... and the state of Cartoonland.
At present, the animation industry is better than it was a year ago, or two years ago. But it's often like a multi-cylinder engine. When one piston is up, another's going down. Just now a partial list would include ...
Warner Bros. Animation doing more shows this year than they've done in the previous three. (Junior Justice League, Batman, Scooby Doo and Loony Tunes to name a few. Thirty-six months ago the place was pretty much a ghost town.)
Universal Cartoon Studios being kaput, having closed its doors six months ago. (However, rumors circulate that Curious George, long a PBS/Universal project, will go return to production at Starz Media.)
Starz Media/ Film Roman -- has The Simpsons, several Marvel action heroes shows, a few other things not yet announced.
Rough Draft -- They're finishing production on Futurama, developing a couple of pilots. (RD isn't signed to TAG, but I throw them in the mix anyway.)
Nickelodeon Cartoon Studios -- I overheard a studio administrator telling visitors the studio had 12 projects, but damn if I can name them all (Penguins of Madagascar, Tough Puppies, Chum Chum and Fanboy, Kung Fu Panda, Monsters and Robots, SpongeBob Squarepants, Dora the Explorer and then my head starts to throb.)
IM Digital is shutting down, but doing the closing in slow motion. It still has Mars Needs Moms to get out, and is shutting down department by department as the picture progresses. (We'll be sorry to see them go, they've had great people up there in Novato, California.)
Hasbro/The Hub -- Transformers and G.I. Joe. The artistic staff moves from Beverly Hills to Burbank at the end of the month. (Or so they say.)
Fox Animation has its Big Three, Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show, with Cleveland being picked up for a third season. Fox loves its Sunday night animation block.
DreamWorks Animation has Megamind coming in the Fall, then a long list of projects over the next four years (at the rate of 2-3 per annum.)
Disney TV Animation -- six shows in various stages of work, from Fish Hooks to KIck Butowski to Phineas and Ferb, Inspector Oso and Jake and the Neverland Pirates.
Disney Toons still works on the Tinkerbell features and is deep into production on the newer series that they haven't announced yet. (So I'll continue to keep my mouth shut.)
Disney Feature Animation has the CG Tangled and the hand-drawn Pooh followed by (I'm told) a gap in the production pipeline.
Cartoon Network has five animated series that I can think of and keeps trying on the live-action shows with varying results.
And so on and so forth ...
As you can see, the industry chugs along much as before, parts of it on the upswing, other parts not. Long-term employment is the exception rather than the rule, but a lucky minority has longer gigs on the Fox shows, SpongeBob, Phineas and Ferb and a handful of others. In features, Walt Disney Animation Studio offers project-to project hires while DreamWorks leans toward multi-year hires, (which explains the different morale you find at each studio.)
I've been reading various books about how to succeed in the workplace. There's some cute and semi-constructive stuff inside the covers ("Make Peace with Chaos;" "Spend Ten Minutes a Day Doing Absolutely Nothing;" -- Personally, I'd opt for at least a half hour -- "Manage Priorities, not time;" "Good results cover up a multitude of sins." etc.)
However, some are a little off the mark for the cartoon business, so allow me to throw out some of my own (yet again):
Know when to gracefully lose the argument. Nothing wrong with throwing out your two cents, but you have to know when to back off and do it the way your supervisor wants, even if your supe is wrong and an idiot.
Never give out a bright idea before the time is right. Long ago one of the smartest story artists I've ever known said to me: "You can't give them the solution to the problem before they're ready to hear it, or else they'll reject it." It was good advice three decades ago; it's fine advice now. Develop the skill of knowing when to show your cards.
Sometimes it's necessary to lie down, put all four paws in the air and expose you throat. In other words, occasionally you need to apologize and acquiesce to hang onto your job, even when the person you're doing the apology to is a dick. (You don't have to be sincere in the apology, just look like you are. Because once in a while we will find ourselves working for unreasonable, unpleasant people. This is when we learn to navigate the raft called "self-preservation.")
Know your own limits, and which personal lines you cannot, will not cross. (And it's better to know them before that crisis at work, rather than after.)
Those are enough helpful tips for one evening. (If you want more, you can find a few of them here.) The cartoon/animation industry can be challenging in even the best of times, and we're a few clicks away from "best."
It's useful to keep in mind that as much as we would like it to be otherwise, animation is a subset of Hollywood, the capital of bull dung.