The idea for Packages from Planet X came about after several weeks of research and revisiting what I liked as a 10 year old kid: Sci-fi, comic books, Super Heroes, Robots, Space Ships, Aliens, monsters, and anything to do with Outer Space. I did a bunch of research on Planet X which had an interesting mythology... a mysterious roving planet inhabited by ancient aliens. So there was this nugget of an idea, but it needed more thought. I put Planet X in my mental parking lot and waited for something to connect it to later...
While flipping through some comic books for ideas, I came across one of those old novelty toy ads in between the superhero action... think X-Ray vision glasses and the Surprise Package. What exactly was in that package? For fifty cents, it was no doubt something really cheap. But what could be in that package? What if they came from some place really bizarre? What if they came from a place like... Planet X? That's when the concept came together.
I initially envisioned PFPX as a feature animated film, so the designs were less cartoony. Dan was much younger, average and nerdy. I liked the idea that he was not a hero, but he had the potential to be heroic. Most kids are that kid, so it's relatable. Dan's character evolved from there. Above are some of my early attempts at finding Dan...
The direction changed a few times. The designs became more heroic and Sci-fi.
Here is a younger Dan with a vest that came in one of the packages. Maybe it had certain powers... I turned the vest pockets at angles to form a subtle "X."
Below is an older version of Dan. We narrowed in on this version for a while. I also added the subtle "X" to his shoes. From the side they look like upside down "V's," but from the top they also formed an "X."
Some early versions of Dan with Troll, who is Dan's best bud.
My initial version of Amanda (below)
Early on, there were two rival comic shop owners dueling over the Packages from Planet X. One (below) acted as the antagonist trying to get his hands on the packages for "not so good purposes," while the other acted as a mentor to Dan, Troll and Amanda. We narrowed down to having just one comic shop owner named Gary, who was clueless about the packages, but gave Dan and Troll advice from a comic world view. His wacky advice based on issue 108 of the X-men, for example, sometimes helped our trio solve the latest dilemma. Both characters were inspired by comic shop owners from my home town, particularly Gary, who was the owner during the time I frequented the store to buy my monthly dose of the Uncanny X-men and other favorites. Both characters were eventually dropped from the line-up. Rather than having dueling comic shop owners, they became rival scientists (Uncle Rory and Copernicus.)
The character below started out as a somewhat creepy and unsettling Tiki that would just silently "be there" in the background at the most unexpected and opportune times, which always startled Dan. Initially the first package from Planet X, he was the "instruction manual" for the packages delivered in a monotone Tibetan Monk-like voice.I thought it would be a cool and even funny alternative to the overused and sometimes annoying comic relief sidekick e.g. Jar Jar Binks (the absolute worse ever). Tiki evolved into a totem pole with three distinct personalities that always gave conflicting advice. Hence the name Thriki. He was ultimately replaced by the character CuRT.
It's been a while since my last post... In addition to my Alternative Humor day job, I am busy teaching a course in Visual Development for the animators and illustrators at Cleveland Institute of Art. Part of the class is devoted to teaching the history of Visual Development, starting with Disney's Albert Hurter and working our way up to present day vis dev artists. The class is also visually developing and adapting a story to pitch to a hypothetical director, using their own artisitic POV and outside influences.
I hope the students are having as much fun in this class as I am!
The animated sci-fi/comedy TV show Packages from Planet X premiered on Disney XD this past Saturday morning, July 13, at 8:30 a.m. Needless to say, it was an exciting morning. The first episode included Feast Beastand Brain Briefs.
It was a long time in the making (7 years since I first pitched the concept) but I think worth the wait. I am no doubt completely biased, but I think it turned out to be a really fun show, thanks to the many people involved from AG Properties, DHX Media, Disney XD, and Teletoon. Thank you for your persistence, hard work, passion and for believing in this show!
This is the poster that I created for the advanced screening.
This is a sketch of the Magic Kingdom's Cinderella's Castle.
It's also the first drawing in the new Moleskine sketchbook.
OK, it's not another Charles M. Schulz Museum/Snoopy Moleskine sketchbook,
but I'm working on that.
This is a sketch of EPCOT's Germany Pavilion. Epcot is easily my favorite theme park because of the world showcase. It reminds me of the olympics in a way, which I am also a huge fan of. There is something about all the nations coming together in one happy place. Where else can you travel around the world in one day and encounter the people, architecture, and flavors of the different countries, AND watch a Bee Gee's concert? Ok, it was "Stayin Alive," the Bee Gee's tribute band, but they were very good. Anyway, we ate at Germany's Oktoberfest. Lots of yummy German food, fun entertainment, and a good amber beer called Hovels. Laura, our waitress from Germany, taught me how to say Hovels in German. You don't enunciate the "H,"like Huvells. I made that mistake. It's pronounced "oovelz" with a silent H.
This is the last drawing in my Charles M. Schulz Museum Moleskine sketchbook. I started drawing in this sketchbook on May 2011 in Santa Rosa, CA. It's been to NYC, Lake Placid, Montreal, Back to NYC (to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon w/ Of Monsters and Men; and to the The Eugene O'Neil Theater), Stockbridge MA (The Norman Rockwell Museum,) Salem MA and Canobe Park in NH (where I saw the best Michael Jackson impersonator of all time.) Lot of fun sketches and memories. Sooooo thank you, Snoopy sketchbook, for being my trusty sketchy travel companion. Now, sadly, you are out of pages. Time to replace the old dog with a new Snoopy Sketchbook. :o)
A bit of exciting news! Earlier this year I was nominated for a Chairman's Award at American Greetings in the Category of Creativity and Innovation. Last Wednesday I found out that I was the Grand Finalist/winner. I couldn't be more thrilled and honored!
The nomination was for creating two TV show concepts: Packages from Planet X, and another TV show concept currently in development. Packages is in production as we speak at DHX Media in Vancouver Canada, and is scheduled to air in the Spring of 2012 on Disney XD. Thanks to everyone at American Greetings Intellectual Properties for believing in these shows, and to all of our partners for doing such great work! Stay tuned for PFPX and be sure to contact your cable provider if you don't already have Disney XD.... and keep your fingers crossed for that other show!
I took a trip from upstate New York to Boston with some stops along the way: the Fenimore Museum in Cooperstown, NY, the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge MA (top), the Eric Carle Museum, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Salem Witch Museum. Loved the Fenimore. They had a great collection of American impressionism and early American Folk Art. The Norman Rockwell museum was as I expected... great. Very inspirational to see his Post covers and original paintings. Eric Carle had original art from his books and art from "A Snowy Day" by Erza Keats. I just missed a Mo Williams visit (rats). The Salem Witch museum was a bit hokey, but still interesting. I spoke to a kid who worked at the museum and asked him what it was like in Salem during Halloween. Apparently they get "a million people" in town on Halloween night. He avoids town that night. Saw an amazing Michael Jackson impersonator at Canobie Park in Salem New Hampshire. His 15 minute show blew away the Immortal World Tour by Cirque Du Soleil, which cost 80 bucks in Cleveland OH.
Here are a few quick sketches of some of the sights and people I encountered along the way.