INTERVIEW: “Peabody & Sherman” Designer Kevin Dart – Animation Scoop

INTERVIEW: “Peabody & Sherman” Designer Kevin Dart

The Daytime Emmy Awards are this Sunday (4/30), but animator Kevin Dart is already a winner, having been honored for his work in the Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation category for The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show. The popular Netflix/DreamWorks series is also up for Outstanding Children’s Animated Program.

Jackson Murphy: How does it feel to be an Emmy winner?

Kevin Dart: It feels good. And one of the background painters, Eastwood Wong won for the show as well.

JM: That’s fantastic. Have you guys celebrated your Emmy wins?

KD: I haven’t really had the chance. I got some champagne in the mail, but I haven’t had the chance to drink it yet.

JM: Well, maybe you’ll pop it open after Sunday night. Is there someone you have always wanted to meet in the Daytime TV community?

KD: Oh, man. I have no idea. Maybe Ellen [DeGeneres]. (laughs)

JM: Tell me about the episode you won for, “The Wrath of Hughes”.

KD: That’s where Peabody and Sherman get sent to a dystopian future run by Mrs. Hughes, who is their…notary on the show. And she’s in a future taking over the world – and tried to make everything really orderly. We just wanted it to be kind of like “Blade Runner”-y and kind of “Fifth Element” future.

JM: The show is still nominated for three competitive Emmys on Sunday, including Outstanding Children’s Animated Program. Tiffany Ward, the daughter of Jay Ward, is co-representing the show in this category. She must be very excited.

KD: Oh, yeah. She’s been a really big supporter of the show from the very beginning, which has been really awesome. I mean, I didn’t work super-directly with her a lot. But whenever I did see her, she was a pretty big cheerleader of all the stuff that we were doing and had a lot of stories to share from when they were making the original show. So it was always really nice to know that she liked what we were doing. And we always tried to keep in mind the legacy of the show when we were designing it and concepting everything.

JM: Have you been a big fan of “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” your whole life?

KD: I don’t know about my whole life. I don’t think I encountered it until a bit later when I was fighting to get really into cartoons into high school. But I really liked the style of all those mid-century cartoons. That’s had a pretty big influence on my work.

JM: All 13 episodes of Season 4 of “The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show” just debuted on Netflix. What are some of the highlights that fans can expect this season?

KD: There’s some pretty crazy stuff. There’s an episode where they go to visit Edgar Allan Poe. And we really tried something completely different with art direction on that, where it looks really pen and ink and watercolor style. There’s a really great music video in Episode 13. There’s another really cool music video about Joan of Arc that’s kind of like a heavy-metal, stained glass video. Yeah, there’s some pretty cool historical guests. It’s as weird and crazy as all the other seasons, so hopefully people enjoy it.

JM: Was there a historical figure you learned about in school or somebody you researched when you were younger that you got to incorporate into a storyline for the show?

KD: It’s not a person, but I know one that I was already really familiar with and knew a lot about. [It] was when they did the episode with the Voyager Golden Record. I’m a pretty big space historian…and we tried to get all the details really accurate on that one just because it was something I had a preexisting knowledge about.

JM: And one of the great things that this show does is it allows kids to learn about these historical figures and events too. [That] certainly has to be one of the redeeming qualities of being a part of something like this.

KD: Yeah. The parts with the time travel – it’s obviously fantasy and comedy – so there’s a lot of liberties taken with historical accuracy sometimes. And we actually do quite a lot of research into it to try to get it visually correct. We always thought it would be, kind of, funnier somehow if you told these over-the-top comedy stories on top of the, kind of, somewhat accurate representational palate.

We did quite a lot of research before starting, and that would help us decide what colors would be right and what would be a cool way to depict the locations for all the historical guests.

JM: You are also the Creative Director for Chromosphere. It’s a studio in LA designed for visual artists, animators and animation lovers all over the globe to come together. What are some of the coolest creations you’ve seen and shared through Chromosphere?

KD: Well, we just, last year, produced a 7-minute commercial for Lyft. It was directed by John Kahrs, the director of “Paperman”. And it was a mix of 3D and 2D animation and backgrounds. That was pretty exciting to work on. And I think working with John really pushed us to – he’s such an awesome character animator. He was really able to help us with creating a full character performance in the main character, June.

We also put out a film last year called “Forms of Nature”, which was a kind of visual essay about the…things that science and nature share in common with each other. And we’re working on a bunch of new things. It was just announced last week we’re doing the production design for a new “Carmen Sandiego” series.

JM: Yes, I’ve heard about the new “Carmen Sandiego” series coming to Netflix with Gina Rodriguez.

KD: Yeah, that’s definitely up our alley, a lot of the kind of stuff that we love.

KD: Yeah, it’s pretty cool.

JM: And another show that takes you around the globe and gets kids to learn about geography. And I guess they’re gonna go into Carmen’s past even more.

Jackson Murphy

Jackson Murphy

Jackson Murphy is a movie critic and entertainment columnist. He is the creator of the website Lights-Camera-Jackson.com, and has made numerous appearances on television and radio.
Jackson Murphy
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