Peter S. Svensson, animated by Gatorade, writes for Bleeding Cool.
Bee and Puppycat. Internet animation sensation slash Boom Studios comic, had a panel on Thursday evening of Comic Con.
First off, if you don’t know what Bee and Puppycat is, the best way to explain it is by having you watch it.
It started off as a pilot on Youtube about a year ago, then there was a successful Kickstarter to have it made into a full series. The first footage from that series was shown at the panel, and I approve.
Bee meets the alien Puppycat after losing her waitress job. But it’s okay, because thanks to Puppycat, Bee is able to get work as a magical temp, doing odd jobs with magic powers in strange other worlds. Also there’s dark mysterious pasts and incredible humor. Natasha Allegri, who created the series, is probably more famous for her work on Adventure Time creating the gender-swapped characters of Fionna and Cake, as well as drawing the six issue miniseries starring them from Boom. Also she does the Bee and Puppycat comic which recently went for a second printing of issue #1.
Bee and Puppycat airs (streams?) as part of Cartoon Hangover, a Youtube channel run by Frederator, who also produce Bravest Warriors, and are also involved with Adventure Time. Most of the pre-production staff behind Bee and Puppycat, which has expanded beyond Allegri trying to do it all herself, with writers and designers and other folks added to the mix. Complaints that the show now looks different were brought up, but Allegri explained that the slight revisions to the art style now make the series look more like how she imagined it in her head.
Natasha Allegri is the most soft spoken person in animation I have ever met.
“What was your inspiration?”
“To make something as close to Sailor Moon as I could without completely ripping it off.” said Allegri.
And indeed, you have a clumsy but well meaning girl, an aloof magical cat (dog?) who ends up getting in over her head and having to fight. Also a non-threatening male love interest! Just with less bad CGI transformation scenes or overly leggy teenagers.
The actress who plays Bee, Allyn Rachel was chosen from nearly a hundred auditioners, though it turned out that Allegri had written the role with her in mind, having seen her perform in a commercial for eBay. Rachel was so enamored with the script, once her agent gave it to her, that she felt a sort of long-lost sisterly connection with Allegri.
Kent Osborn, who plays potential love interest Deckard, is also a head writer for Adventure Time. Osborn explained how this series doesn’t really go for the traditional exaggerated “Cartoony” voices, and it shows.
Maddie Flores and Frank Gibson, the writers hired on to work on the show once it became a series explained their process. First they would get plot ideas from Allegri, such as “SPOILER SPOILER” (yes, that’s exactly what they said, the big teases) and then they would flesh it out into a working script, and occasionally would throw in easter eggs and gags into the scripts, such as a recent one crediting Rob Liefeld. The two of them, Mattie and Frank would collaborate in the writing room together, drinking the little minisodas and watching anime as they worked. Also, they apparently made Sonic the Hedgehog canon for Bee and Puppycat by making a comment in some other panel, which is totally binding and absolutely the way things are from now on. Totally.
Bee and Puppycat is a very very anime inspired work, taking inspiration from 90s kids series that Allegri liked, and most of the people involved would name Sailor Moon, Ranma ½, Magic Knight Rayearth, and the collective works of Ikuhara, including Penguindrum.
It is at this point that they took a break to show us a new Frederator-produced series for Cartoon Hangover, by Adventure Time storyboard artist Jesse Moynihan and his brother Justin. It is called Manly, and boy was it violent. It’s a space adventure with a daughter of some super powered space hologram jerk dad with crystal armor I mean she has crystal armor and I’m trying to convey the rapid energy and punches and peoples heads fall off and blood and betrayal and a jerk brother who needs rescuing I guess and sexist jerks who are punished by a woman in a power suit. It was intense in the same sort of strange I don’t know what is going on vibe that Adventure Time has sometimes, but is definitely worth checking out.
Now, we returned to your regularly scheduled Bee and Puppycat panel. Allyn, as a bit of a foodie liked that Bee and Puppycat has food and snacks as a theme, which is because Natasha Allegri appreciates good snacks.
Now, the episode we saw was interesting and fun. I don’t want to spoil too much, but it involved shopping trips, spending time with would-be boyfriends, assertive roommates, and Puppycat acting entitled and quite like a real cat. There’s nice conversations, character exploration, and the promise of adventure and trouble to come at the end.
The panel was opened to questions, but most of them were about the fact that Puppycat is voiced by a Vocaloid, a Japan-pioneered program which emulates pre-programmed singing voices, most famously Hatsune Miku, virtual idol. Or in other words, just a computer program with a big following! People asked why a vocaloid instead of a traditional performer, whether it was difficult to work with, or whether the sounds generated by the “Oliver” program were random or had meaning. The answers were, Natasha wanted to show a lack of empathy and make the character emote through physical actions, they had trouble at first but worked it out, and the sounds are pretty much random. Puppycat does speak normally in the Boom comic, at least for some degrees of normal.
Natasha was asked what her favorite bit of merchandise was. She answered with the Moon Stick, the replica of Sailor Moon’s wand from the first anime.
Natasha Allegri doesn’t like violence, and thus doesn’t draw much of it. Jesse Moynihan quipped that his series has more than enough violence in it to make up for the lack! “GUNS ARE LIFE!” he joked. I hope.
Her advice to those wanting to break into the industry is to self-publish your work online, and keep at it.
Peter S. Svensson would like to remind you all to attend the Pro/Fan Trivia Contest on 4:00 PM Sunday, where he will be competing for the Fan team. Also, he’s on staff for the official Power Rangers convention, Power Morphicon, which is at booth #1000!