Animation Guild

Fall 2018

Animation Guild | We are 839 Digital Magazine

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 10 of 47

SPRING/SUMMER 2018 11 A F T E R H O U R S someone on the crew has a question, they don't have to decide if this is a Shane question or a Chris question—they can get us both." In Big City Greens, siblings Cricket and Tilly, their dad Bill and Gramma Alice plunk down their ramshackle home amidst the urban sprawl of the unnamed Big City and proceed to negotiate their new life. Whether trying to launch chickens into outer space or navigating the subways in a quest to preserve the country tradition of "steak night," the never-say-die Green clan gets into all manner of mischief. Fans of the Houghtons' bear-riding cowboy comic book series Reed Gunther may recognize the Houghton look. The yellow-skinned Greens were designed to pop against the concrete and glass hues of the big city. The characters' big eyes and nose-free faces are meant to evoke the Muppets, albeit in sort of a cracked way. "I think the biggest compliment we got was from a kid in a focus testing who said he liked the show 'but it's kind of weird,'" Shane says. "We were like, 'I think that's good!' We wanted it to be a little off beat." The Houghtons' animated sensibilities developed early. During trips to their grandparents' houses and on family vacations, the brothers would get unlimited access to '90s era cartoons like Dexter's Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls and Cow and Chicken. "For our daily intake of entertainment, it was more newspaper comic strips," Chris said. "We loved 'Calvin and Hobbes' and 'Foxtrot' and 'The Far Side.' I think those strips really shaped our humor." The Houghton brothers left St. Johns and moved to big cities for college: Florida State University Film School for Shane and College of Creative Studies in Detroit for Chris. When they started working together on Reed Gunther, Chris was still in college and big brother Shane had based himself in Los Angeles. They pitched the concept for Big City Greens to Disney in early 2014 and developed the project for two years before getting a green light in 2016. They maintain that running Big City Greens together has strengthened their bond as partners and as siblings. The two serve as each other's creative sounding board and barometer for whether something is funny, and their "divide and conquer" mentality allows each Houghton to instinctively take the task that the other sibling doesn't want. "When I've got my head in a story and I'm trying to figure this out and I think I've cracked it, but I can't tell because I'm too close, I can turn to Chris and say, 'Give me your honest feedback.'" Shane says. "Running a show is really tough. I think it comes down to just trust. I unconditionally trust Chris.'' "And I'm a little skeptical of Shane," quips Chris. Working as they do in close quarters—and being siblings—Shane and Chris acknowledge that creative differences may arise from time to time. And they are always resolved in the maturest way possible: "With a violent battle of fists and teeth gnashing. Whoever has more of the other brother's blood on them wins." – Evan Henerson

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Animation Guild - Fall 2018