Is It Really the End of Creator-Driven Cartoon Shows?

Via: The Terror Drome

Amid over at Cartoon Brew has written an excellent and well thought out editorial on the decline of creator-driven shows. He pretty much hits the nail of the head when he says that the glory days are over, with the current crop of shows on The Hub as well as the upcoming Nickelodeon show based on the Sketchers shoe line ushering in a new era of corporate assembly line properties. While I believe that this is certainly true, there are a few important things to consider that I suppose are too long for a regular old comment.

Firstly, The Hub is a brand new channel, competing in a market where the competition is fierce (albeit friendly enough for the live-action shows). The Cartoon Network has struggled as of late, relying instead on a desperate (?) push into live-action shows that is highly unlikely to edge them into the number two spot.

In the face of all this, The Hub is attempting to establish itself as yet another competitor. Based on the old ratings for Discovery Kids, it has a hell of a hill to climb if it is to reach any kind of meaningful market share. With that in mind, the overarching influence of its toyetic line of shows should not be overestimated.

Secondly, although the new shows in question are established, they have been somewhat irrelevant for at least the last decade or so. As a result, they way as well be starting from scratch in terms of audience.

Will kids even care what these shows provide? My guess is probably not. Anyone who grew up on 80s cartoon fare seems to have a rose-tinted view of them nowadays, but when you actually sit down and watch the likes of the Snorks, He-Man, etc, etc. and compare them to what we have now, they can’t hold a candle to the likes of SpongeBob Squarepants.

Which brings me to another point. The yellow sponge has been so successful for two reasons: the show is creator-driven and Nickelodeon was very careful and clever in how they marketed the show (including cashing in with a theatrical film at the peak of popularity). These two things acted as a kind of synergy and together have ensured that the show has stayed in the minds of the public for over a decade. Nickelodeon is surely aware of this and their continued production of creator-driven shows (such as T.U.F.F. Puppy and Fanbuy & ChumChum) should serve as a reminder that such shows are still being made.

I do not see all of this as an end of the creator-driven era however. Talented animators will continue to emerge from schools and obscurity. Creator-driven content wil continue to be made either for TV or otherwise. Amid is right in pointing out that there will continue to be fragmentation of the viewership as a result of the internet. This does not, however, preclude that people will stop wanting to watch animated TV shows.

Someone will come along and figure out how to make money doing it. I can understand the natural anxiety about the disappearance of traditionally animated shows in favour of flash, but I think that is being overly pessimistic. Hollywood didn’t disappear as a result of television (although it took them a heck of a long time to figure out why people actually go to the cinema) and television is unlikely to disappear as a result of the internet, at least in the short term.

Amid’s article is refreshingly honest in its sincerity and the comments on the post are surprisingly full of hope for the future. Far from the end, I believe we are entering a new and exciting chapter in the story of short-form animated entertainment. The beginning way be tough, but we will all warm to they story once we’ve all settled into it.

Cartoon Brew 3.0 is Here!

Folks in love with animation have numerous places to congregate on the web. However, none seems to rally the people like Cartoon Brew. It’s hard to believe that it’s been around for over six years now and my how it has changed.

The site started off as mostly a news/opinion blog co-authored by Jerry Beck and Amid Amidi. Why they decided on calling it a "Brew" I do not know, however it is fair to say that both gentlemen bring some really contrasting posts and commentary that is always welcome.

Over the years, the site has undergone periodical redesigns and updates that have helped keep things looking fresh. However, it is with this latest version that the Brewmasters as they are affectionately called, have upped the ante.

Their latest efforts have hit the right spot alright. The site has garnered a community of sorts over the years with a pool of regular commentors (yours truly included) but besides the daily posts and the odd competition, there wasn’t really anything about to serve the sites community bar a serious discussion in the comments.

All that has changed however! With the latest update, the site now boasts many more features designed to pull Cartoon Brew even close to the center of the animation universe on the web. There is now a series of rolling industry headlines, a series of top posts, and of course, the obligatory latest tweets. These are taken from the Brew’s animators directory that encompasses a wide range of folks from the community. We are promised that the list will change as appropriate. Is there a possibilty that I might get on there one day? Perhaps, a man can dream can’t he? Anyway, the list is a fantastic place to see the various happenings and goings on from folks in the industry.

In addition to these changes, the commenting system has been upgraded to allow threaded commenting and ratings too! The threaded commenting adds greatly to the idea of the site as a community. No longer will I seem to be replying blindly to other posts; I can now engage in discussion!

Two other items of note include the repositioned CBTV (currently in the midst of a so-far fascinating student film festival) and the surprise addition of CB Live! Of course, the Brewmasters have always been forthcoming in publicising events that they either organize or are attending, but this section is specifically for events organized and branded as Cartoon Brew-related. This is perhaps the biggest indication so far that the site does indeed have a real, living community of fans outside the web. I am very much looking forward to seeing what kind of events are in the pipeline, especially any on the East Coast.

Much lauded, Cartoon Brew continues to garner the type of following that only such hard work and dedication from its Brewmasters can bring. Version 3.0 will certainly continue the site’s growth as a center for news, commentary and informed discussion on all things animation that remains unparalleled on the net.

Cartoon Brew’s Student Animation festival

The Cartoon Brew TV Logo

Just a quick note about Cartoon Brew’s Student Animation Festival. It’s a great idea, and one that isĀ  sorely needed. It is a wee bit regretful that only one film a week will be shown, but that is perhaps a result of the Brew’s finances rather than then whims of the Brewmasters.

I am very curious to see what comes of this. Having seen the quality of some students’ work last year at the ASIFA-East Festival, it will be interesting to see how Jerry and Amid curate their own. Will it contain mainly serious pieces or technologically perfect yet personality sterile films? Can we expect a few funny ones in there to lighten the mood? I sure hope so, the world is dour enough as it is at the moment.

The only gripe I have, and I’m sure there is a plausible reason for this is that the film may not have been posted online prior to it’s showing on Cartoon Brew. I can see why this might be so, but I do not see the logical reason behind it. In any event, student films are unlikely to be available from a school standpoint before they are shown in the festival, but c’mon, if I was a student making a film the first thing I would want to do is get it out there in the ether on as many video websites and blogs as possible, especially my own.

Nonetheless, having your film shown on Cartoon Brew will ensure that it is seen by a substantial amount of animation professionals and fans alike, which is certainly the best free advertising you will find anywhere. I’m also sure that if you are enterprising enough to enter your student film in a festival, you will also have the requisite website or blog to back it up. Nothing pains me more than seeing a great student film but having nowhere to find additional information. Hopefully these are smart students and I’ll have no problems finding their blogs.

Nonetheless, I admire the effort of both Amid and Jerry and judging by their previous broadcasts on CBTV, I think we will not be disappointed.