Live from beautiful downtown Burbank…
…or at least that’s what Gary Owens and Johnny Carson always said. But, I’m actually not in Burbank right now and probably getting a bit ahead of myself.
First, I need to take you back to last summer. It was around July or August that my friend Susan suggested that I should connect with her long time friend Dan Povenmire on on Facebook. I had met Dan a short lifetime ago when he and Susan both attended the University of Southern California and I remember him as an enviously talented cartoonist with a very fun and clever comic strip called Life is a Fish that ran in the USC Trojan. Over the years, Dan’s cartooning led him into animation where he worked on shows like Hey Arnold!, The Simpsons, Rocko’s Modern Life and SpongeBob SquarePants. As a matter of fact, the last time I saw Dan was in 1999, when I visited him while he was directing on Family Guy.
Soon after becoming Facebook friends, Dan messaged me and asked if I would be interested in coming out to write and storyboard on his show. Now before I continue, there’s something unusually un-American about my life that I should explain. About five years ago, for several mostly good reasons, my wife and I made the decision to drop our cable television service. That, combined with the poor broadcast reception in our area, resulted in my family no longer watching television. So, when Dan said “his show”, I just assumed he was referring to someone else’s show that he was directing. As it I turns out, Phineas and Ferb is not only a one of Disney’s hottest properties, it was actually created by Dan and his friend Jeff “Swampy” Marsh. So, it turns out, it really is his show.
“Congratulations!” I said over the phone, “I had no idea Phineas and Ferb was your show.”
“Well, my name’s really big in the credits,” Dan replied.
He was right. It is.
I was still very surprised that he wanted me to come out and work on his show.
“Aren’t there any artists or writers in L.A.?”
“Yes, there are,” he said. “Just not that many who do both.”
It seems that Dan’s invitation was based on his memory of a series of comic strips I had done to send to syndicates back in 1985 called “Mugg’s Place”. His recollection was that it was funny. It wasn’t. But, it’s highly improbable that he’ll ever see it again, so we’ll just keep that secret to our selves.
So, speeding this rambling story along, by the end of October, I was in Los Angeles, not only to see if I was a good fit for the show but, more importantly, if the show was a good fit for me. I spent six weeks partnered with the very talented Josh Pruett, writing and rewriting, boarding and re-bording an 11 minute episode of Phineas and Ferb. It might be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but in the end it was very worth it. The crew are some of the most talented people I’ve ever met and just being there was very humbling. And, I guess it was a good fit — they asked me to stay on and I said “yes.”
Now, I’m back in Florida looking forward to the big adventure ahead of me. Over the next 6 weeks I’ll be busy sorting, selling, trashing and packing for the big move to Southern California. It promises not to be easy (or cheap), but I’ve learned the hard way not to walk away when a door like this opens.
To be honest, at this point, I’m not completely sure of all the ways this new job will effect Red’s Planet. In the long-term-big-picture-whole-enchilada thing, I’m hoping for an amazing time of artistic growth that will strengthen my writing and storytelling. But, the short term? I can only say for certain that Chapter Three won’t be posting any time soon. It’s close, but there’s still much to do. My hope is to continue once my family and I are settled in California, but that really depends on my contract with Disney. Entertainment contracts can be very scary things, sometimes restricting your own creative works and even giving rights to the company with legal language like “throughout the universe in perpetuity” — which, evidently, means that you can’t just go to Alpha Centauri or Zeta Reticuli and claim Mickey Mouse is your creation.
Hopefully, I should know more about the legal aspects in the next month or two. But, please don’t worry, Red’s Planet is a long term project and I will not be abandoning it. I do need to make sure that it is protected and not jeopardized by my new gig. As many of my readers know, my dream is to write and draw my own stories and eventually make a living doing so. But until that day comes, I can’t pass up jobs like this one when they smack me right in the Facebook.
I’ll keep everyone posted on the progress of our adventure from time to time here in the blog, but for more spontaneous updates, make sure you follow Red’s Planet on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news on what’s going on.
See you soon!