Nick’s Plucky New­com­ers

Breadwinners pits two in­trepid ducks against the per­ils of the bread de­liv­ery busi­ness. by Mercedes Mil­li­gan

Animation Magazine - - Content -

Breadwinners pits two in­trepid ducks against the per­ils of the bread de­liv­ery busi­ness in a new se­ries com­ing to Nick­elodeon. by Mercedes Mil­li­gan

This month, Nick­elodeon in­tro­duces view­ers to the best-buddy heroes of its new 2-D an­i­mated se­ries Breadwinners: two bootyshak­ing ducks named SwaySway and Buhdeuce who run a bread-de­liv­ery ser­vice in their awe­some rocket-pow­ered van. Cre­ated by Steve Borst and Gary “Doo­dles” Di Raf­faele, the show com­bines rapid-fire hu­mor with punchy de­signs and plenty of orig­i­nal mu­sic to keep tail feath­ers mov­ing.

Launch­ing the show is the cul­mi­na­tion of years of friend­ship and col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Borst and Di Raf­faele, who met while they were both work­ing on Warner Bros. An­i­ma­tion’s MAD se­ries. Back in 2011, Di Raf­faele ap­proached Borst in the break room about work­ing to­gether on per­sonal projects out­side of work. “I felt like I was be­ing asked out on a date,” Borst says. “But we sat down that Novem­ber and checked out each other’s stuff. I saw some shorts Gary had made that were re­ally cool and fun and en­er­getic … Our cre­ative chem­istry was re­ally awe­some and it kind of snow­balled into pitch­ing to Nick­elodeon later.”

Af­ter a few months of play­ing with dif­fer­ent ideas, a doo­dle Di Raf­faele sketched of two ducks toss­ing slices of bread in the air set the cre­ative duo off on a brain­storm­ing ses­sion. Borst penned the story for a short film and Di Raf­faele man­aged to pro­duce it in just two months.

“Steve’s the writer, I’m the artist — we’re two halves of one brain,” says Di Raf­faele. “I’ll come up with the draw­ings and he’ll el­e­vate them, take them to the next level with names and per­son­al­i­ties.” The artist adds that, de­spite this, the two ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers col­lab­o­rate on ev­ery step of pro­duc­tion at Nick­elodeon An­i­ma­tion in Bur­bank, trad­ing com­ments and ideas. “We’re al­ways try­ing to crack the code and get to the best thing we can make, at all times.”

A funky new toon con­cept de­serves a stand-out look, and the duo be­lieves they’ve man­aged to hit the right note. By cre­at­ing the 2-D an­i­ma­tion us­ing dig­i­tal tools, the artists are able to keep the car­toon­ish loose­ness of the orig­i­nal short while sharp­en­ing up other de­sign el­e­ments. Di Raf­faele notes that do­ing the orig­i­nal short in Flash and hav­ing to work around some lim­i­ta­tions in­spired the vivid, vec­tor-like aes­thetic of the show, adding that early 1990s videogames also served as de­sign in­spi­ra­tion.

“I wanted some­thing that felt like you were look­ing at a car­toon, which is why we use a heavy, black out­line on the char­ac­ters — some­thing rec­og­niz­able but also fresh,” Di Raf­faele says. “There’s a lot of old-school video-game nos­tal­gia in the art di­rec­tion. We have this pixel tex­ture that we ap­ply to the back­ground, and the char­ac­ters have this kind of pixel shadow.” Out­side of pre­pro­duc­tion and de­sign, the show is an­i­mated by Tit­mouse Stu­dio’s Van­cou­ver shop. “They’re bring­ing this re­ally unique fla­vor of an­i­ma­tion that I haven’t seen in a mod­ern car­toon, ever … it’s this weird style that we’ve kind of stum­bled upon.”

In ad­di­tion to cool throw­back de­sign el­e­ments and rocket-van-de­liv­ery-mishaps, an­other stand-out el­e­ment of Breadwinners is its mu­si­cal­ity. There is a fairly con­stant beat run­ning through the ac­tion so that SwaySway and Bahdeuce can pack in as much booty shak­ing as pos­si­ble, and Borst and Di Raf­faele say au­di­ences can ex­pect lots of orig­i­nal songs to come out of their beaks over the 20-episode first sea­son. What more could you want than a cou­ple of ducks bust­ing out an old-school rock bal­lad as they cruise the skies on their carb-loaded rounds?

Breadwinners pre­mieres on Nick­elodeon Satur­day, Feb. 22, at 11 a.m. Check out an­i­ma­tion­ to read the full in­ter­view with the cre­ators.

Steve Borst Gary “Doo­dles” Di Raf­faele

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