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Cartoon Network Profiles Its “Next Generation” of Creators

Buoyed by its recent string of successes in series animation, Cartoon Network created this slick and lengthy promo video profiling its ‘next generation’ of creators and shows.

  • Floyd Norman

    It’s nice to see a new generation of cartoonists embrace the same things we old-timers love. The joy of watching moving drawings and making people laugh.

  • smoothoperator350

    While I do like whats being said here I can’t say that I like the actual results, many of the cartoons CN’s trying to push utilize an overly simple style that revolves around a series of abstract shapes and good colors but with next to no detail, expressions aped from Spongebob, blank dead eyes, and just plain cheap character design.

    I’ve seen more interesting doodles.

    • Roberto Severino

      I think Uncle Grandpa and Steven Universe are more of the exceptions and although I haven’t seen much of Regular Show, I think I’d be able to like and understand a lot of the humor for it, but sadly, you have a point. A lot of what these artists said made me very happy on the inside but your comment reminded me of the importance of being able to practice what you preach. Still, its admirable that Cartoon Network is attempting to do something different than what they’ve done from the past. I think Chowder and Flapjack were the first few cartoons to try to deviate from what they had done before in a stylistic sense.

      Good, coherent storytelling and believable characters that aren’t just vehicles for the writers are what’s most important to me. Funny, appealing drawings would also add a lot too in the case of comedy oriented cartoons.

    • Ant G

      There’s this thing called pencil mileage, which is a measure of how long it takes you to draw a 2D animation; the more intricate the design; the more hours to render each frame; the more expensive it gets. The simple design reflects the present state of the Animation industry; with outsourcing and cut backs a realistic threat, simple designs aren’t an animator’s measure on their creativity or style, it’s a necessary skill.

  • Mark Neeley

    A part of me really agrees with smoothoperator350’s assessment. Although I like the elements of some of the shows (mostly the writing), I can’t say I really get much out of the designs, of, let’s just say the current big two of CN – Adventure Time and Regular Show. And while it’s good that they gave new creators the greenlight, I don’t know if the process was very original given that all of these shows are again created by recent CalArts grads just like the original wave of original CN shows, etc. That being said, I don’t necessarily anticipate a whole lot out of children’s TV animation design-wise, and just a couple years ago it seemed like CN was on the verge of going full-on live action, so the fact that they got some pretty universal success is still a very good thing, especially with Nick just seemingly hanging onto the Spongebob success all these years later. Full disclosure, I’m also still bitter that CN canceled Chowder.

  • Ant G

    “Tome of the Unknown”

  • Fbt

    This video sucks ! The only thing I can see is this ” The uploader has not made this video available in your country. ” :(

    • sean

      try proxmate on google chrome so you can watch it?

  • Ant G

    I get your points, but the last. Cartoons are kind of for kids and for kids only. At least the medium predominantly is used to attract kids, or to attract what’s referred to as “manchilds”; grown ups who are still between adult humor and kids humor– hence why adult humor in children’s cartoons is so effective; it’s funny because it’s a ‘kid’s show’ saying these things. (so many adult swim/comedy central cartoons would be considerably less funny if they were live action. They get a pass for being cartoons because the medium still isn’t as sophisticated as live action yet. South Park is the king of fart jokes and slapstick humor. Not sophisticated, but just right for it’s manchild audience.)

    I don’t doubt their sincerity when they say they make these shows for themselves rather than aimed at what kids would watch. But “for themselves” is for as long as they are the very “menchildren” that the animation industry/institution has long attracted as an audience and as future animators. If you love cartoons and toys, than you’re already naturally preset to be able to pitch something to CN. If you love Stanley Kubrick films and hope to make your own animated movie/show that’s akin to him, you have no audience; make it slapstick or absurdist funny, or add action and fight sequences and explosions, make it so a toy collection could derive from it, then maybe you’re in business.

    • z-k

      “If you love Stanley Kubrick films and hope to make your own animated movie/show that’s akin to him, you have no audience”

      You saying this in the sense of the exec mindset at Nick, or as your own belief in general.

      • Ant G

        Yes definitely. I am saying this as a cynical exec (or “realist” as cynics would call themselves), because personally I would definitely want to watch, and even make such an animation, and there would be an, albeit small, audience. But it would be really hard to convince people to fund you for it, others like Brad Bird for example, have certainly tried.

    • Axolotl

      It would have an audience of at least one.

    • Jason Cezar Duncan

      I replied to you earlier, don’t know what happened to the comment. Anyway, I’m pretty sure they’re sincere as I’m sure they’re manchildren themselves. I don’t know any other type of person who would be able to make such cartoons honestly. There’s a certain flow to a show that you can pick up, and if it’s not overly childish and doesn’t feel like the humor is forced, chances are it’s made by a manchild. If it’s more kids only humor (Kid’s Next Door, Camp Lazlo type stuff) chances are it was made by someone who was once a manchild but had kids themselves and made things more with them in mind. That’s actually cycle you can see in many artists over a bunch of art forms.

  • Ant G

    before I was about to write my negative reaction, I realized their audience for those promos are kids, whereas the cartoon network promo above is more for us than kids.

  • Strong Enough

    “A cartoonist is somebody who draws those political caricature drawings in the newspaper and that only! Quit hiding the magic word!”

    ehhh you’re wrong. besides you have way to much time on your hands

    • Jason Cezar Duncan

      1. It’s a sarcastic/satirical mock of my opinions towards the way a lot of studios are run and the fact that I feel Cartoon Network is one of the few doing things more the way I would like to see them done. That first one is more personal towards my frustrations of people outside the animation community not understanding the type of art I’m into, because when I say “cartoonist” that’s what they think of.

      2. “besides you have way to much time on your hands” not going to refute that what so ever because it’s true for me as I’m sure it is with half the people here. Actually I wouldn’t say too much time, just the free time I do have I get really lonely. You come to Dallas for the summer to live with your parents because you don’t have the income to live on your own, go to college for a degree that has nothing to do with cartoons and animation while working a job that has nothing to do with cartoons and animation, and no friends to share your interests with, all in a city full of everything except art, then tell me just how happy and not lonely you feel. BTW, that was mainly a copy and paste from my blog from the other day when I saw the video before it was here.

      • Chuck D

        Funny that’s exactly how I feel right now.

  • z-k

    Pen’s comment is spot on: “They happened to like what I was doing at the time”.

  • SarahJesness

    Cartoon Network is pretty good right now so I’m inclined to believe the statements made in the video. If you want art to be successful, they need to be made by the artists, not executives. The executives try to see why a show is successful but usually just end up replicating shallow aspects of the show. They go “Oh, this popular show has bright colors and cute characters! We should make more shows with bright colors and cute characters! Nothing else really matters!”.

  • Kirby

    I love what Cartoon Networks doing, lets hope that these new shows hold the flame with Adventure time while still making their own way. I’m not the target audience but I can certainly see Steven Universe working.

    Well done CN.

  • MJ

    First off. Great video. Really. It’s
    always nice to see these “behind the scenes” featurettes and
    interviews. but um……….

    do all these shows look the same?

    like the exact same overly simplistic, dry humored, obnoxiously ugly, bubbly
    cheek faced, wiggly spaghetti arm doodles. It’s already spilling over into
    Disney and Nick with Gravity Falls, Sanjay & Craig and Breadwinners. It must the TV
    animation era of….napkin squiggles….style. How about some variety? Does ANYONE agree or at least understand what I mean?

    I can’t emphasize enough how wrong 3:54 – 4:08 was. What is funny to one person
    is not at all humorous to another. If anything, they named off the list of
    things that is WRONG with animated shows today. I understand that’s how the old
    timers from Looney Tunes used to do it, but their sense of humor was
    universally understood because it was slapstick. Same goes with the crew at
    Spongebob. The first 4-5 seasons were hilarious for a huge demographic because they were revamping
    classic Popeye and Tex Avery animation sight gags from the past. Young kids liked it, older folks loved it. Those jokes
    worked because everyone gets the humor. The new shows today make it feel more like its 11 minutes of an inside joke. “I think it’s funny, so it is.”

    well, I guess the sun as set for animation fans like me. Story
    telling and “humor” has taken a dramatic change from what I have known of them.
    There is nothing too exciting about the future of TV animation. (looking
    hopefully at Wander over Yonder picture)

    • Jason Cezar Duncan

      If there’s a real criticism I have with CN, it’s with your first point about the little diversity in visual style and creators. They put a lot of emphasis on this Cal Arts school, which to me, doesn’t even seem that fitting to the type of work they do as Cal Arts focuses on strict visual discipline which would be for someone going to do design and animation work on a major studio movie. Being a creator is something that’s just more self made. Sure you can take some drawing and animation classes to better your skills, but an entire degree on something that you end up doing really little of in your job just never seemed necessary to me. And really before the mid to late 90s, hardly any of the TV creators went to Cal Arts or even art school. Your second point though, kind of defeats the purpose of art. Nobody I know is going to do something outside their interests for the sake of potentially becoming more known and earning more money. Wait….scrap that, that’s what today’s internet society is overrun with, turning out tons and tons of soulless unoriginal rehashed crap in some hope that one will get noticed. Think about what you just said, because that’s pretty much what you’re asking for when you go under that mentality. These people are not living their life for you, they’re not living their life for me, they don’t know how you or I think or what we find funny, and it’s not their job to be our personal entertainers. On the flip side you don’t have to like their shows or give them any money and are more than free to make something you think is better. I, personally, respect all of them but the only show I really like is Regular Show. So I don’t watch Adventure Time, but I’m not out there asking Mr. Ward to tone down and change his show so it becomes more “universally relatable”. Not his job, not mine, or anyone else’s here either. If you strongly feel that way, I say it’s your job as an artist to make things you think are fit.

    • smoothoperator350

      Well a part of the reason for the simplistic styles would be the budgets, Cartoon Network is quite strict with what it gives out to comedy cartoons and often cancels its action cartoons due to higher budgets versus lower viewership.

      Another reason could very well be Calarts, if you look at Angry Beavers and 2 Stupid Dogs both cartoons were made by calarts graduates with the latter utilizing a more retro style to go with its abstract shapes.

      These days I feel that newer cartoons are trying to mimic Adventure Time and Regular Show in terms of style, its what the networks want and its extremely easy to work with, makes easy fan art too.

      Thats the keyword here, “easy”.

      On the upside color pallettes tend to be quite vibrant and varied in modern cartoons.

  • Brill 93

    Well the only show so far I like on CN is Gumball, that show has so much of a variety of animation styles, and pure comedy. But I do not like much Adventure Time or Regular Show. Call me crazy but those shows are flat to me. But the problem I am seeing with animation now a days with the audience is that the 18-20’s years never grew up. I mean how many young adults still watch Nick, CN and so on? I don’t think its healthy for kid shows to be have so much influence from adults, don’t get me wrong I know animators and directors are gonna slip those X rated easter eggs in the shows. But after seeing monsters university, I can tell that movie wasn’t made for little kids. I even show little kids become restless cause they didn’t get it. Its time for the animation market to really market out much to young adults of our generation. Just my opinion on things.

    • jonhanson

      My favorite shows as a kid were made with adults and kids in mind. Mind you, it is important to remember kids and I do see this being forgotten some times. But I was decent at telling when I was being pandered to even at a young age. I mean, I watched some crap but the shows that grew the most on me were the ones that aimed hire.

      That said when I see Regular Show making episodes that actually show zombies getting their heads cut off I do worry that things have gone a little too far in the adult direction.

  • Ryan Frost

    1. Animation production has been outsourced since you were born.
    2. Overly simple Character design sells. CN is a business. Period.
    3. If you want to see new, interesting, with no limitations…check out indie comics, or read a book. You might find uninhibited art at its finest, and you might find yourself asking big questions like: What is my purpose in the universe? Or: What does it all mean? Or: Maybe I really did like things to be simple like in the Saturday morning cartoons after all.

    State of the industry talk is boring. If you don’t like it, start a revolution, or pick up a pencil and make the stuff you think is interesting. I respect these artists and what they do, and I think the freedom they’ve been granted is impressive, even for today. The animation business was a lot less lenient in the 50’s 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Were just now starting to see sole creators empowered to make their show, their way, and people are complaining? Appreciate the little victories, because this is creativity at its finest in the animation world today.

    Thank you for reading my rant.
    Good day to you.

    • Jason Cezar Duncan


    • Tito James

      Thanks Ryan,

      That put everything in perspective. These people are just trying to express themselves. And while none of it is really my taste they are still honest artists and creators worthy of respect. I hey you’re right If I don’t like what’s on TV I can always turn it off or make something myself.

  • Dan

    AWESOME. And, they don’t look like they’re lying. Pete, Audie representing-right on, right on!

  • Foster

    Somewhere there must be an early sound film of happy coal miners marching to their doom someplace in Kentucky. But everything will be different for these happy kids.

  • Bob

    Maybe its a message that Cartoon Network will never love Canada but rather just use its horrible shows as a quick cash cow

  • daniel

    Yet they don’t pay their creators very well~ I bet most of these creators make less then tech supervisors on CG features!

  • Davy

    It’d be nice to see this. But since I live in the UK, apparently I can’t. What’s the point of this kind of thing anyway? Whats the harm of someone in britain or canada seeing this promotional material before they’re “supposed to”? I don’t get it.