Elephants and Monkeys

I’m very busy, this week, drawing elephants and monkeys. I’ll be adding something new to the site on Wednesday (or Thursday in the event that the elephants and monkeys haven’t left my table by Wednesday) after I finish the current storyboard I am drawing. In the meantime, elephants and monkeys need me.

-Steve

HIM

The new page (pg 13) has been posted over at HIMcomic. Click on the HA-HA preview of this week’s action to get more comics! BOOM!HIM013_preview
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BRACEFACE!!

Braceface_BE-05
If a picture speaks a thousand words, than that picture should have gotten your attention.

That scene was from an episode of the Nelvana Ltd. TV series BRACEFACE. It was a show about a girl who had braces. It tried to be topical from time to time and address real teen issues, or as real as one can have on a Saturday morning show for kids.

For my part, as much as I could as a storyboard artist, I tried to push and play up the drama. The series lent itself to drama more than most, and I consider drama to be one of my stronger points as a storyboard artist. If someone cried on the show, chances are that part of the show was storyboarded by me and I added the tears (Tears are, in my experience, rarely scripted. For some reason, the act of adding tears into scripts and extreme feeling (such as crying or real anger) seems to be avoided. I have no idea why). At the same time, if there was comedy, I tried to push it as far as I could take it and milk the gag for all it was worth. Well, one day a ripe plum dropped on my desk in the form of a script called “Busted”.

I do not recall who wrote this script or whose story it came from, but when I read it, I was gob smacked and more than amused that the studio was going to make a show like this. What was it about? Sharon, the blonde main character, wanted attention from a boy, but felt her bust line was too small. Since she wanted this boy to notice her, she decided to buy an inflatable bra in order to increase her good noticeability. Things start to go wrong at a school dance (at the mall?) and the bra doesn’t stop growing. Now, if tears are usually avoided in animation, breasts are... a-hem... untouchable.

There was plenty of broad comedy I could play up and also some solid drama at the end, so I dig in and tried to push this material for all I could. I handed in the storyboard and that was the last I ever saw of it. I never even saw the finished episode, until last week.

Someone posted a bunch of episodes on YouTube and I finally got to see it. Although the director took out a couple of panels where I knowingly went too far with the material (Oh, like you wouldn’t?): funny and clean breast gags, but certainly stuff that wouldn’t make it on TV. eg. If I remember correctly, in the pictured scene below, I think I ended the cut with a gag of having the breasts grow smack into Maria’s (The Asian girl) hands (in a ‘don’t panic’ gesture) as she is trying to calm Sharon down. Then, we’d cut to the next sequence. I never expected that gag to make it in to the show (and it didn’t); however, so much was left in that I’m just amazed. Remember, this was a kids show... in animation!
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I don’t know if this episode offended anyone or not or caused any kind of controversy anywhere. The YouTube comments seem to suggest that people thought it was funny and/or tragic and that’s all it was supposed to be.

Here is the the video of the final third of the episode with the naughty bits on display. I storyboarded all this (I probably storyboarded the last 11 minutes or so of this episode) and I really must tip my hat to the director for leaving in as much of what I added into the actual scripted show.

I still can’t believe this made it on air in a kids show.

-Steve
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Help me reach 1,000,000!!

1,000,000 what, you ask? 1,000,000 YouTube hits!!

If there is one thing I have learned from experimenting with YouTube, and media in general, is that it is hard to get and hold people’s attention. There are certain types of videos that get tons of hits because they include famous people or properties or are videos wherein the makers are using footage or props of famous people and properties (I assume, without permission). There are those that are just plain amusing (such as Indian Thriller) and there are those that are just short and sweet so they are easy to watch since they take no time investment. Everything else that gets a lot of hits seems to be something incredibly interesting that people feel compelled to pass the links around or so incredibly stupid that they feel the same compulsion. There is also a certain luck factor with everything, but that goes without saying unless I say it then it goes with saying. Lost your attention yet?

So I have a short film that falls under ‘short and sweet’ and ‘incredibly stupid’. Add some luck and I have my 1,000,000 YouTube hits. I present to you...

CHAO CHAO BAO!! Or as it is known in English...
STINKY STINK BUN!!
ChaoChaoBao-Still
This film is the best example to showcase my total disinterest in reading manuals when I get a new toy. I bought some animation software, a while back, and installed it. Rather than even read the “Quick Start Guide”, I just began to draw, using the track pad on my laptop, and the end result was this film. When I outputted the video, my thought was that this is stupid. I emailed it to a friend and his reply was, “One million YouTube hits, for sure!!”

So please help a brother reach his goal of

1,000,000 YouTube hits!!

Email the link to all the family, friends, colleagues, enemies and total strangers you know or even don’t know. This is a quest! Or think of it this way: We’re on a mission from God!

You can watch CHAO CHAO BAO HERE in the Films section or at this YouTube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRCbfK_Lz5g
Together, we can make a difference!

-Steve.

HIM

The new page (pg 12) has been posted over at HIMcomic. Click on the zippy preview of this week’s action to get more comics! BOING!
HIM012_preview

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The Tick vs. HIM (Part Three)

The Tick vs. HIM
Part Three: The Tick vs. Steve Remen

By the time December had rolled around, I actually managed to get into storyboarding for the animation studio I was working for so I had a few episodes under my belt. So, I called Ben Edlund up to see if they needed any storyboard artists for the third season of The Tick animated series. He told me they did and to call Hank Tucker at Sunbow Productions, in L.A.

Being the sort of chap I am, I called Hank Tucker, who was the series Director, and he agreed to give me some work. I really didn’t expect it to be so easy as I was accustomed to being asked for samples of my work. So, I offered to send some sample storyboards to Hank and he said I didn’t need to send any. The exchange when like this…

Steve: “Do you want me to send you some storyboard samples?”
Hank: “No. You have experience, right?”
Steve: “Yeah.”
Hank: “And Ben says you can draw, so it’s ok.”

Within a couple of days I had a script and the designs and I was working on season 3 of The Tick. Very cool!

The first episode I worked on was the third act of “The Tick vs. Dot and Neil’s Wedding”. It was the first time an animation script made me laugh out loud. The Tick’s line “I wrestled his tongue!” made me laugh. It was a great script and I was thrilled to be on the show. It was clearly going to be fun to draw and storyboard and… it was.

The only comment Hank had about my first storyboard was, “Don’t make it so flat”. My training in storyboard was standard animation cutting and staging, which means like a stage play or a 1970s episode of… well… anything. Real dull stuff. Hank’s comment to me motivated myself to just forget about what I was told was the “correct way” to tell a story and design a storyboard and just do whatever I thought was best and not over think things too much. It was the best Director’s note I ever got and my work improved 100%, almost overnight, as a result. I can not thank Hank Tucker enough for that.

The other two I storyboarded were “The Tick vs. Filth” (I did the stuff in Sewer Urchin’s lair leading up to the commercial break where the Sewer Czar is revving up his troops) and the first act of “The Tick vs. Prehistory” from the start, where the cave man is transported into the present day and runs around Tick’s apartment, up to the first commercial break.

After the series finished, I took a trip to New York and visited the Sunbow offices and was treated real nice by everyone. I was shown around and later taken out to dinner to a fantastic Indian restaurant by Chris McCulloch, also known by the pseudonym Jackson Publick (creator of The Venture Bros.), who was writing for the show and drawing storyboards.

The Sunbow staff in New York and L.A. were simply a great group of people who couldn’t have been more fun to work for and with. I did work for them, on and off, for several years after The Tick until the studio closed. It’s a shame they folded because it was a great place.

If a DVD set of The Tick 3rd season ever sees the light of day, you can see some of my work for it and even my name in the credits; however, these episodes have been posted on YouTube, so there ya go.

Needles to say, I had a blast on The Tick while it lasted.

One last thing: One day, a package arrived at my door from Sunbow. I wasn’t working for them, at the time, and had no idea what it could be. I did the logical thing and opened the envelope (I’m like Sherlock Holmes, that way). To my great surprise, I pulled out an animation cel of The Tick holding a block of wood, that he would eventually carve Little Wooden Boy out of. Didn’t I say the Sunbow people were a great group?

-Steve
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The Tick vs. HIM (Part Two)

The Tick vs. HIM
Part Two: The HIM/Tick Crossover

HIM-Tick-portrait
Note: This is NOT the sketch mentioned in the article, below. This is from a jam drawing that, I believe, proceeded the events in this part of the story. HIM was penciled by me and The TICK by Ben Edlund. It was inked by Steven Peters for his own comic Awakening Comics #0.

Jump ahead in time several years, and I find myself and the other Lethargic Guys are in Chicago at the annual ChicagoCon. I think our latest issue was Lethargic Comics #4. A fan of ours came up to me and asked me to draw him a sketch of The Tick and to leave one side of the page blank. Being the sort of chap I am, I drew him a sketch of The Tick and I left half the page blank and the fan went away (But, if you ask me to draw Mr. Fantastic, I’ll draw him eating a PB&J sandwich. If you ask me to draw Ghost Rider, I’ll draw him ironing his pants. My policy).

He came back later and showed me the sketch, but now, next to my Tick sketch was a HIM drawing by Ben Edlund, Creator of The Tick. That was a very cool sketch (for me at least) and it gave me the thought that I should go over to Ben Edlund’s table and meet him.

Note: If you, “the fan”, are reading this PLEASE EMAIL ME a scan of that sketch. You did , years ago, but I fear it is lost in an old computer’s hard drive. I beg you!!!

UPDATE: Begging helps. “the fan” is in fact Michael Reed Thureson. He sent me a photo of the sketch. This is a stand up guy in my books.

HIMTickTEAM

Ben and I got to talking: The Tick animated series was airing its second season, at that time, and doing well. Personally, I was still drawing animation layouts and I wanted to draw storyboards, but the studio I was working for wasn’t seeming like they were going to give me a chance, so I thought I’d ask Ben if he needed anyone to draw storyboards for his show. Not expecting him to say anything but “No, we have everyone we need”, he simply said, “Call me in December. We’re starting up again, then.” Great!

So, I waited until December and I called him.

To Be Continued…

As a footnote: Sometime before or around the start of The Tick animated series, I had met Bob Polio, the Art Director (and more?) of The Tick comic series and we talked about my possibly drawing a Tick comic for him. I drew up two or three sample pages (I think one was of The Tick and one was a Red Eye page that I drew as a proposal for a Red Eye mini-series) and showed them to Bob at the next convention I saw him at.

I liked the pages, but I don’t think Bob did, since I didn’t draw the next Tick comic. Later, when I saw whatever the next Tick comic published was, I understood why I was rejected (or at least I’m pretty sure of it): I didn’t draw The Tick like Ben Edlund - I drew him how I liked to draw him. It would have been fun to draw a Tick comic, but Bob’s reason (so I suspect) was a good one and I wouldn’t think to argue with it. After all, Ben’s style of drawings sold more comics than mine.

I still have my sample pages in storage somewhere. If I find them, the next time I have access to the boxes of stuff, I’ll post them on the website. Hmm… Maybe I’ll see them again and revise my opinion as to why they were rejected.

HIM
The new page (pg 10) has been posted over at HIMcomic. A bonus page (Page 11) has been added to celebrate that special day called May 15th!
HIM010_preview
-Steve.
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The Tick vs. HIM

The Tick vs. HIM
Part One: “HIM’s just like The Tick”

Pretty much since HIM first saw print in the original Lethargic Comics, Weakly mini-comic, HIM has been compared to The TICK. More accurately, I was told over and over, “HIM’s just like The Tick.” Often, that was said with some manner of dismissive sneer. What’s HIM connection with The Tick? Originally, none.

When I created HIM, (in 1989, about a year after The Tick first appeared) about the only think I knew about The Tick as in the form of a very small head shot of The Tick in the New England Comics ads that were placed in Marvel’s comics in the late 80s. I’d never seen the actual comic, let alone read one.

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When it became apparent that so many people said HIM was like The Tick, I started to actively avoid looking at the Tick comics. I just didn’t want to know what was similar since, up to that point, any similarities were 100% coincidental. But, curiosity got the best of me when one of my friends bought some Tick comics to read and he liked them a lot. So, I borrowed them and read them. I also liked them a lot. Yeah, there were similarities, but I didn’t think they were the same character then and I still don’t think they are all that similar, now. Though, if someone does think they share similar qualities, I’m not unhappy since I think The Tick was a great comic.

Back when I was drawing HIM for the mini-comic, a classmate, known as Zee, came to my defense when I was being attacked by some critics (I was not present). He said, “He’s a big guy with a big chin - What do you want?” I’ve been using that argument ever since.

To Be Continued…

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Timothy Doesn't Go To School

I’ve added a new section called WRITING. Oddly, this is where I’ll post anything writing related. What’s first?

About a decade ago, I was a storyboard artist on a TV series called Timothy Goes to School. It was an animated series for PBS that consisted of two 12 or 13 minute stories about a raccoon called Timothy and his classmates (all different animals). It was based on a series of books by Rosemary Wells. I drew the storyboard for the first story where Timothy has his first day at school, and about 10 or 12 more. TV_timothygoestoschool_po

By the end of the second season, I really found myself enjoying the characters in the show. They all had distinct personalities and I could play off of that visually and it made drawing the series a pleasure. So much so that while I was storyboarding, I came up with an idea for a story. That led to 3 more stories that popped into my head, one morning while I was having a shower.

The next time I met with the series director, I pitched him the idea of writing for a third season, should there be one. He was cool with the idea (I don’t recall if I actually gave him the loose outlines to read or not) and I was looking forward to the idea of writing the stories and then doing the storyboards from my own scripts, which the director was also cool with. Alas, a third season never happened.

So, the first post in the new WRITING section are the 4 outlines I wrote for Timothy Goes To School. I think they are cute little stories. I think.

HIM
The new page (pg 9) has been posted over at HIMcomic. Click on the zippy preview of this week’s action to get more! ZOWIE!
HIM009_preview
-Steve.
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Babar

Shameless self-promotion isn’t complete without mentioning what I’m working on.

For the past few months, and for the next many, I have been, am and will be drawing storyboards on BABAR and the Adventures of Badou from the fine folks at Nelvana Ltd. First season is already on air and it is the second season that I’m currently working on. Do look for it wherever TV programs are found.
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This is actually my second encounter with Babar. The first was when I was still in collage finishing my final year. I drew a layout test for Nelvana, trying to get a job in, of all departments, Layout. The test was to draw a few scenes from the then cel animation Babar cartoon. Despite what had to have been an amazingly weak test submission, if my memory serves me well, I was hired for my first job in animation as a Layout Artist.

Interestingly, a few years later, someone found a pile of old Babar layout tests in the studio. As much I wanted to see my test, it was missing. There can only be two possibly reasons for its absence: Someone swiped it to later sell on Ebay for a couple of bucks, having the foresight to see value in those dodgy drawings (not to mention the existence of Ebay, well before the internet was anything a common person knew anything about) or they burned it for the artistic abomination it must have been. I suspect the latter is more likely and I’d probably agree with their logic.

If you see it on Ebay, please let me know. I’d kill to see it again.

HIM
Over at HIMcomic, I have created a new section called ComHIMtary. It is a page by page commentary talking about this and that, bits and bites and assorted whatnots regarding the pages themselves. That section will be updated whenever I have something to say about a particular page.

Criswell
Criswell speaks, “I predict that this new section will be a hit of Titanic proportions or it will not. Can you prove me wrong? Impossible.”


-Steve.

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Acting? You Call That Acting?

I’ve added something rather silly to the site, this week: It is a TV station in-house promo spot that was used for promoting the local broadcast of the 2006 FIFA World Cup final. Read the story and watch my 15 minutes of fame HERE.

HIM
The new page (pg 8) has been posted over at HIMcomic. What more could you want?

-Steve.
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