Character Sundays: Daria and Quinn Morgendorfer

Sorry, I couldn't resist!

Via: Sick Sad World

We didn’t really get Daria back in Ireland. It was either too odd for the stiffs at RTE so those of us without satellite or cable (i.e. almost everyone) were left in the dark.

Skip forward to today, and I’ve managed to move to the country where Daria was made. Even better than that, I met someone who likes Daria, a lot. So it goes without saying that I have now watched every single episode and the two movies and it has become one of my favourite shows.

Why? Quite simply it is the characters. They’re a fantastic smorgasbord of types that you would probably never come across in real life, but who make for enjoyable entertainment nonetheless.

While I could write a post for each and every one of them, it makes sense to focus on two in particular. No, not Daria and Jane  but Daria and Quinn. Why you ask? Because they’re sisters but are still polar opposites when it comes to personality, which the series uses every chance it gets for comedic and dramatic effect.

Daria

At first glimpse, Daria is deathly boring. She’s mostly expressionless, very rarely conveys any emotion of any kind and to top it off, her voice is as monotonous as the corn fields of Iowa (no offence to Iowans). On the surface, she’s an extremely flat and unlikeable character, and yet, the more we see of her, the deeper and more complex she becomes.

Daria is the school oddball, in other words, quite content in herself but seen by just about everyone else as a weirdo. She’s also the voice or reason, or rather, that of rationality. She sees things in a very black and white manner and has the ability to see past attempts to pull the wool over her eyes.

What is particularly interesting about Daria is that even though she’s a teenager, she displays hardly any of the typical teenage traits. She rarely talks back to her parents and rarely gets into mischief. She’s smart to be sure, but throughout the series her attitude and generally vacant expressions make it difficult to determine when she is enjoying herself.

The series did a great job of including some character growth throughout the series hwoever, and it’s nice to see that, by the end, Daria is well on her way to being a real, sort-of rounded adult as opposed to a selfish child.

Quinn

Speaking of selfish children, let’s talk about her sister. Quinn is presented as the stereotypical teenage girl. Obsessed with fashion, popularity and friends, Quinn is also a member of the “Fashion Club” whose members talk a lot about fashion but not much else.

Quinn is presented as being an even shallower character than Daria but the difference is that her’s is portrayed much more up front. Her blatant self-interest is made only more pronounced by the fact that she uses her dates as a means to her own ends.

For the majority of the series, Quinn is shown this way, but like Daria, she begins to develop towards the end. In the first movie, “Is It Fall Yet?” we see her come to terms with the fact that she yearns to succeed but is faced with the prospect of having to actually study in order to achieve it. Perhaps fittingly, we see her in the end credits of the second movie, “Is It College Yet?” as someone who appears to have succeeded in life.

Together, Daria and Quinn represent the yin and yang and despite their differences, they do have some similarities. For one they are both relatively indifferent to their parents, they both respect the value of a dollar when it comes to negotiations and they are both quite good at hiding their true feelings from their friends.

Together, both characters add a lot to what could have been a devastatingly dull series. Without them, the surrounding characters would be floating around Lawndale with little to provoke them or bounce off of.

Some Kim Possible Character Details Which You Know Are Awesome

For the record Kim Possible is one of the best characters ever to grace a TV screen. So it should come as no surprise that her character constructions sheets, which came by way of Art of Animation and Inappropriate Banjo (both on Tumblr), are no less interesting.

Kim’s a fascinating collection of sharp points and swirling curves that oh so cleverly allude to her double-sided life as an ordinary student and ass-kicking heroine.

Here, we see some of the finer points of her character design in her hair, which undoubtedly adds much grace to her movement in the action scenes.

It’s always great to see these kind of things, especially as they essentially offer us a peek into a character’s soul (per se).

This Post Contains A Serious And Important Discussion About Bronies

Via: Total Media Bridge

It’s true, this post does contain a serious and important discussion about bronies. Although they are sometimes vilified by folks, they nonetheless represent a very special kind of fan that a lot of animated TV shows are sadly lacking.

Let’s be honest, there have always been fans who reside outside a show’s intended audience. This is nothing new and should come as no surprise to anyone, fan of animation or not. What is surprising about My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, is that the show’s producers have not shied away from acknowledging the existence of bronies.

Why would they do this? Why would the choose to break with unofficial tradition, which states that you shouldn’t engage with anyone outside the target demographic lest you alienate the intended audience? The answer is straightforward and simple, such fans are what shows like MLP need in order to grow.

Yeah, you could say that it’s really the little girls that are lapping up the toys, but at the end of the day, that is small potatoes to what fans with real disposable income can do. Now you could say, and I do agree, that such fans are not nearly as common nor as numerous than the targeted one, however, they do tend to:

  • buy more merchandise

  • buy more expensive merchandise

  • tune in regularly

  • participate in online/offline discussion.

All of these things are oxygen for a show like MLP for a number of reasons:

  1. It is broadcast on The Hub, a brand new network with no real audience to being with (it was a replacement for Discovery Kids).

  2. MLP as a TV show was as dated as ever and might as well have been a new show as far as its target audience were concerned

  3. Even though it had the might of Hasbro behind it, The Hub still needed viewers and consumers to watch its shows and buy its merchandise. Marketing and ads will only get you so far.

Arguably the greatest boon to the entire show was the now famous (infamous) post by Amid Amidi on Cartoon Brew. That brought the show a lot of mainstream media attention and focus. Not only did this bring this formerly obscure group of fans into the public consciousness, it also brought MLP and The Hub a lot of free publicity and attention that it never would have received otherwise.

All of this was undoubtedly beneficial to the show and network, however, it is outside of the show that is the most interesting; even though Bronies were tuning and and buying merchandise, they were also forming their own extensive ecosystem both on and off the internet.

Numerous (and I do mean numerous) fan sites have popped up. Yes, they are all the usual kinds you expect to see from a show, but they were all that and much more. They cater exclusively to fans, they help newbies get acquainted with the show, they run competitions, they have downloadable content, they post fan-fiction, they link to merchandise (both official and unofficial), they actively discuss whole aspects of the shows universe, they organise real-life meetups and conventions and yes, they run personality quizzes (that actively embrace new fans):

similar to Applejack.”]

And what is the one truly, unique, magical, fantastic thing about all of this?

The Hub embraced it! All of it!

They didn’t stand there and say: “Hey, there’s a whole bunch of 30-something year old guys watching our show. They’re going to give it a bad name, or worse, make it seem like its for “old people” or something.” No. Instead they said: “Hey, we’ve managed to gain a whole bunch of fans they we never thought we would have. We can’t openly cater to them for fear of skewing the perception of the show, but let’s be nice to them anyway because we’re gaining a benefit!”

Via: Daily Billboard

Via: Daily Billboard

That’s right, while the network was in a bit of a bind in that it was never going to actively cater to Bronies in the mainstream public’s eye, they at least had the wisdom to actively court fans in ways that would be construed as friendly. Examples include the parody ads for season 2, and the exclusive figurine sold at the San Diego Comic Con in 2011.

The very existence of the Brony fanbase has benefited those on all sides of the show. The creators know that they have created a product that is superior to what they were tasked with, the network got a lot of free publicity as well as extra viewers and consumers, and fans got a show that they really enjoy and relate to which gives them a sense of satisfaction.

Every show should have some Brony fans.

For the record, I am not a Brony.

Character Sundays: Dick Daring from The Replacements

Today’s topic of discussion is Dick Daring, the pseudo Evel Knieval father from the Disney TV show, The Replacements. Of course there’s a reason for this decision, and that’s because today is creator Dan Santat’s birthday! Happy [redacted] Birthday Dan!

Daring resembles the typical cartoonish father figure in that he’s somewhat inept (buying daughter Riley a mule instead of a horse), partially clueless but forever loving towards his family. What makes him stand out though, is his job: being a daredevil.

This sets things up for plenty of jokes as Dick attempts some truly outrageous stunts over the course of the series that, naturally,for the most part fail.

What makes Dick an interesting character is that we can compare him to another cartoon father that is partially clueless but forever loving and that’s Homer Simpson. The big difference between the two though, is that Dick’s character never changed whereas Homer’s character gradually changed over the course of the series. To that end. Dick as a dimwitted character is much more believable than Homer is.

Dick Daring also embodies many of the traits of the so-called man-child. He’s a grown man but sometimes acts like he’s still a kid. There’s nothing wrong with that since Will Farrell made a career out of it, and it does put an interesting twist on the entire family setting as sometimes it’s the kids who appear more mature than him!

Although not an overly complex or conflicted character, Dick Daring does make the perfect addition to a great show. He balances out some of the seriousness with his wild and crazy ways, and he always has a foil in C.A.R.R. the family’s British super smart car.

As far as cartoon fathers go, Dick Daring is about as animated as you can get.

Sabrina The Teenage Witch Gets An Anime CGI Makeover

Whenever some mentions Sabrina the Teenage Witch to me, I immediately think of the live-action version starring Melissa Joan Hart of Clarissa Explains It All fame. Why not the comic I hear you say? Well, I don’t ever remember even hearing of Archie comics in Ireland so you’ll forgive my apparent ignorance.

Anyway, yesterday (Thursday) the news came through the wires (I guess I can still say that and know that people know what I mean) that the much-loved teenage witch was getting a new TV show for the 21st century. Some of you may remember the previous animated incarnation but as a refresher, here’s Sabrina in comic form and the recent animated version for comparison:

Via: TV tropes

Via: MovieWallpaper.net

Pretty similar eh? It’s all quite sugary and cute. So, it would therefore be appropriate for her to get a quote/unquote update:

Via: Comics Alliance

Now this is just concept art so there’s not much point in putting too much emphasis on it at this point. However, such “updates” have been done dozens of times in the past, I thought we’d seen the last of it as every character know to man got the CGI treatment.

It’s somewhat unfortunate that such an “update” is deemed necessary for Sabrina. I mean, as a character, she’s not supposed to embue any particularly strong niches. She’s not a goth, or a hippie or a straigh-A student but rather just an average teenager, right?

Well someone has decided otherwise and has reckoned that either Sabrina is ripe for a change or has simply decided to cash in on the erstwhile goth/vampie trend.

I must point out though, that I was unaware that Archie comics themselves have run a “manga” version of the comic for a while know, so this news isn’t quite a shock to me as it was when I read it first.

All the same, I’m concerned how this “new” Sabrina will be portrayed, whatever about the large eyes and spikey hair, it just seems so out of character for her to sport a “tattoo” (in quotation marks because its true nature is up for debate). Is she now a rebel or a deviant (no offence to any tattooed folks out there)?

We’ll have to wait and see but this doesn’t really strike me as an attempt at an earnest and promising version of the character so much as an attempt to catch up with the latest trends.

Did I forget to mention she now has a cape now too?

Supermarionation! Thunderbirds!

It isn’t quite animation but it’s not quite live-action either. Some great 60s theme music and who doesn’t like explosions? Thunderbirds the series is one of the classics of British TV that has stood the test of time pretty darned well. Just don’t mention the terrible movie from a few years ago.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RzCB3VRruE

 

This Video Has 7 Million Views for a Very Good Reason

Fireman Sam is just one of a long, long line of children’s shows featuring respectable members of the community who serve as a role model for kids. I was always more of a Postman Pat kind of kid, but Sam is pretty much the same, except he’s a fireman.

Why does the opening title have over 7,000,000 views? Well, a lot of kids grew up watching Fireman Sam and watching it pretty regularly too. The opening is a connection to the their childhood in more ways than one.

The episodes themselves mean far less than the title for the simple reason that it was consistent across all the episodes. The title signalled that a good time was about to be had and watching it again as an adult brings up all those happy feelings from years ago. With 60 million people living in Britain alone, it’s easy to see how the this video could get to 7 million views just on nostalgia.

Things are no different for today’s shows. In 20 years time there will be plenty of adults out there who go all soft at the theme tune for SpongeBob SquarePants.

The 7 Things That Made Adventure Time A Success

Adventure Time Promo art

Soon to be premiering its third season, Adventure Time has been on a seriously roll since it was first broadcast all the way back in 2010. Is there some kind of secret sauce that Pendleton Ward and co. have been hiding from everyone else? The answer is no, but there are a few things that the team, the studio and the network have done to ensure the shows success.

1. It’s Premise

Two best friends living in a magical land called Ooo? How could that not be special? How about if one of them was a magical dog who could talk? Even more so of course! The setup for Adventure Time is the ideal cartoon setting in that it allows for plenty of room for story. Being magical and all that, there have been no shortage of stories that make full use of such a location.

2. The Diverse Characters

Adventure Time is chock full of quirky characters who fill an episode and make it all the more fun to watch. Besides that, the regular cast are a diverse crowd, with a human, a talking dog, a bubblegum princess, a vampire and a flying ‘rainacorn’. Much like the Land of Ooo, the core characters are suitably different and complex as to permit a wide array of stories to be centered around them.

3. The Original Short

The original short, was part of Frederator’s Random! Cartoons and was broadcast on Nickelodeon back in 2008. Since Nickelodeon declined to pick up the series, it could have sat on the shelf for a year and a half. Instead, someone (somewhere) was clever enough to ensure that the short made it onto YouTube. In no time at all, it had ratcheted up over a million hits and a pseudo-cult following.

Besides that, the short was also extremely effective at introducing the world, the cast of characters and the kind of situations they have to deal with in the land of Ooo. Such a solid base was perfect as the foundation for the show’s fans on which to grow.

4. Getting Picked Up

With a bit of internet popularity, there was already an audience waiting for a series, so it came as no surprise when Cartoon Network announced their acquisition of the series, that there were many fast-paced discussions on forums as to how the show would turn out. As a result, the show’s premiere was one of the highest watched in Cartoon Network history and the show has remained a top ratings winner ever since.

The key here is that thanks to the show being on YouTube, it already had a group of people who wanted to see it. As such, it was easier for the creators and network figure out which direction the show should go in and what made it so popular in the first place.

5. The Tumblelog

The good folks at Frederator have run production blogs for all their shows since My Life as a Teenage Robot so it is no surprise that they have one for Adventure Time too. Stretching all the way back to the original short, there is literally hundreds of bits and bobs from the show like character model sheets, colour studies, sketches, storyboards and promotional art. It’s a veritable treasure trove of Adventure Time paraphernalia.

Why this is so important is because until now, the vast majority of shows normally hide such stuff away and try and keep it out of the public’s eye until at least the show’s premiere (the common fear is ‘piracy’). Posting such a large amount of art on a regular basis only served to whet the appetite of the fans, however, and when the first series was broadcast, many fans were already familiar with the episodes and were anticipating them even more.

6. The Secret Sauce of Awesomeness

[Shhh, don’t tell anyone]

7. Actively Engaging The Fans

I wrote about this last year sometime, but it is still something of a rarity in the cartoon landscape in that the producers actively engage fans and encourage them in many ways. Of note is the original tumblelog but also the many many fansites that have sprung up. The official tumblelog also requests, accepts and posts fanart and pictures of people either cosplaying or wearing Adventure Time clothing. No other show (outside of Frederator) seems to be doing this even though it has immensely helped cement the show’s reputation as being fan-friendly.

Conclusion

So there you have it, seven things that have helped Adventure Time become the success it is today. It should serve as a role model for other shows on how to successfully grow your viewer base into a fan base.

 

http://twitter.com/#!/buenothebear

Fart Humour Done Correctly

‘Son of Stimpy’ is one of the standout classics of the series. Not only is it completely absurd, it also caused a ruckus at the time for its plot. In it, Stimpy farts and believe that the offending gas has been transformed into a character, a ‘son’ if you will, whom he calls “Stinky”. Stimpy spends much of the episode searching for Stinky and convincing Ren that he exists.

At the time (and apparently still to this day) controversy surrounds the episode. Naturally, much of it centers on the potty humour of the episode and the central theme of farting.

Which is sad in a way because as supposedly rock bottom as Son of Stimpy is, the whole farting aspect is just one small part of the overall episode. The rest is about Stimpy searching for his long lost ‘son’  and the struggles he faces in his quest. This is where the real humour of the episode lies and supports the over-arching absurdity that people will often search for something that cannot be found.

Is it appropriate for kids? I can’t see why not. I mean, flatulence is a natural and essential bodily function. We make fun at crying and burping, why not farting too? In hindsight, Son of Stimpy is almost quaint in a way. The controversy around it serves to remind us of a different time, a time before fart gags and before they permeated animated features to the extent that they have.

While it may not be the greatest or most clever cartoon ever broadcast, Son of Stimpy nonetheless represents the high-water mark for toilet humour on TV that has never been equaled before or since.

The Looney Tunes in: Mixed Nutz

Via: Cartoonatics (Tom Ruegger)

Right now, yes, right now, Tom Ruegger is posting, on his blog, tons of concept and development stuff from a pitch he made to Warner Bros. a few years ago tentatively titled “Mixed Nutz”.

The premise was that the Looney Tune gang would combine with the stars of various Hanna-Barbera cartoons resulting in hilarious and totally improbable situations, such as Yosemite Sam trying to date Wilma Flintstone.

Sadly, it got passed up, but not before Tom did some preliminary show development. He’s currently posting tons of story ideas over on his blog. The posts would be well worth checking out anyway, but even more so in light of the Looney Tunes reboot that Warners went ahead with.