European Cartoon Network Pilots

Back in 2009, Cartoon Network Development Studio Europe in London created six 3-minute pilots under the creative direction of Timothy Björklund, who had previously directed American shows like Teacher’s Pet and Brandy & Mr. Whiskers. The studio finally posted them on-line yesterday. The nicest thing one can say is that there’s a lot of talent in that studio and the graphics are fun, but the uniformly obnoxious and aggressive tone of the shorts is an unpleasant reminder of the early-2000s US TV animation industry when nobody seemed able to shake off the combined Spumco/Spongebob influence.

The London studio recently produced its first original series The Amazing World of Gumball, and from the previews I’ve seen, it suffers from the same retrograde tone of these pilots. In a post-Adventure Time world that emphasizes individuality and personal style, generic wackiness doesn’t cut it anymore.

Judge the pilots for yourself:

Elliot’s Zoo by David Needham

The Furry Pals by Rikke Asbjorn

Verne on Vacation by Sylvain Marc

Pinky Malinky by Chris Garbutt

Mutant Moments by Alan Kerswell

Hamshanks and the Himalolly Mountain Railway by Tom Parkinson

(Thanks to everybody who emailed about these.)


  • Zach Bellissimo

    I want them ALL AS SHOWS!!!

  • Mr. Bixby

    I love the look of The Amazing World of Gumball! IMO, it’s funny, cute, and clever…way better than Fish Hooks.

  • Kent Osborne

    Amid, I think your “retrograde tone detection system” may be picking up trace amounts of “network creative interference syndrome” which unfortunately plagues many of today’s pilots. (You can read more about NCIS in my soon-to-be-talked-about-in-a-bar book, “WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER JUDGE A PILOT MADE FOR AN ENORMOUS MULTI-NATIONAL CONGLOMERATE”)

  • Jez Hall

    Amid you are a total arsehead! How many shows have you made chum? I should beat you with a fun stick!

  • Funkybat

    Amid said: “but the uniformly obnoxious and aggressive tone of the shorts is an unpleasant reminder of the early-2000s US TV animation industry when nobody seemed able to shake off the combined Spumco/Spongebob influence.”

    For something to be a “reminder” it would have to reference something that hasn’t been around recently. The “obnoxious & aggressive tone” that borrows from Spumco, Spongebob, and other late 90s cartoons has never really gone away since then. Most new series I’ve seen over the past decade seem to follow either/both the visual or “storytelling” aesthetic. Either that, or they are “action/tween” shows that are more coherent and plot-driven, but always seem to feature a tween/teen who fights crime/solves mysteries/fights aliens while still trying to keep up with their school/home dramas.

    I agree that something different than “Different But Still The Same” would be a refreshing change, I just don’t know when we will see that greenlit buy anyone in power. At least all of these had more creative visuals than most primetime animated shows…

  • Shannon LeClerc

    It still looks heaps better than most of the pilots coming out of Canada. And its actually funny!

  • tamera

    TBH, I only liked just a few of these shorts (for some reason I really enjoyed Pinky Malinky). All of these shows are really well crafted, the animation is fluid, and the art styles are really fun and zany. Though some of them do lack storywise (The Furry Pals looked great, but the pacing was really disconcerting for me). But these are just pilots, its only if they were picked up with the creases ironed out and I saw an episode or two that I would really be able to see whether or not they are good.

    I can also see where you got an “obnoxious” reminder of some cartoons from the 90s. For me, it wasn’t too annoying, though I saw traces of Rocko’s Modern Life and Cow and Chicken in some of these shorts (completely random, strange storys). But I put those cartoons that I’ve mentioned on a higher bar than these pilots. Something about those shows (and similar ones from the 90s) just worked. And I’m hoping that “The Amazing World of Gumball,” will work in the same way.

    In Short: I liked a few of the pilots, can’t wait for Gumball.

  • http://dtoons.com/conroy Failing Art Student

    Didn’t the European Cartoon Network also produced Fat Dog Mendoza and The Cramp Twins? Those were their originals before Gumball came along.

  • http://dana-draws.blogspot.com Dana T

    I’m not a fan of exaggerating every little movement to look more wacky and weird but at least I can enjoy the visuals. Especially in “The Furry Pals”.
    I dunno, I’d still find it hard to sit down and watch 11 minutes of any of these.

  • http://www.rauchbrothers.com Tim Rauch

    It does seem like the priority is on “being wacky” – perhaps at the expense of characters who would actually be engaging over a series of episodes. One wacky monster who does wacky things when exposed to water is somehow not so different from a wacky kid with a hole in his head.

    Wack wack wack.

  • http://www.animationinsider.net/ Aaron B.

    “Verne on Vacation” was awesome. Could be open to some amazing art direction.

    I really struggled to get through some of the others though, like “Furry Pals,” which was a mess of gross-out humor and some other style of giggly, itchy-finger comedy that I just don’t get. All of the shorts sport characters who yap far too much.

  • http://rodtejada.wordpress.com Rod Tejada

    Honestly, I only stayed till the end of “Verne on Vacation”. The colors were great and the storytelling was good.

    The rest, I don’t know… I guess that 2 minutes and a half is too little to render judgement, isn’t?

    • Luke

      Not if that’s all that existed

      • http://rodtejada.wordpress.com Rod Tejada

        Fair enough. I guess you’re right.

  • eeteed

    “verne on vacation” was my favorite. engaging characters, well designed, smartly animated, and a somewhat gentle approach to humor.

    wish they had made a series out of it.

    • joshie

      well they’re gonna make a film out of it!

  • http://www.visualphooey.blogspot.com Chris Garbutt

    Thanks for posting our shorts Amid.
    Glad you like them :)

  • 2011 Adult

    Hmm. Depending on which one you watch first, it’s very fresh-looking… until you watch the other 5 in succession, and realize they’re obviously controlled by the same production company. They all have the same tone and and attitude.

    I like Verne on Vacation the most, probably because the star isn’t as annoying. But we have too many little boy explorers already.

  • For all the Critics

    Something that exists > Something that does not.

    You’re right, many of these may not be ‘perfect’ and they may not be all that deep or diverse.

    But the fact is that they were built and are now something concrete and tangible. As opposed to what a lot of you are comparing, complaining or lamenting about in TV animation. Which does not.

    Be a creator rather than a curator or commentator.
    Pick up a bloody pencil and start something.

    • Dr. Ivo Robotnik

      A man is eating at a diner, and orders a pumpkin pie for dessert. The waitress brings the thing back on a plate in a heap, it’s got remnants from other food in it, it’s been stepped on, it has hair sticking out of it, and just to add insult to injury, someone has defecated on it. The man is visibly ill from the sight of it. He says, “I can’t eat this! This is disgusting!” The waiter is offended. He throws the plate at the guy, calls him a harlot for some reason and replies, “well if you’re so smart, why don’t YOU go back and make one?!”

      But the guy didn’t order a sickening pile of hair and shit with some pumpkin pie in it, he ordered a pumpkin pie. He has standards, and he’s not going to be content with eating what looks like went through a dog’s gut and out its back end.

      We pay these people, presumably YOU, to produce entertainment for us. We should have a say in it. Where do you think your paychecks come from?

      • Thomas Hatch

        A man is too cheap to buy food from a restaurant, so he goes online to sample some pumpkin pie for free. As luck would have it, he stumbles upon six pieces of pumpkin pie, each one made by a talented, young chef and all the samples are free. The man knows a good deal when he sees one, so he gobbles them down and screams, “Blech! These are awful! Someone has defecated on them!” The six chefs say, “Uh…no, actually it’s just pumpkin pie, we swear there’s no poop on it. Sorry you didn’t like it.” The man screams, “I didn’t say ‘poop’, I said ‘defecate’ because talking like that is an easy way to get people to think you’re smart. (I learned that from watching Frasier!”) Someone passing by says, “Jeez, why don’t you make your own, buddy.” And the annoying cheap man who loves to watch Frasier screams, “I have standards! And loved ones! I’m important and everyone should listen to me! Where do you think your paychecks come from?”

        Then the man visits a grammar website for children and learns how you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition. And then he yells some more.

      • Dr. Ivo Robotnik

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

      • Dr. Ivo Robotnik

        Come now, it wasn’t THAT bad.

      • Thomas Hatch

        Haha, ahhhh….if it’s any consolation, I like your name.

        Hey, how about a truce? In the name of cartoons?

      • The Brewmasters

        Dr. Ivo Robotnik – You’re right, it wasn’t too bad, but let’s keep the discussion focused on animation, and not one-on-one arguments. Thanks for understanding.

      • Dr. Ivo Robotnik

        Thomas, I appreciate the olive branch, but I can see the buzzer on your hand.

  • Dr. Ivo Robotnik

    Jesus, animators must have a really low opinion of children and what they’ll watch. “Here, eat this. You’ll like it, it’s got racing stripes on it.”

    Either that or their brains are fried from all those late nights at the drawing table.

    I completely feel you on the manic, generically wacky tone, Amid. They’re pretty to look at but unfunny and stupid as hell. Even Ren and Stimpy had some genuinely funny writing at times. Don’t just scream into a microphone and then animate it; find a good balance between the sane and the insane. Cartoons don’t NEED to be uniformly demented- the humor in the insanity is often more rewarding when you expect it less. Orgies of stupidity are only really funny for the first few minutes, but then you need to move on otherwise I’m going to lose interest. You can’t carry a show with good animation when I can neither tell, nor really care, what’s going on.

    Before you claim to have a good idea and decide to go forward with it, stop, watch the pilot, read the script, whatever, and then step back and ask yourself this simple question: “Would I watch the cartoon we’re producing? Would I subject myself or my loved ones to this for half an hour, or would I quickly change the channel before it could jump out of the screen and go right for my genitals?”

    • pedro

      Alas, it’s not that easy. Perspective is vital but so dependent on your environment and involvement. It’s a bitch that not every new series is as fresh as Adventure time, but I’m sure that if it was that easy you’d have already made it.

      • Thomas Hatch

        The Adventure Time pilot was fresh because Frederator recognized Pen’s talent and gave him carte blanche to make whatever he wanted. If Pen had developed AT within the studio system (Disney, Nick, CN, etc) I’m sure the pilot would have received some (if not all) of following notes:

        - Love the bit with Jake downloading a dance from the internet. (Seems like we could do an entire episode about Jake entering a dance contest!) Not sure why he’s floating. Is levitation one of his magical abilities? We didn’t catch that in the bible. Let’s discuss.

        - Love the beeps and boops coming from Pen. Any chance we can see more of this throughout the episode?

        - We like Pen and Jake wanting to help Lady Rainicorn, but we’re wondering if there’s a way we could push their motivation a little? Perhaps set up earlier that they didn’t help someone once and it resulted in some sort of catastrophic event?

        - Love the knock knock joke bit between Pen and Lady, a clever twist on an old gag, however Jake running along the hills seems a little boring, any chance we could pump this up a little with some funny visuals? Perhaps Jake is jumping over volcanos or dodging trapdoors that lead to snapping alligators? Let’s discuss.

        - Overall, we like the Ice King and think he has the potential to be a great villain, but unfortunately at this stage, it still feels like we need a little backstory on why he’s always capturing Princesses? Maybe a quick flashback from when he was a kid, being rejected on the playground by girls? Could be funny and would set up why he’s such an oxymoron.

        - The “Jake putting on his booties” bit had us all in stitches. Was wondering if we could get a quick joke here from Jake, like “Aw yeah! I like my tootsies, toasty!” or something. Also, maybe the booties could go on all at once as opposed to one at a time? Might be funnier. Let’s discuss.

        - Love them playing the penguins as guitars. SO cute. Was wondering if we should stretch the humor here a little by having some guitar sounds a la Bill and Ted. Could be funny.

        - Iceclops and Snow Golem seem to come out of nowhere. Any chance we could set up these funny characters ahead of time? Maybe Jake says something like, “Be careful dude, we don’t wanna run into any Snow Golems or Iceclops.” Let’s discuss.

        - Love Pen getting mad when Ice King refers to Jake as his dog instead of his friend. Any chance we could set this up a little, maybe squeeze it in at the beginning that Jake doesn’t like to be referred to as Pen’s dog? Seems like it would have a little more weight later when the Ice King says it.

        - Pen saying “My hat is awesome” is awesome! Really funny. Any chance we could tweak it so that the Ice King is insulting his shirt instead? “My shirt is awesome” could look really good on a shirt. Just a thought.

        - Not sure if we understand how Pen got to Mars or why he’s speaking with Abraham Lincoln. Is this the result of being frozen by the Ice King? Checking with standards to see if this comes across as druggy. Any chance we can have some of the Ice King’s previous victims there as well Could be funny.

        - Love Abraham Lincoln telling Pen to believe in himself, but again, this seems to come out of left field. Might be nice to set this up a little in the beginning. A moment where Pen doesn’t believe in himself? Let’s discuss.

        - Love the sequence where Pen rescues the Princess, but again, it feels a little slow without any dialogue. Maybe we could throw in a couple beeps and boops?

        - Seems weird that Jake’s so oblivious to Pen’s embarrassment at the end when Princess Bubblegum gives him a kiss. Maybe after Jake says, “Let’s talk about our feelings” he could add something like, “Ohhhhh, you like her!” Let’s discuss.

        PS. I’m not exaggerating!

  • Conor

    Tone and writing aside, there’s a lot of funny, entertaining drawings here, and isn’t that what cartooning is all about? Right now, the biggest issue seems to be that they’re really scrambling to convey a story and develop characters in the course of 2 or 3 minutes, for what’s meant to potentially be a series of 11 minute episodes, which, of course, means everything’s going to feel overly dense, yet undeveloped. Stretched out to 11 minutes, most of these shows seem like they could really flourish.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com Frank Panucci

    All the shows are visually good or better.

    As stated above, there’s an obvious corporate-dictated turd jiggling in the punchbowl, with a little paper umbrella jammed in it. Still, there are moments.

    PINKY MALINKY: Felt like COCONUT BOB, just as empty.

    ELLIOT’S ZOO: Empty.

    HAMSHANKS: Nice electronic keyboard gags, otherwise not cool.

    MUTANT MOMENTS: Muddy Mudskipper swipes? Well, there are worse influences. Strongly evokes the 1996 movie UNITED TRASH (to know it is to love it or not). Shows some small promise.

    VERNE ON VACATION: Grabs me right away. Probably the most appealing of the bunch. Compelling.

    THE FURRY PALS: Made me laugh a lot. Sort of a cross between HAPPY TREE FRIENDS and WACKY RACES, if you cut the balls right off HAPPY TREE FRIENDS.

    Two positive impressions out of six. One so-so. That’s a pretty good average.

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

    These are all awful.

    • http://polyminthe.blogspot.com/ Sylvain Marc

      Wow, what an angry and pointless comment.
      Thanks for being constructive, though.

      • http://www.rileyphillips.blogspot.com Riley Phillips

        I’ve been looking forward to seeing Verne ever since you posted some early concept work, Sylvain. I hope the TV feature works out, it’ll be well deserved! These all have amazing art direction, some better than others for sure. I agree with some that the over-the-top wackiness is pretty overwhelming in all of them, but Horace and Gaston seemed to balance the mood with their more mature characteristics in Verne on Vacation. Good ending, too. A big pat on the back to all involved with these shorts!

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

        Sylvain.
        These shorts are a testament to the fact that regardless of talent and ability, most of us in this industry and mainly interested in repeating, repeating, repeating the same old stuff over and over again.
        Like my original comment, I intend it to sound kind of sad and weary rather than angry.

      • http://zeteos.blogspot.com/ mick

        come on now Elliot… that’s just not true. verne on vacation could be described as many many things but ‘awful’????… the chris garbutt one was a hoot and the designs on all of them are tip top.
        awful? You do yourself no favours there my old tater

      • http://4eyedanimation.com Joe Corrao

        Sylvain your work is top notch…kudos and all the best.

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

        Micky – Great design does not make a good film.

      • tony b

        Elliot.
        I must agree it is rather hard to see any other intention than anger in :”These are all awful.”
        Frustration maybe?
        We would expect better arguments from people “in this industry”…

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

        G’day Tony.
        Here’s a cut and paste from one of my earlier responses: “Like my original comment, I intend it to sound kind of sad and weary rather than angry”.

      • http://zeteos.blogspot.com/ mick

        aye and ‘great’ design is unjustly described as ‘awful’… are you turning into a hipster Elliot? is this all some frivolous irony that we don’t get? perish the thought… you’ll not be going brown this week my lad

  • http://Juxtaminute.tumblr,com Juxtaminute

    All of these shows beat the pants off of Robotomy, Mad and The Problem Solvers. The writing needs work on most of them but they’re still only pilots.

  • jerome

    I heard that from these pilots, Pinky Malinky, Verne on Vacation and Elliot’s Zoo were chosen to be developed into longer pilots and that “Pinky Malinky” has now be chosen to be developed as a series (Verne On Vacation will somehow be developed as a feature film or TV film).

  • George

    These all suck, give me one of the Amid Amidi directed cartoons any day

  • http://www.animateme.me.uk Jens

    I did work on the Amazing World of Gumball a while back and I did find it’s storytelling pretty godd. I did not with these trailers, why’s that? -because they are trailers! They are cut and constructed entirely different then a show would be.
    I think Amids judgment here is a tat early unless he knows something we don’t. They are going to air two Gumball episodes beginning of May I believe so wait a bit and judge then. Same for all of te above shows.

    • Cyber Fox

      I saw the clips and personally i think “The Amazing World of Gumball” has the potential to be the best series on CN yet

  • http://www.vimeo.com/steffromuk Stephane

    people’s reaction can be painful for those involved in these shorts.
    Despite some useless and hateful comments, some of the main ones should be read by the guys in power at CN.
    Please, bear in mind that companies like CN are huge. And creating an outstanding concept is a damn hard job for the creatives, having to deal with really heavy rules imposed by overly politicaly polished environment. Some great ideas can easily loose their substence on the (long) way.

    But looking at them now (after 2 years) I still believe some of them have a great potential to be amazing series.

  • Truica Madalin

    I just cant believe that you people are so tolerant with these pilots…I dont know where should i begin, in the first place ,really creepy and then lack of story,horrible art,incredible low flash animation and so on.
    Im now trying to be critical but these are not what i expect from Cartoon Network.
    But on the other side i kinda liked Mutant Moments,yet far from being a show.

    • Kamron

      This isn’t what you expect from Cartoon Network? Have you watched Cartoon Network in the last five years. The shows are color full blast and a lot of zany characters. Sure these pieces need to be fleshed out as far as story to truly give a good idea of what the shows could offer, but I feel like your judgements are baseless. Overall they are entertaining, have wonderful animation, and get across a basic idea of what each show would be about. Well, except for the furry pals that was just craziness all the way. If you want to e all hipster about it fine, but please respect the artist.

  • Cyber Fox

    *facepalm*
    Amid is at it again
    Making rush judgements that will bite him in the @$$ just like his criticiam of The Hub and “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” a year ago that got this site to become a 4chan target as noted by the good folks at Know Your Meme

    I saw clips of “The Amazing World of Gumball” and from what i see is amazing potential to be CN’s best series yet and hopefully outshadows CN’s biggest failure that is the recent acquision the EPIC FAIL that is “Almost Naked Animals”

    Why is A.N.A a EPIC FAIL? well, according to Andy Powell (an animator for Nelvana, currently working on “Scaredy Squirrel”) A.N.A is a real eye-sore and terribly unfunny.. not only that but Almost Naked Animals is bombing in the ratings on YTV in Canada despite a decent timeslot and a massive amount of advertisement

    as for these pilots, out of all of them.. I like Elliot’s Zoo the best, that one will be awesome as a TV series!

  • http://www.derekhayes.co.uk Derek Hayes

    “You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables.”

    Doctor Johnson

  • snip2354

    So it’s settled. Majority votes Verne on Vacation for a show!

    *board meeting nodding to each other* Yes. Yes. Indeed. Quite. Mm.

  • Spencer

    Agreed. The merman stuck out to me. Fantastic idea for a character.

  • Teafly

    I always look forward to checkin’ out anything Amid rants about, it usually means there’s something good there.

  • The Gee

    One, it is cool that CN put these up for people to see. That didn’t need to be done, did it?

    Two, out of all of them the only one I kind of liked was the last one, Ham Shanks. But, as a pilot, I don’t really see a whole show from that. I’m sure all of them were made to be as strong as possible, to contend, but like the other ones I don’t care about any of the characters. The Ham Shanks one was mildly amusing despite that.

    Three, I”m glad they all got the chance to make these.

    Four, but, I kind of agree with Amid in that the influences show through. I’ll defer to him knowing more than I do about the variety of TV cartoons that have aired, especially on cable. To me, it just seems like more of the sense of humor was the focus in those pilots more than making good characters and showing something that demonstrates they would be great shows.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure all of the characters, individually and in relation to one another, are well-thought out and maybe this is the best way to showcase them, but, to me, none of them pop. There isn’t a one which made me think, That guy’s funny. Plus, none of them spark my imagination. From my experience, as a watcher of cartoons, usually I look forward to more. None of these did that for me. That said, I can think of a lot of cartoons I’ve seen online which don’t have shows that do elicit that reaction. It is a variation of anticipation.
    But, hey, with these six pilots, at least people get to see them and they are being seen.

  • hash

    I cant believe I’m about to say this but I have to agree with you amid. Verne on vacation was my favorite but mostly because of its art style. Pinky malinky had a very funny concept but the short was not as funny as its premise. Overall I was very disappointed in the writing. Adventure time has definitely changed the game and the level of entertainment I expect from shows.

  • *

    Some people seem to be forgetting these are only 2 minute snapshots of what would be a longer format cartoon show and as such cannot be judged fully without maybe seeing more info on how the actual shows would be made.

    Having said that though I think some have more potential than others –
    I really LIKED Verne on Vacation by Sylvain Marc; superb art direction, funny, huge potential for a series. V nice :D
    I really DID NOT LIKE The Furry Pals by Rikke Asbjorn; visually it was OK, but it was boring and I cannot see from this trailer how a TV show would work out!? yawnsome and lacked any sort of sophistication in it’s storytelling. V obvious and mundane.
    I thought Mutant Moments by Alan Kerswell has potential for some really fun stories – elements of Roald Dahl in there – and is a good format for a TV show. Like :D

    The others were fine but a tad meeeh. I quite liked elements from them but wasn’t blown away.

    Really nice to see though – congrats to the guys who made them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/JM-Urbina-Animation-Director/138440486216374 J.M. Urbina

    OHHH GOOD! SO YOU DON’T NEED AN STORY ANYMORE.
    JUST AN INSANE AMMOUNT OF RANDOM GROSS JOKES A LA JOHN K OR A LA DAVE FEISS!!

    I’M WITH AMIDI ON THIS ONE ,THIS ISN’T THE 1990′S LET’S MOVE THE FOCK ON.

    WITH THAT SAID THE ART AND LOOK IS TOP OF THE LINE. EUROPEAN STYLE.VERY HIGH QUALITY. EXCEPT FOR THE LAST ONE

    THE ZOO ONE WAS OK

    AND VERNE ON VACATION HAD THE MOST CUTE AND TASTEFUL GAGS.

    • Keegan

      John K wasn’t “no story, just gross jokes”. Neither was David Feiss.

    • http://4eyedanimation.com Joe Corrao

      when did we ever need a story? (besides Scooby Doo of course)…Most Looney Tunes had 1 hook that they beat in the ground (A skunk that doesn’t know he smells, a coyote trying to eat a road runner, a wronged bunny)…yet we call them classics…I like all of these, speshly Verne…
      why u yelling? Firetruck passing by?

  • dragonking

    “In a post-Adventure Time world that emphasizes individuality and personal style, generic wackiness doesn’t cut it anymore.”

    After watching most of season two of Adventure Time, I don’t even think that statement works anymore.

  • Josef

    I really liked Verne on Vacation. The others not so much.

  • Will

    The problem with these is they just look like they have really good animators and artists using tweens and making vector art. This makes it look reaaally generic because pretty much any animation made using tweens looks pretty much the same. If they want a really defined style the only way to do that is to stop relying on the computer to do everything, wether its animation, coloring, or background art. Drop the tweens, the vector art, and go completely traditional and it might be fine.

  • http://www.visualphooey.blogspot.com Chris Garbutt

    Thanks to everyone for sacrificing so much of their time to share such colourful feedback on the shorts.
    I just wanted to rectify that these films were never originally intended to be series pilots in the traditional sense. Cartoon Network shows tend to be 11 and 22 minutes long, not 2 minutes.
    Our initial brief was to produce six short-format, silly/funny, stand alone little films, originally intended as mobile phone download content, and directed at CNs target demographic.
    Alongside that we were also to produce mini-bibles to explain how the idea could potentially work as a show. Going into detail about the concept, characters, stories and how it would pan out as a series. They were basically mini-pitches.
    Then from this CN would choose a number of them to be taken into a period of further development, producing an 11 minute animatic and full colour bible.

    Within 2 minutes it is indeed very hard to address all the aspects you would normally address in 11 minutes or longer. We had to attempt to squeeze in concise beginning-middle-and-end storytelling, character development, gags and hint towards series potential, whilst keeping the attention of our intended audience. We had a VERY limited budget and schedule and we had to develop the ideas on the job. But we all worked extremely hard and did our best to make them as fun and appealing as possible, within our resources, directed, like I said, towards our target audience. And I believe we did that.

    We had great fun, it was an incredibly valuable experience and most importantly we learnt a hell of a lot working on every aspect of production. From writing, boarding, designing, animating (no tweening) and directing to running voice records, working with composers and SFX guys and even handling the budgets, it was a massive learning curve.
    Whatever we all end up doing next, we’ll all take what we learnt from these jobs and, like any self respecting professional artist, we’ll strive for better and better each time.
    Thanks again for the constructive criticism, as well as all your great words of encouragement.

  • Bibendum Chamallow

    Verne on Vacation looks great.
    I think people here forgot how many years of intense work animation is. From the writing to the last animated frame, it is a very long and painful process.
    For shows that are not out yet, maybe wait for it to come out and watch it before saying it is shit. That’s the least you can do and then if you don’t like it, fair enough .. it is allowed.

  • Keegan

    The only original one IMO was Pinky Malinky, cool style, nice characters, funny gags, I’d watch it.

  • D

    All of them were really well done. However I felt that some were a bit too young for my tastes however all of these have much more potential than what cartoon network is currently premiering.

  • Kendra

    I LOVE Verne on Vacation! Talk about beautiful. The style and characters are so charming, I would love to see that be made into a series…I thought some of the others were only ok at best, others were just gross-out for no reason. I actually really liked the style of Pinky Malinky, though I didn’t really care for the gags and humor…

  • Arthur F.

    I think a significant sign in the tv-cartoon landscape, or at least Disney side, was that Björklund’s own “Brandy and Mr.Whiskers” really didn’t have a significant run. It came at what seemed a period of transition in what is expected of cartoons. Maybe because it wasn’t easy to fix age and general demographics, Brandy offering a stronger female character more like a sister to Whiskers male character. But it was a great example of a tv animation, smart characters, intriguing plot/setting developing over time, as well as really smart, witty dialog. It seems old-fashioned in animation style (movement plus dialog) against the flashmation or pandering to insider-only jokes, double-entendre “adult observations” from frozen talking-heads in what passes for cartoon dialog. I think the most cartoons seem now to go for a Trojan Horse idea, bring whatever better material they can within the disguise of infantile, pre-adolescent situations, humor, or “fantasy”… Not really moved by the choices, in other words.

    • Timothy Bjorklund

      Um…thanks (I think) Arthur. I agree that “Brandy & Whiskers” deserved a better fate. By far, one of the funnier written and better animated shows that I’ve directed.

      Oh, and as for the shorts – amazing talents on all of them. Go ahead and try to make a 2-3 minute cartoon that fully conveys the aspects of each character while making your audience piss themselves with laughter. I doubt that Clampett or Jones could do it so shut up.

  • Keso

    This is how I imagined cartoons were going to be in the future, when I was a little girl 10 years ago.

    I really hope to see more shows like AT or this, all of these pilots are so magical and fun.

  • http://www.doctorwhom.com gavin

    I would love to see the bibles for these. There must be some fantastic development art and model sheets. They would have been ridiculously fun to work on. Agree that the pace is a bit brutal, but in 2 minutes I wouldn’t expect much atmospheric development. It’s the pilot label that I think has fueled a lot of the negative feedback. As is, they do lack breathing time to me. Like a comedian cramming all their best material into a two-minute open mic set. I know there’s a lot of great stuff in there but without a few pauses, my attention is snapped away before any humour has time to settle in.

    I love the potential of Verne, and could see the rest finding a very dedicated child audience.

  • Skip

    All of these cartoons look like they are all competing with each other to see which one is the most ridiculous. I guess the winner of that competition would either have to be either Pinkey malinkey, or Hamshanks. On one hand it’s nice to see the Cartoon Network actually producing 5 new animated series’, however it kind of defeats the purpose when after watching these clips I have no interest in seeing any of these shows.

  • julian chaney

    Just bring back EEEEk the cat .I miss that show .

  • Keegan

    Why does Verne look so much like Finn the Human?

  • Gr3mlinify

    Much like Adventure Time, Verne on Vacation looks like a visual representation of all that is childhood.

  • http://crookiesblog.blogspot.com/ Matthew Cruickshank

    Had the pleasure of meeting Sylvain and Chris last month. The talent of these two guys is EXCEPTIONAL and I find it unbelievable that lesser skilled people would berate these shows!

  • Malls Vasew

    I can only see one or two of these making it through a whole season before breaking down like an 80s automobile. Elliot’s Zoo was the only out I outright disliked.