Toonarific Interview – Bob Cesca

Originally posted: 9-25-2000

Creator of a ton of online cartoons

Stacey’s very first interview. She brought Bob to my attention, telling me about his huge portfolio of shows and Bob has created a ton of online cartoons, many of which are insane and all out hilarious. This was a great opportunity to talk with someone who actually creates cartoons for the web, and not primarily for television.

Online cartoons are a relatively new forum, when and how did you get introduced to them?
I happened to buy a copy of the first version of Flash called “FutureSplash” back in early 1997 in order to make some simple animated gif buttons. But I soon discovered that I could apply my traditional animation background with this new tool. Then Flash 2 arrived with sound capabilities, and that opened up all kinds of potential for making shows.
Where did you learn how to make online cartoons?
I learned in my spare time. I just started making simple 30-40 second bits. And throughout the process, I developed techniques in Flash through trial and error. It was rough because Flash is very different from traditional techniques, so I had to figure out new ways of doing things I had learned in my pre-Flash days.
What was the 1st cartoon you made? Where do you get your ideas?
The first cartoon I made was a show called “Ways to Annoy Your Girlfriend”. It was pretty bad, but it was I decent first step I suppose. My ideas come from the area of my brain called the “Fucked-in-the-head Lobe”.
What did you create Camp Chaos for? What plans do you have for it? was originally a depository for some of the shit I used to make. After a while, traffic started to build up and people began writing to me to ask for similar content. And now we get about 50,000 visitors per day, so the goal is to make the site more of a destination-based entertainment site centered around our original shows, but also including outside work.
What were your favorite cartoons growing up? Did any of them influence your style?
I enjoyed the typical stuff… Looney Tunes, Superfriends, and what-not. But the show that really got me interested in animation was an anime show called “Star Blazers”. Then the clincher came years later when I first saw “Ren & Stimpy”. But my writing influences don’t come from animated shows at all. I’m really influenced by David Letterman, SNL, Ernie Kovacs, Monty Python, and many many many feature films — by people like the Coen Brothers and Paul Thomas Anderson.
What was your childhood like? Did that, at all, influence your ideas for cartoons?
My childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon. Luge lessons. In the Spring we’d make meat helmets. Seriously, it was a very ordinary suburban childhood in Northern Viginia, but it was interesting because it’s sort of bred this subversive sense of humor. This could also be due to my Catholic school years.
What types of jobs did you have before deciding to get into the world of cartoons?
I actually chose radio as my “day job” and did pretty well in that field for several years – during and after college. In fact, my cartoons now are much like the comedy bits I used to produce for my various radio gigs. But ultimately, radio was too restrictive. Too many slicksters in satin jackets telling me what to say.
Have you ever done any work for televised cartoons? Do you have any plans for them in the future?
I’m creating and writing a show for TV as we speak. But it’s one of those things that’s a nice “bonus”. Meaning, I prefer doing web stuff. That’s my house. TV is extra. The show is most likely being picked up by VH1, with whom I’ve developed a good relationship.
Who have you worked with that you really enjoyed?
I hate everyone I work with. *kidding* I enjoyed working with the on a couple of shows. It was also fun making the music video for Motley Crue. Right now, we’re doing a video for Everclear. We’ll see how that turns out.
What are some good memories you have from your past works?
I’ll never, ever forget making ‘Sue All the World’. That was a total team effort here. We all felt like real recording artists doing the vocals and collaborating on the voices and lyrics. Bar none, that was the highlight of the summer of 2000 for me. I’m enormously proud of the entire team (the Camp Chaos Mafia) here.
Who would you like to work with in the future, and why?
Foo Fighters. Tom Green. Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia). They’re all, hands down, at the top of their industries as far as creativity and originality.
What does someone trying to get started in online cartoons (either writing, voicing or producing) need to know? What kind of people do they need to contact? What programs should they be familiar with?
All they need to know is this: YOU call the shots. Just start making shorts, get them onto your own website, and promote the shit out of them. Then, when the time is right, hire a manager to work on licensing deals.
How much does it cost to produce an online cartoon? How long does it take to make an online cartoon?
Cost: if you do it yourself, it’s free. Production time: as long as you need. It took me three days to make ‘Napster Bad’, but it took me a month to make Croc Hunter satire. It all depends on the idea.
I hope all you future online cartoon animators learned something. This was a great interview, and we hope Bob the best of luck in the future. Hopefully, some time later, he comes back for another interview about his new creations and exploits.