Since my Astro Boy article was apparently drek, I'll make up for the mess by making an article on one of the greatest animators in the cartoon business: Danny Antonucci.



EARLY LIFE AND CAREER

Antonucci's parents were first-generation Italian immigrants to Canada. His experiences as the child of immigrant parents deeply influenced his later work.

Antonucci was fascinated by cartoons (and other animated things) as a child and spent long hours drawing and trying to figure out how the pictures 'moved.' He performed puppet shows for money, and made his first cartoon at the young age of 14.

Antonucci attended the Sheridan College of Visual Arts but quit to take a job as an animator at Canimage Production, a division of Hanna-Barbera. He worked on numerous shows, including The Smurfs, The Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo Show and The Flintstones Comedy Hour. It was on the latter show that he worked with animation legend Tex Avery.

Intending to move to Los Angeles in 1984 to find more work, Antonucci landed in Vancouver, British Columbia. He landed a job at International Rocketship Ltd., animating short films and television commercials. His first effort was on the short film, Sandboxland.

INTERNATIONAL ROCKETSHIP AND MTV WORK

Antonucci's first solo work was Lupo the Butcher, produced by International Rocketship, about a crazy butcher. Antonucci says the short arose out of his own frustration at having to work in children's film for so long, and to try his hand at creating a fully-fledged character on film. The short animated film screened at several film festivals in Europe, including the Berlin Film Festival, before gaining attention in the United States at Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation. During his time with the Lupo cartoon, he also did the snoring noises to another International Rocketship released cartoon entitled "Dog Brain" which was written by fellow cartoonist J. Falconer.

A claim to fame, Lupo the Butcher was often played on the big screen at sets where Californian rock band Guns N' Roses played their 'Use your illusion' Tour (1991-92). The 'Lupo' character was eventually licensed by the Converse athletic shoe company. This led to additional work, including animated commercials for Levi Strauss & Co. and MTV. In 1993, still working for International Rocketship, Antonucci did a series of short commercials for MTV which depicted several brothers on a couch grunting. MTV commissioned a series, and The Brothers Grunt began airing in August 1994.

On April 1, 1994, Antonucci started the animation company A.K.A. Cartoon, which produced 'The Brothers Grunt' series. Altogether, 45 seven-minute episodes aired before the series went off the air in 1995.

Antonucci returned to doing commercials. Antonucci worked for MTV on its short-lived Cartoon Sushi show in 1997, directing, writing and providing voices. He was also responsible for the title sequence of the same show.



ED EDD N EDDY

Feeling pigeon-holed as an angst-ridden, 'edgy' artist, Antonucci decided to produce an animated children's television show again. He resolved, however, to ensure that the series was produced in a way similar to the classic cartoons of the 1940s. Antonucci spent months designing the show's look in a style reminiscent of the old United Productions of America (UPA) cartoons.

Seeking as wide an audience as possible, Antonucci shopped the show to Nickelodeon, which demanded creative control. Antonucci refused to give it, so he took the show to Cartoon Network, which quickly picked it up.

The show, Ed, Edd n Eddy, premiered on Cartoon Network on January 4, 1999. The premise is that three pre-adolescent boys named Ed, Edd, and Eddy (collectively known as 'the Eds') hang around in their suburban neighborhood of Peach Creek Estates. Led by the avaricious Eddy, the other Eds get caught up in various schemes to make money off their peers, so they can get jawbreakers. But Eddy's plans usually fail, leaving the boys in various predicaments. The characters almost never leave the neighborhood, and adults are nowhere to be seen. Occasionally, humorous satirical references are made to Canada in the show. (In one episode, the Eds stumble upon a box of turkey basters at the local dump, and Eddy pawns them off to the neighborhood kids as "Canadian squirt guns".)

According to Antonucci, plots for 'Ed, Edd n Eddy' are taken from his own memories of suburban life and what it was like to while away idle summer vacations. (One example is in Pop Goes the Ed, on which the swimsuits snapping from the Eds was based on what really happened to Danny.) He also based several stories on escapades his own two children have had.

Antonucci is a strong advocate of hand-drawn animation. The wobbling animation in 'Ed, Edd n Eddy' is an homage to the hand-drawn cartoons with a style that harkens back to cartoons of the 1930s-1950s; the show also utilizes non-repeating solid blocks of color and simple line, and little detail in the artwork is evinced, unless it is something which has the attention of the characters. In interviews, Antonucci says this is because children rarely pay attention to detail.