At San Diego Comic Con, we were so lucky to interview the Powderpuff Girls cast & writers. Cartoon Network rebooted the series this year with new writes & voices and while change is hard (PPG was one of the defining cartoons of our childhood) we really warmed up to Amanda Leighton (Blossom), Kristen Li (Bubbles) and Natalie Palamides (Buttercup). We also got to talk to some of the writers Jake Goldman & Hayley Mancini (also the voice of Princess Morebucks) and the producers Nick Jennings & Bob Boyle. We talked a lot about how the Powerpuff brand of feminism has been updated for 2016 and what it’s like to be voice actors and what kind of choices go into voicing such iconic characters. There’s so much to talk about!
Steven Universe is one of our favorite cartoons ever and so we were really excited to get to interview them at Comic Con.
We talked to Zach Callison (who is not only the voice of Steven, but also of Prince James in Sofia the First), Ian Jones-Quartey (storyboarded/animator), Michaela Dietz (Amethyst), Deedee Magno Hall (Pearl….who Anya has been singing along to since she was 2 years old — no kidding, Deedee was Jasmine in the Aladdin Spectacular at Disney’s California Adventure), Estelle (Garnet), and Rebecca Sugar, the show’s composer & creator, who incidentally was shattering glass ceilings as the first woman to independently create a series for Cartoon Network! What’s really cool about Rebecca, as you’ll find out in our interview is that she’s a bit of a musical theatre geek like us. She not only got a song idea from Sweeney Todd, but she quotes Bob Fosse too.
It’s a long interview, but if you are a fan of Steven & the Crystal Gems, you need to watch this. The whole cast was so nice and fun. Plus they are very funny. And if like Maddy your life’s dream is to be a voice actor on a cartoon, you will love all the inside scoop on how that’s done.
Anya might have fallen asleep when The Tweeks sat down to watch Cartoon Network’s All-New Adventure Time: Card Wars DVD, but Maddy stayed awake for all 16 episodes and has a totally mathematical review for you. Though Anya manages to tell everyone what she really thinks about Maddy’s obsession with Pokemon Go.
Anyway, back to the Adventure Time DVD! It’s Tweeks approved and has some of Maddy’s all-time favorite episodes along with some newer ones she’s never seen. The video starts out with the original “Card Wars” episode from 2012 and the new “Daddy-Daughter Card Wars” episode about the epic card game (that you can really play).
Available on DVD for $18.94 on July 12, 2106, this DVD runs 176 minutes and features the following episodes:
1. Card Wars
2. Daddy-Daughter Card Wars
3. What was Missing
4. Up a Tree
5. A Glitch is a Glitch
8. Everything’s Jake
9. The Diary
14. (The) Hall of Egress
15. Flute Spell
16. The Thin Yellow Line
Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.
Just when I decided that maybe DC’s “Rebirth” might possibly be worthy – yes, I know, I had the same hopes for Batman v Superman – the other shoe dropped. Back in the 1990s I perceived DC as a centipede, with (obviously) 100 shoes to drop. Now, I’m thinking millipede.
In case you haven’t heard, DC decided to “reimagine” (lord how I hate that word) the classic Hanna-Barbera characters. Sort of like what Archie Comics just did with Archie but, in this case, totally needless.
I have little if any strong attachment to the H-B characters. Even as a kid I knew cheap, shitty animation and sub-standard writing. I loved Rocky and Bullwinkle, which employed even cheaper animation, but after mildly enjoying the first season of The Flintstones I decided life was too short – I was 10 years old – and there were so many Looney Tunes to watch and re-watch. I stuck around long enough to realize Betty was hotter than Wilma and how the hell that little wiener Barney landed her was beyond me. But I digress.
Flash forward to about 1994. I just got my DirecTV wired up and I was ready to rumble. Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies, Comedy Central – my local cable company had none of that stuff at the time. Sitting next to me was my daughter, who was about 19 at the time. We surfed around and landed on Cartoon Network. Adriane went nuts. “Scooby Doo! Scooby Doo!! Don’t change the channel!!!”
Like the other H-B stuff, Scooby-Doo held no attraction for me. In fact, I thought it was an insult to both dogs and to hippies. But Adriane was so enthusiastic and I was so enthralled by the digital broadcast that I stuck with it. It was one of those sort-of feature length crossover movies; I think the one with the Three Stooges. Or Batman and Robin. Same difference.
Fine. There’s nothing that says I have to like it, and those cartoons were more boring than they were rotten. Every generation gets to have its own without the so-called adults pissing on their pleasures and I enjoyed sharing Adriane’s youthful enthusiasm.
(However, Adriane’s all growed-up now and is an editor here at ComicMix. She has the privilege of editing my copy, among others. With great power comes great vengeance. Nonetheless, upon reviewing this column she said “Feel free to point out Adriane was disgusted by the art when it was released in January, worse than she was by Freddie Prinze Jr’s dyejob for the live action movie. Apparently being a grown up means Warner Bros. shits on your childhood in new ways every 15 years or so.”). Mike often wonders where Adriane got that third-person bit.)
But now, just as DC claims to have learned the folly of incessant reboots such as The New 52, comes this.
They’re redoing the H-B characters. Rebooting them. Modernizing them. Making them relevant to a young audience that, quite frankly, does not see the comic book medium as relevant.
Fred and Barney and Scooby and Shaggy aren’t your father’s Fred and Barney and Scooby and Shaggy. Or your grandfathers’. Or… anybody’s. You can see for yourself from the appropriated artwork above.
The idea that Keith Giffen, Marc DeMatteis, Howard Porter and Jim Lee are doing Scooby Apocalypse gives me hope for an entertaining comic book, and on its face it seems like a great idea for a parody. But as the newest incarnation of “the real thing?” It’s like dumping Superman’s red exo-trunks: they’re messing with the American flag.
I assume Jonny Quest will soon be revealed as a weed runner. Hey, Shaggy had to score from someone, and Top Cat really couldn’t be trusted.
Maybe we’ll get lucky and Scrappy-Doo will get hit by a runaway garbage truck.
This past weekend was MoCCA Fest 2016, or for those of you unfamiliar, the Museum of Comic and Cartooning Art Festival. Since 2014 it has been put on by The Society of Illustrators. Once again it was held at a new venue, the Metropolitan West next to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museu. Highlighted guests included Sonny Liew (Doctor Fate, The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye) and Rebecca Sugar (Adventure Time, Steven Universe). As with the past few years, I attended both days.
I was fortunate enough to get into both Sonny Liew’s Spotlight discussion on Saturday and Rebecca Sugar’s on Sunday. Both of these discussions were eye opening not only in the words that were said, but in who was listening to them.
On Saturday, Sonny’s discussion was moderated by his Doctor Fate collaborator, Paul Levitz. And you know that it’s an important discussion when people like Columbia University’s Karen Green and legendary storyteller David Mazzucchelli are sitting front row center for it. Sonny Liew was introduced to me through his work on DC’s most recent efforts to reintroduce Doctor Fate. Being a fan of Paul’s and following his Legion run in the New 52 as well as part of his World’s Finest run, I was looking forward to checking out Doctor Fate when it premiered last year. What kept me going on Doctor Fate was more than just Paul’s ability to craft a story, but Sonny Liew really knocking the art out of the park.
Another important element of this all was the diversity in Doctor Fate. After some 75 years, Doctor Fate is Egyptian in the main DC continuity. Granted, James Robinson and Brett Booth beat Paul and Sonny (not by much, but still) in Earth 2 continuity, but that Doctor Fate didn’t have his own solo title. And Doctor Fate is a character that really should be represented by someone of either African or Middle Eastern heritage. It was a (too) long time coming, but I’m glad DC got there.
Even then, that might not even be most important element of the diversity in Doctor Fate. Sonny Liew is. On the Friday before MoCCA Fest, Sonny and Paul were signing at Midtown Comics Downtown. Sonny Liew is a Malaysian-born artist residing in Singapore that was in town for MoCCA Fest. He’s had worked published on and off for over a decade at both Marvel and DC. His latest works with Doctor Fate as well as new hit creator-owned graphic novel The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye have increased his profile. It’s how I became aware of him, despite loving Marc Hempel’s work and not realizing he also worked on My Faith In Frankie with Marc.
The point I’m getting at is at both the signing at Midtown Comics and the discussion at MoCCA, many people in attendance were of Asian heritage. A young man sitting by me was furiously taking notes and anxiously awaited his turn to ask Sonny Liew a question about how to be a better artist. Non-white women and men were excited by Sonny Liew and engaged in the discussion. This is important. This is the only way comics (and any entertainment medium) can have a future. Different people with different backgrounds and different stories to tell need to feel not only welcomed, but encouraged to participate. Sonny Liew is not only putting out great work on his own, but he’s inspiring other people to as well.
Sunday was about all about Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar. If you were in attendance, you saw some people wearing their red t-shirts with a yellow star in the middle just like Steven Universe’s shirt. Sunday, however, such apparel was a phenomenon. Many people were decked out in Steven Universe merch or homemade creations. A line wrapped around the Ink 48 hotel where the panels were held. I was able to get into the discussion moderated by Ryan Sands, but by then it was standing room only. It was packed to the absolute limit. The excitement was contagious, and if you scanned the room, there was a smile on everyone’s face.
From the moment she began talking, the room hung on to every word she said. She talked candidly about her life and her creations in a way that’s rarely scene at these sort of conventions. She talked with an immense appreciation to all of her fans, and humbly about her roles at Adventure Time and Steven Universe at Cartoon Network. All of the points she made were encouraging ones. She pushed people to create. To always strive to be better. She talked about how Steven Universe is for her brother who is not only her best friend, but someone who helped her to strive and be a better artist. She took out her ukulele at one point and played the song “So This Is Love” from Disney’s Cinderella which meant a lot to her and she only played before in front of Ian, her boyfriend. You can watch that here. It was moving. You could barely hear a pin drop. She even mentioned she wrote some poems and wasn’t planning on reading them, but when everyone in the audience could be heard gasping in delight when talked about her poems, she read one anyway.
Once it came to the audience questions, people of all different ages, races, orientations and gender identities were given a chance to ask her everything from how to be a better artist to how can I geek out in front of you without being scary. It was honestly one of the most diverse groups of people I’ve ever seen at a convention discussion before, if not the most that wasn’t specifically about diversity.
You know why that is?
It’s because the audience Steven Universe has is that diverse. Rebecca Sugar unapologetically explores gender politics, alternative families, queer romance, and much more in a sci-fi cartoon that offers something for a wider audience than most television ever has before, if not offering the most for a wider audience. She also has the honor of being the first woman to solely create a show for Cartoon Network, proving once again that diversity works for everyone. It lifts us all up.
Rebecca Sugar also had advice on comics, the medium in which she started out. She suggested to any artist that wants to break into cartooning, that doing your own comics is the best way to start. No one can stop you from making them. She warned that doesn’t mean people read them, as she states from her personal experience, but it’s the only way you’ll get better. The same holds true for writing. No one can stop a writer from writing writing a script, a poem, a song. The only person stopping you is you. So stop it.
I left MoCCA Fest this year feeling inspired, and I don’t seem to be the only one. Which is good. I even felt less cynical. Having coffee with Molly Jackson after the show, the song “It’s All Been Done” by Barenaked Ladies came on. And you know what? I didn’t believe it this time. I’m never going to believe it again. It hasn’t all been done. So many voices have never been heard. More than we can even comprehend. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. Just you wait.
We need more Rebecca Sugars in the world with a creative voice. A lot more. I wish I was more like her. A lot of people do. And that’s what we all need. This is only the beginning.
Teen Titans Go! is an animated TV show that follows the Teen Titans — Robin, Starfire, Cyborg, Raven & Beast Boy — when they are not saving the world.They live in a T-shaped building (cool) together (so cool) as teenagers (OMG even cooler) without adult supervision (CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE!)It’s based on DC’s Teen Titans, so if you watch closely you’ll see some characters you might know.But you should watch because they have an episode where they just say “Waffles” and one where Robin has to house sit the Bat Cave.They also like to sing.
When we were at WonderCon, we had chance to talk with the show’s producers, Michael Jelenic and Aaron Harvath, as well as two of the voice actors, Scott Manville (Robin) and Greg Cipes (Beast Boy).Teen Titan Go! airs Tuesday night at 6/5c on Cartoon Network.
This week we get mathematical in our review of the newest Adventure Time DVD release, Frost & Fire. Featuring 16 episodes of Cartoon Network’s most random (and therefore most awesome) show heats up with an epic battle between Ice King and Flame Princess. But what about the other inhabitants of Ooo? Are we treated to some Fionna & Cake fan fic? Is there enough Gunter? How much of a jerk is Magic Man?Watch our review and find out.
Sega has pulled out all the stops for the new entries in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. Not only are there two new games for the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, Sonic fans have been treated to a new animated cartoon on Cartoon Network and a new title from Archie Comics, for a total of four if you count the magazine-sized Sonic Super Special. Not bad for a game series that over two decades long.
So you can’t expect me to review just one of them, can you?
“Think twice, and then say nothing” – Chiun, reigning Master of Sinanju
The internet, being computer based, is binary in nature, The same is mostly true of its users. People online view things with either utter apathy or obsessive interest, and tings are either adored or despised. Similarly, people who make the news online are either hero or horror – they are the awesomest person in the history of awesome, or they need to be tied to the top of a mountain and sky buried before they’ve stopped living. There is almost never any in between. So when a story comes along that lies in the part of the spectrum between “yes” and “no,” the Internet often has trouble parsing how to respond.
Clarence is one of Cartoon Network’s new shows, a charming little thing about an optimistic (if slightly odd) young man and his adventures being a kid. It’s become quite the favorite in our household, and I’ve spent no small amount of time preaching its wonders. However, earlier this week it was reported that the show’s creator, Skyler Page, had sexually assaulted another animator at Cartoon Network Studios. The Internet did what it does best: attack. Two camps were quickly formed – those ready to pillory him without question or hesitation, and those assuming this was just another female plot and started demanding proof, assuming that since nobody personally said anything had happened to them, it was all just vaporous lies. That was until Adventure Time storyboard revisionist until Emily Partridge stepped forward. Needless to say, Camp Two immediately began attacking her, while calls to cancel or boycott the show came from Camp One. Virtual pitchforks were rapidly sharpened.
Cartoon Network acted quickly,and removed Page as head of the show. Many creators stepped forward both rightly chastising Page’s actions but reminding people that the show is the work of many talented people, and it should not suffer due to the actions of its creator. Other creators related tales of Page groping them at various times in the past, and things were lining up to be a good old fashioned hate-fest for Mister Page.
But then something very interesting happened. Page’s long time friend Jeff Rowe revealed that Skyler suffers from Bipolar Disorder, and the day of the incident in question, was so far into a manic state that Jeff went with him to an emergency room where Page lay strapped to a bed, “singing They Might Be Giants songs and talking like a cowboy.” He remains, at the moment, hospitalized. Jeff’s post is quite clear when he calls Skyler’s actions “Abhorrent,” but wishes to provide “more context to the conversation.”
CN creator Emily Quinn followed up on this news with elaboration from her experience with Page. He had already been hospitalized once before, after a series of episodes resulting from what Emily describes as not being able to handle the pressure of running a show. Executives at Cartoon Network had responded to these episodes by slowly taking creative control of the show away from Page; the rapid response of the studio after this week’s allegations may be better explained by this history.
The agreement is universal that Page’s issues do not mitigate or excuse his actions, but The Internet is placed in an odd situation – those who engage in sexual assault must be punished and cast out, but those with mental issues must be helped and cared for, and their actions must be seen through the filter of their disorder. The Internet, a binary creature, must now explore the infinite variations of “maybe” that lay between the endpoints of “yes” and “no.” If it wasn’t for the fact that real people have had very serious things done to them, I’d almost be enjoying watching the Internet spiral into a negative feedback loop of “I must and yet cannot.”
A woman – indeed, several women – were harassed and assaulted. The exact details of the assault has not been revealed, save for that it was not rape, and any further detail is None Of Our Goddamn Business. A guy with existing mental issues was placed in a position of responsibility that he wasn’t able to handle, the pressure exacerbated existing mental issues, and during manic episodes did things to co-workers that cannot be forgiven or ignored. That’s a lot more complex than the usual “Guy grabbed a boob – git him!” that The Internet prefers to deal with.
In the modern age, information flies at us thick and fast and there’s a temptation to take the first information we receive, treat as the entirety of the truth, and formulate an opinion so we can get a comment posted as quickly as we can. Sadly, this temptation is also quite prevalent in the established news media, where the first story posted will get all the user clicks. But based on the number of times stories have morphed, or sometimes been proven entirely wrong, it’s approaching the point where people need to remind themselves that a story has many sides, especially one where humans are involved.
When one reads a story online, one could do worse than to treat it with the same level of caution one does when hearing about a new health from a spam email. “What is the evidence behind this story?” one could ask. “Is there another possible explanation for this action? Should I wait for more information before I act or respond?” It seems only fair that as technology becomes capable of processing more and more data at amazing speeds, we try to process a bit more as well, and not assume it’s all true because we read it on a computer screen.