When speaking with several of the most prominent names in television animation, it’s extremely interesting to hear how they became a part of animated programming. Gold Derby recently got to put this question, and others, to Casey Willis (“Archer”), Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett (“Big Mouth”), Wendy Molyneux and Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin (“Bob’s Burgers” and “The Great North”), Patrick Schumacker (“Harley Quinn”) and Mike McMahan (“Solar Opposites”) during our recent “Meet the Experts” panel. Watch the lively group panel above with these seven creative geniuses. Click on each person’s name above to be taken to their individual interview.
For McMahan, he remembers getting into “Ren & Stimpy” as an alternative to going to church on Sundays and “Futurama” because of his love for science fiction, but never thought he would be able to be a part of that field. “I can’t draw, so I never thought that I would particularly–like every great animator I had known of really started off by drawing stuff and then the writing seemed to always come after.” But after working on cartoons including “South Park” and “Drawn Together,” McMahan realized that not being able to draw wasn’t really a boundary to working in animation. “That’s what I started to understand that you can, you can write animation and then meet artists and work with them. You didn’t have to just be drawing and then go in animation.”
Wendy Molyneux, wasn’t an animation writer either, but specifically remembers being absolutely captivated when she saw Loren Bouchard’s initial presentation for “Bob’s Burgers” and heard H. Jon Benjamin yell as the Belcher family patriarch. “It was like the mothership calling me home, the sound of his voice and his yell. It felt so much, it was like meeting the love of your life or something, seeing that presentation.” She and Lizzie knew they both wanted to be a part of the show and secured an interview with Bouchard. “It was like, ‘Okay, well, we’ll go and we’ll see this presentation in person and they will reject us and we will move on with it and it will be fine and we’ll always think of it.” To the contrary, the sisters are still writers on the show over a decade later.
Prior to “Big Mouth,” Levin and Flackett had never written or produced an animated property. They ended up getting into the field because the show’s co-creator, Andrew Goldberg, had previously worked as their assistant. After working for them, Goldberg went to work on “Family Guy.” Flackett admits that she and Levin now love working in animation and wouldn’t mind staying in that format. “It’s very hard. After that first season I was like, ‘Well, I’ll go back to live action.’ And I don’t really have those feelings anymore. I don’t yearn for it at all. I feel so satisfied doing animation.”
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