Hooked on toons

How book illustrator Noah Jones was lured by Disney to create the original series Fish Hooks.
April 6, 2011

Who Children’s book illustrator Noah Jones, who received an out-of-the-blue call from a Disney Channel exec a few years ago that led to the creation of  the new toon Fish Hooks.

You might recognize Jones’s past illustration work for Boston’s Candlewick Press, including picture books Dance With Me, Not Norman: A Goldfish Story and Those Shoes.

Creative track Jones brought at least five ideas to the table when he was invited to pitch Disney Channel higher ups, who were intrigued by his character design, and Fish Hooks emerged as the winner. The comedy series for five- to seven-year-olds takes place inside a giant fish tank at a pet store, where BFFs (best fish friends) Bea, Milo and Oscar experience typical teenage ups and downs. Friendship, dating and school butt up against goings on at the pet shop—think giant lobster attacks—to drive a lot of the humor. The comedy is further reinforced by a quirky design that uses a mix of digital animation and photo-real collage.

Making it work Disney assembled a team of writers to flesh out eps and teamed TV newbie Jones with executive producer Maxwell Atoms, creator of Cartoon Network series The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy and Evil Con Carne.
One of the key things he’s learned, notes Jones, is the importance of balancing wacky humor with a lot of heart and emotion that doesn’t come across as sappy. So having sweet moments between Bea and Milo sets up their relationship in a very real way. “That’s Maxwell’s influence,” says Jones. “He’s also great at finding what is funny visually and bringing it out of a story.”

Next moves Along with producing the series, Jones also took a turn in the recording studio. “I play Bea’s dad and I actually had to try out for it!” he says. Oh, and then there’s the early greenlight. Fish Hooks launched on Disney Channel US this past fall and is being rolled out across the net’s global channels this year. It’s been re-commissioned, so Jones is up to his ears in pre-production for season two.

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