Rebecca Sugar Rebecca Sugar

Rebecca Sugar Is Cartoon Network’s First Solo Woman Show Creator

I don’t know how I missed this press release, but last month, Cartoon Network announced that they will produce two new series: Peter Browngardt’s Uncle Grandpa, based on a popular pilot of the same name that Browngardt made a few years ago, and Rebecca Sugar’s Steven Universe.

The latter announcement is particularly significant for an ignominious reason: this marks the first time in Cartoon Network’s twenty-year history that they have greenlit a children’s entertainment series created by a solo woman creator. It’s a little too early to start celebrating the fact that Cartoon Network is producing a show by a woman, but it does represent a baby step in the right direction.

Sugar is also among the new generation of creators who established a reputation online before attracting the attention of the animation industry. Contrast this to the path of animation creators past (Seth MacFarlane, Genndy Tartakovsky, John Kricfalusi) when artists remained largely anonymous to the public before being made famous by their shows. It’s a turning point in animation culture—artists no longer need the reach of a network to establish a fanbase, and further, networks now mostly react to trending artists instead of launch new careers.

It’s been particularly gratifying to watch Rebecca Sugar’s meteoric rise to fame because Cartoon Brew was the first major media outlet to promote her work — all the way back in 2007 when she was a twenty-year-old animation student in New York who enjoyed making whimsically dirty drawings of famous cartoon characters. At that time, I wrote, “Rebecca Sugar is ridiculously talented…she’s certainly an artist with a bright future ahead of her.” We’ve been following her development ever since, and selected her thesis film Singles for our annual Student Animation Festival in 2009.

After graduating from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, Sugar moved to Los Angeles where she began working as a writer, storyboard artist and songwriter on the series Adventure Time. Sugar’s new show Steven Universe is a “coming-of-age story told from the perspective of Steven, the youngest member of a team of magical Guardians of the Universe.” Who knows what it all means, but with Rebecca at the helm, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for this one.

  • I’m especially proud to be one of her earliest fans and an owner of original art by her featuring my characters.

  • yes.

  • That’s great news!

  • “First Solo Woman Show Creator”

    That’s DEFINITELY a feat to be proud of. Best of luck!

  • Gotta say bravo to her!

  • Jenny Lerew

    She sure can draw crazy/beautiful. Can’t wait to see what the show’s like. Kudos to her!

  • “The Modifyers” was a Cartoon Network pilot, yes? Too bad Lynne Naylor didn’t take this honor first… But good cartoons are good cartoons, no matter who makes ’em, and I wish Sugar decades of good luck.

    • Even if that had happened, Naylor wasn’t a solo creator. She did it with her husband Chris Reccardi. There are actually a lot of shows with husband-wife creative teams (Mighty B!, Teacher’s Pet, My Gym Partner’s a Monkey). Solo women creators are much more rare.

      • Kieran Pertnav

        I’m pretty sure The Modifyers was a Nickelodeon pilot.

        • Drachir

          So was Adventure Time! Lmfao

  • robert alvarez

    She is also very nice to work with. Congratulations again.

  • This is absolutely fantastic news, I can’t wait to see the work she produces.

  • Julian

    Looks like she does an amazing job at art and animation, glad to finally see a sole woman creator come into the tv business. Also glad to see she actually cares about what she does, and is getting the show because of that and not because she’s a woman. Look forward to seeing her show.

    I want Rebecca Sugar to conquer the universe. All of it.

  • I’m interested in seeing her work that was described in your first post about her, but it seems to be no longer hosted anywhere?

  • Fuck yes, I love her stuff. Singles has always stuck in my mind as one of my favorite shorts. I couldn’t think of a more exciting artist to get their own show.

  • Saw her thesis at Animation Block Party a few years back and loved it. I’m really psyched to see she is going to be getting her own show and that she is paving the way for women in animation. YOU GO GIRL!

  • Crystal

    I’m excited for this too! I love her work! I recently read Pug Davis and it moved me a lot! (and Don’t Cry for Me when Cartoon Brew shared it) I was disappointed that at CN’s last upfront, all their new animated shows were based off successful properties instead of original works, but I’m looking forward to this! Hope we can see some character designs soon! Hope it also has voice actors!

    I wonder if Sugar will ever want to adapt Pug Davis to animation . . .

  • Rebecca is an animator in the truest sense of the term. She’s also a great sister.

  • Jules

    Rebecca Sugar deserves it. She the real deal – no relentless self-promoter, she has loads of fresh talent with just enough experience to knock it out of the park without fretting at every turn that she may not be perceived as playing ball with her corporate parent. This is the start of something big and for once, something right.

  • Wow she can animate! Singles is very well done organic en very well drawn.
    but i don’t think i like uncle grandpa… but hey maybe it wil be cool

  • Smo

    She totally deserves it! Her work is amazing!

  • Rachel T

    Sending Rebecca all the luck in the world! She’s a great talent and a great person. Can’t wait to see what’s sure to be a classic.

  • Rebecca deserves EVERYTHING! Such a talent. This is fantastical news, bravo! :D

  • Gray64

    All congratulations to Ms.Sugar! Good luck to her.

    One minor quibble with Amid here…while animation fans and those in the animation industry undoubtedly know Gennedy Tartakovsky and John K’s names, I really doubt they come anywhere near approaching “household names,” and Seth MacFarlane is only now edging his way into the collective consciousness.

  • Rachel

    She went to sva? Could she also be the first creator of a children’s animation that went to a school in the us that wasn’t calarts?

  • Rufus

    YES! YES YES! Rebecca Sugar is a GENIUS! Couldn’t be more proud of this moment in animation history!

  • C

    Can’t wait to see the show!

  • Cool! I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!

  • hitface

    I am so SO happy. I love Rebecca Sugar!
    Will she no longer board adventure time then? That makesme a tiny bit sad because the episode she story boards have so much more expression and emotion, you can tell when an episode has had her influence..
    I remember years ago on deviant art we quoted tom waits lyrics at eachother.
    She is so wonderful, I am about to deteriorate into sludge.

  • michael

    Rebecca sugar is NOT the first female solo creator of cartoon network, Cristy hu is with shoalin showdown. That’s all.

    • Though it may have aired on the network, Xiaolin Showdown was not a Cartoon Network-produced show. It was produced at Warner Bros. Animation.

  • Brianna Jonson

    This is great to hear. This is nice to know, as I am, an upcoming animator trying to get my work out there.

  • Ninty

    This doesn’t happen often, does it? At least, in America. I feel like most of our stuff is made by men. Japan might be more balanced in terms of the number of female, animated show creators.

  • cat stevens

    this is good for her but…Adventure Time is really going down since she left..I hope she comes back.