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Selected Postcards 1998-2015

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Original Cartoon Shorts From Frederator Studios Selected Postcards 1998 - 2015

©2015, Frederator Networks, Inc.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

ChalkZone, The Fairly Oddparents, Fanboy & Chum Chum, My Life as a Teenage Robot, Oh Yeah! Cartoons, Nickelodeon, Random! Cartoons, TM & ©2014, Viacom Intl., Inc. All rights reserved. Used with kind permission. Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!, TM & ©2014, Bolder Media, Inc. and Starz. All rights reserved. Used with kind permission. Adventure Time with Finn and Jake, What A Cartoon!, TM & ©2014, Cartoon Network. A Time Warner Company. Used by kind permission. Ape Escape Cartoons, Bee & PuppyCat, Bravest Warriors, Cartoon Hangover, Channel Frederator, The Meth Minute 39, Nite Fite, SuperF*ckers, and Too Cool! Cartoons, ©2014, Frederator Networks, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with kind permission.

ISBN-13: 978-1-62726-091-6

First edition, 2015, Frederator Books

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Foreword By Eric Homan

Vice President, Development & Creative Affairs Frederator Studios May 2015

How great is it that Frederator is making short cartoons for the internet? Pretty terrific, indeed. And fun, too. In the course of producing films for this newest medium for about eight years now, we’ve noticed how one thing has changed, while another is thankfully the same.

For more than two decades, Fred and Frederator Studios have been involved in the production of a lot of short cartoons, far too many too count (somewhere south of 250, let’s say). Until 2007’s launch of Dan Meth’s The Meth Minute 39 (with a music video entitled, prophetically, “Internet People”), those productions were made for American- based cable television—namely, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon—and with the often tacit understanding each would serve as a springboard into its own series, again for cable television.

It’s been nearly ten years since Frederator has produced its stock-in-trade –the stand-

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alone comedy cartoon– for one of those large cable TV networks. Instead, we’ve been focus- ing on the new, independent, and global distribution opportunities presented us in the new millennium by the internet. Without necessarily having to think about series, the studio’s cartoons these days are often even more singular and personal. That's good. Very good.

One thing remaining the same, though, is Frederator’s dedication to talent. As always, even more than looking for tomorrow’s hit series, we’re constantly looking to fashion the circumstances for burgeoning talent to create and oversee the making of their singular and personal films. In doing so, we do our best to allow creators a (sometimes danger- ously) wide berth in order to execute her or his vision. This point of view of Fred’s was preposterous among cartoon studio presidents in the early 1990s; today, most animation studios would say it’s standard procedure.

Frederator remains steadfastly optimistic about the future of short cartoons, for whatever format. Whether crafted by the industry's elite at a major Hollywood studio, or just blasted out by a teenager in his parents' basement in Boise, these films are our life's animated appetizers, lead-off singles, and madcap foreplay. Thanks to everyone who's ever gone down that short cartoon path with us.

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Introduction By Fred Seibert

CEO/Founder

Frederator Studios

May 2015

Short cartoons have been the lifeblood of animation for almost 100 years, and the talent that creates them have been Frederator’s vital spark for over two decades. There's no way there could even be a Frederator Studios without these artists.

could even be a Frederator Studios without these artists. Frederator Postcard Series 1.1 Illustrated by Tim

Frederator Postcard Series 1.1 Illustrated by Tim Biskup

Compact, animated films began in the silent era, thrived when sound was added, and exploded when movies turned into television. And in

the internet age

that are out in the world today.

Unquestionably, the innovative work of these creators has seen a tremendous influence on the industry we toil in, but the effect in the pop culture at large has probably been even greater. For 20 years, their films have been seen, enjoyed, and absorbed by millions of people across the world. The next generations of filmmakers –both animated

well, it's hard to grasp the tens of millions of shorts

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and live action– will be thanking these creators in their own acknowledgements as their careers take over the global society that's coming our way.

It occurred to me a few years ago that I made my living by being a professional fan, searching for wonderful collaborators to support. These folks have an extraordinary gift, able to take a blank sheet of paper or an empty digital file, and actually create the future that we mere mortals can love for the rest of our lives.

This book has been edited from over almost 500 postcards Frederator Studios has released since 1998. From our very beginnings, we've wanted to highlight the individual works our creators have brought into the world. Our cards are a small shout out, but, we hope, a sincere one.

Everyone at Frederator does more than tip our hat to these astonishing filmmakers. We thank them for our very existence.

filmmakers. We thank them for our very existence. A collection of 354 Frederator limited edition postcards

A collection of 354 Frederator limited edition postcards from artist and animator J.J. Sedelmaier

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Frederator short cartoon creators and show runners, from 1998 through 2014:

Raul Aguirre, Natasha Allegri, Robert Alvarez, Amy Anderson, Tex Avery.

Ralph Bakshi, Joe Barbera, Charlie Bean, Jerry Beck, Mike Bell, Tim Biskup, Bob Boyle, Chris Brandt, Eric Bryan, Michelle Bryan, David Burd, Bill Burnett, Breehn Burns.

Jaime Diaz, Angelo di Nallo.

Kyle A. Carrozza, Tony Cervone.

Ric Delcarmen, Jeff DeGrandis, Andre Dickman, John R. Dilworth, Davis Doi.

Greg Eagles, Jerry Eisenberg, Greg Emison, John Eng.

Jun Falkenstein, David Feiss, Eddie Fitzgerald, John Fountain.

Manny Galán, Dana Galin, James Giordano, Alan Goodman, Tom Gran, Mike Gray, Antoine Guilbaud.

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Bill Hanna, Meinert Hansen, Russ Harris, Butch Hartman, Andy Helms, Adam Henry, Bill Ho, Larry Huber.

George Johnson, Don Jurwich.

Kang yo-kong, Ken Kessel, Jiwook Kim, Alex Kirwan, Erik Knutson, Dahveed Kolodny-Nagy, Diane Kredensor, Harvey Kurtzman.

Seth MacFarlane, Steve Marmel, Miss Kelly Martin, Eugene Mattos, Craig McCracken, Jon McClenahan, John McIntyre, Harry McLaughlin, Dan Meth, Mike Milo, Zac Moncrief, Russell Mooney, Jesse Moynihan, Justin Moynihan, Adam Muto.

Andre Nieves.

Jeret Ochi, Joe Orrantia, Victor Ortado.

Paul Parducci, Van Partible, Lincoln Peirce, Jason Plapp, Polygon Pictures, Bill Plympton.

Carlos Ramos, Michael Rann, Russ Reiley, Christopher Reineman, Rob Renzetti,

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G. Brian Reynolds, John Reynolds, John Rice, Bill Riling, Mel Roach, Eric Robles, Mike Rosenthal, Jason Butler Rote, Jim Ryan.

Fred Seibert, Seo jun-kyo, Don Shank, Achiu So, Hamish Steele, Elizabeth Stonecypher.

Genndy Tartakovsky, Doug TenNapel, Aliki Theofilopoulos, Miles Thompson, Karl Toerge.

Guy Vasilovich, Byron Vaughn, Pat Ventura.

Anne Walker, Vincent Waller, Pendleton Ward, Dave Wasson, Mike Wellins, Melissa Wolfe, Martin Woolley, Jim Wyatt.

Niki Yang, Carey Yost.

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The Eric Homan Interview By Michael Goldman

2010

If he were a cartoon character in a Frederator Studios’ cartoon, it might be tempting to portray Eric Homan as Fred Seibert’s sidekick. In truth, however, he’s far more than that, and crucial to all that Seibert and his chums at Frederator have accomplished in recent years. Homan’s work has also greatly impacted millions of kids and adults who enjoy the cartoons broadcast by Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network every day that Homan helped nurture into reality.

Seibert, of course, started Frederator in the late 1990’s after first resuscitating, and then exiting, Hanna-Barbera—the broadcast world’s most legendary cartoon factory. Hanna-Barbera, of course, had been swallowed up by the corporate behemoth at long last, and it was time to go. But not before Seibert and his colleagues restored the origi- nal spirit and intent of the place with the “What a Cartoon” shorts’ program. “What a Cartoon!,” of course, gave the world a new generation of short cartoons to enjoy, some of which (“Dexter’s Laboratory” and “Powerpuff Girls,” to name just two) went on to carve out prominent places of their own in the world of animated broadcast television.

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That philosophy was rapidly ported over to Frederator, and revolves around the no- tion that the art of the short cartoon is not only something to be fondly celebrated as a reminder of a gentler era—it’s also a hell of a good way to find the world’s finest, and funniest, creative talent and then put them to work making commercially viable (well, sometimes anyway) cartoons for children of all ages to enjoy on television.

Thus, Frederator’s Oh Yeah! Cartoons and, now, Random! Cartoons, were born to follow in the footsteps of What a Cartoon! Long ensconced at the center of the madness that followed in the form of shows like The Fairly OddParents, My Life as a Teenage Robot, ChalkZone, Fanboy and Chum Chum, Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!, Adventure Time with Finn and Jake, and many more is Homan—Frederator’s VP of Development. He’s a former English teacher, radio reporter, and more importantly, Homan is Seibert’s co-con- spirator in promoting the antiquated notion that talent first, talent unfettered, talent encouraged, and talent unleashed is the best way to not only have fun making cartoons, but to engage responsibly (or, at least semi-responsibly), occasionally even successfully, in the cartoon business.

I recently sat down with Eric to discuss this philosophy and how, and why, it works at Frederator, even on a radically evolving economic, social, and technological landscape. Eric warned me he “is not used to interviews,” but did concede he knew a few things

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about the cartoon business, and so, with some coaxing, I got him to impart some of that wisdom here. He agreed this book was a good home for our discussion since, after all, he is particularly fond of both postcards and cartoons.

Michael Goldman: How and why did you get together with Fred Seibert and decide to spend your career dwelling in the world of short cartoons, of all things?

Eric Homan: I met Fred when we happened to start at Hanna-Barbera Studios about the same time in 1992. Of course, he was the president of the studio, and I was a cel cleaner in the animation art department, so we were at complete opposite ends of the employee spectrum. But that’s where I met him, and except for maybe a year and a half break in the late 1990s, I’ve been with him for the past seventeen-plus years.

At the point when Warner Bros. bought Turner Entertainment at the end of 1996, Fred left Hanna-Barbera, became an independent producer, and went back to working with Nickelodeon [a network Seibert first worked with in its early years after helping to pio- neer the branding of its then fledgling sister network, MTV]. I stayed with Warner Bros. for about a year and a half, working for their studio stores, managing the production of Hanna-Barbera collectibles sold in those stores back in the previous century.

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But less than two years later, I was back with Fred. By that time, Oh Yeah! Cartoons was up and running with a couple of shorts already in production. He had just bought an in- dependent comic book company [the former Kitchen Sink Press] and wanted some help developing some of those properties for TV and movies, so I went back in the summer of 1998. I was glad to be indoctrinated in Fred’s development strategy, the same one we have today.

Michael Goldman: And what is that strategy exactly?

Eric Homan: It’s the same short-show strategy Fred sells every few years. At Han- na-Barbera, it was called What a Cartoon! It’s where Dexter’s Laboratory, Powerpuff Girls, and a bunch of other shows for Cartoon Network got their start. Then, around 1997, he went back to Nick and produced the same kind of program, naming it Oh Yeah! Cartoons. That’s where The Fairly OddParents, My Life as a Teenage Robot, and ChalkZone came from.

There was a bit of a break after that and then, in 2005, we went into production on what’s now called Random! Cartoons . We did the same basic thing and it’s already given us the series Fanboy and Chum Chum and Adventure Time with Finn and Jake. Hope- fully there will be a few others.

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The philosophy of any of these shorts programs is we can find great new talents, and we can get them experienced making films by the time any of them have an opportunity to showrun a series. In the case of Butch Hartman, he had already made ten Fairly Odd- Parents shorts as part of Oh Yeah! by the time Nickelodeon picked it up as a series. That really proved Butch had what it takes to be a creator, run a production, and get the job done.

Michael Goldman: And you have other Butch Hartmans coming out of the Random! program right now?

Eric Homan: I’ll give you two examples. The Nickelodeon show, Fanboy and Chum Chum, was created by Eric Robles. He had been all over the industry and was in his early 30s when we met him. He had worked at almost every major studio in a variety of capacities, from design to development, and he was pitching things around town. Fred and I were big believers in Eric when Random! Cartoons came up, and we invited him to pitch. And Eric’s not a guy to miss an opportunity. He showed so much talent with his pitch board. Once we gave it the greenlight, he just took off with it.

It’s a perfect example—on paper, his idea for Fanboy and Chum Chum didn’t set the world on fire, just the idea about two crazy kids who are in love with being kids. It was

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hard to get excited just about the log line. However, after his compelling pitch, and then his execution of the seven-minute short, you saw how funny it was, and how developed the characters were, so we were able to use that film to sell the series. It was easy to believe in Eric and I’m glad we got to help him get the show across the finish line, but it was his talent and passion and creativity that made the whole thing work. In the end, that’s what we try to do—be a talent-driven studio.

The other example is Pendleton Ward. In his case, you couldn’t not fall in love with his student films at CalArts, so I encouraged him to pitch for Random! Cartoons, which he did. Because the shorts program was made up of an order of thirty-nine cartoons, we were allowed to take bigger risks than, say, if the order was for just six. That allowed us to give Pen that opportunity without a great expectation about what might come out of it. In fact, his pitch was very distinctive, very creative, but it sure didn’t seem too com- mercial. But it was so different, we knew we had to give Pen the chance to make his film. It was special and we wanted to see what would happen, but we didn’t entertain a lot of hopes about whether it might become a series. But he did a great job with his short, and Cartoon Network decided we should put it into production, and that’s how Adventure Time with Finn and Jake came about.

MIchael Goldman: So, for you guys, what’s the deal on how to balance business with

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creative freedom? In this economy, I can’t imagine you have resources to develop every funny thing that passes across your desk.

Eric Homan: That’s true, but keep in mind these are short, independent films to start. Frederator runs the shorts program, but it’s the filmmakers who come in and make them. They’re ultimately responsible for all the creative decisions. The creators will get the network’s standards and practices notes and we’ll give them our two cents; whether or not they act on those suggestions is up to them. So, we give them enough rope to hang themselves creatively. We are trying to see what they will do with the opportunity. It’s re - ally more about finding special filmmakers than their particular shows. We are investing in the talent more than the projects. We are looking more for hit-makers than hits, if that makes sense.

One of the things about doing a large volume of cartoons is we know up front that we’re not going to get thirty-nine series out of them. When we produce thirty-nine shorts, if we get four series—about ten percent—that’s a great success. So it pays to have this program up and running—to find that talent that can make up that ten percent.

And, I should add, just because a short doesn’t go to series doesn’t mean it wasn’t great, or the people who made it weren’t great. Yes, the networks trust us to deliver them hits,

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but even if we get misses from extremely talented filmmakers, we know we’ll have an opportunity to try again with them later.

The other thing to keep in mind is that, with these shorts, development work is done by the filmmakers. They develop it and then pitch it to us. If we like it, we help get it made, and then, once it is made, that’s when we really get to work with the filmmakers to help them try to sell and then develop their property as series. But developing the property initially as a short is not what we’re about; that’s what the filmmakers do themselves. It’s not like we’re cartoon creators. We do our best to recognize talent and potential, and people willing to work really hard to succeed. We are doing that both with our TV and feature film properties.

Michael Goldman: So, what has changed then in the years between Oh Yeah! and Random! in terms of finding new talent and properties?

Eric Homan: I’m not so sure that finding properties has changed much at all. As inde- pendent producers, we have to find them, and then we have to sell them. Finding proper- ties is the same just because there are always people out there with good ideas and great talent. But selling their work has become more difficult because of the economy and the nature of changes within the industry. We are lucky–we have a first-look deal with

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Nickelodeon and they have great respect for new talent and for what we do. But that’s the difficulty.

As far as talent goes, though, we’ve always brought in ace talent that has gone on to do terrific things at Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and elsewhere—talent that entered those studios through Fred’s shorts programs. For example, Seth McFarlane’s first pro- fessional film was an early version of Family Guy back at Hanna-Barbera for What a Cartoon! The original What a Cartoon! program had cartoonists including Genndy Tar- takovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack), Butch Hartman (The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom), and Craig McCracken (The Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home for Imag- inary Friends) come in, and at that point, their original shorts were about showcasing them. I’m biased, of course, but to me, Cartoon Network was built (in the early 1990’s) on the backs of the work done by Genndy and Craig and the shows that came out of that original shorts program.

But the way we find them hasn’t changed much. Obviously, when I started development work with Fred, I wasn’t yet going online to find independent filmmakers. But you still go to film festivals and student film nights at animation schools. Plus, of course, we have a wide open door for anybody with an idea for any kind of cartoon—they can always come in and pitch us.

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Michael Goldman: Speaking of websites, what role has the Internet played in how you develop, make, or distribute cartoons? I notice a wide range of shorts are available at www.frederator.com and elsewhere across the web—how has that impacted your tradi- tional approach?

Eric Homan: Actually, more than helping find a hit, the Internet has helped us sell a hit. A big reason Adventure Time became a series was because we put the original pilot short online. It was, at the time, a very different type of cartoon that you didn’t see on television. We put it on YouTube and it was an instant success—about two-hun - dred-thousand views in the first weekend alone, up to several million views eventually. A huge Internet buzz followed and it became a success. But that also coincided with a time in which Cartoon Network wanted to go, programming wise, in a bit of a different direction and this cartoon worked really well with that.

Michael Goldman: You mentioned feature films earlier. Frederator, of course, is best known as an independent production company for broadcast. Can you bring us up to speed on the feature film initiative and where you see that heading?

Eric Homan: We’ve recently signed a first-look deal with Sony Pictures Animation, so Fred and I, along with Kevin Kolde and Carrie Miller, who make up the other half of

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Frederator, are searching for filmmakers with feature projects to take in, just like we’re searching for talent in the shorts program. Like with the shorts, we want our films to be very creator driven, so we’re now investing in filmmakers we believe in. We’re optimistic we’ll have a couple of films in production shortly, with more to come.

My guess is that many of our feature projects will involve filmmakers we’ve worked with before in the TV business. There has traditionally been a pretty strict line in animation between the broadcast people and the feature people. In TV, it’s not uncommon for artists to be journeymen and go from studio to studio, and project to project, but not as much crossing that great divide between TV and features. But, hopefully, we’ll be pre- senting a lot of fantastic television talent to the feature world.

I should also mention we’re putting together financing and distribution for super-low budget features, too. Much more niche-oriented, but still creator-driven. I’m really excit- ed about these.

Michael Goldman: So what’s your advice then for all those cartoon geeks out there, talented but with no direction on how to create a story, pitch it, and pursue their cartoon dreams?

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Eric Homan: In the commercial world? Be passionate about what you’re creating; though you’ll ultimately need to please your audience, don’t create just for the sake of selling. I also think it’s vital to learn as much as you can about the animation process.

Clearly, the creators behind most of the successful cartoons are artists or cartoonists at one level or another. If you look at your favorite cartoons from the past twenty or so years, you’ll find the creators—from Mike Judge to John Kricfalusi to Genndy Tarta- kovsky to Butch Hartman, or Matt Groening or Seth McFarlane—all of them are car- toonists. I can’t think of too many successful cartoons created by people who couldn’t be part of the animation process.

That’s not to say you’re automatically discounted if you can’t draw. I remember, for ChalkZone, (co-creator) Bill Burnett came in to us as a writer. He had a stack of ideas and Fred introduced him to a bunch of directors. Bill went off and partnered with maybe five different directors to do a variety of cartoons, and it just so happens the one he devel- oped with Larry Huber, who is a longtime animator, was ChalkZone, and that one got to the finish line and became a series at Nickelodeon. But, even in that case, it wasn’t until Larry Huber came on board to develop it as a cartoonist, and brought that cartoonist’s mindset, that it moved to that next level.

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Also, especially for television, focus on strong characters. Audiences want to fall in love with characters. The coolest idea in the world won’t mean much week after week if your audience doesn’t care about your characters. This may not be the best analogy, but you’d rather hang out doing nothing with your best friend rather than spend time with some dullard doing something that’d otherwise be interesting, right?

Finally, the odds against you selling a show are enormous. If I were out there trying to sell my own show, I’d research how those who did get their shows made and learn lessons from them. But still, it’s tough. Only get into it if you really enjoy it—but then, I guess that’s true of any field, right?

Michael Goldman is a longtime entertainment industry journalist who has interviewed most of the world’s leading filmmakers, and covered animation, visual effects, cinema- tography, editing, and film and broadcast production and post-production for a number of major publications in print and online. He’s a former editor at Variety, the former longtime Senior Editor at Millimeter Magazine, and the author of four books, with anoth- er one on the way. He lives in Los Angeles with his gorgeous wife, Bari, and two car- toon-obsessed sons, Jake and Nathan. You can keep track of Michael’s adventures at his web site, www.hollywood-scribe.com.

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The Fred Seibert Interview Joe Strike reveals how Fred Seibert came to revive television animation in the 1990s, helping Hanna-Barbera and Nickelodeon give birth to a slew of original hits.

By Joe Strike AWN.com July 15, 2003 and August 15, 2003

If one man can be credited with resuscitating American commercial animation from its near-death experience in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the credit would have to go to Fred Seibert.

After putting the then-new MTV on the map with a series of unforgettable, no-two-alike animated ID spots, he took over the creatively exhausted Hanna-Barbera studio and en- gineered a turnaround that brought some of the country’s most innovative young anima- tors to its doors. Their creations helped make another newborn cable network more than a place where old cartoons went to die. Moving onto an association with Nickelodeon, Fred proved his success was no fluke by midwifing a second batch of groundbreaking, creator-driven cartoons that helped cement Nick’s dominance of the children’s television market.

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Fred will often praise an associate or collaborator as being “an awesome judge of tal- ent”- a description he more than deserves himself. With an eye toward the main chance that others have overlooked, and an instinctive understanding of both the creative and commercial potential of animated cartoons, Fred has a knack for making himself the right man at the right time. In late March and early April 2003, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Fred Seibert in his Fifth Avenue office where he heads Frederator, the animation company he started in 1997. I discovered that he is not shy about taking - or sharing - credit for his successes, or accepting blame for his failures. I also learned why he prefers cartoons over animation.

Fred Seibert: I had been a consultant to Nickelodeon for many years before going to Hanna-Barbera. In 1989, the Nickelodeon programming and business team came to me and said we really need to get into the original production] cartoon business - how do we do it?

I had never really done anything in cartoons. I was really just a neophyte, an interested media person, but I knew about the way Looney Tunes, theatrical cartoons had been made. I said, it seems to me that what they did was make a seven-minute cartoon, run it before a movie and, if people liked it, they made another one [featuring the same charac- ter.] If they didn’t like it they stopped making it.

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I suggested a system that I thought made some kind of sense, but I had no idea how to execute it, because I knew nothing about cartoons. As usual when you’re a consultant, they took pieces of my idea and threw out the rest. The piece that they took, that turned out to be valuable for a couple of years at Nickelodeon, was that they made pilots, which was radically different from the way that Hollywood made cartoons for kids. And that’s when you got Ren & Stimpy.

Joe Strike: That led to What A Cartoon!?

Fred Seibert: When I got to Hanna-Barbera, I knew [Nickelodeon] hadn’t done the system the way I wanted to do it because I didn’t think pilots were the thing.

To me, pilots are things that you’ll never show anybody and they’re messy, they’re all over the place, they’re not disciplined.

My model for everything I’ve done successfully in the media business, no matter what medium I’ve been in, whether I was a record producer or in radio was Berry Gordy’s Motown. I loved the idea that they were all in a house and the recording studio was here, and the writing studios were here and the promotion department was here, and quality control - Berry Gordy’s office - was up here, and when they needed an extra singer they

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went to the receptionist and said, do you sing - I love that.

I always loved the idea of a factory system where the goal of the factory was unique

creative work; where you could discipline the execution process so that it didn’t get out of

control. I always thought you could get more good, interesting work out of that kind of creative system. My love of going to Hanna-Barbera was I always had the sense they had that system in the old days – and they had lost sight of it.

So I arrive knowing I want to make these short cartoons like Looney Tunes used to do.

I knew Hanna-Barbera was not a place that talented people felt they belonged. Han-

na-Barbera was a place for three kinds of people - people getting their first job, people on

their last job or filling in between jobs, and people who really had a tough time getting jobs elsewhere.

So here I am, I know that no first-level creative person would ever come to Hanna-Bar- bera, and I knew I needed system to attract them, and where I could try out as many people as possible - and figure out who had the goods and who didn’t.

[And we] had a sister company that was starting a cartoon network. We’re a new net- work, and advertisers and cable operators respect original programming, they don’t

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respect library. If we’re going to get distributors and advertisers we’ve got to do new stuff. ….

I said ‘I have an idea how we can get publicity for 48 weeks. Let’s make a new show

every other week - and I can do it for 10 million. Let’s make it like Looney Tunes.’

I had had my tutorial from John, I had spent a long time talking to Bill and Joe, not

about Hanna-Barbera, but about Tom and Jerry and how they produced cartoons. I talked to Friz Freleng and a bunch of other people and they taught me how they made those shorts.

So I said ‘we’ll make a short cartoon every week. It’ll be a new character every week, and you’ll run it at your most popular time: primetime Sunday evenings just before a cartoon movie. We’ll do it just like the old days, and every other week for two years you’ll be able to get some publicity out of it. All of a sudden people will think [you] must be doing a lot of stuff.”

Lo and behold, Cartoon Network bought it.

The first place I went into was Hanna-Barbera [itself] and then I really started scanning the world. We just started putting our tentacles out, we called Ralph Bakshi out of

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nowhere and said Ralph, do you want to get back to your roots and he did. He’s a character, but he was a very great character for us, he’s larger than life.

Joe Strike: Why shouldn’t people who make cartoon characters

Fred Seibert: …be characters, exactly. At the time, if you think about, there were only a couple of well-known animation people and he was one of them. That was a

great feather in our cap that looked to people like it was all beginners, to have a couple of well known veterans like Ralph in the mix.

What A Cartoon! gave us Dexter’s Laboratory [created by Genndy Tartakovsky], The Powerpuff Girls [Craig McCracken], Cow and Chicken [David Feiss], Johnny Bravo [Van Partible], Courage the Cowardly Dog [John R. Dilworth] – which, by the way, gave Hanna-Barbera its first Oscar nomination in the studio’s history – the Cow and Chicken spin-off I.M. Weasel, and we had a compilation of the shorts themselves, the What A Cartoon! Show. So we had seven series, any one of which earned enough mon- ey for the company to pay for the whole program.

Joe Strike: Basically a research and development program.

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Fred Seibert: Then on top of it [we] reinvigorated the who comes in the studio

equation. Now talented people wanted to show up. Some 5,000 people pitched us car- toons from all over the world. We got into business with Ralph Bakshi, with Bruno Boz - etto, we got into business with a broad range of people who never would’ve given Han- na-Barbera a passing chance. We worked with people who were 70 years old, who were 20 years old. We turned on its head the perception the people in the community had of us. And by the way, we made almost a billion dollars worth of value for the company.

Joe Strike: What successes came out of Oh Yeah! [Cartoons]?

Fred Seibert: We made 51 shorts, 51 original Oh Yeah!s, plus another 49 or 50 sequels of the best ones.

Someone would come in, Larry Huber [and Bill Burnett] would come in with Chalk- Zone, and once we saw the film, we said why don’t we make six more. Or a guy named Dave Wasson - who went on to do Time Squad for Cartoon Network - would come in and make The Goose Lady, which was basically like a Fractured Fairy Tale, and we said, ‘Why don’t you make three more.’

So far –and I don’t think we’re anywhere near the end of this process– Fairly

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OddParents and ChalkZone began as Oh Yeah! shorts. The ChalkZone series launched with the highest debut ratings in Nickelodeon history. Rob Renzetti’s My Life as a Teen- age Robot was an Oh Yeah! short. We made seven or eight Super Santa shorts. That project has skipped animation for the time being, and is being developed as a live-action feature with its creator Mike Bell.

I think there’s more to come. We’re talking Nickelodeon into taking a second look at a

few others, because if that’s four out of 51, you still have 47 to look at closely. We started in January of 97 and here we are in March of 2003 and we’ve only gotten four into se- ries. We created more original characters for air in three years than almost everyone else combined in a five-year period. It takes a while to absorb that. We’re not producing any new character shorts at the moment, which I’m fine with.

Joe Strike: You’ve made a distinction several times now between cartoons and anima- tion. I sort of get the idea, but how would you define it?

Fred Seibert: Animation is a production technique. It does not define creatively or emotionally anything. It defines a very wide range of things. Minority Report had anima- tion in it, the Vin Diesel movies have animation in them, Star Wars has animation. What the hell is it - it’s a technique. It’s like saying film.

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Cartoons define for me a couple of key things

tend to be character-driven, not story-driven; there’s a design factor to it. And to me, the most subtle, but maybe one of the most important is they use music as a character, rather than as a support mechanism.

I think you’ll agree when you hear a great cartoon score – and, by the way, I don’t just define a score as being by Carl Stallings, it can be Hoyt Curtin at Hanna-Barbera – you can actually read characters and action by just hearing the score. So score has a radically different role in cartoons than it does in almost any other kind of filmmaking.

I also define it as lots of physical humor. In my very narrow definition, the words fill in the gaps between the pictures rather than vice-versa; seven minutes long – that’s cartoon- ing.

When I’m talking with my development group about these animation features I want to do, the family ones, and they walk in with the Sleeping Beautys of the world or some such - I say, I don’t do that. My natural space in life is cartooning. The talent that I’ve developed over a 10-year period consists of cartoonists, not animators. I want creative projects that take advantage of where my natural understanding is and where my talent goes.

they’re funny, they tend to be short, they

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Joe Strike is a New York City-based writer/producer with a lifelong interest in animation.

This interview is excerpted. The entire text was published online on AWN.com, Animation World Magazine, on July 15, 2003, and August 15, 2003. Reprinted with the kind permission of the Animation World Network. Special thanks to Sarah Baisley, Ron Diamond, Joe Strike, Heather Kenyon, Dan Sarto, and Joe Strike.

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