Cartoon Network Studios (CNS) unveiled today Cartoon Cartoons, the next evolution of its prolific animated shorts program, signaling the studio’s largest commitment to animated shorts production to date. Cartoon Cartoons will be the studio’s first dedicated shorts program in over a decade, with a mission to innovate the art of animated storytelling, showcase diverse stories, discover new voices and mentor the next generation of animators. The news was announced today by Sam Register, President of Cartoon Network Studios and Warner Bros. Animation (WBA).
“Cartoon Network Studios has a proud legacy of animated shorts. We are building on that legacy today with a program that will champion new and diverse voices, energize creativity and provide resources for artists to share their stories with the world,” said Register. “I am so grateful to the producers serving on our Creative Council and our partner organizations for their commitment to make Cartoon Cartoons a successful and creatively rewarding endeavor.”
The initial CNS shorts program began in 1995 as World Premiere Toons and thrived as a creative incubator for artists to freely develop and create animated content. Shorts have continued to be an important part of CNS’ production pipeline ever since and in many different forms. Through its existence, the program served as a launch pad for a number of innovative artists and highly successful award-winning series such as Dexter’s Laboratory (Genndy Tartakovsky), The Powerpuff Girls (Craig McCracken), Chowder (C.H. Greenblatt), Regular Show (J.G. Quintel) and Steven Universe (Rebecca Sugar).
Shorts produced through Cartoon Cartoons will vary in length and subject matter, from character driven and comedic narratives to experimental animation, for a variety of audiences spanning preschoolers to adults. As they explore, develop and refine their ideas, artists will receive focused studio support from a dedicated production team and veteran producer mentorship. Finished shorts have the potential to be globally distributed by WarnerMedia across a variety of platforms including linear broadcast through Cartoon Network, streaming through HBO Max, online and much more. The program will be open to artists and producers of all experience levels from both inside and outside Cartoon Network Studios.
As an artist-driven initiative, Cartoon Cartoons will be led by the program’s Creative Council – an all-star rotating group of experienced, diverse and innovative producers. This group will provide peer to peer mentorship and creative guidance for the participating artists and their projects in the program.
- Pete Browngardt – An Emmy-nominated producer, Pete currently serves as executive producer and showrunner on the HBO Max series Looney Tunes Cartoons. Prior to that, Browngardt was the creator and executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning series Uncle Grandpa as well as creator of the Annecy and Emmy Award-winning series Secret Mountain Fort Awesome. Both series were developed as part of the previous CNS shorts program, The Cartoonstitute.
- Manny Hernandez – Director, writer and storyboard artist best known for his work on Cartoon Network’s BAFTA award-winning series We Bare Bears, Hernandez is currently the executive producer of the upcoming spinoff, We Baby Bears. In 2018, he was nominated for an Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Storyboarding in a Television Broadcast Production, and was recently named one of Animation Magazine‘s Rising Stars of 2021. Beginning as a caricature artist, Hernandez attended the California Institute of the Arts and later landed a job as a feature storyboard artist at Pixar Animation Studios. He has been credited on several feature films including the Academy Award-winning Inside Out, Monsters University and Coco.
- Katie Rice – An accomplished artist who has worked professionally in animation since the age of 19, Katie rose through the ranks inside the character design and storyboard departments of multiple series such as The Mighty B!, Pinky Malinky, El Tigre and the Golden Globe-nominated film The Book of Life. She also created the webcomic Camp Weedonwantcha, which was later developed into an animated short for Nickelodeon. Rice currently serves as a series director on Animaniacs, the highly successful reboot of the iconic family series currently airing on Hulu and is also a co-director on a yet to be announced project for Warner Bros. Animation.
- Aminder Dhaliwal – An animator and cartoonist, Aminder has directed, storyboarded and written on multiple series for Sony Pictures Animation, Disney TV Animation, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. She was named one of Variety’s 10 Animators to Watch in 2020 and her first graphic novel, Woman World, was nominated for an Ignatz Award for Outstanding Online Comic. Her second graphic novel, Cyclopedia Exotica, releases in May 2021.
Equally important to Cartoon Cartoons’ identity as an artist-driven initiative is its mission of cultivating diversity and inclusion in the animation industry. The program aims to elevate and promote diverse voices from within the studio as well as attract diverse artists from outside the studio. To aid in those efforts the studio will partner with industry organizations who have had a proven track record of advancing the cause of diversity, equity and inclusion. Founding partner organizations include:
- Black Women Animate Studios (BWA Studios) – Founded by visionary creative Taylor K. Shaw in collaboration with Founding & Managing Partner JLove Calderón — Black Women Animate is a mission-driven animation studio that creates original content and offers production services to the industry’s top studios and production companies. The studio produces programming for broadcast, cable, streaming networks, digital platforms, and live events. BWA Studios is powered by Black female talent across the animation pipeline and is committed to supporting pre-professional and professional Black women, women of color and nonbinary creatives of color in honing their craft, building their industry acumen and providing the resources and access needed to get paid work and in turn, elevate storytelling and inclusion in the industry. www.bwastudios.com
“We are overjoyed to expand our relationship with Cartoon Network Studios to include content creation,” said Shaw, Founder & CEO of BWA. “Together our joint commitment to train, develop and inspire the next generation of animation talent has left a meaningful global impact that we are very proud of. Now, in championing equity and inclusion in the shorts program, we look forward to creating stories and building worlds that are inherently innovative, dynamic and inclusive.”
- Exceptional Minds – A California non-profit of the year, Exceptional Minds is an academy and studio preparing young adults on the autism spectrum for careers in animation, visual effects, 3D gaming, and other related fields in the entertainment industry. Exceptional Minds provides critical technical and work readiness training customized to help its students achieve their full artistic and professional potential, creating a new pipeline of talented artists and fostering inclusive hiring practices. Exceptional Minds and its partners are building a future where neurodiverse perspectives are vital to the advancement of a more empowered and inclusive society. Follow Exceptional Minds on Facebook (@exceptionalminds1) and Twitter (@EXMinds). exceptional-minds.org
“Exceptional Minds is all about cultivating diverse and innovative artists who can’t wait to dive into this program with Cartoon Network Studios,” said David Siegel, Executive Director of Exceptional Minds. “This partnership builds on years of collaboration and mentorship between our organizations that will bring new stories and fresh voices to the world.”