Ed,Edd, and Danny
an interview with Ed, Edd and Eddy Creator,
Danny Antonucci by Gord Wilson
.The Eds on DVD
Dan the Man
This picture ran in Animato #40, which featured a cover by Cartoon Network graphic atists.
AKAcartoons wears its heart on it sleeve.
Happy Ed Year!
from everyone in
the cul de sac
A great site for all things Ed. Visit The Ed Zone and link to Animation by Mistake
(This interview was intended for Animato! but never ran due to that magazine's untimely demise. The Eds pic above was provided by Cartoon Network and AKAcartoon for this article, and is used by permission. Ed graphics copyright Cartoon Network and AKAcartoon. Interview and writing copyright Gord Wilson.)
With his wildly popular Cartoon Cartoon, Ed, Edd, and Eddy a top draw on the Cartoon Network, the creator of Lupo the Butcher and The Brothers Grunt has found a new home and a new audience. An interview with Danny Antonucci by Gord Wilson.
GW: Let’s review the Antonucci story before you opened your studio, a.k.a. CARTOONS. There’s Lupo the Butcher back there somewhere, and your earlier stint for Hanna-Barbera.
DA: The Antonucci story. I ran away from Sheridan College because I had a gig as an animator on The Flintstones and Scooby Doo and Smurfs and Richie Rich and all sorts of wonderful stuff at Canimage Productions in Toronto. At that time most animation was still being done in North America, then it went overseas for ink and paint. Canimage Productions was a subhouse studio for Hanna-Barbera, and a handful of us there were trying to bring back the tradition of good animation for Hanna-Barbera. Especially with the Flintstones—it was so cool to work on that, having grown up with it, having spent hours analyzing the animation and trying to get that same look. On the other hand, we were told by the powers that be that we had to get the stuff out by the air date.
We were working on The Flintstones Comedy Show, which aired in 1980-81. Tex Avery was working at HB at that time. It was really cool because I worked on Avery’s character—the cave mouse. After two years of that, I was ready to head out and explore the wonderful world of animation. I’d planned to go down to LA, but ended up stopping to visit a friend in Vancouver BC on the way. I thought I’d get a gig for a while, so I went to International Rocketship. Marv Newland was just wrapping up his film, "Anijam", and I got in at the start of "Sandboxland". My little stay in Vancouver to make some extra money turned into twelve or thirteen years. I was animator and director on lots of those projects.
I had this film I wanted to do, Lupo the Butcher. Rocketship ended up producing the short, and I spent about a year and a half making that thing. There are so many reasons why I did that. It came out of all the angst I had, and the frustration of having worked on kids’ things for so long. But it was also a character study— creating a character in animation—to see if I could make someone actually live on the screen. We were doing taboos that weren’t done in animation, even though it’s pretty safe now. Even Marv hesitated on producing the short at first. Lupo put my foot into every door around, surprisingly. It opened up a lot of doors and for some strange reason became very popular.
GW: Didn’t that run on the Spike and Mike circuit?
DA: Spike and Mike were actually pretty conservative boys and they were really scared of that short. It took quite a lot of fanagling to get those guys to show it. Lupo did really well in Europe before it came to the states. It started gaining momentum at the Berlin Film Festival, and it went all over Paris and France, to Italy, and became very popular all over Europe, and then sort of trickled into the states. Before that I spent a year trying to shop it in Canada and everybody slammed the door in my face.
After it trickled into the states, that’s when Spike and Mike picked it up, and the only way they could rationalize showing it was starting up the Sick and Twisted festival thing, so that’s what spawned it. Then it ran for a while with the Outrageous Animation festival, and various networks tried to develop it as a television show, including Fox. Steven Cannel, who did The Rockford Files, wanted to option it at one point. There’s a long history of people trying to do something with it, but it was too extreme to get on the air. Meanwhile, I continued on, and did commercials for Levis and other companies.GW: Then Lupo ended up in a Converse commercial.
DA: Right. They left interpreting him up to me, and that was really cool. Big deal if Lupo doesn’t swear. The character is still there and I think those two spots worked out great. Then I did the Too Much Coffee Man spots—that was Shannon Wheeler’s character.
GW: How did The Brothers Grunt happen?
DA: We were at Rocketship and I did a bunch of ID spots for MTV. It was a way of just staying alive. There was one called “Grunt MTV” which was just all these guys grunting away, and at the end this big MTV drops into this bowl of water. Then Abby Terkel called up and said, “hey, can we make a series out of this?” I have a good relationship with MTV, so I said sure, and it was a thing of finding the most absurd and bizarre way of doing a television series. My thing was just total experimentation and creating worlds and things that don’t exist in real life. Fooling around I guess—making cartoons. So we did a bunch of those and history speaks for itself. The Grunts didn’t really do too well.GW: Did you do a season of them?
DA: We did 45 of those things. They were seven minute episodes—three ran in a half hour. It’s sort of become like MTV’s dirty little secret for some strange reason. They put the shows in a vault somewhere and locked them up, but they must be kicking around somewhere. I still think it’s a cool show and I really enjoyed doing it. For what I wanted to do I thought it was quite successful. That’s the key for me. I really dig what I do and it’s important for me to like what I do. I don’t regret anything. I just look at it as something I did, and move on.
GW: When did you open up aka Cartoons?
DA: We opened it on April Fool’s day, 1994, in Vancouver BC, and away we went. I’ve been there ever since. The Brothers Grunt wrapped up in 1995, and we got into doing more spots again. I really love doing commercials; they’re short and sweet, in a variety of styles and it’s fun. I really enjoy it. Then in 1996 I did this drawing of these three guys—the Eds—and all of a sudden I knew these guys were a show. I spent about a year developing it and getting it to the state you see now.
GW: How’d you get the idea for the Eds?
DA: The idea basically came from my going through adolescence. It’s not just that you’re kids, it’s the aspect of puberty, of not knowing what class you fall into— you’re still a kid but you want to be an adult. It’s the confusion aspect. I draw on my growing up as a homebound nerdo drawing comics and cartoons, as well as watching my two boys and stealing their schtick.
GW: That’s a good idea to change it to three boys in the show so it will be original.
DA: Yeah, if I used my two boys they would have sued me, and taken me for every box of macaroni and cheese I’ve got.
GW: Are you going to do that Hanna-Barbera thing where they run by the same tree and the same barber pole about five times?
DA: Hasn’t that just become a standard?
GW; I think Genndy picked that up for Two Stupid Dogs, where they went for that really retro Hanna-Barbera look.
DA: It depends on what we’re doing. Repeat pans have always been a standard in the industry. Some repeat pans are built so it doesn’t look like it’s being repeated, and some are built so it does look like it’s being repeated. You’re not supposed to be looking at the background anyway, you’re supposed to look at the characters. Eddy’s sort of the hyperactive, obnoxious scammer, and the class clown kind of guy, Edd the introverted homebound wit and shy guy of the three, with Ed being the big lummox who’s into ‘B’ monster movies and lives in a basement.
The whole styling of the show is derived from a kid’s point of view. The backgrounds are almost UPA-ish in a sense. They’re kind of flat line drawings and blocks of color with nothing really being detailed because I don’t really remember as a kid looking at texture. I never sat in my mom’s living room and looked at the floral pattern on the couch—it wasn’t what I was interested in, so that’s the viewpoint the show takes as well. Nothing’s very detailed unless it’s something that they’re really interested in. We used very vivid and vibrant colors because the show takes place in summer. Every episode takes place as if summer vacation has just started. It will warm you up and make you nice and toasty.
GW: That’s good since we’re watching it in winter. So Hanna-Barbera didn’t make you make one of those little World Premiere Toon things first?
DA: Originally we were going to do that with the first show, which was the pilot, but Cartoon Network loved it so much they wanted to go for a series. Now we’re in cahoots in creating a cartoon show--thirteen episodes with two eleven minute segments per half hour. This is a whole different ballgame for me. Probably because of my commercial stuff, every time I approach something, I always deal with it like a new canvas. This is a whole new genre for me, which is basically straight ahead, gag-driven cartoons. The influences for Ed, Edd and Eddy are the original influences of animation—Buster Keaton, Hal Roach, Max Sennett, slapstick, Vaudeville, The Three Stooges—that whole era—that’s what’s driving this show.
It’s been a long time coming and I’m stoked. I’m having a great time doing a show for these guys. The Cartoon Network is the coolest network. For anybody to have the sensibilities to put on stuff like Late Night Black and White, Toonheads, The Tex Avery Show—it’s amazing the sensibilities this network has.