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Funny Face: Reviving a Classic

A new cartoon series based on the Funny Face characters of the '60s and '70s, originally featured on Pillsbury drink packets, is returning to show business. Renegade Animation has obtained the rights to the characte

April 6, 2018

3 Min Read

A new cartoon series based on the Funny Face characters of the '60s and '70s, originally featured on Pillsbury drink packets, is returning to show business. Renegade Animation has obtained the rights to the characters, Goofy Grape, Loud Mouth Lime, Jolly Olly Orange and others, and in the spirit of classic, theatrical cartoons like "Tom & Jerry" and Looney Tunes, is creating a unique entry to the current cartoon landscape. The animation studio currently is producing a pilot episode while seeking distribution and licensing agreements. i1_531.jpg

Renegade Animation secured the rights from Boston-based Carson Creations to produce an animated television series based on the wacky foibles of the animated fruit. According to Ashley Postlewaite, executive producer, Renegade Animation: "I think it is time for a return to good, clean fun. I want you to look at the Funny Face characters and smile. It's quirky and fun." Renegade Animation is well known as the producer of the Cartoon Network series "Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi" and the "Mr Men" show. i2_244.jpg

Postlewaite founded Renegade 16 years ago as an animation house, and the company has gone on to television and film and will produce the "Funny Face" series using its proprietary 2-D "paperless" animation pipeline, with Flash software. All phases of the animation process will be completed at the company's studio in Glendale, Calif. Postlewaite says the characters lend themselves well to the animation. "They are design- and humor-oriented, for kids of all ages," she notes. Darrell Van Citters, supervising director, Renegade Animation, will direct the series. "I can't wait to get back to the kind of flat-out physical comedy that inspired me to get into animation in the first place," said Van Citters.

Carson Creation partners Jack Brady and Michael Lewis had been seeking an animation studio whose artistic sensibilities were a good match for the Funny Face characters, and through a conversation that led to a collaboration, they joined with Renegade, which was the perfect fit. "Maintaining a retro feel while employing that wonderful brand of humor is key to this project, and they got it right away," said Brady, whose family's business, Brady Enterprises, purchased Funny Face from Pillsbury in 1980.

Pillsbury originally had introduced the brand in 1964 as a challenger to market leader Kool-Aid, and the smiling characters were instantly popular with school age kids. The soft drink was discontinued in 1995, and the characters, which remain popular collectibles on plastic mugs, backpacks and other products, have found a new stage in the television, film and Web world, so integral to today's multilayered media.

Renegade, which according to Postlewaite has produced 25 one-minute interstitials featuring a variety of Funny Face adventures, "is looking at long-form, half-hour television shows, the Web, long-term strategies and a nice licensing program," says Postlewaite. "We have a core group of legacy fruit characters, but we needed an antagonist, so we came out with Bad Apple as the antagonist. We've got Top Banana as the straight guy and a range of personalities. The brand lends itself to expansion. They're squashy, they're stretchy, and they get into all kinds of situations," says Postlewaite.

The Mercer Group of New York is representing the property to broadcasters and potential licensee partners. "One of the things that got me so excited about this project is the chance to bring back slapstick animated comedy while combining it with today's kids culture language," said The Mercer Group founder, Hamp Hampton. The television series will be targeted to children 6 to 11 years of age, and concludes Postlewaite, "It's hip, it's fun, it's retro. We really think it's one of the properties that's perfect for the Internet, and down the road for half-hour TV."

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