Thursday, September 15, 2005


SPECIAL ARTICLE: Time for another epic Suite 101 installment!

To make up for lost time, I will post nine (count ‘em, nine) Suite 101 articles here. And, by the time the next installment rolls around, you will have just finished reading them.

Once again, no edits. No alterations. All articles--every single last one--appears here unabridged. You see it all, what the Suite 101 editors and readers saw when they were reading them way back in 2002.

In the Stop It With The Funny Animal Sidekicks article, you’ll find a neat little mathematical error. I divided 42 into 95 without using a calculator--and came up with 2 and some change! The only way that you could end up with 2 is if the number divided into 95 was 47.5. What can I say, guys--that’s pretentious 17-year-old wisdom for you. I’m glad I’m 20.

Send all flame mail to!


Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 5, 2002

by Enoch Allen

Y. Y-7. Y-7 FV. TV-PG. TV-14. TV-MA. All meaningless symbols.

We look at them, and wish that they’d get the hell off our screen, as quickly as possible.

Oh, whoops! I swore! Christians aren’t supposed to swear. I'll pray.

Anyway, I cursed partly because I was frustrated with the staid, starchy BS & P (Broadcast Standards & Practices). They insist on bland-ifying all of our shows, such as what my associate Micah Wright termed. That’s why Cartoon Network has two different blocks of animation for two different audiences: Toonami, and Adult Swim.

The V-chip is a joke. Most who own V-chipped television sets don’t bother to program them, so that they may keep their children from being corrupted.

If they’ve been to public school, then they already have been corrupted.

Imagine all the playground conversations about where babies come from. Some suggest that babies get hand-delivered to mothers via lighting-fast spaceships piloted by aliens from the far corners of the galaxy. And then, some get it right. Babies are conceived by consummation.

But the ones who get it right, must watch the right programs. Well, not really. Think: what animated programs on television (yes, include MTV) talks about how babies are born? They talk about sex, sure, but what about BABIES, the consequence of sex?

Most leave that out.

And, so do animated programs on Cartoon Network--both which are aired during Toonami, and aired during Adult Swim. On Adult Swim Action, they DEFINITELY don’t talk about how babies are born. A conversation like that would seriously dull the program. The reason WHY the program aires on Adult Swim Action is because, the program is supposed to be ACTION-ORIENTED.

So, I have effectively explained away the reason why sexual content is less likely to exist on animated shows aimed at an adult audience. All the same, the BS & P is ever mindful of “sexual implication”. I don’t get it.

What about violence? Okay, off screen the hero impales the enemy with a stick. All that we hear are the squishing sounds of the stick being forcefully inserted into the poor chap’s midsection. NIXED! Well, why? “Mulan” got away with implied nudity, genocide, and mild language. “Teletubbies” once again implied the existence of a homosexual--Tinky Winky carried a purse. Okay, so that stirred some controversy, but the firestorm was over before you could say there was one.

It is usually the animated action-adventure shows on television, such as “Justice League”, that get targeted by these self-proclaimed Morality Squads. Because they are viewed traditionally as the most offense-prone programming on television. Look, BS & P--LOOSEN UP. The Toonami audience watches Adult Swim anyway.

They Shoot Animators, Don't They?

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 5, 2002

Page 1

by Enoch Allen

Once in a while, this happens. Mostly, executives take the fall for it, but every once in a blue moon, animators will get blamed.

Now, if you can’t decode this cryptic, incomplete message than I might just have to spell it out for you. When an animated show fails, either the executive or the animators come up short.

No one is concerned with the cancellation of an animated show. No one. At the end of the day, people go back to work, no one is hurt, and the show fades into memory.

Enter the animator. The animator remembers the show to his deathbed. He remembers that he wasted half of his life on his best idea. And now, he’s pissed that his best idea didn’t work. Now, usually, this is the fault of the executive--he didn’t promote it enough/support it enough/paid a minute’s worth of attention to it.

And, the show’s few fans get press release crap shoved down their throats.

The executive doesn’t have to weather the storm. That’s what PR people are for, right? So that they can put up with the public’s disproval and dissent. When the animator is blamed/targeted, they defend themselves.

Sometimes, there’s more that can be said for such people, who defend their honor all by themselves. Someone who admits that, yes “Scraggydump” may not have been such a great idea for an animated series, but now they might have a better one. AND THEN, THEY REBOUND.

Executives, they’re a strange sort, aren’t they? Me, the Eternal Optimist, would prefer to believe that good--Great--executives actually exist. That there are executives that would take chances with a show, and back it all the way. But good executives are hard to find.

If you’re a beginning animator, and you’re just coming into town, then you take what you can get. Often, that means having to s-e-t-t-l-e. That’s hardly a good thing.

Circumstances change if you’re an Ivy-League school grad. You can shave some years off of working in the industry. Studios are pre-conditioned to giving first preference to overachievers, because their skills seem to be proven. “Those S.O.Bs have degrees to back it up! Aw, come on! Whaddya sayin’? They got it custom made, over the ‘Net?”

So, it doesn’t matter that the “recipient” could have manufactured a sheepskin--the studios don’t believe in investing time, money and intelligence into the sincerity of their applicants, of the legitimacy of their credentials. Seein’ is believin’, ‘cause in Hollywood you’re supposed to be too busy to research things. Now, I’m not implying that college and university grads more often than not--cheat. On the contrary, most of them work very hard. They put their all into what they do. But, there are some who prosper in the industry by scheming. You know that, though.

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It takes skill, talent and perseverance to make an animated show into a success. Sometimes, you almost can’t depend on good stories and word-of-mouth. A good creator knows that he/she can’t leave anything to chance, and even after the show is a blockbuster success, they must not rest on laurels.

Gene Hackman’s character in “Heist” said once, “I don’t tie my shoes without a backup plan.” In the here-today-gone-tonight business of animation, the flavors-of-the-month go first. Those with aces-up-their-sleeves stay in the game.


Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 6, 2002

Page 1

by Enoch Allen

How old do we get when we say “no” to animated programs? Is there any particular age?

I’ve been watching animation for at least a decade and a half, now. That would put my age at two. Because you see, now I’m seventeen (17), a person who hasn’t gained enough experience in things yet. I don’t know nearly as much as I would like to know. Then again, I would like to know everything.

It is a lofty ambition of mine, to know everything. I have a personal library of 1100 books, but the library is mostly composed of paperback children’s/young adult books. And it’s been growing ever since 1995. Besides that, I have two stacks of tapes, about the size of the former Twin Towers. That’s hyperbole, but I hope that it is an hyperbally effective visual demostration of how tall my stacks of tapes are. And they’re mostly filled with “cartoons”.

The first cartoon that I watched was “The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse”, which aired on CBS from 1987 to 1989. Then, it was subsequently rebroadcast on FOX from 1992 to 1993. "Mighty Mouse was great. Then, the horrifically dreadful “COPS” aired on the WB, and I believe that the show was aired from 1988 thereabouts. Back then, I was three years old. I couldn’t tell horrible from mediocre, good from great. Bad from worse. All I know is that I found myself laughing at the no-plot episodes and the funny-looking characters. Funny-looking, cheaply-drawn, misshapen characters.

Then, there was “Batman: The Animated Series”. If you’ve read past articles of mine, you’ll see that I respect the creators of this show. Highly. ‘Nuff said.

“The Addams Family”, which aired on ABC in 1992, before Disney took over. Suffice it to say that the movie was much better. Cheap knock-offs don’t work.

“Beetlejuice”. Same as above.

I do fondly remember, though, “Eek! the Cat”. That was a good cartoon show. “Eek!” was so good, I looked forward to every episode. The show ran for a long time, similar to the length of time that the inferior “Fat Albert” ran. No, I guess that “Eek!” the Cat” did not run for twelve years. It should have, though.

“X-men”. Very good animated series--nothing in that series looked shoddy. I suppose that one could take issue with the synthesized music. I’m not one to nitpick, except when I go into “armchair deconstructionist” mode, but synths just sound awful on an animated action-adventure series. But when you don’t have the budget, you absolutely can’t be faulted.

Page 2

When I hit puberty, I started to take a “pop culture” view towards animation. It seemed to be tailored to kids. Kids’ WB didn’t help my thinking any--in fact, notice that the Saturday morning block that aired on the WB channel was indeed called “Kids’ WB”. Examine their programming--”Pokemon”. “The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries”. “Earthworm Jim”. “Freakzoid”. “Waynehead”. “Histeria!” And then, I was introduced to what is generally regarded as a higher form of animation--Animé.

But before that, mine eyes were opened by “Invasion: America”, a short-lived masterpiece about a boy who’s heir-apparent to a throne on a planet that’s light-years away from Earth. The show was animé-inspired, although I did not know that at the time. All that I knew was that animation could be, indeed, for everyone--not just for the single-digit grade-school crowd. It was also the first time that I realized--that the Japanese were so far ahead of America, at least in terms of animation.

“Esclaflowne”, “Blue Submarine 6”, “Gundam Wing”. Let’s throw in “Cowboy Bebop” while we’re at it. It was a gradual transformation of thinking, a great adjustment. I had to get used to the fact that animation was universal. The art form was and is full of possibilities, though I did not immediately recognize this. I was saved from the threshold of ignorance, by foreigners no less.

Because We're Too Lazy To Do New Ones

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 7, 2002

by Enoch Allen

Okay, so now you watched a show for a long time. Long enough to declare yourself a veteran viewer, a legitimate fan. You see a commercial advertisement for a new episode of that show, and you can’t wait to watch it. You find that the “new” episode consists of compilations from previous ones, spliced together with new footage.

Those episodes, my friends, are what’s called “clip shows”. These shows appear when you know that the cast & crew decided to give themselves a break, and then they feed us swill like “clip shows”.

Why not just air a rerun? That’s much better.

This happens with animated shows, too. Case in point: “Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles” aired not one, but TWO clip shows. I suppose though, that they can be excused because of the costs of creating and producing an entirely new computer-animated episode. And, the studio won’t get up off of any additional cash to make more episodes; they’re tending to other, more lucrative franchises. If new episodes were to be made, the creators had better raise up the funding for additional episodes.

Other shows that engaged in producing “clip shows” were “Eek! the Cat”, “Beetlejuice: The Animated Series”, and “ReBoot”, just to name a few. Sometimes, series that have ample budgets engage in this practice, and that’s when you know that they’re doing it because they’re really tired of making new episodes vs. budgetary reasons.

There are too many shows aired either on cable or on one of the five big networks. And, we have remotes. We can always change channels, and watch shows that have more respect for the viewer. Or, if there’s absolutely nothing on, then we can just pop in a good ol’ movie (if we have DVD or VHS players--most of us should have either one). Either way, we should never settle on being entertained by “clip shows”.

“Clip shows”, I believe, should be abolished. Because fans deserve more than that. If you’ve made a contract to entertain them, then you’re bound to it day and night. The creators have an obligation to please their audience by making episodes of the highest possible caliber. Show business means “show”ing something new, not going back to your library and clipping together stuff we’ve already seen. Because, as the title of this article expressly implies, that’s just being lazy.

General Matters

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 7, 2002

Page 1

by Enoch Allen

I just had to have something to say regarding how the entertainment industry portrays children, both in animation and outside.

Kids, to the filmmakers, have insignificant concerns. Like for example, getting beat up by the school bully would be depicted humorously. Or taking out the garbage. Something you’re supposed to do. Or playing video games. Gotta go to bed on time, so video-game playing is restricted. Despite the fact that the kid probably has to endure another round of hell at school, and is just rewarding himself for enduring the hell he faced the previous afternoon.

In “The Iron Giant”, the character of Hogarth has seemingly nothing to do. Sure, he lives in a single-parent household, with a mother who’s too cynical--unhealthily so. His spot-on description of Mickey Mantle and his “magic bat” fails to impress his mother. Yes, Hogarth is viewed as a boy who lives in his imagination, not as a person with very real concerns, and this character--along with major portions of this story--reflect the society’s behavior towards children. Americans do not take children seriously enough. It is only when they shoot up schools and take drugs and engage in general unlawfulness that we take serious note, and only because some of us can’t afford to ignore the endangered young anymore.

Children’s entertainment has been conditioned to speak to the psychologically underdeveloped child, reducing entire complex stories to simple sentences of summary. We as adults can’t look at “Pokemon” or “Zoids” or “Alienators: Evolution” and take it seriously. Ah, but when we watch shows like “The Practice” and “Law & Order” and “Gilmore Girls”--yes, even “Gilmore Girls”--we can accept those episodes and view them as legitimate fare, even though some of their episodes contain plots that are just as infantile as “cartoons”.

I believe that I can make a correlation between the way we view children and the way that we view their entertainment, “cartoons”. Do you ever recall hearing an adult make fart jokes? Okay, do you remember correcting that adult? I’m just talking about someone you know, someone over the age of 18. Do you?

What did you say to that adult? “Stop being a kid?” “That’s so gross. You’re beyond the fifth grade?” Any of the aforementioned comments ring a bell? Okay, now let me tie up some loose ends. Since when did you associate fart jokes with being infantile? Granted, it is very juvenilistic, but since the majority of kids do it, it’s immature? I request that you think again.

Page 2

And so, it is with animation. It features paper-thin plots (situations), deus ex machinas, MacGuffins galore--hell, anything to resolve the story in a quick hurry. More complex shows which have more screen time to resolve conflicts get respected, even when and if they flub up in terms of revealing character and plot. No fair.

( Thanks to for information on the animated masterpiece “The Iron Giant”.)

Ours, and No One Else's

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 7, 2002

by Enoch Allen

Have you ever met Animé fans? Have you ever seen how rabid some of them are? Some of them will go to extremities to defend their entertainment. They are so vocal about Animé, that they would deafen NRA conventions. And yet, even though they are adamant about the quality of Japanese imports, there’s a certain kind of territorialism that they have over Animé, as if you need to belong to an honorary Geek Club in order so that you might earn the right to be regarded as an honorary “Otaku”.

Is Animé ours? (Meaning, the select group of people that like Animé--you can count me as one of them.) If so, how did we come to have ownership of the genre? We sure didn’t buy it--most Otakus don’t have any money to speak of, besides that which they bring to the conventions and the festivals.

Actually, middle-aged Americans were the first to fall in love with Animé. The two Freds, Fred Patten and Fred Ladd, were instrumental in getting Animé shown here in the U.S. The latter, Fred Ladd, is widely known for introducing young Americans to “Astro Boy”, a creation of Osamu Tezuka’s that was subsequently sliced and diced by NBC. Then, he brought “Speed Racer” over to us, and the Animé fandom began thereafter.

In the ‘80s, the fan population exploded. In the ‘90s, Animé festival attendance increased exponentially--another explosion, induced by Animé imports such as “Ghost in the Shell”, “Project A-Ko”, and the extremely successful “Akira” (not necessarily in that order, so I apologize for being a little bit anachronistic). Younger audiences, seething from realizing that these animated treasures were being “Americanized” (cut to pieces and horribly dubbed), took the initiative and began to demand better treatment of these releases. They got it too, but not before fighting hard for it.

So, now that they have fought hard for their cause (and were victorious--sort of), some of them feel that the entire genre belongs to them, because it cannot be trusted in other hands. But they are just fans of a genre that, by default, is not theirs. It belongs to the ones who created it.

(Thanks to and for information on the first Animé distributors in America.)

Stop It With The Funny Animal Sidekicks

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 8, 2002

by Enoch Allen

Storytellers have used this device so much that it has become a cliché. The funny animal sidekicks have to stop. For us seriously mature viewers, they have become a distraction. A bane on our entertainment value. And even though their appearances have decreased in recent years, we’d wish that they get the same silent treatment that Jar-Jar Binks received in “Star Wars: Episode II”. These annoyances help characterize Animation as “just for kids”.

In rare cases, animal sidekicks are very welcomed. WHEN THEY DON’T TALK. In “Princess Mononoke”, Ashitaka had an animal (I forgot what kind of animal it was, but one more viewing of the movie would tell me) that was just as communicative, but he didn’t need to break into a lame wisecrack to effectively convey his feelings. The animators enlisted body language as the communication style of choice, and the scene was all the more effective because of it.

“The Lion King” would have been so great, if it wasn’t for Timon and Pumbaa. I know that I’ll get razed for this, but I firmly believe that those two characters drove down the entertainment value of the picture. Their wackily-sung “Hakuna Matata” added nothing to the picture. Moreover, it was bloated and overlong. AMPAS thought it was charming, and nominated it for an Oscar.

Jar-Jar Binks was one animal sidekick that almost every Star Wars fan hated. George Lucas took note, and reduced his speech in the sequel. I myself was indifferent--Jar-Jar was annoying for only as long as he was on-screen, which wasn’t long at all. But in animated movies, animal creatures are exhibited for at least half the running length of the animated film. In “Hunchback of Notre Dame”, the three gargoyles were on-screen for a grand total of 42 minutes. And the film was 95 minutes long. If you divide 42 into 95, then you get a negotiable 2. If you added thirty seconds to the length of time that they were on-screen, than you could divide their time evenly into 95. Either way, they chewed up way too much screen time.

Eddie Murphy’s performance--pre-”Shrek”--in “Mulan” as the title character’s advisor, was amazingly adept at getting the viewer to hate him. Murphy’s a great performer, with the right roles--even in voice acting. But take a look at it this way: reputations can be ruined quick, and Murphy was on the verge of unintentionally ditching his.

If the studios are reading this, let them know that "funny" animal sidekicks are NOT FUNNY. Neither are the lame jokes, the colorful personalities, and the inane plots that they’re stuck in.

A Vision of the Future of TV Animation, in Three Acts

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 8, 2002

by Enoch Allen

This will be a short introduction, as I will try something that I have never tried before. Being that I am an aspiring writer, I have a fetish for dramatizing things. I like to take the Real, and put it into the What If. Some interesting things come out as a result.

As the way that things are going in TV animation right now, things look bleak. We have seen, over the course of the past two years, more good shows cancelled than bad ones. This only proves that some executives don’t know what they’re really doing. And that’s sad, but I hate to play the Blame Game and “blame” executives for the failure of a show. That’s just tacky. But it cannot be disputed that they play an important role in the programming and evolution of the networks, and without them, things may be worst off than they are.

The following is a brief depiction of the gathering of the suits, circa 2006, depicted as per my vision in three acts.

Act One:

The scene is a plush office on a high-rise floor of your choice. The office contains an oakwood desk cluttered with paperweights, memos, propositions, and writing utensils. Oh, and a phone. There are two seats, one adjacent. Two very important-looking men are staring at--

The executive, dressed in Armani. Reclined in the executive‘s seat, shoes on desk, eyes intensely focused on the two very important-looking men. The Armani-dressed man is named “Billy”.

The two other very important-looking men will just be known as Short Man and Lanky Man. They are yes-men, who don’t have enough of an individuality to be recognized by unique names.

Billy: So, can anyone tell me about how “The Wacky Adventures of Hell-Guy” is doing in the ratings?

Short Man: Not very good. We getting beat to pieces on Saturday mornings by original, unique shows currently airing on other networks.

Lanky Man: Our failures probably have something to do with importing too many cheaply made shows.

Billy (shrugs): That’s business logistics. In order to secure my position, I have to do what I think is best for the company.

Short Man: Um, sir, if I may. You have been plundering the company’s assets for a long time, usually under detection. Might I be so bold as to say that you are doing a poor job, adhering to your ideal of “Doing what’s best for the company”.

Billy (nervous): How’d you find out?

Lanky Man: It’s pretty much general knowledge that you’ve been using the company’s resources to fund your sex habits. Nobody hasn’t said anything because, we’re all your friends. And, you pay us much money.

Short Man: In order to put us back on the top, you have to cease extracting money from the corporate bank account. I see that you have a few specs on your desk . . .

Billy (quickly shoving documents into desk): Um, yeah, I’m taking a look at a few things.

Act Two:

Same place, with the players in the same positions, but it‘s a day later.

Billy: Okay. I’ve come up with a new strategy. We will order twelve more episodes for “The Adventures of Hell-Guy”, for another season, plus we will order an additional twelve episodes for a new series.


Lanky Man: And that’s what you call a strategy.

Billy (shrugging): Well . . .

Short Man: We think it’s a nice one, sir, but we think that there’s something missing, you know. Just a little something.

Billy: The fans seem to think that we have a bottomless pit of resources. That, that we can go out and purchase Microsoft. Ah, how I wish that were true. I know that you have to give a little, to get something. But, this strategy may already sink me. This is the reason why we’d never think of hiring anyone involved in the creative world, because they would make decisions that favor the creators vs. decisions that favor upper management. I choose to play it safe.

Lanky Man: You know, there has been $31,560,000 allotted to this division. So far, we’ve spent--

Billy (fuming): I know how much we’ve SPENT!

Act Three:

Billy: You know, I apologize for the way that I acted during yesterday’s meeting. It was rather ungentlemanly of me.

Lanky Man: Apology accepted.

Short Man: Apology accepted.

Billy: Look, guys, I know you’re on to me. I’m accustomed to that. I know that our budget was at the $31,560,000 level.

Short Man: May I ask, how much do we have to work with now?

Billy (beat): $19,476,087.

Lanky Man (optimistically): That’s more than enough to work with. After all, it only costs $600,000 to order an episode.

Billy: Multiplied by 13, per season.

Short Man (counting his fingers): That’s only $7.8 million. You’ll have almost $12 million left over.

Billy abruptly adjourns the meeting. And, as voyeurs, we are left without a clue as to where the additional money is going.

This is, as according to my vision, the future of TV animation as I perceive it. It may change, hopefully for the better.

Just Imagine: Animated Adaptations of Previously Published Material

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 9, 2002

Page 1

by Enoch Allen

Okay. I get it. This is a really long title for an article, and this article won’t be nearly as ambitious as I hoped it would be. But then, I will only do ambitious articles once in a great while.

Once in a great while, for me, means doing it every two weeks. Unfortunately, with my kind of schedule, I can’t do it much more often than that. In addition to working on a screenplay, I am also working on a second novel--which I am worried, that my publisher might sell all the rights of that novel to Disney, and then they can screw it up and the material will start to stink to high heaven.

This article will be about adapting previously published material for the big screen. Does it work? And, given the track record of those who “tampered” with published material in the past, can it ever work?

It doesn’t for Disney. As you should recall, not too long ago they released an unfaithful adaptation of Victor Hugo’s bestselling classic, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. Roger Ebert gave it four stars, for some inexplicable reason. Many critics were sharply divided over this pitiful excuse for an adaptation. Some hated it; others were madly in love with it. Unless if you treat the source material with enough respect, that you would faithfully and acceptably transpose someone else’s work onto the sliver screen, it’s not an adaptation. It’s a crap job.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t have a publisher yet. But I was using the second paragraph to illustrate exactly what I don’t want to happen--the destruction of delicate material.

I suppose that the American public can reason out for themselves that the novel is not all that bad. Whether they’d want to read it after the filmmakers and the studios turned the material into a cinematic travesty is completely up to them. But I’m willing to bet that they wouldn’t go within one hundred yards of the novel, because of the powerful images, which has been indelibly planted into their heads.

What about “Peter Pan”? The novel by J.M. Barrie that got turned into a beloved classic? That’s an adaptation done right, if you ask me. But the material suited the medium just fine--after all, it was a “children’s novel”. Don’t get me wrong, even at the grand old age of 17 I still read those kinds of books. Because they tell important, meaningful stories.

Page 2

Lesson for the filmmakers: If you plan on turning a novel into an animated film anytime soon, just remember not to Disney-fy it. Because chances are that novel has fans that will catch you in a dark parking lot somewhere, and they will not claim responsibility for whatever happens afterwards.


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