Glad You Asked Department 7/12/13
Back in the late ’90s I did a little work in animation, creating projects like Fox’s THE SILVER SURFER, which I also ran – as much as a writer can run what is probably the only TV genre where writer-producers don’t get to call all the shots because the animator-directors are the official Big Cheeses – and supervising the writing on SURFER, SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED, DIABOLIK (a French series for all practical purposes although everyone wanted it to be more), and HBO’s SPAWN (a terrific series bujt the less said about it as an experience in my life the better).
As a result of that work (which you can get a quick overview of here), I’m often asked a lot of questions about the television animation process. One of the days, time permitting, I’ll write a nice long article on the subject. But until then I’m happy to use this space to answer the following question from Delia, who wants to writes:
I’ve been a secret fan of Saturday Morning animation for years and have always been amazed at the variation in quality. I’ve seen shows that obviously were intended for 8 year olds, like POKEMON, and shows that scaled upward in age past pre-teens and teens to the viewing group I’d call Young Adults, which clearly was the demo you aimed THE SILVER SURFER at.
Mostly I think of myself as an artist, rather than a writer, and I’m eager to learn what the opportunities are for nerd girl artists like me in animation. I’m familiar with some of the more advanced issues, such as ageism and sexism. (Whew, at least I’m young.) And I do know that there’s more to TV animation than Saturday morning these days. A lot more. But I’m still not clear on the actual stages that the art goes through for TV, nor do I understand who necessarily does what. And I really, really want to know what the Animation Director actually does. Can you help me out on this?
To which I have to wholeheartedly reply:
I love this question, Delia, for several reasons.
- Because you remember THE SILVER SURFER, which was indeed intended for adults of all ages and not just tykes.
- Because you seem to have liked it. (I fucking loved it myself.)
- Because you’re a young woman who wants to work in animation and I don’t hear from many humans fitting into that calling. (Aliens, yes, lots of ’em, but humans, not so much.)
- Because someone else has already answered this question wonderfully well, which means that I don’t have to strain my aging brain coming up with the answer.
That someone else is a friend named Will Meugniot, who really knows his stuff. Over the years, Will has been producer, director, writer, art director, storyboard artist, you-name-it on tons of animated TV including:
- BIKER MICE FROM MARS
- TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
- X-MEN EVOLUTION
- X-MEN THE SERIES
- CAPTAIN PLANET AND THE PLANETEERS
- SWAMP THING
- THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS
- JONNY QUEST
And many, many more. (Did I say tons? Make it whole planets full of shows.)
And foremost, to me, he worked his talented butt off on both THE SILVER SURFER and DIABOLI
K. In the words of Stan Lee, “Wotta guy.” (I don’t mean Stan wrote this somewhere, I mean he came right out and said it with real feeling to me.)
More to the point in terms of this question, Will is part of a team that put together a terrific behind-the-scenes “Making of” video for the THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS DVD COLLECTION a few years ago, and which y’all can find on YouTube.
In terms of the matter at hand, these two videos should be very helpful:
And if you want more, it’s all at the Ghostbusters.Org YouTube Channel.
My thanks to Delia for bringing up this point. And my thanks to Will not only for sending me to YouTube to find the answer but also for being a hell of a guy and a sensational talent.
Read/see/buy comics drawn and/or created by Will (like DNAgents, FedForce, Tarzan Weekly, Vanity, Marvel TGeam-Up, Solomon Kane, Howard the Duck…)
My purpose here is to help as many undiscovered creative geniuses as possible. But I can’t answer if you don’t ask. So send your questions and make everyone’s day!