Saturday, August 30, 2008

AWESOMENESS!!! Well, not really...

Pen: "WOW!!! Look, there are butterflies playing volleyball in my Cheerios. AWESOME!! C'mon guys, let's hop on my coolio cosmic magnetocycle and head on over to Jake's pad-eroonie!"

Pen: (Moments later) "Hey Jake, my main dog, what's hanging?"

Jake: "Well, I was contemplating the state of wormholes in the seventh dimension, but I guess I'm free to accompany you on your journey to the planet of perpetual platitudes as soon as I can locate my cybermuzzle. Oh look - bunnies!"

Pen: "BAROMETRIC!!!......Let's go, Jake - It's ADVENTURE TIME!!"

So, what do you all think of what I've just written there? Quite the brilliant piece of dialogue, don't you think? What's that you say? You think it's stupid and makes no sense? Hmmmm....

Well, that makes two of us then, as I agree that it IS stupid and it DOESN'T make sense. But I have to tell you, if what I'd just written was a portion of an actual script from "Adventure Time", then I'd apparently be hailed as a genius by many of the current readers of Cartoon Brew. Take a look here to see what I mean. And here is "Adventure Time" itself, courtesy of YouTube:

It seems that the so-called Cartoon Network has picked up this insipid little time waster to produce as a regular series. Yes, I know I'm being blunt in my negative assessment of this show, but I think it's time that some of us take a stand against mediocrity or it will continue to take over all areas of the entertainment world, squeezing out anything of any real artistic merit in it's wake. Here are just some of the things that are wrong with "Adventure Time":

- The script, such as it is, sacrifices linear storytelling in favour of stringing together non sequiturs, hoping like hell that the audience doesn't notice the absence of a coherent plot. As I just proved with my example at the top of this post, there is nothing difficult or clever about this sort of writing - it's just stream of conscious randomness masquerading as dialogue, not being driven either by plot or development of character. Some may call it "quirky". I call it the work of a hack.

- The character designs are not really "characters" at all - not in the truest sense anyway. Like so much of the mediocrity in contemporary animation, there seems to be a trend toward child-like minimalism in the drawing: Amorphous head shapes with nothing more than dots and dashes representing the eyes and mouth, formless outlines in lieu of real structure or appealing distinct shapes, and no regard for trying to communicate feeling through body language and facial expression. As such, all of the characters' thoughts and emotions are carried completely by the dialogue, which itself is meaningless to begin with. As a test, try watching the clip with the sound turned off, as you'll see that the visuals completely fail to communicate anything on their own. This is a cardinal sin in animation, as the communicating of an idea should be possible through the visuals alone, with the dialogue remaining secondary.

- Even the layouts are really bad. There is poor composition as evidenced by the tree that seems to grow out of the boy's head in the opening scene. Also in that same scene, the dog's head keeps hitting the horizon line as he bobs up and down. Students of animation are told to avoid drawing tangents like this, and are instead instructed to break past such a border so that it is clear that one thing exists in front of another. Much of the layout composition is sloppy and uninspired throughout the entire clip.

- Then you have the garish colours so typical in today's computer coloured animated shows. No skilled background painter would ever choose to paint the grass in that "Lite Brite" neon green, yet so many show creators today seem to believe that the brighter and gaudier the better. I applaud John Kricfalusi for continuing to decry this trend as he has often pointed out deplorable uses of colour in modern cartoons, while showing examples of inspired and harmonious colour schemes in the TV cartoons of the past. Here is a compilation of his writings regarding background painting that provides numerous examples of both good and bad colour for comparison.

In short, this sample from "Adventure Time" flies in the face of every time honoured artistic principle that exists, both in terms of the visual artwork and the writing. But, judging from the "awesome" accolades found in the Brew post's comments section, many of the Brew readers just refuse to see its severe shortcomings and have hailed it as a masterpiece. Not all readers are so gullible, however, and I applaud freethinkers like Jason, Brooke, and Eric for not drinking the Kool-Aid. We need more discerning viewers like them.

By the way, "Adventure Time" also strikes me as being an inferior derivative of TerryToons' "Tom Terrific". Watch this clip and you'll see how this cartoon, while also very simple in its visual design, is just so much better in terms of real cartooning, with sprightly posed characters and expressions that communicate:


idragosani said...

That is just plain terrible. I could take about 30 seconds of it before I had to turn it off. Terrible design, terrible animation, terrible dialog. Do kids actually like this stuff?

Raff said...

Too much ironic "nerd appeal" for a kids show. I see awkward references to Don Herzfeldt's "Rejected", The Six Million Dollar Man and My Little Pony.

I say give this guy a show instead. He's good.

Hell, give me a show. Even I can do better than that, and I've got a long way to go.

Thad said...

I left a comment on Cartoon Brew asking, "Whose four year old drew this?" It was not approved.

Thanks, Pete, for standing up for good taste. It's not in abundance lately.

I-Like-it said...

The blatant amatuerism found here is plain disgusting. I couldn't care less about those crappy dialogs.

But it's a good thing that any cartoon that attempts imaginative funny animation bits succeeds. Still, the only bit that worked for me was when that kid jumped on a growing dog.

idragosani said...

Boy, I got called all kinds of names and had my sexual orientation called into question when I commented negatively on YouTube. Are people really that fanatic over this thing that even daring to criticize it brings such rabid and vicious reactions out of people?

Pete Emslie said...

Sorry to hear that you got savaged over on YouTube, Idragosani. Even the very few naysayers on Cartoon Brew are getting beat up a bit for being voices of dissent. I used to post in the comments section regularly at Cartoon Brew until one time last February when I had a run in with Amid over a comment I'd made regarding "Superjail" that he wouldn't approve, just like what has now happened to Thad. When I suggested that he himself did not play by the rules they'd laid down regarding appropriateness of comments, he claimed that the rules only applied to the commenters, and that he and Jerry as moderators could say whatever they wanted. At that point I decided that I didn't much care for the double standard and haven't posted again since.

For the record, I consider Amid a very bright guy and having made some major contributions to animation journalism in both his former "Animation Blast" magazine, and more recently as the author of "Cartoon Modern". But I also find him a rather prickly personality who is given to making snide remarks himself, while censoring anything of a similar bent from his readers. I like Jerry and his opinions much better.

Kevin W. Martinez said...

To be honest. This is the funniest thing I've ever read on the internet.

And I know exactly how it feels to be censored for no reason. Thad does it to me on a regular basis.

Bitter Animator said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr.E. I thought I was going nuts reading all the praise. I thought - how out of touch am I? Have I lost all sense of what a good animated show is?

It looks like a student film. And not a good student film like some of your US colleges put out - the type of student film we get over this end of the Atlantic. Which is to say, usually rubbish.

So thank you for being the voice of reason here.

But, hey, Cartoonbrew posted a live-action time-lapse film a few days ago under the guise of animation. At least this thing actually had some animation in it.

andreas said...

jesus christ, both made me smile and laugh.
i don't get cartoon brews love for animated shit like kung fu panda or the surfing penguins.. but this?
this is fun and i´m honestly amazed to see people disliking it.

Pete Emslie said...

Andreas, if this were a student film or the type of independent fare that pops up in animation festivals, I might consider it a mildly amusing diversion but nothing more than that. However, in the context of being a pilot for an ongoing animated TV show it comes off as an amateur effort that shouldn't be given the time of day. But in this age of mediocrity in which we now live, I suppose that subpar work like this has now become the norm. With the advent of the home computer and software like Flash, etc. it has made creating animation so accessible to the masses that now everyone believes their handiwork is somehow broadcast worthy. I personally bemoan this trend and yearn for the days when real cartoonists were still employed to create animated cartoons.

And for the record, Andreas, I'll happily take "Kung Fu Panda" or "Surf's Up" over this any day. Though flawed, both films have far more professional craftsmanship on display in terms of character design and writing than "Adventure Time". But that doesn't mean it has to be a mega million dollar production to satisfy me - the simplicity of an old "Pink Panther" cartoon or the aforementioned "Tom Terrific" will do just fine too, thanks just the same.

Bitter Animator said...

Yep, I agree with you, Mr.E, and the standard seems to be getting lower, not higher, as budgets are cut and, in many cases, self-referencial or radom writing takes the place of visual impact and storytelling.

Having thought about it some more though, I would strongly defend the idea of childlike drawings and minimalism in broad terms though - obviously only for certain types of shows.

But I think it's possible to have child-like minimalism and still have expression, still be able to know what's going on without the sound. After all, almost all animators had to get the most out of the faceless sack as part of their training.

But it's clearly not apparent with this Adventure Time thing.

That's something I rambled about today on my blog, sparked by yours, and something that just all seems tied up with what I see in my daily working life - cheap animation systems, Flash systems, leading to nothing but production of volume. Just volume. No life.

It's all rather unfortunate.

ncross said...

Hey Pete!

I just want to say thanks for doing that post on custom brushes! It was a real life saver for this cartoon pilot thing I'm doing! Are you going to the OIAF this year? If so, I'll try and track you down to thank you in person.

Pete Emslie said...

Hi Nick,

I'm glad that custom brush came in handy for you. I only wish I could use it myself without fear of it causing Photoshop to crash on me! Ah well...

Sorry I won't be going to the Ottawa Animation Festival, as I don't like to take time off from my teaching duties at Sheridan. Look me up though if you're ever out this way.

Bill Drastal Blog Mode!! said...

I saw this at comic con with some of the other Random Cartoons, and it was of the few that made my wife and I truly laugh. I could see where it would be lacking as a series but there is appeal in it. I've seen a lot of stuff by Moolt and his craft is exceptional and note worthy, but I find his timing and humor to be a bit slow and I'd rather watch adventure time again than see a dancing loop of the same well drawn character. Heck I could argue how just looping a dance sequence to music is some what amateurish. (though I won't because I respect the art.) And isn't that one of the great things about art, its all subjective? If Adventure Time crashes and burns guess what someone else will have their show up next to run through the gauntlet. If it does good hey more power to it.

murrayb said...

the author pendelton ward is a funny hipster, but yes, he would fail your class.
It still made me laugh at it's absurdity. He'll sell a million T-shirts; "ALGEBRAIC!"
your script is a pretty good version of it's sensibilities, bravo!You should make a show with everything you hate in it; you'll get a 10 year-5 show deal!

I don't know that nonsense could hold for a full episode, let alone a series.It definitely would need more depth.

But to be fair,while I loved the drawings, and it was very charming, I didn't laugh once at Tom Terrific.

"faux naive" is an acquired taste; especially in animation (the heated debate over the merits of UPA style springs to mind) but this is a different animal all together, I get the feeling this is purposeful "ironic" ignorance. Bad drawings are funny in their own way, but it's a slippery slope to mediocrity.

the actual animation/movement isn't bad, I like the rubberhose style much better than sliding cutout flash animation.

how do you feel about Keith Hering? His iconography was based on the little symbol people you see on airports and bathrooms signs, and is a product of sterile 70's and 80's graphic design. Adventure time reminds me of that, mixed with non sequitur humour.A gary larson FAR SIDE sensibility.
Or for that matter, this has a buzz right now:
perry bible fellowship
ironic, mean spirited,twisted, bizarre, and yes, funny. Well crafted? subjective, I guess.

The problem with post (post X 2?) modern art is the "emperor has no clothes" syndrome, because craft is not apparent. (you just don't get it because your not "cool" enough; like that yamroll kerfuffle)
I respect craft because it's honest, but the world seems to of moved on, no one goes to see the circus or magic shows. I like Capra and Spielberg movies because they do this strange thing; they make me FEEL.

An intro to a Pinocchio art book written by maurice sendak:
especially the last page on the death of craftsmanship. Pretty much says it all.

I think the real problem are these type of people producing cartoons. We need Kansas hicks like Walt. Authentic apathy, BAH.

Andrew O Murray said...

Hey Pete,

It does make me cry a little on the inside when I hear this kinda news..It seems to be more of a novelty. I've seen it only once and I think the 'cough' ALGEBRAIC-ness wore off the first time. Jesus, could you imagine tunning in each week for 3 seasons of this?

The only thing I can find some comfort in, is that knowing the artwork is a step up from "12 ounce mouse"...ugh.

Whatever Pete, lets just get a couple of students, put 'em to work and develop our own pilot, sell it to HBO and make a million!
then we will have Cartoon Network where we want them.
ha ha ha


Hey Pete!
How are you budd?
Did you see this?

AndrewM said...

hahahahaha that made my day! Especially the sarcastic intro text.

Alex Hirsch said...

My god, my GOD you are so, so wrong. I can't believe that your inner child is so worn and withered that you cant appreciate the heart, humor, and joy that is Adventure Time. No "story structure?" Are you kidding me? Its about a boy and a dog who save a princess from an evil wizard. That's TEXTBOOK, man! But the EXECUTION, filled with imaginative, silly, fun, original ideas is what makes this more honest and appealing than any animated thing on television right now.

Your problem- like so many people in the animation industry today, is that you have such a hard-on for animation's past that you are totally oblivious to its present and future. "Oh, Boo-Hoo! His drawings don't look like Milt Kahl! Wahhh! I cant enjoy anything animated that was made after the 70s!"

Call me crazy, but I'll take the flawed, funny, and honest hand of a real author like Pen any day over the sleek, over-produced, imitative Disney knock-off junk produced by most studios these days.

I was Pendleton Ward's classmate in college, and I was his storyboard partner on 5 episodes of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack at CN, and I can tell you from direct experience that he's the real deal. I have never seen anything further from a hack in my life- He lives and breathes animation, does it his own way, and is one of the funniest most original people I've ever encountered.

Prepare to eat your own bitter words when this show becomes the next SpongeBob SquarePants and you're still spending your days bitching on your blog about other people who are more creatively gifted than you.

-Alex Hirsch

Mitch K said...

I dug the short the first time I saw it, but it has since run out of steam.

Reading that it was greenlit for a series made my guts knot up! The short is too flat to last the length of a season, so I hope they get some depth going (for their sake).

The art is kind of a novelty when you first see it, but it really doesn't have any merit in repeat viewings. (that floating dog horizon tangent got to me, too!).

Pete Emslie said...

Alex Hirsch says: "Prepare to eat your own bitter words when this show becomes the next SpongeBob SquarePants and you're still spending your days bitching on your blog about other people who are more creatively gifted than you."

Okay, Alex. Let those "creatively gifted" geniuses like Pendleton Ward, Jon Izen and yes, even Don Hertzfeldt keep on dazzling the unwashed masses with their stick figure art. I'll just keep on drawing the type of funny, appealing cartoons that suit my archaic tastes, if it's all the same to you...

Andy J. Latham said...

WHOOOOOAAAA Algebraic to the MAX!!!

I just died a little inside, which I think must be what happened to the writer.

God bless you Mr Emslie for providing a contradictory argument to that expressed by the Cartoon Brewers!

Oh and thank you for seemingly publishing all comments you get, unlike the the aforementioned site.

David Nethery said...

Totally agree with you on this one Pete.

And BitterAnimator made a comment about how it is possible to do "minimalism" well . And again, I say YES !

That made me think of the excellent "Simon's Cat" series of web cartoons by Simon Tofield:

Simon's Cat

Another Simon's Cat episode

Give THAT GUY a series on Cartoon Network.

idragosani said...

Ha ha, yes those cat cartoons are animation gems!

Pete Emslie said...

Andy said: "Oh and thank you for seemingly publishing all comments you get, unlike the the aforementioned site."

I made the decision early on to not allow anonymous comments, as I don't like it when people say all sorts of things that they know they can't be held accountable for. In order to comment on this blog, a prospective poster has to first register an account on Blogger. Even though this means it is still possible to set up under a pseudonym, I think it tends to discourage a lot of folks who just want to cause trouble.

I'm hoping not to have to ever censor a comment, though I do reserve that right if absolutely need be. However, I would rather that a post stand and be open to further debate. I'm certainly not averse to hearing opinions that are contrary to my own, so long as the discussion remains relatively civil. I don't think a line has ever been crossed yet, and I'm politically incorrect enough myself to not lay down some silly zero tolerance policy. A bit of spirited and passionate discussion is just fine with me.

Andy J. Latham said...

You definitely have the right idea Pete, but in my opinion the Alex Hirsch comment was straggling that line!

Raff said...

>> in my opinion the Alex Hirsch comment was straggling that line! <<

I say no. This whole post, well explained and thought out as it was, was a pretty viscious attack to Pendleton Ward and if his buddy wants to stand up for him and shoot back, that's fine. As for whether or not Buddy went too far, we're adults here and we can interpret the emotion behind the ad hominems. Heck, we're artists, dammit! We're elevator music if we're not passionate about what we do and what we defend.

Speaking of defending, I have to say I love Don Hertzfeldt's Rejected. I like the absurdity, the violent surprises, the taste-pushing shenannigans and the way the whole situation gets worse until the big deluge at the end. Don's got a way of making those stick figures expressive, and that's dangerous because it suggests to new animators that the key to the new hip humor is to not know how to draw. Just like the Spumco imitators, they miss the context and copy the superficial appearance.

Here's the same sort of humor with 'good' drawing and no non-sequitors, and it works:
Lupo The Butcher!

Ashley said...

Hi Peter,

This is my first time posting a comment and I would just like to say I thoroughly enjoy reading posts regarding your views on the state of modern animation. As an animation student here in Australia, where the the focus relies more on being 'artistic' rather than a form of entertainment, its very enlightening to learn about the views on the state of modern 'traditional' animation.

After watching the episode provided in the post I completely agree that it completely fails as being a satisfying form of entertainment. That being said, I also understand the approach taken by creator, yet I feel it has completely missed its mark. I myself am a fan of nonsensical plots and storylines but the execution in this particular example is so poorly done that instead of it becoming humorous, it becomes tedious and convoluted.

In contrast, I feel that a script from Johnen Vasquez's Invader Zim is quite nonsensical and entertaining as it finds a balance between story and random bursts of dialogue. 'Adventure Time' forcefully spoon feeds obscurity in the hope that it may randomly produce some form of humour.

I do admit, I felt a need to sit through the animation in the hope that the humor would come together, yet in the end, I was left severely dissatisfied.

Artistically, I believe the goal was to create a child-like charm to it but the attempt was more aesthetically unpleasing than anything. Neon green should be banned from the colour palette.

Pete Emslie said...

I swear, I don't know what they've been spiking the Cartoon Brew with lately, but whatever Amid's been drinking, it certainly seems to be eroding away his credibility as an animation journalist. Just take a look at what inane crap he's praising now. Watch the entire series he links to at your own peril. I'm really amazed at how many of the comments on there seem to agree with him as well. In the words of Jerry Colonna - "EGAD!"

idragosani said...

Yeah, that's pretty bad.

Nancy said...

The best artwork was the two wolves in the title. I couldn't even watch 30 second of this junk.

How do these things get approved for production? Why?

perspex said...

and i thought Adult Swim was the stupidest stoner-stuff. "Tim and Eric"? WTF? even my stoner roommate hated this! and now this...oh well... i can only just hope the cable gets turned off soon.

Robin Hall said...

I got to 2:02 and came to comment. That was pure sh*t, honestly. And I thought was seeing some pretty crappy cartoons these days. It isn't engaging at all. The fact that it was so random just made it impossible to follow, and I consider myself to like some pretty random cartoons, but this was just not doing anything for me.

Did anyone else lose a few brain cells trying to watch this?

Robin Hall said...

Though I have to say Pete that I also love Don Hertzfeldt. I know that much of his animation is crass and unexplainable, but he also has the talent of making you feel for his characters, espeically in his moving short 'Everything Will Be Okay'.

And... I love Billy's Balloon because it's so well paced.

J.R. Spumkin said...

Here's a comment I left on Cartoon Brew:


WTF was that? What the hell was that?! That was crap!

And Pete Emslie agrees!

In my opinion, this really sucks. I saw the beginning "paintings" and I thought, "Ya know, this might be impressive!" Then I saw that we're talking to a flat, lethargic walking blob of anthromorphic fecal matter and his floating dog. I had to turn it off, I was sorely disappointed.

How could you like this...this garbage? Are you blind? This amateur crap."

And it deserves a post on Paroxyk Dementia!

Pete Emslie said...

J.R. Spumkin - I went over to look at Cartoon Brew and did not see your comment published. I suspect it won't be, as Amid will likely censor it since you haven't followed his rules: Namely that 1) you can't use terms like "crap" or "garbage" unless you're in agreement with Amid, and 2) Amid can say whatever he wants using whatever derogatory language he cares to because he's in charge.

It's that ridiculous double standard that I object to, which is why I don't comment on anything over there any more. Fortunately, I can use my own blog here as my "soapbox" to give my blunt opinions regarding the sorry state of animation today. I see that Amid is is once again singing the praises of "Superjail", with his regular bunch of Brew cheerleaders at his side. I still consider it to be ugly, nasty crap that looks like it was designed by some high school kid in his notebook.

J.R. Spumkin said...

>>It's that ridiculous double standard that I object to, which is why I don't comment on anything over there any more. Fortunately, I can use my own blog here as my "soapbox" to give my blunt opinions regarding the sorry state of animation today. I see that Amid is is once again singing the praises of "Superjail", with his regular bunch of Brew cheerleaders at his side. I still consider it to be ugly, nasty crap that looks like it was designed by some high school kid in his notebook.<<

Thank you for the approval, Mr. Emslie. I do say this, however: while: amateurism and novice should only be used if you are one. If you're just starting out, you have some liberal right to draw like this. Hey, I started doing bad stick figures and suffered a brief bout with the onsets of "Jhonen-ism", which I'll describe in detail later.

I don't see this, however, as an excuse not to improve. And it is certainly no way to run a cartoon. Most cartoons today are walking, oddly shaped stick figures with no expression, no thought to any of it all. But where does it all come from?

Is it the ongoing message that "anyone can be a cartoonist", when it's obvious some people just aren't fit for it?

Is it our loss of standards?

Whatever it is, it certainly describes the emotions many here have about this show.

Bogswallop said...

I like the way the people who don't like it never watched the cartoon fully. But I have to laugh. If this was 15 years ago, they would have been complaining about Dexter's Lab.

I'm not sure how it will work as a series but for a short, it's quite fantastic. It puts a smile on my face.

Hodges said...

awesome work pete, thank you for standing up to garbage as usual.

I find it really sad that anyone on cartoon brew who criticizes GARBAGE is "bitter or jealous" thats so funny, if I was jealous of the drawing skill of a 4 year old, please shoot me now as I have no future worth living. Secondly on "octo cat" he actually lied about being a kid, how stupid and shameless is that, then to make the connection that based on some online support for his childish garbage he claims "audiences don’t need polished, slick animation to find a story engaging. They are happy to follow the worst animated, worst designed and worst dubbed film of all time, and still laugh and cry and do all the things you do watching a so-called “high end” film" (REALLY - how about that new one IGOR, that sure did well... and hoodwinked too, huge success story on that one, you sure hear about that all the time still. they were animated like garbage, with crap stories, and had NO SUCCESS). I find it also very funny that Amid, although I think his book on animation history is great, seems to act now like he can predict the future of animation and feels he should have a dictator like control of opinions on a website that really only animation industry people visit (making it very inaccurate to use as a basis for public reaction to cartoons as everyone will have there own bias based on being in the industry, and no real "audience" will be posting how they feel)

endless garbage, and people praising it, at least in hollywood when they put out PURE S@*T critics are free to tear it to pieces, but theses cartoon brew folks are afraid of critics and have a hilariously childish "everyone say nice things only" policy. If its an industry based site, opinion and constructive critisism have a place to ensure that endless garbage isnt being spewed out. Either way, acting like adventure time is so hugely successful already is funny, they only sold a pilot, lets see in 5 years who is right, and lets see if they'll even admit it when the time comes.

I would like to continue but must go for dinner. Thanks again pete and ill be seeing you soon to check out some of my personal progress on my film

Sean said...

Ha ha ha! Jealous much?

Wow! It's amazing how much you care about what Amid and the readers of his site think!

I like your idea of NOT championing anything fresh or different. Here's to more of the same! There can only be one type of cartooning! Doesn't he know he's breaking all of the "rules"?!


You have to shit on an artist and his project becuase you don't have the capacity to see why anyone could possibly like it? And if someone does they're gullible and are falling for some grand ploy?
Talk about close-mindedness!

Oh, one thing you are right about. Your dialougue at the top IS stupid. But more importantly, it's not funny, and it doesn't come from the heart.

Pete Emslie said: l'll just keep on drawing the type of funny, appealing cartoons that suit my archaic tastes, if it's all the same to you...

Wow, humble. But, Yes! Please! Draw your own thing! That's the point!!!

Pete Emslie said...

Sean said: "Ha ha ha! Jealous much?"

Actually I am, now that you mention it. However, I'm jealous of the fact that mediocrity like "Adventure Time" ends up with a TV deal instead of something that shows real cartooning and writing talent. Heck, I wish some network would hire me to design a series, but I don't see that happening since my more classical cartooning skills are currently considered passé by the folks in charge.

Personally I resent this computer age we live in for the fact that everybody thinks they're entitled to become the next big thing simply because they have dabbled in some form of entertainment using whatever software that makes it all so accessible. "Adventure time" is a somewhat amusing little diversion that I could see as an entry in an animation festival. But as a continuing series on TV? Sorry, but it doesn't make the cut in my book.

The dialogue I wrote was deliberately paraphrasing some of the drivel I saw in the short itself, simply substituting a few words and situations for similar ones. So, how is the original any funnier or more "from the heart" than my likeminded drivel? I suspect you probably love "Octocat" too....

Hodges said...

"You have to shit on an artist and his project becuase you don't have the capacity to see why anyone could possibly like it? And if someone does they're gullible and are falling for some grand ploy?
Talk about close-mindedness!"

If you talking about the complaints in terms of quality, people who dislike are entitled to equal opinions, and to censor CONSTRUCTIVE critism is wrong, not everyone was totally offensive in their commentary.

secondly, adventure time is still poo to me, but i have friends that thought it was funny, which i didnt and i like weird shit, and I dont care if people like it then fine. I will still say i think it sucks.

If you want to see GOOD cartoons, quality, design, but again I will state this as MY opinion. go check out "les lascars" on youtube. even in french, which i can barely understand, they make me laugh. just the acting and story through animation are enough, the designs are amazing to look at alone.

or samurai jack

and Sean, you have awesome cartoon stuff on your blog, do you not enjoy looking at good drawings, does it not inspire you do draw and get better?

Im not even saying that it was soo crazy far off the mark that it should be burned, and I resent the fact that people feel the need to jump in defense so irrationally without looking at what the actual arguement is.

if you put out a show with purposfully terrible style, you should be able to take the critism. If you survive it, then you have the last laugh, so far the only ones who have REALLY done that are the creators of south park. but their writing is genius, and time has proven that.

Erica Pitt said...

I'm with Alex Hirsch on this one. I think it's brilliant.

Times are changing, and so is what people and kids find entertaining. Perhaps you've been inside your Cartoon Cave too long...

Stevo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kyle said...

I have to disagree. I love Adventure Time! Its funny its got funny catch phrases.

You probably are a Sponge Bob fan aren't you?
I loved Zim, I loved Batman the Animated series, both whom critics despised and tried to have canceled numerous times.

If the show is made for children then whoot go Adventure Time. If you think it was tailored made for the Adult Swim crowd or older audiences which it was a Nick Jr. short.

Hell I saw a kid laughing at a square hitting a circle the other day. They will watch pretty much anything.

As for artisticly I don't think a cartoon show is trying to be a picasso. At least its better then dubbed Naruto right?

I mean its no Spawn the animated Series, its a kids show, they are supposed to be simple, colorful, and quick to produce. Sponge Bob is beautifully drawn with colors and iconic characters but the show is horrible. If you listen to the dialogue, the interactions with characters there is nothing there. At least this pilot of Adventure Time made me laugh my ass off. The part with Lincoln? How could you say this isn't funny? Any who your entitled to your opinion as much as the next guy I just don't understand why you are complaining what I am sure is a kids show.

C said...

I am 27 and my girlfriend showed this to me on Youtube for the first time the other day. I thought it was brilliant. I've studied animation in college and currently produce it as part of my job so I understand the principles and beyond when it comes to animation. However, there are many forms of art. I hear too often, oil painters ignorantly proclaiming oils as the premier medium of fine art. I don't think I need to elaborate on how untrue this statement is. This arguement is basically the same thing. Although the animation may not be Fantasia quality, it is the unpredictability of the cartoon that I immedieately fell in love with. Why does animation need to adhere to someone elses guidelines to be good? I think this is where being open minded has it's benefits. I feel like I am seeing something others cannot. I'm not sure but I think Superjail! may be Adventure Time's successor in terms of creators... and it's awesome!

sexy said...
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Pren said...

I am just starting as an animator and I have to say this show is brilliant! What is with all of the butthurt over it? It is just plain fun even Jake the dog is voiced by John Di Maggio. The show overall is great, I can see how one would find it silly but it is after all a show for children and you are grown men debating its merit.

Lost in Thought said...

It's better than Johnny Test or Robot Boy, so I couldn't care less

Spex said...

Hellooooooo, I am an animation student at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam (first year though, I'll admit) and I wanted to comment on this thing.

I agree with C up there in that I enjoy the unpredictability of the pilot is funny. It's got a lot of energy and it's just really enthusiastic about the weird stuff going on that it's pretty infectious.

As for the designs I would say it's more a matter of taste. The characters do express emotion with what limited facial features they have. They simply don't express a very wide range of it because they're pretty one-dimensional. You can certainly make a good point about how that's just as bad but I honestly don't think that characters need to be fully-realised in all cases. One of my favourite comic book characters is Mike Mignola's Lobster Johnson, who literally has no real personality beyond "make bad guys taste the harsh justice of the Lobster's Claw" (it means he shoots/stabs/burns/electrocutes/explodes them)

It's all in how the characters' one-dimensionality is handled and the attitude the show has toward itself. I doubt that the show takes itsel very seriously and the creators seem to simply want to put out something fun to watch. And it is fun to watch, at least to me. I can certainly see why people would dislike it but the show is very clearly aware of just how silly it is and simply runs with it, accepting this fact and even wallowing in it.

It's been a while since I've watched the short so I can't remember exact details like your complaints about the composition being bad so I'm taking your word for it because you definitely do know what you're talking about and I would certainly agree in that case that the composition could use work. As for the colours, they're bright and extremely saturated and I like them that way, the whole super-bright primary colour look reminds me of a box of markers like the kind you'd use as a kid to make a bunch of drawings with improbably-coloured trees and clouds, and I think it would be safe to say that the show intentionally tries to invoke this feeling, especially when coupled with the art's almost child-like simplicity.

The only thing I genuinely dislike about your article is the bit you wrote at the top because, while superficially similar, simply replacing some nonsensical concepts with others doesn't necessarily preserve any of the feel of the original. Honestly you did pick somewhat more ridiculous words and lines to replace the Adventure Time ones with. Connecting to the internet with your mind is funnier than contemplating the state of wormholes in the seventh dimension because the internet is a thing that everybody knows, and everybody knows you can download things off it. Plus, your lines would have been funnier if they'd been accompanied by visuals.

So I think that was unnecessary and honestly sort of dumb of you, plus the article's excessive vitriol, though you already say that you liked things back in the 60s right at the top of the site so I definitely don't blame you.

I mean, you know, this sounds super silly but it's just not for you.

You're many years my senior and you know a whole fuckton more about animation than I do, but in this case I honestly think that it's more a difference in mindset than actual quality or drive from the creator (I mean, Pendleton's buddy said he was genuinely enthusiastic about his work and to me Adventure Time is a kind of love letter/deconstruction of every silly 80s adventure cartoon a lot of people grew up loving only to realise years later just how ridiculous they were). The show invites the viewer to go and join it for Adventure Time on the show's terms and that's just not a thing everybody can get into. I mean, god knows Speed Racer tried the same thing and was torn apart for it.

With how many crap's on television these days it's easy to get jaded about this sort of thing, though, and even if you aren't hardly everyone's tastes or sensibilities are attracted to this kind of thing so meh. meh I say.

Speak your mind, though, it;s what the internet is for (and downloading little dances). I certainly see your point, I simply disagree and wanted you to know this. Also I wanted to try and set a good example for all of the douchebags who came in here and attacked you simply because you didn't like what they liked and voiced your opinion on it.

finally: Whoa dang this is a long post, and all those run-on sentences jeeeeez.

florg said...

I appreciate the show for its general absurdity and bright colored rubber hose art style.

paul said...

I'm with you, Pete, that made me NOT wanna see the series that followed its pilot.

I don't respect it in terms of it's nonexistent use of the drawing and the cartooning.

I just broke down to watch some Tom Terrific by Gene Deitch and Terrytoons.

P.S. You're a great talent, and so on, and so forth, and I want to truly need to learn from you.