Thursday, February 26, 2009


Now, THAT was a great trip to the 'burgh! Let me tell ya a little about it.

I got into town on Tuesday afternoon and was picked up by Art Institute of Pittsburgh Professor Angela Love and her husband Dana. They were kind enough to see the need for lunch in my eyes and asked if I wanted to try a place called D's Six Pax and Dogz. They said it was a great hot dog joint where you went into the refrigerated Root Beer Cave and picked your own bottle of root beer from over a 100 choices. Obviously...

I was in.

After a Mason Dixon Dog (chili and coleslaw), some fried zucchini and a root beer or two, I was a very happy Pittsburgh tourist. So I checked into my hotel, did a little work and digested before it was time for another fabulous meal, this time at an Indian restaurant. This, too, was delicious... especially the tandoori wings.

But enough about the food... let's get to the lecture at AIP on Wednesday! The whole purpose of this trip was for me to talk to the students about the fine 'art' of pitching animated TV shows. We got a great turnout and everyone SEEMED to stay awake through my nasally diatribe.

I told them about my early career and how I eventually moved into pitching my own shows, starting with Kenny and the Chimp, and then KND and then onto the newer stuff.

I also gave lots of advice about what to do if you DO get your foot in the door of an animation studio. Here are a couple of 'em:

- star storyboard artists who get their work done on time can be late... interns who have something to prove CAN'T

- look for someone who's busy and help them out, even if it's getting them a coffee
- ask if you can try designing a prop, coloring a character or do some simple storyboard revisions.

- be the only one who knows how to fix the copier or knows where everything in the studio is.
- be indispensamable to your supervisor
(we had a supervisor on KND tell the producer that if he let her intern go she'd kill herself on his desk... not THAT'S an intern.)

- no one likes a stalker.

After I was done blathering on, the students had a LOT of great questions and I answered them as best I could... or just made up something that sounded semi-convincing.

And of COURSE I hung around to draw some pictures and sign stuff. But I gotta start signing things 'Mr. W'... writing 'Mr. Warburton' eleventy hundred times is murder on the drawing hand.

Sooper huge thanks to Angela and the animation faculty for bringing me out. I had a blast and I hope the kids did, too.

And special thanks to the sooper fan who heard I liked M&M's and thoughtfully (yet unnecessarily) sorted them out by color in case I had rock star demands of taking out all the green ones!

Oh, Pittsburgh...


This month's issue of DC Comics Cartoon Network Action Pack has Numbuh Four taking us on an impromptu tour of the Treehouse in Operation: CHASED! As always, Maurice Fontenot has combined his awesome penciling prowess with Rob 'The Iguana' Smith's indelible inking to give you 4 pages of comic perfection.

Check out the first page here:

There's also some Secret Saturdays and a lil Samurai Jack in this ish so go get yours from your local comic shop now!

And just because I can... lemme throw you this page from the upcoming Operation: PITS!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oranges, Pliers, and Pittsburgh

So I'm flyin' out to Pittsburgh tomorrow to give the animation students at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh a good talking to. And boy do they need it. Actually, ALL animation students need a good talking to, whether they're in Pittsburgh or not. Maybe I can scare them into a REAL profession. But hopefully not...

Pittsburgh's a pretty great town. I had never been there before, but got my first opportunity whilst in Canada of all places. Here's how:

I was at the Ottawa Animation Festival back in 2006. Operation: ZERO, the sooper huge KND TV movie had been accepted into the feature category and Operation: LICORICE made it into the Animation for Children slot (and later took the prize!). In the course of non-stop screenings and events, I found myself accosted, more than once, by gaggles of students demanding I submit a recipe to the animator's cookbook they were putting together.

A cookbook?

I've been asked for jobs, sketches, autographs and money, but NEVER for a recipe. Upon further questioning, and a few Jedi mind-tricks, I learned some more about this culinary query.

Turns out it was the dare-I-say brilliant idea of Art Institute of Pittsburgh animation professor Angela Love. She thought up the cookbook as an ice-breaker, a way for students to have an excuse to talk to big-shot animators they might be nervous about going up to and starting some dialogue. Not that most animators are even remotely intimidating... but ya gotta admit, it's a great idea to get people talking!

They called it Oranges and Pliers, figuring that animators and cooking had just about as much in common (although you'd be surprised how many animators absolutely LOVE to cook). Not me though... check out my entry:

I kept in touch with Angela afterwards and was quite honored when she later asked me to give the commencement speech for AIP's graduation (the picture up top is the beautiful Soldiers and Sailors Hall where I got to wear a cap and gown and blab on and on about my career, drinking habits, and throw a hearty 'go get 'em' to the students.)

And now Angela's asked me to come and give a talk to her current batch of students on the 'art' of pitching an animated show... so off I go!

Did mention they have sandwiches with french fries in 'em in Pittsburgh?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I STILL can't believe it. I keep pinching myself (more than usual) but they're STILL HERE. Yes... I have just received 3 (count 'em) THREE copies of my very first ever childrens book '1000 TIMES NO'!

It's been a looooooooong time since I finished the art, so it's great to finally see this thing become real.

And it's still a loooooooooong time before the book hits the stores. Well, May 1st isn't THAT far away, but it feels like an eternity to me.

But if you really want to make sure you get one you can always pre-order a copy (or twenty) at AMAZON or BARNES AND NOBLE or BORDERS or at CHAOS if you're Australian. I assume it's lots of other places, too.

And I'm already booking some readings at schools, stores and a book fair in Philadelphia which should be pretty exciting. And who knows, maybe I'll be coming 'round to your town! Unless you live in, like, China or Australia. That probably won't happen but I'm perfectly willing to go if you fly me out.

I'll be posting some information soon on how to contact me if you'd like me to come do a reading 'round your neck of the woods (if it's relatively close to NYC, that is).

In the meantime, I'll just be sitting here staring at my book. Staring... and loving...

Monday, February 16, 2009


So my chat with Mr. David Levy at this year's Kidscreen Summit went off without a hitch. I'm particularly proud of the fact that out of all the appearances I've done- at schools, auctions, conventions, game releases, etc there have been absolutely NO injuries. There's something to be said for that, although I'm not sure what.

And we got a pretty nice turnout for this one, although the grand ballroom we were in made it feel a tad small. We showed a clip from the KND finale and then Mr. Levy slapped me with the usual hard-hitting questions about how I got started in the business, how I go about the creative process, managing a show, pitching, dealing with rejection, etc. The great thing about being interviewed about yourself is that, in general, you know all the answers. Or at least most of them.

Thanks to all those that came and hung out afterwards to say 'hey'! It's always appreciated!

You can read some more about the interview at Mr. Levy's blog HERE as well as his experiences in the wilds of Kidscreen!

In publishing news... rumour has it that the first copies of my first book, 1000 Times NO have hit the offices of Harpercollins! I'll be sure to post pics when I get a copy!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I mentioned this a long time ago on the old Sooper Secret KND Production Blog, but when former KND operative Scott Vincent sent me this pic the other day I thought it'd be nice to post it up.

Somewhere out in Red Hook, Brooklyn, a law-breaker with VERY good taste threw up some KND imagery, and while I'm flattered, I can't really approve it.

I mean, they're pretty off model, right? It's tempting to go over there and slather it with some post-its asking for some big revisions.

And in more law-abiding news, if you're in town for the big KIDSCREEN SUMMIT, don't forget to come see me at:

Cracking the Code—A chat with Codename: Kids Next Door creator Tom Warburton

Find out what makes one of the industry's top toon talents tick. Kids Next Door creator Tom Warburton talks candidly with David Levy about his creative process, the realities of producing six seasons of a series, collaborating with network execs, maintaining your artistic vision, pitching effectively and much more. He'll also open up about his newest projects-rumor has it he's awaiting the release of his first kids book and has a pilot in production for Disney.

If ya need more info- check it HERE!

Monday, February 9, 2009


After all my crazy storyboard pitchin' last week, I actually got a chance to wander around the Disney TV Animation studio to say hey to assorted people I know... or don't know. But I can't say hey to people without saying 'hey, draw me a picture!'

So here's what I got:

Herobear by Mike Kunkel

I was already a HUGE fan of Herobear and the Kid before I met Mr. Kunkel at Cartoon Network a couple years ago. He was working on Juniper Lee and I immediately assaulted him with heaps of praise and adulation... but he kept interrupting to tell me how much his kids loved KND. So he drew me a Herobear pic and I made him a sketch and sent a pile of KND stuff for his kids. I hadn't seen him since then, but there he was at Disney working on the upcoming Kid Knievel... which is lookin' pretty good!

Phineas and Ferb by Dan Povenmire

A while back, Former KND Writer of Wrongs Andy Rheingold had suggested I should call Dan to get advice on navigating the waters of Disney. He was really helpful, so I was thrilled to get a chance to meet him and hang out for a while. Phineas and Ferb is kicking huge acres of butt for Disney Channel right now and he's still having a blast making it!

Spongebob by Derek Drymon

Derek is one of those guys I've been dying to meet for years but has successfully managed to remain out of my sight. I finally found him at Cartoon Network where he's doing a couple shorts for Craig McCracken's Toonstitute.

A dog by Chris Battle

I know Mr. Battle from when I was working at Cartoon Network on my pilots. He's one of the rockinest character designers in LA and is pumping out some amazing art. Lately, it's been on Kid Knievel.

The great things about getting all these people to draw in my sketchbook is that it gets filled up faster and with better drawings! Nice...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Soooooo I was just out in LA to pitch the storyboard for this here pilot thing I got going on. And as you all know, animation isn't something that you can do yourself. Well, you CAN... it just takes a heck of a lot longer. Regardless, when I think of storyboard sooper stars, I think of Kim Arndt. While most of us tear out our hair, beat our breasts and gnash our teeth as each storyboard panel leeches the lifeblood through our pencil (or stylus), Kim just toodles along making the triple most awesomest drawings without a drop of sweat. With but a few lines she pulls an amazing pose, a genuine expression, or a hilarious gag. She makes it look so darn EASY!

Man, I hate her.

But just because I hate her doesn't mean I won't hire her!

So Kim took our script and storyboarded it with the help of amazing storyboard artists Jesse Schmal and Todd Myers. And once it was done it was off to LA to pitch it.

As you can see from the pic above, the board is posted up in a big conference room in sequential order (there are actually a couple more boards to the left). And then when the planets are all in alignment and the executives have been wrangled it's time to pitch it!

Which means you're PERFORMING the story before a crowd of people. Panel by panel, scene by scene, line by line, you're acting it out, voicing the characters, timing the punchlines, yelling the sound effects, laughing at your own jokes and hoping they're laughing with you.

And while I'm pretty comfortable getting up in front of people and making a fool of myself, it's kind of scary if you think about it. So you don't think about it- you just get up and go.

And that's just what I did... twice. Once before the Disney development folks and then again to them and their boss.

And to be honest... I think it rocked.

And now we wait...

Still, I wonder if they would have liked it more if the panels weren't so BLURRY!