Book review, FUNNY!: Twenty-Five Years of Laughter from the Pixar Story Room



While most of the ani­ma­tion world is clam­or­ing for Andreas Deja’s new book, The Nine Old Men, I have been wait­ing to get my copy of FUNNY!: Twenty-Five Years of Laugh­ter from the Pixar Story Room.  This hard­cover book is a nice col­lec­tion of gags drawn by Pixar story artists for all of their fea­ture films up through and includ­ing The Good Dinosaur.   A few of the draw­ings are the orig­i­nal con­cepts that made it into the films, but most are not.  Huge num­bers of ideas are gen­er­ated in the mak­ing of fea­ture ani­mated films, and the vast major­ity of them are tossed to make room for those that work the best.  Still, many of the rejects are quite funny as well, and I find them all very inter­est­ing.  I par­tic­u­larly liked this unused gag by Matthew Luhn from Mon­sters Inc.  It is a slightly twisted reminder of a famous scene from Lady and the Tramp.


There is quite a range in the qual­ity of the draw­ings. Some are pleas­antly ren­dered, and oth­ers are crude doo­dles.  What mat­ters is whether it gets the idea across.   One of the real insights in the book are the draw­ings that include con­tent out­side what is typ­i­cally accept­able in a Disney-Pixar film. Mean­ing, not every­thing is “G” rated.  Such ideas show they will push their bound­aries.  Impos­ing too much self cen­sor­ing is not con­ducive to cre­ative thinking.

The book doesn’t name an indi­vid­ual author, since the bulk of it is a col­lec­tion of draw­ings cre­ated by numer­ous artists.  It has a fore­word by John Las­seter, and an intro­duc­tion by Jason Katz, who is one of the Pixar story artists who has been with the com­pany since the first Toy Story.  It has a few para­graphs explain­ing some of their work­ing process.  For my pur­poses, I would love to have had much more of that.  Here is one quote from Teddy New­ton I found informative:

The secret to a great story gag has less to do with it’s nov­elty and more to do with the truth it pos­sesses.  The me, the fun­ni­est moments in The Incred­i­bles are not the out­ra­geous bits of spec­ta­cle, but the banal moments we rec­og­nize from our own lives.

Ulti­mately, the book is more enter­tain­ing than edu­ca­tional.  It is not a large cof­fee table book, and I went through in about an hour.  If you are a big Pixar fan, or an aspir­ing story artist, I would say it is worth the rea­son­able price.


I’ll be at CTNX 2015



I am very excited to be going to the Cre­ative Tal­ent Net­work Expo in Bur­bank this week­end.  Focal Press has a table at CTNX, and they expect to have advance copies of my book Com­edy for Ani­ma­tors  for sale.  The books are being rushed from the print­ers for this event.  Hope­fully they will arrive in time.  The orig­i­nal pub­li­ca­tion date was sup­posed to be last week, but appar­ently it is com­mon for last minute adjust­ments.  Cur­rently, Ama­zon lists Novem­ber 27, black Fri­day, as the pub­li­ca­tion date. If you are at CTNX, it will be your chance to buy the book first, and even get it signed.  Fol­low me on twit­ter @stupixanimation for updates.

This will be my first time at CTNX, and I am thrilled to have some­thing tan­gi­ble to bring.  I have only heard good things about the event, and I am look­ing for­ward to talk­ing with as many ani­ma­tors and artists as I can.

UGLY — animated short film

UGLY is a short film cur­rently seek­ing fund­ing on Kick Starter.  HERE is the link to their page.  I rec­om­mend watch­ing their pitch video there.  They have just 4 days to go, and I hope they get their funding.

The film­mak­ers are cre­at­ing the ani­ma­tion pri­mar­ily with Cin­ema 4 D dynam­ics, and a small amount of keyframe ani­ma­tion.  The results are quite unusual, and in my opin­ion, very funny.  As phys­i­cal com­edy is often about unat­trac­tive char­ac­ters, and things falling down, this tech­nique works very well.  Watch the videos below and con­sider sup­port­ing them.

Rita Street’s guide to developing animated comedy for kids

Rita Street is a suc­cess­ful pro­ducer of tele­vi­sion ani­ma­tion.  She is cur­rently exec­u­tive pro­ducer on the Car­toon Net­work show Hero: 108.  Now, she has used her sub­stan­tial expe­ri­ence in pitch­ing and sell­ing TV ani­ma­tion to cre­ate a free e-book:

A Car­toon Girl’s Secret Guide to Devel­op­ing Kids’ Com­edy Series that Sell!


If you are seri­ously inter­ested in cre­at­ing an ani­mated com­edy series for kids, and pitch­ing it to a net­work, you should spend a lit­tle time to read this very infor­ma­tive book.  It con­tains excel­lent, prac­ti­cal advice on devel­op­ing ideas, and prepar­ing log lines and sales bibles to show to exec­u­tives.  I like to empha­size that com­edy is a busi­ness.   You NEED to go after an audi­ence.  To cre­ate a tele­vi­sion series, that means going through the net­works.  It is a very chal­leng­ing indus­try, and Rita’s book offers sound advice.

More impor­tantly, Rita clearly loves ani­ma­tion. She appre­ci­ates com­edy and has some good sug­ges­tions on the topic.  It’s totally worth the time it takes to read.

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