Joe Sparrow / Illustrator - Animator - Designer / 07758224292 /

Monday, 3 August 2009


This isn't so much a review than it is a recommendation: GO WATCH SOME FLAPJACK. I've been watching a lot recently and pretty much fallen in love with it. Created in 2008 by Mark Van Orman, a cartoonist who worked on a number of CN shows before, it tells the tale of a young boy named Flapjack and his piratical "friend" Captain K'nuckles on their (often misdirected) search for "adventure".

The often gruesome, somewhat Kricfalusci-esque (although Kricfalusci will have probably gone on record saying he hates it) style of the show draws comparison to shows like Spongebob Squarepants (especially given the nautical theme) but I think the charm of the characters, both in appearance and voiceacting, more than gives Flapjack the edge. I saw a lot of pictures of the main character on the internet before I started watching the show, and I always thought this little sailor fellow was sort of ugly, and he was designed that way just to be sickly and gross. Supposedly, Flapjack was going to be voiced initially by none other than Paul Reubens, a.k.a. Pee-Wee Herman, which I think would have cemented this portrayal of him as this annoying little sailor guy. However, on the first day of voiceacting, Herman didn't show up, so Van Orman himself took to the stage to give a voice to the little fella, and it supposedly went so well that they kept it.

As a result, Flapjack is a really rare character in the world of kids' cartoons: he's one of those overenthusiastic, naïve main characters (in the same vein as Spongebob) that never once gets annoying. Something about the little ways he imitates Captain K'nuckles so eagerly to try to impress him, something about the way he has this utterly innocent adoration of his mother (who is a whale called Bubbie) - it's all just very endearing.

Sorry about the low quality of the pictures here - the only reliable place I can find to watch the show is on youtube (unusually).

Something else that excels in Flapjack is the comedy and comic timing, which is exquisite. It also gives rise to a lot of "reaction faces" - facial extremes that give a sort of punchline to a lot of the comic situations. As it's a sort of comedy I really like, I spent pretty much all afternoon yesterday sketching the facial extremes I liked from a couple of episodes.

I'm pleased with them, anyhow. The one thing I mildly dislike about the drawing style of the show is the inconsistency of line (if you look at a picture of Flapjack you can see that the black lines that denote the characters thicken ever so slightly in certain spots, often where two lines join, like at the base of his hat) - it makes the drawing look a little forced and unnatural, as if the lines were a case of "filling in" rather than just drawing them. In any case, the sketches I did were just line sketches, so I ignored it in my reproduction.

Stand by for a journal entry soon talking about the character design project I'm currently working on, which these studies are meant to be informing.

Flapjack episodes you can watch should be found here, unless youtube gets wise to it or something and takes them down. Go catch them while you can!


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