En­gag­ing the Tar­get

Animation Magazine - - Features -

Tower use an­i­ma­tion to ground and make im­me­di­ate their por­trayal of Amer­ica’s in­fa­mous first school shoot­ing 50 years ago at the Univer­sity of Texas. By Tom McLean.

al­is­tic a style and it could eas­ily run off the rails.

“It has to be more car­toony than real, more ridicu­lous than be­liev­able,” says Poven­mire. “That’s were the tone of this show is.”

The ti­tle se­quence shows Milo avert­ing dis­as­ters rang­ing from a herd of stam­ped­ing lla­mas to fires by sim­ply avert­ing them at the last minute. And he’s al­ways smil­ing, no mat­ter what’s fall­ing apart around him. “Weird Al” Yankovic, who voices Milo, sings the ti­tle song as his char­ac­ter is nearly crushed by a fall­ing toi­let or run over by a rolling wreck­ing ball.

“We have an episode where a boat is sucked into midair,” says Marsh. “And that’s the kind of ac­tion we want, where it doesn’t seem like it’s ac­tu­ally some­thing that could hap­pen, ex­cept on this show, be­cause that’s what hap­pens on this show and it shows you how de­ter­mined Milo is even when these things hap­pen to him.”

The show landed a solid group of per­form­ers to voice their char­ac­ters. In ad­di­tion to Yankovic, Chris­tian Slater voices a glo­ri­fied cross­ing guard and Vanessa Williams is fea­tured as Eileen Un­der­wood, the mother of Milo’s good friend. Sab­rina Car­pen­ter, a ris­ing Dis­ney star from the show Girl Meets World, is the voice of Melissa Chase. The qual­ity of the cast in­stantly ex­panded what the cre­ators could do.

“Weird Al is gen­uinely mu­si­cally ta­lented and, even though we al­ways imag­ined this show would have songs, hav­ing some­one there who is also mu­si­cally gifted helps be­cause he brings that into ev­ery sit­u­a­tion,” says Poven­mire. “We au­di­tioned hun­dreds of peo- ple for this role and Weird Al just had it.”

Slater came on board quickly when he found out Poven­mire and Marsh were putting to­gether this show. As a fan of their work, Slater just wanted to be part of the project and was will­ing to take any part of­fered to him. Poven­mire de­cided to write the part of a cross­ing guard — Milo’s foe — specif­i­cally for the ac­tor. Re­spect­ing the Au­di­ence Poven­mire and Marsh come to this project with tremen­dous re­spect for the kids who watch their shows. They aim to write the kinds of jokes that don’t un­der­es­ti­mate them. Marsh hopes the au­di­ence for the show will be “pretty much ev­ery­body,” be­cause the show’s hu­mor will op­er­ate on many lev­els, hope­fully hav­ing some­thing to of­fer to kids as well as the par­ents and care­givers watch­ing with them.

“We’re al­ways sur­prised by how much of the hu­mor and the jokes that the kids get and we don’t want to back away from ideas just be­cause some­one says the jokes are too smart for the kids,” says Poven­mire. “When peo­ple watched Looney Tunes, maybe your older sis­ter or your mom got a joke you didn’t get and then you asked them about it, why it was funny, and then you un­der­stood some­thing more af­ter that.”

The show also re­flects a clas­sic style of an­i­ma­tion — the kind of sim­ple lines used for Phineas and Ferb — and that suits the cre­ators be­cause they’d like to keep fo­cus on Milo’s at­ti­tude and the mes­sage be­hind it. Milo’s over­the-top op­ti­mism is matched with the same kind of broad lines and style in the vi­su­als. It also makes the huge level of de­struc­tion on the show less se­ri­ous. Pho­to­re­al­is­tic an­i­ma­tion of things crash­ing into each other is not what the show’s cre­ators are af­ter here be­cause “you want a sense that it’s not a real tragedy,” says Poven­mire.

“Some of the kids on­line were talk­ing about our show and they were say­ing that it looked a lot like Phineas and Ferb and then they re­al­ized that it’s be­cause it’s from the guys who made that show, so now there’s ex­cite­ment about it,” says Poven­mire.

“We’re happy to have kids who want to see what we’re do­ing.” [ Karen Idel­son writes about an­i­ma­tion, vis­ual ef­fects and other stuff if the price is right. She lives in the South Bay where coyotes, skunks and pos­sums rou­tinely in­vite them­selves into her yard.

Dan Poven­mire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh

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