Cartoon Network’s line-up has taken a dramatic turn towards exciting and unique! Along with “Adventure Time” and “Regular Show” comes an innovative and creatively done series called “The Amazing World of Gumball.” One episode and you can get hooked easily. It’s funny, visually appealing and genuine in its production, writing and characters.
The series follows the life of a blue cat named Gumball Watterson and his best friend, Darwin, a fish who one day sprouted legs and became a part of the Watterson family.
Cartoon Network’s Executive Producer and VP of Original Series and
Daniel Lennard, Vice President of Original Series and Development EMEA at Turner Broadcasting
Development, Daniel Lennard, took time out to talk with Cartoon Daily News about “Gumball!” According to Cartoon Network, Lennard helped inspire and build up the series from the moment the idea came up. The investment of time and effort put in by Cartoon Network has allowed “The Amazing World of Gumball” to grow in viewership and popularity.
The interview proceeded as follows:
What inspired the series,”The Amazing World of Gumball,” and how did you and your crew come up with the series? To add, where was the series based out of? From what I gathered it started in the UK due to Cartoon Network’s Europe expansion?
We set up the Cartoon Network Europe development studio inLondonto tap into the great talent pool in Europe (from animation colleges such as Gobelins and Supinfocom inFrance, and small studios specializing in commercials & music videos such as Studio AKA and Passion Pictures inLondon). So I hired six artists that had the potential to be future show creators and gave them the time and freedom to collaborate on expanding their own ideas. The first show that came out of this process was “The Amazing World of Gumball” by Ben Bocquelet, who was the fourth artist to be hired. Ben says that the series was inspired by his family, and his love of American sitcoms and 1980’s movies.
(Right to Left) Gumball and Darwin pose with classmates. THE AMAZING WORLD OF GUMBALL and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © 2011 Cartoon Network.
The real-life images and backgrounds connected with your animation are very unique and is something different compared to other cartoons — what was the ultimate decider to go with a real-life image as a background and foreground rather than 100% animated?
We wanted our first European Cartoon Network show to come with a distinctive visual style. I think the fact that the character designs Ben came up with were so visually distinct and varied (many characters were designs that Ben had pitched for commercial work and that had been rejected!) meant that all existing rules were being broken…so why not push the limits when it came to the world they’d inhabit? Also it helped the show fit into a typical sitcom world that the audience would automatically be familiar and comfortable with, which was important as the characters were so bizarre. We also loved the idea that younger viewers might actually believe that there was a town called Elmore where these characters existed.
Is the personality and character of Gumball and Darwin closely related to that of your own growing up or maybe others you know or have known? Who are the characters (both main and sub) based off of?
The Watterson family is broadly based on Ben’s own, sharing a working mom, a stay-at-home loveable dad and a smarter sister. Some days Ben admits that Gumball is him and other days he denies it. But they do share a lot of the same characteristics – Ben is curious and impetuous and has a propensity for getting into situations where he ends up in hospital! He came back from his first visit to Studio Soi with his drawing hand in a sling, due to unsuccessfully trying to jump a fence.
Are there any adventures and mis-adventures your allowed to share with us exclusively that’s coming up for our heroes Gumball and Darwin.
I’m not completely objective, but the next season is funnier, smarter and more surprising than season one. We spend more time getting to know the other school kids, such as Banana Joe, Tobias & Carrie and just wait till you meet Hector the colorful giant’s mom!
How do you rise to become the Vice President of Original Series and Development at Cartoon Network Europe and what kind of advice can you give to our readers who are interested in rising to your level?
I joined Turner about ten years ago as a development executive, working on European co-productions. I was inspired by some of the great US animated series and features and my goal was to create an environment at Cartoon Network Europe where I could 100% produce a warm, funny, unexpected show with strong storytelling and endearing characters. My only advice to anybody wanting to achieve something exceptional is to be focused, patient and incredibly stubborn!
What’s the process when you get into developing an episode?
Usually Ben gets in a room with our two staff writers and talks through an idea. They’ll turn that into a premise, then work it up into an outline and final script. When the script is locked it goes through the boarding and animatic phase. Throughout this period Ben and Mic Graves (the series director) are continuously evolving the story to ensure we deliver a funny, exciting and surprising episode for our viewers.
The opening credits to the show (which is not always seen unless you look it up on YouTube) is absolutely incredible and colorful…a lot of action there…what inspired such an open…and for that matter, what inspired the rainbow?!?
I guess the reason we went with the rainbow is that, like the multicolored candy that Gumball was named after, a rainbow conjures up a feeling of childhood and is full of color and beauty. It’s the same qualities we want viewers to get from the show, which is packed full of color and fun and hopefully a little bit of magic.
(From Left to Right) Gumball, Darwin, Nicole, Anais and Richard Watterson. The Watterson Family. THE AMAZING WORLD OF GUMBALL and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © 2011 Cartoon Network.
Some say that cartoons should have a message or that cartoons these days have all types of message…what would you want viewers to take away from “The Amazing World of Gumball.”
Although we never set out to give an explicit moralistic message, I think there is a message that viewers can take from the show. Underneath a lot of atypical (and some would say dysfunctional) families, such as the Wattersons, there are moments of real warmth, love and affection and that is true of most families. And the theme of friendship, especially between Gumball andDarwin, is a constant one.
What are YOUR favorite episodes or at least one favorite episode? Favorite character(s)?
My favorite character is probablyDarwinbecause he’s so cute (amazing job by the actor Kwesi Boakye!), but I also have a soft spot for Mr. Robinson the grouchy neighbor.
It’s a difficult one to call, but I would say “The Quest” is my favorite episode because it’s a great combination of all the different elements we wanted to include. It has a lot of great character-based comedy moments, has a warm subplot focusing on Gumball and Anais’ relationship with each other and finally a thrilling chase sequence with a fully-realistic T-Rex! What more could anybody ask for?
To learn more about “The Amazing World of Gumball.”, go to www.cartoonnetwork.com and always check out http://www.cartoondailynews.com for the latest updates on creative cartoons and commentary. Also, tune in to see more of “The Amazing World of Gumball” on Cartoon Network, Mondays at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT.