Hanford High's JG Quintel uses his talents on Cartoon Network
Oct 31, 2011 (The Fresno Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Back when JG Quintel was a student at Hanford High, he thought the short films he made for class assignments were just a fun way to do homework. They ended up being the foundation for a career: Quintel has his own series, "Regular Show," on Cartoon Network.
"Regular Show" follows the animated adventures of Mordecai (voiced by Quintel), a 23-year-old blue jay, and his best buddy Rigby (voiced by William Salyers), a 23-year-old raccoon along with their oddball friends. It launched in September 2010 and the third season began last month.
The show picked up an Emmy nomination its first year. It lost to "Disney's Prep & Landing: Operation Secret Santa" but as far as Quintel is concerned, being nominated really is an honor.
"It's really nice to get recognition for the work we do," Quintel says. "We've only been on the air for a year, but we've been working on it much longer."
Quintel has been working toward this point his entire life. During his sophomore year of high school, his father gave him a camera that could shoot four frames per second. He used it to film animated shorts starring LEGO men and then crude paper cutouts. He added sound effects, voices and music through an elaborate set-up of TVs and VCRs.
"I did that for all my projects in high school. It was a lot of work, but a lot more fun than standing in front of the class pointing at a poster board. I remember we did this one project that was for an AP literature class. We did this 'Seinfeld-esque' thing where we cut out pictures of the heads of the characters so we could attach them to the cutouts. Shortly after that I tried to do hand-drawn animation," Quintel says.
After being turned down by the California Institute of the Arts, Quintel attended College of the Sequoias and College of the Canyons in Valencia. On his third attempt, Quintel was accepted to Cal Arts.
He didn't know it at the time, but during his four years at the Institute the basis for "Regular Show" began to take shape.
Cal Arts students play a game before starting their real student projects. They toss words into a hat with the idea to do as much animation as possible in 48 hours based on the one word drawn.
One year, the word was lollipop.
"The guy I came up with was this guy who was a lollipop getting kicked out of a restaurant for paying with lollipops," Quintel says. "He became Pops in 'Regular Show.' "
Mordecai was a character Quintel created for a film about a blue jay that escapes from the zoo, which he never ended up making.
"It takes me a long time when I am designing characters and because I liked him, I used him in my senior film. I made this film about two guys in a gas station and one slips the other acid. Mordecai is one of the characters they morph into. I had this idea from another film of a gumball machine and put that character in," Quintel says.
Rigby was a doodle he made on a Post-It note while working as a writer, creative director and storyboard artist for "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack." He still has that doodle.
Quintel, who grew up as a fan of "Futurama" and "The Simpsons," always knew he wanted to work in animation. The only thing that changed was he went from wanting to be an animator to being more interested in writing and creating shows.
After working on "Clone Wars," "Flapjack" and "Camp Lazlo," Quintel got to pitch his idea for "Regular Show."
He has come a long way since the primitive films he made for class projects. He directs a crew of about 35 who now are working on an order of 40 more episodes. It takes nine months to go from the idea sessions with the writers to final product.
"What we are trying to do is make a cartoon that's not cartoony," Quintel says. "The characters speak regularly like everyone does. The problems they deal with are regular things. I really wanted to make something that adults could enjoy."
And that's what he has done with the rather generically named "Regular Show." His original ideas for the title included "Normal Show" and "Weird Show."
"I thought 'Weird Show' was too on the nose. I wanted people to wonder what this was about," Quintel says.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (559)441-6355. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.
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