Sunday, March 31, 2013

SCOOBY-DOO MYSTERY INCORPORATED - DVD Cover Designs

Here are the concept sketches I did for the second season DVDs of Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated. Officially it was Season 2, Part 1 which would have had the first 13 episodes of that second season. Two of these designs were picked and locked in and put on final model. One was to be for the domestic release of the DVD and one was for the International DVD release. Since the series ended up being a failure and now as Cartoon Network spends the next few days burning off the final episodes of the second and final season episodes, I'd thought I'd post what I did since in the end "the Suits" at WB decided not to use them anyway and did an entirely different concept late in the game and only did one piece of art instead of two. They probably figured why spend more time and money on something that they didn't think was bringing in the numbers. I was, in fact, told that the Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated Season 1 - Volume 1, which had the first 4 episodes of the series, was the WORST selling DVD in Scooby's history. So bad in fact, they recalled them and ripped out the disc and then inserted them as a freebie when you bought the Direct-to-DVD Scooby movie "Music of the Vampire". I forget when these were drawn exactly but I think it was around this time last year when my father was at the end of his life. I was given really loose concept ideas to follow and these are what I came up with. Some of these I really liked. I added the logos and some gray tone to help with separation so that the suits would know what they were looking at since most of the time they couldn't find their asses in the dark with both hands and a flashlight.

The first cover concept above was the first one I did. It also would wind up being my favorite though it does seem like typical Scooby-Doo situation and doesn't stand out as much in terms of being new and fresh. I think we tend to rely on the cliche when we do things as they are what people are expecting. If you go too far outside the box, the audience doesn't follow. Shaggy and Scooby are always the focus and should be the focal point. I added the dramatic lighting on it to help sell the concept and I think it works really well.
This second concept has the Gang in the Mystery Machine driving at high speed and maybe ready to crash. In the background you see the legs of Hot Dog Water as she was bouncing around in the back. Certain elements were to be shown such as the map and outside the window were to be two scenarios. One was the Crystal Cove sign being broken and flying in pieces to give the idea that the van and blasted through it. It didn't work as well so I did a second version with Professor Pericles flying outside carrying one of the pieces that they gang was looking for. Hence Shaggy holding the map to tie it together. There is no sense of speed to it though as that would be done later with some blur. I had it worked out in my mind as to how I would do it but you don't want to spend too much time on these concepts as they could be canned later on.
The third concept I didn't like, as to my mind, it had issues with spacing. I think there is too much negative space around Shaggy and Scooby and they should be a bit bigger but the layout of the cover in terms of being a portrait-sized image limits you sometimes so you have to place things on a forced perspective and layering things so that they come at you. Hence why the second concept works since the action is there and facing you. This one seems a little boring to me from this angle though if I turned it (and I did, in fact, try to) to another angle some other aspect would get lost or wouldn't be correctly viewed or understood. The giant chicken foot didn't work coming straight at the viewer and I also lost Freddie, Velma, and Daphne as they got pushed further back or were taken off completely. I followed the original concept and it looks ok here, but somehow the sense of action isn't working for me. Sometimes these are difficult puzzles to figure out so that each element that must be shown is there.
The fourth concept I partially liked. I think something about the viewpoint of the shot maybe doesn't translate for me. All we see are two arms looming forward from the Big Baby Clown. Maybe more of him was needed like a leg or maybe framing him so that we got more of a side view, but I was following the original concept so it is what it is. The donut shop setting and gag of Fred and Shaggy eating donuts works very well while the place burns. This would have been a pretty colorful piece in the end. It was chosen as the International cover, though abandoned in the end.
This fifth concept was done as the original art direction dictated. The problem is one that you can see for yourself. It focuses more on Shaggy than Scooby, and Scooby is the star of the thing so he should be the one holding onto the giant hammer in this semi-forced perspective. Otherwise though the concept works for me fine and I liked the drama of it. It was hard to figure out the spacial concerns of it and how it all fit together but it worked well.
So I then was instructed to do a sixth one with Scooby as the focus and it works fine as well. This was to be the Domestic cover and was locked in and put on final model. Then... sometime over the next several weeks I didn't hear anything and you sure don't get any answers till you complain and press people on what the status is of the thing is, and that was when I found out that WB decided at the last minute to try another concept with the Gang underwater and they went with that. It was taken from the design studio I did these for and done internally at WB. So go figure... I was paid for it all, but it's Hollywood and we know how they work, though I think a lot changed when they realized that they didn't have much faith in the series as a whole. Hence all the hiatus points and weird time slots over the 52 episodes. Hell, Cartoon Network still has over half a second season left of The Looney Tunes Show to air and that's on hiatus as well again. You just lose momentum and the viewers move on at a certain point. I've heard numberous stories over the years from inside Cartoon Network and wonder why they even bother showing original, new cartoons when half of the corporate structure there doesn't like cartoons to begin with. Sheesh...

7 comments:

LUD! said...

Scott, the reason why the first season volume one failed miserably was because it was JUST 4 EPISODES! Common sense told every Scooby fan that the suits were ripping off our hard-earned money, when we knew that they were eventually going to release the ENTIRE first season in a box set! Stupid suits...

I'm a big fan of Mystery Inc., and it's a shame the CN suits treated it like a red-headed stepchild. But they've been destroying the network with mindless junk like Regular Show, and non-animated crap like Incredible Crew.

I'm done ranting now; stupid suits...

Lud

SNeelyArt said...

I hear and see different views on Mystery Incorporated since it started. I like the art style but the handling of the characters adn their personalities was wrong in spots. I did like the overall story arcs though the loooonnnggg hiatus on the series made me lose interest.

I agree with you about the single volumes of a show being released. I'm not a fan of the way they release Doctor Who episodes as single volumes of 4 episodes either. I'd rather wait for the full season release and get the extra bells and whistles! I also hated the way CBS released Gunsmoke on DVD as well. The first season was all 39 episodes in one nice box and then all the following seasons have been split into two parts each. All you have to do is read the comments on Amazon.com to see that people weren't happy about the packaging.

I assume they make single volumes of cartoons as a impulse purchases at WalMart and Target. It's an easy babysitter for Ten dollars.

Though I do think if the single volumes don't sell, they might not ever release a full series on disc in one nice package. They never did go back and release Mystery Incorporated Season 1, Part 1 as a single 13 episode set. They still expect you to buy the three single volumes and then the Season 1, Part 2 set to have all of the first season. Oh, well!

I may remind you as well that Cartoon Network wanted to do reality shows as well a few years ago. I had an Internet ad from them looking for kids for the series. Reality shows are next to nothing in terms of producing them on low budgets and the cartoons that do get made usually look lower budget even though they were made fast in Flash. I look at the MAD Magazine cartoon and shake my head.

The Regular Show is crap, and I never got Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

Best cartoon I saw this past few years was Black Dynamite. Smartly written parody and executed!

The Angry Birds Toons are quite entertaining as well!

Thanks for writing!

Dylanio21 said...

Yeah, I don't know, the most popular shows nowadays are all reruns, that is why Netflix has it right, they make a TV show and release the whole season on the day it premiers.
People live in a world of torrent files and streaming.
Every cable box comes with free on demand prime time television shows.
Why watch a show right when it's on when you can just catch it multiple times with less commercials at your own leisure later?

Especially since every cartoon now that is a rehashing of an older show feels the need for storylines, I don't want to wake up at 9AM on a Saturday to get 1/4 of a story.

Comics do the same thing, everyone buys trade paperbacks.

I really liked your style for these covers, you got a lot more of the original energy than the cartoon did.
A great transitional.

SNeelyArt said...

Thanks! Yes, I agree that House of Cards on NetFlix is starting a new trend of watching TV when you can see a whole season at over the weekend if you so desire.

I think network TV will do the same thing and in 5 years TV will be nothing like it is now. When they release a new season of say, 2 Broke Girls, you'll be able to have the option to see all 24 shows immediately. "Must See TV" or "Appointment TV" is dead. Most people I know will watch a season of Breaking Bad over the weekend and that's the way a lot of people watch their favorite shows.

The sad part about animation is that it's done way ahead and a show like Scooby MI was done and in the can before the second season starting airing in mid July last year. Why they had to run only 15 shows last July at 2pm everyday and then pulled it with 11 shows left and wait till now to burn them out is beyond me. It's even at a different time slot so there must be confusion. I assume it's because this past week and next week is when most schools have spring break and kids would be at home. I honestly would never have known it was even back on if I didn't see a bootleg rip of it on the net. Shows that have huge story arcs really lose momentum and I think it hurts shows like Revenge and Revolution. You simply forget what happened last episode.

b. Touch said...

It's really a letdown to hear that Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated didn't do the numbers the studio wanted it to.

With the series playing to a lot of the presumed tropes in the series, spilling over with pop culture references, and also throwing in an impressively complex mystery to boot, this is really the kind of show that could have legitimately brought in a sizable older audience, though I assume the real problem is it wasn't hitting with the target demo (boys 6 to 11), especially not with romantic subplots being so integral to the story arcs. And perhaps CN's marketing strategy is to "part the waters" as it were between kid viewers (CN) and adult viewers (Adult Swim) for advertising purposes? If that were the case, why not rerun SDMI on Adult Swim at 1 in the morning someplace? College kids still up at that ungodly hour might get a kick out of it.

I, personally, loved it. I don't mind the tweaking of the characters, and after 40+ years of more or less the same plot done over, it was great to see a series that took the mystery aspects to a new level (i.e. not just tossing in real monsters - which was done too - but forcing the kids to figure out what was going on from the clues they were given and testing their skills as sleuths). Plus, I've been waiting for them to let Fred and Daphne actually be together for years. I'm also pleasantly surprised they allowed the Velma/Marcie thing to go as far as it did.

Ah well. I guess whatever new Scoobys they come up with will be back to basics (though, to be honest, I felt SDMI was the closest they'd come so far to living up to the intent, if not the execution, of the original series. Didn't Ruby & Spears say they liked it?)

b. Touch said...

Rant aside, great work on the cover design layouts! The first design and the Crybaby Clown layout (how great were those two episodes) are my favorites.

SNeelyArt said...

Thanks for writing. At this point, the SDMI show means little in that after drawing Scooby for 14 years now, it's basically the same setups and routines to me at least. It's a brand and it has to stay in the same place for new kids who come along. I think the biggest problem I had was that after 52 shows they hit the 'reset button' at the end of it and that was just lazy, uninspired writing.

This seems to also have the same problem that Doctor Who has in that people complain if it's a children's show or one for adults with how it's written. I don't mind if it's aimed at kids as long as it doesn't write down to them, but I think adults try to hold on to their childhood for too long. At a certain point, you have to move on. If you get tired of Spider-Man battling Doctor Octopus while Aunt May lies sick needing her medicine, then it's time to move on. The characters need to stay in the same place so that the dynamic stays the same. This is one of the issues I have with fanboys who are now involved in the creative part of these licenses. They try to make them for themselves or their age bracket that grew up with it and move it on storywise.

I can blame SDMI's failure on the demo not watching. I fully blame the network for the hiatus delays, moving the time and days it aired on and making it hard to follow. I don't think it got the numbers they were looking for after the first season which aired once a week at the same time. Even with the hiatus before the first season second half I had a problem knowing when it would be back on. I would never have known it came back on for the last 11 of the secopnd season if it weren't for the bootleggers ripping it and putting it up! CN as a network is just not what it once was.