kapow-icon kapow-icon

Joe Murray’s Kaboing Goes Kaput

Less than a year after its launch, Kaboing TV has come to a virtual standstill. Billed as “an alternative channel for quality animation that serves both the cartoon fan and the animation community of artists and writers,” the idea was conceived by Joe Murray, the veteran creator of old-media shows like Rocko’s Modern Life and Camp Lazlo. Murray raised over $20,000 from a Kickstarter campaign in June, 2010 to launch the concept.

Kaboing failed to gain traction with viewers. In the past year, Murray unveiled three original animated shorts based on his Frog in a Suit concept, and also presented six indie animated shorts. The combined viewership of those nine films was just 57,000 views.

In an essay posted on his blog last week he described Kaboing as being “at a crossroads.” In an earlier blog post last month, he alluded to Kaboing as if it had already died, writing that it was like “watching the fuse to what promises to be a wonderful firework display, fizzle out at the moment of truth.” The Kaboing website, which hosted its videos on YouTube, hasn’t unveilved a new cartoon since September, 2011, and the last original Frog in a Suit short premiered last March.

Murray blames virtually everything as a factor in the site’s lack of success, from a failed mainstream project that he had undertaken to no marketing budget to advertisers who wanted ownership of the shorts to the Internet’s desire for crude material.

The simplest solution though is often the right one, and in this case, it would appear that Murray didn’t offer a compelling product that audiences wanted to see. The Internet is very good at identifying what it likes, and it doesn’t like the kind of traditional material produced by mainstream TV studios. Frog in a Suit felt too much like a standard-issue TV cartoon with all the timeworn elements that Internet audiences are trying to escape.

It’s commendable that Murray is being upfront about the struggles of his start-up Kaboing TV, but his assignment of blame for the site’s failure seems misplaced to me. Reading between the lines of his January 18 post, he appears to believe that his work was of a higher quality than the kind of animation that becomes successful on-line. He expresses frustration that a “unicorn shitting rainbows” is more popular than his own work. But while some material is certainly more crude and raw, there are also breakout Internet hits like Simon Tofield’s Simon’s Cat which feature more elegant animation than anything you’ll find produced by a TV animation studio. The nineteen Simon’s Cat shorts, all animated by Tofield, have garnered over 215 million views on YouTube and spawned book and merchandising deals.

In the past artists created properties to pitch and sell to TV networks or newspaper syndicates in the hope of making their characters famous. Tofield has succeeded where Murray couldn’t by showing its possible to create characters on one’s own terms, turn them into a success online without giving up ownership rights, and then wait for companies to approach you with licensing deals.

YouTube, in fact, has spawned a new generation of animation creators who have become successful individual brands without the help of any middleman. An even more successful example is Dane Boedigheimer, whose Annoying Orange videos have accumulated nearly 600 million views on YouTube. His work has become so popular that Cartoon Network recently greenlit a series based on his characters.

Here’s a list of individual filmmakers besides Tofield and Boedigheimer whose YouTube channels have garnered huge fanbases and (we may assume) some financial reward:

26 videos
27.3 million video views

Lev Yilmaz
60 videos
35.1 million video views

50 videos
62.7 million video views

Harry Partridge
31 videos
66.3 million video views

66 videos
84.6 million video views

FilmCow (aka Charlie the Unicorn)
43 videos
218.3 million video views

Most tellingly, none of these artists became successful by soliciting money from a Kickstarter campaign and none of them had marketing campaigns. They created their animation because they believed in it, and audiences responded to the work. As the mechanism of distribution matures on the Internet, more and more animators will discover that this kind of success is possible.

  • derpderp

    What a bummer.

    Honestly, it could have been a whole suite of reasons for not going very far. First and foremost for me is that if something doesn’t fit tidily into something I already do (Twitter, Facebook), it is REALLY hard for me to introduce a new site to my regular internet diet. Even sites I do frequent, I forget about sometime.

    The internet also REALLY requires stuff to be “sticky” to be successful (which, yes, does result in a lot of cat-related things and unicorns farting rainbows). The viewing format of videos on the internet pretty much requires something to be viral to be successful. It has to be contagious, catch your attention immediately. I don’t know if there’s a true place for something slower, more traditional. It takes a good amount of slow stuff to get me to change the channel– it takes 5 seconds of not-completely-amazing-me to open a new window on my computer. Even stuff I know is extremely good is hard pressed to keep my attention online, unless I’m explicitly seeking something out to watch. In that case, I move to a different spot to view my monitor, even.

    The format allows viewers to be hyper-discerning. Unless it instantaneously makes you go “HA! My friend would die over how funny/amazingly-expensively-beautiful/crazy this is!!!” it has a tendency to fizzle out. It’s hard for would-be TV animators to have an independent voice in that way (a voice that isn’t “HEY, LOOK AT THIS WACKY THING!”) It’s kind of like how in taste tests, people usually prefer their snack/soda to be sweeter because it’s served in a dixie cup. In a longer format, that stuff would be exhausting. But in the form of tidbits, it’s really gotta be punchy and contagious *immediately*.

    I hope Murray can get a new show on TV, where he’s better suited. :/

  • James Mason

    “Frog in a Suit” actually looked pretty promising for a pilot. It’s just that separate, independent sites like KaboingTV have far less viewership unless they go viral compared to Youtube. Not a fair comparison there.

    • amid

      James – As a point of clarification, Kaboing’s video hosting platform was YouTube. In other words, Murray’s films were just as available on YouTube as all the other videos I mention in this piece.

      • James Mason

        Thanks for correcting me. I must have confused this with another video “channel” site.

  • Josh M

    It would be nice to believe that the cream always rises to the top. While that’s true in the case of something like Simon’s Cat, it’s equally true that mediocre and rubbish content also often rises to the top (“annoying orange” is a perfect example to me).

    I think this post raises some further questions. I’ve seen many excellent animation pieces that don’t get accolades or huge numbers of viewers, but why?

    Is it the sheer number of videos competing for attention?

    Does a series of animated shorts have more traction than individual one-off pieces?

    How much is success based on the ability of the short to go “viral”? Do quick, clever, or humourous pieces have an obvious advantage here?

  • Frog in a Suit is a great series, I liked it from the start but developed a new found appreciate for it when I wrote my term paper on it. I’m sad to see that it didn’t turn out as we all would’ve hoped. As a young animator it makes me happy to think that a veteran like Murray is/ was trying to help us out and give us a means to work creatively, to reach a large audience and to avoid the studio system.

    In his book he describes how Nick made him change Rocko’s color, stuff like that can be unsettling to artist. I like Frog because it gave Murray, I think, a chance to just do what he wanted. Most of the material/ characters couldn’t be done for a kid audience on TV.

    KaboingTV was about more than just showcasing his work. I like to think Murray was just testing out a new way to distribute stuff.
    I can’t knock him for trying!

  • Deaniac

    It pains me to see Joe Murray and Kaboing failing like this, especially since Murray hasn’t been working in the television animation biz for a while now (or at least since Camp Lazlo). I really wanted to see him succeed and for a new animation outlet to thrive.

    That being said, he really could have put some more advertising into Kaboing; I didn’t even know about it until this place posted a link to Murray’s blog outlining his plans. As much as I liked Frog In a Suit, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel like it was formatted for television…not that’s it’s a BAD thing, it just probably doesn’t work for the Internet. I mean, look at Egoraptor and Harry Partridge cartoons, they only run 1-2 minutes tops. Short, sweet, and to the point.

    I dunno, those animators listed above made it big with just YouTube, perhaps Murray could take some pointers from those guys in the future.

  • Good luck next time Joe.

  • I think one of the main factors a lot of the animators listed have is the majority of them accept enough freelance advertising work to pay the bills and increase their skill set, but make sure they have enough time for individualistic work that helps raise their profile.

    Not a lot of their personal projects are ‘commercially minded’, or as transparent as a series that wouldn’t look out of place on Cartoon Network. They’ve all been around long enough to have various agents and agencies forward them commercial projects, and can afford to be choosy about what they take on.

    Also, none of them have been over night successes – I worked with Cyriak for 2-3 years on various broadcast projects on a channel about 6 people saw. All of this stuff paid the bills whilst he made a name for himself doing his own thing.

    He always had the discipline to turn work down to do his own – as all the successful independents I work with do. I don’t – which makes me the unsuccessful independent I am today, in terms of getting to do my own thing!

    Lastly, they all have individualistic styles – as good as Frog in a Suit looks, it just falls into the melee of so many other flash animated projects, which, with the one-click-and-I’m-gone nature of content viewers today just helps a traditional-looking show get lost in the crush regardless of how good it is (or indeed, isn’t).

    Standing out as a trail-blazer with a certain style, whether it’s genuinely the case or not, often means the commercial world is more likely to employ you, rather than rip you off. This isn’t always the case – but, going back to my first point, if you’re able to balance commercial projects with you’re own it’s a very good way of staying afloat financially and creatively.

  • Sadly maybe it should have been called “LOLCat in a Star Wars costume”.
    Seriously I can see how Frog in a suit doesn’t fit the internet as it is right now, yet I’ve seen videos getting discovered 3 years after being posted (mostly student films), so who knows.

  • Stephen M. Levinson

    Amid, I think your post is spot on… Blaming his failures on everything other than himself is the reason so many fail to go far in life. The reason it failed was because of him.

    I may sound cynical, but I knew this wasn’t going to go anywhere after I saw his initial website…There are plenty of factors that contributed to it’s failure, I think the biggest one being from not having any money. $20k to startup your own network to compete with the big guys? That’s not realistic. He also doesn’t have experience in running or managing a network, so I don’t know what qualifies him to build one from the ground up. It can be done but I don’t think he really understood what it took for Nickelodeon to say Yes to his cartoon, to it appearing on TV in front of millions of people. Times have changes, and it’s possible to do without the big network guys. Look at Mondo Media, they’re already successful and get millions of views, Joe should have just pitched his series there. If they were to reject his pilot, maybe he would blame it on politics… Or maybe his cartoon just wasn’t that good. I’ve seen it too. The production quality is less than standard, the sound design isn’t too good and the animation is stiff. It doesn’t feel like a quality produced cartoon, and it wasn’t very funny.

    Being more fair to the artist sounds nice, but just because you make a cartoon, doesn’t mean you can build a network. I know there’s a ton of BS that goes into the studio environment, but building a network on a fantasy idea is very ignorant. He has to understand the #1 purpose of a corporation is to make money, otherwise the company fails. You can’t make a successful company when your #1 purpose is to be creative. Money talks.

    Hopefully Joe can learn from this and startup again the right way, with the right funding needed, and think a bit bigger. He should understand now that ideas are meaningless, and that execution is everything. If he can’t take the blame for his failure, he’ll never learn from it.

    • GhaleonQ

      There’s a lot to like about your post, but don’t be too harsh on him. The point is not that if he didn’t do _, _, and _, that he necessarily had to fail. When he condemns internet/Cartoon Network norms, he’s not wrong.

      The point of doing the extra stuff is that it maximizes the percentage that one’s quality art will succeed in a crowded market. Without it, it can undeservingly fail.

      I did what I could in donating and posting it in areas where people would be interested.

  • Isaac

    Noble effort, Joe, but I feel $20,000 should have funded somewhere around twenty minutes of top-notch animation.

    • Murray Bain

      I wonder if The crowd funding had of been used to create 20 X 1 minute shorts, instead of maintaining and advertizing a “channel” but then again, do people like Harry Partridge make a living off all his hard work?

      I guess the lesson here is:

      1.The internet audience loves quick, annoying, risque, and obnoxious content;(harry partridge and Simon’s cat’s quality notwithstanding) stuff that no gate keeper TV exec would ever allow.

      2. making content that fits an age demographic like networks do won’t work.

      3. Use a well established animation distribution channel like newgrounds or mondo, otherwise you won’t have the symbiotic supporting content volume to lead people to your work.

      I wish Mr. Murray the best of luck, and hope he isn’t too disheartened, I’m very glad he tried to do something different!

  • As much as I admire Joe’s dedication, you nailed it Amid.

    His ideas were too “mainstream” for the internet and not contemporary enough I believe. It felt more like a “pet project” that wanted to be bigger than what it is.

    If you look at animation now, animation is about experimentation and looking at things a different way. Especially marrying different software programs visually. If we’re looking for Flash animation, that’s what TV’s for.

    Lastly, I was confused at the site’s purpose. I thought it was a site for people to submit films to, so they can showcase people’s talents. It looked like just Joe’s work was up there. Maybe I didn’t ready the “About” section right.

    Best of luck to Joe though. Maybe he should just have a Youtube channel, like that CAT cartoon series, which is doing great btw.

    Thanks for the post. Cheers!

    • Ryoku

      With the amount of current TV cartoons that recycle plots from other cartoons in the 90’s, I can’t say that a lack of experimentation is what doomed Frog in a Suit.

      What may have doomed it was the pacing, it was frankly too darned slow, even for someone with a moderate attention span.

  • mike birtwistle

    lately i’ve been watching a lot of cartoons by folks like egoraptor and harry partridge. and if theres one thing i noticed the majority of their most popular videos have in common is that they are not original. don’t take that the wrong way, i think all these guys are funny, talented and deserve their success, but while they do make shorts with completly original content from time to time, most of their really big hits are the videos where they parody video games or internet memes. skyrim for instance has become a very popular subject for videos recently. there is a video about the whole “arrow to the knee” thing that was put up less than a month ago, and it already has almost 9 million hits! and egoraptor’s most well known videos are his “awesome series”. every episode is just a parody of a different video game and yet people flock to them everytime. again, i have nothing against these guys or what they do. as for videos of unicorns stealing each others kidneys and oranges screaming stupid crap at other fruit, well chalk that up to the weird tastes the internet has given us, i guess. i’m a huge fan of joe and i thought frog in a suit was great but it didn’t parody pop culture or have any weird crap that people on the internet could repeat or recreate ad nauseum, and its kind of sad that these days internet videos need stuff like that to be popular.

    • This guy really hits the nail on the head. Most internet “humor” is basically parodies or references to other things in the pop culture zeitgeist. Honest-to-God original humor with no movie or video game references doesn’t really stand a chance on the internet.

      “Frog in a Suit” wasn’t a parody of Star Wars so it was doomed from the get go.

      • Dan Kyder

        I think this has already been covered by the “we can see that OTHER stuff on TV”

        You are perfectly entitled to think the internet breed of humour is stupid and unfunny, but dont complain when you present that audience with something that doesn’t fit that taste, and then they call it stupid and unfunny in return

    • Dirge

      Spot on Mike!

      It’s a double edged sword. Want millions of views? Be prepared to do a lot of cynical, spastic video game memes and parodies. Don’t want to do that? Be prepared to get 100 views at best.

    • iseewhatyoudidthere

      Mike definitely hit the nail on the head. As a college student, I can attest that most college aged viewers and younger see internet humor as being very different than traditional tv or film humor. It’s not that viewers choose one over the other. Most students I know will watch Adventure Time and American Dad on tv, but will want something short memetic, Like “Sonic for Hire”, on the internet.

      Another problem that some new media content creators will have will be understanding that new media is what it is–a new, different kind of media. Just as what works for live action won’t necessarily work in animation, what works on tv won’t work on the internet and vice versa.

      The Nostalgia Critic has built an entire site where people review anything from nostalgic kids shows to current video games, and it is a pretty successful platform. The interesting bit is, these moderately popular to highly popular shows are NOT something that would be well suited for tv. Most episodes are no longer than 5 to 15 minutes, almost all of their material is based on pre-existing Intellectual Properties, and it’s obvious to the viewers that they have insanely low budgets. But that is somehow ok. A low budget for a short, memetic review or parody will be funny on the internet, but on TV, it would look ridiculous and cheap. And likewise, a slower-paced, big budget show on the internet might seem too much of an investment of attention span for internet users who are constantly trying to budget their time between millions of other videos, games, and webcomics out there.

  • Seriously Amid, what have you got against Joe Murray? I found this particular piece pretty slanted, as if you have an ax to grind with Murray. I helped in a small way to fund part of Joe’s kickstarter project because I believe in quality. I also strongly believe that no matter how much we love what we do we deserve to be paid for the content we produce. Therein lies the entire problem with web animation and creating any kind of artistic content on the internet. It’s time consuming work. Why don’t you find out what some of the cartoonists you’ve lauded here actually do to fund the time they spend on their “art”.
    I totally agree with Joe’s premise that vulgar rules when it comes to page views, popularity, and yes, even funding. I’m sad to see KaBoing TV go. It was a dream to create something unique and fun from a guy I consider to be not only a great artist but a great person. The man wrote an entire book on animation to help others learn the inside process of creating a cartoon show. It’s called giving back. Something Joe does often, especially in his blog posts. Sorry you can’t see that. But to rip Joe Murray’s dream because of some kind of apparent personal vendetta is kind of low.

    • amid

      I’ve never met Joe and most assuredly have nothing against him. When he launched Kaboing, I praised him for the idea. Now that it’s not working out, I’m offering my personal analysis of the situation.

    • Wow, that’s what you thought Amid said? That’s not what I got from the post.

      I thought his analysis was pretty accurate considering the animation environment out there today. And who MORE has an ear to the ground in that department than Amid and Jerry?

      What happened to Joe isn’t fair, he seems like a nice guy, but let’s be realistic the people have spoken.

      It wasn’t a hit. Move on.

  • Can’t fault the guy for trying. If it had become a major success, we’d all be here saying, “See? You never know!” I’m glad some of the naysayers had it all scheduled for doom before Joe had hardly started.

    I do agree, though, with the idea that traditional-style animation any longer than 2 minutes or so is going to have a hard sell on the web. I remember being amazed at how much MTV did to destroy viewers’ attentions spans. I don’t think we folks on the internet HAVE attention spans.

  • Anthony D.

    I’m so sorry this had to happen to Joe. :(

    I was actually hoping it would worked.

  • The legendary screenwriter William Goldman laid out the one hard and fast rule of the entertainment industry:

    “Nobody knows anything.”

    All the analysis and 20-20 hindsight is speculative bull. There are a million factors at play. Nobody knows what’s going to work and what isn’t – and anyone who says that they do is a fool. All you can do is pay your money, play your cards and take your chances.

    I’ve never met Joe Murray but I admire his attempt at trying to create something new and establish a new business model. Best of luck next time!

  • Matthew Koh

    After reading those comments, it kindly reminds of an episode in Rocko’s Modern Life called Wacky Delly, where everybody thinks that stupid is genius.

    “You fools! You don’t know what art is! I’ll show you!!”
    -Ralph Bighead

  • Was My Face Red

    Just a clarification, but Simons Cat isn’t the one man show it’s touted as. I’ve met several jobbing animators who have worked on it and it’s quietly backed by a major UK commercial studio. It’s still really good, but not quite the victory of one man over the machine you might think it is.

    • Ryan

      Simon Tofield being a long time director at Tandem Films. But hey, none of us get anywhere very far without anyone else. Remember that.

      • Was My Face Red

        Oh yes, of course it’s mostly a collaborative art and I love what he and they do. I just wanted to counter the often stated notion, that Amid repeats, that Simon’s Cat is one man’s cottage industry, rather than an indie working really well to build a singular vision.

  • uninformed student

    I might be wrong here…but I think there were some information architecture issues with the site. It took me a little while to figure out where the navigation was and what it meant. The site also seemed to be missing simple call to actions like “watch.”

    A lot of the descriptions for the films asked to be shared on facebook, but the button for sharing was far below the description, and you had to click a special share button to find the embedding code for facebook/other social media outlets (with the exception of a few to the right of the “share/save button,” which makes the process even more muddled.

    On top of that, when visiting the facebook page, I saw that there were few posts of just the video, or posts that said “new episode.” I got the impression that most of the facebook posts were just reviews of other animations…and then I realized they were actually part of the indie showcase. Since this seemed like a project that Joe wanted to “go viral,” giving the opportunity for users to share quickly and easily is of the utmost importance.

    Just a side note…I never saw any kind of a calendar…so I was always unsure as to when he would be updating the site with new content.

    I’ve read that Youtube will pay you (if you’re an original content creator) to have advertisements on your videos now. I’m not sure about how much pay you get…but that might have been a better avenue for Joe to try than trying to make deals with advertisers.

    Maybe in the future he could have something like a regularly updated comic and semi-regular updating cartoon.

    I applaud Joe for a valiant effort. His idea was great, but I think that the implementation was not as well thought out as it could have been. I hope to see more from him.

  • Ryan

    Folks like Harry Partridge, Egoraptor & Zurel are all excellent young guys who work hard and do some fun stuff, and there are many others. Partridge & Zurel are great ceWEBrity animations and Arin can be funny as heck. But they will all tell you themselves that the whole online animator thing is hard and that the number of hits do not equate equally to revenue. That they are alone a good deal of the time doing this stuff and a lot of the time would much rather be doing creative things with other real people in the same physical environment or space. I think that’s called a production of some sort. That or basically be back at Art/Animation school.
    The age old question of relevance here is … Can an individual artist today become popular and widely known online or in general without first pandering out some derpy, retro or post-modern interpretation of some nostalgic aura coated character from a currently or previously popular video game like Mario, or a Harry Potter fan parody or some other bandwagon bullsh*t?

    The answer is yes, but only relatively so and most of the time only within certain spheres or communities (why? because not everyone will ever have time for YOU or what YOU DO). A relatively small number of artists, most commonly those who already have some proper professional experience and chops like Adam Phillips and other ex or current studio artists prove this. They get known for their OWN stuff a lot faster, going from A to C without really having to go through B.

    Levni Yilmaz Tales of Mere Existence is just absolutely brilliant. But he has far fewer hits than those mentioned above. That and he’s not Quote “an animator” Un-Quote. More so a writer, narrator, simple cartoonist / storyboarded. But hey, I guess that more than close enough, and probably a far better & more practical approach for a single creative person to express themselves via online shorts series. But it’s his simple upfront semi-autobiographic premise and delivery of a common enough perspective in a humorous or unique way(style),which makes his simple work brilliant. If he tried to do “just another kids show” or “some wacky cartoon” of his OWN non derivative or heavily referencing nature this way and just throw it into the online void, it would likely be just another fart in the wind. To become widely popular, something either needs a great amount of TIME(Longevity or Commonality) or a great amount of SCALE(Significance or extravagance). So a lot of folks ride the coat tails of something that has either been around and has popularity via Longevity and Nostalgia, or perpetuating/parodying or supporting something that is Epic and Current. However, stuff like the youtube series Beached Az is a bit of an anomaly to my theory in some ways, but with some further investigation and pondering I believe its popularity is derived primarily from its play cultural serotype comedy, the nonsensical abstraction of its premise and its visual crudeness.
    The cultural serotype(longevity commonality of perception)
    nonsensical abstraction of its premise (A relativly fresh or “unique” story setting/set-up)
    visual crudeness (it’s chosen style / visual BRAND)

    Now deconstructing all this stuff is fine, but the major point of what I really want to stress here is that People need Other People, both to do great things and to grow and become great or greater than they already are. One man can’t make it to the Moon, let along be an Astronaut. Value each other.

  • I love Joe’s work but it was pretty darn obvious this endeavor was going to fail from the start. Something has gone horribly HORRIBLY wrong when you have someone spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on a very simple website and a FLASH CARTOON ON THE INTERNET. Especially a cartoon nobody has seen yet.

    • Ryoku

      I never did understand why or how a few flash cartoons could cost $20k to make, isn’t the idea of flash to save money and time on animation?

      • Money? Yeah. Time? Depends.
        Regardless, nothing at Kaboing should have cost 20k. Unless that’s what Tom Kenny charges for voice-acting.

      • Ryoku

        With Carlos (Rocko\Lazlo) and Tom Kenney on board that msy be where the budget went, even though they’re supposed to be friends of Joe.

        I dunno, I’m just glad that none of that money was mine.

      • Old Man Father Time

        He had other animators working on it. That’s why he needed the money. He didn’t want to rip off those who worked for him.

      • And he couldn’t animate the cartoon himself because?

      • Ryoku75

        I would say “time”, but I’ve never used flash animation.

        I have tried stop-mo, and that takes about a month to make anything presentable (and this is for a guy who isn’t in the animation industry).

        If $20k is what a few short, moderately animated flash shorts cost to make in the US its no wonder why so much work is out-sourced.

  • Ryoku

    I never was a a fan of “A Frog in a Suit”, I found the pacing to be slow, voice acting inconsistent, and the writing not so good.

    However, I did want Kaboing TV to succeed, it was a good idea and it would give animators their own spot away from the trash thats so popular on youtube.

    When it comes to being big, you can either go the easy way and make something controversial, something trendy but disposable something that parasites off of Star Wars, or the hard way and make something genuinely good.

    No offense to Spaceballs.

  • It’s a pity. I personally thought it had potential.

  • I think a valuable point of discussion would be not to just focus on what Joe did wrong – but instead what does he do next? I think it’s obvious there’s a platform for animation channels online, but there’s the issue of talented animators from pre-viral/pre-Internet eras who are struggling to figure out where they fit in this new age. Joe tried to adapt with the KaboingTV business venture and it didn’t work for him essentially because he was not viral enough in his output (viral meaning putting out lots and lots of catchy content – sometimes at the sake of quality, but we’ve all seen online how low quality can still do very well…) So what does he do next?

    I think Joe would be very well suited to working with a documentary filmmaker, particularly on the subject of the environment (which seems close to his heart) – or creating the documentary himself! Working with a filmmaker might be easier (just for the sake of not having to animate an entire film solo). Time is what I think Joe needs – he needs time to craft something well, and isn’t comfortable with rushing a job just to stay viral – and I think feature films can create a platform where you can take a year and two and it’s still pretty acceptable to take that long.

    What do you guys think? And branching off this, what suggestions would you have for a pre-viral/pre-Internet animator who’s not so well suited to the Youtube world for creating work and still keeping up with the times?

  • butt

    i thought the idea was awesome but that’s because i assumed there would be content coming in frequently, once i heard it was going to be slowly curated with slowly developed content i knew this wasn’t going to work out. theres no reason to go back to a site that doesn’t deliver new content every time you visit. having nine films to keep visitors entertained with for almost a year doesn’t drive traffic.

  • As another animator with a website of original content that has not lived up to expectations , yet has taken countless hours over years to create and has been self-funded, I can sympathize. And it sucks. While it’s easy to blame unforeseen forces for a failed project in the end one just never knows what it was. If we did then we would all be making super popular and financially successful projects every time.
    In the end I hope Murray has learned from Kaboing and, more importantly, is proud of the work he has done. I know that I have and that I am.

  • david

    As most people that work in the biz know, getting a show/selling a show is a crap shoot. Sometimes the people that get shows are just the people with big enough deluded egos to think their sh*t doesn’t stink. They will go the extra mile to push through or “hollywood” it up with execs to get that greenlight. I know tons of artists that have better ideas, better skills, who are funnier, etc. than most current show creators. They are also hard on themselves lack the “kanye west” confidence/ego to push their stuff out there.

    I think this is a case of some old show creator going to the internet thinking that because he made some show on Nick Decades ago, and another show on CN both which weren’t mega hits, but weren’t awful either, that he could easily go to the internet and make it happen. The difference he didn’t have the viacom or turner marketing and distributing super power behind him. After all you can pretty much put any turd up on TV and guess what? kids will watch it. It doesn’t make it amazing or great (cough butch hartman cough). IN fact it is proofwhen you see all these older fanboys going to see anything related to the Transformers franchise for pure nostalgia sake, even though we can agree that it’s not the pinnacle of the animation artform.

    So maybe this might be a humbling lesson for all artists. You might be hot sh*t for a couple of years with your cool show for some lame network, but 15 years later someone else is doing something newer and fresher and you are a disposable asset.

    Which is why…the indie artists on the internet who are doing their own thing not really caring about the S&P notes or what some MBA exec thinks are probably more successful. The internet is here and the freedom to do whatever you want is also here. Some people still want to cling to formula and thinking that making it big on TV legitimizes their existence in the art world. It doesn’t. Sorry Joe.

  • Tom

    If you understand so perfectly why Frog in a Suit failed, Amid, then I don’t see why you’re wasting your time here when you could be making the next big viral video.

    • I hate comments like this. I don’t need to know how to build a toilet to know when it overflows shit, and I don’t need to know how to run a toilet-building business to know that the company making overflowing toilets deserved to go out of business.

      Do you tell yourself off whenever you say “wow, that movie looked like crap,” or “this beer tastes like piss” or “that car gets terrible gas mileage?”

      And just because Amid has some idea of what constitutes a great viral video it doesn’t mean he should drop the job he has now (which he seems to be enjoying) and go into the equally hard and infinitely more risky business of making “viral” videos.

      • Oh and just to qualify my statement, I’m not saying the kaboing endeavor was shitty or pissy or crappy, the comment was actually more in response to the abuse of “if you think it sucks so much why don’t you try doing it yourself” defense, which really, is no defense at all.

      • Bob Harper

        I don’t know, I’d rather have a trained plumber fix my toilet than someone who just really enjoys reading about them and watching them flush.

        Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

  • keith lango

    Bummer to hear, but sadly nobody is owed anything. Audiences are customers. They want something. You want their money. Or you want to sell their attention to somebody else for money. Either way, the single lynch-pin in the entire chain is *what the customer wants*. If you don’t like to make what the customer wants you have a few choices. A) Get out of the business B) get different customers C) swallow your pride and make it anyway. If one chooses to go with D)–ignore what the customer wants and make what you want anyhow — that really is just an expensive way to arrive at choice A, probably with a bit of a bitterness fueled drinking problem thrown in for fun. :)

    As an aside, if audience acceptance is what you’re after then I think it better to come up with 10 less expensive ideas to try out and react to than it is to lovingly craft 1 expensive idea. At best maybe 1 out of 10 ideas has a chance of catching on (the odds are probably worse, but I’m trying to give the benefit of the doubt based on previous skill and success). While trying ten things is no guarantee of success, you do help your odds a good bit by trying smaller experiments and iterating upon the results. A better use of the money probably would have been 20 short (and different) 1 minute ideas. Still no guarantee, but a wiser tactic nonetheless. That’s the take away I get from all this…

  • larry

    I thought the first episode was really funny, I guess the rest of it could be considered more a tv cartoon.

    I think Joe was trying make a business model of professional studios creating new animation content specifically for the internet.Im guessing something like Charlie The Unicorn would be made for nothing by one guy on a computer at his home,so whatever it made, it would be a profit.

  • larry

    I just like to add, how come you havent done articles on John.K’s projects that go nowhere? Like the George Liquor Show sponsored by Pontiac Vibe.

    • [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “Be considerate and respectful of others in the discussion. Defamatory, rude, or unnecessarily antagonistic comments will be deleted.” If you have a criticism, be constructive and mature.”]

    • Jorge Garrido

      There’s a big difference between the significance of a series and a failed network. One failed series isn’t going to change the industry. One new and effective distribution model or channel could have. Unfortunately, it didn’t. But someone’s gonna crack that nut soon. It might be Youtube, who are commiting to original series and channels on YouTV.

  • I think Amid nailed it. Todays audience for content wants short funny videos and they want then frequently. To make original cartoons and gain an internet audience you have to give up the freelance, give up going out, and when you get home from your day job spend hours and hours creating content. For animators that know Flash it’s easy. But you still have to write, do voices, SFX, editing–it’s not easy–then you have to go into promo mode,–press, marketing, social media, hitting up blogs, emailing friends, hope it gets traction—then make the next video or cartoon. To be a success on youtube you really need to upload once a week, then send out press releases, and hit up blogs–over and over. You have to become a one man studio with a marketing plan. Short and funny cartoons will make a splash on the YOUTUBE front. Anything that follows the studio/TV model is DOOMED! You have to think out of the box. Mondo Media, TOMSKA, RayWilliamJohnson, Your Favorite Martian, these are other examples of people who are getting millions of views. Like it or not, they’re building fanbases–and that’s what advertisers want. With YOUTUBE’s partner program we’re seeing the beginnings of a money making model for short content. The short film was NEVER considered a way to make money–Now a way to do that exists–by monetizing on YOUTUBE and becoming a partner, building a fanbase, and selling merch. It’s not easy–but it can be done. http://www.tubefilter.com is like THE SOUP for YOUTUBE. They follow people who create original content for YT. Worth checking out.

  • Kieran Pertnav

    I don’t think the problem with the internet is that it’s conformist, or a slave to pop culture, or even that it’s immature. The thing about the internet is that it appeals to the kind of audience that wouldn’t follow something like Frog in a Suit. Yes, there are endless Star Wars, Pokemon and videogame parodies, but honestly, the FilmCow shorts for the most part don’t rely on pop culture at all. They are incredibly out there, with their own brand of humor that audiences respond to. It’s the kind of humor that’s so weird mainstream audiences wouldn’t have gotten it when it was on TV, but on the internet, it works, and that’s the beauty of it.
    The problem with Frog in a Suit was that, in addition to the issues with the animation and the fact that it was a bit slow, is that the humor wasn’t particularly surprising, or out there, or different. I tried to watch it because I’m all for bringing animation back to America and seeing more traditional cartoons, but truthfully, I don’t think it had what it takes. Frog in a Suit isn’t just too slow for the internet, it’s almost too slow for TV.
    For example- look at Adventure Time, a show that is often praised for its crazy ideas, whacky animation, quirky humor and overall fun nature. Its humor is so twisted and so out-there that a few years ago few would have guessed that it would become Cartoon Network’s highest rated show. But look how it’s taken off on the internet and on TV. It was done in the traditional studio process, made as a TV pilot, but it clicked with audiences. I appreciate Steve Scheiner’s quote from Goldman about how no one knows anything- the elements that made Adventure Time successful were impossible to predict, but it had them and it took off. Now people expect a similar level of whackiness from their TV cartoons.
    Now let’s take an example that most readers of this blog are very familiar with- Ren and Stimpy. John K. hated the studio system and did everything he could to fight against it. He revolutionized the industry and made the creator-driven storyboarded cartoon the new standard. But outside the animation circle, honestly, no one cares about what John K. did for the animation system. They care about “you eeeeediot” and “happy happy joy joy” and Muddy Mudskipper. It’s the jokes and the characters that make the show, not the system. Be it on TV or on the internet, the show has to have that unique, unpredictable, creative X factor that it needs to survive.
    When Camp Lazlo was on TV, I really wanted to like it. It seemed to have all the right ingredients, but I just found it boring. It was too conservative- the animation, the humor, the characters- none of it was particularly daring or out of the box. John K. had a similar affection for retro cartoons and old-fashioned production that Joe Murray demonstrates in his work, but he went all-out in his show and took risks.
    Frog in A Suit is a decidedly un-risky cartoon, which is ironically why it failed. You can’t start a revolution on the internet by creating a product that is restrained and traditional. That’s why Adventure Time and Charlie the Unicorn found a place among “immature youth-culture” videos like lolcats and so-on. Culture is always changing, and the previous generation always frowns upon the changes, but ultimately a good cartoon transcends culture and trends with the timelessness of its ideas and the quality of its execution. Frog in a Suit, sadly, did not have those things.

  • Dirge

    I commend Murray for at least trying, which is a hell of a lot more than most people do.

    But trying to build this thing from nothing was too ambitious. He should have partnered up with a distributor like Mondo Media or another already established YouTube channel.

  • :: smo ::

    wow i actually had no idea that was online! i totally missed it. another big part of the internet is social media and continually advertising. it’s tough to gain traction and i mean there’s a lot of really lame content on the internet that does well simply because of people passing it around.

    i wish i’d heard about this sooner!

  • Dr. Truth

    I actually think frog in a suit is “pretty good”. I think kaboing tv failed becuase murray hyped it up as the next big thing only to……..post a student film once every two months that were already on youtube. WHAT??
    not much of an “alternative to the mainstream”.

    His heart was in the right place he just didn’t DO anything with kaboing tv.

    Murray has a generation of talented animators that grew up liking his cartoons. he didn’t trully stress a universal casting call for short, ORIGINAL cartoons, writers for weekly shorts, article contributors ect….

    It seems rather odd that he didn’t think to take the frog in a suit character and do some sort of weekly flash show. And by that I mean like some sort of content that can be produced on the cheap and aire once a week or once every two weeks. People do it all the time.
    I really do think the frog in a suit character itself has real potential.

    Joe if you are reading this. Don’t give up on the character. Just think of a way to use him in shorter bursts.

    I have to say though. It’s a stroke of genius that he released a book, waited for it to do well, then said “if you liked the book, you can pay me 5 thousand dollars and take my “class” to draw just like me.” The classes filled up faster than antics ensuing on rocko’s laundry day. that’s smart business!! i will give him that!

    • Gamanimation

      I’d just like to, respectfully; chime in about the classes. I personally took both, and to describe them as mere lessons to “draw just like Joe” is deceiving. It almost sounds as if it was a money grabbing scheme, which is NOT TRUE.

      What the classes are about is developing characters, and storytelling for a series or short film. Which are aspects that; as important as they are, often are overlooked in other animation education offerings. The class is a valuable opportunity for upcoming artists to benefit from Joe’s experience and insight.

      You might not remember, but the book was compiled from materials he gave away for FREE on his blog until the publisher asked to take them down. So it is smart, and ethical business indeed.

  • Rajesh

    I can’t believe I’m seeing comments saying he failed because he refused to reduce the quality of the show in order to produce them more often.

    While Flash is a tool, and you can do amazing things with it a la Nick Cross or Harry Partridge, more often than not, you get sloppy drawings and lazy tweening.

    With Flash (and YouTube), profitable animation that is crap is the rule, not the exception.

    Encouraging animated content to be more “Flash” like and YouTube friendly is what many of these creators are trying to get away from.

    Not every creator cares about that kind of popularity because that kind of popularity often means sacrificing the very things they’re trying to create.

    While I agree with Amid’s original point – don’t blame others, I’m just shocked to see people advocating lowering the quality in order to succeed.

    That kind of success isn’t success at all.

    I hope Joe learns from his mistakes and keeps moving forward. His heart was in the right place.

  • Taco Wiz

    The reason this failed is because of a misunderstanding of how the internet works. No successful internet personality starts up with the intention of being an overnight success. What happens is people who enjoy making cartoons or videos decide to share what they’ve made on a YouTube channel. Sometimes they get a few hundred subscribers, sometimes they get a few thousand.

    Lucas Cruishank, or YouTube’s “Fred”, never intended to be a celebrity. He made home videos featuring him as wacky characters for several years prior to the Fred series. The reason he created the channel, believe it or not, was to easily share the videos with his friends and family. His success was a complete accident.

    The internet is a platform where no matter who you are, what you’ve made will have no advantage over that of competing content makers, if you can even call them that. If you actually WANT your internet videos to be a success, you’re already doomed to fail.

  • Blake

    Whenever Joe Murray gets another show on T.V it’s going to blow the hell up. So I tip my hat to you sir , you gave it your all.

    Now go make another masterpiece like Rocco and Lazlo.

  • SJ

    Maybe wishful thinking but the way Kaboing was hyped, I imagined it as a streaming cartoon channel, or at least more variety like Channel Frederator. Then to see it was just another site with an embedded youtube… meh.

    As far as comparisons with internet artists – Should Joe Murry’s “Frog in a Suit” have been more like Joe Cartoon’s “Frog in a Blender”? Nah. As others have said, at least he tried. Hope he does again.

  • CW

    This makes me sad.
    I agree with a lot of the comments regarding what is popular now on the internet. Simon’s Cat is brilliant.
    But, I also think that this is a fickle business and there really isn’t a formula for success. It’s always a gamble to put new content out. Networks bet on shows every day that fail. Any time someone makes an effort to try something new, it’s commendable. There are many failures before success and it’s important to support the efforts. Especially in the animation community where artists get very little respect in the entertainment industry.
    Hopefully this will spawn new ideas for making a creator owned network. As of now, that doesn’t exist.

  • I thought that maybe Joe was shut down by the manufacturers of the hot cereal with maple flavoring that was hawked to kids by once-famous cartoon spokescharacter “Marky Maypo”…the twin brother of KABOING TV’s cowboy hat-wearing mascot!

  • larry

    Hey, looks like its not kaput, you’re wrong again.


    • amid

      I wrote that Kaboing has come to a “virtual standstill,” which would be an honest assessment for anyone who has followed the site. He hasn’t posted new content in 4 months, and no original shorts in 10 months.

      I also never said the site was finished, and even quoted him as saying the site was “at a crossroads.” If your concern is about the word “kaput” used in the title of the post, bear in mind the word has many meanings. Per the dictionary, it may mean “unable to function” and “hopelessly outmoded,” both of which are accurate descriptions of Kaboing’s business model.

      A final thought: despite Murray’s claims that we’re attacking him, in the past five days since we’ve posted this article, the Kaboing network has experienced more than five percent of ALL its video traffic to date.

      • larry

        I dunno Amid, if you follow his blog, he sounds like he’s toying with several other ideas/models for the channel that we are yet to see.I wouldn’t write Kaboing off yet,nobody can say truly what another person is capable of, especially if you dont know the guy.

    • Anthony D.

      That makes me feel better. Happy to hear it’s not kaput (word intended).

      Keep the dream going, Joe. :)

  • Julian

    In an ideal world, everyone would put their ideas on the internet (be them short,cheap, and quickly thought up or 20 minuets, high quality, and well written) and get the audience who likes it. But in an ideal world we would also have no war, disease, and conflict. There is fantasy and reality. I can see where Joe is coming from (I too have ideas and would love to make a success distributing them the way he was going to), but I see that is likely not going to happen and best I look at other methods and compromises. I think the problem with Joe is he has had two TV shows and probably felt he was invincible to failure, especially in a place where it seems you can upload anything and get famous overnight. He also tells people to just let everything go and be an artist, but being a college student in 2012 with commitments and financial obligations, I just can’t do that. But he doesn’t seem to understand when we tell him. Not blaming him, Tv is a pretty big deal and I would most likely feel the same way if I was in his position. But than again, that’s most likely his problem with Kaboing TV. I share his opinion that most of that “shitting rainbows” stuff is rubbish, but I see the reality that 12 year olds unsupervised online (jackpot audience) are going to go for it. I’m not trying to sound like some snide professional analyzer of everything, but I can not honestly say I feel he sees it as well.

    • Gamanimation

      No disrespect Julian, but a guy that it’s married and has 2 daughters to send to college is not in a comfortable position to let everything go and be an idealistic artist. And yet he does.

      The problem is not Joe. Is that nobody knows how the heck to fund and produce professional content to be distributed and monetized through the internet. Hollywood doesn’t know it, and fights the internet with SOPA like initiatives. Silicon Valley doesn’t know and funds YouTube stars to make more of what they do: Derivative parodies, and non-narrative weirdness. (With honorable exceptions.)

      Nobody knows, everybody should be trying to find out. KaboingTV is one attempt of many more to come IMHO.

      • Julian

        None taken, I see what you’re saying. There are things like Mondo and Frederator, and netflix seems to take anything over 20 minutes. But yea, it still isn’t really an alternative. Maybe in the future, computers will become standardly faster and there could be web channels that stream like TV channels, and be profitable for the longer and more professional stuff. But who knows?