Date

Merchandise

It’s hard grappling with the state we are leaving this planet to our children. When it comes down to what we can do ourselves, there are many options. But one I think about is decreasing the amount of “Stuff” we buy. It’s really an extension of our hunting instincts with a flash of feel good when we score something. Then it quickly goes away and the item sits on our shelf. Or at times we try and add to our identity, when we want to align ourselves with something we buy.

When it comes to merchandise for a show, a lot of people look at it as a symbol of success for a cartoon ( ala Spongebob) . I’ve never had a show with a large amount of merchandise, but a lot of people ask about it for whatever show you are working on. It’s a nice acknowledgement to a created character that others want to own something with it, or a plush or something. And it puts money back into the show to make more, but unless an item teaches something ( and I can think of many Luna items that can) or can be made without harming the environment ( but then tack on the fuel used to get it where it’s going, and the footprint of the stores where it is sold) I’m not really for it. That’s not good news to investors I know, but in the PBS world, it is a way for us to earn enough to do more episodes.

It’s a challenge for all of us. But it’s real, and I believe the science.

3 Responses

  1. Joe I know you might roll your eyes briefly at what could look like armchair quarterback but hear me out- I really do think you can make KaboingTv happen and learn from the past attempt. I’m a huge fan and always rooting for you so bare with me I think you will appreciate the analysis- Last go around it was 2010 and the emphasis of the whole website, essentially the mission statement, was that it was a new venue to bypass the traditional gatekeepers and have a direct connection with the audience, devoid of any network influence.

    The problem though could be summarized by two very closely related points. One was that by that point in 2010, for more than a decade, audiences were used to seeing extremely creator driven projects on TV that at least on the surface, regardless of what happened behind the scenes, didn’t give the viewer the impression that corporate/network interests and influence were derailing the artists vision. Of course not every show but many.

    The other point and even more relevant is this- Kaboingtv was ostensibly about removing gatekeepers, but many websites existed already where any artist could post their work merely by making an account. YouTube and Newgrounds were home to many independent animators. KaboingTv was predicated around removing the concept of the Gatekeeper, but the problem was that for all intents and purposes, Joe Murray was the gatekeeper. There were a whole host of other websites where anyone could upload content, so it wasn’t clear why a website where you personally got to choose what was shown would make viewers feel like they were on a website that had removed the gatekeeper concept. And of course money and other typical network influences weren’t there so you certainly would have been a very different kind of gatekeeper, but again, with all the websites where anyone could upload, why this one? You could say higher quality would always be guaranteed and largely that would have been true, but at the time you were expressing a lot of frustration at the kinds of animations that were going viral deeming them low quality (you cited farting unicorns a few times). I agree farting unicorns is dumb, but if thats what the audiences wanted on youtube they wouldn’t have a ton of reason to move to your website where it was very limited who could post and nothing like that would get through.

    So heres what I’d propose for you and I think would immediately take off with animation fans everywhere- Kaboingtv but anyone can post like on Newgrounds, and you also have “Featured Series” as its own section, where you show Frog in a Suit and other high quality shows you’ve personally picked. Characters from these shows could be the face of the site, appearing on the banner. And heres what I think would make it a massive hit with animation amateurs, professionals, and students everywhere- you personally along with your famous show creator friends and voice actors etc. do screenigns of the work people post! Through very little effort on your own part, you could view once a week the highest rated video posted online and do a little commentary with your friends (via zoom since you’re in Belgium). Takes minutes of effort but people would love the idea that they get to “play with the big boys” if they post their work on the website. And maybe you could have special seals of approval that you and maybe 20 or so of your professional friends could post on any video they see and like, and your comments would appear on the very top.

    You could have certain content rules if you want (definitely make sure inappropriate videos are flagged!) But I do believe by launching a website like this, with ad revenue, you could fund projects like Frog in the Suit for yourself and they’d have way more views now that traffic is driven up to this specific site that heavily advertises it.

  2. Hey Donny, Thanks for this long post. There were many reasons why KaboingTV didn’t work, and yes, you pointed out some of them. Basically, my business model went belly up with the changes in the web environment. I could see the writing on the wall, but kept going anyway. It was worth a try. It might be something to try again in the future but I think it has been tried a few times. But your ideas are great, and might be something to do should we try again.-Joe

  3. Hey Joe, I just wanna say that Rocko’s my favorite cartoon because Rocko is a nice guy who tries to do what’s right. I’m glad to have seen some merch in the 2010’s decade, but I wish he could be a bigger success because he’s star material to me. On the other hand, I’m not that big a fan of SpongeBob because I find him loud and obnoxious, no disrespect to the late Stephen Hillenburg. The only thing I wish for, if there won’t be any more Rocko, is that the Rocko fandom never dies, that Rocko can still at least be acknowledged. Also, stay safe, Joe. You need to do what’s best for you, of course.

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