Creators Unite at the Nickelodeon Happy Happy! Joy Joy! SDCC Panel
It’s rare to find a kid who grew up in the 90s and wasn’t profoundly influenced by Nickelodeon programming. Such was the theme of the San Diego Comic Con panel “Happy Happy! Joy Joy!: 25 Years of Nickelodeon Original Animation.”
Panelists included original animation creators Craig Bartlett (Hey Arnold!), Butch Hartman (The Fairly OddParents, Bunsen is a Beast!), Jhonen Vasquez (Invader Zim) and Arlene Klasky (Rugrats). This panel was a part of the company’s promotion of The Splat, a block of programming dedicated to Nickelodeon’s iconic series from the 90s and early 00s, but also had some inside looks at the upcoming Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie, Hartman’s new show Bunsen is a Beast!, and the debut of Vasquez’s own original TMNT short.
Craig Bartlett has been as devoted to bringing Hey Arnold! back. The upcoming Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie is the result of years of pitching, and fulfills a long-held dream of Bartlett’s. The panel had a first look at the new character designs for the new movie, which will look very similar to their early-aught selves. Though I think we can all bask in how amazing Phoebe looks.
Bunsen is a Beast!
The Fairly Oddparents is currently in its 10th season on Nickelodeon, but that’s not stopping creator Butch Hartman from creating more magic. His latest animated series, Bunsen is a Beast!, is about Bunsen, a beast who just wants to fit in with normal humans. He relies on his friend Mikey to help him navigate the human world, and in exchange, shows Mikey the world of beasts (including a house that can take them anywhere).
It’ll be interesting to see how this series grows. The clip shown at San Diego Comic-Con was fun, and unexpected at times, but didn’t create a hunger to see more. That could all change with a full pilot, which will air sometime in 2017.
“Don vs. Raph”
There are few creators as unique and authentic as Jhonen Vasquez. As mentioned in the panel, he values art that feels like someone created it, and if ever there was a statement to be made about his TMNT short, “Don vs. Raph” — it’s that. Everything from the art style to the dialog seems uniquely Jhonen, but never overshadows the heart and personalities of the turtles.
This could be because Vasquez is a huge Turtles fan himself. As stated on the panel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles helped him discover his life’s calling. Reading the original comics gave him that first sense there being a person behind the creation — normal comics had always felt flat to him. He was a amazed that someone could “devote their life to making something so stupid” and knew he had to do the same.
So do head over to Nickelodeon and watch “Don vs. Raph”, an embodiment of everything he values in art. Then inundate Nickelodeon with requests for Jhonen to create more TMNT. Because seriously, it’s really, really good.