Jan 22, 2010
Rosco is a scarecrow who hates his job. He has greater ambitions for a better career, but he can't come to the reality that he is and always will be, a scarecrow, (or Aves Fright Engineer as he likes to professionally call it). As a scarecrow, you may assume that he doesn't have a brain, but he does. AN EVIL ONE! This is one scarecrow that knows what it takes to get the job done. He's persistent in his scaring tactics and is hard to loose in a chase. Shovels, rakes, mallets, bats and any other tool he can get his hands on are his last resort to "shoo" away birds. He sometimes carries a shotgun with him in case things get out of hand, proving that he his the perfect foil for Conroy. In general, Rosco is strict, low, mean, and devilish that will stop at nothing to make sure his employee's gardens are pest free. All ordinary crows fear his name.
I wanted to have him look very ragtag. Straw hat, patched jacket and pants, both of which used of course, and a face that reminds you of a jack o lantern. As a scarecrow, he has no organs or bones whatso ever, so I can really do anything to him regarding slapstick and physical humor. He's designed from the simple idea of a hobo and an evil version of the Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz.
Conroy can be defined as "the bravest crow in these here parts". For a country bumpkin, he has a high IQ in street smarts that enable him to get out of any jam and predicament with ease. He's very resourceful and will use his surroundings to enhance his chances of victory. When pushed, this bird pushes back harder in order to show that his small size is nothing to mock. Conroy is a tough little guy with a big heart of gold.
Conroy was a lot of fun to come up with. I did a lot of research on crows and quite frankly, crows are the perfect animals to make into cartoons. Here's some fun crow facts that helped me conjure up this cartoon crow:
- Crows and Ravens are the smartest of all birds.
-They have a great memory. In fact, they might be the only birds that know how to count.
-Love corn, but will eat anything.
-They are accused for eating crops, but in some cases, they just eat the insects, ergo saving the crops!
-A flock of crows are called a 'Gang' or a 'Mob'
-Very brave! They will face other birds bigger than them if needed (Owls and Hawks)
-Very resourceful. Crows have grown accustomed to our human environment.
-Crows live in tight families. Often they will band together and help each other steal food from larger stronger birds, whether they are in the same 'Gang' or not.
Conroy is my most controversial character I have come up with. Hard bleeding animationwith aficionados might recognize Conroy to be designed after other cartoon birds such like the crows from Dumbo, Frank Tashlin's Screen Gem "Crow", and Buzzy the Funny Crow from HarveyToons.
Now in my defense, none of these cartoon crows were very successful. At the time, they were voiced kinda like Eddie Anderson (black comedian from The Jack Benny show 1950s). It was like they were all the same character.
Jan 4, 2010
As a lad, I played outside a lot. A typical weekend afternoon adventure consisted of riding my mountain bike down the dirt country roads. Living around corn fields may not sound like a blast, but I always tried to make a game out of what I had. I believe that's when the inspiration hit me.
I noticed a scarecrow, in the guardian of the field. I also noticed a crow, standing there at the scarecrow's feet, eating a fallen ear of corn, somehow immune to the scarecrow's power of fright. It made me laugh. This must have been the bravest crow I had ever seen. Other crows were in the safety of the high powerlines, looking down at this crow as if he was on a suicide mission. The whole situation was quite funny in my eyes as well as ironic. I knew at some point I would have to draw a cartoon series that was, in fact, a true story.
I had always enjoyed watching Looney Tunes as a kid, and still do today. It was great comedic writing, comedic timing, colorful stories, and above all, memorable characters that made the experience of watching them all worth while. In a way, Conroy and Rosco is my strict dedication and homage to the great era in motion picture entertainment.
In the eyes of some art experts, the animation and cartoon field is very remedial. By today's standards, a doodle of a character experiencing weird, uncommon situations (Spongebob, Chowder, Misadventures of Flapjack) or mature, low brow spoofs (Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park) can pass as entertainment. This cartoon is for those who will enjoy a good laugh through classic physical slap stick comedy, not for those who theorize the intentions of the tortured artist.
The art of the anvil, TNT, laws of physics, inter dimensional black novelty holes, and shot guns that only leave one's face stained with gun powder are not dead in this cartoon series!
Yes, even Zerik and Spitzer have their own way to get around. Unlike the Space Zoo Safari Shuttle, the Smuggle Shuttle is bent more for the aggressive poaching crowd. This ship is equipped with weapons like tranquilizers, nets, pincers, and ample trunk space for cages.
The source of transportation while on the field. This unique ship has more mechanical capabilities to aid Space Zoo wranglers (like Xax and Iggy) while on a mission. Gadgets like radar detectors, grappling hooks, and other animal friendly tools ensure safe captures. For the fastest of creatures, I figured the Safari Shuttle has a homing gadget that is able to lock on to the object and tail behind it. The wranglers however have to man the freeze or anti grav guns to stop the animal. Other ways are to simply drive beside the animal and lasso it from the ship.
Here's Xax and Iggy in their zookeeper/safari uniforms. I wanted to show that they really aren't that advanced in the field of animal care, in fact they have about the same tools we do on Earth.
Xax holds a basic butterfly net and Iggy holds a standard radar detector in order to track said alien species.
Zerik’s loyal lackey. Spitzer is a hired and skilled hitman and fighter that does most to Zerik’s dirty work, whether it’s spying or exterminating their enemies. He rarely thinks for himself and follows
his foul direct orders.
Spitzer was fun to come up with as well. I really like drawing stout, buff henchmen, and I made sure that Spitzer lived up to the expectation.
Naming the characters in Space Zoo is one of the more challenging parts, but its still a blast. Spitzer Sputnik is named after the astonomer Lyman Spitzer and the Russian satellite, Sputnik. When I came up with that combo, I imagined Spitzer having a Russian accent.
Zerik is a fiendish, greedy bounty hunter and poacher. He’s selfish, bossy, and most of all down right mean. He loves making his dishonest money though poaching, theft and gambling. He’ll do whatever it takes to come out financially successful.
Coming up with a formidable foe is a lot of fun for me. I wanted Zerik to be up there in the ranks of the really well thought out Disney villains: Competent, threatening, but still a character you love to hate.
Finding his last name was fun to figure out. I wanted a name that sounded edgy, so I did some research to find out what kind of stuff in space that sounded dangerous, and thus I found "Sungrazer". Sungrazers are types of comets that pass extremely close to the Sun.
And that children, is your fun fact for the day!
Igmar is the tech-savy, sarcastic, smart alac sidekick. He’s very materialistic about all of his electronic toys and gadgets. Where Xax is more of an outdoor guy, Iggy is more comfortable in his media center or tech lab. It’s hard for Iggy to stay positive when he’s in the harsh elements of the great outdoors.
Iggy was fun to design. He went through a lot of changes over the first days of creation. (will post those sketches in the future)
I followed suit when creating Xax a sidekick. The first thing that came into my mind was someone who was shorter with a little more of a flawed personality.
Iggy's last name is Io. For you non-space aficionados out there, Io is one of Jupiter's many moons.
Xax Starclipper is the brave, charming, adventure seeking straight-man who is one of those lucky folks who loves his job. He’s very professional and resourceful when he’s on safari missions and always keeps a level head when in trouble. He’s not too educated when it comes to using his partner’s high tech “doohickeys”. He’d rather rely on his own practical skills.
I wanted kind of a catchy name like Luke Skywalker for my main character for Space Zoo. I figured Starclipper was kind of a fun last name that a hip alien would have. As all main characters go, I designed him to be pretty much mainstream. Fit, athletic, normal wardrobe, and a color scheme that reminds you of America.
This is Space Zoo. It's a series I came up with back in 2005.
Basically, it's a story I worked out involving two Alien Zookeepers (the good-guys) who cross paths with a clan Alien Poachers (the bad-guys).
The taller alien is named Xax, who plays the role as my brave, level headed hero. Igmar or "Iggy", is Xax's sarcastic, geeky sidekick. I will share more info about them later as the Blog expands. Stay toon'd!
Jan 3, 2010
Matthew James Downs was born in Michigan where he spent most of his youth drawing cartoons, watching cartoons, reading comics, playing video games and swimming. Reading Jim Davis’ Garfield in the newspapers was one of the first things he could read on his own. By the third grade, Matt had already figured out what he wanted to do for a living: be a cartoonist. After seeing Disney’s Aladdin, Matt was inspired to become an animator. After seeing Pixar’s A Bug’s Life, Matt was encouraged to be a storyboard artist. After watching Spongebob Squarepants, Matt was motivated further to be a storyboard artist for animated television shows.
Matt drew cartoons throughout most of his grade school years, coming up with his own characters and story lines. In high school, he received the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association award for an editorial cartoon he drew for the school newspaper regarding the over-crowded school district.
After high school, Matt got his degree in Graphic Design and promptly got a job doing design work at a screen printing house. He didn’t want to give up on his dream to work in the animation industry and decided to go back to school to get his degree in Traditional Animation. While attending classes, Matt successfully completed his senior animated short film, Camel Country, a fish-out-of-water story about a camel trying and failing to adapt to a cold environment. The film proved to be an allegory relating to Matt’s own life decisions, struggles and obstacles.
After graduating from college (again), Matt and his then fiancé moved to California.
Matt now resides in Burbank California with his wife, Rachael. They have four bearded dragons, Otis, Llyod, and Jasper, two leopard geckos, Tony and Havanna, and a crested gecko named Clyde.