"The Skeleton in my closet is a Funnybone"

I love cartoons. I always had cartoons in my life. I love drawing cartoons and have done so professionally for 13 years. Somewhere along the way I must have angered the cartoon gods. Why? How? I don't know. I hope to find out one day as long as it does not appear to me as a safe or piano falling on my head. Why do I think I am cursed in some fashion? Well, let me tell you. I really love seeing my friends and peers names in credits of movies and TV shows. I have seen them on Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, Tarzan, Mulan, etc. My good friend and former roomie is currently working on The Spirit. Me? My credit?? A piece of shit cartoon made ten years ago when I worked at Funnybone in Connecticut. I hated working on it and I hated the final product. I have to say that it was the worst period of my life and I am sure those who knew me then would agree that I was not happy. And I am sorry for those around me that suffered as a result. I thought all this was long gone. I stopped working there, moved back to Florida, they went out of business, etc.

I was wrong.

My new boss is moving and as a result, is purging from his home where he lives with his wife and son. His son is now 9. He has outgrown many videos that he once watched repeatedly and my boss brought them to me so my 4 year old can enjoy them. Sitting on top of the bag was, you guessed it, the damn cartoon. "Who Spilled the Juice in the Caboose". Sounds like a title for a gay porn film. I had this tape on my desk at home for several months and I would just shake my head at the irony of it. I didn't watch it. Yet. This past weekend my son found it and insisted I play it for him. The only VCR in the house is in my office, so he had to watch it there. Over and over again. Must have been about nine times in a two day period. I had to leave the room since I became more and more agitated as the video ran. I actually became angry at the memories of things that happened while making this crap. Now my son freakin' loves it!!!! I had him in the shopping cart yesterday at the super-market and he started singing the songs!!! I guess you could say that it's my fault for not throwing it away or giving it to another family, but I figure I am now serving time for past regressions and maybe there is redemption at the end of it all. Maybe.

Just to post some drawings for this entry, let me illustrate (pun TOTALLY intended.) what kind of artistic aptitude I was dealing with. I am not claiming to be the most gifted character designer, but please, look for yourself. First, let me show you what I came up with for a character called Boo. A young rabbit who is shy and a bit demure. That is all I was told to work with and I came up with this








After the powers that be saw it, I got a pat on the head and told that it was "missing that Funnybone something". I didn't know that the "something" they referred to was shit. They took my design and handed it off to a more "seasoned" staff member (read: no talent hack with his nose jammed up the art director's ass.) for "refinement". Fine. This is what his final product was.







..wait for it...















I pray to Winsor McCay, Chuck Jones and the Nine Old Men for salvation. Pray with me.

Comments

  1. By the look of that "refined" drawing I can tell you exactly what that "Funnybone something" is.

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  2. Ah... Good old Funnybone. I remember those were some of the best times of my life. If only I could go back...

    Oh, wait a minute... now I remember... I HATED that place. And Connecticut can go sink into a marsh with the grey weather and the bleary-eyed zombie denizens... Oh yea, and Funnybone. I remember working on a few projects there that I requested my name be left off the credits. Sweet.

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  3. Man Jon, I don't know if I love you or hate you. I hate you for reminding me the title of the thing I had put way out of my memory. I had no idea the thing ever made it out for commercial consumption. You must hate the sound of my voice after that reminder. I cringed every time I would walk through another building and hear my voice as directed by Mr G. Ugh. And I love you for calling out shit art direction at Funnybone. That should have been a great job and a great time, and parts of it definitely were.

    Wait, so you're not a bitter angry spiteful guy normally? I just assumed that was everyday Pinto. Bummer I didn't know chipper smiley Pinto.

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  4. Ha! I actually remember both versions of that rabbit. Of course, I did a LOT of Casey Cat on that video.

    While I would agree with you that the art direction at Funnybone really hurt that business (the do-overs that would have been caught by a more engaged art director alone could probably have funded another video), and that as far as art and design go, it felt like we were often a one-trick pony (can anyone say Mookie? http://www.cdaccess.com/html/shared/myfavmon.htm) I would like to point out that a lot of the lead designers were hurt by this as well. One time I was talking to one of the designers after I'd left FBI (he'd hate it if I named him, so I won't) and he was going off:

    "We show her this, and she says, 'sure, but try it this way' and out comes Mookie the Panda. We show her that, and she says 'sure, but try it that way' and out comes Mookie the Koala. Well, surely she'll like this, 'that's nice, but maybe change this' and out comes Mookie the bunny rabbit." I could go on, but why beat a dead dog? Bottom line is that the art in that house full of 60 artists was unfortunately a one-woman show.

    As for the crew, you gotta admit, there were lots of great folks there. I miss a lot of the people we worked with, as well as the overall creative environment (I work with a lot of programmers these days, miss the artists).

    I will give what we created this, however. My little girl LOVED all of it! Every single bit of it. I won't go so far as to credit the art direction or any other single thing, but as much as we sometimes were embarrassed by the final product, the kids just don't care. 9 years ago my house was full of "Pirates Love Pizza! Pepperoni pile high!" and "Responsibiliteeee! Its how you do things ri-ight!" Big Action Construction, Princess Barbie, Rescue Hero, Big Action Garage; they all got played. Whatever. It made her happy and I got to point out the things I did.

    As for your son, don't sweat it. I just waited until my daughter got older and gained some refined tastes. Now I've got a 12 year old who is planning our first trip to Gallifrey One and/or the Who Convention in Cardiff. She totally wants to see the museum there. She walks around writing "Bowties are cool!" "I'm the Doctor" and "Run!" on whiteboards.

    After reading your post, I asked her if she remembered the video. I even did my best impression of "Five piece of cheese, please!" She doesn't. So, no sweat, this too shall pass. :)

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    1. I never deny that we were loaded with talent there. My biggest regret is that is was by and large, untapped. We could have done AWESOME stuff, but we didn't. As far as my son goes, he has outgrown and forgotten all this as this post is several years old.

      Now a moment of awkwardness. Who are you???

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  5. Ah. so, first, I totally agree. untapped potential. One of my biggest regrets is that Dan Thompson designed a really nice set of characters that were rejected outright. Some of the guys did up some quick tests, and I thought they were awesome. We ended up going with a revised Mookie design, once again. I always had wished we could have done more with that.

    I missed the date on this. I ran into it from a more recent post, and that was that.

    You and I were best buds. I told you you needed to lay off that stuff, man.

    Seriously, tho, it was a small company, but still it had its little cliques. I started in Bldg 2 sitting next to Jon Paul and Jessica Moody. I was there for a while until Joel moved into the house at the entrance, after which I, and a whole slew of next-to-last generation hires was moved to Bldg 4 where I was put in the corner with Gene. On the other side of the wall from me sat Caroline (she married Ray, god of our network!) and Dagan. I came in just before the 3D initiative launched over in Bldg 3D, but left about 9 months before the first round of mass layoffs.

    That really only gives you a location, but not a face.

    I used to bring my lawn chair and read on the lawn during lunch. I often had my bike mounted on top of my white Acura Integra (miss that car!) and would go riding after work.

    Only other thing I can offer is a link to my instagram account which has photos of images I created there and a few photos of my as my currently ancient self, rather than the dashing twenty something I used to be.

    http://web.stagram.com/n/christopherwilson/

    Either way, awkwardness aside, I only found you because I was looking for Doctor Who images with my daughter, and came across your stuff. I said, "Hey, I remember this guy!" Love your work, keep it up, etc. etc., and I'll see you at the Funnybone reunion that John Moore has been trying to set up for the past few years over on Facebook:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/119984730067/

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  6. Oh, and Drew has a son about the right age for that video, so if you still have it kicking around... ;)

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    1. Oh it's Chris!! Sorry man, I didn't recognize you from the self portrait (not that it's bad, just been a long time) and I didn't know who "Aithene" was. I'll ask Drew if he wants the tape. Ha!

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