Q. Squirrel Boy is reminiscent of the classic cartoons on Saturday mornings. Was that your goal?
A. Squirrel Boy really is a tip of the hat to the classic Hanna-Barbara cartoons of the 1940s and 1950s, like Tom and Jerry. I was going for that classic feel when creating the look of the show. Also, I wanted to play the parents in the show as having emotional depth, and not as buffoons.
Q. Where did you grow up?
A. I grew up in Oceanside, California, not too far from San Diego. Then, I went to Long Beach State in California, and now I live in Encinitas. I guess you could say Iím a California boy.
Q. Who were some of your early influences?
A. Before I knew anything it was Walt Disney Ė thatís all I knew. I equated his films with art. Then later on, it was Ward Kimball. When I was growing up there were no finely-tuned programs for kids like there are today. So you just watched what was on, like Felix the Cat. In high school I loved drawing with pen and ink and I got into Paul Clay, Mort Drucker, Saul Steinberg and Milton Glaser. And, of course, early underground comics by Robert Crumb.
Q. Describe the process of creating a new character.
A. Itís a simultaneous process. Generally, I get ideas from sketching people. I like to sit back, get a cup of coffee, watch people and sketch. With Duckman, I sketched him with a big muscle suit on. I like characters that are blowhards. I love that type of character and the relationships that character has. For me, it comes from drawing, and Iíll make notes in the margin and have the character saying something. Eventually, you build up a catalogue of characters to draw.
Q. What is your approach for Squirrel Boy?
A. I suppose itís what I like - funny, smart, good natured stuff. Squirrel Boy appeals to kids, but parents will like it, too. I wanted to do a backyard-around-the-house-kind of show. Itís kind of like Saturday morning every day on the show. We donít focus on Andy in school or Mr. Johnson going to work. With Squirrel Boy, I wanted to take a less cynical approach. There is so much stuff out there right now that relies on pop culture references. I just wanted to try something had a good-natured feel to it. A couple of buddies. Something with a friendly feel.
Q. What was your favorite part of putting together Squirrel Boy?
A. The writing. The first time you see the visual with the audio Ė thatís exciting. The animatics and the recording sessions are great. Richard [Horvitz] is taking the character Rodney to new places. Once we get the film back for editing and start adding the music and the sound effects. Itís all a great process.
Q. Discuss the classic look of the show.
A. I wanted to make Squirrel Boy look brighter than real life and have the viewer feel like jumping into the cartoon. I wanted it to look like a bright Saturday morning. The elements; the trees, the Johnsonís house, their car, all have their own personality. Not literally of course, the car is not going to talk, but itís going to stand out. It really adds to the overall feel.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring young illustrators just starting out?
A. Having taught college for years, I told my students to develop a point of view, a way of looking
at the world. Youíll make it fit your point of view. If you have one, it will all fall into place.
Source: Cartoon Network Pressroom (Now defunct)