I’ve talked about this before, but for some reason it popped into my head yesterday, and someone told me to write about it.
I grumble at times about all of the comic strip submissions I made to try and get a comic strip in the newspapers. I can’t remember how many times I created characters and a concept and did 6 weeks worth of strips and sundays, only to get them rejected. I lost count after 5 or 6 times ( it was so funny when my friend Mark O’hare, ( a director on Rocko and later my co-producer on Lazlo) said he was going to do comic strip early on Rocko. I told him it was a long tough road, but 2 weeks later he came to me and said “Hey guess what, Universal Syndicate bought my strip”. His first try).
Anyway, when I look back on it, I needed work on my character development, and story development. I took advice from comic editors and worked and honed my craft. I noticed that my stories were getting a little more complex. Until finally, the editor at Los Angeles Times syndicate said “Have you ever tried animation?”. I was disgruntled, but later took up his suggestion. My first films were met with excitement and awards. And I loved doing them.
When I look at my “school”, I realize that all of my experience prior to producing “Rocko’s Modern Life” had me ready when this small cable channel started looking for new, fresh cartoon ideas.
My experience running my own business since I was 20 taught me project management, budgets and managing a staff. My design work for advertising gave me experience to create proposals and design logos etc. My comic strip attempts taught me character development and story. ( and I used some characters I had developed for comics, like Rocko, to appear later). And working on my independent films taught me the skills of animation, voice work, sound, music etc.
When your in the middle of it, it sometimes seems like day to day frustration. But when you look back on it, it all worked out perfectly.