DreamWorks, Shorts, TV

[INTERVIEW] Stephen Leonard, Creator of ‘Dueling Kapowskis’

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DreamWorksTV’s latest YouTube series Dueling Kapowskis depict the age-old conflict between brother and sister with over-the-top action. The series seem to be a kind of pseudo-anti-anime series–not quite a parody, but not quite an homage either.

When we showed the pilot episode one week earlier, reception to the show was mixed. Some saw it as a bold artistic move, and others couldn’t get past the show’s wacky visuals. I wanted to dig a little deeper and hear more about Dueling Kapowskis, the process of bringing it to DreamWorksTV, and the motivations behind its creation. For your consideration, here is my interview with show creator Stephen Leonard!


Rotoscopers: What was the process of getting “Dueling Kapowskis” picked up by DreamWorksTV?

Stephen: I’ve been living in Los Angeles and making cartoons for several years now, and I’ve made connections and pitched at most of the major networks that make cartoons. With DreamWorksTV, it was pretty much the standard meeting to hear what they were looking for, then I pitched them a few show ideas, and they loved KAPOWSKIS.

R: Where did the style of “Kapowskis” come from?

S: “DUELING KAPOWSKIS” isn’t that far off from my other stuff, but since I was trying to make this show lean toward anime, that’s what influenced the style. I grew up on goofy, squash-and stretch cartoons, so I tried to blend that with what anime shows look like in my head.

R: What do you want audiences to take away from “Dueling Kapowskis”?

S: It’s just supposed to be a fun show for kids, so hopefully no one takes it seriously and everyone can enjoy something about it. My goal was to make sort of an american-style cartoon wrapped in anime, or a show I would have watched when I was a kid, so hopefully I accomplished that and people like it. I was going for a sort of anime Tom and Jerry, so if that sounds like an accurate description then I’ve done my job.

“…So far this is probably the best job I’ve ever had in my life.”

R: How has your experience been working with DreamWorksTV

S: It’s been great so far. Right now I’m about half way through the process and they’ve been really helpful, but have also given me a lot of freedom and control of my show. I’m currently animating episode three of seven, and so far this is probably the best job I’ve ever had in my life.

R: How has your animation production changed since working with DreamWorksTV?

S: The only thing that’s really changed is now I have to get approval on my scripts and storyboards before I start animating. Every other short series I’ve made has been out of my own pocket, so it’s nice to have a budget for my show. The process is essentially the same though.

R: When did you first decide to become an animator?

S: Around 2006. I went to college for live action production, and gradually learned to draw and animate on my own. After making an awful, super-low budget feature in 2005, I decided I wanted to try something else, so I started drawing. A lot. I started with tracing paper and pencil and moved on to a tablet after a few years. Eventually my animation got better and people started paying me for it, and that’s basically where I’m at now. I’d describe myself as more of a writer who can animate than a true artist/animator.

 “Basically, I wanted to try to make cartoons, so I just did.”

R: How did you eventually come to produce animations for YouTube?

S: Basically, I wanted to try to make cartoons, so I just did. I learned by doing, so when I finished a cartoon I’d put it online and move on to the next one, trying to get better every time out. If you look through all of my old work there’s a very clear, gradual improvement.

R: What inspires your art/animation/writing?

S: I just want to entertain people and make them laugh at something (intentionally) stupid. If I can get someone to laugh with me and not at me, that’s what inspires me.

R: Where can we see more of your work?

S: All of my work is conveniently collected on my website, GiantPancake.com.

Craving more Kapowskis action? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Edited by: Kelly Conley


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