Posts Tagged ‘Animation’

Pony Fanfiction: An Ongoing Saga

Watch the show. Ponies are f***ing metal

I’m going to set a record for weird blog post titles.

You may remember last month I admitted to writing fanfiction based on the enormously popular reboot of My Little Pony and questioned whether it was worth doing or if I was less of a writer for doing so. Well, it’s been a month since I started and I do have to say that, despite what I may have originally thought, I think this experience has helped me grow as a writer. And yes, I’m being serious. It’s actually a pretty good story that I wanted to take the time to share. Allow me to explain.

My first crack at My Little Pony fanfiction was a crack crossover between the show and the Cthulhu Mythos. I wrote three chapters and eventually sent it to popular fansite Equestria Daily. For those of you who don’t know, Equestria Daily is pretty much the main gathering place for teenagers and adults that surprisingly enjoy the show. They also showcase fanfiction, but have pre-readers who approve everything first to make sure everything is high quality. As a result of this, most of the fanfics on the site are actually worth reading, like Progress (a very well-done comedic work). I wrote three chapters over the course of like a week (much faster than I usually write) and submitted it, certain it would get accepted instantly.

It wasn’t.

I was surprised, but it was a well-needed boot to my ego. I know I’m a fairly decent writer, but I hadn’t even considered the possibility of having to edit what I had written before I submitted. I am actually a relatively through editor for other stuff I’ve written, but I didn’t edit this fanfic at all at first. The reason for this? Well … to be honest, it was a fanfic and I was lazy.  The response I got was really helpful, telling me what I needed to work on and fix before it could be posted. Oddly enough, it was actually the most helpful critique I’ve ever gotten for anything I’ve written period. I wasn’t discouraged at all. I was thankful that it actually helped my craft, not to mention teaching me that any writer should always take what they do seriously. Thinking I could just write anything and people would like it anyway was rather arrogant and untrue.

I spent the next several days thoroughly editing it and submitted again, and this time it was accepted. I was very excited, having learned a lot about writing in such a short span of time (from writing fanfiction no less). Since Equestria Daily was a popular site and I thought my story was fairly good, I was certain it would become crazy popular.

It didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, it was rated very well and the people who read it did like it, but it wasn’t exactly an earth-shattering response. But still, it was fun to write … up until about chapter four when I got writers block on it. The story was relatively serious, and the only ideas for it I could think of involved throwing a DJ pony (based on a non-speaking background character from the show) in there to give exposition over the radio, but that had nothing to do with the rest of the story.

Still, I liked that idea and I ended up writing a different story that was just about that DJ pony hosting a radio show. Since I’m relatively good with dialogue, but not so great with prose, I thought it might be fun to write a story that was only dialogue, so each chapter of this story was done in the style of a transcript of the “actual” broadcast of the radio show. Also, since I had never written a straight comedy before, I thought it might be fun to give that a shot too (part of the reason I liked the idea so much). At the last minute, I got the idea to pair her with another pony who would act as the straight man.

What ended up coming from this was a story I called The Vinyl Scratch Tapes. Like I said, I had never done a straight comedy before, but I was surprised to find I had a lot of fun with it and I managed to turn out a pretty good product. After last time, I wasn’t expecting a huge response, but I had a hunch this might turn out a little more popular than before, especially since I enjoyed writing this even more than anything I had written in the past year (including the first draft of an original novel and several short stories). So I sent it to Equestria Daily and, unlike last time, it was accepted right away.

Turns out my expectations were a little low, since this story got ridiculously popular. I mean, it wasn’t the most popular fanfic on the site or anything, but it did get a huge response. People loved the comedy in it, so I kept writing more (throwing in a bit of dramedy in there as well). Each chapter I wrote of it seemed more well received than the previous one. Not too shabby for someone who didn’t think they could do comedy well. While my first story sort of drifted into obscurity, this one gets responses all the time. Heck, it even has some good fan art to boot.

This is the first piece of fanart I remember recieving for anything ever, so it's pretty special to me.

I’m in the middle of writing the last chapter of this story arc (though I think I’ll end up doing more in the future when I have time). I ended up learning a lot from this, namely that sometimes its important to do what feels fun rather than worry about what other people will think of it. I learned I’m way better at writing funny things than I thought and I enjoy it much more. Before writing these stories, I was trying to write horror short stories which died on the page. I was actually pretty depressed about it, but working on these stories picked my spirits up a bit. It did show me I am a good writer at a time when I wasn’t certain of that. I have a few ideas for original works that I want to work on, stories that will take advantage of the skills I learned from these fanfics.

Overall, I think it turned out pretty good and was very worth my time. And all this came about from watching a kid’s show. Sometimes it’s the little things that end up snowballing into moments that define us.

I’m sure some of the people reading this might find it funny I enjoy this show and even sillier that I wrote fanfiction of it, but I found it a very heartwarming experience. I found a lot of people who enjoyed what I wrote and showed me my strengths and weaknesses. I felt more rewarding writing this than I have anything else in recent memory. I just thought it was a neat enough story to share with you all.


Concerning A Troll in Central Park (and Why It’s Bad)

Like many people on the internet for any extended period of time, I’m familiar with the Nostalgia Critic. He’s a very funny reviewer and his site is filled with very talented people (even if some of them are criminally under-appreciated, which is another topic I’m mulling over). This past week he happened to review a movie that I was very familiar with: A Troll in Central Park, a movie made by Don Bluth, creator of A Land Before Time and Secret of NIHM, among other things. This review is probably my all-time favorite episode of the Nostalgia Critic, although that’s mostly because this is a movie I saw when I was about six or seven years old. Even though it was long ago and I forgot some big chunks of it, most of the movie stuck in my mind.

It stuck in my mind because it is, without a doubt, the worst movie I had ever seen. Too this day, I have not seen a movie that I thought was worse than A Troll in Central Park. Understand, that when I was that age, up until that point I don’t think I had ever seen a movie that I could have outright said was “bad.” Not sure why, I guess it was mostly because I was a positive kid and didn’t know any better. But this movie was so bad, so poorly written, ugly to look at, and just plain dumb, that even I could tell as a kid it was bad. I saw it once and never watched it again. In fact I hid in in the back of my family’s movie cabinet to try to forget it existed.

Come on, does it even look like the movie is going to ATTEMPT to be good?

So I watched this review, wondering if the movie really would be as bad as I remember. After all, I had forgotten a few parts of it and I had only seen it once. I knew it still wasn’t a good movie, but I thought that maybe it wouldn’t be that bad looking back. So I watched the review and a bunch of memories came rushing back. And you know what? It wasn’t as bad as I remembered.

It was worse. So… so much worse.

This movie is so bad that it makes other horrible films look great by comparison. It makes Plan 9 from Outer Space look like Goodfellas. I’ve seen my share of really bad movies (mostly B-movies due to my love of MST3K and cheesy horror movies due to my current love of Rifftrax). The thing about a lot of bad movies is that they usually have some value. Most movies that are mediocre usually have one or two redeeming qualities, and most of the movies that are so bad they don’t are usually so ridiculously bad it makes you laugh (in fact, some movies are so unintentionally funny it SOMEHOW comes back around to making them good again, like how I feel about the Happening. Speaking of which, the Rifftrax for the Happening is extremely well done and I highly recommend it). A Troll in Central Park isn’t so bad it makes you laugh. It might make you cry, especially if you know Don Bluth is capable of better stuff than this since the man made All Dogs Go to Heaven, for gods sakes, but it won’t make you laugh.

The Nostalgia Critic’s review goes in-depth as to why the movie is bad, so I won’t repeat him, but I will say the worst part about the movie is that there is essentially no real theme to it. It says you should follow your dream, but it feels tacked on. Not that all stories necessarily need a theme that’s blatently obvious, but even escapist stories try to have a good plot. This movie has no plot. It’s just shit you don’t care about happening for about an hour while the main character makes you wish you could telekinetically punch the people responsible for this movie. The characters are annoying and two dimensional and, worst of all, it talks down to the audience. Basically its like “You’ll like this because you’re a kid and you won’t know better. It’s bright and there’s a lot of movement, so you won’t tell if its good or bad.” Well, considering I realized this was the worst anything done by anyone when I was six, I can tell you that’s wrong.

The best movies and stories for children are the ones that don’t talk down to them, the ones that have interesting ideas to offer and things that even adults could appreciate. Look at Up or Coraline. Those are two of my current favorite animated movies, even though they were for children. I enjoyed them both and I’m twenty years old. If a story is written well enough, adults will appreciate it even if it is intended for children. Children will appreciate stories even if they don’t notice all the depth consciously, but children know something good when they see it and most are smart enough to tell when something is just plain awful. You can’t just cover a turd in brightly colored frosting and tell them its a cake. No kid would buy that.

…I may have trailed a bit of topic here, but I do firmly believe that stories for kids and young adults should not talk down to them or treat them like idiots. There’s a very big difference between knowing your audience and just plain insulting them.

Anyway, I advise you all to check out that review. Trust me when I say that the movie really really is that bad.

Adventure Time!

Hey guys. Sorry for the lack of updates as of late. Unfortunately I’ve been quite preoccupied with work for a while, as well as a few other distractions. However, I am going to rectify the lack the updates and try to begin updating regularly once more.

Also, I realize most of my posts in this blog have been reviews and, while reviews will still be a focus of this blog, I am going to branch out and discuss more things that peak my interest. Mostly this is because I have other topics I wish to talk about and, to be honest, I’m starting to run out of things I wanted to review since I started the blog. I’ll still review things, but you’ll also notice more posts about…well, whatever I happen to feel like talking about.

So as some of you may have realized, I really enjoy animated programming (one look at my reviews could have told you that). However, it’s hard to find good animated programming these days aside from Family Guy, South Park, or a few decent shows on Cartoon Network. However, in recent times I’ve lost a bit of faith in Cartoon Network once they stopped showing shows like Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and started doing stupid things, like putting a block of LIVE ACTION REALITY SHOWS staring kids (which are themselves ripoffs of reality shows that weren’t good to begin with) on their network. This specific block was called CNReal or, as I prefer to call it, “the DUMBEST idea for anything that has ever happened!” But they’ve started to get better lately, showing more Chowder and Flapjack, which I think are pretty much the best shows on the network at the moment mostly because of how deranged they are. They still have a few shows that I think are dumb (seriously, does anyone like Johnny Test? I mean, really? I’m just saying…).

Recently though, Cartoon Network put a new show on the air. It premered on April 5th and only has one episode out already, but I already think its going to become my favorite show on the network. The show I’m referring to is called “Adventure Time With Finn And Jake.”

This show actually started out as a one-time short on Nickelodeon that one perhaps one of the most bizarre 7-minute shorts ever. It’s basically about an adventure had by a young boy who looks like the main character from Scribblenauts for some reason and his talking dog in a world that looks like it was created by a child on a sugar high. It was also hilarious and became fairly popular on some areas of the internet. You can still find the short on Youtube here:

It was random, creative, and had awesome music. It even had John Dimaggio (the voice of Bender from Futurama, among other things) voicing Jake the Dog. It was recently picked up by Cartoon Network and, seeing how popular the short was, ordered the two full seasons of the show right off the bat.

I saw the first episode of the series last night and its even better than the short. It’s still pretty random, but in a good way, much like Chowder and Flapjack (speaking of which, the creator of the show is an artist who works on Flapjack and boy, does that show). John Dimaggio still voices the dog (which is still awesome). The art style is pretty simple, but the methed-out world it takes place in is very original and every concept it introduces is creative and entertaining. It was very funny and there were quite a few jokes that I was surprised to see on a kids show. Hell, one of the funniest jokes in the whole episode was a joke that implied mercy killing, which was probably the point when I figured out this was a show for me.

It’s a really good show that’s very original. It really defies explanation. If you enjoy animation, see if you can catch the first episode of Adventure Time on DVR and check it out. If you like deranged animated programming or are just looking for a creative show that would be a refreshing change from the crap most networks are shoveling at the moment, you’ll love this. Check it out. I personally can’t wait for the next episode and I do think its kind of cool to have something to look forward to seeing on Cartoon Network for once.