Can Animation Be Made via Commette?

Why isn’t Family Pants on TV? The fact is I never pitched Family Pants to TV! I made it to sell directly to home video through the web to gain creative freedom.

The biggest frustration facing cartoonists, animators and comic strip artists alike, is the art committee or more commonly refereed to as “the suits”. Before WWII and American consumerism, cartoons were created much like all products, the manufacturer created a product and the salesman sold it. This offered the artist creative control with little outside interference, other than requests for the work to be done on time or asking for “more funny ones like that!” They worked together as the better the cartoon, the easier it was to sell. Likewise the better the salesman, even the worst cartoon earned a profit.

From the late 1940’s on, marketing became more prominent in manufacturing. Selling is one part of marketing, which confuses most artists that a marketing person is just a salesman, but in fact they are quite different. The salesman convinces the consumer his product will meet their demand. He makes them want the artist’s cartoon. In marketing however, he researches the client’s needs, then convinces the manufacture to make a product that matches the consumer’s needs. In this approach, the “suit” makes the artist create a cartoon the client wants. This offered little creative control for the artist. And at times, the “suit” seems to work against the artist rather than with him.

This might be the best way to keep consumer interests at heart for making a better nonstick frying pan. But does an audience know what they want to see before they see it? Did Van Gogh conduct research to find that 8 out of 10 preferred the night sky over day before he painted “The Starry Night”? Or is art simply made by letting the artist and salesman “do their best”?

I feared “suits” would reject Family Pants citing trends and statistics. Would they say, “We really like Family Pants, but could you make Frank a girl? If you make the lead character a young girl, in high school dealing with boys and the pressures of fitting in, then girls will relate to it. Plus you’ll have to make her sexy and give her some super powers… something with outer space robots and kung fu fighting to get the boys interested. This way the action will secure future possibilities for licensing the show for video games.” And so on. Although those things are great, I didn’t want to make “Family-Space-Robot-Action-Samurai-Teen-Girl-Power-Force-Squad-Anime-High School-Future-Pants”.

Another basic problem of art by committee is slow decision-making. Ask someone what his or her favorite color is. You’ll get a response in seconds. Get any 10 people in a room to collectively come up with a favorite color and it’ll take hours. Plus, if the vote is close, say 6 for red and 4 for blue, the head of that committee will have no confidence in their decision. Do you make the character’s shirt red or blue? A compromise to do a little of both would surely cover the bases. But that would make the character’s shirt purple. Purple didn’t even place in the vote! And so the artists animate the character red, then blue, then purple, then back to blue. They become frustrated and go over budget and over schedule. Slow and indecisive decisions wreak havoc on tight production schedules. If art is to be done by committee, then the budget must be inflated to accommodate a committee’s slow command. When that happens added pressure is added on the projects success. It must be a huge success to cover it’s loses. In addition, money is diverted away from the artists to cover expenditures.

Can art be run by a democracy? Or is it more efficiently run by a monarchy? One person with a clear vision will always outmaneuver a committee. While a democracy will make the less talented feel more a part of the creative process by allowing them say in the production, it lowers the moral of the more talented artists and slows production which inflates the budget. More money spent puts more stress on the project’s success and siphons money from the artist’s pockets. Most importantly, does it make better art?

I wanted Family Pants to be something that I wanted to see. It became my oasis from frustrating projects that cost more and took longer than they should have. It became my proving ground for how Flash could really be used and to see if I could write, voice, score and direct a show.


One Response to “Can Animation Be Made via Commette?”

  1. celpjefscycle Says:

    Thanks for information.
    many interesting things

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