Monday, May 7, 2007

Trouble with the Writers Guild...


(Image stolen from Bob Warren, and he's awful sore about it.)

John K is always mentioning the suffering animation cartoonists go through in regards to animation scriptwriters. Most of the writers create very bad scripts that the cartoonists then have to use word for word whether it works or not.

Maybe this bit of bad news screenwriters have been experiencing from their own union (Writers Guild of America, West) of late will gladden the cockles of Kricfalusi's cold, cold heart...

The article is from the free LA Weekly. Enjoy the spite!

21 comments:

Craig D said...

Gosh, J.J. - John's beef is with animation writers, not fictional gossip columnists.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

I know.

(Whispering) And confidentially, (looks around suspiciously), I agree with him.

The best cartoons were written with storyboards by people who knew how to draw. They were also subservient to the director. Today the opposite is true. If you want to be a cartoon writer then go to an Ivy League school like Harvard (Harvard is Ivy League, right?), and contribute to the Harvard Lampoon. Soon you'll be giving copious notes to some poor animation director about how his layout drawings are "too cartoony".

That's why I thought we'd all enjoy some schadenfreude from those writers' misfortune...

Must all my altruistic motives be suspect!?

Chris Battle said...

Is "schadenfreude" like a shizer video? 'Cause I can't look at that kind of stuff at work.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Hi Chris,

I'm also at work and I'm now too frightened to look up and see what "shizer" means.

Thad K said...

Shizer is German for "shit". So shizer videos usually involve one defecating onto another person's person.

Oh and the problem with cartoons today isn't writers, it's leagues of people who have no idea what they're doing. Loads of charlatans and shysters, not just in the writer's room.

Storyboards by people who know how to draw is not a guarantee of a good cartoon. As Steve Worth has proven over at the ASIFA site, the Hanna-Barbera cartoons early on used storyboards. So why can't I stay awake through an episode of Huckleberry Hound???!!

TK

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Uh, thanks for the info, Thad.

You probably fall asleep during Huckleberry Hound because the timing and pacing was padded so as to fill the entire length of a half hour on a limited budget. I'm guessing that the writing probably didn't have that much to do with it. (Not that I find anything great about the gags or stories on those early H&B shows.)

I just go by what I like, and the majority of the cartoons I enjoy are written with boards by cartoonists -- even modern shows like Spongebob. Most of the ones I find dull or too much like a live action wannabe are usually written with scripts. Occasionally there's an exception, like the first two seasons of The Simpsons, but that's very rare.

Jorge Garrido said...

Have you ever read Mario Puzo's book The Last Don? It talks about a writer's role in Hollywood and how subservient they're made to feel.

Good book, Mario sounded bitter in a "Where are my Godfather royalties" kind of way.

I've been busy with scholarship applications lately so I'll reply to your comment on my blog ASAP but P might not be so S.

Thad K said...

JJ,
Have you seen those Columbia Phantasy cartoons? Nobody shuts the hell up in those things and were written by cartoonists.

Storyboarded cartoons usually are better than scripted ones but there's a bigger picture to it than that. (Of course, there's always the Adult Cartoon Party, the ultimate example of WHY CARTOONISTS SHOULD WRITE CARTOONS, DAMMIT!)

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Jorge,

I haven't read that book. Most novels about Hollywood written by writers who were once screenwriters tend to be bitter. Just read Budd Schulberg's "What Makes Sammy Run", Michael Tolkin's "The Player", Nathanael West's "The Day of the Locusts" or F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Last Tycoon" to see a writer's jaundiced view of Hollywood.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Thad,

I'm not saying that being a cartoonist automatically makes one a great writer for animated cartoons. One still has to have a sense of story structure, character, gags, pacing and how to write dialog. They also have to know about staging, cutting and camera angles. (Usually the storyboard artists in the golden era rose from the ranks of assistant animator, so they had some basic knowledge of the principles of animation, too.)

What I'm defending is a certain method for writing cartoons. Scripts tend to favor dialog over action most of the time. Storyboards usually tell stories visually, with minimal dialog. It's not always the case but it's a good bet that if a cartoon show has funny expressions and sight gags it was written with boards. If the cartoons relies on dialog (ala "illustrated radio") then it's more likely to have been written with scripts.

Even cartoon shows that are script driven like The Simpsons still need storyboards, so everyone involved can see if the story will work for animation. (It would be nearly impossible to make an animated cartoon just from scripts.) In cases like The Simpsons all the creativity has been done in the screenwriting stage. The board artist is just to flesh out visually what the scriptwriter has written, without any creative input.

(And some of the writers on shows like The Simpsons have drawn cartoons. They're just not very good at it, and their job doesn't depend on an understanding of animation principles.

Also, take note that one of your favorite directors, Frank Tashlin, wrote with boards when he was a cartoon writer and used scripts when he wrote for live action.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Jorge,

Oops, that's "Day of the Locust" -- no 's' at the end.

Craig D said...

Altruistic schadenfreude?!?!?

I like it!

Thad K said...

J.J.,
The problem is most cartoon writers these days DON'T want to write for animation. They use cartoons as a stepping stone to move up to live-action (there is NO money in kid's programming). They want to create the next Seinfeld or Friends. Many are self-serving and don't want to take advantage of animation being a collaborative medium.

The best cartoons today are shows with plot outlines/scripts done by people who care, then the board artist takes it and makes it better. Like SpongeBob or Dexter (not lately though).

TK

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>The best cartoons today are shows with plot outlines/scripts done by people who care, then the board artist takes it and makes it better. Like SpongeBob or Dexter (not lately though).

There were no scripts on Spongebob or Dexter's Lab. They did have outlines, though those were usually written by the creators of the shows and their board artists (who were the writers of the episodes).

I knew some of the writers/board artists on Spongebob. They didn't write scripts. They were mostly from Cal Arts, too.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Oh, and Craig D.,

Thanks for the compliment!

Arschblog said...

Oh my god!!! Seems that you love John K....all the photos, pink colored blog and words like in a love letter!

If you want to see more John K. stuff look at my blogs(especially in the older posts from "arschblog"), there are lots of Fanarts and Photos of him!=)

Anonymous said...

You are currently linking to a picture of a typewriter on my site (http://www.rewarren.com/ challenge/chl86.htm). This is eating up some of my bandwidth every time someone views your page. Please copy the picture to your own server and add a photo credit and copyright notice.
Thanks,
Bob Warren
rewarren@ameritech.net

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>ou are currently linking to a picture of a typewriter on my site (http://www.rewarren.com/ challenge/chl86.htm). This is eating up some of my bandwidth every time someone views your page. Please copy the picture to your own server and add a photo credit and copyright notice.<<

Dear Mr. Warren,

I'm not computer literate, so I don't know what you are talking about. How do I copy the image to my server -- whatever my "server" might be?

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Jorge Garrido said...

Try googling something before you ask stupid questions, J.J.

Step 1. Open up a photobucket.com account

Step 2. Save the picture of the typewriter you stole onto your own computer

Step 3. Upload the picture you stole on to your photobucket.com account (Refer to step 1).

Step 4. Replace the current url of the picture in the post you made with the url of the photobucket.com version.

Step 5. Berate me for being condescending.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>Step 5. Berate me for being condescending.<<

You are condescending. There.

Jorge Garrido said...

LOL. I think I was madder than Warren.