Whenever I’m asked for advice on breaking into the business, I invariably steer young writers towards animation.  In general, it’s far more open to first-timers and allows these fledgeling screenwriters to hone their craft AND get paid while doing so.  It’s how I got my start, as I was reminded today over breakfast with my old friend, and fellow writer, Anne-Marie Perrotta.

I started freelancing in animation, then eventually moved on to development, story-editing, then transitioned to young adult programming (Student Bodies), from there to action-adventure and, eventually, Stargate, etc.

But those animation years, that now seem so long ago, were a real blast…

The Busy World of Richard Scarry

The first script I was ever paid for was an episode of this series titled “Patrick Pig Learns To Talk”.

The Little Lulu Show

This one was a little more fun, a little less…earnest than a lot of the kids’ programming being produced at the time.

Animal Crackers

This one I developed for television, story-edited, and wrote for.  An underappreciated gem!

Mona the Vampire

I developed this one for television and wrote a number of episodes.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not

Developed for television and wrote a few episodes for this somewhat unmemorable co-production.

Caillou

Developed this one for television and wrote some episodes.  This one was based on a popular French-language children’s book series named after the main character, Caillou – which translates to Pebble in English.  The executives at the company I worked for went back and forth on what to call the kid in English.  Since “Pebble” was too close to “Pebbles” from The Flintstones, they floated “Lollipop” for a while before eventually giving in and just sticking with the original French name.

The Adventures of Paddington Bear

Developed this one for television and wrote a bunch of episodes.  Great memories from this one mainly due to involvement of author Michael Bond’s involvement early in the process.  He was a quirky, very funny man.

Flying Rhino Junior High

I story-edited this one for the CBS Saturday Morning line-up (Remember when cartoons would air on Saturday mornings?), and also wrote a handful of episodes. One of my last animated projects, but this one was a lot of fun.

George and Martha

I remember jumping at the chance to write for this, one of my favorite children’s book series.  One of my few animated efforts I would happily rewatch.

Crazy, hunh?

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Shana
Shana

New you got your start in animation, but never knew all the shows you worked on. Loved this post.

RhythmVariations
RhythmVariations

Wait… Cartoons no longer air on Saturday mornings? I think I may be watching too much cable news…

Avocado Poster
Avocado Poster

They don’t air on Saturday mornings anymore…except for KidsClick (it’s an actual block, but it’s on the diginets ThisTV and TBD; Sinclair-owned stations air it, too), but even that consists of reruns (I kinda wish the block produced and aired original shows of its own).

gforce

Wow, that’s quite an impressive resume of animation! (I mean that seriously.) Those are some pretty well known shows.

Question for when you’re feeling mail-baggy: Is developing an animated series for production similar at all to a live action one? I would think it would have challenges of it’s own, but is one easier or they just different?

Patrick Pig Learns to Talk was brilliant, btw.

Rita

I love George and Martha!! I think the fact that the shows are 30 minutes which is like 26 pages let’s folks hone their craft. Plus they can be so creative. I don’t like adult cartoons like Bevis and Butthead as much as the gentle ones you mention.

Do you like the Ghibli animae? Princess Monoke and Nausica plus Spirited Away?

Duptiang
Duptiang

I just spent 40 mins talking to my friend in Thailand but not in English. With your friend Anne-Marie Perrotta pictured above it’s a wonder why you haven’t left the business.

Line Noise
Line Noise

I didn’t realise you’d worked on so many animation projects. I don’t know if any of them made it to Australia (Paddington probably did) but I suspect I was probably in the wrong age demographic to have seen them if they did.

I used to have a Richard Scarry book in the ’70s and would spend hours trying to spot all the little details in the pictures.

Tammy Dixon
Tammy Dixon

I’ve seen some of those advertised. My kid was born in 1995, so I think we must have aged out when these shows were on. His first shows were Barney and Teletubbies. Then we went into Power Puff Girls and such. Sadly, we did not miss out on Shark Boy, Lava Girl….

Thanks Ponytail for the good travel wishes!

gforce

Some of Joe’s brilliant work on AC!

https://youtu.be/0pkPcAM0UvM

Colleen Scott
Colleen Scott

I know so many of these shows and appreciate that you had so much to do with their excellence.

maggiemayday

I was raised on Bugs Bunny and Secret Squirrel and Quickdraw McGraw, and when we lived in Hawaii, random anime like Princess Knight. Fractured Fairytales and Bullwinkle, and Yogi Bear. Good times, eh Boo-Boo? Now all we get is Dr. Chris Pet Vet and Lucky Dog.

Duptiang
Duptiang

Just watched S1 E1 of Dark Matter. It holds together well. Nice tight writing and no wholes I could see or brought to mind. I am still waiting to see Melissa’s new work as it is scheduled for this fall. Oddly, a question about Nathan Fillion’s new show was on the trivia contest at my go to bar this week. Since I am a constant reader of this Blog, I was able to answer the question correctly for my group.
Local brew for a local trivia contest.