Archive for January, 2007

The Gruno Interface

January 31, 2007

This was a design I did to learn the programing aspects of Flash 4, back in the day. The idea was to use a character I’ve had for years, Gruno, as the interface and sole design to Gruno.com. Originally it would have no instructions forcing the user to explore and play with the character to get him to “cough up” cartoons. The design would hide content in the site, disguising how much work I’ve done to hopefully keeping the site fresh. Perhaps I had a dozen cartoons, perhaps only two. Gruno would “think” for himself whether or not he’d show it to you. (And depending on in what order you teased him, he acted as a sort of combination lock.)

Although it worked, it was too confusing for most people. Plus the amount of work to create these interactive elements rivaled making actual cartoons! I’ve scripted a similar design for Frank for another Family Pants website that perhaps I’ll use.

[Click the image below]

Gruno Interface

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The Family Pants Fantasy Phone!

January 31, 2007

In the beginning of my site, I tried to write the standard paragraph descriptions of who these Family Pants characters are. But eventually, I thought actions describe character better than words, so I created this make believe phone. By listening to Frank talk, perhaps you’d get a better understanding as to who this guy is.

Well, I don’t know if it worked, but it sure saved me from writing stuff!

[Click the image below]

Family Pants Fantasy Phone

Pants on Brew!

January 29, 2007

A staple of my blog diet CartoonBrew.com, posted a little flattery on me! Thanks to Jerry Beck and Amid Amidi!

Hole in ‘Da Roof! Preview!

January 18, 2007

Here’s the preview of “Family Pants’ Hole in ‘Da Roof!”. It took years of weekends and nights to put the thing together with writing help from Jason Sawtelle.

We wrote the script years ago, with the original idea to simply write a 22 minutes of “black out” gags in the old fashioned Tex Avery style. (Where you have a simple set up, then start with gag after gag separated by a fade to black and back again.) We thought we couldn’t hold a viewers’ attention with such an epic outing even if our gags were fantastic! So we decided to make it a conventional sit-com format. (But managed to squeeze in some Tex Avery style slapstick and silliness!)

I made a rough storyboard directly in Flash using a PL-400 wacom tablet and emailed it to Jason for his opinion. Some of it I agreed with, some I did not and some I simply had to omit due to lack of time!

We recorded the dialog from a real studio in one afternoon. We did each line separate to help me stay in character, because sometimes I could lose the character of a voice if I were to jump from one guy to another. By the end of the day, we all were sweating and hoarse!

I edited the soundtrack in ProTools Free over the next year. After that, I broke the cartoon in to 12 parts so my flash files wouldn’t explode from the file size and started key framing from the rough boards. Next came animation and the tough job of coloring. I’m not too confident when it comes to color, but after watching some Pink Panther cartoons, became inspired from a limited palette.

Complete details of how I work can be found in another post under Animation Production Process.

Why make a DVD? Well, I always wanted to be a syndicated cartoonist and draw comic strips. After 5 submissions to the major syndicates and being rejected, I started drifting toward on-line comic strips. Perhaps I could syndicate on-line? Then I animated one of the strips as an extra feature to the site and found more people like the animated cartoons than the static ones. Plus zany antics work more easily animated than in comic strip form, especially with such a limited space to work in. So I made a slew of shorts. Eventually I thought, where can I go with this? Jason came into the picture again with an idea to license cartoon shorts on-line, but it fizzled out. So thanks to CustomFlix and WAB I pursued making a DVD. Here’s a review on this mess, if you wanna take someone else’s word!

Hole in ‘Da Roof! Extra Features Preview!

January 18, 2007

One of the extra features on the Hole in ‘Da Roof! DVD is a commentary track with Frank Mueller himself babbling on about stuff. Jason Sawtelle phoned in asking straight forward questions and I, playing Frank, ad-libbed trying like hell to stay in character. Our schedules were so busy, that we couldn’t make the recording in person. So I put him on speaker phone and set up my mic and recorded him remotely! Another triumph for lo-fi!

We fumbled around a bit, where I’d pause trying to think of my next line and Jason, hearing that pause, would think I, or Frank, was finished talking, so he’d start asking the next question. We ending up stepping all over each other. There was a lot of “Hey! I’m not done yet!” yelling from Frank. That was funny the first time, but after a while it wasn’t.

So I asked that he email me the question and I wrote the answers in a stream of consciousness kind of way. Then the next weekend, Jason called back and I recorded the whole thing in one shot. Jason never knew my responses until I said them! Later I edited out the pauses and laughing between the questions and some of our own comments like, “wait, I think I got another call” or “hold on, my wife asked me something”.

I had lots of fun with this and realized that Frank is funny talking as much as he is falling off roofs. At the end, I was inspired to write more comic strips and have another go at Syndicate submission!

Hope you dig it!

Behind the Seams pt 4

January 18, 2007

In this last part of Behind the Seams! I talk about and show artwork from Family Pants’ Hole in ‘Da Roof! DVD. I spent a lot of time on the artwork and got a kick out of it, but then when the DVD was done, I suddenly realized no one would ever see some of the details I love-inly put in there!

Behind the Seams pt 3

January 18, 2007

In this part of the Behind the Seams! I talk about streamlining the Family Pants artwork for animation, ending up with the look you see now…

Click on the image to watch the slide show…

Behind the Seams pt 2

January 18, 2007

In this Behind the Seams crappy slide sho- I mean feature-ette, I talk about the early Family Pants idea…

Click on the image to watch the slide show…

Behind the Seams pt 1

January 18, 2007

Lots of people ask where all this Family Pants stuff came from. So I make a behind the “seams” feature-ette…. (well more like 4 crappy sideshow SWFs) with me talking about Family Pants and showing old pictures I’ve drawn when I was a kid, up until now. I felt a little uncomfortable just talking by myself, so I had my Mom sit in. She plays the voice of Blanche Mueller. And since lots of this stuff was drawn when I was a kid, she was my “biggest fan” since then!

Anyway, here’s part one, where I talk about where Gruno the Gorilla came from. (Click on this old picture of Gruno to watch the slideshow.)

Canned Ham!

January 14, 2007

This cartoon is also a change of design pace. I bought Amid Amidi‘s “Cartoon Modern” this Christmas and after drooling over the simplified characters I took a stab at making Family Pants a retro 1950’s look.

Again, as with the other “sans-outline” look, it sped the process a bit. Simplifying the color choices kept me from spending lots of time choosing colors. But simplifying the design is what made this process just as long as the more conventional thick outlined approach.

I’m not sure if it was the design or the gag, but this cartoon got the most attention. Although most friends and comments I’ve gotten say the outlined designs are better.