With 25 years of experience under its belt, Nickelodeon sure has left one of the most lasting legacies of animation for us to enjoy. We grew up with their shows. We were raised by them. Now, some of us are even old enough to be passing on that passion to our own children.
At Nickelodeon’s “Happy Happy Joy Joy” panel at San Diego Comic-Con, Nick Animation podcast’s host Hector Navarro moderated a panel of four of the most influential creators for the network: Craig Bartlett (Hey Arnold!), Butch Hartman (Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom), Arlene Klasky (Rugrats, Wild Thornberrys, Rocket Power), and Jhonen Vasquez (Invader Zim). During the panel, they looked back at how their shows came to exist and the legacies they have created over the years, as well as provided a few special behind-the-scenes treats.
One of the major points was information about next year’s release of Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie. Bartlett talked about the upcoming TV movie, which is still in its early stages and should be released by Thanksgiving 2017. The special will wrap up several unanswered questions fans have had over the years, including what happened to Arnold’s parents. They also revealed exclusive production art of the characters’ updated looks along with some other images.
Butch Hartman, who kept the crowd laughing with his witty interjections, talked a little about the development of The Fairly OddParents and a lot about his new upcoming show, Bunsen is a Beast. This latest creation features a kid, Mikey, who befriends the only beast (never call them “monster”) in the school, Bunsen. Seeing how Timmy Turner was named after his brother, Tim, Hartman finally got to name a character after his other brother, Mike, in this show. An exclusive clip of the show, in which Bunsen accidentally drinks beet juice (which brings out his monstrous side), was also shown.
Arlene Klasky delved deep into the background story on how Rugrats was created. Determined to be a stay-at-home mom, the itch for animation never left her even while she was caring for her children. She questioned why her kids would do crazy things like stick their hands in the toilet, and it inspired her to ask: what would babies say if they could talk? Another interesting tidbit revealed was that the unique perspective of Rugrats was obtained by filming her children from the ground.
Last but certainly not least, Jhonen Vasquez talked about his hit show, Invader Zim, and how he was inspired by comic books he read while growing up. Included in those comic books was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which Vasquez is a huge fan of. It eventually led to him revealing an exclusive short he created about the turtles, titled “Don vs. Raph,” which stole the panel with six minutes of a purely hilarious battle between the two brothers in a who’s-best competition.
The panel was overall a nostalgic one, filled with a sense of family and the pure joy these animated hits have given us over the years. Here’s to the next 25, Nickelodeon.