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Pork & Beans aims to fill the webtoon hunger gap

'That was all I had in my cupboard at the time,' says Jay Surridge, director, animator and founder of Pork & Beans Productions, on how the year-old Vancouver, Canada-based company got its name. The fledgling studio has worked with the likes...
July 1, 2001

‘That was all I had in my cupboard at the time,’ says Jay Surridge, director, animator and founder of Pork & Beans Productions, on how the year-old Vancouver, Canada-based company got its name. The fledgling studio has worked with the likes of Nintendo, MondoMedia and Fox, but it also has some in-house projects in its bag of pitches.

Most recently, Surridge is working with fellow Pork & Beaner Dennis Heaton on Nick and Zack, a Flash-produced short that should be ready by September. Although the company’s production split leans toward service work (around 75%), Pork & Beans would like to see that level out closer to 50/50 with more and more concentration on in-house ventures.

Targeting 14- to 24-year-olds, the web short is about Nick, ‘a nerdy guy who finally finds a friend,’ Surridge explains. That friend, Zack, turns into a zombie and Nick spends the rest of his time trying to keep him from eating the neighbors. ‘It’s toony, with a dark twist,’ says Surridge.

Production on the original project-initially planned as a one-off short that will air on www.porkbean.com and be showcased during the World Animation Celebration Festival in Hollywood this August-began in January. Surridge says Nick and Zack is also being pitched in longer-running forms for both TV and web distribution (as 13 half hours and four- to five-minute shorts, respectively) and is initially budgeted between US$1,000 and US$2,000 a minute.

Originally a storyboard artist, Surridge taught himself Flash in his spare time, finding that for his toon-ish style of animation, Flash was simple, quick and cost-effective. ‘For some styles it makes sense, like the Powerpuff Girls, or some of the early Hanna-Barbera stuff,’ says Surridge, but he admits that the tool doesn’t necessarily suit more realistic and flowing artwork, citing the Disney aesthetic as an example.

An additional Pork & Beans project to look for is Sportspage.com’s Mulberry Lane (available now on Pork & Beans’ website or Sportspage.com), which features two kids living on Mulberry Lane who have their own sports show.

Other original material includes Enviro-Mental. Encroaching civilization hasn’t quite killed off all the wild life in Friendly Park. Instead, the inhabitants-in true Darwinian style-have evolved into back-stabbing, every-animal-for-himself denizens, represented chiefly by Grumble Bunny and Surly Beaver. The company is also looking to pursue more comic book-style series.

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