Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Future of Cartooning: Kartoon Karaoke!

August 24, 2012

In my never ending quest to make a living drawing cartoons, I created my first app: Kartoon Karaoke! What is this wonderment?  The video explains all:

People have told me you can’t make iOS apps with Flash and that Flash is dead, long live HTML5!  This was done with Flash CS5!  Actually the hard part was uploading to Apple, which has nothing to Flash and from what I’m told by iOS developers, is a pain in the keister for all iOS apps!  I can provide all the gory technical details if you wish.  But for now, here are all the gory conceptual details:

First, my objective: How does an idiot fulfill a dream to be paid for drawing cartoons?

I’d love to animate the next Bugs Bunny but dislike the creative collectivism of the animation industry. I prefer the individual cartoonist who creates and executes his idea alone with only an editor offering spelling corrections and lawsuit preventing advice such as “remove the Nike logo on the sea monkey’s shirt.”

So I created a comic strip called “Family Pants” loosely based on my Dad and Mom locking horns during dinner every night. (Hence the subject of this blog.)  While proud my work generated a modest following, there are only 6 syndicates on earth that syndicate comic strips. If you’re not selected by those 6, you’re as dead as Flash. I worked for King Features Syndicate as a Popeye and Betty Boop ghost artist and still couldn’t get the attention of the few in power.

I took what I learned from King Features and self published my comic strip online. While selling comics directly to fans is possible, it’s more of a hobby than a living. Often online success is an elaborate business card to get those 6 editors interested in hiring you for traditional paying media. Eventually the same people saying HTML5 will kill Flash asked, “Who they hell reads comic strips anymore anyway?” So I left King for a NYC internet design company called Funny Garbage to direct animation in a growing new media.

I then took my 4 panel comic strips and animated them. I became a one man production crew even doing voice overs, except for one voice lent by my Mom. I believed technology would evolve comic strips into short online animated cartoons as it did a century prior when printing advancements evolved black and white comics to color. An idea ahead of it’s time, there weren’t so much as 6 online cartoons syndicates to pitch to. Sites that do showcase animation often defer payment, trading publicity and hopes of traditional paying media work. Again, the internet was used as a fancy business card for traditional media. (More fodder for this blog.)

With with print-on-demand technology, I even made a 22 minute Family Pants cartoon DVD and sold through Amazon! But without expensive traditional media promotion or audience with the select few in power (more than six but still really difficult to contact) I’ve only sold a handful of DVDs. Oddly many to my Mom…

The internet’s money maker, and what separates it from traditional media, is it’s focus on the user or audience instead of a star performer.  It’s appeal works because the audience wants to think of themselves as the stars.  So creatives who dream of making their own videos or writing their own stories are unlikely to make money posting their creation online, but if they create an experience that allows USERS to take center stage the rewards will be greater.  However, creating such runs opposite to the initial goal of being paid to make MY own cartoons.

So how do I make my cartoon, but make users feel a part of it? Moreover, what is an established and profitable business model?

Enter the Kartoon Karaoke APP!

My first idea was to create a Family Pants cartoon APP which allows the user to view my cartoon, but also ad-lib character dialog where the audience becomes the performer. In modern comedy, writers create only story outlines allowing actors to ad-lib dialog. It’s less work for the writer, the actors are happier becoming the character rather than reciting scripts and the audience enjoys performances which feel “real”. A Family Pants ad-lib dialog APP would be a unique internet experience and I’d be evolving the comic strip to animation cartoon!

But, I’m no programmer. An APP that records and shares video with an online community was beyond my ability and resources. Plus how many users are actually good at ad-libbing? I doubt Robin Williams would buy as many copies as my Mom…

My second idea was a “Guitar Hero” meets Family Pants cartoon APP! Users would read dialog via a bouncing ball into the mic. Say the right line and score points. As Family Pants was written with silly non-sequiturs, game play would be tongue twisting goofy fun. I’d be modernizing cartoons while paying tribute to their past as the bouncing ball concept was invented by animation legend Max Fleischer, creator of Betty Boop and animator of Popeye! Eat that King Features!

But… the idea was ahead of it’s time again. Flash technologically cannot make such an iOS app. At least with my programming ability.

So my third idea was the current Kartoon Karaoke APP wherein characters put on a stage play and the user must quickly pick their lines of dialog and action from a scrambled script. Choose the right line and score points. Choose the wrong line and create silly non-sequiturs! I was able to program it entirely on my own using Flash! While it made no sense for Family Pants characters to put on stage plays, I retired Family Pants, my Mom’s voice over career and created new characters: Dog, Cat and Fish… the Terrific Thespian Threesome!

Hard to describe, it was seen as an educational reading and listening comprehension APP. One fan put it, “It’s a whole new genre!” I described it as a little bit cartoon, a little bit storybook and a little bit game.

I hope for you, it’s a whole ‘lotta fun so I may be paid to make more Kartoon Karaokes!

Advertisements

Family Pants Goes Green!

October 17, 2010

Fellow New Jersey-ian Amy Hufnagel of Hardwick Township Project Evergreen requested a screening of Family Pants’ The Refrigerator Door at the Sustainable Jersey Film Night.  It was projected up on a big screen.  Unfortunately I was unable to attend, but from what I’m told… it went over well:

Morning Dave-Your animation as very well received at the Sustainable Jersey film night. I showed it last, and people laughed and the kids really giggled (as if with understanding). It was it was the perfect transition, to our feature film, and it looked great outside on the big screen! I will be recommending to my committee that our website has a list of “great online things to watch” and that the Sustianable Jersey program should have that on their website too- we’ll see if that emerges!Thanks for sharing, amyh

Here’s a link to Hardwick site:
http://www.hardwick-nj-projectevergreen.us/eventsandprograms.html

Special thanks to Amy for requesting yours truly…

Non-FamilyPants Wins Award!

June 24, 2010

My friend and talented illustrator James Yang and I teamed up to make a cartoon about the environment.  While he wants to save the Polar Bears and I our national security, we found common ground on the subject!

It turns out others liked it too!

Family Pants Interview! (well, not Family Pants, but me…)

June 24, 2010

Philip Carrera wrote this awesome book about Flash and how to use it like good little cartoonists!

In the back he was kind enough to let me bend his ear on my experiences with Flash in a little interview!

A big thanks to Philip and good luck with his sales.

Order your copy!

Maybe Jersey has something in the water…?

February 17, 2009

Fellow New Jersey-ian, James Roberts creates cartoons in his spare time.  He digs Fred Flintstone and his stuff is also based on converting his ready made storyboard comic strips into animation.  Plus his character, Naybob, looks like a relative to Family Pant’s Frank Mueller!!

Check Mr. Robert’s cartoon, comic strip from whence it came and the kind bit of shameless Family Pants promotion he threw my way!

naybob_1

naybob_2

Family Pants “Flipped”

July 2, 2007

Steve Moore is an animator who runs FlipAnimation, an online “magazine” about animation. I was priveledged to have him ask me a couple of questions about animation for issue #3, the July Independant Animators issue!

A friend and fellow animator Xeth Feinberg was also featured. (Xeth created Bulbo and practically animated Queer Duck the movie single handedly. His new name should be Xeth “Ub” Feinberg.)

Anyway, thanks to Steve Moore!

Flip Animation Magazine

Spicy Cricket Animation and 3-D!

March 13, 2007

Family Pants and I got a great write up on Thinking Animation Book blog the other day! Angie Jones is an accomplished 3-D artist running that blog as well as this site selling flowers for your hair!

Thanks Angie!

Although I’m a 2-D-Flash-kind of guy, I always wondered what Family Pants would look like in 3-D…

3_D_Frank

Here’s a question for you 3-D peoples. Is 3-D advantageous over 2-D?

I’d think, it would be easier to pair talented, yet totally differently styled artists together yet still keep the production consistant. In other words, if you take a guy like me and a guy who’s great at drawing Spiderman and put them next to each other in a production, we’d have to adapt our styles to match each other to work well together. (Hey, that’s animation… I’d think this difficult aspect is why some animation productions opt for a “crude” style. They’d call it “hip” or “minimal” and some would call it “bad art”, but really it’s a practical way to make it easier to adapt to.)

But, in 3-D, since we’re manipulating a 3-D model, our “styles” wouldn’t matter. You can hire the guy or gal you want, rather than the one guy who works well in your style or spend time training a person to adapt.

I mentioned this to a couple 3-D artists and they countered with the time you save “training to adapt” would be spent building models.

But still, after the model is built, wouldn’t it be faster to manulipulate a model than draw frame by frame?

I guess the only real way to settle the debate would be to buy the book Angie wrote, learn 3-D, make something then compare!  It’d be a kind of animation John Henry race!

Take a ToonBreak!

March 8, 2007

Family Pants is now appearing on ToonBreak.com!

Shawn McInerney, founder of Moose Mouse Media asked that Family Pants appear on his new video portal dedicated to animation! He’s using Revver technology to hopefully generate revenue for the hard working animators appearing on ToonBreak.

If you’re an animator and have some good stuff, send Shawn a line.

I mentioned Revver in an interview with with Ryan Ritchy. Revver has an interesting idea, splitting advertising money with the creator’s who make the eye-candy. Hopefully it takes off.

Making money on the internet? Ay… there’s the rub!

Forget the Video Store!

March 2, 2007

Family Pants is now available for digital download or for digital renting, through Amazon.com’s UnBox!

FP Digital

Canned Ham is best!

February 5, 2007

When in doubt, always draw a man’s ass! It seems by far the most popular Family Pants cartoon is “Canned Ham!” It was selected as “Best of the Web in ’07” by AWN.com. Here’s the write up!

Funny, the second most popular was Hero Dog… That one was about urine! Hmm… I think I’m onto something!

Well “Hole in ‘Da Roof!” may not have as much ass, but how’s about nipple? The following sequence is from the “Hole in ‘Da Roof!” DVD and go as follows: Frank notes the sun is hot and thus potentially dangerous to his exterior. He pulls out some sun tan lotion and bares his manly-ness to ask his pal Gruno to gently apply the protective cream to his exposed area. Gruno hesitates his next move…

Frank’s Nipple shot