Skyler Page Skyler Page

Cartoon Network Orders “Clarence”

Cartoon Network has greenlit Clarence, a new animated series by CalArts grad Skyler Page whose student films Crater Face and Girl Wallet have both been featured on Cartoon Brew, as have his costume-making skills.

CN has greenlit 12 fifteen-minute episodes, which according to Deadline, is about “an optimistic boy who wants to do everything because everything is amazing.” Page, who has been a board artist on Adventure Time, is the fourth CalArts grad to get his own Cartoon Network show in the last few years, following Thurop Van Orman (The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack), Pen Ward (Adventure Time) and J. G. Quintel (The Regular Show).

(Photo of Skyler Page via Jeff Rowe)

  • That’s fantastic !! It’s so exciting that people behind shorts I admire so much get to make shows.

  • YEAH!!

  • wever

    Well if there’s one thing we got from the photo, it’s that he’s charismatic, which definitely helps.

  • Matt Sullivan

    Congratulations Skyler! ^^

  • Mac

    How many people’s best photographs were taken by Jeff Rowe?

  • Joel

    Awesome! I can’t wait for more updates on this! ^_^

  • Anonymator

    You forgot another CalArts grad, Pete Browngardt, who has made 2 shows for Cartoon Network in the last few years: “Secret Mountain Fort Awesome” and “Uncle Grandpa”.

  • Jon

    Pete Browngardt went to Calarts… He’s doing Uncle Grandpa at CN now. So that makes 5th grad to get a show.

  • Tredlow

    I like Crater Face. I’ll be looking forward to this.

  • I don’t know Skyler personally. I watched both films on You Tube. Neither of these are badly made films, and Skyler shows promising talent as a filmmaker. But the first film, Crater Face, I’m not sure what the story is trying to say with the story, and the second film, “Girl Wallet”, it just doesn’t go far enough. Starting with “Girl Wallet”, it’s like Skyler wants to be so much more outrageous and crude, but with the one tampon joke is about as far as he’s willing to go with the gag. I can tell this guy is a conservative filmmaker. It’s pretty clear with his 12 year-old sense of humor, whose way to giggle and shock people is to show a tampon. Its also not like we haven’t seen the joke 1000x over either about a man-child who is too embarrassed by the fact that he owns something a girl would own. I’m sure he had every jocular straight man in the audience rolling in the aisles, but for the rest of us…at least myself… I see a filmmaker too nervous to put it all out there and tell us what he really feels about himself, and what he really feels about women if that’s his reason for making the film. It’s a comedy, yes, and it’s a throwaway joke. But its one thats been told a hundred times over. And he’s not telling us anything new.

    The other film is Crater Face. It’s a well drawn and boarded film. But the animation and style borrows from just about every current cliche TV cartoon. It’s not surprising Skyler boards on Adventure Time as he seems to have perfected the sad giant eyes expression we’ve seen a million times. And as far as the story goes….why is the astronaut willing to risk his life to play matchmaker? Why doesn’t he just leave the moon and come back later? If there’s a hole in the ship at the end and he’s getting sucked back towards it, how is able to fly forward and hit the button, which apparently does nothing but blow up the ship? If I ever felt compelled to risk my life to bring two people together, I think there should be a pretty good reason to do it!

    I know the line: “It’s just a cartoon.”

    But this is the problem, just as it is with the “Cal Arts Sensibility” argument. From students coming out of the school, the visuals are always ascetically pleasing, but the stories are mush. They don’t push it far enough. It’s not that they’ve learned how to tell an emotionally engaging story, it’s that they’ve figured out all the emotional buttons to push in the audience to get them to react. A truthful, honest filmmaker admits they don’t know how the audience is going to react. They don’t know if an audience is going to laugh, or cry, or be repulsed, or hate you for what you just showed them. Skylar is borrowing styles from everything that’s current in TV Animation today. He’s figured out everything that works and everything that audiences will respond to. But he hasn’t figured out for himself what it really is he has to say. Looking at his picture, I’m guessing he’s about 22 or 23 years old. Aside from being conservative, I’m willing to bet he’s got almost no life experience, and if he does, I certainly don’t see it in any of his films.

    I don’t want to sound like a crooked S.O.B. for pointing this out, because Skyler is obviously talented and can draw very well. But the real Cal Arts Sensibility that exists is that we have a lot of artists coming out of the school with a variety of aesthetically pleasing styles of drawing, but few of them can actually tell a sincere story that’s true to themselves and what they really have to say about life.

    • im just going to step in and say that your completely wrong and your misguided analysis of a human being says a lot more about your own life experiences. who even says that? oh yes, mmhmm that man has no life experiences, i can smell it seep from 2 films i am hyper analyzing and can’t properly contextualize because i am part robot

      • Reza, I went to Cal Arts and spent 4 years with these people. I say with no ill will to my Cal Arts brother or sister….I’ve sat through hundreds of these student films. I know what most of these people are like, and the majority of them who enter the program are 18-20 year olds who have never had anything happen to them. I know because I was one of them. The only “old” film most of them obsess about is Star Wars. Few of them have really buried themselves in classic films. They’re looking at all the contemporary stuff. And I’m what I’m saying about the films they make now is that they’ve learned the buttons to push that makes audiences tick. They know what works. And they’ll hit all those pre installed buttons because at that age it’s all about them wanting that audience gratification and getting more of it. And who doesn’t love that kind of attention? But it’s not really who they are. For them at that age all they really want is gratification and approval from others that they’re good. I know exactly what it feels like to want that. I’m not saying this because I think these students are bad filmmakers…they’re not! They’re really talented! But they’re doing what they do now because they don’t know anything else. I can tell by Skylers films and the pitch to his show about “an optimistic boy who wants to do everything because everything is amazing” that this is a kid who has never been anywhere or had anything happen to him. And no offense to him, but he is too young to be getting his own show. He’s gotta learn to stop pushing those buttons that were put in before he showed up and start installing new ones of his own.

    • J

      I’m actually really glad that the era of kitschy, soulless animated series that we’re finally emerging from with all these brand-new creator-controlled cartoons was so easily forgotten, and this new era so comfortable to everyone else, that someone could complain about it and take it for granted already. That’s the most positive thing yet!

      I’ve never gone to Calarts, and I don’t ever plan to or want to, but you have to admit that the “calarts sensibility” works. The shows from those grads are often picked not just because they’re quality but also because they know the right people too- which might create the illusion for you they’re better than everyone else. The short films are about characters, not just ideas or cliches, and we grow attached to that more readily. There’s a reason children still want to go to Calarts to be cartoonists.

      I hope this trend continues, I think I can say of all these shows from Calarts grads are above par to the point of MAKING their level par. Y’know what I mean? That can only be a good thing.

    • Joel

      To be fair, the episodes he’s co-written/boarded on “Adventure Time” have been pretty good. I think he’s so far shown that he can make good TV cartoons.

    • Michael Rianda

      Hey Mike-

      (Full Disclosure: I’m friends with Skyler, so make of that what you will.)

      I appreciate you holding student films to a higher standard and demanding truth, sincerity, and having something to say about life from student work. If more people also held short films to this standard, I think we’d see a lot more short films worth watching.

      However, that being said, I think you’d be hard pressed to find better student cartoons than Crater Face. It’s funny, has moments of genuine surprising observation, it’s sprinkled with cool original ideas, and is more surprising, well made, and satisfying than most short films you’ll see. Don’t believe me? Ask the million people that watched crater face on youtube. Tons of people commenting that the video brought them to tears. I laugh and feel something in my chest every time I watch it.

      So, I like the film and you don’t as much, big deal. What’s my argument? I guess my real issue is that these criticisms are so personal and often so small, and focus on being mad that someone would give Skyler his own show. It seems petty and bizarre.

      To address your bafflement that someone would give him his own show: No one gave him a show, he got his show like anybody gets a show gets it. He worked hard on a pitch, pitched to the network, they liked his pitch, he worked hard to develop it into a series, the network liked what he was doing, and now he has a show. Those are the steps. It’s not like they viewed his student films and said: “You. You will make a cartoon show.” It comes from talent and hard work.

      In terms of being upset that he isn’t making something with truth and sincerity and life experience: I would argue that Crater Face is a very sincere film, and from what I have seen of Clarence it drips with things to say about life, sincerity, and truth. I know for a fact that Skyler and his team (Pat Harpin, Nelson Boles, etc.) value that and are working hard to include it in the show.

      In the meantime, if you want to see these things badly enough, you should make something yourself that embodies these ideals. Make a webcomic, or a short film, or whatever. Fill it with your life experience and sincerity and truth! Seriously. I mean that. You can sit in the back of the room and complain all you want, but if you want to see this kind of art in the world, the fastest way to do that is to make it yourself.

      • Hi Michael,
        I appreciate your response. I’m not angry or upset at Skyler personally for having his own show. And if I was, lets face it, what could I really do about it? Nothing I say or do would ever change that fact, he’s going to take the opportunity (as any of us would want to in his position) and for me to get cranky and jealous over it really wouldn’t amount to anything. You have every right not listen to anything I say, because yes, I don’t know him personally. I don’t know about any of the harshness or serious things he’s been through in his life. All I can really judge of who he is as a person is what I see in his work.

        But I know what my own experience as a filmmaker, as an artist, and having watched so many of these student films has already has taught me, and I can see what I know is in Crater Face:

        Every emotional beat in that short is calculated.

        If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be arguing important story issues like…why would an astronaut from space sacrifice his life to play matchmaker for an alien couple he just met and knows nothing about? Of course, what makes me think I’m right when he has a million fans on You Tube to tell me I’m wrong? Well maybe I am wrong and I am missing something, but maybe it’s also the fact that those million fans watching the film aren’t artists or filmmakers, and whats really happening is those people are getting caught up in every emotional turn the film tells them their supposed to feel. Most of them probably won’t step back and look at the film as a whole and think…”Ah…wait a minute, not a lot of this film really makes any sense.” Most people outside of animation don’t care about the story, they’re looking for some entertainment value. However, it’s not the audience’s responsibility to look into this stuff, it’s the filmmaker’s. This is where the filmmakers may be avoiding the truth for the sake of audience approval and gratification. For a filmmaker to just give the audience what they want doesn’t say anything about what the filmmaker really has to say inside.

        As an artist, Skyler will soon discover he has deeper personal issues he wants to talk about in his art, but his audience won’t want that. And he’ll become a slave to his audiences expectations. By getting success so early on, he’s missing out on a time in his life, away from the limelight, to work through his issues and discover deep down what’s really important to him. Important to HIM.

        And also Michael, don’t take this the wrong way also, but your argument that I should bite my tongue and go out and make more of my own films or a webcomic or whatever…that’s a standard defense mechanism among artists. What if I wasn’t a filmmaker or an artist? What if I couldn’t put pen to paper, but I was someone who had a little bit of life experience to tell when something doesn’t seem right in a film? It’s like telling your average audience member who doesn’t like your film…”well, lets see you make a film!”, and the audience member says, “well, no! I’m not a filmmaker! That’s not my job!” You don’t have to be an animator, an artist, or a filmmaker to point out what I’ve just said. All you need is a little life experience. I know there are people out there reading this who know exactly what I’m talking about, regardless if they’re an artist or not. I’m not here to tell you that your friend is a jerk for getting his own show, because he’s not. I’ll bet he’s a great guy, and that the people he chooses to work with him will have a lot of fun working with him. But if anything, I say this out of concern: I can tell he hasn’t been beaten up by life. He hasn’t been beaten up by the industry. He hasn’t really been through the fire. Being handed a show right now, this early, I seriously don’t think he knows what he’s getting into, as well as what he’s missing out on.

        And lastly I’ll just say, most of the people complaining to me about my comments seem to be young animation students. I don’t expect that any of you will believe or listen to what I have to say, at least right now. That’s fine. But having a life isn’t about the struggle of how hard you work at it. Having a life is struggling through the pain of it. Our job as artists is not about success (although it’s nice when it happens). Our job as artists is helping others struggling with their pain by what you see through your own experiences. Because behind all that pain, you are revealing the other side, which is the beauty of what life is.

        • Jon Gomez

          Mike, try and relax. For god’s sake this is Cartoon Brew not Art Forum. You can’t assume to know all of Skyler’s sensibilities from watching 2 films. It’s difficult being critiqued in such a public way, take it easy. But if you feel the need to be so harsh, do it after you expose your own work as an example of how it’s done correctly. Where are your films? I try and stay away from animation sites as I feel they tend to be a forum for ill informed bullying but I wanted to respond. I dig Skyler and his work. Rock on S. Page. Congrats.

        • Calartian

          [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “Defamatory, rude, or unnecessarily antagonistic comments will be deleted.”]

  • Emily Brundige

    I can’t wait for Skyler’s show. It’s bound to be well-written, well-designed, heartfelt, and funn-ee.

  • @Jon Gomez
    Good to hear from you. In what way am I being harsh? It would be one thing if I were making criticisms about his films while he was still a student, but he’s not anymore, he’s a public figure now that he’s the creator of his own show. But why in the world should he be worried about what I think? I’m one person vs. a million of his fans on YouTube. I already know that he won’t listen to me. And by all means he should go and have the experience of making his show. I have no legitimate credentials to tell him not to. And I’ll fully admit to him now (if he’s reading this) that the only experience I have in the animation industry is a few unpaid internships I picked up when I was still at Cal Arts. I haven’t worked in the industry since I graduated 6 years ago. I’ve worked at Starbucks. I’ve worked as a delivery guy for a film vault. For a year I was a TV extra. And I read scripts for 3 months at a production house that made crappy B movies. That should give him all the more reason to make my arguments less credible that I don’t know anything about making a TV show. What I think doesn’t matter.

    If I had anything to say to him personally and he wants to hear it, all I would say to him is, ‘be careful’. You can’t deny the fact that he’s still pretty young and very inexperienced in the industry. This is not me being a bully, I’m saying to him that he should be ready for what’s coming his way.

    Should I make a film for everyone now to prove what I said is legit?

  • axolotl

    Congratulations, Skyler.
    When people try and tell you how it’s going to be, ignore them, because they don’t actually know.

  • WHAT is going on here. The guy has a cute style, a persona. I watched the Girl Wallet film and I laughed..was funny! It’s enough to build on. Everyone has to start somewhere. The bottom line is, he has something marketable. THAT is what matters. Timing is everything. This is what the networks are looking for now. Would you rather see some corporate generated ideas come to light instead..that were force fed thru test markets and have any bit of originality stripped out of them? He’s an independent artist with his own vision. Thank goodness the studios still see the value in this.