The End of the Creator-Driven Era in TV Animation

The Hub, a network owned partly by toy company Hasbro, launched a little over a week ago with new animated series including Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Bitty Adventures, G.I. Joe: Renegades, and My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. The network’s debut closes the curtain on what has commonly been referred to as the creator-driven era of TV animation, which lasted from approximately the early-1990s through the late-2000s. During this two-decade span, the balance of creative control in TV animation favored artists for the first time since the early-1960s, and artists exercised vast influence over the visual style, writing, and overall direction of TV shows. It was a fertile period that spawned dozens of lasting cartoon stars and series, many of which are still as popular today as when they first debuted ten or twenty years ago.

What clearer death knell for creator-driven animation than the reemergence of Margaret Loesch. After running Hanna-Barbera and Marvel Productions in the 1980s, and Fox Kids through the mid-1990s, her influenced waned in animation during the height of the creator-driven movement, but now she is back in the driver’s seat as president and CEO of the Hub.

Watching names like Rob Renzetti and Lauren Faust pop up in the credits of a toy-based animated series like My Little Pony is an admission of defeat for the entire movement, a white flag-waving moment for the TV animation industry. The signs have been there for a long time, however, and the Hub is but one indicator in the precipitous decline of creator-driven content, whose demise was hurried along by Cartoon Network and its decision to relaunch with large amounts of live-action programming. The erosion of support for creator-driven animation happened gradually but surely, and today networks clearly prefer established properties over original ideas, and dislike dealing with individual artists who have a clear creative vision.

Nobody denies that the Hub’s shows will perform well and fulfill the programming needs of the network. But then again, nobody suggested that Smurfs, Snorks and Pound Puppies wouldn’t do well in the 1980s either. The reason that creators like John Kricfalusi, Matt Groening, Mike Judge, John Dilworth, Craig McCracken, Genndy Tartakovsky, Danny Antonucci, Bruce Timm, Trey Parker, and Matt Stone stepped up to the plate originally wasn’t because animation was performing poorly. It was because these artists had a vision for the art form that was more inspired, more vital and more consistently creative than those of executives like Loesch; they aspired to create BETTER cartoons instead of simply acquiescing to committee-driven mandates that underutilized their skill and talent.

The creator-driven mentality stubbornly exists among a group of hold-outs and idealists (Pen Ward’s Adventure Time, Devin Clark’s Ugly Americans, Christy Karacas’ Superjail! to name a few), but their numbers will continue to shrink in the coming years. As TV audiences become more fragmented, and advertisers shift ad dollars away from TV, networks will increasingly rely on worn but reliable formulas. They will demand only the surest bets–Looney Tunes revivals, TV series based on feature film characters (The Penguins of Madagascar is already on Nick and Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness is coming soon), shows based on live-action films (Napoleon Dynamite is headed to Fox), and the toy-based ideas that comprise the largest portion of the Hub’s animation programming.

This paint-by-numbers approach to executive management guarantees consistency, but eliminates the rich rewards stemming from the breakout animation hits that defined the creator-driven era. It also explains why so many networks are still coasting on the fumes of their earlier creator-driven successes: this month, the eleven-year-old show SpongeBob Squarepants ranked as Nickelodeon’s top-rated program, thirteen-year-old South Park is still Comedy Central’s best known animation product, MTV is reviving its 1992 creation Beavis and Butt-head, and Fox would not have a Sunday evening if not for its two vintage juggernauts, The Simpsons and Family Guy, which have existed for a combined thirty years. To be totally clear too, these are not retro-fads–these shows have been successful since they first debuted, just as theatrical cartoon stars during animation’s Golden Age often enjoyed popularity over multiple generations.

Do networks and producers deserve to shoulder the blame entirely? That thought was on my mind as I read this quote recently by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails describing his approach to creativity: “I really try to put myself in uncomfortable situations. Complacency is my enemy.” From my perspective, complacency and creative stagnation amongst creators of TV animation has been at the root of the problem.

During the past decade, too many creators compromised their vision to get shows onto air, and too many creators didn’t take advantage of the opportunity once they had shows. In the early-’90s, creators held the attitude that they had been given a once-in-a-lifetime chance to write their own ticket, and they were going to use the moment to make the most amazing cartoon series possible. That vision turned blurrier in recent years. Selling a show became in and of itself a symbol of accomplishment among a subsequent generation of self-satisfied artists whose shows consistently failed to entertain audiences.

There’s an upside to all of this. As one era wraps up, I believe we are entering a new (and even more exciting) period–that of the independent, multi-platform artist. The entire concept of creator-driven is redundant at a time when digital technology has made animation production accessible to all. Everybody creates equally today; for something to not be creator-driven is the anomaly. People make entire Web animated series from the comfort of their bedroom and become famous for it.

As more artists choose animation as a career, they will find themselves unattached to specific distribution formats as in the past. Fewer artists in the future will say, “I want to work in TV animation,” or “My goal is features.” These mindsets belong to a bygone time when television and theaters held a disproportionate sway over other modes of content distribution.

Today’s artist has become as fluid and fragmented as the art form itself. An artist might work on a commercial one month, a TV show another, a Web cartoon series the next. And then comes an animated series for cell phones, a music video, a theatrical short, background visuals for a live performance, and an insert for a live-action documentary. The scene I’m describing is one that is undoubtedly familiar to East Coast animators and many artists working in Europe, and it is spreading.

This new breed of animation artist will pounce at an invitation to work on a TV series should it present itself, but they will not commit themself to a specific format at the expense of their artistic integrity. While everybody loves a steady paycheck, today’s artist can afford to be adventurous because there is more animation being produced than ever before and opportunities lie around every corner.

At the end of the day, TV animation isn’t going anywhere, and future Margaret Loesches will still find plenty of willing peons to fulfill their orders for extended toy commercials. But the overall trends are becoming more clear every day. Current market conditions and general conservatism in TV animation continue to erode the quality of series animation, especially content-wise. The creator-driven movement has all but flamed out, and few hit shows or perennial cartoon stars have emerged in the last five years. Most importantly, talented young artists are deserting TV as a full-time career option, not only because there are fewer promising opportunities for creators, but because the animation ecosystem beyond television is healthier and more diverse than ever before.


  • Erin Siegel

    You might be crying the end of creator driven animation, but I can see the influence of their creative spark all over this show. True, it’s a toyetic show, but this isn’t a return to 80s schlock. There’s production value, design, plot, and effort put into the characters’ personalities. Somebody cared about what they were doing and at least tried to make what was otherwise a mind-melting show into something the modern girl could enjoy. Even as an adult, I’m watching this and (despite the cheese factor) can’t say I hate it. I’ve seen MUCH worse come out of Nickelodeon, Disney, and Cartoon Network.

    Basically this is the best reboot of the Pony brand I’ve seen ever. Hell this is probably going to be the best example of a show that brand has to offer. Transformers had a few great shows during the 90s and naughts (Beast Wars was remarkably well written). Maybe MLP can do the same for itself.

    • Karl Hungus

      And all the returns go to a giant corporation that owns the property. Not any artists. Not an independent studio. That’s one of the main injustices that Amid is explaining here.

      • optimist

        How many shows/artists have ever “own[ed] the property”? How many? Even Spumco didn’t.

        So list them. Groening? MacFarland? The various guys of Cartoon Network(hardly a small “independent”)?

        Animation artists do have a much better chance of directly disseminating their work, that’s a happy fact of the online age. There’s just not a steady income and/or a substantial amount of money in that area. Until a large company(or “giant corporation”) bankrolls an individual in one way or another.

      • Karl Hungus

        Creators of shows are granted residuals, often quite substantial, for the rest of their lives when they have created a property. All sales of media formats, rebroadcasts and a cut of merchandising are the returns for creating soemthing that resonates with the public and sells.

        At the Hub, no artist will ever receive ANY of those returns, because the property belongs to the corporation. And the corporation – the committee of mega company executives who have fallen upward in that ineffective bloated system will be making the decisions that create the vision(or complete lack thereof) for the show.

        How many creators get a cut of residuals? All of them. They created the show. Steven Hilenberg signed a deal with Nickelodeon for “Spongebob Squarepants” that was comically generous because the suits didn’t expect the show to find any success. Also worth noting, the childrens show ‘Yo Gabba Gabba’ is owned in entirety by the company that created it, Wildbrain, and hey have all the rights to merchandise as well.

    • http://www.taberanimation.com Taber Dunipace

      Upon reading this I thought there would be no way this could be any good, but I really have to agree. Upon watching the episode, it really does seem well thought out and executed. We can only hope the rest of the shows will be as good.

    • http://williamschar.net William

      Beast Wars is incredible, but it too benefited from the creator driven period. The networks took a hands off approach to the show, allowing Mainframe entertainment to produce the show their way, developing deep characters with 3-dimensional characters that rivaled their 3d cg look.

      If you look at Mainframes later attempts, you’ll see a marked decline in quality. That they didn’t recapture until the did the two Reboot revival mini series, still left unfinished.

      I can actually remember the moment when I saw animation going down hill. It was when Disney bought ABC and started trodding out it’s “one saturday morning” schlock, and the sale of WB network to UPN, then becoming the CW, which completely gutted the great cartoon programming that was left on WB. though by that time the quality in programs had dropped. I thought Cartoon Network was going to save animation, and it looked like it had. But when i see reality tv shows on CARTOON NETWORK, a little piece of my childhood dies inside. Adventure Time, Flapjack, Venture Bros. and Metalocalypse are my the only rays of hope for that network.

  • Bobo

    Most importantly, talented young artists are deserting TV as a full-time career option, not only because there are fewer promising opportunities for creators, but because the animation ecosystem beyond television is healthier and more diverse than ever before.

    Wow, I LOVE IT! That was a speech that needs to be engraved in all young artist heads. I’m sick of the crap that studios that make up on why you don’t fit it or why they can’t hire you. I’m sick of the politics that comes with it (who you know, not what you know). TV animation WILL be dead soon. Kids are watching their Ipods before their TV sets.

    Amen for the internet! I’m book marking this page because when I get down for not finding work, I’ll read this post. Internet cartoons are the way to go!

  • http://www.bishopanimation.com Floyd Bishop

    I think there are two issues here: The need to make money, and the need to be creative.

    Sometimes animators have to pay their bills. You just have to. You take the work you can get, and you do the best you can with it, working within the constraints to make the most creative and artistic thing possible. This animation looks better than I expected it to, given your long post, and it looks like the animators are being as creative as possible within the confines of the project. This is not a skill that everyone has the talent or patience for.

    Take the work you can and live to fight the good fight another day. Work on side projects, pitch your own stuff like crazy, but keep the dollars coming through the door. Survive.

    There are many worse projects out there than anything the Hub has planned (I would guess), and given the clip you’ve posted, the My Little Pony show doesn’t look half bad. There are worse ways to pay your rent and feed your kids.

    On to the issue of creator driven animation.

    The salad days of tv animation are gone. The internet and self distribution is the only way to get creator driven stuff out there now. We need a modern equivalent to Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera to take us from the MGM Tom & Jerry to the TV Yogi Bear. Some artists need to show the way for the rest that are too slow, scared, incapable of finding the way for themselves. If animators rely on networks or execs to do that for them, then they’re out of luck.

    • amid

      Floyd wrote, There are many worse projects out there than anything the Hub has planned (I would guess), and given the clip you’ve posted, the My Little Pony show doesn’t look half bad. There are worse ways to pay your rent and feed your kids.

      Floyd – Thank you for your thoughtful and well-reasoned argument. However, if I may add a few counterarguments. What do kids have anything to do with this? All the animation greats, from Freddy Moore to the Nine Old Men to John Hubley, Chuck Jones and Bob Clampett had kids. When the history books are written, exceptions aren’t granted because an artist’s financial situation was less than ideal or he had x number of kids or alimony payments to make.

      Your description of My Little Pony as not looking half-bad and justification of “there are worse projects out there” reflects the general feeling of malaise and resignation that currently permeates throughout LA.

      None of the creators I mentioned above – John K, Groening, Judge, Tartakovsky, McCracken, etc. would have been caught dead working on something like My Little Pony during the early-90s. They fought to put those dark days behind them, and for the most part, they did for a couple decades. It’s true that corporate product existed during the creator-driven era as well, but for those who wanted to perform on a higher level in the TV industry, many options existed.

      The industry has regressed back to its earlier state and all the gains made by an earlier generation have been lost by young artists working in TV. I believe that can largely be attributed to the fact that the best and brightest artists no longer choose to work in TV and instead pursue the indie, multi-platform path which I describe above.

      • Reach Out

        Amid, please see Hugh MacLeod’s “Sex & Cash Theory”
        http://gapingvoid.com/2004/03/25/the-sex-cash-theory/

      • http://www.bishopanimation.com FloydBishop

        I’m not saying that people with kids should work EXCLUSIVELY on projects like this, but that because they have kids (and the financial and stability issues that come with them), they may sometimes NEED to work on projects like this that pay the bills. Any human that needs to pay rent, eat, etc needs to work. The whole time they are on a show like this, they can be working on their own thing. It’s a means to an end.

        On a tv series like this, you can sometimes learn new production processes, workflows, and meet colleagues that you can later team up with and really do something great. This is all being done on someone else’s dime, and feeding you and your family at the same time. Yes, you can make money driving a fork lift at Home Depot, or stocking shelves at the Ralph’s, but the connections you make and skills you learn there won’t help you later with your own projects.

        John K and many others worked on a lot of less than ideal projects before they did their own creator driven projects, and they’d be the first to tell you that. Before “Ren & Stimpy” was John K’s creator driven show, he did work on animated series like “Pac Man” and “The Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour”. Those shows looked much worse than the “My Little Pony” show clip you linked to.

        The point is that for whatever reason, shows like this are where the money is right now. Animators need to eat. Animators can take those jobs, and use that money to make something truly great. Do I wish networks and execs would greenlight more creator driven stuff? Yeah. They’re not going to though, for many of the reasons you’ve already listed.

        Should animators wait for things to change? No. Rather than boycott working on something like this, take the money and do something amazing with it. Eat and survive to create something great. It’s not easy. The next Ren & Stimpy or Powerpuff Girls could be right around the corner… most likely on the internet.

      • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

        If I recall from last time, Amid doesn’t believe we should blame our families for having to take on below average projects.

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

      The next time Floyd Bishop pops into one of my threads on CGTalk to ridicule artists’ work that isn’t up to his very lofty, cutting-edge CG standards I’m going to remember this thread where he’s endorsing the look of… “My Little Pony”

      If someone who’s not gate-keeper approved dips their toe into CG, Floyd Bishop is ready to swat them down. But he is eager to go to bat for a blight like… “My Little Pony”?

      And we ponder why the biz is going in such absurd directions?

      • http://www.bishopanimation.com Floyd Bishop

        What? I’ve been in the industry for over 12 years now. I do guest speaking, mentoring, and I teach part time. I’d like to think I help people get a leg up rather than swat them down. What threads are you talking about specifically?

  • Rooniman

    My heart is broken.

  • Niccolo

    amid,

    y’know, I read a few of your posts on here from time to time, and I’m usually all “yeah that’s just his opinion, no worries” but sometimes I get the feeling you just post some of these clearly flaming articles just to get a rise out of people.

    I don’t know what kind of fantasy post-apocolyptic world you live in atm, or if being in new york is keeping you out-of touch with the real world. But to make blanket statements that all creator driven work is now over because of these handful of new shows is, well, pretty facetious. I doubt anyone is going to take anything you say seriously anymore after this book-long diatribe.

    Y’know, my little pony is for girls, and it actually looks good and the characters have some personality, sure it’s also based on toys, and is a way to sell toys, but then so is he-man. Are you saying that unless it’s made for boys, it’s more or less garbage for the trash-pile of cultural history? if that’s the case you are no better than a lot of animation execs.

    My little pony is made for girls, a target audience that has long gone unapprecated in western animation for a while now. You are not it’s target audience, so stop your whingeing and pull your head in. Writing posts purely to the point of trying to goad people into attacking you is childish and pathetic.

    • amid

      Niccolo, Your point is well taken, but keep in mind that I view my role as not explaining what is happening today, but to try and think about where animation is headed in the next ten to fifteen years. If the scenarios I describe sound odd, it’s because I’m describing more than what is happening at this exact moment.

      Read carefully what I said. I acknowledge that My Little Pony fulfills a certain need within the industry. But there is more depth to the story than simply stating, “This is a better than average toy based cartoon.” (And frankly, I’d even argue that it’s not. Although the style is sleeker, the production values are hardly more advanced than anything produced in the ’80s.)

      Because of Cartoon Brew, I speak with an incredibly diverse and large number of people who work in all facets of the industry. I think about it a lot and try to synthesize it into something more tangible. If you’re right in the middle of the action, it may be harder to take a macro view of the dynamic shifts currently occurring throughout the animation world.

    • Jeremy Knight

      I’m not usually siding with Amid’s offensive monologues, but damn, implying that he-man was good? Or that another extended toy commercial is somehow better because it’s targeted to an untapped demographic?

      Good points, Amid, and I completely agree about the importance of web animation for future artists.

    • http://mymedicatedlife.blogspot.com/ Bitter Animator

      My Little Pony is not made for girls. It’s made for toy sales.

      • Scarabim

        And the classic show “Linus the Lionhearted” was made to sell cereal – but it was one of the funniest Saturday morning cartoons ever made, blessed with the talents of famous funnyman/actors Sheldon Leonard and Carl Reiner. Who cares where the inspiration of a show comes from, if it’s rendered with care, art and wit and the end product is good entertainment? I wouldn’t care if a show was made based on Chester Cheetah if the animation was good and the scripting were solid. That Pony show is one of the best-looking and most charming children’s shows I’ve seen in a hell of a long time. It’s quite a refreshing change from ugly junk like Flapjack.

      • http://kazrocks.blogspot.com Kazzer

        Anyone who would forsake Thurop’s ‘Flapjack’ for ‘Chester the Cheetah’ is completely misguided about what makes art art. thomas kinkaid’s paintings look better above a couch than the average miro, but there’s a reason one is a classic and the other is mall kitsch. can you spot the difference?

      • Scarabim

        I meant that I wouldn’t care if somebody made a cartoon series using a character created to push junk food IF the cartoon series wound up being good. I don’t personally care where the inspiration for a good show comes from. Ideas have to come from somewhere, after all, and it’s what’s DONE with those ideas, rather than their source, that really matters.

        And I just do not agree that Flapjack had anything to do with “art”. It was just damn ugly, had unpleasant-looking characters and bad writing. There seems to be this belief held by some that a cartoon that looks different is automatically ground-breaking, brilliant, artistic and cutting-edge. All too often, what it REALLY is, is bad.

      • Lori

        Because god forbid a cartoon be ugly!
        Stop picking on Flapjack and go work on that Chester the Cheetah cartoon you so desire.

      • Scarabim

        Sorry, Lori, but I don’t even eat Cheetos!

      • http://tomboycomics.blogspot.com Emily

        Hehehe…Flapjack contained many ugly drawings, purposefully, and they were meant to make you cringe.

        In my opinion, all animation doesn’t need to look shiny. I’m thankful for the grittiness of certain cartoons.

      • Willia

        “not made for girls”

        These old comments can be weirdly insightful.

    • Luis

      Niccolo,

      Sorry if I sound too blant, but My Little Pony crap has less personality than an ameba and are nothing but the embodiment, just another example actually, of poorly designed charaters. What could be worst than that? Oh yes, Ms. Loesch, who’s aimed to destroy cartoons.

      I got so angry when I was a kid in the eighties/nineties because of the ugly cartoons, the silly jokes and the plastic colors…. now I know who I have to blame. That’s all I can say

      • BlueNight

        32-year-old male fan here. The My Little Pony show has both the comedic spirit and the true heart of Foster’s Home and Tiny Toons. The fantasy setting is fully fleshed-out and far beyond what would be required to sell playsets. (Remember the 80′s MLP? The Paradise Estate playset-based location was out in the middle of nowhere, with no industry or economy to explain its existence.)

        The characters are some of the most realistic, flawed, conflicted characters on television today, aside from Fringe, Lost, and other JJ Abrams shows. They each have different occupations, including a fashion designer and an apple farmer, both portrayed as smart young businesswomen with real business problems.

        This iteration of the show is as much the vision of Lauren Faust and Rob Renzetti as Beast Wars was Bob Forward’s and Larry DiTillio’s, with the exception of a little executive meddling. This bold experiment on the part of Hasbro is bringing the unexpected (and cash-flush) 20-30 male market, who are gladly parting with their money for honest-to-goodness pink pony dolls.

        As for The Hub existing only to sell toys, have you watched Dan Vs. yet? I don’t think we’ll be seeing Dan show up in toy stores anytimes soon, unless they’re made by McFarlande Toys and sold in comic shops.

        • prisoner233

          I know you made this comment two years ago, but RIP Dan Vs.

          It breaks my pony filled heart.. at least we’re getting a season 4 of MLP though so YAY for that.

  • Zach Bellissimo

    What about adult swim? Most of those shows are creator driven aren’t they?

  • http://crinkum-crankum.blogspot.com/ Brandon Waltman

    Great article. Best Cartoon Brew post in a long time.

    • Feckless

      You’re kidding. You’re kidding, right?

  • http://Brewtoons.com Aaron Brewer

    As an East Coast animator, I can attest to the scene and attitude described in this article. Being an actual animator, especially in New York, opportunities to work on a tv series are few and when they do present themselves your competing with at least 50 people. So I’ve had to apply my skills to various projects outside of television which at times has lead to some very fulfilling work. Even if the project isn’t fulfilling, I always learn something.

    Even after reading about the “death of creator driven TV”, I can’t help but be excited about the future of animation. Having worked outside of television, I have seen the possibilities of creating and distributing your own product. You no longer have to rely on the major studios and networks to have your story heard. With the soon to be saturated market of unoriginal content and characters, the desire will be even greater for something fresh. I definitely plan on taking advantage.

  • T.V.

    As an animator in TV land I’ll have to admit that there isn’t one network that isn’t guilty of regurgitation in some fashion. The news of How to Train Your Dragon slated to appear on CN in 2012 further indicates the little faith networks have in their audience. With DreamWorks entering into television by expanding their outsourcing pipeline and using CN as the airing network, it gives little hope that repackaging will ever let up. I would hope that the continued expansion of a global outsourcing market would would offer Network Development execs an opportunity to chance more creative driven material. I think they need to spend less time trying to find the new Spongebob in the land of the already done.

  • Rocko

    I dont see what the big STINK is about here.

    Who CARES what Hasbro is doing! Let them re-brand an old toy. Do you have a beef with Hasbro in particular?

    I’m working on “Pound Puppies” right now (*another Hasbro re-birth) and I’m just happy to be working!

    I got time on the side to develop my own ideas and maybe some day, I’ll have something to show for it. But for now, working is great! Can’t complain about that.

    TV studios are cutting back in general. That’s a reality. Creative people can still get their stuff out there. There’s so many OTHER outlets than TV to showcase a concept. There’s no money in TV anymore, find a different route. What’s the problem here?

  • Tatiana Riabouchinska

    We just read dozens of comments about how unfair the animation business is to female creatives. Does Margaret Loesch’s phoenix-like return mean the situation is different for women in upper-level management?

    • pappy d

      The good news is : yes.

      The bad news is that women entertainment executives tend to get shuttled off to the kidvid ghetto.

  • toonsk8r

    what about shows like Dan Vs? That’s about as far from the stereotypical toy driven 80′s gunk as you can get & The Hub’s paying for that!

    • Java Junkie

      Dan Vs. is not really “creator driven” in the style of Tartakovsky, McCracken, et all. It was created by writers and all visuals are being handled by Film Roman artists. An entirely script-driven show.

      • Mark Morgan

        I’m sorry but where’s the problem with that? So what if it’s created by a writer? Are writers somehow not allowed to create cartoons? Does the occupation of the creator matter at all if the final product is good?

      • JG

        A writer is a creator. If it’s writer-driven it qualifies as creator-driven.

      • Java Junkie

        As used in this article, the term “creator-driven” applies to shows created/conceived, designed, art directed, storyboarded, etc. by the creator. (Tartakovsky, McCracken, Timm, Kricsfalusi, etc.) One can hardly call a primarily visual art form like animation “creator driven” if the creator had little to do with the visuals. A sitcom, maybe, but not animation.

      • Stephan

        The way the John K. condescendion to writers has entered the industry is downright embarassing. Its not like any of those Ren and Stimpy cartoons were Mametian or even Maltesian anyway.

  • http://www.ronimation.com Ron

    As an artist who hopes to run his own “creator driven show” some day soon, I would say that it doesn’t seem like the end to me. The game has definitely changed, but it’s not the end. A wise exec that I pitched to, (yes there are WISE execs- at least this one anyway) said that nowadays you’d have a much better chance of selling a show if you’ve already made something- put it on youtube and/or entered it in festivals then just selling something based on the idea alone. Maybe I’m naive, but that seems like a better option to me anyway. That way if they say ‘no’, at least you got to make it the way you wanted it. That seems to give the artist more power. Don’t get me wrong I know full well how difficult it is to make your own short, but it’s not impossible.

    • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

      Great advice by that exec. (*who’d have thunk it?!)

      There’s no reason why one can’t make a quick 2-3 min. demo of your idea and THEN pitch it. Makes sense to me.

      Anyone can type something up. But who can “show” me what the final product would look like?

      • Juxtaminute

        Why does 1 guy have to make a 3min pitch? why not 10 guys make a 30min show? or, like Ralph Bakshi has suggested, invest a year on a film.

      • Ariel

        Who said anything about “one” guy? You can have as many people working on it as you want! And how are you gonna pay them?

        Also, If your idea sucks at the 00:00:01 mark, it’s gonna suck at the 01:28:32 mark.

        Keeping your pitch “short”, benefits you entirely. Especially towards finding “full” funding. Why waste time and energy on an “personal” idea that’s not gonna fly with tv. execs., or the general tv/web audience as a whole?

        Does that make sense?

      • Juxtaminute

        Screw what the execs want. It’s MY job to make entertaining material that people like. Lol personal ideas a waste of time and energy. You must be joking.

  • Christopher

    …..feeling cheerful, aren’t we…

  • Justin M. Durden

    I wholeheartedly agree with this and I’m glad I took the time to read it.

  • Aimee Thorne

    Honestly, I find it pretty refreshing that Hasbro pulled Lauren Faust on board to deal with My Little Pony.

    The woman will bring a love, nostalgia and humor to a rather souless and horrible (but much beloved across and entire generation and a half) line of toys and media that needs the kick in the pants. After all, she still has an impressive collection of the toys, a deep attachment to them, and is apparently still a 9 year old trapped in the psyche of an adult.

    Personally I would rather see an existing, pardon the pun, stable of characters be redeemed for this generation. The recent wave of 80′s based cartoons is a great way for kids and adults to bridge the non-communication gap that’s happened since the takeoff of handhelds and social media. There’s common ground there. It should be tapped during this socially transformative period, rather than spin off another knockoff of the Simpsons or the early “what a Cartoon” shows. Among the people I know in the early to mid 30′s, the ones who have the greatest relationship with their children in the grade school demographics are the ones who have a mutual interest in certain hobbies.

    Plus, maybe this will re-spark a renaissance in one shot animated shorts again, as the creatives have day jobs and are not totally exhausting their imaginations trying to recapture the same magic their original creations had week after week. Fertility can only last so long until it becomes redundant.

    Adult Swim will be around for awhile. The National Film Board of Canada will be around for awhile. The internet will be around for awhile. The next crop of young animators who get angry that no creator-driven animation really exists shortly in the future will start another burst of innovation.

    Everything will be OK.

    • Straker

      Excellent statement!

      I also disagree that this is the end of creator driven entertainment as it seems that the corporations that own the property to the original “30-minute-toy-commercials” of the 80′s have given up and have started hiring these artists to reinvent their shows to be more like the creator driven entertainment that’s been beating them consistently for the last ten years. If anyone has waved the white flag here, it’s the companies like Hasbro.

  • http://www.studionothing.com Alfred J. Lewis

    I’m not sure I agree that this is the end of creator driven animation any more than I agree that the midterm elections are going to be the end of the progressive movement in the United States. Sure it’s a real kick in the groin, but keep shining the light and, hopefully, eventually, at last, people will see this dreck for what it is and a new, more enlightened age will come forth.

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    Unlike Erin, I don’t see Faust or Renzetti’s virtues in this clip. Maybe there are some of them here and there but not a lot. I’m disappointed, when I read Faust was working on My Little Pony I expected she would made an awesome show out of the corny concept. I think it’s perfectly plausible to do a show based on whatever toy and make it enjoyable, but this looks really too cutesy and childish to me.

    I know the target are little girls, but still. And, if you are a little generous, you can say Scooby Doo or Smurfs had half-decent characters -in fact Smurfs had awesome characters that are based on a brilliant comic book- but the development was poor. Here I see better design choices perhaps, but the visuals look pretty formulaic too, not only the story.

    So I agree with Amid, it looks like a executive cartoon to me. The problem is not so much in the concept but in the fact that it doesn’t look like they had total freedom in this. They could do a show as good as Powerpuff Girls with My Little Pony and still serve as advertisement for the toys, but I don’t think this is especially great, I find it dull even for little girls. And if it happens they actually had some freedom I guess they just didn’t put as much effort as they do with their own creations.

  • http://thadkomorowski.com Thad

    This is all fairly astute except:

    It was because these artists had a vision for the art form that was more inspired, more vital and more consistently creative than those of executives like Loesch; they aspired to create BETTER cartoons instead of simply acquiescing to committee-driven mandates that underutilized their skill and talent.

    Let’s not use the “executives are all evil” mentality so common in fandom, that all of these creators tricked clueless women into green-lighting their auteur voyages. (I know you didn’t say this, but it read like it.) Part of the problem is that there aren’t enough executives like there were in 1989-94 who were just as sick of the animated wasteland of the 1970s and 1980s as the creators were.

    The creator-driven mentality stubbornly exists among a group of hold-outs and idealists (Pen Ward’s Adventure Time, Devin Clark’s Ugly Americans, Christy Karacas’ Superjail! to name a few), but their numbers will continue to shrink in the coming years

    All artistic merit is subjective, but the merits of the shows you mentioned are more subjective than most. Personally, I think the trio you mentioned are absolutely terrible on every level and part of the problem: a lack of cartoons with universal appeal. A lot of people I know of all ages watched and liked The Simpsons, Ren & Stimpy, Spongebob, South Park, etc. I don’t know anyone who watches the trio of shows you mentioned in real life, outside of “our world”, and I go to a very liberal college.

    Fox would not have a Sunday evening if not for its two vintage juggernauts, The Simpsons and Family Guy, which have existed for a combined thirty years.

    The Simpsons made Fox, true, but the “combined thirty years” seems a bit disingenuous. It sure feels like that show has been on for thirty years though.

    Not to stir any fires, but I’d be interested in hearing if you feel our economy has played any role in destroying creator-driven animation in television. I know you know that the time and money to make the kinds of cartoons we love isn’t available anymore. Even so, the current TV system should be making cartoons as good as The Pink Panther and Rocky & Bullwinkle. Inexcusable.

    More posts like this in the future, please.

    • Cyle

      I’m not sure what you mean by “our world”, but I don’t work in the animation industry, and I really enjoy Adventure Time. Last time I checked, I was part of the real world. Ugly Americans isn’t really my taste, but it has been consistently clever. I certainly wouldn’t say either of these shows are terrible.

      Why should universal appeal and popularity be so important? Mass appeal has never been a good measure of quality (see the music industry), and I don’t think that should ever be the goal. While it’s possible to be incredibly creative and popular at the same time (see Pixar), there are plenty of brilliant tv shows, movies, albums etc. that will never have the level of recognition as The Simpsons or The Beatles. I understand why it’s desirable financially, but just because a cartoon isn’t the next SpongeBob, that doesn’t make it a problem.

  • Martin Juneau

    The same problem i have with Teletoon Canada today. In the early days, it was creating for encouraged Canadian animation, the artists listed above, put the popular titles brands with the most contemporary titles and all in respect to Len Cochranne when since he left the house he created, become a nasty corporation who produce crapfest like Johnny Test, 6Teen and Stoked and buying mediocre series and features. You know? Every of this bizarro cartoons you seen on Cartoon Network today? it’s there who was created.

    Tough i find this a bit alarming, i can understand the end of creators-driven in TV animation. Many peoples will say that Europpean comics are based of creators-driven today, i want to ask; Which creators-driven? Did they know what means exactly? I think the best creators-driven cartoons comes here in the mid-90′s when Teletoon was born. Before that, we was mutilated by the modern Disney cartoons who was air in syndication and the horrible cartoons from France. (I seen them in the 90′s. They are all horrible!)

    The best creators-driven in comics don’t come nowadays. It comes by likes of Phillipe Geluck’s The Cat and Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes but after all, it’s over.

    And now, we have trends who comes in the 80′s in our everyday’s life. Yuck!

    • http://johnpannozzi.blogspot.com John Pannozzi

      A couple interesting replies to this post from Toon Zone (http://toonzone.net/forums/showthread.php?s=45f721b4f37502e16f28e5cb42624106&p=3717422#post3717422 ):

      “Doesn’t this always happen? We get bogged down with commercial success stories and many cartoons start to be based off of toys, films, of TV shows. This hits a boiling point until we discover a show that is truly unique.

      I think the concept of the Hub is kind of alarming. It’s back to the 1980s when shows were produced to push products. This doesn’t mean that the shows themselves have to be terrible.

      I think the article is a bit alarmist.”

      “The Hub isn’t the end of an era, it’s just one channel. Now, if Cartoon Network up and cancelled Adventure Time, Generator Rex, Symbionic Titan, and Regular Show only to replace them with shows like ‘Diary of Wimpy Kid: TAS’, ‘Legoland Adventures’, ‘Halo The Series’, and ‘Twilight: Vampires Are Pretty’, I’d be a little more worried. ”

      “What bothers me about the meta argument is that Amid seems to overlook creator-driven cartoons that do exist like the ones Tobias listed, hand-waving this reality away with the the idea that “idealists” and creators venturing to do original things are only going to decline from this point onward. But the troubling idea as presented there is just an idea, assertion masquerading as fact. To believe this I’m asked to embrace not evidence per se (which is impossible to provide), but a supposedly clear vision of where things are obviously going. Supposedly The Hub, the new kid on the block, heralds a fad that will wash over all the cable networks like an unstoppable tsunami. That’s quite an ambitious prediction.

      I also reject the implication that reviving an old property means that by default, little to no creativity can exist. What about Batman Beyond’s toyetic origins and what the creators pulled off within that mandate? What about Young Justice taking a very familiar DC Universe and reimagining it in its very early days? Yes, it takes more effort to come up with something brand new, but I think it’s very unfair to assume that working on an old property must mean that the staff is just going to phone it in. ”

      “Apparently they know nothing about The Hub’s upcoming Dan Vs?

      Also, I really dislike how they label Adventure Time as a “hold out” when CN is clearly heading towards the off-beat path with their new comedy originals; they conveniently forgot to mention Regular Show and the upcoming Robotomy.”

      “To me, it seems like he’s complaining that a few people who have done super-creator controlled stuff are taking some pay-the-bills work, and ignoring the reality that the past year has almost been a rebirth of aggressively creator controlled work after a light doldrum in the middle of the past decade. It’s no longer a game where either creator controlled or commercial driven animation exists. The bandwidth just on TV is so large now you can have a toyetic network, a creator-oriented network, an anime network and so on. The HUB doesn’t kill CN or Nick, and if anything takes the pressure off them by toy companies to run their toy cartoons. Nick and CN can hone in on being more creator-oriented by not being tempted to run the occasional cash in show.

      Besides, having some brilliant animators on those shows is a two-fold benefit to animation. 1. They won’t just be crappy toy ads with people like Renzetti and Faust at the helm. They’ll be shows for a purpose, but they won’t just be 22 minute ads. As it stands, the reaction from our Hub forum has been surprisingly positive so far, and we do have some pretty tricky to please critics. 2. They will foster the next generation of animators, some of whom will get fed up with the creative constraints of the particular genre of animation they’re working on, and break out like Timm, Tartokovsky, Antonucci and countless other products of the 1980s did, and this time, rather than having to join a no-budget fledgling network or syndicated block to get heard, they can jump right into a powerhouse with international reach.

      Yes, it’s be cool if all art was super creator controlled, but as long as you have toy companies, you have toy cartoons. I’d rather them be directed by skilled animators than talentless hacks.

      Also, I swear that CB loves to call animation dead. For people who care about it so much, they look for any excuse to hold a funeral.”

      In any case, I feel it’s just a bit too early to judge if the creator-driven age of TV animation is truly over. These things happen in waves and cycles, and I don’t think you can pinpoint when these things start or end until some time has passed. Maybe the days of the 90s are gone, but the next generation is still in it’s developing stages.

      • Martin Juneau

        I hearing this new by this Toonzone thread. Tough here where i live we have a different view in animation. Sadly, we prefer the endless Action cartoons than different cartoons made by cartoonists and artists. I can’t stop to laughing each time i see the Filmation’s Batman they made or the original Transformers. You know today, it’s constantly a joke the executives made and the voices is more corny than anything.

  • Anthony D.

    While I do agree that sometimes I worry when shows made by companies (Hasbro, Sketchers) try to make the show toyetic/commercialized, I see not a single flaw with My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Now, when I read an article about the Hub on Toonzone, the execs promised that their shows would not be commercialism-wised and that no Hasbro commericals would be shown during Hasbro-themed shows (if one is shown, that’s OK). In my opinion, the Hub is a great thing tha has happened (and don’t worry Discovery Kids fans, shows like Kenny The Shark aren’t going anywhere, they’re still there.) Again, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is possibly the best show on that channel. I loved the style, the animation, the story, the characters, and let’s not forget that this new incarnation of MLP was made by Lauren Faust (wife of Craig McCracken). Hell, I’m 20 years old and even I think the show was good. So in closing, no, the creator-driven era isn’t over and yes we should keep an eye out on shows made by companies and make sure they’re not sending the message of commercialism but we must also listen to execs/creators who might tell us different.

  • http://www.crisafullidoodles.blogspot.com/ Marc Crisafulli

    Like with Brave, I don’t see this as a female/male issue at all. This post is about the direction of content in childrens’ animation.

    Pre-sold properties-as-entertainment is a step in the wrong direction, there’s no two ways about that. Those are the TV cartoons I had to endure as a kid, and the very same ones so many influential animation figures worked so hard on to move past.

    It’s possible that The Hub is using pre-sold characters to ‘ hit the ground running ‘ as a means to insure some initial revenue. Remember that Cartoon Network had a similar strategy when they utilized only what they already owned in the Warner/MGM libraries for their initial programming. Maybe in time they’ll realize that NEW IDEAS should come first, NOT product, and allow their core talent base to develop original concepts for production in years to come.

    While I’m hardly the target audience for ‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’, I have to admit that the clip above reveals first-rate production in several ways, including timing, animation, and sound mix. Can the same be said for that ‘Adventure Time’ ep that was posted here the other day? Pen’s show boasts a funny original concept, great characters, smart writing & cool design… and ‘It Came From the Nightosphere’ even had a nifty song and hilarious tag gag. But for me the timing and sound mix made it all play like too much cacophony!

    If the public’s going to continue to respond to creator-driven work, it has to WORK first as ENTERTAINMENT. I know the schedules for TV production are often rigorous and unforgiving, but TV is expensive and not exactly disposable. Everyone should be aiming to make work that will stand the test of time, with the ultimate goal being PROGRESS.

  • http://jessicaplummer.blogspot.com Jessica Plummer

    Not gonna lie…I’ve been excited and anticipating the Brew covering the new My Little Pony (since I’m doing some interconnected work on it – not on the show though), and am very disappointed to see it tied to a fairly misguided and romanticized rant, IMO. It’s a very attractive animation production and it deserves a better plug than this.

    Amid, I’m usually one to side with you or give you the benefit of the doubt on debates, as well as someone who enjoys multiple sides of a debate, but I’m not really feeling the sob story in this one. The end of creator-driven animation? Isn’t that what I read on John K.’s blog every other post…on stories from the 80′s? The more I become immersed in the actual field of animation – not just as an artist, but as a paid worker – the more I see the ups and downs of original work coming and going all throughout history, and the commercial work simply pulling the rest along in the mean time.

    You’re on a wild goose chase if you want to make TV animation a creator power house. Television has, at its driving force, the masses. I believe it insulting to subject so much variety of viewers, with different tastes, cultures, and enjoyments, to what I think would be quality art. Hence, it’s simplified and watered down to be vague in areas that can be applied to a larger amount of individuals. The wider your demographic, the better chance of survival no matter how creative it might be. I mean, how fast did shows like Arrested Development get dropped off its network, as brilliant as it was?

    Television animation (and productions in general, not JUST animation) couldn’t survive any other way. Yes, we get gems and real highlights of storytelling and cinematics, but isn’t that the case in everything? The fine art world, industrial design, clothing and textile design…everything. Those networks have to put food on their table too…very very expensive food, so they bring to the masses what’s most economically viable. When you’ve had a chance to run and financially balance your own network and slate of shows (I have not, obviously, I just want this debate to be realistic), then I’ll hear you out a little more.

    • amid

      Jessica, I appreciate your views. Try not to approach this from the perspective of “My Little Pony” though. This post is not about any particular show or even the Hub. Those are simply indicative of broader trends happening within the industry right now.

      Also, contrary to what you suggest, the artist’s role is not to appeal to the widest demographic possible. The artist must only be concerned about communicating their ideas and saying something with their work. A great artist will intuitively connect with audiences (don’t worry, it’s happened the same way for centuries). Marketing a product to the widest demographic is the job of the business side. Success is most attainable when the two sides (art and business) respect each other’s boundaries and work together, as they did during the creator-driven movement.

      • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

        What does art and business have to do with anything??

        The business can do whatever the heck it wants with it’s money. The artist can paint, draw, sculpt whatever the heck he wants with his hands.

        How are these two even in the same sentence?

        Again, creator-driven “anything”, is not dead. For as long as we all have fingers and toes to paint with.

      • MarcK

        Yeah and when you’re done painting and sculpting, you can eat the artwork and sell your body for more art supplies, because art can’t have anything to do with money. Maybe you can make art that shelters you and gives you water/electricity too.

      • Ariel

        Art speaks for itself. Amid here just seems angry cause maybe “his” art can’t pay for anything. Why put-down a company for succeeding?? If you’re angry at tv execs. for not backing up creative-driven shows, don’t go to them! Take a loan out, create it yourself and put it out in Festivals and Youtube.

        What’s to be angry about?!

      • Jeremy

        Amid, you say the artist must only be concerned about communicating their ideas and saying something with their work. Yet that is exactly what Lauren is doing. She made the show out of disillusionment with girls shows that tried to fit young girls into a single mold. She wanted something that would be a positive experience and example to young girls. So while it is a toy commercial (though she tries not to make this too blatant,) it is also creator driven since it was her ideals that caused the show to get made in the first place. She could have made anyting and she decided to bring her own vision to a franchise she cherished. I see nothing wrong with that.

  • Was my face red

    This is so weird. An entire converastion about the death of creator led animation which almost exclusively talks about commercial kids shows. What a poor stunted art form we are. It’s like people standing outside the Louvre despairing at the design of the children’s playground.

  • http://www.fernandopeque.blogspot.com FernandoPQ

    “Today’s artist has become as fluid and fragmented as the art form itself.”

    That is actually true, and if you have a strong work, you have opportunities all around the world today.Great text btw!!!

  • http://mymedicatedlife.blogspot.com/ Bitter Animator

    As a parent, I think The Hub is pretty much filth. Worse still is Zevo-3, the new show for Nicktoons by Skechers. Is it worse than the He-Man days that some remember so fondly? Probably not much but then I think what was going on there was pretty filthy too. When ads are dressed up and shown to children as entertainment, it taints everyone in children’s television.

    L&M of course are staples of this business but there are lines that are currently being trampled on.

    As a creator/animator, well, yeah I still think this is pretty much filth. You’re right, Amid. It’s back to the days of show creation by toy committee and executives. Those who give a shit will have no place here.

    It’s not all bad news though, Amid. Sales in children’s television are suffering. Toy sales too are suffering. I know you say The Hub will do great and it might. But I think parents are a little more aware of what their children are watching, especially when it comes to advertising. While I’m not expecting any kind of backlash here, I do think there’s a chance that the payoff won’t be as large as funders need it to be. I also think that the whole television model, especially in children’s, is breaking down. It could all go down the crapper for broadcasters and distributors in the near future.

    Why wouldn’t this be bad news? Because the model has to change. Because these networks might not be able to fund whole shows alone. And when the financing is split, so is the power. This happens a lot already in Europe. One show I worked on a few years ago had three broadcasters and one distributor involved. The creator called the shots because the show was effectively too small for people to care, to be perfectly honest and, even if they did care, they weren’t bringing in enough money to override what was being delivered to the other partners.

    I’ve seen many shows take similar routes and, yeah, sometimes they have to deal with a ridiculous amount of notes from a ridiculous amount of people. But, ultimately, the production company (and creator) were the ones driving things.

    I don’t know what way the model is going to work. Children’s is a whole different beast to adult television. If the television model breaks down, I can’t see how it’s going to work for the children’s end.

    But I think it could well be that there are opportunities for the smaller studios, the independents and the creators.

    I do hope, personally, that parents get even more aware of the glorified toy ads that many shows are and seek their entertainment elsewhere. Our target audience deserves better.

    • pappy d

      This looks like an improved version of the ’80s business plan. Toy companies approached production houses to create a package of 65 shows for syndication & then went & flogged them to broadcasters. Production companies flourished back then until the market was saturated. Now the toy companies have the Hub to keep the “invisible hand of the market” out of their pockets. A better name for the Hub might be the Sphincter.

  • Ron

    Amid 10 years ago –

    “What makes Cartoon Network so unique is their commitment to creator-driven cartoons, a buzzword frequently misused by other modern studios and one that I’ve always found rather ridiculous. After all, shouldn’t any artistic endeavor be “creator-driven”? That’s like calling a Picasso painting “artist-painted” or a Duke Ellington piece “musician-composed.” Duh! But while shows on Fox Kids, Kids WB!, ABC, Nickelodeon and elsewhere continue heading straight down the toilet, Cartoon Network has been headed in the right “creator-driven” direction since premiering in 1992, and remains one of the few beacons of quality in today’s otherwise miserable TV animation scene.”

    http://www.animationblast.com/view/cartoonnetwork/

    As someone working in animation that has a mortgage to pay and has both created original series and worked in movie spin offs, I welcome the opportunity to keep everyone working between bursts of original breakthroughs.

    And that’s not to even concede a toy driven start is necessarily awful for a cartoon. I’m not sure I get the big distinction between Bruce Timm reinventing Batman and selling a ton of toys and Lauren Faust doing the same with My Little Pony. Does anyone think for a minute that at WB, Timm’s vision for Batman was an end in itself?

    One last point. Why does a show like Phineas and Ferb not get any “creator driven” cred? Like or not (and plenty of people love it) those guys did it their way.

    • Scarabim

      I agree about Phineas and Ferb. Its design is pretty bland, but the writing is superb, and no show handles its characters better. There’s not an obnoxious one in the bunch – even the bad guy, Dr. Doofenshmirtz, is likable. Other toon show producers should learn from P & F in my opinion. It’s as far removed from ear-shattering annoyances like Fairly Odd Parents as one could wish.

      • Dinospy

        Except for Fairly Odd Parents was one of the most hilarious cartoons during it’s time. I would put it on par with SpongeBob…so…yeah.

  • Eliza Jappinen

    I think there were things that as an adult I find difficult to swallow in the ‘my little ponies’ but the five year old inside me went ‘Wheee! Ponies! And they’re so colorful!’ I would have lapped this up way back when. And as a child I watched the crappy version ‘secretly’ because I liked it and was ashamed because I knew it wasn’t very high brow. I think this is like bevis and butthead, fart humor, low brow, but on a different level.

    As for it coming off of a toy brand, well that usually ends up working the other way around. Even ‘adventure time’ makes stuff for the consumer to consume. You could argue that these days everything is a commercial.

    To me it does look like someone cared about this and wanted to do the best possible with their chance… So some parts of you argument is a bit over the top.

    On the other hand I do know that it takes a lot of fighting and backbone to get your own ideas out there without falling apart before you reach your goal. I’m wondering if that’s been so different ever.

    • amid

      Eliza, At the risk of redundancy, let me point out again: YES, of course “My Little Pony” will appeal to little girls. Cartoons in the 1980s appealed to little boys and girls too. That is not the discussion however. This article is about the end of creator-driven animation, a mode of production in which artists have the greatest influence over art, story and direction.

      Few toy characters have lasting value; their popularity is artificially maintained through heavy marketing, product tie-ins, and a steady stream of new content. Rarely do toy cartoons achieve the popularity with audiences that a creator-driven cartoon does.

      Yes, toys and products will inevitably follow a creator-driven cartoon, but it is because of an organic demand for products based on its popularity. There is a stronger investment and bond between audiences and creator-driven characters than there is for corporate-born characters.

      • Eliza Jappinen

        But I don’t agree that creator driven animation is dying or dead. I think instead you are seeing a flux of branded animation. At least in europe at cartoon forum there were several lovely creator driven series that I am sure will get made.

        My impression is that there are many original creative series being made all over the world. The questions is is weather or not big Networks are interested in more diverse content. Right now it seems like the networks are working on their own ‘brand’ image and it is ‘that’ which dictates what makes it on air.

  • http://kieranpertnav.tk Kieran Pertnav

    I think you’re being a bit alarmist here. Keep in mind that the toyetic programming on The Hub isn’t replacing creator driven content, it’s replacing a dead channel that was on auto pilot airing ancient shows.

    Cartoon Network’s recent trends have been disturbing, yes, but keep in mind that the core of their content is still creator driven. Adventure Time and Regular Show are both creator driven and are some of their highest performing shows in ratings. Horrorbots is on the way, and Sym-Bionic Titan, while it hasn’t been that strong in the ratings, is beginning to grow significantly. Most of CN’s live action efforts are too feeble to support themselves. Unnatural History failed last month and I expect Tower Prep to go the same way. This leaves 2 reality shows and that’s it.

    Yes, there are reboot shows like Scooby Doo Mystery Inc, Mad and The Looney Tunes Show, but this is not a new thing, there have always been shows like this. Tiny Toons thrived in the same era as Ren and Stimpy, as did super hero shows and the like. These enduring properties had creators too, and, like Spongebob, they’re original ideas that have been extended out way past their prime. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be strong centers of creativity.

    There’s also Fishooks and Phineas and Ferb on Disney, creator driven shows that dominate the ratings. Butch Hartman just successfully premiered TUFF Puppy to great ratings, and the upcoming series from Brian Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, Avatar: The Legend of Korra, will certainly cause some stir.

    While creator driven cartoons have definitely taken a hit, I view it as a matter of recession thinking. But the economy will recover and so will creativity. This doesn’t just affect cartoons, music and movies are also cripplingly unoriginal. However, that doesn’t mean that creativity is dead, or that this will never come back. It will.

    And that’s not counting the fact that while you claim network TV is eroding and that people aren’t paying attention to it, it has been proven that the internet is a viable option for animation and original programming. Joe Murray is launching an online cartoon channel, and if that succeeds that will be a new outlet for creator driven cartoons.

    I don’t think this is the end of creator driven cartoons though. It’s more of a generational switch. Kat Morris, Jake Armstrong, Rebecca Sugar, people whose films you praised, have already found their way into the industry, there is still a place for these talented artists.

  • http://kieranpertnav.tk Kieran Pertnav

    Oh yes, I forgot. Another new creator driven show coming out soon is Secret Mountain Fort Awesome by Pete Browngartd.

  • Isaac

    Storm in a teacup? Mountain out of a molehill? I’m not sure which worn turn of phrase describes this article. The reports of TV cartoons’ death have been greatly exaggerated. A toy company is producing cartoons… AGAIN, and nothing’s changed. Here’s another tired old cliché for you: if you build it, they will come. If you make a great cartoon, they’ll put you on TV. Don’t doubt that for a second.

  • david

    it’s been over for a while.

  • Marc Baker

    While I’m not in ‘My Little Pony’s demographic, This new show looks decent enough, and I recognize Rob Renzettie, and Lauren Faust’s ‘Powerpuff’ design work. That’s about all the good I can say here. While it’s true that the ‘creator driven’ age is now declining, the internet has opened many doors that weren’t there during the 80′s, and 90′s. For every half hour commercial, or re-invention of an old classic, there’s A Homestar Runner, or A Taco-Man just waiting to be discovered on the computer. These days, I rely on my computer more than my TV to find something decent if there’s nothing better on.

  • The Ghost of Warner Bros. Past

    Amid Amidi, a Cartoonbrew-blog-editor owned partly by John Kricfalusi, launched a written attack on The Hub a little over a day ago, claiming that this network’s debut “closes the curtain on what has commonly been referred to as the creator-driven era of TV animation, which lasted from approximately the early-1990s through the late-2000s.”

    Wanna bet?

    As long as there are creative people who come up with good ideas, good designs, and the ability to package those elements into entertaining shows, there will be creator-driven shows.

    The Hub’s marching orders, to start, were to get up and running and on the air. New programming will roll out when it’s good and ready. Brand new creator-driven shows will be part of the Hub’s equation for success.

    Your pot shot at Margaret Loesch is appalling and unjustifiable. Have you ever met her? Do you know anything about her? She is one of the great patrons of creativity in the world of animated television. Why you would throw brick bats at someone who is in the position to make a positive difference in our industry is beyond me.

    Of course, you aren’t actually a part of our industry, are you, Mr. Amidi? You’re not one of the hard-working artists and creative types who puts in a full work week to help turn out an animated TV series. No, you’re the one who takes cheap shots at those types. You’re the snarky blogger — the Perez Hilton of animation.

    Oh, and one other thing. Just because “The Simpsons” and “South Park” and “Family Guy” and “Sponge Bob” and “Futurama” are not “brand new out of the box,” doesn’t make them any less “creator-driven.” Not only are these shows arguably the best animated series on television, they have all been creator-driven from their inception, and they continue to be so.

    From what I can tell, those shows remain strong viewer favorites. In fact, they’re the most popular animated series on television. These successful creator-driven animated shows are on the air every week. They are the textbook formulas of animated television success. It’s a formula that network executives will no doubt want to follow in the future to achieve success. And the “creator-driven” aspect is part of the formula.

    So your argument actually doesn’t even make sense.

    There’s no proof that the arrival of The Hub is going to be the death knell of anything. Although, if we’re lucky, maybe it’ll put an end to your uninformed, poorly-researched and prejudicial diatribes.

    We can only hope.

  • RageTreb

    Did any of you watch the new My Little Pony? It’s surprisingly well done. How about the now-finished Transformers Animated? Fueled by toys, and yet much of the characters and story arcs were thought of by Derrick J Wyatt, a fan of the series with no connection to Hasbro.

    Why can’t creative content wear the costume of product placement? This new Pony cartoon takes characters that had ZERO characterization in the 80′s and gives them a story, visual style and personality all its own. You’re just mad because there’s toys involved and Hasbro makes money.

    And someone said that the Transformers don’t have characters with lasting appeal? Tell that to the Transformers fans. It’s true that most of its 25+ year existence there’s been a cartoon to keep the brand alive, but you’d still have folks waxing nostalgic about it even if that weren’t the case. Then you have a cartoon like He-Man which attempted TWO resurgences (one in the early 90′s with New Adventures and one in 2002) and BOTH of them failed, so obviously Transformers has something He-Man doesn’t when both properties are fueled by toys and cartoons. I submit that what that is might be memorable characters and decent writing (mostly in the case of Beast Wars and Transformers Animated).

    My main point here is that you can have a great show that is also a toy commercial. Anyone who says otherwise is just a snobby teenager fresh from their film 101 class.

  • victoria

    there are alot worse jobs out there than drawing for a living on “any” show or project , be grateful not to be digging ditches!

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/VujadeEntertainment#p/u/0/3HaupcJwAdk Steve Schnier

    Alarmist or not Amid’s article is an interesting read.

    One thing that I’d like to add is that skills developed in animation are transferable to other film/tv/theater/art projects.

    I’m producing a live action/puppet web project because it interests me. I’m building a life sized Bunraku style puppet – because that interests me too. I take the script work where I find it – but there’s a big wide world out there. We have a lot of options open to us. If this is indeed the end of creator driven TV, it’s nothing to worry about.

  • http://www.fortaxreasons.com MC Burnett

    Kinda surprised no one has suggested the obvious here: the downturn of risk taking, creator driven shows and the rise of tried and true licensed projects is pretty much the case across the board for the entertainment industry right now given the tanking of the economy over the last few years. What is hitting the airwaves right now, in terms of a production pipeline, is the stuff conceived and green lit as an exact reaction to the economy hitting rock bottom. Unfortunate, but people are trying to stay in business. Things will inevitably bounce back. I look forward to the “New Golden Age of TV Animation” post on Cartoon Brew in, oh, about 18 months.

  • http://www.sweetposer.tk/urbmn/ Cameron A.

    I think Margaret Loesch is being dumped on a bit too heavily here. While I understand why people at Cartoon Brew hate her given her tenures at Hanna-Barbera and Marvel, Fox Kids at least gave Savage Steve Holland & Bill Kopp Eek! the Cat & The Terrible Thunderlizards. Certainly, The Venture Bros. wouldn’t have existed if Christopher McCulloch hadn’t first worked on The Tick.

    I’m not arguing that Fox Kids was creator-driven. It wasn’t. The block still gave airtime to Pirates of Dark Water, Batman: the Animated Series, Sam & Max: Freelance Police, Mad Jack the Pirate and the Holland/Kopp shows during her tenure. I felt Fox Kids was taking more chances quality-wise than ABC, CBS and NBC, at least when it came to broadcast television.

    Fox Kids had plenty of C Bear and Jamal/Siegfried and Roy: Masters of the Impossible-type filler, but Saturday morning cartoons in the 1990s were dire overall. Fox was the best of a shabby broadcast lot.

    That said, I’m not sold on The Hub. Even if The Hub greenlights lots of creator-driven fare, it’s still a network part-owned by a toy company. Even worse, Discovery Communications’ educational channels – TLC, for example – have seen a decline since the 1980s and 1990s. If Discovery Kids had been better managed during its history, The Hub wouldn’t need to exist.

  • akira

    creator driven cartoons? Just look at the history of Ren and Stimpy… any cartoon that has lasted has been executive driven. either the creator has caved in or stood up for himself and got canned. if the animators had true integrity, Ren and Stimpy would never have gone on without John K, and kids would hate those those toy shows because they’d suck even worse because nobody of talent would support them by working on them… but you gotta eat!

  • Scarabim

    I think Lauren Faust deserves kudos for taking the My Little Pony animated property from ridiculous (in the earlier versions, the ponies looked like multi-colored little tumors with legs) to sublime (the animation, character design and background work in Faust’s show is freaking BEAUTIFUL.) I don’t see it as slumming in the least. It is just gorgeous work with engaging characters. My niece AND nephew loved the first show. Hell, I liked it too. It reminds me of the brightness and humor of the Wizard of Oz movie, and there have been damn few modern works on TV for children that have done that. I congratulate Lauren for making a show based on a toy so gorgeous and enjoyable. I hope she gets an Emmy for it.

  • Matt Bell

    A comment on the comments:
    Out of all the comments I’ve read on this post, so far:
    Mr Floyd Bishops seem to be the most rational.
    Isaacs seems to be the most concise and uplifting.
    —-
    Amid, I certainly understand the sentiment expressed in your lengthy lament, and where it’s coming from. But like it or not, you cannot control what others create, and the how and why of it. The fundamental choice we have in life is what we choose do with our time. Hopefully folks here will choose to spend at least some portion of their time creating something that they want to create, with passion and personal authenticity.
    —-
    Stuff like what you’re describing will always be happening is some form or another. But dispite how you’ve framed it, in reality it’s NOT ‘The End’ of anything.

  • http://www.sexymecha.com Hal

    Seeing as I’m not watching any of these kids shows, and Adult Swim continues to do really great, creator driven shows like VENTURE BROS., DEATHKLOCK and BOONDOCKS. There’s also the continued success of such great prime time animation as FX’s ARCHER and Comedy Central’s UGLY AMERICANS, FUTURAMA and SOUTH PARK (not to mention Fox’s stable of SIMPSONS and McFarlane shows which are pretty creator driven for better or worse) skewing adult audience, so I don’t see what the problem really is at the moment. I remember a friend and mentor telling me once that “if we knew the great days of working in tv animation would be Superdave, SWATKats and Two Stupid Dogs I would have done things differently…” and that pretty much killed my idealism about that era. I like what we have now a lot more.

  • http://www.manzercorp.com Pounded Puppy

    I worked on one of these Hub shows, and the subcontracting animation studio stiffed me in payment. I later found out they have done the same thing to others as well.

    The producers at the top squeezed the animation studio supplying their content to the point that the studio had to destroy their goodwill within the animation community to merely survive.

    Their animation labor is now provided by artists either talentless or naive.

    That’s all I need to know about the Hub, and the whores who make the Hub spin.

  • pheslaki

    What I’m getting from this is that we shouldn’t be weeping at all. Animation from the very beginning has been constantly changing, and adapting. Disney took a gamble to make a feature length animated film when everyone else was doing shorts, and then when television came along studios took advantage of limited animation to really concentrate on plot and design . . . I’m no expert, you guys all probably know this stuff better than I. I don’t think creator driven cartoons will go away any more than feature films or hand-drawn animation will. If anything, it’s probably part of a cycle. The people you list in the article are people my age, who grew up watching Looney Tunes and recycled Disney and those toyetic shows, and they became those creators! Maybe the kids who grow up watching the Hub shows will be the next gen who say to themselves, “I love cartoons, but I hate this crap . . . I can do better!”

  • Ed B.

    Has it occurred to the author that “My Little Pony” could quite possibly be Ms. Faust’s idea that she brought to HUB? Is it possible that this show is exactly what the author says it isn’t? Mr. Timm is noted in the piece as having a “vision” for “Batman”. How about another creator having a “vision” for something different? Maybe that same creative vision is for a subject matter the author simply doesn’t find valid, rather than an indicator of the end of an era.

  • http://room23store.blogspot.com/ paburrows

    I find those examples of creators driven shows interesting, Bruce Timm’s main project was basically selling DC comic’s just as much as Transformers sold toys. And a lot of the other creators projects named, The Simpsons, Ren & Stimpy, Avatar, Samurai Jack, Powerpuff Girls and others, were turned into toys part way into their run. I have no problem with any of this, but I do think that its unfair to bash one group of shows that sell products and then praise another.

    I actually like most of the 80′s stuff, and have fond memories, it may not have been high art, but it inspired me to draw and animate. Funny thing is these shows may as claimed be slave to a set of toys, but there was a lot of creativity that went into the design and backstory of those toys.

  • Karen

    BRAVO AMID! Excellent post.

    And I defy ANYONE to truly believe the new hub shows feature any personality animation. They do not. They are types to conform to predetermined selling points. They are no better than the joyless, unimaginative ’80′s toys/cartoons they’re based on.

    But hasbro has NEVER been about “innovation.” They bought a network to sell their wares. It’s rather sad, really.

  • Gray

    See now, this is what I love. You can see all the respective ideologies at work in the comments to this post. Is the goal of TV animation to be art or commerce, or a balance of both? Does it depend on which end of the creative process you exist on? Can a primarily commercial venture have any artistic merit?
    Herein, I think, is where it lies. Hayao Miyazaki once said, “If it’s done with love, then it’s good.” Take a look at any existing cartoon, past or present, and see if you can tell whether it was done with love or not; I’ll bet you can. The question is, how much does the artist bring to the plate, and how much free rein, in the case of a corporate property, are they given to play with what they bring (if the property holders are smart, the answer is: plenty). I’ll agree, much of the “toy commercial” animation of the ’80′s was uninspired, by the numbers pablum. But some of it wasn’t.
    For my part, I don’t care if a cartoon is art.I gave up a long time ago caring about what is and isn’t art. I don’t care if it’s corporate driven or artist driven, I don’t care who owns the property, I don’t care if it’s unique or original, a brand new idea or a remake of something else. I just care if it’s good. The only thing that will make it good is how much the artist is willing, or is allowed, to bring to it.

  • Stephan

    Art:

    Dawn of Man- 2010. Yeah, that sounds about right.

  • Lala-Marin

    Hmm. I was pretty excited when I saw Lauren Faust’s name attached to My Little Pony, but after actually sitting through it, I’m really disappointed. It’s not just because Megan’s gone and Spike’s voice is off. It also has nothing to do with my being a college student, I bought a Belle doll to act out “Be Our Guest” (you read that correctly) about a month ago. Something is just off. Say what you wil about the original series, but it connected to me way more than this offering. It’s like watching My Little Pony Tales all over again; I’m confused and a little annoyed. The only difference is that I’m old enough now to tell the difference beween things I like for being pretty, and things I like for being entertaining. This show is, unfortunately, neither.

  • James E. Parten

    My first thought when I saw Amid Amidi’s jeremiad was to say “Good riddance!”

    A lot of utter excrement has been passed in the name of being “creator-driven”. For every “Powerpuff Girls” or “Dexter’s Laboratory”, there has been one or more things like “Ed, Edd and Eddy”, a show saved only by a catchy theme song, or “Samurai Jack”, a show rendered unwatchable unless one really, really likes anime!

    Meanwhile, there have been excellent shows that have worked within and stretched the boundaries of various set and established themes. The succession of shows based on DC comics characters have been, with an occasional exception (“Batman Beyond”) entertaining. They have also shown the influence of writers who know their enchiladas, love what they are doing, and are not afraid to tweak things, sometimes drastically. (This even goes for “Krypto the Superdog”, which is aimed at the youngest part of the demographic.)

    Kids today do not tune in to YouTube to see the kind of art-house orchids that Amid Amidi favors. They don’t even tune in to watch the old animation that is found there in plentiful quantities. They want rock music, and everything else that is connected with it.
    So, if these “creators” want to put their stuff only on YT, or some other site, they’ll have an audience of, maybe, two–and one of those I’m not sure of !

    • Straker

      You praise Krypo the Superdog and talk down to Batman Beyond and expect me to take a word of this seriously? Wow.

  • http://www.nickandmore.com Andrew T. Hingson

    Well I wont say creator driven cartoons are all the rage right now they are certainly not dwindling. The big three major kid-vid networks still produce creator driven cartoons every year. Fish Hooks and Phineas and Ferb on Disney, T.U.F.F. Puppy and Planet Sheen on Nickelodeon, Regular Show, Sym-Bionic Titan, the previously mentioned Adventure Tim and the soon to premiere Robotomy on Cartoon Network and the vast majority of cartoons on Adult Swim. Those shows are not going away. Much of them are ratings winners for their respective networks.

    Yes there are a lot of cartoons coming out based on pre-existing franchises including Dreamwork’s movie spin-offs, long running super hero franchises and series that were created to push toylines such as the ever-present Transformers but that’s hardly all that’s being produced.

    A lot of those shows don’t have much vision behind them but every now and then one of them does and I’d argue Faust’s My Little Pony does. Bruce Timm was sited as one of the creators that were driving forces for shows. Literally any talented individual could do great things with a pre-existing property. Some artists would love to take on a pre-existing franchise and have the pleasure of giving it their own spin. This has not chocked out the creator driven industry however, if anything it has helped it continue to flourish.

    I’d say it is much too early to call this the end of the creator driven era. There’s a great many creator driven cartoons in production and more in the planning stages. But there is also nothing wrong with making a engaging experience with a pre-existing property. Bruce Timm sure did with Batman and Greg Weisman sure did with Spider-Man.

  • papa smurf

    Amid, you said “I acknowledge that My Little Pony fulfills a certain need within the industry. But there is more depth to the story than simply stating, “This is a better than average toy based cartoon.” (And frankly, I’d even argue that it’s not. Although the style is sleeker, the production values are hardly more advanced than anything produced in the ’80s.) ”

    I realize your purpose for this post was to not critique MLP, but since you did I offer this. You either didn’t really watch it or your eye for ‘production values’ has been gouged out. This is probably the best Flash animation I’ve ever seen, not to mention the art direction, writing, boarding, mix etc etc. The opening sequence alone is one of the sweetest openings to a cartoon pilot I’ve seen since Sam Jack. To say that MLP’s production values are ‘hardly more advanced’ than cartoons of the 80s is a slap in the face to Ms. Faust, her designers, animators and yes even the evil producers that obviously worked very hard to turn this out. It also further confirms your ignorance as a supposed fan of animation.

    • Rocko

      WoaW! Best Flash animation ever seen? Let’s not blow things outa proportion here(*haha)

      I guess art is subjective, but I don’t think Flash compares AT ALL to any excellent traditional or creative animated tv Ads out there. But hey, if you dig Flash’s flatness :)

      • papa smurf

        Yeah… Read what I said – you even quoted me. Best FLASH animation, not best animation. Of course traditional will always look/feel better than digital, but I’ll take this Flash show over any other currently aired Flash show any day of the week. These animators obviously know their timing and principals, and it shows.

  • Tony C

    I was impressed with it. There’s flare in this content, there’s been time given to the body language of the dialogue. The story moved over many different locations and the models had a few bespoke alterations that the story required of them. There’s effort and it seems the budget allows for it.

    Maybe it’s there through love, maybe it’s there just to keep the people involved sane in the face of what they find themselves working on, but it was a good show to watch.

    I dunno if it was wise to pick this as an example of something that comes to end our creator driven world. It’s obvious to me there’s plenty of creativity within it.

  • http://cidcartoons.blogspot.com Rodrigo

    Amid, you often irk me with some of your negativity, but this piece was actually very inspirational. Kudos.

  • The Beez Kneez

    There is a lot of rationalization and compromising attitudes in the comments section towards the shows pointed to at the hub all of which I feel completely misses the point. These shows have no point of view, personality or anything that might be cathartic, insightful or relatable to any viewer outside of committee/psychologist approved platitudes. What we’re losing is the atmosphere for free expression being presented in entertaining and well crafted packages and replacing them with airy wisps of concepts with no goal other than to eat up air time and not scare away advertisers.

    I find myself working for social games currently. Unexpectedly there seems to be more care going into the production of Facebook games than on any tv show I’ve worked on recently. It’s been very interesting to say the least and already many times more enjoyable and the pay is actually a wage you can live on.

    But that’s just how it goes. Society is in a mindset right now that isn’t looking for this kind of content. Not yet anyway. Just have to wait for a new generation that gets sick of pap and popcorn entertainment to jam a lightning rod down the throat of animation’s bloated corpse and reanimate that sucker. But I think it’ll happen in a very unexpected way. We won’t see TV ever head back that way again.

  • http://los-utopicos.blogspot.com allari

    The odd designs and some of the voice acting is pretty good. but damn those diabetes inducing colors!
    What is it with bombarding girly fodder with hot pinks, purples and neon everything?

  • Smurfette Laboishken

    TV in general has been dying for quite a while because of the internet

  • http://hunteachother.com Max W

    I respect and agree with most of what you wrote, but I think this is quite a dismal view of current and future times…

    Everything has never been great. There will always be something amazing existing alongside something awful.

    Nickelodeon and CN are both still producing creator – driven shows, and plan to continue doing so… so when they air, WATCH THEM!

    I guess I just feel that it’s cool that creator – driven shows are still around.

  • http://www.cementimental.com Tim Drage

    “The battle for the mind of North America will be fought in the video arena: the Videodrome. The television screen is the retina of the mind’s eye. Therefore, the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore, whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore, television is reality, and reality is less than television.”

  • Anim8me2

    This all ignores one important fact.
    Entertainment is shifting from television to the web.

    More and more kids get their jollies from youtube and the internet than from watching television, and in smaller chunks. This is a perfect medium for the creator-driven animation you are bemoaning the death of.

    Let the corporations have their dying wasteland of broadcast ephemera. We will take the new vibrant fields of ready watchful eyes focused on their laptops, iPhones, iPads or whatever else comes down the road.

    There are plenty of young artists just waiting to show their stuff and they know where their audience is hiding.

  • Gene Milder

    Decrying the end of the creator-driven era over one lousy Habr-owned TV channel? Seriously? We don´t even know if The Hub will be successful.

    Sure, Nick in the 90s was awesome. But it was a single channel with half a dozen original shows. Now we have dozens of creator-driven cartoons out there, playing right now. And if you look outside the US…wow. What a difference today. A lot of (good or not) creator-driven shows coming out of Europe and South America, for example.

    Amid, your “end of days” schtick is getting really tired. Id recommend you kickstart you career as a producer and stop bitching about every little pony that rides by.

  • http://www.chrisniosi.com Chris “Kirbopher” Niosi

    I’m sure the grand majority of this is right, but at the same time, it doesn’t necessarily make me lose hope. My dream’s always been to do a series for TV and I think the idea of creator-driven stuff dropping off the face of the Earth might be a little too extreme. The mention of the “stubbornly” holding-out idealists LIKE Penn Ward and JG Quintel are exactly what keep me thinking it’s not going anywhere.

    Ironically, despite the live-action fiasco with CN, from what I’ve been told by people at CartoonNetwork (including several creators of those shows) they’ve become very laid back about letting creators be free and interesting with their shows. Especially now that series like Regular Show and Robotemy are expanding out a bit for varying demographics, which is near un-heard of for TV animation these days, I think there’s still hope and opportunities for more creators to make flat-out good cartoons that people will remember.

  • Val

    All I want to say is that I’m glad “My Little Ponies” has finally corrected all the mistakes that bothered me as a kid. Mostly, that the ponies now live in a pseudo-medieval kingdom instead of a modern American suburb, the emphasis is more on magic and legends instead of rock bands and high school, and the establishment of an actual, possibly recurring, villain.

    I almost wish I had grown up with this version.

    Surely, any era that produces this sort of cartoon can’t be all bad.

  • Brendan Spillane

    I had this aversion to 1980s half-hour toy commercials like you wouldn’t believe. Why have the vast majority of them come back to haunt me?

    • http://ramapithblog.blogspot.com David Gerstein

      Two words: ’80S NOSTALGIA.

      Doesn’t matter what garbage it was—if it’s from the 1980s and a suit remembers it, it’ll be back. (And, often, something better will be kicked to the curb to make way for it.)

      • Chris Sobieniak

        It follows that, what I often think of as the 20-30 year cycle where those of us who grew up on this crap end up getting nostalgic for it once we’re in our 30s and 40′s, and feel we have to evoke our wrath on the rest of the masses in this manner.

        Who knows, we might even get a retro 90′s thing showing up soon enough!

      • RadFemHedonist

        I take comfort in the fact that I know people my age (early 20s) who are extremely nostalgic for their childhood cartoons while I am not, therefore possibly indicating that I never will be.

  • Kelly

    I’ll say that the actual motion and animation is far better and beyond any of the toy-commercial animation I was watching in the 80′s… and I was a big fan of GI Joe. The fact of the matter is, though, that any and all TV animation has to sell something. It might not be schlepping ponies or GI Joe dolls, but it has to be selling something or it’s not going to get made.

    • http://ryuuseipro.blogspot.com/ John Paul Cassidy

      Kelly,

      Exactly! Even UNDERDOG, one of my favorite shows, was originally made to sell Cheerios. That show was created essentially by an advertising agency!

      The money has to come from somewhere.

      So as long as MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC has great talent like Lauren Faust behind it, let Hasbro sell their stuff! Since Lauren had such a tough time selling her own original creation Milky Way and the Galaxy Girls (because of the gurl-hating he-man mentality prevalent in most networks today), as a MLP fan, she jumped at the opportunity to make something cool and appealing that girls truly deserved. MLP isn’t her intellectual property, but yes, she’ll get paid for working on the show. Future talent has to start somewhere, and some creators have to survive somehow, if they want to get anywhere.

      Needless to say, The Hub has other good programming, especially their retro prime-time sitcoms! I’d rather spend my weeknights watching HAPPY DAYS, LAVERNE & SHIRLEY, and BATMAN ’66, than torture myself with FAMILY GUY.

      There is no “The Man” jumping on everyone’s success trying to destroy them. Right now, we’re facing a very tough economic time, so some companies can’t even afford new ideas. For example, take Nickelodeon, which is on that life support known as SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS. Considering their track record since 2001, most of their other new shows (namely PLANET SHEEN and T.U.F.F. PUPPY) aren’t going to last very long. And after they canceled THE MIGHTY B! (which I considered their last best show), I’m beginning to wonder if fresh new talent even wants to pitch anything to that network anymore (I’m seeing less and less of that now), as their shows get canceled after barely one season. Frankly, Nickelodeon is a lost cause. On the other hand, Disney has PHINEAS AND FERB (my favorite), KICK BUTTOWSKI, and FISH HOOKS, all creator-driven shows! (Remember, before Dan Povenmire pitched P&F to Disney, he worked on that wretched FAMILY DUDE show, so at least he got some money out of it!) And amid all the live-action crap, CN manages to have fresh new talent, while Genndy Tartakovsky made a powerful comeback with SYM-BIONIC TITAN, which, IMHO, vastly surpasses SAMURAI JACK! So even in small doses, we’ll still have new creator-driven shows. The next wave will have its time some other day.

      Really, it’s not going anywhere.

    • G. Melissa Graziano

      TV’s dirty little secret is that the shows are there to sell the commercials, NOT the other way around. You wouldn’t pay to sit and watch ads if that’s all TV was. So they put other stuff on to keep you watching. Shows are greenlit to sell ad space. Simple as that.

      Having said that, The Hub is having a really hard time fighting the stigma of existing solely to push more product. It’s really trying to keep the integrity of the characters and the worlds they inhabit, and for the shows to be as creative and fun as possible in the process. I for one respect that. The Hub COULD’VE been a total crash-and-burn. But I think they’re doing pretty well so far, successfully competing with Nick and Disney Channel et al.

      As far as I know, they are planning for more original content. The way I see it, here’s another network for show creators to pitch their original ideas to.

      And is anyone upset they put Fraggle Rock back on the air? I’m not!

      Give them a break, they’re four weeks old.

      • amid

        Melissa,
        Thoughtful comments above, but it’s impossible to address the situation without historical perspective. It is true that “shows are greenlit to sell ad space,” but the Hub’s programming returns us to a darker period in animation history when not only were there ads inbetween the programming, but the programming itself was one long unapologetic ad for product.

        The person presiding over the Hub, Margaret Loesch, was one of the people at the helm during the 1980s when this type of programming was most prevalent, and the Hub represents a symbolic shift back to a time when artists had no say over what they were making. You can’t have a useful discussion of the Hub without acknowledging the struggle of an earlier generation of artists to fight those restrictions and return some semblance of control back to the artists who make the shows. The Hub erases most of the progress artists had made in the TV animation industry during the last two decades.

  • Inkan1969

    Amid, I wonder if you are privy to inside information about the industry that non-professionals like myself wouldn’t be aware of. From the outside, I see so many creator driven shows on the air, like “Adventure Time” and “Regular Show” and “Super Jail” and “The Venture Brothers”. Some shows where the creative vision is more seen in writing than in art, but still shows that have a strong perspective from the creators. And we just completed the runs of “Chowder” and “Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack”. I don’t see any decline in creator driven material that you argue exists.

    Also, I think you chose the wrong series to make a point about creator vision disappearing. I’m joining the bandwagon on this thread of people praising the new “My Little Pony” series. I find the show very appealing, with smooth timing and a tone that’s charming instead of cutesy. The characters actually have interesting personalities; I want to spend more time with them. MLP may be a corporate franchise cartoon, but I think I still see the artistic talent of Faust, Renzetti and others shining through the episodes. So I’m going to watch this show regularly.

    Going on a tangent. Disney’s new series “Fish Hooks” is in a similar boat to MLP. That Noah J. Jones show has talents like Maxwell Atoms and Carl Greenblatt on its staff, and I think their talent gets through in most episodes. “Fish Hooks” does not have an original premise, but its outlandish tone and its blend of clipart and flash animation give it a unique sensibility, like with MLP.

  • thomas

    Did the Ponies always have horns? They’re unicorns..not ponies!

    Anyways, I thought the episode was pretty fun, I liked the animation and style…graffiti ponies on the wall yo!

    • Hime

      There are three types of pony on the show. Earth ponies (regular horses), pegusi (flying ponies), and unicorns (who can use telekinesis).

      So one in every three is a unicorn, which is considered a type of pony. And their princess is both a unicorn and a pegasus.

  • Evelyn

    Didn’t really read much of the article or comments.

    But as a reader of CB and MLP collector, I’d just like to say that this new show is an attempt to gain back the charm of MLP that Hasbro has lost and I think it works lovely.

    While Lauren’s designs are great, I don’t think they translate as well for the new Generation 4 Hub line. Though I certainly think they are much better than the G3.5 New Look ponys which should be phased out of stores soon.

    In recent years, Hasbro decided to just release what they call the “Core 7″ They kept releasing the same characters over and over again with slight redesigns and clothing. But MLP isn’t Barbie and it just doesn’t work, which also left many collectors in the dark.

    Their press release stated that the ponys were “little girls” (for real, kid you not) and that they only have tea parties and eat cookies and ice cream, and they don’t gallop or whinny. Lauren has done alot to bring back originality to the line, even returning ponys and color schemes from the 80′s G1 and a villian.

    Simply put, I am very happy with the new show.

  • The Gee

    I can’t quite figure out how but there’s something missing in what was originally written. I’ve read through the comments to see if I was wrong and some come close to mentioning what is missing. But, for some reason, most of the people who have posted/are posting seem willing to just accept it as is.

    The fact that some things aren’t acknowledged alone dims what is in the original comment, the blog post. Too bad.

    • Thomas Hatch

      …..HUH?

      • The Gee

        It just seems to be overlooking something.
        I’m just surprised no one has called it yet.

        As it goes, I’m just curious if anyone will state what it is missing. What’s not mentioned will allow part of what he states to fall apart.

        But, I don’t care so much, I just draw what I am allowed to draw.

  • Ridd Sorensen

    Amid, I’m not sure how you can so unconstructively walk all over the ‘Regular Show’, one of the best ‘creator driven’ series to come along in a long time – then in the same breath mourn it’s demise. Please explain!

  • http://thelift.kohrtoons.com Robert Kohr

    I don’t think its the death knell for creator produced animation. Hub is unique in that its a network to sell their toys, its their network they want to make shitty shows then fine. Personally I feel any animation work is good work. Like the 80′s I doubt it will grow and I don’t know how many rehashes of old shows they can do.

  • http://thelift.kohrtoons.com Robert Kohr

    Just throwing this out there but in what way are shows on Nick not creator driven? They may not be ‘good shows’ but they start as shows, made by creators then products are leveraged against it to offset the cost of producing a show and to make a profit.

  • http://strangespanner.blogspot.com/ Lazarus Lupin

    Trends do wax and wane, but I see a good reason to be hopeful in the future. These people, these managers, producers whatever you call them. They have no imagination. So they go with whatever is popular. Now we have animators doing incredible independent work online. Some of these folks are going to go wicked viral and be the next big thing. The suits with no imagination will hear that this guy is just killing in the right demographics. Boom, before you know it we’ll have a new generation of creative animation for the small screen.

  • http://robo-design.blogspot.com Robbo

    I think CloudKid is doing some creator driven interactive content for the Hub (Fizzy’s Lunch Lab)- so maybe not All hope is lost. I’ve worked at Hasbro doing interactive work and I can say that it is a marketing driven company and not creatively driven.

  • http://pompomandfriends.blogspot.com/ Woody Yocum

    There is still a lot of original TV series work being done around the world , even if it sometimes it is a bit under the radar. here are two offering in production at our studio GIMC : ‘Cloudbread’ and ‘Pom Pom and Friends’
    http://cloudbreadandfriends.blogspot.com/
    http://pompomandfriends.blogspot.com/
    Director Jay Jang has brought an entirely new approach to cut-out animation to some great stories in Cloudbread and I think Pom Pom, brings a wonderful child centered world to life. Neither of these is a toy driven show. They are simply good original shows that should find an audience with a little luck.There is always room for more variety!

    • http://jessicaplummer.blogspot.com Jessica Plummer

      Oh goodness…those Cloud Bread episodes are all kinds of adorable. Love that style too!

      • TheGunheart

        Beautiful. The style gives me a great PaRappa vibe, with the cutout-style characters in a 3D world. I like how you don’t over do it, with the effect, though, and still imply the characters are technically 3D themselves by showing them from different perspectives.

  • stikkbomber

    —Do networks and producers deserve to shoulder the blame entirely? That thought was on my mind as I read this quote recently by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails describing his approach to creativity: “I really try to put myself in uncomfortable situations. Complacency is my enemy.” From my perspective, complacency and creative stagnation amongst creators of TV animation has been at the root of the problem.—

    like anything else, this is relative. if the shows get people to watch them, which in turn equates to increases in advertising opportunities, then the producers and networks are only doing what any other group of productive people do: making money for their employers and hopefully themselves. if “blame” needs to be passed around to make some people feel better, then criticize the people watching these shows, too…but realize that those same people could be the ones trying to watch whatever “original” or “creative” idea you decide to put out for the world to see and critique.

  • http://kieranpertnav.tk Kieran Pertnav

    It also occured to me that while people don’t necessarily create these shows, the modern “reboot” shows can often be just as “creator-driven”. Consider shows like Ronald D. Moor’s Battlestar Galactica- he didn’t create it, but he changed it so significantly and improved it so much that he might as well have been a creator. Just because something has been done before doesn’t mean that it can’t be done again better if someone has a creative vision for it, and I believe that can be transferred to the cartoon medium.

  • http://kieranpertnav.tk Kieran Pertnav

    “During the past decade, too many creators compromised their vision to get shows onto air, and too many creators didn’t take advantage of the opportunity once they had shows. In the early-’90s, creators held the attitude that they had been given a once-in-a-lifetime chance to write their own ticket, and they were going to use the moment to make the most amazing cartoon series possible. That vision turned blurrier in recent years. Selling a show became in and of itself a symbol of accomplishment among a subsequent generation of self-satisfied artists whose shows consistently failed to entertain audiences.”

    Just noticed that this is the most flawed part of the post. When it comes to uncompromised vision, John K. proved it isn’t always a good thing. Because he refused to compromise, he ended up essentially destroying his own career, and losing control of his show after just two seasons.

    That being said, it’s not hard to have a vision and be practical, and a lot of people do that successfully.

    Getting a show on the air is an accomplishment, of course, you wouldn’t know because you haven’t done that. I think that the shows that are on the air now show just as much creativity and effort as the shows in the 90s, if not more. It just so happens that we’re also in a recession and its harder and harder to make a show so people do have to make compromises, otherwise we wouldn’t have TV at all.

    • ahem

      Perhaps John lost control of his own show ultimately, but the episodes in which he had a hand were some of the best gifts given to the animation world– it totally changed TV animation, at least.

      But my point is… John may have been out of a job, but what he did while he was there, earning himself that position, changed the way we look at cartoons.

      There are things more important than money. I feel for John and I think what happened to him was asinine, but I doubt he would have compromised his artistic integrity if given the choice. Yes, fighting against the grain probably fostered creativity to an extent, but I’m glad he didn’t water down his product as much as he would have had to to stay in his position. I admire that, frankly– few people have the guts to do it.

      I guess it’s easy for me to say as a wet-eared idealist without a family, but I’d rather have a short, high-impact run than a long, comfortable one of just bloating an already saturated market with more boring product.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dylan.h.king Dylan King

    Originally, I was going to say something when this post was put on the site – but I knew MANY people would want to contribute to this conversation, so I stepped out of it. Now after hearing a few stories from other readers, I want to put my two cents in.

    The Creator Driven Era is not dead, nor will it be. Every time something like THIS comes up, it just shrivels away into a corner for an amount of time and then seems to come back for a few years and then goes back to it’s corner. Creator Driven cartoons… we NEED creator driven cartoons. That’s how cartoons started – a creator with a vision for an amazing picture show (If you go more in depth it’s really how everything started – and many people have already probably posted something similar to this…). Since the dark animated ages of the 80′s, we’ve had so many technical advances in our society we’re now able to watch cartoons on our 4 inched screen cell phones and make 11 minute cartoons for networks in 2 weeks! With all this advancement – mainly the internet – creators don’t have to go directly to TV anymore.. there’s so many different options. And with these options – depending on if the person is working for a studio or not – the creator has control and copyright to their cartoons making their vision exactly the way they want without any big executive standing over there shoulder or someone editing/censoring a scene at the last minute. There’s still Creator Driven cartoons on air and there will continue to be. This is nothing to what could possibly happen in the future… just remember that.

  • http://dontpokesmot.blogspot.com/ Annie-Mae

    So many people have stated their comments about this issue and I wanted to state something that I think really makes for a stronger show to begin with.

    What made the Product Based TV shows do so well back in the 80′s is that they had merchandise. Shows like Chowder, or Billy and Mandy, or Johnny Bravo could’ve lasted longer if they generated merchandise. What still makes Invader Zim so popular is that they still make cheep t-shirts and other products of it. The fans pitched for these things and Nick is a network that can give fans products. Nick whores out their shows with merchandise, but with shows like Mighty B and El Tigre (which got a nintendo DS game) they couldn’t sell the ad space for them to keep the show running. CartoonNetwork has no excuse to be so terrible with merchandising, except that they’re cheap.

    Even some of the creator driven shows of the 90′s were picked up with the intent to make action figures, plush dolls, t-shirts or anything else odd and goofy to sell to kids. If I was a child who was a fan of KND or Chowder, I would go into Wal-Mart looking for that cute plush or action toy of my favorite character, but I would be disappointed to be bombarded with toys like Star Wars, Transformers, GIJoe, or some other toy line with a higher financial support. I would then cave into what my friends or my TV says is cool and I would stop watching my fav show cause my attention is drawn to an object with shinier objects attached to it.

    This was a feeling about being a kid in the 90s that made watching a TV show so personal. You can use the toys to interact with the show it’s self. And the opposite of this is true too. When I saw multiple products being advertised during shows like Chowder or Megas XLR I said, “That toy might seem cooler if it had a TV show to explain the complicated plot they’re throwing at me in 30 seconds.” So in the end, who knows what we’ll get from these new product based TV shows. I don’t watch half the shows that are on TV, and if I had the Hub I might check out this My Little Pony show. I still have mine from the 80s.

    • http://ryuuseipro.blogspot.com/ John Paul Cassidy

      Annie-Mae,

      Very good point! Let’s face it, whether these shows were made to sell or not, some of us wanted toys of our favorite characters. I would’ve loved to see MIGHTY B! toys and such (dolls, figures, etc.). I have a POWERPUFF GIRLS figurine set from Japan, and it trumps almost anything done in the US! If they sell anything, I like to see appealing quality merchandise such as that.

      And it’s disheartening that most cartoon shows barely sell anything. Something I’ve always wondered about, because many of these shows had the potential for toys to be made around the show! In recent years, merchandise-wise, I’ve only seen SPONGEBOB, FAIRLY ODDPARENTS (very briefly!) and AVATAR from Nick (barring the pre-school stuff, which was made to sell from the get-go), and BEN 10 from CN. That’s it. Meanwhile, Disney and Pixar stuff, even PHINEAS AND FERB, have toys that support the show!

      Before, SAMURAI JACK and FOSTER’S HOME FOR IMAGINARY FRIENDS only had limited edition toys available exclusively on CN’s official page. They’re probably expensive collectors’ items by now! Don’t you think that kind of teased and betrayed the audience? I always wondered what’s been holding them back, even today.

      • pappy d

        H&B used to have a deal where some rights would pass back to the producer once they passed completed 65 shows. You could then sell a syndication package to TV stations. If the networks are so cash-poor, maybe they’ll consider that option. Today, you can also create small-edition toys in the adult price-range for people like us.

  • Matt Sullivan

    An animation SNOB is an animation snob. It doesn’t matter if he runs a website or works at a studio.

    I’ve been snobby about certain things myself, and to be honest, these shows look awful to me. but then again, they aren’t being MADE for me.

    I don’t think HUB is the death of creator driven animation. If anything, I think Amid is just being his normal dramatic self.

  • Matt Sullivan

    Oh one other thing. I think the My Little Pony show is rather cute :} And not nearly as insipid as the 80′s show.

  • eeteed

    why are the only males on this show (the little dragon and the two winged chariot steeds) portrayed as stupid and subservient?

    is hub an acronym for Hate Ugly Boys, or something?

    • Sorry but

      If you haven’t been watching cartoons in the past decade, you wouldn’t have noticed that girls aren’t allowed to be idiots in cartoons anymore. Only boys. This also applies to any non-white characters.

      • ahem

        Hahaha…. because a couple of cartoons totally makes up for a whole history of social dynamics. Nice! Bravo.

        Here’s a fun little video on the topic of cartoons as recent as the mid-90s that were “gender neutral.” Bear with the awkward first few seconds.
        http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/thedudette/nostalgia-chick/16616-the-smurfette-principle

        Now, I don’t think cartoons should establish utopian societal principles. I am telling you to quit feeling sorry for yourself.

      • Sorry but

        Spoken just like someone who doesn’t work in the industry

      • Stephan

        Which industry? The smugness industry?

      • Stephan

        Also, female idiots in cartoons: Amy Wong, Meg Griffin, Luanne from King of the Hill (cancelled, yeah, but recent), Brian’s ex from Family Guy. Is the problem that there aren’t as many idiot women as you want? Or is it because maybe there just are no female leads in animation!?

        (Also, Amy is Chinese, Hermes from Futurama is black, Uncle Ruckus from Boondocks is black, as is Grandad, a Pimp Named Slickback, etc. The real issue here is that there are no cartoons starring minorities.)

      • Uh…. no.

        Primetime animation aimed at adults doesn’t count in regards to this argument; The “no dumb females” edict applies only to children’s’ programming.

      • Stephan

        So you want kids to grow up sexist? Why?

        Anyways, girls mature faster than boys, so when Candy Princess is smarter than Finn and Jake in Adventure Time, its more a reflection of a child’s reality than anything else.

      • G. Melissa Graziano

        Lois isn’t dumb. But Peter is.

    • Anndra

      Have you been watching the show? Spike’s a good deal sharper than Pinkie Pie (though rocks are sharper than Pinkie Pie) and Big Macintosh is pretty capable. Is it such a shame that just one show have a female dominated cast?

  • Brad Constantine

    My 7 year old daughter turned on “The Regular Show” the other day and the first thing out of the bird’s mouth was “Dude, You totally just pissed me off!” I had to turn the channel. Even though I am not a fan of the My Little Pony franchise as a whole, I am certainly going to let my young daughter watch it as opposed to some of the “Hey Dude, Look at my butt” shows that have creeped into the morning lineups. There has to be some choice out there for parents who don’t want their kids watching shows designed for college kids.I would also like to know how these new shows are any worse than Pokemon or Digimon or other card and toy driven franchises that have been around for decades.

  • MattSullivan

    I’m pretty sure the males on this show are portrayed as subservient because they want to empower little girls who watch it. granted it’s the wrong KIND of message to send, but women were portrayed as completely subservient in American society for nearly 60 years.

    Quit whining.

  • http://www.goodaboy.com Rajesh

    Creators can create bad shows and corporations can make good shows.

    No one is arguing against that.

    What is important to note is that it’s important to have a system in place that allows shows, regardless of who created it, to compete for viewers on an even playing field.

    While the internet is a grand place, corporations can squeeze more profit out of a poorly made show that reaches 10 million people than any cartoonist can reaching 50 million people on YouTube.

    If someone has to work twice has hard to get the same results as someone else, they’re not playing on an even playing field. And that’s what has to change.

  • http://goldenagecartoons.com Matthew Hunter

    That clip above hardly illustrates your point, Amid. It’s not my cup of tea, but I’m not a 6-year-old girl. The opening intro, particularly, has some really cool design going for it. It certainly looks miles ahead of the “My Little Pony” I remember seeing as a kid.

    I grew up in the late 80′s/90′s, and it was indeed a creative revolution…but the crappy toy tie-in shows were still there. They never went away, and they’re never going to. Deal with it.

  • Caresse

    Rajesh just made me think of something -

    There’s way too many “Fashion & Style” and “Making the Band” reality shows out there – and there was ONCE a film-making reality show – why hasn’t anyone made an Animation related one?

    We’re an industry that thrives on festivals and a tight-knit community, a competitive Animation reality show seems like a logical next step.

    • G. Melissa Graziano

      I think there was one called “Cel Mates”, and I think it was Canadian or something. But it didn’t last long. Nobody wants to watch paint dry, which is kind of what watching animators animate is like, unless you’re an animator. :p

  • pony boy

    Amid you come off as a short-sighted hater. Your entire argument comes from a skewed perception of reality.

    First off, how many creator driven shows REALLY have been on during this mythical past 20 years or so? I think you named off the few that exist. Compare that to the TONS of shows that have come and gone which are not necessarily creator driven. You act like every show on TV has had a creator driving it until the Hub network came along. That’s completely ridiculous. If you look at the numbers, it just plain does not work out that way.

    Why? Is it because networks and corporations are greedy? Is it because the true “artist” has gone by the wayside? No. It’s because there’s no more money in television these days. Times are a changing.

    That’s the one point you fail to bring up. Who the hell pays for all this stuff? Who pays to develop these shows? Who gambles millions of dollars on a creator’s idea? It’s surely not the creator. It’s the network, it’s an independent producer, it’s an animation studio. That’s who’s paying for this stuff to be made.

    In the past few years, the ad revenue from advertising is in the shitter. So guess that what that means? Less money for networks to pay for shows. Less money to be made in distribution, etc, etc.

    So what’s this mean? Back in the hey day, networks threw money at shows like crazy. They were more willing to take chances because they could. There was no internet, no Nick, Cartoon Network, Hub or Disney channel. There was CBS, NBC and ABC and they only showed animation on Saturday morning. There was a lot less noise in the world so it was easier to have a success and sustain a business.

    That’s what animation is…a business. So since things are riskier these days and there is WAY less money to be had, producers are forced to get creative. Look at the logos which appear at the end of most shows. You’ll see 3 to 4 different logos. You know what that stands for? “Co-production.” It means those are all separate entities putting in their own money, gambling on this show that they have no idea if it will succeed or not. Millions of dollars.

    For that fact alone it’s understandable that each person throwing money into the ring wants a say in the production of a show. It also makes sense why networks (and this is happening in publishing and film as well) are banking on old properties that have equity as opposed to launching new properties. Why? Because it’s a safer gamble. Again, it’s much riskier these days.

    Now look at the shows which are the most ballsy, creator driven and unique. These are usually wholly owned shows by the network. The networks are really the only ones in a position to make these types of shows? Why? Because they control the space….meaning, they don’t worry as much about the investment because they know they will run the show, for sure. An independent producer has a much tougher time. They have to try and presell the show to the network before they can pull the trigger on the series. Still, if the network doesn’t own a major share of it..guess what — that independently produced show sure as hell isn’t going to get airplay over their own wholly owned show which they’ve sunk a crapload of cash into it to develop.

    Going back to the creators you reference — most of these guys earned their stripes on shows that were NOT their own shows…but they’ve proven themselves to be visionaries and able to produce a consistent product. There are tons of talented people in the industry but not everyone is a visionary. I think you’re confusing the fact that only a few people are able stand out and successfully be able to provide a vision for a show for all 26 half hours of the grueling production schedule and on top of that CREATE and sell their own original concept and be able to be trusted to carry that vision through.

    It’s a combination of all the above — talent, work ethic and luck.

    And regarding the Hub, they aren’t killing opportunity, they’re providing it. Right now you have only a handful of a networks to take a show. If they turn you down, you’re fucked. With the Hub they have an entire schedule they now need to fill. That’s opportunity. If you work in animation, there is less work these days. Now that the Hub is a player, that means more jobs and more opportunity.

    I find your article offensive to the hundreds of dedicated and talented creatives who put blood sweat and tears into the animation on TV today. It could be on the Simpsons or My Little Pony..it doesn’t matter. It takes a team of people who give a crap to make a show happen…and to be honest, if you’re not the creator it’s not always great working on a “creator driven show.” Sometimes other shows provide more opportunity for other members of the team to have more influence on the show. And yes, sometimes the result is crap…too many cooks in the kitchen, but other times it’s great and something everyone involved can be proud of.

    Last I should say, I agree with you…that if it is possible to find a sane, reliable talented creator (who has a clear vision) you will get a much better product if you let he/she do their thing. The problem is a lot of guys are like you, Amid. Haters who don’t really get how this all works and it’s their own poor attitudes that hold them back despite their abilities.

    • The Gee

      Thanks for taking the time explain that. More often than not sticking up for producers isn’t something which happens on sites like this one or another, which will go unmentioned. But, they are…their positions as jobs are all a part of the equation. And, as such few productions, especially larger or longer running ones, happen without them.

      That’s one thing Amid didn’t seem to consider. Now who’s going to explain another thing he didn’t consider or mention? By my count there are one or two more aspects which are missing.

      Bueller?

      Bueller?

  • Stephan

    Except for Adventure Time, this blog does a lot of pooping on the unproven. And that’s no good.

  • jojo

    they’re so pretty!!! thank you Lauren Faust!!

  • Slappy

    The sky is falling! Run for the hills! Creator driven animation is extinct! TV networks are going bankrupt! We’re all going to die! There is no hope! There is no turning back! Margaret Loesch is the devil! She must be destroyed! Her head on a stake! HER HEAD ON A STAKE!

  • http://carolwyatt.blogspot.com Carol Wyatt

    I am so glad to see that there is more work being created for animators.
    Sooooooo many talented people are out of work right now. People are losing their homes and having to start over in a career they have worked in for 20 to 30 years. It is a seriously scary time and work is work.

    On a more personal note: Lauren Faust is a savvy business woman, animator and writer. I know Lauren has done some great things with My Little Pony. She has worked her tooshie off. And, believe it or not…There is a huge My Little Pony fan base! There are animators who actually enjoy working on these cartoons. With people like Lauren Faust and Rob Renzetti at the helm, the work may surprise a few sceptics.

    Some of the greatest talents in this business used to work at DIC in the 80s. We had a lot of fun there and the work was schlock in the truest sense of the word. Now, those same animators are pretty well known and have done some incredible work. John K being one of them.

    I’m glad there is a new network for animation.

  • Whippersnapper

    I think everyone needs to stop looking at this from a purely creative standpoint. The root of the problem goes beyond the state of the industry- it’s all because of the psyche of a recessionary America. People’s (in general, not just artists) lives are in a state of upheaval right now: they’re losing jobs, they’re having financial problems, and they’re mistrusting (albeit somewhat unfoundedly) their government. People are looking to movies and television for the familiarity and stability that they’re lives are sorely lacking. That’s why many of the movies and shows that’ve been released lately are remakes or sequels. It’s not because a cabal of evil executives wants to turn all artists into non-creative robot drones. It’s because those remakes are safe, and people know what to expect.

    And while it is true that web content is destined to play a larger role in the entertainment industry, the idea that the web will be the only refuge for original animated content is unrealistic. Many of our favorite creator-driven shows (including BTAS and Ren and Stimpy) were technically a part of the ‘kid’ demographic; and no matter how accessible technology is, kids are still in front of TV sets longer than computer screens.

    As much as I hate to quote Bush (and I REALLY hate to quote Bush), the best option is to “stay the course”. Take the crummy job on Pound Puppies; build your portfolio, gain contacts, and work on your pitch for the next Simpsons. Then, when the economy turns around (which it always has done), you can be a part of the next creator-driven wave.

    Although hopefully I’ll be able to follow this advice myself post-animation school, because admittedly I’m just a high school student. :P

  • Trevor

    Yeah so I guess Pokemon, Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and DragonballZ dont count as merchandising ploys.

    And the established comic IPs turned into animated series like X-Men, Iron Man, Spiderman, Fantastic Four…

    or Disney IPS like Duck Tales, Tale Spin, Aladdin, Goof Troop, Quack Pack, Timoon and Pumba, The Little Mermaid…

    or video game IPs like Megaman, Donkey Kong Country, Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario Super Show…

    or live action film IPs like The Back to the Future Show, Bill and Ted, Conan, Adams Family, Beetlejuice, Dumb and Dumber…

    or the rash of “kid” versions of stuff like James Bond Jr, or Muppet Babies…

    that all of these dont count as “creator driven entertainment” and weren’t the idea of some studio exec looking to milk a bit more money out of established properties.

    It’s the same reason people say film is terrible today. Look back and REALLY look at everything that was made. Don’t get lost on all of the cream that has risen to the top.

  • Nannernanner

    The Glee,

    I just want to point out the childish approach your taking by playing the ‘I see something you don’t see’ game. Commenting after someone makes their own respective post and basically saying ‘I read that the whole time because I’m smart’. If you have a comment to make, just make it. Don’t wait for someone else to make it and then act like your taking credit for having the idea first.

    In regard to the real topic. Regardless of the show, I am thankful to be working and I think Amid has really undersold that. Epecially in a industry that is primarily contract based and suffers from great lapses in loss of work/ production cycles ending. I know quite a few people who are without work right now and I for one would gladly work on a ‘comitee-created’ project if it meant I had a roof over my head and food in my belly. Shows like this are creating jobs and i can get behind that. I am currently working on a show for about the same age bracket as MLP and still find msny chances for creative input. More than even some “creative-driven” projects would allow. If someone really wanted to make a true dissection of the current state of Animation TV, they should look at how much some TV animators are making. At times I feel quite undercut, but I don’t complain because I could be making less flipping burgers at McDonalds.

  • Mike Luzzi

    The production quality on this show looks pretty great. Designs and animation as well as from what I could tell some focus on character and story. Kudos for making a commercial venture look so nice!

  • Whofan

    Doesn’t Japan still produce a lot of creator-driven shows?

    Most of Dragonball Z’s merchandise, BTW, was American-made, apart from the initial Bandai figures.

  • Professor Widebottom

    I’ve never watched anything do to with My Little Pony before. Every sinew in my body resisted but, because I’ve already sold my soul and work in the denizens of the TV biz, I forced-fed myself a sample helping.

    Make no mistake, whoever is writing this stuff has a Machiavellian plan up their sleeve, having hatched a religious cult in the guise of a kid’s show, featuring a pantheon of pink ponies to indoctrinate impressionable little girls into an army of Paris Hilton clones. There’s enough cult-of-goddess archetype material here to make Joseph Campbell cream his pants.

    Like a sleeper cell, the My Little Pony club of today will be the zombie-eyed designer handbag clutching killing machines of tomorrow. But the share holders at Hasbro will be sated and… so, like, what’s the problem dude?

  • http://tangoland.com Cynthia

    This version of My Little Pony looks great! I love all the artwork during the intro.

  • http://jimgrue.com James Sugrue

    I had a feeling this day would come. After seeing the Looney Tunes revival, hearing the return of Beavis Butthead, and GGI movies spun off as TV shows, I felt in my gut that networks were aiming to make shows based off pre-existing ideas.

    But let’s not forget that things in life seem to go in cycles. We dealt with these same issues from the late 60′s all the way through the mid 80′s. I would not say this is the end of a creative driven era. It’s taking a nap. Before you know it, a slew of talented artists will emerge from the rubble and bring new ideas to the table, some of which whose brilliant independent films were featured on CB.(ie Kat Morris, Jacob Ospa, David Sheahan, etc)

    As for talented artists such as Rob Renzetti working on a “toy product show” I do not think it is an admission of defeat. Even inspiring artists need to have steady work. I would love the opportunity to work on a tv show, whether it be a toy product or creative driven show.

    Things may seem bleak, but in the meantime let’s try to go with the flow. I am interested in seeing how the revived “Looney Tunes” and “Beavis and Butthead” will turn out. Plus I find “Adventure Time” and “Regular Show” wonderfully creative driven.

    I know I may come across naive for saying this, but I am not going to lose hope. It’s one thing to be mad and bitter about these turn of events, but having a positive outlook and saying “DON’T GIVE UP” is the only thing that will keep me going.

  • http://UncleEddie'sTheoryCorner Eddie Fitzgerald

    Well said, Amid!

  • Tha Hyena

    Funny… I was thinking something similar yesterday… I had a nostalgia attack and started to search and look for old cartoons I used to watch has little (Garfield, Pinky & the Brain, Goof Troop and Tiny Toons), those are the ones I saw yesterday, I have a really BIG list of all the cartoons I used to watch… anyway… everyone wonders what happened with those type of cartoons, the animation and content of them was something that you DON’T see nowadays… I guess an anime like Pokemon produced so much more money than Tiny Toons ever will… I guess that’s one of the main reasons for this huge lack of good cartoons?, I know there’s more than one single reason… but that’s the one I’m thinking right now… I’m glad to see I’m not the only person who worries about this hehe, it’s time for a change!

    Oh and by the way… I liked this version of My Little Pony I HAD to see the rest of it haha (My Little Pony was one of those I used to watch has little), I do remember seeing some ponies draws in Lauren Faust’s blog… but never expected for a serie to come! xD
    I liked it, it seems fun, I only wish I could see the old good 2D Animation back (not flash), but, meh, that’s too much to ask ;)

  • Derek

    I don’t really see a difference here. Okay, so they’re rebooting “known” franchises and licensed toy characters. This is not new, and despite what you are trying to imply, was all too common in the 90s as well. We had two different Transformers shows, we had Spider-Man, X-Men and Batman. There have been multiple incarnations of each for years. We had Super Mario, Earthworm Jim and Sonic the Hedgehog (who has had a steady stream of new and terrible shows all during the period you are referring to).

    I’m not saying this isn’t a problem for artistic creators. I’m saying its not a new one, and neither is it one that went away and came back. It has always existed and will continue to exist.

    What’s more, you;re referring to Matt Groening, John K, Mike Judge, Trey Parker and Matt Stone as examples of creators who were given the chance on something new, neglecting to recognize they are all creators of decidedly more mature, or at least adult, cartoons, and comparing them to My Little Pony and GI Joe makes about as much sense as comparing Sesame Street to Arrested Development.

    You also lump Bruce Timm in with that lot, and I don’t disagree that Bruce Timm brought an exciting new style and flavour to cartoon TV, but he is best known for BATMAN.

  • http://www.spiteyourface.com Tony Mines

    I value the depth of your argument, Amid, but it reads as so much conservative panic over a liberal concern. I don’t think as much is happening here as either yourself or Ms Loesch project (with dread and optimism respectively).

    The cycle of regurgitation in any commercial market is a proven inevitability, so yes, the deliberate intention of The Hub is clearly to revive certain 80s practices. It is NOT the 80s market, though, and a trendy re-skin won’t change that.

    First time round, these guys had a captured audience – the tv platform was narrower, but confidently expanding its influence. Now it is infinitely wider, but struggling to find relevance and unfocused in its future strategies.

    The sky WILL fall, but this isn’t it. This is a death-throw in an uncertain market, a go-for-broke experiment that will probably pay off for a while. It doesn’t follow though, that anyone will throw the baby out with the bathwater, when Creator driven shows have proven profitable for 20 years. It makes simple commercial sense to let the two co-exist, to either let them battle it out, or to address different markets with different products simultaneously.

    What I’m saying is, chilax. Let them have their stupid Pony money. Trust me, when the cartoons die it will be suicide, not murder.

    • Hedley Lamarr

      Except that MLP:FiM is a top-notch show, and definitely worth watching no matter your age or gender. Faust and Co. take familiar scenarios (lots of classic sitcom plots) and turn them on their head with an undeniably adorable, pony-centric viewpoint. If you like cartoons, you’re in luck. MLP:FiM is one of the best out there today.

  • Mister Twister

    The only logical step for artists is to start making on-demand DVD’s and/or distribute over the web. TV animation is about to become history.

    And what a history that was!

  • Tori Dragonwyck

    Well then, I guess it’ll be a surprise to everyone when I pitch the new show featuring the Van Beuren Tom And Jerry to Studio B! That ain’t an established property, but it’ll catch so many people off guard that people will have their interests sparked to know who the heck these guys are!
    Best reboot ever! :3
    ~T. Dragonwyck

  • http://gastrophobia.com DavidMcG

    Say what you will, but I would KILL for the opportunity to work on this My Little Pony cartoon.
    You can really tell it was done by fans of MLP: Return to Midnight Castle.

  • ManekiNeko

    I’ve seen this show and was amazed by its quality, especially for a cartoon designed to sell toys. If anything it’s a PERFECT example of a cartoon where creativity trumps crass marketing. I know you’ve got your hate on for Flash- I’m not crazy about it myself- but this series was absolutely as good as it could have been given the license. As it turns out, that’s actually pretty good.

    http://momogirl12345.livejournal.com/462040.html

    A friend of mine analyzed this series on her journal and did an exceptional job, pointing out all the little details that make it a cut above the usual kids’ cartoons. She didn’t like the previous My Little Pony series, but here’s the thing… she actually gave the new one a chance, and was pleasantly surprised. Maybe you should try giving the show a chance before you shift into Andy Rooney mode, eh?

  • http://att.my.yahoo.com Derek

    COOKIE JAR ENTERTAINMENT & WARNER BROS. ANIMATION will all co-produce the American/Canadian co-produced animated series with BILLIONFOLD INC., as titled “THE POWERPUFF GIRLS X” – being created by Butch Hartman, and being written by Craig McCracken – both of whom becoming character designers, background designers, producers and directors. Most likely, CARTOON NETWORK [U.S.] (http://www.cartoonnetwork.com) and TELETOON [Canada] (http://www.teletoon.ca) were both showing it first on fall 2012, first as its 120-minute made-for-TV feature-length special, and then later being shown as its full TV series on both of those networks in spring 2013.

    The following characters who’ll all finally appear in the new show itself were:

    * Cathy Cavadini – Blossom
    * Tara Strong – Bubbles, Ms. Keane, Kyle Box, Jamie Lynn Keane, Princess Morbucks, Sedusa
    * E.G. Daily – Buttercup
    * Nika Frost – Andy Bellum
    * Pamela Adlon – Ken Utonium
    * Grey DeLisle – Ms. Sara Bellum, Mrs. Avant-Garde, Femme Fatale
    * Dee Bradley Baker – Mr. Box, Elmer S’Glue
    * Candi Milo – Mrs. Box, Mrs. Rosecrans
    * Frank Welker – Peach (non-speaking), Pony Puff Princess, Ned & Ted, Sniffette, Sapphire, Various Monsters, Ghost Shepherd
    * Daran Norris – God Almighty, Male Announcer, Mr. Brown, Mr. Morbucks
    * Tom Kenny – Narrator, The Mayor, The Principal, Rainbow the Clown, Li’l Arturo, Snake
    * Tom Kane – Professor Utonium, Him, Peach (speaking)
    * Jim Cummings – Fuzzy Lumpkins
    * Roger L. Jackson – Mojo Jojo, Butch of The Rowdyruff Boys
    * Susan Blakeslee – Mrs. Morbucks, Mrs. Brown, Female Announcer
    * Lara Jill Miller – Bobby Brown
    * Butch Hartman – Coach Worth
    * Jeff Bennett – Ace, Big Billy, Grubber
    * Chuck McCann – The Amoeba Boys
    * Rob Paulsen – Brick & Boomer of The Rowdyruff Boys
    * Jim Ward – Michel
    * and many more…

  • Mad Hatter

    Personally when I heard about the new my little pony series I didn’t think much on it, I remember in the past how dumb and annoying the previous cartoons and commercial were so I didn’t watch it at first, but when I was browsing through the tv channels I saw a the ending bit of and thought it was pretty good, then for a lark I watched an entire episode and I must say that I like it. It’s not too girly, it has humorus slapstick and it’s not so sickenly sweet that you want to shoot yourself. I must say Lauren Faust is some kind of person if she can get an old fashioned guy like me to fall in love with a show like this, she made a miracle happen and that is truely a great thing

  • Andrinn

    I’m not sure you could have picked a worse example to go with than My Little Pony for something that is not creator driven or is paint-by-numbers. Lauren Faust fought tooth and nail to make this show stand out from the typical vapid “girly” shows, and she’s apparently succeeded beyond expectations by picking up a demographic that includes a large number of adult males, all confused about liking a show “for girls”.

    • Bronyboy

      We are. And we are loving it. Rainbow Dash Forever!

      • brony

        this article could have been 20% cooler had dash told this guy a thing or two.

  • Anon

    …the hell?

  • Mendez

    So, uh … is it bad to like the toys? I think it’s cool when shows or comics synergize with toy lines. That’s why I like Transformers.

    Also FiM is my favorite show since Avatar: the Last Airbender. I’m a 25-year-old guy.

  • jack v

    I totally disagree. there are plenty of new shows that have continued coming out in the last couple years. Fosters home, flapjack, adventure time, regular show, superjail, all new material that feels very creative. Not to mention, My little pony is a really good show.

  • Maggie Simpson

    It’s very sad these people are trying to turn television animation into a “hub” for good-for-nothing cash cows that have tried and failed. I have created my own character, the basis of which evokes the nostalgic feel of Golden Age cartoons. Thanks to this, nobody will even know what I’ll have to say…

    • Malls Vasew

      They’ve been doing that since the early 80s, where it was at its worst, both in terms of shamelessness and the quality of the shows themselves. The original MLP, Care Bears, G.I. Joe, and Transformers shows were boring, ham-fisted, corny, poorly-developed, lazily-animated, fourth-rate trash. Other heavily merchandised shows, such as Thundercats, He-man, Jem, etc. were no better.

      Also, you make it sound like anything shown on the Hub are even close to being the most popular cartoons today. Despite MLP becoming an internet sensation, it gets modestly good ratings because of its horrific time slot (how many schools let out for children to get home by 1:30 on a Friday afternoon?) and its association with the other shows that air in the same block, which are getting lower viewer counts. G.I. Joe and Transformers don’t get nearly as high ratings as they did upon debut. Dan Vs. has a small cult following at best, and I haven’t heard a peep uttered about the game shows or Haunting Hour.

  • Thundercat

    I miss high quality artwork for animation on television. Not to mention careful attention to syncing up a great orchestrated score to the animation.

    Nowadays, it’s as if animators are just mailing it in for television. Pathetic stories, lame humour, NO iconic characters and horrid art quality. No one in animation seems to care about trying to create a masterpiece. No one is ambitious enough anymore to try and create something that people will care & watch many decades in0 the future.

    Just compare the stuff today with the past from Disney TV not even including their movies. And even compare Loony Tunes, and other classic animations, etc…

    I even miss a show like Gargoyles which I remember seeing back in the 1990′s.

    Now, even the Disney Channel has no imagination or creativity anymore. They have definitely forsaken Disney’s heart and soul…not to mention a legacy of high quality and expectations.

    Why is it there is no one left in animation that is willing to take a chance and create something that they have dreamed of making. Nowadays, it seems like even with movies it is simply about business and making money.

    I remember reading about Disney and while he made money with Snow White…it was a huge risk at the time. And he even lost lots of money initially with Pinochio, Fantasia and Bambi. Over time those slowly made money. But, Disney was almost bankrupt a number of times.

    Why did he continue to take risks making those films? Well, he said that he wanted to make money not simply because he wanted to get rich. Rather, he wanted the money so that he could create as much as possible all that he always dreamed of making when he was a kid.

    If he retired after Snow White he would have been ULTRA rich. That film still may have the MOST attendance ever for any movie. And, yet he still invested that money back into risky film projects. Rather than just stand pat or work on less ambitious stuff.
    Again, there are NO pioneers or risk takers in animation today. Unless you look at Japan and Europe.

    Here all that was built up trying to make animation appealing for adults and not just kids has been ruined. Here people once again look at animation for kids. Look at even good 3D movies.

    The characters are hyper active and often superdeformed and the story is scatter-brained. Lots of imature and silly humour. Rather than clever humour that both parents and children can enjoy.

    You can’t make a classy animated story and expect it to make a lot of money. No one will ever attempt to make a movie like Bambi again. It wouldn’t work well on 3D anyways. I doubt anyone would even make a film like Beauty and the Beast or Little Mermaid in 3D.

    Even, I believe widescreen animated movies will not happen often. Too expensive. Both, Sleeping Beauty and Black Cauldron lost money. So, no surprise those are the only 2 widescreen Disney animated films.

    Sleeping Beauty probably remains as the all-time high in terms of classy artwork and attention to every little detail. Something like that will NEVER happen again. As long as this current age of animators won’t change their attitudes or ambitions.

    Sorry for the long message. But, I just feel that Cartoon Network and others are wasting such a golden opportunity. To think you have 24 hour networks and yet for some reason there has been nothing from them that will be remembered 10, 20, 50 years from now.

    If Disney had the resources people have today he would be hard at work. People are lazy and take for granted the technology that is availible. Instead it is used more as a crutch rather than for something magical.

    Even Walter Lantz, Hanna and Barbara must be rolling in their graves at how pathetic the state of animation is now.

    • Kellen

      Risk taking in Japanese animation?

      Are you serious?
      Where?

      • https://dl-web.dropbox.com/get/Public/PonyKorea.jpg?w=d393d355 Krawczyk

        I believe he may have missed the boat…the so-called ‘risk taking’ he MAY be thinking of are absolutely retarded navel-gazing pretentious crap custom-shat specifically to appeal to the western anime-consuming fanbase. Things like Geass, or Gallade. Even something as stylishly cool as Bebop and Big O were developed more with a western response in mind. No, their risk-taking was 10 years prior to ours, in the late 70s to mid-80s. Comparing the OAV of Area 88 to the TV series shows a vast difference in writing and coherency. A lot of the modern ‘beloved’ anime that isn’t cutesy moe schoolgirl crap or repetitive fighting really only have five or six amazing moments that are either budget-blower climaxes or poorly thought out Shamalaya-esque tweeeeeests.
        Or they just pull a Tomino and kill the shit out of the main cast. Witchblade is the worst offender on that front in my opinion, there’s a lot of story buildup and characterization throughout the series despite its ecchi nature…and then out of nowhere they whacked everyone in the last two episodes without rhyme or reason. The only surviving characters of note are the reporter, the executive, and the main girl’s daughter. That sort of nonsense makes you feel cheated for trying to really get to know anyone at all. Tomino endings are popular, so this winds up being not a risk at all as it would be here. Extending the series and completing the setup arcs by going beyond the arbitrary 26 episode limit would have been the risk.
        It’s also interesting to note how despite the manga also blitzing everyone, because there is setup, background setpieces being moved around, and a betrayal set up, it comes off feeling far more natural when things go full out depressing.

    • HowdyDoody

      So, uh, have you actually watched anything on tv or in theaters lately? Because I’m thinking not. Sure there’s a lot of trash out there, but there always has been and always will be, and there is still tons of innovated, heart wrenching, and clever animation being released in the anglosphere today. Also, if you think no one puts any attention to detail in animated films anymore, you’ve obviously never seen Tangled.

  • The_L

    This article makes me laugh. Just because MLP is based on a Hasbro product doesn’t mean it’s the same soulless drivel we saw in the 80′s. Remember, this is LAUREN FAUST we’re talking about here. She completely redesigned the character’s personalities to fit her vision (compare tomboyish Rainbow Dash to the fashionista Hasbro toy description), and made the show into something watchable and fun, that sends girls a positive message about friendship and courtesy.

    Yes, creator-driven cartoons are on the decline, but their quality has nosedived lately anyway. Cartoon Network’s latest children’s offerings are a far cry from the Powerpuff Girls or Dexter’s Laboratory. On the other hand, I remember the Sonic the Hedgehog series (the Saturday morning ABC program, not the syndicated garbage series that was re-broadcast for years) being one of the better cartoons of the early 90′s, and is still on my “show my kids” list along with Doug, Darkwing Duck, and Gargoyles. And it was based on a video game that had little depth (“run to the end of the level and don’t die”) and only four main characters!

    The quality of a cartoon has little to do with marketing, and everything to do with the talent of the creators and how much care is put into writing and producing a good show. Creator-driven cartoons aren’t ALWAYS good; product-driven programs aren’t ALWAYS bad. As long as the cartoonists are paid enough to live on, and enjoy their work, it shouldn’t matter whether the show is based on a marketed product or not.

  • PATRICK

    I must admit it I was surprised by how wonderful this show was. I don’t always watch shows for little girls but when I do I watch Friendship is Magic.

  • ANON

    Hey, did you know that Lauren Faust wrote the story for Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, which happen to be Craig McCracken cartoons from your so called “creator-driven era”!?

    What a noob :D

  • Calbeck

    There’s some amazing ignorance going on up there about “residuals”.

    Residuals are never guaranteed; they’re the result of a contractural agreement. The only real leverage that a creator has in such an agreement is that they start off owning the rights to what they created — but networks and movie studios own the means by which it can become commercially successful. You can make a decision to own 100% of something that will earn you no income, or a lesser percentage of something that has a shot at success.

    The reason residuals are so rare now is because quality talent is more common, riding the coattails of the people who revolutionized the industry in the first place. The networks and studios have more leverage because if one creator’s being obstinate about letting them use their fantastic show, another one won’t be.

    As usual, it’s about supply and demand…not some concept of “rights to residuals”.

  • CoolOne

    My Little Pony is good, but THE LITTLES, and Beverly Hills Teens (90210 ripped it off!) are way better!

    • http://tyciol.livejournal.com Tyciol

      The Ponies are not the end. We can make them better, and they are better.

  • CJ

    So this is how it all began. One article created one of the biggest and fastest growing sub-cultures to date. It’s funny how history works like that.

  • Bronies Forever

    This was a charming fantasy story. I’m glad it’s so different from the real world, where Friendship is Magic has become one of the most popular things on the internet.

  • richfiles

    Well… What can I say. The article that fanned the flames.

    It’s amazing how such a negative article could have SO BADLY missed the mark. Now, MLP:FiM has proven to be a juggernaut, with a massive fan following ranging all across the board, both gender and age wise, and is even on the verge of breaking the top position as the most viewed meme on the internet.

    We make fun of how bad the toys are, and yet, we go out an spend a few bucks here and there, just because we want to some way support this thing we love. I’ve been begging for a BluRay release for this series myself.

    The content of the 26 existing episodes of season 1 have inspired SO MUCH CREATIVITY among the fans. I no longer believe it to be possible for a human being to consume all the content created each day within a reasonable day. One must filter it, and be very selective. I stick with fan fiction and art with high ratings, and also anything with Luna. ANYTHING. :)

    Not sure how such an “awful” non creator driven show could possibly garner so many non-target demographic fans and generate such a cult following, and generate such creativity online. Certainly, according to this article, it’s all an absolute coincidence.

    My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is the greatest thing to hit TV in a long time! I love Adventure Time, Regular Show, South Park, ATHF, Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad… and I like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic!

    I have seen the 2 part pilot over a dozen times. Most episodes I’ve seen 2-4 times. I don’t even get “The Hub”. I’ve watched it online. I’ve burned it to DVD-R, and if Hasbro ever gets off their thumbs and releases it on BluRay, I’ll have it on BluRay, legit.

    It’s about time I called out the original article that started this whole craze!

    Thanks for being so absurd…

    /co/ might have never discovered the magic of friendship that is My Little Pony had it not been for how absolutely ridiculous this article was. You were so apocalyptic in your analysis of modern animation, you actually got grown men to watch a little girls show in 10 seconds flat, just to see just how bad it was… only to discover this article to be complete and utter malarkey, and the show to be at least 20% cooler than we had ever imagined!!!

    I guess we should thank you for writing this mess. We love you for panicking us into watching this awesome show!

    Now we just have to hold out till season 2. Bring on the fan fics!

  • Josh

    Somepony didn’t get past Episode 4, did they?

    The reason that I’ve become a fan of Friendship is Magic is for two reasons:

    First, the characters possess actual personalities with archetypes that kids (and adults) can relate to. I was sucked in by Fluttershy’s timid demeanor because she is a lot like me. She’s socially awkward, shy, and rather diplomatic, which is something I haven’t seen in a cartoon character.

    Second, the stories that are told in the show aren’t afraid to explore certain places or do certain things. For example, in the last episode each of the characters’ images of their “best night ever” are crushed. One that stood out to me is Rarity. I may be overthinking this, but Rarity embodies the whole “find my Prince Charming” ideology that girls get from Disney movies and such. In Rarity’s case her Prince Charming, whom she imagines as a handsome and loving stallion, ends up turning out to be pompous and self-absorbed (moreso than Rarity, I might add).

    Things like this, let alone the fantastic voice acting, make the show stand out. I gladly place My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic in my list of my Top 5 Favorite Cartoons, right beside Dexter’s Lab, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and Powerpuff Girls. BTW, I’m a 19-year-old male college student.

    Lauren Faust, my hat is off to you.

  • njman

    I think we have to give this guy some props. If it wasn’t for this biased, hate-filled rant, most of us probably wouldn’t know about Friendship is Magic, and may not have become a huge hit like it is now.

  • Bronythegeneric

    I know nothing about the TV industry and watch My Little Pony online for free. I’d just like to point out that the show is genuinely enjoyed by a massive adult fanbase which more or less doesn’t give two shits for the merchandising and watches the show because its genuinely good. .

  • http://s1.zetaboards.com/Conceptual_Evolution/index/ truteal

    I’m not worried about creator-driven animation dying

    I’m worried about traditionally drawn animation dying! (it’s pretty much on it’s death bed)

  • Xandrae the Marvellous

    While I generally disagree, I have to say thank you for writing this essay & single-handedly giving birth to the Brony culture. :)

    • njman

      Couldn’t have said it better.

  • Celano

    If “Superjail” is your example of the highpoint of the “creator-driven” era, then I say good riddance to it! I’m tired of vulgar, moronic and mean-spirited “humor”. I’m fed up with ugly sloppy art being passed off as “style”, or as if that ugliness makes their all ready unfunny show somehow funnier or cooler. Let it all go away. Bring on the toy-based shows that are pretty, funny and actually enjoyable to watch.

    • http://altanimation.podomatic.com Joshua

      The animation on superjail is top notch, and the second season is becoming more plot driven. To say that it is ‘vulgar, moronic and mean-spirited “humor”’ is shortsighted and subjective to say the least. Just like South Park it uses some images and plot devices that might be shocking for older people, but underneath there is real character development and entertainment to be had. Plus, just looking at all the fun stuff in the background that the animators get to play around with makes it worth while for me.
      It sounds like you are bitter about something. Especially to say that you would rather the show not be on the air, the animators out of work, and so on just because you personally don’t like the show. Why cant it just be ok that those of us who don’t have preconceived notions about what an animated show should or shouldn’t be be denied new and exciting entertainment?
      Me personally, I am tired of shows that are traditionally “pretty, funny and actually enjoyable to watch” because most of them are exactly the same and dont challenge my imagination, which really is what cartoons are supposed to do. I dont think they should go away entirely though…

  • njman

    If you ask me, MLP:FIM is My Little Pony in name only.

  • Fran

    Yo OP, Im happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but My little Pony:Friendship is Magic is the best cartoon of all time, OF ALL TIME, peace!

  • Andrew

    It saddens me that I will die in an age where cultural movement is steered by the idiot masses. And that you revel in your mediocrity!

    Democracy… What a flop.

  • Barstool

    I’d just like to put the fact out there that Lauren Faust is married to Craig McCracken. So when Amid here says that he knows exactly what Craig is thinking, it begs the question if Amid knows him as well as he thinks. Times are changing. I’m not trying to attack you for opinion and thoughts Amid, I’m just making a personal observation. That’s all.

  • http://www.taliesinstudio.com Taliesin

    OH THE IRONY.

    THE IRONY!!!!

  • Mark

    This is definitely one of, if not the biggest backfires I have ever seen.

    Thank you for your hate-filled rant, as it has given birth to Bronies.

  • njman

    -> Write an article lambasting a show and calling Lauren Faust and Rob Renzetti “Sell-Outs”

    -> Single handily create one of the most popular things on the internet in doing so

    I do thank you for writing this, though, as most of us probably wouldn’t have found out about the show if it wasn’t for this.

  • Carl

    A show being good has nothing to do with creating the i.p. from scratch. It’s the talent attached to it.

    Think about it, if it weren’t for talented people embracing and expanding a stagnant i.p. we wouldn’t have Fallout 3, Harley Quinn wouldn’t exist, and Power girl wouldn’t have been briefly awesome.

    Take shows like MLP, Adventure Time, or regular show, and match them up against anything in the theaters right now. I think it’s clear where the talent lies.

    Gratz parents, we’re now entering a new golden age of family home entertainment. All nostalgia aside, kids cartoons are better now than they’ve ever been.

    • James Picard

      Oh, most certainly. Now that people have realized they have to put effort into shows to get kids to watch them instead of playing video games, things are turning around nicely from the crap we used to get. Competition truely does allow for innovation and quality.

  • Anon

    Funny, because FiM has the best animation of a western cartoon I’ve seen in years.

    • Mr.Nuggles

      Yeah,if tweening nearly everything to make is look extremely squishy is good.

      • Snu Snu

        So, bright and vivid, detailed characters aren’t your thing.

  • Anon

    Hey AMID!
    How does it feel to be solely responsible for the MLP:FIM mania on the internet?

  • Johnny

    Here we are, where it all began…

  • Skylar

    Where one of the best internet fandoms began. :3

  • Rainbow Dash

    You’ve created a fanbase in 20 seconds flat.

    ENGAGING ORBITAL FRIENDSHIP CANNON!

    • Rainbow Dash

      20 Seconds flat… because you’re not me. You’re just not fast enough.

  • Pinkie Pie

    “Hey! You know what this calls for? A PARTY!!!!!”

  • Brony

    Wow, how did anyone get an outlook on life this crappy? He acts like there will never be a good show again in the world. This person needs to lighten up and open their mind to the possibilities. If My Little
    Pony: Friendship is Magic is an example of a terrible, shallow show not worth your time, then is anything in the world worth spending time on? I, personally think TV hassn’t really had a fall in quality at any point. some specific tv channels have, but overall, there have been a lot of shows coming out pretty much continuously. Like, I remember all the cool shows when I was younger, like Powerpuff girls, Transformers: Armada, KND, Courage the cowardly dog, or Ed, Edd, and Eddy. I can think of good shows in between long ago and now, like Fosters Home, Transformers: Cybertron, A:TLA, Invader Zim, and Monster Allergy, I can think of good shows going on now, like Spongebob, Phineas and Ferb,and MLP:FiM. There’s also the reealy old shows that are epic, like DBZ, Transformers, or TMNT(which has had a pretty cool cartoon reboot). But, I can’t honestly say that I wished peple like this would keep quiet, because if they did, then I might not be a brony right now. A little proof that the world needs all sorts of people to make awesomeness. But I hope to help the creator of this article with this comment by reminding them to open their mind to the fact that just because a show is new, or was created to help sales of a product, does not mean that it can’t be good. I just wonder if the creator of the article ever even watched more than 15 seconds of MLP:FiM. Oh, well, if the creator stays a hater then haters are gonna hate and there’s nothing for bronies and fans of the above mentioned shows to do but love and tolerate.

    P.S. I am SOO excited for season 2 of MLP:FiM to air!
    I can’t wait! /)^3^(\

  • Neverhoodian

    Ah, so this is the article that started it all. As a recently converted “brony,” I feel obligated to give credit where credit is due:

    Thank you, Amid. Thank you for making the denizens of the internet aware of this gem of a show. Thank you for the overwhelming quantity of pony-related memes that finally caused me to see what all the fuss was about. Thank you for indirectly giving me a warm, fuzzy feeling and a big, dumb grin every time I watch an episode.

    Now this 25 year old man is thoroughly taken with the inhabitants of Equestria. I giggle like a schoolgirl at the jokes. I find myself humming such catchy tunes as “Art of the Dress” and “Winter Wrap Up.” I squee at the adorable little noises Fluttershy makes.

    And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    I know it wasn’t your intent when you wrote this article, but I hope you realize just how much you’ve affected people’s lives. In this day and age of rampant cynicism, it’s nice to see an innocent children’s show get such widespread acclaim. Brohoofs all around.

    Love and tolerance,
    Neverhoodian

  • Random

    The End of the Creator-Driven Era…AND THE START OF THE MEME DRIVEN ERA!

    • DJ Derpy

      Worst is…. i think that’s exactly it XD

  • Fotohunter

    I see your point and I am really moved by this article. What you say is something that points non other than what could be the high point of animation decadence of TV.

    But believe it or not I think this is good, in a way because it will help shed the animation market with the proper time. It may be harsh but it will slowly create a construct that will crumble under the lack of ideas since every single show will be constantly revived and thus compared with their predecessors.

    I hope, in the best way possible, that this make TV animation a weaker market and help young aspiring artists and writers to take the chance to go into TV animation by their own with fresh ideas and talent, thus breaking the limits of currents cartoons and creating a new brand of TV animation shows.

  • Dart

    The article that started a subculture! I hope you are proud of yourself. No, that’s not sarcasm; I genuinely hope you are proud of this, and understand just how many lives have been positively affected as a result of this article – the show has been a source of inspiration, helped people get over depression and addiction, and all in all made thousands (millions, perhaps?) of bronies better and more tolerant people. Thank you!

  • Snagglepuss

    So did creator driven animation end or what?

    • Iritscen

      I think it happened last Tuesday. Wait, or was that supposed to be the coming Tuesday?

      • Snagglepuss

        Cool, I can wait. I’ll just be watching Adventure Time and Gumball in the meanwhile.

  • http://theAMIGOunit.com Nelson

    I guess this lesson here is don’t fuck with 4chan. God, the internet is a scary, scary place. We are talking about My Little Pony, right? Really, My little pony? jesus.

  • Feckless

    Yah, sure. If this is what the End of the Creator-Driven Era looks like, I welcome our new toy-company overlords.

  • Mr.Nuggles

    “My Little Pony is the best cartoon ever made!”
    No it’s not. The story is good but the animation is extremely subpar,as is the character design(nearly everything,especially the ponies,are copypastas of each other)

    I have to agree with amid. MLP might be great but it’s just strengthening the whole “reboot this and reboot that” ideal going on with cartoons now.

    • eX.A.K.R.

      In some aspects, yes, the animation is definitely subpar, but you can also see the attention to details in others, details that you can easily overlook until you look at it closely.

      In some ways, the subpar animation quality is due to the crew having to meet very tight deadlines. If given more time, perhaps more attention could have been given to such background details. In the end, I guess the animators decided to trade that for more careful attention to “foreground” action.

      It’s not the best cartoon ever, but I say it’s definitely up there with other television classics like Looney Tunes, Tiny Toons, Tom & Jerry, etc.

      • anoniyon

        “It’s not the best cartoon ever, but I say it’s definitely up there with other television classics like Looney Tunes, Tiny Toons, Tom & Jerry, etc. ”

        Um… excuse me? What did you just say? MLP is nowhere near the ranks of LT or T&J. You said yourself that the animation is subpar. LT and T&J are known for their beautiful animation.

  • wp

    What really annoys me about this article is how Amid makes all his really speculative, really subjective points in such a matter of fact tone, as if he was describing some element of animation history, like the rise of Disney or something. He seems to think hes describing an event in animation history as it happens. And I guess he is, but without the benefit of hindsight everything he says is pure opinion and phrasing it in a way that pretends he knows exactly what’s happening and how everything is going to go is just smug.

    (And by the way I know this article is really really old and at this point its pretty silly to complain about it, but whatever)

    Oh yeah, and MLP:FiM is awesome, the Hub is not the Devil, the era of creator driven animation is not over.

  • Bryn Hanby-Roberts

    Happy one year anniversary all! This is your singing telegram I hope it finds you well :3

  • David Reinold

    I find this article hilariously ironic, since Friendship is Magic was in fact the greatest heist in creative control the world has ever seen.

    Hasbro has been making corporate interventions in their cartoons for 27 years; that stopped last year when Lauren Faust basically stole control of the series away from Hasbro, looked at everything they had left her to work with and said “f*** it, let’s start from scratch”.

    Now Hasbro can’t even prevent non-G4 ponies from making sly cameos. Lauren Faust basically stole back creative control from the corporations.

    Hence, this article is hilariously ironic.

  • Anonymous

    This is so ironic I think I laughed my head off. Because, you know, bronies stemmed from this very article… yeah. Quite honestly, MLP:FIM is one of the best cartoons of the current animation era. Many grown men and teenagers are sick of the current internet and television trend of “scream, blow up, sexy time, glitter, guns, violence”. MLP:FIM is a show that provides all the awesomeness and originality of shows like Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, while introducing an extremely original (for this CG and anime driven period) animation style, and keeping an air of innocence. Sure, there may be references to classic films and tv shows that its target audience of young girls may not understand, but that doesn’t detract from the overall experience of the show. Lauren Faust is brilliant.

    BUT ENOUGH ABOUT MLP:FIM.

    The creator-driven era is DEFINITELY not over. There is an entire website, Newgrounds, that is completely creator driven. MLP:FIM is pretty creator driven. Many large corporations with franchises such as Sonic or Naruto or whatever may not be creator-driven, but that does not offset the influx of creator-driven animation. Some animation’s animators and writers are frequenting the internet more than ever, and reacting to their fanbases more and more actively. Some will even engage in friendly conversation with fans on their respective fansites. No wonder more and more adults have been becoming fans of western animation.

    Yes, I know this is old.

  • Mark

    Funny how this article did something no marketing department in the world could do: make My Little Pony cool to male teenagers and adults.

  • Myles

    Congratulations, My Little Pony: FiM is all over the internet now due to this article.

  • Big Macintosh

    It never ceases to amaze me how people will take every development in the world nowadays and proclaim it

    THE
    WORST
    POSSIBLE
    THING!

    Honestly, though, in a century, future-Amid will probably be lamenting how the holonovels of the 22nd century don’t have the heart or charm that 21st century cartoons did. People never seem to get that the good and bad always exist simultaneously; it’s just that the gems are what stick with us. And I have to say, MLP: FiM looks to be one of those gems. It’s not about when a show is made, or what its basis for existing is. In the end, it’s all about whether or not the show can stand on its own as a work of true talent, effort, and quality.

    And you have to trust me on this. ‘Cause I am best pony.

  • DamnitBronies

    You just HAD to write this, didn’t you. You just had to play the Lottery with the entire internet. Had you not mentioned those God-Forsaken ponies, the Brony menace would maybe never have emerged. If you only knew at the time, the HELL you would bring upon us all. A year of hellish torture, with maybe many more to come.

    Basically, OK article but you ushered forth the coming of the Apocalypse. Nice job…

    • HatersGonnaHate

      My name says it all.

      Don’t like the show? Ignore it. Go watch your own TV or play your own games. It’s not like Bronies are knocking on your door and saying “Have you let ponies into your life?” Are we stabbing anyone? I don’t think so.

  • Poniesgonnapwn

    THANK YOU

    …for introducing ponies into my life, bro.

  • Strategos777

    “Nice job breaking it hero.” But seriously… I discovered My Little Pony Friendship is Magic because of a co-worker making fun of people who like that… and I was curious I HAD to watch it just to see. And then I had to try to convince my wife to watch it… and now I’m trying to convince co-workers and friends to watch it…

    Every era of everything goes in cycles and trying to fight them is utterly pointless. That said every era also has standouts and amazing work. This show will be remembered long after everyone has forgotten the shows that the author was trying to draw attention to. Now THAT is irony.

    I love the show for no other reason than that I am an animation fan. It matters not to me if it is for children or old people or people in Asia or whatever. I love it because it is truly great.

    -Peace Out

  • Radi0

    I see no problem at good art revolving around certain parts of culture. Take Andy Warhol and his soup painting for example.
    A true talent can express itself in any way it wants to.

    also lol @ DamnitBronies
    No one is whining about Adam and Eve’s screwup back in the days. Deal with it.

  • August

    THE FIRST HATER!
    look upon him, all ye ladies and gentlemen, fillies and gentlecolts! in all his glory here he is!
    i find it ironic in the highest degree, that the first hater existed before the bronies did, oh if he had only known, the absolute shitstorm he would unleash upon the world. well i’m dearly glad he made this, because i certainly never would have discovered MLP: FIM on my own. let this be a lesson to the world, good things can come from the most unexpected of places.

  • Someone

    Who would think this harmless article would initiate the brony subculture.

    I didn’t like it, because it was to cutesy for my tastes. But also, because of the annoying fanbase.

    The one you accidentally kickstarted with this article.

    Nice job breaking it, hero.

    • The Muffin Man

      I just want to comment to say this: I see what you did there, and I like it.

  • Rarity

    Dude… you just started the brony subculture…

  • http://miuniversoloco09.blogspot.com/ Salomon Fenix

    Well, Well, Well if Amid Amidi and another of his crazy news, I tell you one thing this article looks like a big joke on your part alarmist really seems that what you are good at is absurdly follow in the footsteps of John K. this. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and The Hub is a wonderful series and channel, and is very good indeed that Faust has done with the franchise, reinvented very well, although not as sappy as the previous incarnations.
    And many say that there is now only series based on toys, believe it is the end of the world or something, but as I said a user”Because if you praise Bruce Timm for having reinvented Batman (which is also merchandising) because Faust to reinvest My Little Pony?”.
    Also with your comment you said about her and”Watching Renzetti Renzetti names like Rob and Lauren Faust pop up in the credits of a toy-based animated series like My Little Pony is an admission of defeat for the Entire movement, a white flag-waving moment for the TV animation industry. ”Only missing also be read as Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere (which had created creator-driven cartoons), having reinvented Pound Puppies and become an Internet phenomenon as well, besides the animation of this decade (2010′s) is completely better, and although there is some cry original series, not bad indeed some that already exists.
    Well no more to say just one more thing, as said in previous comments ¡¡¡¡¡¡¡ Thank you also have created everything in Internet meme: D! !!!!!!!!!!!!, and more with your great hatred towards it (different from any typical and pathetic Pony hater / troll)
    SF

  • http://breakingspell.com Lord Blake

    So this is how it all started….

    Brohoof, everyone!

  • My Little Brony

    You lit the flame. You are the father of the bronies. I love you dad.

    • PhantomFlight

      I believe this is well desreved. /)

  • Ethan

    If you gave this man a match and a birthday cake, he would make the kitchen look like Vietnam.
    If you told this man to put out the fire, he’d detonate a nuke.
    If you gave this man enough nukes to start World War III, he’d bring world peace.

    In achieving the exact opposite of the intended objective, Amid is special.

    Fail of the Year 2010.

    Friendship is Magic for life.

  • Gumri

    And thus the legend was born.

  • TheBansheeBomb

    This is where it all begins, this is what separates two asscheeks and creates a crater in the middle of them. This is where the magic happens.

  • Julian

    IDK what to say on this whole mess. Animation is certainly changing in the big picture. But I don’t see it as getting worse or even morphing into something else, it just seems it’s getting bigger and more variety is coming along, which is, good? I mean technology is improving and becoming cheaper, people who never even dreamed of making a character walk 20 years ago can make an entire flash film economically today, and you got the aspect of newer and more easily accessible media for both producers and viewers. I was actually having this discussion with my friend earlier today, 40 years ago, you either watched what was on the boob tube’s three channels or you were an outcast. Now, not only do you have so many choices on both the tv and internet, you can make something yourself. Sure a lot of it will be what most of us consider “rubbish”, but in a world of 7 billion there will be someone who likes it, and does it really hurt us if it exists when we got so many other choices and the freedom to make something better? I’m just going to keep an open mind.

    P.S. I’ve seen MLPFIM, I don’t care for it like a brony, but I’ve got to say it’s better than that drool from the 80s. Sure it has toy selling intentions, but it seems to have learned a thing or two from the 90s and 00s. Just saying.

  • Tim Collins

    And look what happened. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic became one of the only good animated programs on television today besides (hopefully) The Legend of Korra. Please write an article about how if something has a good writing staff, it’s bound to draw attention and become popular, not to mention down right good.

  • Thank You

    Thank you for writing this article. Without it, many people’s lives would be starved of love, tolerance, and friendship.

  • Rainbow Dash’s fan

    Thanks for writing this!!! /)(\

  • Josh

    So, Amad, I was wondering: How does it feel to have been the origin of Bronies? I’m not trying to be facetious. I genuinely want to know what you think of the fruits of your labor.

  • Miles Bockelman

    This very article is what created our community, I am humbled to look upon it.

  • Disillusioned Logician

    This feels like over-indulgent whinining to me. Why is it a bad thing that creators like Rob Renzetti and Lauren Faust are part of the production? If you’re so concern about the quality of animation then you should be happy that they’re involved. Why should anmation not receive quality work just because it based on a toy franchise? And how does that mark the end of creator drvien animation? Will Rob or Lauren never again make something original? Even if that is case how does it make end of creator driven animation as a whole? That is nothing more but premature and overexagerated.

  • Lisa

    How does it feel to know that your article had a hand in creating a whole fandom?

    I am working on a video response to go along with the Toonami April Fools Joke.

  • mee

    Amid, im curious on your feelings of other new shows such as ‘Lego Ninjago’ and your current feelings on MLP-FiM and the brony sub-culture, so many claim this article helped start/unite

  • http://penguins.nhl.com Mario Lemieux

    I’m glad you wrote this article. You blindly bashed about a show you didn’t watch and soon everyone watched it to prove how wrong you were. You sparked a fandom that I’m proud to be of and it’s your fault you started it. Brohoofs, everypony!

    /)(\

  • Lolponies

    First poster is a friggin prophet!

    “Basically this is the best reboot of the Pony brand I’ve seen ever. Hell this is probably going to be the best example of a show that brand has to offer. Transformers had a few great shows during the 90s and naughts (Beast Wars was remarkably well written). Maybe MLP can do the same for itself.”

  • http://none patrickgardner

    i was interested to see the the spark that ignited the massive fandom that i am proud to be a fan of. its like fate out of all the shows you picked you had to choose this one there are 100s of crappy shows you could have done. its just amazing how this backfired. to think you allowed this to happen. Thanks to you bronies are know a growing phenomenon and i thank you and believe you out of anyone whether on purpose or by accident deserve a brohoof/)

  • JackFrag

    This article is LEGEND. One day hundreds of years from now, bronies of the future will be telling the tale of how their great and powerful nation rose to power and conquered the stars. It will begin with this article.

  • DPanther

    Oh the irony. If it wasn’t for him complaining about the end of the “Creator Driven Era”, and posting the My Little Pony video as evidence for “CARTOONZ SUCK NOW, HER DER”, then the Pony fandom would never of even existed. He created a phenomenon about the very thing he complained about. For that, I salute him, as I would not have known of the magical creation known as My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
    I’m a brony and I’m proud. Brohoof /)

  • http://dominickwolf1229.tabulas.com/profile/ Joshua Dolbin

    I and my buddies have been reading the best items located on your web blog and so immediately developed a horrible feeling I had not expressed respect to you for those tips. The ladies are already absolutely thrilled to read all of them and have honestly been using them. We appreciate you truly being well kind as well as for selecting such marvelous subjects millions of individuals are really desirous to be informed on. My honest apologies for not expressing gratitude to earlier.

  • Sam W

    So this is the little article that started this great brony war

  • Nate Blake

    So this article started the great Brony Fandom as we know today. Very interesting.

  • Giovanni Mazzei

    Thank you for creating Bronies, and Introducing me to My Little Pony. I am no longer depressed because of this negative article.

  • ScriptScrolls

    What you see here, ladies and gentlemen, is the shot heard ’round the world. This article has likely affected more people than any in the decade, positively or not. We should revere it solely for that.

    As for the actual article content, I think we all forget just how crappy the animation was in 90s cartoons… and the only things worse were the plotlines.

    Even if MLP:FiM isn’t all that creator-DRIVEN it certainly DRIVES creators out there. The FiM fandom has great visual artists, musicians, and writers who all donate their intellectual capital to the show. Want some examples? Mandopony, Acoustibrony, JohnJoseco, ParkaPosy, WoodenToaster, TheLivingTombstone, Omnipony, LunaUsesCaps, knighty, AbsoluteAnonymous, etc. There are simply too many creative people to list who have dedicated themselves to the fandom.

  • Kyle

    Every brony is part of a giant trolling snowball started by 4chan against this guy. Remember that.

  • Joe The Snail

    Wow… it’s amazing what this article has caused. I really wonder what the writer must be thinking now that they’ve indirectly caused one of the largest fanbases ever.

  • Mr. Mundy

    Heh… let me just slip in here and post a comment in 2012… Ponydrought and whatnot… *looks at last comment*-6/15/12 *looks at date*-6/25/12 BLOODY WANKERS!

  • MyLittleDashie7

    Ponydrought? what ponydrought is this, if you’re calling us wankers, do you have any reason for it? or are you just indiscriminately hating on a very varied group of people because they enjoy what is a brilliant show, which would appear to be for children but really is for everyone

  • Star Hex

    Behold the catalyst that started it all! We bronies owe you a great debt friend.

  • Stephen

    If I ever need a good chuckle, I come read this.

  • red

    now i agree with you on every point you make i could obly agree more if you didnt say anything about My Little Pony

  • Aimee

    Happy 2 year anniversary (slightly belated) of this article.

  • Flutterbee

    This is the first time I’ve actually read this article. So amazing that this is basicly what spawned the Brony movement. I wonder if this article can be considered the biggest fail of the decade?

  • The Thoughtful

    Ah, the article which started it all. How amazing that two years ago, a few people decided to go against Amid Amidi’s biased claims, spawning the now constantly growing brony community. I actually have to thank him for writing this, otherwise MLP might never have taken off and I would never have become hooked. Of course, I almost completely disagree with everything he says, but that little detail hardly matters.

    • The Thoughtful

      Hm. Please allow me to elaborate on that last sentence. I was referring to the fact that he brought MLP into this argument, as he no doubt does make some good points.

  • DaTigga

    Ah, it’s amazing to see the comments up the top to see the roots of Bronyism. I thought that I just had to leave my mark on this historic site on the internet. Well, well, well, two years later and My Little Pony Friendship is Magic is becoming more famous by the day. It’s strange how it was these events that brought the fandom about :D

  • FloorBelow

    Well, this article hasn’t really served it’s purpose well, has it? :P

  • Elijah B.

    I got curious too, just like a lot of people, and went searching for the start of the Brony fandom. And, just like everyone else, this is the most ironic thing I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. It was a very influential article, that’s for sure, and definitely not in the way Amid had thought. Thank you, Amid, by the way. I want to leave my mark on this historic event of the internet by saying something totally unoriginal, as hundreds of others have already beat me to the punch: Freaking MLP = Very Yes. Thank you, and queue the next brony to say the same thing as everyone else to add to this Internet Hall Of Fame article.

  • Pilgrim of the Herd

    Genesis, Chapter 1, Verse 1-2: “In her article, ‘The End of the Creator-Driven Era’, journalist Amid Amidi from Cartoon Brew said, ‘The Hub, a network owned partly by toy company Hasbro, launched a little over a week ago with new animated series including Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Bitty Adventures, G.I. Joe: Renegades, and My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. The network’s debut closes the curtain on what has commonly been referred to as the creator-driven era of TV animation.’ And then there were bronies.”

    The event of this article’s creation marked the beginning of a sub-culture that has enriched (and saved, in some cases) the lives of many people. As of this post, it could be at least 7 million according to certain studies.

    Terabytes (perhaps petabytes or exabytes by now) of art of all recognized forms began because of this article: games, music, drawing, literature, animation, sculpture, tailoring, programming languages. Communities and their works and media outlets formed: news sites, radio shows, memes, charity, competitions, meet-ups, conventions, Youtube channels, livestreams, tumblrs, forums. All this has contributed to a wondrous culture within the fandom and continues to hold and attract people. To be part of it can be very enjoyable and socially fulfilling for the artists, the community leaders, and the members who simply behold and participate.

    Those who have regarded what has transpired over the past two years and continues to do so have this article to thank for it. Mine will not be the last comment regarding this article, and I doubt others will cease to make the pilgrimage to this site that marks the genesis of our fandom. May this continue for many years to come. May each one of us give proper credit where it is due and tell you, Amid Amidi: Thank you for your remarks. Without them, I would not be enjoying life the way I do today.

  • James Picard

    Funny enough, the Brony craze started on this poorly researched, clearly biased article. Yeah, the Hub has a lot of merchendise-based show. You know what it also airs? Batman Beyond, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, 1960′s Batman, and plenty of other cartoons not based on toys at all. Not to mention all the other kids channels that air non-merchendise driven shows too, like Amazing world of Gumball, Fanboy and Chum-Chum (I never said they were good), and Fish Hooks. You really have no idea how many of these are out there, do you? Congratulations, by looking like you can’t research at all, you gave rise to one of the most popular internet memes. Nice job.

  • Ignatian-Mystic

    Ahhh, here we are, two years since ol’ Amidi published this charming little article. I wonder if he’s ever actually learned of the results of posting this writing– how his nay-saying has sparked the birth of the massive fandom that is the brony community.

    Amidi, I wish to thank you for being so blatantly pessimistic. Thanks to your bombastic spouting of woe, we’ve gained one of the greatest fandoms to ever exist.

    But on a side note, I must admit– you really seem to know very little about creator-driven media. The work of Lauren Faust and the subsequent following it has drawn are clear evidence of that. =D

  • CF6

    You know the irony of this article? Had this not been published then the brony phenom would never have happened and it is thanks to this article that mlp: fim is so popular.

  • The Bellhop

    It is truly amazing how this single article, meant to be swipe at the Hub wound up bringing them more viewers and revenue than anyone could have ever imagined. It really makes you think about your choices in life. What would have happened if this article had never been written? Would bronies have come into existence through some other means? We will never know the answer to that question. What we do know is that the good Mr. Amidi did write this article, and for that, some thank him. Others condemn him. Regardless, this article happened, and the world was changed because of it. So, I say to you Mr. Amidi, and not sarcastically, congratulations. You have truly made a difference in this world, and even if it was not in the way you intended, you should be proud of yourself.

  • Biased Chronicle

    Ah Patient Zero, This article was at one point in time a living time bomb. For what? What else, ponies. Sooner or later a comprehensive history of the fandom will be made and this along with 4chan and it’s other deviations will be central to the inception. However, as for the fandom itself, it’s beginning to reach it’s capacity and peter out. To those of you who believe that the entire internet has been dominated by ponies, please remember the internet is not representative of humanity only perhaps 1/3 of a scant few of humanity and its endeavors. Also 7 million-14 million fans, it has been estimated is the population of the fandom in some capacity (not based on facebook counting), note as always measures such as these are almost always inaccurate and unreliable despite being based on a seemingly sound method. Double that number. 28 million fans. That is my guesstimate for the final number of fans with a fluctuation of plus or minus 2 million more for the next 10 years. Past 10 years who knows. Society changes but it also stays the same so it’s up in the air as to what will happen.

    To haters out there of the show, it’s fine to hate but unless it’s shoved in your face don’t show it. Rather than just hate, use that time and energy to plan. Not petty one off deals like an attack on the servers of the fan sites to disrupt activity for maybe a an hour or a day, or disrupting live streams. Go for broke, think, analyze and plan with your hatred as a guide with whatever end goal you have in mind for the demise of the fandom, if you want to really show off your hatred. Rather than just espouse it from your computer chairs when you have something to do but don’t feel like it and decide to fantasize about the reactions you can get out of people for posting your hate. Go out or rather in and do something with your hate otherwise it’s just wasteful.

    To the fans both extreme, bordering and in the middle. The show’s respectable; it’s done some good in your small corners of the world, and it’ll eventually become a pop culture staple in Internet culture, American culture and whatever other location it’s found popular. It’ll be up there with the retro cartoons: Ed edd n Eddy, I am Weasel, Looney Tunes, Animaniacs etc. and also with other icons like Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, every single Disney movie…(sigh) also …light etc. etc. (Honestly too many to list) It’s a cultural phenomenon that will be remembered as long as someone thinks about it. The point of this is, whether someone likes the show or not, don’t shove it down there throats, that will take away from the simplicity of the show’s message. Whether they drink the Kool-Aid or Gatorade or what have you is up to them, please merely present it and respect their decision rather than jump to its defense as if it will disappear if you don’t religiously espouse the virtues of the show. It will be a long long time for this show to go away.

    Just remember. It’s just a TV show, shows come and go, some stick some don’t you can’t really control it. All you can control is how you feel about this show. Eventually, another show will take the internet by storm summoning once more haters and fans and ponies will fade gradually, but they’ll leave an impression that will not be forgotten.The fandom (thus far) has had some really negative times and really good times, focusing on one over the other is neglectful thinking and disrespectful of its creators. Whether you love or hate the show, all you know is what’s in your heart (hopefully) and all you can do is hope for the best. Be that: it’s “destruction” or “ascension” is entirely up you. Nonetheless, right now it seems that ponies will be around for a while to come so either keep calm and brony on or get your hatin’ on.

  • Vengir

    Who would have thought, that this article would make Brony fandom.

    How irronically, that the fandom “founder” may be considered a hater.

  • /b/radley

    [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, "It is OK to post with a nickname or alias, but your email address (which we will NEVER share publicly), must be a real, permanent email address. Comments with fake or non-permanent emails will be deleted."]

  • Guest

    Oh the irony… this single article meant to bash The Hub probably made them the biggest favor in their history.

    Thanks Amid, if it wasn’t for your failure I wouldn’t have met a lot of wonderful people and find out a lot about myself.

  • Alicorn Twilight

    maybe, you weren’t wrong after all.

  • Anon

    The prophesy has come true at last. This article went full circle and bit us all the the ass.

  • Anon5

    Funny, this seems more relevant to the current state of MLP than to the show at the time of this posting

  • DJ Derpy

    *listening to Pony Swag song* … Thanks Amid Amidi… because of you, i now enjoy fan-made music, video, episodes, drawing, mods on games, etc, etc, etc…
    Did you use a shotgun to be sure of not missing your foot when you wrote that article? XD

  • http://twitter.com/Redbearwoodall Jeremy Woodall

    Well, this seems kind of haunting in light of the season 3 finale. While I did enjoy the episode and thought the studio did the best they could under the circumstances, If Hasbro is willing to pull something of this magnitude just to sell some more toys, I’m scared for the future of this show. Season 2 was the best because the creators had free reign for the most part; all they had to do was introduce a couple new characters in any way they wanted. However, the level of meddling by Hasbro in season 3 was insane, and if they don’t step back, it will once again turn into an overly girly commercial for their toys.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Nanami.and.Tico Peter Geissler

    So, this is it. The genesis of the brony fandom.
    Without this article, it would not exist.
    All the joyment and awesomeness of this best cartoon ever, wouldn’t become recognized by so many people around the world then.
    This is really ironic, that an article such critical was be able to do that.
    The origin of this fandom is fate.

    Thank you.

    • Pinkie Pie

      It looked like you said “The origin of this fandom is *hate!*”

  • Saulslendamann

    Look at the current slate on cancellations and subpar toy commercials, how does it feel to be vindicated by history, Amid? Oh, and to the bronies that came years after the fact to ridicule the author of an opinion article, great job living up to the shows message and ideals. Class act all around.

  • Mirage Seraph

    Been awhile since looking at this, ah, to think, you started this. You started this beautiful little community I and millions of others call home. Thank you.

  • ThatGuy

    The thing is, when it started, MLP was creator driven, but Faust left after season one (most likely due to Hasbro meddling,) and the show has been heading downhill ever since. I fear for season four of MLP. What he’s talking about isn’t so much a single event, as it is a slow decay.

  • Guy Incognito

    To all the people now raging against the upcoming Equestria Girls spin-off… By dismissing that show before it even airs, you are now no better than the writer of this article.

  • A Madman With a Box

    Wow…I wonder how it feels to write an article opposing a cartoon and have it backfire so terribly.
    Terrible article, thanks for creating bronies!

  • Equestria Girls

    Wow once upon a time I might have disagreed with you, but damn if you didn’t know how to call it. My apologies. Turns out time is the only true vindicator in our existence.

  • PB32

    To think, the blog post that sparked one of the biggest internet fandoms ever, also, without knowing, foreshadowed it’s downfall. You were right, maybe not at first, when Friendship is Magic was good, but this couldn’t be more right right now. Alicorn Twilight and Equestria Girls, hasbro’s executive meddling, marketing bullshit, is killing this fandom.

    • Zer0Shade

      not really killing the fandom. maybe it has gone a little bit down, but once season 4 airs, brony fandom is going to be stronger than ever.

  • Richard Thornburg

    just a simple brony on a pilgrimage to this holy site.

  • Logan Graham

    How about Avatar/Korra? The movie was a cynical cash grab, out of Mike and Bryan’s reach, and it tanked so hard the ripples are still felt today. Nick execs obviously knew that Mike and Bryan know more about good TV than they did, and stayed out of their way.

  • mikejohn

    Well, the Hub IS a Hasbro product; it’s whole purpose is to sell toys. I did a paper on the network, and they devote about 60 hours a week to selling at least separate toylines.

  • Firestonex

    3 years later, and ponies rule the internet.

  • Brandon

    Wait a minute. Let me get this straight! The ONLY reason why MLP: FIM is even popular at all is because of this article?! Are you kidding me?!

  • the pilgrim

    i have come here for the answer of how this wonderful fandom, that has brought so much joy in the form of ponies, fanart, music and strories came to be. i would have missed so many of the things i now love of not for you. so many smiles, laughs and feelings in the darkest of times. while i know that you may not like the development and that some taunt you for what happened, i want you to know that thanks to this article you have brought smiles and happiness to so many people that you could fill a country with them. you have even saved countless despairing souls from sadness, depression and suicide that you should be honored. i have made this pilgrimage here, to the beginning of it all, as others have before me and i can not help but to weep out of you as i bear witness to possible one of the most significant texts the internet, and i, ever read.

    thank you. from the bottom of my heart, thank you

  • Roberto Severino

    The irony of this article is astounding. Amid was making huge history whether he knew it at the time or not. It also proves how powerful of a tool social media can be when it comes to promoting any kind of show. In the long run, it doesn’t really matter whether the publicity or attention given to these things is primarily positive or negative.