A Graphic Take on Tweens

The creators of CarpeDiem and TV-Loonland’s My Life Me take a break to tell us about their great-looking new project.

Four excitable tweens try to make sense of the joys and anxieties of life in the hip, new 52 x 11 animated series My Life Me, co-produced by TV-Loonland and Canadian studio CarpeDiem Film & TV. The of-the-moment show is co-created by JC Little, Cindy Filipenko and rising manga star Svetlana Chmakova, who created the popular TOKYOPOP comic Dramacon.

Little says she was inspired to create the show by her daughter’s daily misadventures at school. ‘Early teens tend to wear their emotions in strong colors … and black and white,’ she notes. ‘Putting a lock on four really different personalities, by forcing them to work together in a ‘pod,’ was bound to produce some great sparks. Making each of the kids intensely mercurial accelerates the fun!’

Little, who is also directing the project, recruited her friends, writer Filipenko and artist Chmakova to bring her concept to life with the aid of development and production house CarpeDiem. ‘They really pulled it together beautifully through development and production,’ she adds.

According to Chmakova, My Life Me is vaguely similar to her previous manga as they both center on kids with conflicting personalties who are interested in comics. ‘The major differences I see are in the setting, the age of both the characters and the intended audience, and also the genre’My Life Me is a lighthearted episodic comedy, while Dramacon is a romantic drama with comedy elements.’

High on the list of Little’s priorities was keeping the warmth of the 2D traditional look, while taking advantage of the possibilities of the digital pipeline. ‘The animation is an interesting hybrid,’ she adds. ‘We’re really trying to push the boundaries of cut-out digital animation. We’ve been really careful in the construction of the characters, as the human form can be quite unforgiving in the cut-out technique.’

Little mentions that the show’s animators still do quite a bit of drawing to help the fluidity along. ‘Preserving the hand-drawn line quality was a big factor too; vector perfection in line quality is easy to get lost in, and the perfectly smooth line was something we actively avoided. The backgrounds are created in 3D with special programming to keep our art direction within the ‘print’ world. Our talented team succeeded in creating a completely 2D environment in 3D, which has obvious production advantages.’

Dealing honestly with the challenges of being a teenager was another major goal. ‘Cindy and I wanted to make TV shows that resonate with real people. I spent years producing literally hundreds of TV commercials mainly selling sugar,’ she adds. ‘A lot of great animation has been made in the name of sugar. But I got tired of it. I wouldn’t want to create something that wasn’t meaningful and I know a lot of animators who feel the same way.’

Little is also proud of the special manga-infused look of the show. ‘One of the show’s big selling points is its unique look’the strong color with black & white panels, the manga devices and screen tones, the brazen baring of over-the-top emotions. The design asserts itself as animated print manga, rather than anime.’

Both Little and Chmakova express their enthusiasm about the thriving global animation scene. ‘These days you can do so much from the comfort of the home studio,’ says Little. ‘If you can stand working with children underfoot’so many artists have been set free by the home set-up, myself included. But working in a big studio environment is also important, and being able to work as a team player matters whether you’re in-house or in-home!’

Now that they’ve seen their tweens come to animated life, the creators of My Life Me are quite positive about the possibilities of the medium. ‘If you want to get into comics, I would suggest starting a web-comic and researching ways to promote it to your potential audience.’ Says Chmakova. ‘If things go really well, you might not even need a publisher’I have heard of people who are making a living off their web-comics just on their own.’ Meanwhile, Little has six simple words to guide you along the way: ‘Stop dithering and go for it!’

For more info, visit www.loonland.com.