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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Animated News: Rebecca Sugar and 'Steven Universe'

Just in case you missed it:

According to Animation Magazine, the 'Steven Universe' premiere on November 4th became the network's "most watched series premiere to date in 2013 among kids 6-11 and boys 6-11...".

You can read the entire article here. on Animation Magazine's website where they summarize the show's Nielsen ratings and discuss a little bit about Rebecca Sugar's show.

Additionally, Cartoon Brew has an article on Rebecca Sugar, Cartoon Network's "First Solo Woman Show Creator" which can be read on their website at the following link.

To read more about her show, Cartoon Brew has an article that discusses it here, and they are doing recaps of each episode every Tuesday (Steven Universe screens on Cartoon Network Monday nights at 8 p.m.

I'm not going to wade into the discussion about how it took CN twenty years to greenlight a show by a woman creator. I'm sure that there are others who could discuss the issue far better than I. However, I do want to draw attention to a comment that Amid Amidi made in his Cartoon Brew post on October 5th, 2012:

"Sugar is also among the new generation of creators who established a reputation online before attracting the attention of the animation industry. Contrast this to the path of animation creators past (Seth MacFarlane, Genndy Tartakovsky, John Kricfalusi) when artists remained largely anonymous to the public before being made famous by their shows. It’s a turning point in animation culture—artists no longer need the reach of a network to establish a fanbase, and further, networks now mostly react to trending artists instead of launch new careers."

In my personal opinion, Ms. Sugar's success is just more evidence that with the cost of tools decreasing, the proliferation of schools teaching animation skills and software, and the opportunity to reach a world-wide audience for pennies via the Internet, there has never been a better time for women to create animated films and share with the world their unique voice, stories, and perspectives. Hopefully, we'll see more shows with a woman at the helm sooner rather than later.

The thing that I picked up on immediately in the pilot--and found very refreshing--is the love for their little brother that the three older sisters display on the show. In the pilot episodes, Steven was not treated like the typical annoying kid brother who always gets in the way. Rather, the way in which Ms. Sugar is writing the show portrays Steven and his sisters in a far less cynical light and with a warmth and humanity that is really missing from television. These four characters seem more like a family as opposed to a series of random individuals who backstab each other when it suits their own purposes. I do hope that Ms. Sugar continues this theme of being siblings without the sibling rivalry as the series progresses. We have enough snarky, selfish characters on television as it is.

One last note: Cartoon Network has released the Preview and first episode of "Steven Universe" for free on iTunes if you'd like to see what the show's all about for yourself.

* image linked to from Animation Magazine's article:
"Steven Universe Premiere Reaches the Stars", November 7, 2013.