Archive for the ‘Interactive stuff’ 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!

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Gruno’s Blazin’ Bolt Challenge

February 11, 2008

Learning Flash 4 action script a thousand years ago, I made this game, stealing off the idea that Frank and Gruno are steel workers (although Frank isn’t even in this game).   I didn’t even have a guitar riff for the Family Pants theme yet, so all you’ll hear is the bass thumping away.  I was pleasantly surprised the minimal scoring  actually sounds intentional.

[Click on the image below to open a URL to another page that has the  game:]
Gruno’s Blazin’ Bolt Challenge

Gruno’s Rhode Island Red Disaster

February 9, 2008

Back in mid 2001, I wanted to learn Flash 5 programing.  Well, the best way to learn programing is to make something and learn as you go.  So I came up with a game for Family Pant’s Gruno and Frank: “Gruno’s Rhode Island Red Rescue!”

The idea was an inspiration of one of my favorite arcade games of old,  JOUST.  The story was that Frank, being an iron worker, just finished building a skyscraper and upon setting the American Flag a top the building, resembling The Empire State Building, a gust of wind blows it off the top.  Frank pulls out his cell phone to call Gruno for help only to be a victim of the strong winds himself.  He flails about like a flag himself clinging to the building’s antenna.  Eventually his pants comes down and we zoom down to the street.

On the ground stands Gruno.  He hears Frank’s cries for help and in Superman fashion changes into a chicken costume.  (Identical to the Chicken man of “Hole in ‘Da Roof!”)  Then the game begins.  Like “Joust” you navigate Gruno to the top of the building to meet and rescue Frank.  You had to avoid hitting the ground and buildings around you as well as flying paper thrusting around in the strong winds.  If a sheet of paper hits Gruno, you had to fight to get the paper off his face by quickly hitting any key repeatedly.  All the while plunging to earth.  If you removed the paper in time, you could recover your decent, otherwise, game over!  Another hazzard was if Gruno traveled too high, an airplane would run him over, sending him back to earth as well.  In the process I changed the danger to Gruno getting struck by lightning, drawn by a dark swirling cloud over the top of the building.

Now all this sounds fun and making it gave me a better understanding of ActionScript at that time, but the game was never meant to be.

Think of 2001… Think of tall buildings… American Flags… paper blowing around… dark clouds… airplanes… people in need of rescue…  geez…

I told some friends about this game in progress after 9/11 and they tried to figure out what statement I was trying to make, and whether I was trying to make one at all.  Being my friends they were polite, but I could tell by the look on their face that this game was meant to be shelved permanently, so I never even finished the artwork!

I told a few friends recently of the coincidence and they couldn’t believe it.  Looking back now, realizing my innocence found the whole thing incredibly funny!

So without further ado and lots of editing, here’s a couple of screen shots of the game:

Gruno’s Rhode Island Red Rescue

Gruno’s Rhode Island Red Rescue

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

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