Sometimes It’s Hard

Recently someone had posted that they were watching Camp Lazlo episodes and I had no idea they were anywhere to watch them. He told me You Tube so I went on to check them out and saw a video post something about Camp Lazlo gags your parents didn’t want you watch, or something. I was curious so I clicked on it.

The woman who was hosting introduced Camp Lazlo that when it came out it was considered a “SpongeBob Knock Off” and “The beginning of the end for Cartoon Network” but then she went on to say that it had developed a cult following.

It is hard to hear those descriptions of a show that I loved so much. For one thing, yes, my work has similarities to Spongebob because Steve Hillenburg and his original staff all came from Rocko, but Spongebob was (is) much more popular so I get that a lot. Rocko was described as a knock off of Ren & Stimpy, even though I developed it long before I had ever seen an episode of Ren & Stimpy, but people like to say stuff like that.  Not sure about the downfall of Cartoon Network. I had not heard that one before. I shouldn’t be affected so much by these comments, but I’ll get 50 compliments and 2 insults and of course all I focus on are the insults.

In this business you need to have thicker skin. Just thinking about it.

13 Responses

  1. Its alright Joe i love your cattoons anyways inappropriate or appropriate you always make me laugh hope all is well with you and the covid 19 is not in your studio make sure your assistive cartoonists and other staff there wash up before and after inking and drawing just a suggestion. Hope 2 hear soon and i hope to see luna season 2 soon.

  2. I’ve actually never heard that video before. Things like that are honestly just annoying. I do like Spongebob, and I give serious props to the late great Mr. Hillenburg and his crew, though I do honestly believe some of (not all of) the later episodes don’t hold a candle to the earlier ones. With Camp Lazlo and Rocko’s Modern Life, I feel they’re the same level of greatness to the end, with not that many obvious “bad” episodes to pick out, so I disagree with her. I haven’t seen Let’s Go Luna yet, and while I do have a 6 year old sister, she hasn’t seen it yet either.

    1. Thank you Alex. I didn’t want to imply Spongebob was not good. I loved it. I remember when Steve showed me the pilot and I just thought it was awesome. I was sad to lose my friend. Best to you.

  3. I know it’s impossible but I hope eventually it doesn’t phase you. There is a lot of psych studies that show it’s a normal reaction to focus on the outliers. I know a lot of artists that stay away from social media completely. I think a large problem today is the wide spread of opinion as fact. Someone on a youtube channel states their opinion and thousands or millions of people take that as fact and spread it on their own channels. 10 or 20 years ago there was virtually no way you could reach an audience that size.

    As an aside, Rocko has meant so much to me and it was one of the bigger disappointments when I wasn’t able to see you at one of the Rocko readings (although it was still magic). I know it’s silly, but this (and Hey Arnold) shaped who I became. I’m a social worker, now of middle age, and I honestly believe it was because of your show. Maybe Rocko didn’t always do the right thing but in most cases he tried as hard as he could. He helped people and rallied against an impossible system. I do very much the same.

    Thank you again for something very remarkable.

    1. There’s too many youtubers, influencers, and other media outlets who have to state their opinions as if they’re experts on the subject. It’s annoying. Most just seem to piggyback on pop culture so they can generate views/clicks (ala most buzzfeed content). Very few seem to be qualified or deserving of such things. Ignore that mess.

  4. Eeep, I haven’t felt that before but I can imagine…I’ll probably end up feeling it several times whenever I make an animated show of my own. Kind of reminds me of an episode of a newer Cartoon Network show I have yet to watch through, called Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart, an Eastern-animation-inspired show about a sheriff cat defending a town of various Care-Bear-like funny animals from monsters and the like. (Sounds kind of lame when I summarize it, but it’s not I assure you) I’ve only seen one episode in full, the first one, and I really like it! But back on Topic: In an episode I’ve just seen parts of, Mao Mao being the stubborn and somewhat self-centered (yet still likeable) protagonist he is, is showing off to the citizens of the town and they’re all impressed except for one faded-blue dog guy, which disturbs Mao Mao and makes him desperate for appreciation from him. Of course you’re not bothered by that because of not being appreciated by family like he was, nor are you following the not-impressed person around in desperation for approval from him. xp Nonetheless my mind still connected this to the episode – a very smart episode at that, because it’s very true – in a sea of positive reactions, one negative/passive-aggressive one can make them all feel unimportant. Apologies for geeking out about a show you may not have even heard of, but I feel like it was relevant to this post.

    I don’t think Camp Lazlo is as under the radar as it seems, because I’ve doodled the characters a bit and shown ’em to other students at school. (Before the virus spread, of course) Quite a few recognized them, and mentioned watching it when they were younger! I began watching it via YouTube when more episodes were up there, and I think I like it more than SpongeBob at this point. Not to say Spongebob isn’t brilliant, it’s just that Camp Lazlo feels a bit more my style, and I find it more consistently good. Looking forward to whatever will come with Garden Box! ^_^

  5. Don’t worry Joe! As the ultimate Clam fan, I search “Camp Lazlo” every month in diverse places (YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, DeviantArt, etc.), and let me tell you there is so much love for this cartoon everywhere!

    Of course there are always people who won’t say anything nice about it, but I assure you that’s not a big deal. I heard what you wrote many times, the “Spongebob rip-off” opinion was always there (usually coming from people who didn’t actually watch Camp Lazlo that much).

    I’ll tell you something you probably don’t know: right now, there are adults who had Camp Lazlo as part of their childhood and they make you realize that time passed so fast that currently Camp Lazlo is an old cartoon kinda in a “if you didn’t watch it you had no childhood” way.

    Yes, it has reached that stage already! This is probably an odder fact.

  6. Hey Joe I hope you and the family are doing well during the pandemic! I know it can be tough but it is natural like other people have said to focus on the negative outliers (of course its good to practice and learn to not do so!). I looked up the video and theres a couple things that should make you feel better- for starters, the people putting out the video are in no way major in the YouTube landscape or represent a large audience/general sentiment (they have 377k subscribers, while the 5000th most subscribed to YT channel has 2.7 million).

    Secondly if you look at the comments where that statement is addressed its people disagreeing with it. I was 10 when that show came out, right in the wheelhouse. There was no perception at all that it was a knock off of Spongebob. And kids are good at picking up those kind of things, even if its not literal- just because one takes place on land at a camp kids would still recognize “imitation” qualities if they existed, which they don’t. I remember plenty of times discussing or hearing kids call things “rip-offs”. Never about Lazlo. As for “signaling the decline” no clue. Never heard that. YouTube channels like that always speak in absurd hyperbolic language.

  7. (Late to the party, sorry).

    It’s exciting to see a cartoon creator speak out about such mindless, echo-chamber talking-heads criticism like this about one of their shows. Youtube is a hub for hack cartoon reviewers who spew the same opinions over and over again, until the point when such an opinion seemingly becomes word of God. Underappreciated cartoons become such a joke in the cartoon commentary community that finding people who actually want to celebrate that show unironically becomes a joke onto itself. Dare watch the show and see if it’s true? Who has time for that?

    It seems to me like Camp Lazlo is a victim of this “if its not super mega worldwide popular, its got a cult following” garbage mindset. I’ve been a longtime fan of the Sponge too, but the comparisons between that show and CL have always put me off. It’s criminally easy to write anything off that one does not like as a rip off of something else, and when they hear those bits of royalty free music that SB also uses, suddenly that’s evidence?

    This show has loyal fans that have followed it since it premiered fifteen years ago, as well as new fans that appear all the time. It appears to me that Camp Lazlo has only garnered more recognition for what it was, the older it gets. And I hope you only stumble across more fans who stand up against these empty criticisms.

    Rocko and Lazlo were a part of my childhood, and they still make me laugh so much today. If people want to continue being ignorant and keep their blinders on, let them. They’re in the minority anyway. They don’t take away from the 48 out of 50 who get it. Thanks for being so open and honest in this post, a lot of artists look up to you and will take this to heart. Best to you and all your future projects!

    (P.S. the downfall of Cartoon Network was CNReal and anybody who says differently needs to wake up)

  8. Camp Lazlo is how I discovered most of your work. I have memories of watching it as a child, but that was about it before I stumbled across it again a few years ago–how happy I am that I did! Camp Lazlo is one of my favorite shows, and has a special place in my heart. Your hard work is not in vain! You’re very modest, and that’s a good quality to have, but you also deserve to take pride in your work. Many people, including myself, are inspired by your contributions every single day! I have so much respect and appreciation for you that it’s difficult to articulate it all at once, but you deserve to know that your contributions make an impact and that there are many people who share my views. Thank you for all that you do! You’re a great man and we’re lucky to have you.

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