Funny Animals and More began as a weekly column for Jerry’s Cartoon Research on March 14, 2013. This is its third anniversary. Not bad for a weekly column that I thought would only last for a few weeks until I ran out of things to say.
I pretty much used up all of the old cartoon shorts on anniversaries and birthdays for my first two anniversaries. So for this third anniversary, here is something different. This is a profile of some of the cartoon shorts that started the same time this column did, three years ago. Theatrical shorts were long gone by then, so these are all current television series.
Monsters vs. Aliens, directed by Jim Schumann, Eddie Trigueros, Matt Engstorm, Sunil Hall, & Fred Osmond. 26 half-hour episodes, many divided into two 15-minute segments. March 23, 2013 to February 8, 2014.
The Nickelodeon CGI TV series was based on DreamWorks Animation’s Monsters vs. Aliens theatrical feature, released on March 27, 2009. The TV series was first announced by Jeffrey Katzenberg in May 2009, and was co-produced by DreamWorks Animation and New Zealand’s Oktobor Animation studio. It was preceded by the Monsters vs. Aliens: Night of the Living Carrots 2011 two 13-minute Halloween TV Specials. The Monsters at the Area Fifty-Something secret base (B.O.B. the Blob, Dr. Cockroach, Ginormica [Susan Murphy] the 50-Foot Woman, Insectosaurus, and the others), plus General Warren R. Monger, President Hathaway, Ginormica’s parents, and other humans interact with each other and with the Aliens invading Earth, led by evil overlord Gallaxhar. In November 2013 it was announced that the TV program would not be renewed for a second season due to low ratings.
Teen Titans Go!, directed by Peter Rida Michal, Luke Cormican, & Scott O’Brien. 129 eleven-minute episodes so far. April 23, 2013 to date.
DC’s original Teen Titans, about the adventures of the teenage sidekicks of the DC Universe’s superheroes on their own, began in 1964. They got their own comic book in 1966, which evolved through name variations and cast changes to the present. The TV cartoons began in 2003. Teen Titans Go!, produced by Warner Bros. Animation, is a comedic spin-off that presents the young team’s misadventures or just goofing off when they are not fighting crime and supervillains. The main cast consists of three boys (Robin, Cyborg, and Beast Boy) and two girls (Starfire and Raven). Teen Titans Go! is scheduled for three seasons to March 2016 and is expected to be renewed for a fourth.
Sanjay and Craig, directed by Lindsey Pollard, Alan Smart, & Tom Yasumi. 48 half-hour episodes of two 11-minute segments to date. May 25, 2013 to date.
Sanjay Patel is a 12-year-old Indian immigrant to the U.S. Craig Slithers is a talking snake that he meets in a pet store who becomes his best friend. The series revolves around Sanjay’s comedically weird parents, schoolmates, neighbors, acquaintances, and pets; some with realistic names and others with names like Belle Pepper and Remington Tufflips. This TV series, produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio, is unusual in not relying on scripted dialogue. The stories are written and storyboarded, and the voice actors improvise the dialogue like stand-up comedians, often using gross-out humor.
Although unmentioned in the series’ publicity, Sanjay Patel is also the name of a noted animator at Pixar Animation Studios who came from India to the U.S. as a child. This has become well-known since Pixar’s November 2015 release of the animated short Sanjay’s Super Team.
Mickey Mouse, directed by Paul Rudish, Aaron Springer, Dave Wasson, Clay Morrow, & others. 50 four-minute episodes. June 28, 2013 to date.
This irreverent update to the classic Disney cartoon characters, by Disney Television Animation using Flash animation, features the whole gang including the original 1930s cast plus such later characters as Scrooge McDuck and Professor Ludwig von Drake, in very short, 4-minute animated cartoons. Mickey is always the main star, usually with Minnie, Donald, and Goofy, often appearing in international roles such as an Italian gondolier or an Indian taxi driver. Unlike the other TV series mentioned here, Disney has allowed the complete episodes to be uploaded onto YouTube where anyone can watch them. (This keeps the famous Disney cartoon characters “current” for merchandising purposes.)
Wander Over Yonder, directed by Craig McCracken, Dave Thomas, Eddie Trigueros, Lauren Faust, & Aaron Springer. 66 half-hour episodes, usually but not always of two 11-minute segments to date. August 16, 2013 to date.
The series, produced by Disney Television, began on the Disney Channel and has moved to Disney XD.
Wander Over Yonder is a science-fiction comedy about Wander, a young intergalactic traveler, and Sylvia, his best friend and Zbornak talking “horse”. They go from planet to planet in Lord Hater’s Hater Empire, helping their inhabitants to win their freedom and enjoy life despite Lord Hater’s oppressive chief henchman, Commander Peepers, and their army of giant-eyeballed Watchdogs. The Wander Over Yonder episode “The Breakfast” (Season 2, Episode 3; August 10, 2015) has just won ASIFA-Hollywood’s Annie Award in the Best Animated Television/Broadcast Production for Children category.
Uncle Grandpa, executive-directed by Audie Harrison and Casey Alexander. 80+ 11-minute TV episodes and Internet shorts to date. September 2, 2013 to date.
Created by Peter Browngardt and produced by Cartoon Network Studios; a spinoff of earlier Browngardt animated titles. Uncle Grandpa is the babysitter of every child and adult. He drives from house to house in his Recreational Vehicle with Belly Bag, his talking red fanny pack; Mr. Gus, an anthropomorphic green dinosaur/dragon; Giant Realistic Flying Tiger, a realistic photo cutout of a tiger that flies; and Pizza Steve, a talking pizza slice. Every house they stop at is the home of a child who has a problem that they solve.
Steven Universe, supervising directors Kat Morris and Joe Johnston. 78 eleven-minute episodes to date. November 4, 2013 to date.
Created by Rebecca Sugar and produced by Cartoon Network Studios. In fictional Beach City on the East Coast of America, Steven Universe is a half-human 14-year-old boy with a human father and a mother of the Crystal Gems, ageless alien female humanoid warriors who protect Earth from evil. Steven spends his time as a human teenager, partly helping the other Crystal Gems to fight evil throughout the universe, and partly just hanging out as a human teen. In addition to the regular episodes, there are several Internet short films. Steven Universe has received strong critical praise and award nominations. It was at first weekly, but has switched to releasing “stevenbombs” of five episodes at a time shown daily for a week, followed by weeks or months of no new episodes.
These are the seven 2013 TV cartoon series that Funny Animals and More shares a three-year-anniversary with. Happy viewing!
Next week: Back to Forgotten Japanese OVAs.
The funniest Teen Titans Go! Episodes Were Black Friday a parody on A Christmas Carol where Starfire learn the true meaning of Black Friday (the annual “Free for all brawl” at the malls on the day after Thaksgiving) and Second Christmas a parody on How The Grinch Stole Christmas where the Teen Titans convince Starfire that there’s such a holiday called Second Christmas
I cracked up over the Christmas episode of the anime TV series “Azumanga Daioh”, #17, July 29, 2002, although I saw it in a DVD boxed set. (Don’t ask why they were broadcasting a Christmas-themed episode in July. It was a zany series.) “Azumanga Daioh” was a very funny Japanese high-school comedy about six girls of different personalities going through the three years of high school. In that episode, the teenage girls are discussing who still believes in Santa Claus. Since Santa Claus is a Western tradition that many Japanese don’t understand completely, anime producers frequently milk it for humor. Anyhow, the girls finally convince naïve Chiyo that Santa doesn’t really exist; he’s just her Father dressed up. Brash Tomo boasts that she always knew that Santa Claus is imaginary, which the other girls accept until they realize that Tomo also believes that reindeer are imaginary. The humor is about the other girls insisting that Santa is imaginary but reindeer are real, with Tomo taking a “Come on; you can’t fool me!” stubbornness.
Come to think of it, there were a lot of great Christmas gags in anime TV episodes, most of them actually broadcast at Christmastime.
Sadly, the creator/producer of Wander Over Yonder, Craig McCracken, recently announced that Disney has canceled the show after the current run of episodes (there are 6-7 still unaired but they will get shown).
Still, the TV animation ‘Class of ’13’ is an above average group.
Mr. Patten, I believe that those Mickey Mouse cartoons were done in ToonBoom Harmony, not Flash. (Just wanted to let you know.) Speaking of the latter, I know plenty of people who used Flash for traditional frame-by-frame animation.
Wasn’t it Mercury Filmworks who provides the animation?