(fwd) SWATKATS: Toy Driven? Guess again. (fwd)

From: Andy Hill <chance_at_unix.infoserve.net>
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 1995 07:45:36 -0700 (PDT)

     This is the last part of the rec.arts.animation exchange. Input
concerning this can be made here for the KATS fans, or on r.a.a. to help
create a voice equal to people like Michelle Hass - just not louder.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 1995 07:21:35 -0700
From: Andy Hill <chance_at_unix.infoserve.net>
To: chance_at_unix.infoserve.net
Subject: (fwd) SWATKATS: Toy Driven? Guess again.

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From: chance_at_unix.infoserve.net (Andy Hill)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.animation
Subject: SWATKATS: Toy Driven? Guess again.
Date: 7 Apr 1995 14:12:23 GMT
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     Michelle Hass's post begs further comment concerning SWATKATS being
"interchangeable with most superhero/toy driven shows". Just as she has
no problem recognizing John Kricfalusi as "original" with Ren&Stimpy, the
same respect should be accorded Christian and Yvon Tremblay for something
so different from its competition. (Quite a few industry folks read this
group, correction appreciated if I make a mistake in the following - I'm
still learning).

     SWATKATS was insipired by the success of "independent" shows like
"The Smurfs" and "TMNT", Christian and Yvon Tremblay came up with the
ideas behind "SWATKATS" and taught themselves how to draw in the basement
of their Montreal home. The idea grew, as did their skill at drawing,
and they began to make inquiries in the animation world as to whether
there would be any interest in producing a show based on the characters
and situations they'd developed. They found Hollywood "amazingly
receptive", and after many phone calls and flights to California out of
their own pocket, managed to hammer out a deal with Turner Program
Services and Hanna-Barbera, who were looking to expand their kids
programming out of the Flintstones/Jetsons cycle they were in.

     Everything was to be a fresh start - incidental and theme music was
to be a radical departure from traditional action adventure, leaning
towards "metal", and being heavily inspired by the rock group "Queen".
Rather than create another "mutants among humans" scenario, the entire
cast was to be composed of cat characters like the main protagonists -
causing the storylines to center around character interaction as opposed
to mutant/human frictions. Instead of just sitting back and living off
the royalties, the Tremblay brothers created pretty much the entire
visual styling "bible" for the show, ensuring that the "look" stayed true
to their original concept, and making sure that the show remained very
much "hands on" for them.

     The first 13 eps were completed and run on Turner's TBS, starting in
Fall 1993. At NATPE in the fall of the same year, John Walden, Sr.
Vice-President of Turner Marketing, bragged that Turner didn't need the
standard 85 percent clearance to air the program, stating that "because
of our outlets...we already have enough support to effect production".
Turner Program Services' Steve Lablang was also excited about the
program, citing it and Two Stupid Dogs " as (doing) a better job of
improving kids audience than anything else introduced this past fall".
Success had begun to pay off, and between the weeks of 8/30/93 and
4/17/94, "SWATKATS" was the #1 rated new syndicated cartoon - no small
feat for something that steered completely clear of Marvel-dom. TV Guide
in Canada took notice, and ran an entire page dedicated to the SWATKATS
back-story - something that's never happened for a mere cartoon in my
memory. "Comics Scene" and a few other publications also took note, and
ran articles that raved about the show in no uncertain terms. It was
syndicated in something like 60 countries, and even did well in the
Western CONUS and Canada - despite the fact TBS aired it at 4:35 in the
morning. When I started to get contacted by people who also watched the
program, nobody "could believe it was done by Hanna-Barbera".

     As far as the success being due to being "interchangeable with most
superhero/toy driven shows" goes, be aware that you can't label a program
as 22 minutes worth of toy advertising when there aren't even going to be
any toys/games until at least July - supposedly when TBS is going to pull
the program - it's popular with its viewers simply because it's a good
show - not because there's lots of neat stuff to play with.

     There aren't too many things that John K. and I agree on, but one of
them is the appreciation for characters that are believable, and have
character-driven dialogue. Listen to the main characters in SWATKATS;
you're not hearing "writer-speak", you are hearing the characters
bouncing lines off of each other as though they actually existed. I'll
even quote John Kricfalusi here: "the ability to find a balance between
artful prose and natureal, character-driven dialogue is a rare talent".
Rare indeed, but the Tremblays, Glenn Leopold, Eric Clark and Lance Falk
showed us it could be done with even the most unusual of characters, and
done well. This show is unique as regards any aspect you care to
mention, and fans aren't the only ones who took notice, my mailbox had
a number of anonymous contributions after some of my earlier 'KATS posts
- one of the more interesting was from someone who identified himself as
"an employee of Disney TV" who "wished to let (me) know that...marketing
people here laughed openly at Turner when they heard Swat Cats (sic) was
being cancelled".

     No one can smell lost revenue like the Mouse.

        "They say a smile, will do the trick....
         with a little charm, laid on thick;
         but listen folks, forget those strokes -
         'cause 'KATS always gets the short end of the stick!"
         (Rita - Animaniacs "Icebreakers" AN148)

        "They say a smile, will do the trick....
         with a little charm, laid on thick;
         but listen folks, forget those strokes -
         'cause 'KATS always gets the short end of the stick!"
         (Rita - Animaniacs "Icebreakers" AN148)

Received on Fri Apr 07 1995 - 10:32:26 PDT

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