If hunting down new concepts creator to creator has you yearning for a simpler approach, it’s time to take a look at Patricia von Pleasantsquirrel Pictures. Founded and helmed by James Proimos, the company draws talent from across a wide creative landscape to bring unique comedy-driven properties to life.
Probably best known for his TV-friendly book work, Proimos is the creative force behind both Johnny Mutton (which is heading into production as a 2-D animated series at TV Loonland) and The Loudness of Sam (in development at Nelvana).
Since his work is marked by a very distinctive style – he describes it as drawing on typing paper with a Sharpie and then painting in buckets of color – Proimos likes to surround himself with a variety of artists to give his projects a wider aesthetic range. So his L.A.-based creative shop has become more of an open-door co-operative than a prodco, with Proimos often calling on colleagues to come in as collaborators.
For example, he pulled in his old advertising buddy Tom Amico (who helped create the AFLAC duck) to co-write last year’s The Day the Dog Dressed Like Dad, in which the family pooch takes over for Dad when he goes out of town. And regular partners also include Dave Fremont (who worked on the animated short Glue for Wild Brain) and CatDog creator Peter Hannen.
Next up, Patricia von Pleasantsquirrel Pictures will be shifting its focus to movies as soon as Proimos wraps up negotiations on at least two animated projects: one about a pair of pet rodents let loose in the big city, and another about a family of rabbits.
But there’s still plenty of TV work to keep him busy: In development at Scholastic Entertainment is Switch-A-Roonies, a toon about parents and kids who swap roles to deal with their problems. And Klasky-Csupo is in production on Schmutz, a series of one-minute shorts about a hairball and a wad of gum who live in a hotel and actually run a mini-inn for little bits of flotsam that drift through the door. Proimos is also working with Amico and Switch-A-Roonies collaborator Andy Snair on a kids book called One Raisin, One Grape (about a shrivelled raisin and his plump grape of a grandson who spend one fine day together), which will be released by Dial in fall 2005.
Proimos got bit by the kids entertainment bug after 15 years working as a writer and art director in advertising. He and partner David Hale were commissioned to come up with new characters for a Taco Bell campaign, and they created Nacho and Dog, an animated cat-and-dog team the QSR used as spokescharacters in the late ’90s. This led to the idea behind little girl rock star Molly O!, who took the lead in Sunbow Entertainment series Generation O!, which ran on Kids’ WB! in 2000 and 2001.
For the next few years, Proimos focused on developing properties as books, which generally led to TV series. He likes to start out in books because they have faster turnaround times, and the publishing industry tends to give authors more creative control over the development of characters and stories. ‘Every other medium I’ve worked in – even though the audience is the same – has a totally different set of rules of operation. With books, it’s easier to just sort of do what I do.’