The Michigan native, who grew up watching cartoons talks about how he eventually found his way to Cal Arts, going on to work on the "Johnny Bravo" cartoon at Hanna-Barbera with then fellow newcomer, Seth MacFarlane, working with Fred Seibert (Frederator), how he gets inspiration, and his latest project, the Noog Network!
Butch also talks about "The Fairly Oddparents", including the recently announced "The Fairly Oddparents" season 10!
In the interview, Butch reveals that the reason why Timmy Turner will have to share his wand-wielding wish-granting fairy godparents, Cosmo and Wanda, with new cast member Chloe Carmichael, an enthusiastic, funny and over-achieving little girl voiced by Kari Wahlgren, will be because there currently a shortage of fairies in Fairy World! Butch also reveals that Chloe is named after his niece!
Additionally, Liberty University's Green Hall is currently hosting a art exhibit dedicated to artwork created by Butch Hartman! The exhibit will be on display through Saturday 17th October 2015.
From The News & Advance:
'Fairly Oddparents' creator Butch Hartman to show work at Liberty UniversityAlso, from Richmond Times-Dispatch: Education:
Some of the fondest memories adults today possess involve waking up, rushing down the stairs and pouring themselves a bowl of cereal just in time for Saturday morning cartoons.
Hours filled with "Doug," "Looney Tunes" and "Rugrats" provided a perfect start to the weekend.
But for most kids today, the Saturday morning cartoon is a lost concept. With hundreds of TV channels and access to the Internet, YouTube and Netflix, kids can pick and choose what they want when they want it.
"It's kind of a make-your-own entertainment society now, so we really have to fight to be seen," cartoon animator Butch Hartman said in a phone interview from his studio at Nickelodeon in Burbank, California.
Hartman created Nickelodeon's "Fairly Oddparents," which began as a short before it was developed into a full-length animated series. The show follows a neglected 10-year-old named Timmy Turner who escapes his loneliness and finds adventure thanks to his fairy godparents, Cosmo and Wanda.
"There's so much to choose from that getting any kid's attention is very tricky so I try and put as much fun and heart and comedy in my shows as possible so kids will gravitate towards them."
Hartman, whose art will be featured in an exhibit that opens at Liberty University Sept. 17, knows what he's talking about.
The creator of such Nickelodeon shows as "Fairly OddParents," "Danny Phantom" and "T.U.F.F. Puppy," the animator has worked in the cartoon industry for almost 30 years. A lover of cartoons since childhood, he graduated from the California Institute of Arts in Valencia, California, the school founded and created by Walt Disney in the early '60s.
Hartman went on to become a character designer and storyboard artist for Marvel Productions and, later, Ruby Spears Productions, which co-produced seasons one through five of "Alvin and the Chipmunks."
Eventually, he moved to Hanna-Barbera, the company behind many famous cartoons, including "Scooby-Doo," "The Smurfs" and "The Jetsons" and, in the early '90s, was there during the launch of the Cartoon Network.
"It wasn't just Hanna-Barbera the cartoon studio anymore, it was going to be a network and that was exciting," he said of the experience. "That was a big transition, going from working on shows that had already been established like 'Tom and Jerry,' 'Droopy' or 'Flinstones' ... to all new shows like 'Dexter's [Laboratory]' and 'Cow and Chicken' and 'Johnny Bravo,' kind of establishing a whole new generation."
Eventually, he started working for Nickelodeon on "Oh Yeah, Cartoons!" There, he created a short he called "The Fairly OddParents," which eventually grew into a full-length animated series.
The show follows a neglected 10-year-old named Timmy Turner who is often left with his horrendous babysitter. Timmy manages to escape his loneliness and find adventure thanks to the help of his fairy godparents, Cosmo and Wanda.
The idea for "Fairly OddParents" grew out of Hartman's desire to find a way to move his main character from place to place without being beholden to the traditional story scene transition.
He said he thought about using science, but at the time of the series' development, Cartoon Network already was producing an incredibly successful show called "Dexter's Laboratory."
With that option out of the picture, Hartman went with magic, but instead of giving it to his main character, he decided to give him a magical friend.
"So I thought, 'Maybe I'll do a Cinderella thing with a fairy godmother,' so I drew Wanda ...," he said as he recalled the story he's told so many times. "I drew this character and I thought, 'Well, I've never seen a fairy godfather before,' so I drew a fairy godfather, which was Cosmo. The rest is kind of history."
Over the years, "Fairly OddParents" has played host to a variety of special guests who have lent their voices to the show, including Chris Kirkpatrick of 'NSYNC as pop star Chip Skylark, comedian Jay Leno as comic book hero the Crimson Chin and actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Wanda's sister, Blonda.
Nickelodeon recently renewed the series for its 10th season.
"I'm so excited I can't even tell you," Hartman said, his glee bubbling over the long-distance connection. "I'm so excited people want to even see the show anymore. We've been doing it now for 14 years; we're going to keep going."
Hartman continues to write, direct and produce his shows and develop new ideas, one of which is the Noog Network, his own self-funded iPhone app for children ages 6 to 14.
"I've always wanted to start my own network where I could basically do anything I want," he said. "It has original cartoons, original games, original live-action shows. It's so exciting because it's a world I've created and I get to play in and do anything I can think of."
During his exhibition opening this Thursday, Hartman will be drawing for interested attendees to raise money for Watersprings Ranch, a long-term residential home for abused and neglected children in Texarkana, Arkansas, with which his own charity, the Hartman House, is partnering.
Before his arrival at Liberty, Hartman talked about his career in animation, his new projects and his beloved show:
What cartoons did you watch growing up?
"I watched pretty much every cartoon there was back then. I watched mostly Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck cartoons, Warner Bros. stuff. I watched a lot of Hanna-Barbera, like 'The Flintstones,' 'The Jetsons' and 'Tom and Jerry,' things like that. … I loved all the Disney cartoons 'cause they looked better, but they didn't really show them on TV that much. Back when I was a kid, we didn't really have VCRs or video tapes, so if you missed the 'Charlie Brown Christmas Special,' you didn't get to see it until next Christmas."
How has the industry changed with cartoons becoming more accessible?
"When you have entire networks devoted to cartoons, like Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney, you really just have to stand out. You can't play it any different than that. Standing out is very tricky, but you definitely don't want to stand out in the wrong way.
"A lot of cartoons want to go for the gross-out joke. People think kids like gross-out jokes only and they don't. Kids gravitate toward good storytelling, like we did when we were kids. The good stories are always going to win out over the gross-out jokes, so I focus on stories first and if we need to, we'll do something gross. But I really try and keep that to a minimum.
"The way it's changed too [is] there's a lot more younger people in the industry now. Before, cartoons were drawn by a bunch of older people. But now you've got kids coming out of school — they're 18, 19 years old and they're making their own shows already. So, there's a lot more of a youthful vibe to the cartoon industry than ever before."
You grew up wanting to work for Disney, when did that change?
"Disney to me was always this castle on a hill where I felt I really had to be good enough. … And at [the] time when I was younger, I didn't feel I was good enough to even try, so I worked at a bunch of TV animation studios to get better and before I knew it, I fell in love with the TV industry and just stayed. … For a movie, you work on it for three years and it's one story, but with 'Fairly Oddparents' or any other show I do, I get to tell multiple stories a week. So I'd rather do multiple stories than one long story."
I read once upon a time that Jorgen Von Strangle from "Fairly OddParents" was inspired by Arnold Schwarzenegger?
"That's true, it was. That was totally true because I thought it'd be very funny to have this really huge, buff tough guy be a fairy. Who's the leader of the fairies? And we thought it'd be kind of funny to — we first thought a little tiny fairy, a little old man fairy. [Then] no, it'd be really funny if Arnold Schwarzenegger was the fairy and it was a fairy academy, it was like the most anti-fairy place to become a fairy. We thought it would be funny if they had to go do push-ups and lift weights and things like that, way different than what people thought."
Compared to the other shows you've created, what makes "Fairly OddParents" the most special?
"I think it's the heart of the show. I think it's the character dynamics between Cosmo, Timmy and Wanda. They all love each other as a family, and I think that's what it comes down to. Timmy loves his fairies like his family and they love him. And so, I think everybody responds to love and that's I think, that's the best part. Any character dynamic you could say [for] any show that's lasted for a long time, when the key characters love each other, that's what people respond to."
Can you tell us what your iPhone app is?
"It's called the Noog Network. If you go on [there], you'll see the land of Noog, which is an island. And there's these little fuzzy characters, named Noogs, that live on the island. Whenever a kid goes on the Noog Network, they get a free Noog and they are guided around the network with this … character. They can watch TV, they can play games, they can watch cartoons and they can earn points every time they watch something and buy more Noogs with their points. It's a lot of fun, and it's constantly growing and I'm going to be adding a new show this month and next month and the next month after that. Every month I want to add a new show, so we're working very hard behind the scenes on the weekends."
How is creating for an app different than creating for TV?
"Every show I'm doing on the Noog Network is shorter, all the cartoons are only 30 seconds and all my live action shows are two minutes or under. So, [they're] very short and sweet right now. And also since I'm paying for everything, I'm very budget conscious."
What will be included in the exhibit at Liberty?
"I'm showing a collection of stuff. Original creations I've done. [I'm] showing some animation drawings of 'Fairly OddParents,' … 'T.U.F.F. Puppy' and 'Danny Phantom,' some colored cells from 'Fairly OddParents' and 'T.U.F.F. Puppy.' I'll be showing some original presentation art I've created when I pitch a new show — new shows that haven't been on TV yet, but it's the presentation art for them."
What advice would you give to kids interested in becoming animators?
"I would just say keep practicing. If you want to be a cartoonist, it's like baseball, you've got to practice to get good. So practice as much as you can ... keep practicing and don't give up."
Between creating and animating TV shows, Butch Hartman and his wife started Hartman House, a non-profit foundation that celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. The non-profit travels to developing nations and poverty-stricken regions in the U.S. offering aid to communities in need.
How did Hartman House come about?
"We were at our church one week years ago and this lady came and spoke. ... She had actually started an orphanage in Haiti and she was having some trouble getting some baby supplies, like kids clothing and food, out of Haitian Customs. So we ended up giving her the money to get it out of Customs. And we thought [that] we could do this all the time, so we ended up partnering with the orphanage and decided to just partner with whoever needed our help."
What types of projects has the organization done?
"We provide school scholarships. We do home makeovers. We've built houses in Guatemala. We've helped out a church in Uganda — we built a radio antenna for them. We've done Thanksgiving giveaways where we give away turkeys and all the fixings; we've given away up to 700 turkeys in one Thanksgiving."
For more information about the foundation, visit http://dev.hartmanhouse.org.
If you go
What: "Butch Hartman: Cartoon Creator" solo exhibit
Where: Liberty University’s Art Gallery, Green Hall, Room 1955
When: Opens with a reception from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 17 and remains up through Oct. 17
Info: (434) 592-7629 or www.liberty.edu
Related events: Hartman will speak about his life, career and spiritual experiences from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 16 in DeMoss Hall, room 1113
Nickelodeon cartoonist's work on display at LibertyOriginal sources: ToonZone Forums members SweetShop209 and alfa9delta. Additional source: Liberty University.
Cartoon creator Butch Hartman draws a commission piece at the opening of his art exhibit at Liberty University. TOBI WALSH/LYNCHBURG NEWS AND ADVANCE
Cartoon creator Butch Hartman draws a commission piece at the opening of his art exhibit at Liberty University.
Hundreds of people crowded the hallways of Liberty University's Green Hall for the opening of the Butch Hartman art exhibit Thursday evening.
"It's been fantastic. [Liberty] has treated us better than anyone," Butch Hartman said. "I feel like Ted Cruz. I'm not Ted Cruz. I'm not running for president, but I feel like Ted Cruz."
Hartman, the creator for Nickelodeon shows like "Fairly OddParents" and "Danny Phantom" said he was shocked by how many college students grew up watching his cartoons.
"It's been a thrill and honor," he said about being part of their childhood. "I've been trying to talk to as many of them as I can. I wish I could sit here all night and talk to each of them more."
Attendants browsed the gallery which featured original animation cels and storyboards of Hartman's television shows. Many were wearing T-shirts featuring the same characters displayed on the walls.
Around the corner in another classroom, old "Danny Phantom" cartoons played as college students and children alike made paper crowns like their favorite fairies.
Hartman even drew commissions of his characters with all the proceeds going to Watersprings Ranch in Arkansas, which provides counseling for abused and neglected children.
The cartoonist spent most of the week talking in art classes on campus. On Wednesday, the university hosted a forum where Hartman encouraged students with stories from his own colorful career.
That forum struck a chord with Liberty faculty member Josh Wilson.
"I got to hear how [Hartman] grew up watching old 'Hanna-Barbera' cartoons and practiced drawing in front of them," Wilson said. "Which was funny, because I grew up practicing drawing in front of 'Fairly OddParents.'"
For Wilson, hearing the cartoonist speak reaffirmed things he was trying to do in his own artistic career.
"I've just trying to soak up everything I can," he said. “[Hartman] talked about not having fear and taking risks. I think that's something we can all take away for our lives and careers."
Liberty graduate Meghan Hedrick said as a graphic designer, she was inspired by seeing some of Hartman's work.
"This is exactly what I want to do," Hedrick said. "I love combining stories with drawings."
Rachel Woolard said she thought the event was a great success.
"It's been fun," she said. "Many people from the community have been talking with students and professors. There's been a great energy."
As an artist trying to find her own style, Woolard said it's been great to hear from someone as established as Hartman.
"It was amazing watching him draw," she said. "He's so passionate."
The exhibit will be open on campus until Oct. 17.
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