Sunday, April 15, 2007

Animation Writers at Blogspot

So I've just perused the new animation writers blog across the way, and enjoyed it...

Steve Marmel (its founder), raises some good issues about animation wordsmiths (of which I used to be one) and why there isn't more community between them, and how writers and board artists can learn a lot from each other, and should interact and intermingle. Which triggers this anecdote from Yours Truly:

My last animation writing job -- before taking on the present assignment -- was working on staff at the late, lamented Filmation Animation studio. I wrote for a story editor named Arthur Nadel, a quiet, soft-spoken film veteran whose highest peak in a lengthy entertainment career was probably directing Elvis Presley in Clambake.

Arthur was a very nice man, but territorial. Ferociously territorial. One day I broached the subject of consulting with some board artists and directors on a script I was working on, to get some constructive criticism and hopefully make it better. Arthur looked at me as if I had squeezed off a hot fart under his nose.

"We don't do that, Steve," he said. "Scripts stay here in the story department. When we finish them, we'll give them to a board artist and he or she will draw them up. But we won't have any artists or directors interfering with our work, telling us how to do them."

I said "okay Arthur, whatever you say," and snuck downstairs to get feedback from a few artists and directors anyway. After a time, Arthur caught wind of my consultations and called me in for a talk. Again I got the stink eye.

"I've heard something that troubles me, Steve. Word's come back to me that you were talking to one of the directors about the script."

I stammered that I hadn't. (A blatant lie.) He nodded.

"Alright then. And make sure that you continue not to talk to them."

I said absolutely, you bet. And I never did again.

In the studio. After Arthur's second lecture, I snuck off to the Mexican restuarant next door and talked to the director there. Way in the back. In hushed tones.


Anonymous said...

I heard about that restaurant.

neat anecdote, Steve. If I can jump in with a completely OT aside: today's(4/15)New York Times has an article about a new Nick animated series that I thought you & the readership would be interested in.
It's the result of Mary Harrington scouting the web for designers, and the creator is a chinese-american artist.

Steve said...

The creator's name is Karen Chau, and her stuff is great.

And thanks for the pimp on the site. It's an open, unmoderated forum to discuss animation writing...

...and one of these days, we'll stop talking about John K. :)

- Steve

Steve Hulett said...

Simply the greatest cartoon mind EVER.

You can never discuss Mr. K. too little.

Anonymous said...

hehehee--you fellas are BAD!

Anonymous said...

figures that you would praise this writer's blog... it's every bit as spineless and blind as the guild itself along with john k.'s cultish blog, animationnation, animation magazine, cartoon brew, animation world network and all of the other industry forums in print and online. the only frank debate about the industry lately has taken place because anibation fantasy started it... that forum sparked more discussion and did more for the industry in two weeks than anything else has in years and, naturally, you trashed it. it said the union was useless... your response was "no it's not"... it said most animation writers are horrible... their response is "no we're not". your approval of the writers blog is not surprising.

Steve said...

So basically, a blog with blind hatred that simply existed to throw grenades in the middle of issues is the only way animation can be discussed?

Well, that blows.

I would rather live in a world where people can discuss things, rather among themselves, rather than simply defend themselves.

Anonymous said...

you obviously didn't bother actually reading the blog. you just made snap judgements the way everyone else who was offended by it did.

Steve said...

No, I read the blog.

That blog is the whole reason I wanted to start an animation writer's blog, because I felt that nearly every site online bashed the crap out of non-drawing writers.

My attitude on things tends to be very "middle ground" as I neither think I'm always right, or always wrong.

Yes, Anibator had something to say about everyone.

I disagreed with some of the statements on executives. On standards. On a lot of things.

But first and foremost, I am a writing animation producer, and Anibator espoused the same "John K" theory of writing that I tire of.

That's where I'm coming from. That's what I was trying to counter.

That being said: I am sorry Anibator no longer posts regularly because he (or she) did stir the pot up.

Anonymous said...

fortunately, there is an archive at
if you read the blog, you must remember this quote from the article that obviously struck a nerve...
"Okay, I see animation writers the same way I see animation executives... if they are GOOD, I not only don't have a problem with them, I am grateful for them."
i'd say that's a far cry from the john k. camp of "cartoons should never writers."
so where's the problem? is it wrong to criticize bad writers? obviously the topic needed addressing because it spawned a huge flood of supportive e-mail.
the main reason the anibation fantasy web site caught on is because it was the only one to openly and unapologetically criticize john k.'s opinions. i guess when you say you read the blog you didn't read those posts. i guess you also missed the ones where anibator ripped on artists for copying one another and not being original or not behaving professionally or blindly following john k.
the "we can discuss this but only if you agree with us and promise not to hurt our feelings" approach that you and the guild and animationnation use doesn't work. the industry needs a kick in the ass and it seems like everyone just wants to pretend that everything is fine.

Steve said...

Actually, if you read deeper, and I did, you would see that Anibator has been in the business for nearly 15 years and met four good writers.

I'm sorry, but that's insane.

And I have absolutely zero problem with vicious discussion, but I do have a problem with IRRATIONAL discussion.

The idea that script writers are killing animation is irrational. John K was irrational. Anibator was irrational.

You seem rational.

Do you know more than four good writers who can't draw? And you can tell me I suck in the process?

Anonymous said...

i haven't been in the industry that long so i don't know that many writers. of the ones i've worked with, some are good and some aren't. but that's my personal experience. who are you to judge someone elses personal experience?
i've also worked with bad artists and directors. should i pretend they were good?
i just went back and re-read the post carefully... you are never mentioned. in fact, here is another quote "Now, unlike some animation cult members, I see the value in writers... particularly for television wherein the deadlines are tighter and there isn't nearly as much time for 'development'"
it seems to me that you read one post, took it really personally and started a blog in response.

Anonymous said...

I'm really quite tired of the whole "writers versus artists" debate. I say we let the brilliant executives who love to give braindead notes on everything write all the cartoons and then watch their empires crumble into shit.

Steve said...

Ah, Roy. Good attempt to find a common enemy.

And no, I know I wasn't mentioned personally. Somebody I DON'T know WAS mentioned personally on John's Blog at the same time Anibator was writing his (or her) stuff...

...and I reacted. Yah.

I was asking you if you had met more than four writers you liked (and was giving you permission to not like my stuff).

Of course... THAT'S the kind of clarity that causes people to looooove writers.


Signing off on this post.

- Steve

Steve Hulett said...

figures that you would praise this writer's blog... it's every bit as spineless and blind as the guild itself

Compliments are always appreciated. They come along so seldom.

We did a small memorial to anibation here:

May it Rest in Peace.

Steve Hulett said...

Re anibation: after I came across it and blogged about it...

An anonymous poster said:

Despite the Anibator's negative view of the union, it's a shame that the blog itself is gone. If it had stuck around longer, Anibator might've gotten the momentum in others that he wanted. As it is, he extinguished the spark of potential change a little too soon, methinks.

At 3/04/2007 08:58:00 PM, Steve Hulett said...

Well, we did our part to get the word out.

Anibator just didn't have that good old American stick-to-itiveness. A shame.

We always want to publicize new and exciting animation blogs. It's the right thing to do...

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but throwing a grenade or tossing feces around as haphazardly as that blog did. It was ALL OVER the place, and I can't get interested in rants when they lose coherence or a point as that person's blog did(yes, I read through the original posts).

Greg: to say that ALL the other forums are lacking where Anibator's blog succeeded? Including Cartoon Brew? CB is "wimpy"? Uh-huh, suuuure it is. can tell you've been tracking it for a long time.
And so is this one, right? Where all voices can be heard at least in comments?
WHY is that person's single opinion-or yours-or mine-THE right one?
Answer: it isn't. It's only one point of view. One. The way you learn and change things is to at least engage others. Not ream them.
Go fly it somewhere else--and come back AFTER you've put more years of real experience into your career. If that is the industry is good enough for you and vice versa.

I'm sick of a few loudmouths making all animation artists look like angry jerks. For what? Believe me, those types will NEVER be happy with the state of things, and they won't change things for the better either. Count on it.

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