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Utica Cartoon

Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum

This week, Fran and I were interviewed for the Frenzer Foreman Animation forum. I just listened to the episode, and I was surprised to learn that Fran and I sound totally different. Nobody ever told me that we don’t have twin voices! Also, I goofed on the identity of Baby Bear’s puppeteer. Sorry, Baby Bear.

Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum

Utica Cartoon

Utica Cartoon was my first professional animation project, and possibly my last chance to produce a traditionally-animated cartoon for television. Fran and I left New York City (where we were living in a basement) to go to Providence for the production of Utica Cartoon. Not only was rent cheaper, but we also scored Mike Overbeck and Jesse Schmal at a fire sale price because they were fresh out of school. Hooray!

We set up shop in a little cottage from 1754 that we rented from a local preservation group. It was terrifyingly haunted and had a possum in the basement, but there was also space to set up a stress-relieving drumset so it all balanced out.

As I called to find places to get our cells xeroxed I learned that most businesses that supplied materials and services for traditional cell animation were out-of business or packing up their cell machinery as I talked to them on the phone. That whole Furniture Design degree finally came in handy as I had to build our own light tables, camera stands, and cell pain drying racks. We rented a xerox machine and did all of our own xeroxing and re-registering, and I must have mixed about a gallon of slightly different bear and monkey colored paints.

The pitch went from bible to pilot at a remarkably fast clip, so we had to get rolling quickly! I’d never animated before, so a crash course was started. It all turned out well in the end… well, except for it becoming a series. Our friend Tom Warburton was the lucky one this time around, though we did get to travel to a festival in Turku, Finland with Utica Cartoon. I met some wonderful people and ate lots of liquorice!

The story was inspired by a friend whose plan to beat the local hot dog store’s record was “a blender and a can of sprite.”