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» AnimationNation   » General Discussion   » A chat with John K. (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: A chat with John K.
Powerhouse
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John K. lets us in on whats up:

http://lyris-lite.net/johnk_chat.html

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Mindfulwhim
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I was at Spumco for about a year. Made some twisted Ranger Smith and Yogi Cartoons, a few commercials for Old Navy, Cadbury and others.

John hates me. We made an animatic for He-Hog the Atomic Pig and there was a BG with a sign that read "Shhh, torture in progress". I blew it up HUGE on the xerox machine and put it on my office door.

When he would come over to my desk to check my work, I would put my pencil in my mouth so I wouldn't say what I was thinking about his comments.

John had a tendency back then to noodle his drawings and scenes and films so much that he runs out of time and money and has to let his artists go before the films are finished (mostly). I always thought that was an unfortunate choice because people have bills to pay and families to feed.

That was the last job I had in Hollywood before I had decided that I had enough of the place.

John has many credits to his name: The first internet cartoon (Weekend Pussy Hunt), and he showed that cable could get astronomical ratings (R&S) in the early '90's when cable was relatively new.

He is truly a cartoon genius, but he also comes as a package deal with the pitfalls of ego and "issues" associated with tremendous talent and drive.

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OFFBEAT
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quote:
John K.: I got a bunch of the artists together and did a bunch of commentaries. Even a couple Games artists. tomkenny4: Bob Camp?
CRAZYBENDAver2: What about Bob Camp?
baronvonjosho: Do you insult [the episodes], or give constructive criticism?

They ask him about Bob Camp.
ROFLMAO!!!
I LOVE the people of the internet. If they (we) had a motto, it should be: "We push buttons."

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Capt. Wow
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quote:
He is truly a cartoon genius, but he also comes as a package deal with the pitfalls of ego and "issues" associated with tremendous talent and drive.
Isn't this more of a description of an ego- impoverished person? John K. needs to mature emotionally if he wants to get through the angst. It can only drive you so far. Not to say that I haven't been there myself. And I have every confidence that Mr.K can see that too.

But I have to say I value the same qualities as you do in leadership, Mindfulwhim. Why repeat the mistakes of the past? We ought better to learn from them- even within our own minds. Just because some tortured genius had to run his staff through regular financial crisies, doesn't mean there aren't less taxing ways to accomplish the same things.

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Mindfulwhim
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oh *gawd* I must be out of kilter...I have Capt. Wow (a producer) agreeing with me.

John is a good example of an artist/auteur controlling both the creativity and the financial decisions of the filmmaking process. Some would say [perhaps] that this is a good thing.

I just think that when other people's lives and livelihoods are affected by the process, that a happy medium between commerce and quality should be a concern. I am all about making good art, but ot at the expense of paying my student loans and feeding my kids.

Am I still out of kilter? Are my priorities AFU?

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Matt Wilson
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I don't really have too much left to say about John K. He's a complete enigma. He contradicts himself a lot, and confuses me with his opinions. But I don't care. Really, noone should be guiding their decisions or basing their opinions on someone else's tastes or ideals. I'm too disillusioned with Spumco to really comment further. It's none of my business, really.
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-FP-
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The newest uncut, unaired REN AND STIMPYs on DVD? I'll spring fer 'em. I just wish they were out NOW instead of "maybe some day, if you buy all the other REN AND STIMPY DVDs first".
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HopelessDreamer
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Wow! A thread on John K and none of you are openly defecating on the poor guy.

I'm impressed.

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Mindfulwhim
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I just looked for spumco[dot]com and couldn't find it. Does anybody know what happened to the site?
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Matt Wilson
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quote:
Wow! A thread on John K and none of you are openly defecating on the poor guy.
He's free to do and say as he pleases. We respect people's opinions as they post here. Why disrespect his opinions in other locations? If all he wants to do is watch cartoons before 1970, that's fine; there's a treasure trove of animation that one could possibly not completely cover in their entire lifetime. Myself, I'm interested in the here and now, the current state of the television industry, which John K doesn't give a **** about. I think there is room here for both camps.

My problem has always been more with John K's legion of followers than the man himself. I mean I've said some things. but. I could say meaner things about the former.

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Mindfulwhim
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quote:
Wow! A thread on John K and none of you are openly defecating on the poor guy. I'm impressed.
Never tell the real truth about working for someone in LA. They won't hire you, afraid perhaps, of what you might say about them someday.
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Andy Blazdell
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Can someone sum up what the story (i.e. the dirt) is with the Games episodes he's referring to in one paragraph? It's late and I've lost the will to Google... [Big Grin]

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Andy
www.celaction.com

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Vincent
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Nope, sorry.
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Evan Esparza
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^I dont think I can sum it up in one sentence, but the jist is:

John K. has a cartoon for Nickelodeon called Ren and Stimpy. It was very very popular, so due to this John K. felt he was doing something right. Maybe that led to a ego or some kind of "my way or the highway", I don't know, I wasn't there. What I do know is a man named George Liquer was the catalyst for getting John to quit Nickelodeon because he wanted George to voice act the part of Ren and Stimpy's adult owner. Nick didn't like his name (I think it's an obvious and fairly valid claim) to be shown in a kids cartoon...even if the cartoon was gross and more adult in humor.

Needless to say, John K. put all of his eggs in one basket for a fight/showdown that DIDN'T need to happen. It was stupid and in the grand scheme of things, he left and was replaced by GAMECO to finish making the Ren and Stimpy show (since Nick owned it, not John K.)

He is probably one of the best animators I have ever seen, yet he needed to pick and choose his battles a lot more wisely.

The word Primadomma is often thrown around....

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OFFBEAT
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quote:
Wow! A thread on John K and none of you are openly defecating on the poor guy.

I'm impressed.

John K is a phenomonal Talent. I respect his work immensely. I've been a huge fan of his work for over 10 years now.

I was just noting how an interview goes.. when it is a public online formate.

And for the record.. I've only defecated on the notion that he was better character animator than Bill Tytla. Other than that.. he's an awesomely talented in eyes.

[bow] John K [bow]

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Andy Blazdell
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Thanks Evan, that will do nicely.

And Vincent, thanks for trying... [Big Grin]

--------------------
Andy
www.celaction.com

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monkeydad
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IMHO, John K. is at his best when he's in conflict with "authority". The early R&S were some of the best, most innovative cartoons of the last 20 years - back when he was fighting with Nick. His web cartoons, the new R&S, and other work just doesn't stack up, again IMO. When he has creative freedom to do what he wants, the work suffers. When he has friction from outside, he's a genius.

Not defecating on him, but maybe breaking a little wind in his direction... [Wink]

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Evan Esparza
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*Lights a match*
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Matt Wilson
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quote:
IMHO, John K. is at his best when he's in conflict with "authority". The early R&S were some of the best, most innovative cartoons of the last 20 years - back when he was fighting with Nick. His web cartoons, the new R&S, and other work just doesn't stack up, again IMO. When he has creative freedom to do what he wants, the work suffers. When he has friction from outside, he's a genius.
IMHO, everyone is at their best in that sort of environment. Or has the potential to be. Some people just don't try I guess. Or the struggles become not worth it. It's tough.
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Semaj
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All I have to say at this time is that the only Spumco cartoon that I genuinely liked was the original Ren & Stimpy. Maybe it's because of Spumco's desperation for creative freedom, but there's something about a lot of their cartoons that don't work for me at all. Even the Adult Party Cartoon is a betrayal to the original Ren & Stimpy.
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Evan Esparza
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Since were on this suject and the place is appropiate, I have a huge question I've been wanting to ask but just havent...til now!

Why do people love the old Ren and Stimpy, yet HATE (truly despise) the new adult party version?

I saw a few new ones and I thought they were halarious. The same horrible humor we laughed at as kids. Ren strapping a frog up to a car battery and torturing it was probably one of the funniest things I've seen in animation since Sick and Twisted. I always loved bad taste...and we liked it in the early 90s with the original RS, so what's so new about the Adult Party that gets such hostility? Is it the content? Too vulgar?

I'm not trying to start a lil flame war, I just want to ask this question that's been on my chest for awhile. =)

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Semaj
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quote:
Why do people love the old Ren and Stimpy, yet HATE (truly despise) the new adult party version?
Sadly, APC represented a lot of what's been wrong with Spumco's cartoons since the late 1990's. They try so damn hard to be funny, that they usually put their material into overkill. What we saw in "Onward and Upward" could've easily been done in only 15 minutes; instead, the full half-hour was used for dragged out jokes about testicles, boogers, farts, and the like, a lot of which are sincerely more nauseating than funny. I don't mind the jokes about Ren getting angry, or Stimpy being clueless, unless it helps to IMPROVE the story, not to distract us from it.
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Dan P.
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Evan, if you can't tell the difference between the original cartoons and the "Adult Party" version, then there is nothing we can say to explain it to you.

I mean c'mon!

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Evan Esparza
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Smejah, thank you for explaining it to me. I never looked at it that way and can definitly see many valid reasons in your thoughts!

Dan... "D for effort"

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Russian Judge
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I may have mentioned this before, but at my first Comic-Con, I saw him in a panel with Icebox.com. Every time I aimed my still camera in his direction, he seemed to flinch. Like I was going to steal his soul.

About this matter, what is the difference between a serious artistic disagreement that is a matter of conscience for hte artist, and a temper tantrum? If Kricfalusi was battling for his unfettered art, well...the products since his unfettering didn't strike me as that impressive.

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at http://www.toonmag.com

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Vincent
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I've known John A long time and I've never seen him have a tantrum.

Sorry you didn't like the cartoons, they aren't for everyone.
Luckily there are a lot people that truly get it.
If you only saw a the first couple APCs, then you missed the crew when it hit its stride.
Check out Altruists, Ren Seeks Help, & Stimpy's Pregnant.

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monkeydad
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"Sorry you didn't like the cartoons, they aren't for everyone.
Luckily there are a lot people that truly get it."
Comments like this never cease to amaze me. It's essentially saying that if you don't like it, then you don't "get" it.

It is possible to "get" it and not like it at the same time. And that doesn't take anything away from the work, either. But I never understand the need some have to imply that those who don't like their work don't understand it.

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Capt. Wow
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I am not seeing that people aren't _getting_ it. Only that maybe they're being given the message that they _better get it or else_. Clearly it's not for everybody- so why try and make it that way?
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Vincent
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I meant "Get it" as in, find it funny. Not as in you're too stupid to "get it". Got it?
No pressure from here. Just pointing out that many people do "Get it" and like it.
If you've seen all the episodes and don't like them, that's fine. But I've heard several people make general statements about APC only to find they've seen only one or two of the episodes.

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Methuselah
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But, if the quality of the later eps of the most recent R&S were as good or better than the original, first and second season's dynamite episodes, why wasn't the reaction the same? It got a fair amount of publicity upon its debut-the APC stuff I mean.

Do you think it was a casualty of the erratic airing schedule? Because few TV cartoons(few of any kind of cartoons)have had as strong a following as Ren & Stimpy-that was an absolute explosion. These last, unfortunately, were a "Pfft". [Confused]
Perhaps it needed more momentum, more a running commitment from Spike?Par-whomeever the money guys were...

I do hope that the phoenix rises again, as it's done for lo these many years.

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Vincent
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Did you see them?
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bunny burgerman
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quote:
But, if the quality of the later eps of the most recent R&S were as good or better than the original, first and second season's dynamite episodes, why wasn't the reaction the same?
Basically because people's expectations of such a high profile show will always be higher than what the reality can live up to....

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monkeydad
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Maybe I'm alone in this, but if I don't "get" a show after seeing a couple of episodes, then I generally don't waste my time continuing to watch it. In fact, I make it a point to watch a second ep if I didn't like the first, just in case the first one I see is a bad ep.

Yes, I'm one of those who only saw a couple of eps of APC. If Spike didn't put the good stuff on first to catch an audience, then why should I waste my time on the nebulous hope that better work is a-comin?

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Nuku2
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Regarding the Spumco.Com domain...the site's been down for a few years now, but Steve Worth seems to still own the domain...I checked whois just now and that still seems to be the case.

HTH,
Michelle

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scaredofbees
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Back in '96 or so, I had issues of "Wild Cartoon Kingdom" and "Cinefantastique" that featured Ren & Stimpy and John K.'s debacle extensively. For years I felt bad for the guy, what with the "big bad corporation",( aka Nickelodeon) stealing his show from him. I had a "Nickelodeon sucks and is stupid for removing the genius that is John K." mentality. I had this attitude up until a few years ago when I heard the other side of the story from various ex-spumco employees on various online forums. I still think John K. is something of a genius, but only in the artistic sense. The guy appears to have no business head on his shoulders whatsoever. This was further emphasized when reading or listening to interviews with John K...he came off as rather childish to me. When you are in charge of a bunch of people, you don't put THEIR livelihoods in jeopardy for the sake of a fart joke or something. People work for you because they trust your vision and hope you'll take care of them financially in return for helping you to carry out said vision. It's your responsibility as a "person in charge" not to destroy this trust. John K. broke this bond and then got ticked at those who stuck around with Games so they could pay their bills and feed their families. Such audacity! Imagine the nerve of those people!

John K.’s a really talented guy and I appreciate all his contributions to cartoon culture. I just wish his ego could be tamed so that we could see more of what he has to offer.

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Mindfulwhim
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People have so revered his work, that it seemed to me that the mere mention of any problems at the studio with John brought about instant disapproval from his devout followers.

I remember once pulling an all-nighter for him because I was told by the producer that he wanted to see the work in the morning. Then, I was all ready to show him the stuff and he didn't even take a look at the work for a week.

Once I worked a 28 hour day for him on a cadbury commercial and fell asleep on the floor doing the x sheets (There wasn't any room anywhere else in the studio (Glendale '98) to do the sheets.

After he ran out of money on "Boo Boo Runs Wild" he let me go, I worked for another 3 weeks FOR FREE to finish the film for him. He had the nerve to yell at me (for something stupid) at 6 pm on a Saturday night when I was working for free! I split and never went back.

Once at UCLA he was scheduled to give a talk in Melnitz Theater (at the Film School) and he didn't want to do it because he thought that he should talk in the Arena. THE ARENA? That's an ego gone amuck!

Those are absolutely true stories. And if I am telling you these stories, Imagine the stories that I am NOT telling you (because they are inappropriate for open discussion).

Well, John has a legacy though. Many of the fantastic artists that are in the biz today got their start with him. Many of the cartoons that we see on TV are influenced by his work (you can see it everytime there is a sound effect when the eyes blink or the head moves). Spongebob and many others are filled with artists from Spumco.

I was chose to work for John because I wanted to learn his "edgy" timing.

Be careful what you ask for.

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Luna
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I had the unique experience of working with John K in the early 90's, back when he still was in control (barely ) of R&S at the original Spumco studio in Hollywood. I got the late night panic phone call...old friend...do me a favor and go check out this cool project being done by this maniac...it's in trouble and on the verge of being yanked by Nick for being incredibly over schedule. I'd seen John K's work years earlier in an apartment in Taipei he had abandoned and which was then being lived in by another aquaintance. We spent an evening eating currey and drinking and laffing our as*es off looking at his sketches ( wish I'd kept em now ) I'd also heard rumors, via Greg Vanzo of his original Ren Hoek pilot cartoon and his difficulty of getting it off the ground as a series...but I diverge...So I go...get dissed by the staff on entering the old Spumco studio in Hollywood...meet the on-sight producer who is gnawing her fingers down to the knuckle....then meet the man. They need sheet timing...and fast. Fine....Mr. K then proceeds to give me the greatest hand out by a director to a sheet timer ever experienced by mortal man. He does all the acting, voices, poses, timing, right there for me to absorb....jumping up on the table and the whole nine yards. More a challenge for the memory than anything else. I go home. Do my sheets. Note the hook up problems. Bring em in. John K confronts me on the hook up notes. I confront back ( I out weighed the twirp by at least 100 lbs. ) He seems to see the light. Actualy complimented me on a job well done. I did more sheets for him later, if memory serves. Over all, a very positive experience. I liked the guy.... thought he was a genius actually. Later, when I was producung for Disney TV, I met him again in the old Sam Horta facility that was doing the original R & S cartoon post. He seemed a changed man and not for the better. Scowling with a new severe hair cut and a "My sh*t don't stink" attitude. Didn't even bother to recognise my existence. Whatever...I've been in Hollywoood a long time so attitude just rolls off my back. Anyway..my personal experiences with Mr. K were...well....worth sharing?
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Mindfulwhim
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"A cynic is an ideologue who has been burned too many times". That's what I think happened to John.

I really wanted to like him, but his attitude towards others not only ruined my opionion of him, but sent me packing from Hollywood and the animation film business, and I never looked back.

John has a charismatic personality and attracts others to him, like the popular [but cruel] kid in grade school who pulls hurtful practical jokes and takes lunch money from the weaker kids.

The behavior often struck me as infantile and this trait, coupled with the power to affect others' lives, is a dangerous combination.

I hope he reads this and starts to understand, but it seems unlikely.

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Ganklin
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hmm, after reading though that chat, i gotta say they guy doesn't have his head screwed on, and it really makes me wonder how he is even still in the buiseness. his deffinition of "good" is positively skewed to such a ludicrous degree. because one doesn't draw like preston blair, or some throwback to the '70's its no good? come on.

however, one interesting point i picked up on in the article was his mention of cell phones--especially in the light of adobe's aquisition of macromedia. adobe's press release on its site goes on and on about "mobile technology". perhaps our next itteration flash will abandon its already precarious tools for TV production, and instead focus on making content for cell phones?

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http://fsummers.blogspot.com/
www.shamoozal.com

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Semaj
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The thing that bugs me most about John is his unjustified, almost-sickening hatred of Disney animation. In some interviews, he mangles the brilliance behind Snow White by accusing Walt Disney of being the "anti-cartoony" alpha-male and that kind of crap, and then goes on and on about how Bob Clampett INVENTED Warner Bros. animation. http://www.michaelbarrier.com/Feedback/feedback_johnk.htm

One thing I'D like to know is if the Fleichers were "leagues ahead of Disney", then why did they spend their last four years of business copying Disney? http://mag.awn.com/index.php?ltype=pageone&article_no=2214&page=3

The guy needs to understand that there's NO authentic method to making a cartoon. Animation is a field of many ice cream flavors; if you limit yourself to just one flavor, you're planning your own funeral.

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