I work in animation. I am in hell. I am back.

Sunday, March 4, 2007


Where do I even begin...

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.

The trouble is, "good" animation writers are extremely rare... in two-and-a-half decades of experience, I think I've worked with four good writers at the most. And they, naturally, were either drummed out of the industry by producers who don't know a good storyteller from a hole in their ass or they got smart and moved into other mediums.

Please note that when I use the term "good", I don't mean that subjectively... I don't merely refer to writers who create scripts that I personally find entertaining... I just mean "good" in the sense that they can create a script with an actual beginning, middle and end that makes sense, works within the boundaries of the animation medium and fits the timeframe of the project.

Generally speaking, an eleven-minute cartoon script should be around 11 pages long (give or take a page or two). The rule of thumb among anyone who actually understands animation is that you plan around a minute per page.

To this day, I have yet to see a script for an 11 minute cartoon that was less than 25 pages long.

Do these verbose hacks think that somehow within the animation process that time and space can be magically bent to fit our agenda?

And CONFUSING... christ almighty... how hard is it to tell a simple story? Who are these idiots who try to fit sub-plots into an 11 minute cartoon about a talking duck? How hard is it to just write something that makes SOME logistical sense?

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'. But animation writers need to realize that they are WRITING FOR ANIMATION! ADJUST YOUR TECHNIQUE TO FIT THE FUCKING MEDIUM YOU LAZY HACKS!

Most animation writers are sad, sorry, failed stand-up-comedians who couldn't break into sit-coms, so they're angry as hell that they must debase themselves by writing for these awful cartoons. They give animation their 'C' material (and their 'A' material usually sucks to begin with) and just keep their fingers crossed that one day they can get a lunch meeting with Sarah Silverman.

What's even more infuriating is that most of these illiterate clowns go on to become producers. Whenever you see 'Produced by' credits at the beginning of FAMILY GUY or SIMPSONS, rest-assured, that person is no 'producer'... they're just a writer who added one lame joke to an already lame script.

You see, executives don't REALLY know what makes a good cartoon, so they rely heavily on the written word. They don't know how to 'watch' a cartoon ("How could the Coyote survive a fall like that?") but they (technically) know how to "read" so they count on these Harvard-Lampoon-Wannabes to put ideas into a form they can understand... ultimately, though, it's like having someone who doesn't speak Japanese translating for you at a Tokyo business meeting.

Of course, most scripts become irrelevant the minute the storyboards are pasted up and everyone sees how senselessly written the story was (the storyboard artist, of course, takes the heat for this and has to cancel his weekend plans to take his kids to the park so that he can do 400 pages of revisions that make even less sense than the original script).

But here's the REAL sign you're dealing with a hack writer: SONGS.

Ever notice how the last seasons of THE SIMPSONS and FAMLIY GUY they seem to have a musical number in every other episode? SURELY you don't think it's merely because these writers actually like musicals do you? Lord no.

Y'see, writers jam musical numbers (which, as we all know, are a pain to animate and usually REALLY gay and awful) into shows and films because the RESIDUALS on a songwriting credit are HUGE.
All you need is writing credit on ONE song and you've got a steady check for LIFE... every single time the song is re-run on television, the writer gets another check. Can you imagine if you wrote just ONE song for ONE episode of The Simpsons (which reruns about a million times a day all over the world) what the cash flow would be? It boggles the mind.

Another surefire sign of a hack writer is CROWD SCENES. It's always easy to make a shitty script seem 'eventful' by having big, huge crowd scenes (riots, amusement parks, concerts, etc.) which, again, are the hardest to animate and most boring to watch.

What's particularly obnoxious about writers is hwo smug they seem to be about their so-called 'talent'... they're convinced that they have some sort of special gift given by the gods.
I'll accept that kind of attitude from Kurt Vonnegut, but not from some dude who shit out a script for 'The Mighty Ducks'.

And, of course, most writers hate artists and will not associate with them. And with good reason. Artists are the only ones who realize just what a scam the writers have going. If more artists managed to become writers (good luck), it'd be over for them.

Once again, however, I should point out that there are one or two good ones out there... we should be kind to them and nurture them. But they are the VAST minority.

But enough of my blabbing... tell your writer horror-stories here and, if you feel compelled, name off the ones you think are the worst of the worst.

Have at it!


Anonymous said...

Crowd scenes can be good if they combine one or mor e of the following elements:

1) nudity
2) explosions
3) lasers
4) robots
5) implosions
6) the undead

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right. FAMILY GUY and the SIMPSONS suck a fucking dick nowadays, as do all the other lame shows on Fox. Fox needs to die. I admire your anger. But FAMILY GUY in particular...Created BY HACKS. Appreciated BY HACKS. FUCKING HATE IT!!!!! I wanna shoot you, Fox executives! Stop trying to make it work you lazy morons, and come up with some less, shall we say, FAGGISH shows. Like Spongebob. Spongebob is INCREDIBLY GAY, but still LESS faggy than FAMILY GUY. Not that Spongebob had any real writers or producers on its staff to begin with.

Abe said...

I happen to agree that FAMILY GUY and SIMPSONS suck, but to say that what's missing from SPONGEBOB are 'writers and producers'? It's SPONGEBOB's LACK of writers and producers that makes it even TOLERABLE.

Everything on TV these days is way over-written and way over-produced. No one 'creates' anything any more.

Anonymous said...

By "failed standup comedian" I think I know exactly who you're referring to. So does that mean that I myself can become a cartoon writer if I bomb onstage at a local talent show? Gee, I wondered how the industry found all the hacks it's hired. The only cartoon writer I know of who's worse than that failed stand-up comedian is a certain chick who wrote a flop book about another failed comedian who drugged himself to death. Naturally this qualified her to write for children's shows. Hell, she's co-creating another kids' show now. Gahh! Thanks for the blog. You've caught a lot of heat for it, but as they say, the truth hurts, and as I see it, it's perfect retribution for those writers who have caused pain for those unfortunate enough to view their work...

Anonymous said...

wow... i want to know who you're talking about!

every show i ever worked on usually has at least one standup comedian and one failed childrens book "writer"

they always suck