Mythical creatures cause chaos in animated series
By Cheryl Minns, Arts Editor
Animators Arron Robinson and Curt Spurging of Plan B Production House Inc. know that cartoons like Looney Toons are timeless, entertaining both young children and adults alike. That’s why, when they decided to create their own series of animated characters called the Goblins, they drew on inspiration from their childhoods and from the children in their lives.
“We wanted to have that kind of light-hearted, fun, slapstick kind of fast-paced comedy,” Robinson said during an interview with the Other Press at the company’s studio in North Vancouver.
“We wanted something that was obviously appealing, that looked good, but we wanted something that felt good too. Something that reminded us of being a kid,” he said.
Goblins is a series of online comic books featuring three curious creatures—Peeko, Herbert, and Earl—who explore the human world, looking for adventure and tokens they can add to their hodgepodge clothing.
“Having a strong female character was important to us from the beginning,” Robinson explained in a Kickstarter campaign video for the first Goblins graphic novel, Yard Away. “Peeko’s intelligence and ingenuity were born from this.”
Peeko is a smart, tech-savvy girl who uses common sense to save the day. Herbert is a tall, mischievous teenager who thinks he’s suave and has an obsession for expanding his wardrobe. Earl is a gentle giant with a competitive nature who brings the muscle to the group. The characters are named after teas: orange pekoe, herbal, and Earl Grey.
“When we started designing these characters, we wanted them to be appealing not just to North America but to Europe and to Asia, because those are two vastly different markets when it comes to comic books,” Spurging said.
The Goblins’ appearances were adjusted from their original designs to reflect various styles of animation, such as bold outlines, solid colours, and geometric shapes.
“We want to be able to reach all those audiences and try to make that show in the artwork,” Robinson said.
Herbert, Peeko, and Earl’s clothing also allow the series to reach a wide audience by adding details that appeal to different ages.
“It gave us an opportunity to play into a bit more of the pop culture and being able to relate to kids now,” Robinson said, mentioning that his two-year-old daughter is a fan of the Goblins series. “Also people from our generation, it’s a bit of a throwback, like when we see the old Sony Walkman that Peeko wears.”
In Yard Away, the Goblins discover Mr. Jones’ riding lawnmower and take it for a ride across the backyard and over the house, damaging everything in sight and irritating Mr. Jones’ dog, Spike.
“There is an innocence to these characters. The whole idea behind them is that they’re always getting into trouble but they’re not doing it on purpose—it’s just who they are,” Robinson said.
Goblins features a variety of uncommon format styles, such as presenting the story in three-panel layouts with multiple panels of a character performing an action set to the timing of an animation. One of the reasons for such design choices is that the comics will also serve as storyboards for the 3-D animated Goblins series.
“We see Goblins as a franchise and we are looking to expand on that franchise, so it’s not just a graphic novel. Our idea from the beginning was to use the graphic novel as more of a marketing tool, something that would help get exposure to the brand itself,” Robinson said. “We’ve got some other things in the works that are going to compliment that. A big part of that is going to be the 3-D animated series we’re developing.”
The series will transform the Goblins comics into seven-minute, animated episodes that follow the Goblins’ adventures, beginning with the pilot episode, Yard Away.
“We do have a game also in development, which is another kind of branch for our franchise,” Robinson said. “The video game is going to feature all the bright, bold, colourful backgrounds that we have in the comic book and it’s going to have the really detailed characters in the costumes that we see in the 3-D versions as well. That’s going to be a really fun, dynamic, fast-paced, action, side-scrolling game that’s easy to play.”
When the game is released, it is expected to be recommended for ages five to 12. However, Robinson encourages Goblins fans of all ages to try it and see what kind of mischief Earl, Herbert, and Peeko get into in various locations and level designs.
“We’ve kind of been in talks with some merchandising and toy companies to branch out that way as well, so we’re pretty excited about that,” Robinson said. “We’re doing mock-ups for T-shirts and hats and things like that, so that’s definitely part of it.”
The online comic of Yard Away is currently being published as the Goblins first graphic novel. The funding was made possible through a Kickstarter campaign that raised $5,101 from more than 50 backers, surpassing its $5,000 goal when it ended on December 26.
“We had a successful campaign, but I was expecting a lot more of an explosion of interest,” Robinson said, explaining that Plan B Production House Inc. had the campaign planned out and the graphic novel completed before the campaign went live.
The campaign offered rewards for backing the project, including digital Goblins wallpaper, digital and printed copies of Yard Away, Goblins stickers, and original signed artwork of Peeko, Earl, and Herbert.
“We wanted to come up with things that would really speak to the comic book itself and just give people an opportunity to have an extra little memento other than just the comic book,” Robinson said. “The artwork itself was the way to go.”
Goblins will be appearing again soon on Kickstarter with the series’ second graphic novel, The Big Heist, which has the first two of three parts available online.
“We’ve got plans to do a dozen of these things,” Robinson said. “If we can get the explosion and popularity behind it, then hopefully we can do all 12 of them—maybe more.”
The Goblins comics and other merchandise are available at goblinscartoons.com