driven shows, let alone girl shows, regardless of their target audience. The current economic recession might have something to do with the cancellation of shows like TMB! (Nickelodeon blew their budget on buying the Ninja Turtles, it seems). Now, in this desperate time (and it wasn’t the first time), networks and companies want to stick to the “name” products that sell, especially reviving old stuff. But as long as we have talented artists making this stuff really good (especially since some of them started out as fans), we’ll be in for a treat.

    It’s called diversifying.

    As an artist with original ideas of his own, and sharing people’s fears of “The Man,” I learned this lesson the hard way. Your original/personal work alone is not going to pay the bills, unless you’re PENNY ARCADE. (But then, webcomics are a different medium from animation.) Even the PA guys do some other projects on the side, including advertising and webcomics for videogames. These guys know what they want, and how to get it.

    And we can learn a lesson from that, if we want to express our own original ideas. Lauren should be proud of injecting much needed energy into MY LITTLE PONY (which she is a fan of, conveniently), and in time, she can pitch MILKY WAY & THE GALAXY GIRLS again.

  • Did a Pony hurt you Amid?

    Anyhoo… Congrats Lauren. My 2 and a 1/2 year old daughter clutches on to her Milky Way & the Galaxy Girls book. She flips through the pages and stares at each page for ages. It was inevitable that a property like MLP was going to resurface in cartoon form again and that my daughter would most likely end up watching it, so the fact that someone like Lauren, who’s intentions are good, is involved and that gives me assurance that my little girl will see something great.

    Me and the other Mukpuddy guys have many of our own ideas, and some have even been picked up in New Zealand, but if someone asked us to have a crack at the Ninja Turtles, He-Man or Thundercats we’d flip out……..those things played a huge part of our childhoods, so regardless of “corporate evil” our dreams were to work on those shows, or take it in a direction that we would like to see.

    Rather than a step in the wrong direction for Lauren, it’s a step in the right direction for Hasbro……they’ve recognized great talent and I’m sure Lauren is realizing her dream with all the passion she can muster. That can only mean good things for young girls of the world.

    It’s starting to feel like everybody is at a cool party and amid is up on the roof by himself trying to convince everybody he’s having the better time. Come join the “positive party” Amid, once we all get done with slapping you, we’ll buy you a drink.

    P.S I can’t believe I’m posting in the same talkback as Craig McCracken OMG! OMG! OMG! ;)

  • John

    That guy with the huge fists… the midget on the unicycle. That’s hysterical!

  • Anne

    CMcC and Lauren – you guys just…rock. Your cartoons inspired me to get into animation, and your enthusiasm and obvious pride in your work – no matter what the project – are contagious. I have no doubt that My Little Pony will reflect that when it airs.

  • Ok, I expressed my incredulity too trollishly to pass moderation, sorry, but this spectacularly incorrect statement cannot go unchallenged:

    “As much as I believe in progressing the art form, let’s be honest, Miyazaki films aren’t exactly raking in the bucks.”

    In what universe?!

  • jonbegood.

    I’d watch “The Bad Guys” any day.

  • Tim Drage> I would guess the universe in which only U.S. box office counts.

  • Casper the friendly executive.

    John K is up on that roof with Amid going on and on and on and on about how everything was better when he was a kid and making fart jokes.

  • I’d say anything that keeps my fellow artists working is a good thing, whether it is perceived as having artistic merit or not. That said he people who worked on the original My Little Pony probably did not have a connection with it… it was just work and that was probably reflected in the final product. People like Lauren, etc. who have a genuine affinity for a property or set of characters will surely make it something worth watching for its intended audience. Which is not me, I only watch manly films with that contain a specific quota of explosions, robots, martial arts, and dinosaurs.

  • Mick Collins

    Watch it? Hell, I wanna WRITE it! I’m trying to find out where to send my c.v. right now! :)

    I’m with Craig and Laura on this one. The next crop of cartoons and cartoonists have to come from SOMEWHERE, and as long as the show’s GOOD, I wouldn’t care if it was a 24-minute ad for a toy line. Personally, I’m too old for all of the toy line cartoons that get talked about here all of the time – “He-Man”, “Thundarr”, etc. – but I was right on time for Sid and Marty. Now, I’m not sayin’ “Lidsville” was Pulitzer material (or even Emmy-worthy), but my childhood would have been SO MUCH POORER without it. I would watch just about ANY new show from them that promised to bring the crazy like THAT, Kirby or no.

  • Casper the friendly executive.

    Slapping Amid aside (just one more please- slap! ) this all distilled down to a basic truth, that it’s often execution, not the original idea which makes a good series. A lot of execs don’t get this. They’re always on the look out for the next exciting idea that’s going to go over big, but it’s the talent itself which will ultimately decide if the thing turns out good, bad or ugly. As John K (who I also just slapped) kinda said recently on his blog, it’s the constant desire to improve while actually making a show that truly elevates it, not that doodle on a napking that the exec bought. Great people CAN make something great out of a plastic pony.

  • NC

    Tim Drage: Apparently you are unaware of how well Miyazaki films do here. Sure it may do well internationally but it doesn’t do well enough in the states to support the industry. For some of us it is the ideal, what many of us would love to do, my self included. But in reality what shows like MLP will be doing is keeping our industry alive. Offering new work and new jobs so that the people can support themselves as they chase their ideal. Both have an important role, one progresses the medium the other keeps it alive. I think we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

  • amid

    Casper the friendly executive – You’ll find no bigger supporter of your statement that execution generally trumps idea. That’s exactly why nobody can make anything good with the Warner Bros. characters nowadays.

    However, my dismay has little to do with the harebrained concept of My Little Ponies and more with the negative impact that Hasbro’s arrival has on the industry. For the past two decades, artists have made one very clear demand: creative ideas should be generated by them and not corporate committees. That has gone out the window as artists are bending over backwards to work with Hasbro.

    There is a lot more being sacrificed here than simply working on a toy-based idea; it also represents a shift in the production process because few American artists are involved in pre-production and nearly the entire thing is being hacked out overseas. It is a return to the artless animation scene of the seventies and eighties in which artists weren’t a part of the creative process. Dressing up the animation with slick designs doesn’t mask the fact that Hasbro’s emergence is a major shift for the TV animation community and does not bode well for the creative health of the industry.

  • Mark Morgan Jr.

    I realize Hasbro never had much on exceptional cartoon art, but their great strength back in the 80s was their writing, and hopefully it will be again.

    I would like to point out that Hasbro cartoons, and not just G.I. Joe and Transformers but even shows like My Little Pony respected their audience enough to put out continuity oriented multipart storylines, and even went so far in subject matter as to draw material from the ancient Greek Tragedies and to confront topics like Death.

    The very first My Little Pony Story in the regular series was Ten Parts Long. Most animators today don’t think kids can watch anything longer than 7 – 11 minutes long, let along keep up with a 5 day a week story that runs for two weeks.

    There’s such a depressing lack of depth in today’s cartoons stories. It’s silly antics first and anything else second. The cartoons I grew up on dealt with 2 dimensional representations of real life problems and conflicts and 2 dimensional or not that’s still a good deal better than what we get today.

    I realize the Brew is art oriented and I respect that, but something that isn’t said nearly enough is that a cartoon is more than a collection of artwork, whether told visually or through dialogue, it is a story and there’s not nearly enough development or focus in scripting for animation.

    Lauren Faust in particular is a wonderful writer. Her scripting is was kept me coming back for more on Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends. Likewise, she’s an excellent artist as her past stints on story boarding, character design, and animation have proven. With a combo like that, I look forward to seeing the New My Little Pony cartoon and I’m a guy!

  • Oh, come on Amid. I’m squarely on the pro-My Little Pony/ Lauren Faust bandwagon here. I think you are really not giving Lauren, Hasbro and MLP enough credit. Is there really this large of a gap between understanding girls’ animated content to the content that you love and adore?? Shame cartoon brew >: (

    I grew up with MLP, and I for one is SO thrilled that a big a fan and talented an artist as Lauren is heading up the next gen of MLP.

  • Lauren Faust

    Thank you so much, everyone. I’m sincerely humbled by the support. It really means a lot to me.

  • Daddios, if Hasbro asked me to revamp Jem and Holograms, I would truly outrageously ROCK that property!
    Leave us our guilty pleasures, Amid. Channeling one’s talent into a corporate property can be a positive learning experience. Just think of how much more streamlined Lauren’s personal project, Milky Way and the Galaxy Girls, will be after she makes a success of Pony! Personally, I can’t wait to see the finished product!

  • Mean Mr. Mustard

    as a fairly seasoned veteran in the animation industry who has done a lion’s share of development and concept art for many hasbro brands over the past few years, I can tell you first hand that the right creative people are in the right creative places over there to ensure that these shows are going to look great and be a lot deeper than a 22 minute toy commercial. Getting artists like Lauren on board is a testament to that, and a very smart move.
    Judge as you see fit (it is your blog after all), but I have a feeling you may be eating those words in a few months ;)


    You know, I heard this same comment about Neal Adams when he went public on selling his own work on tshirts, mugs, etc..
    Look..While one could argue that ‘my lil pony’ hardly does ones argument of modern feminism any advancement..So for that reason alone, I LIKE IT!

    But..I have a great respect for toys and toy design. I think Miss Foost work is actually very very nice. I also appreciate that they seem to have adapted it fairly well for the toys.
    I have nothing against any of the tv properties either. In fact, one could argue that they and they alone single handidly saved animation from its deathbed (70’s – 80’s).

    The notion of “shilling” is not only an unfair crit of miss foost. But also silly. If her work was lower quality and therefore translated to a low quality product…OR if her work was HIGH quality and yet the company had no CARE in the product and therefore put out a crappy product, and she continued to stay with them…..then that would be a better example of shilling. Maybe.

    I think “shilling” is better used for people that continue to stay with a company that continues to put out crappy product. So maybe some at Disney might have some splainin’ to do. But I don’t think miss Foost does.
    Lastly…I’m always a little tickled when I see those that write reviews about others work or product rather than going out, and either creating something all their own, or gathering the right talent together and using THEIR OWN vision to put out something wonderful as well as much needed. But instead just write about those that ARE creating and putting things out.

    While I don’t consider critics as “shilling” or “shills”, I do consider that a little like one of those lil fish that suckle at the skins of whales for any sort of meat/skin scraps that peel away from the large mammal..for their own survival.

    Good on you miss Foost. Keep it up.

  • My Little Phony

    Maybe I’m alone on this, but 80’s toys are the last thing I want to see return to animation. I saw it all: Jem, Thundercats, Popples, Rainbow Brite, He-man, etc. I enjoyed them as a kid, yes, but as an adult, all of these shows are unbearable to watch. They rightfully belong in the cartoon graveyard.

    As for MLP: I never played with the toys my mother had as a child, so why would kids want our old crap? Kids deserve to grow up with their own set of toys and ideas, and animators shouldn’t be afraid to say they’re working on shit! So what if they fire you, you’re better off without them!

  • RF

    I work in animation and I was wondering – where do I get a list of all the really cool and awesome and destined-to-become-classic shows to work on?

    Better yet, where can I sign up for one of those jobs where you talk about animation a lot without ever having worked in the industry?

  • Mark Morgan Jr.

    My Little Phony,

    I truly admire your desire to see new and creative ideas come to the front, but I also think you need to consider something. In December Warner Brother’s released a motion picture based on Sherlock Holmes that made more than $70 million in three days. A hundred years after his introduction the sleuth of Baker Street is still capturing the imaginations of movie goers young and old. You want to know something else? He wasn’t the first fiction detective, he wasn’t alone in his day as there were tons of crime solvers in print, and he wasn’t in a field that was considererd to be classic.

    Detective stories were seen as lowbrow scholck for the masses, not alike many people sadly view the franchise toons of the 80s. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle worried that he was wasting his talent on a lowly enterprise which is why he eventually killed the Detective only to bring him back on popular demand. And what of the other detectives of that time? How many people here have heard of Max Carrados, Carnaki, or Dr. Thorndyke? Sherlock Holmes survived when others didn’t because he had something special. Something that fired the minds and hearts of people who encountered him.

    I realize that what does and does not get brought back in the Hub is based on what Hasbro owns. If they’ve got a property, they’re going to develop it. But let me ask you this. In the wake of all the 80s properties that are being revived, has anyone tried to resurrect the Bionic Six, Pole Position, or Mad Balls? For all the shows and direct to video specials that were made in the 80s, the ones that seem to come back and keep coming back are from a select shows that have maintained a loyal fan following beyond cancellation.

    I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I never even saw Thundercats until I was 21, and you want to know something? I LOVE IT! I freaking love it so much! It’s a rich wonderful world full of great characters and all kinds of forgotten adventure. In a time when most shows were focused on sending the bad guys to jail, TC had jungle adventures, space battles, and castle stormings galore! It was one big pulp mess of a good time and nearly ten years later I still love it.

    I went 15 years between watching episodes of He-Man. When I finally got a chance to revisit the old cartoon I was amazed at how good it actually was. The music was top notch. The main voices were all incredibly vivid. Whether you liked them or not, Prince Adam, Skeletor, the sorceress, heck even Orco who was voiced by Lou Schiemer himself have highly unforgettable pitches. I was amazed at how well I could recall their tones in my head after watching the show.

    The backgrounds too. Did anyone ever notice that the backgrounds in He-Man looked amazing, especially in the wilderness. It really gave the impression of an alien world without losing a cartoon feel. The music was fabulous also.

    Now, granted the animation was very limited and stock footage regurgitation was the rule of thumb, but that was more a budgetary choice than a creative one, and besides the point at least they didn’t outsource it like everybody and their brother were doing.

    I’m not going to go down the list and name every toon that’s been mentioned, but I would like to point out that the prevailing idea that a lot of these shows are only around because of Nostalgia doesn’t hold. I have a friend whose teenage sons recently experienced the Sunbow Transformers cartoon for the first time and loved it. I was nearly 16 before I ever saw G.I. Joe and even older when I saw Thundercats and I’m a huge, huge, huge fan of everyone of them.

    Just because these shows aren’t your cup of tea doesn’t mean they’re aren’t everybody’s. It’s a matter of opinion.

    I’m going to end on a semi-quote from Jack Kirby because I don’t remember his exact wording off the top of my head. On the ten year anniversary of his death, Wizard magazine ran a retrospective on him asking any comic professionals who knew or had met him to share their memories of the king of comics.

    Writer Jeph Loeb recounted a meeting with Mr. Kirby in which he nervously showed him a comic he was working on which was a complete reinvention of a comic Jack had created. He said Mr. Kirby thumbed through it, handed it back and said, “That’s pretty good.”

    Mr. Loeb asked if Jack was offended that he had altered the original idea. Jack replied, “Look, this is what we’re about. Taking old ideas and making them new for the next generation. If it’s a good idea it’ll survive.”

    Sherlock Holmes has survived more than 100 years. Superman and Batman are getting there, and who knows what else will and won’t. But if something does survive, say something about a mac truck that turns into a robot, or a group of soliders fighting terrorists, or even some cute little ponies, is it a bad thing? The only way it will survive is if people choose to accept it and create a market in which it can.

    And believe it or not, magically putting a show back on the tube won’t make the kids accept their parents junk. It just gives them the choice to. For Heaven’s sake, it’s not like they’re going to drag the kids off the street and force a My Little Pony doll in their hands. It’s not the Hub is going to jack all the other channels on cable and force the little kiddies to watch thier shows till their eyes melt.

    It’s just another show, one among thounsands, from one animation company in an industry that has plenty more. It’s not the end of the world as we know it, and even if it was, I feel fine.

  • Tim

    Hasbro owns Dungeons and Dragons. That would make an amazing cartoon. Hasbro having a channel is a good thing. It means more artists can work. It means more cartoons are being made. We all have our choices on what we choose to work on. Don’t blame companies. The more cartoons the better.

  • Tim, D&D already did make an amazing cartoon.

    What’s saddest about Ms. Faust getting flack for reviving My Little Pony (which is the only Sunbow show that I didn’t “get” way back when, truth be told) is that it sets up her efforts to be as abused as the ’80s shows kids like myself grew up on. Most of the Filmation library exists on in time-compressed and DVNR-decimated form (and there’s a huge chunk of He-Man’s first episode that’s been missing since the remastering, as is the case for some episodes of their Archie shows, Fat Albert, and Isis). The G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Jem DVDs have major, MAJOR re-take and digital alteration issues. While these issues would have Jerry and Amid cursing like drunken sailors for Golden Age work (and justifiably so), these issues have been largely ignored, and may never be properly fixed-and all four of those toy-based cartoons are just as important to me as the Looney Tunes, the MGM cartoons, and anything Disney ever made.

  • Michael

    After more than 30 years in business, Ruby-Spears still has something to prove, although the market for first-run animated programs has changed to cable. It’s now 2013- R-S recently dusted off Jack Kirby’s artworks, but for the 21st Century, they may hire someone like Jim Lee to redesign the characters into a more modern form. Right now, after spending the 2000’s as consultants on various Scooby-Doo projects, it’s time for Joe Ruby and Ken Spears to, once again, turn out animation and live-action from it’s independently-operated studios, but it’s likely suitors will likely be both Cartoon Network and Disney Channel. With Ari Emanuel’s assistance, Ruby-Spears, along with Krofft Entertainment, can craft these concepts into TV series(Sid and Marty Krofft oversaw live-action fare that Joe Ruby and Ken Spears were involved with, in the late 1970’s). Now, looking at Roxie’s Raiders- that could be Ruby-Spears’ first animated original series for Disney Channel, which lacks animated adventure on its airwaves and has the capability of showing it, especially with a female lead. If Roxie’s Raiders gets produced, I believe R-S will use Canadian voice-over talent to cover the roles(Janyse Jaud, Conan the Adventurer’s Jesmine, could portray the title role of Roxie). Golden Shield looks like it could air on Cartoon Network, with some tweeking and a good time slot. The Gargoids looks like something that both Ruby-Spears and Krofft Entertainment could produce in live-action for Disney XD. I can also see Ruby-Spears bringing in Greg Weisman to develop some future programming ideas for the studio in addition to Eugene Mattos, both Craig McCracken and his wife Lauren Faust, Genndy Tartakovsky, Mark Zaslove, Tom Ruegger, etc. for just that same purpose, too. Out of all the animation studios(Hanna-Barbera merged with Warner Bros. Animation, spun off Cartoon Network Studios; DreamWorks Animation now owns Filmation; DiC Enterprises is now Cookie Jar Entertainment; Marvel Films has merged with Walt Disney Animation), Ruby-Spears is just one of a handful of animation studios still operating, independently, and before too long, I would like to see more from R-S. These concepts do have potential and must be explored for production.