When you move out to LA and are a creative person, you’ll do just about anything you find on Craigslist. That’s where I met Joshua M. Herron years ago. Oh no, we weren’t part of some weird personals fiasco. We just happened to work the same daytime event and ate lunch together. He drew me a picture of my little robot (which I still have by the way), and I’m consistently happy to learn of his ongoing success via Facebook when it comes to his career as an animator.
While he doesn’t have any creepy fans (that he knows of) thanks to his work on China, IL, Joshua had a lot to say about this and that, so I won’t continue on much longer with this and just let you get inside the mind of a really awesome animated dude.
Kendra: It’s probably been awhile, but do you remember the first thing you really drew — not just scribbling about but the first real thing you sat down and drew out?
Joshua Herron: I was really into drawing the Looney Tunes forever. Taz was always my favorite because he had a shape that was so different than any of the other characters.
Kendra: Who were some animators you grew up admiring?
Joshua: Although I didn’t know it at the time I was a huge fan of Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, and Glen Keane. I loved Clampett and Avery’s handling of the Looney Tunes out of all the others. Even as a kid I could always tell their shorts apart from all the others. And with Keane, his characters always just reached this next level of reality that I think makes characters like Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Beast (Beauty and the Beast), Pocahontas, and Tarzan so engaging.
Kendra: What’s always made a cartoon show memorable to you?
Joshua: I loved really involved storytelling when it came to kids’ shows. I grew up watching Dragon Ball and Gargoyles [and they] were some of my favorite shows. Don’t get me wrong, I always loved the sense of humor that shows like Rocko and Ren and Stimpy had, but super in-depth storytelling with huge mythologies were always my favorite, which is probably why I am a comic book fan to this day.
Kendra: How’d you land the job with China, IL?
Joshua: I started at Titmouse as an intern in summer 2009 and then when I moved out to LA I contacted them as soon as I was here, but they didn’t need any help at the time. Then a couple months later they called me and asked if I wanted to animate for this short Hulu series called “Trailer Trash” which you can still find on Hulu right now. After that ended it kinda just worked out that China, IL was getting started and I was moved on to that project next. That’s mostly how studios work, in my experience.
Kendra: Is it intimidating working for Cartoon Network at all?
Joshua: Maybe just a little bit…? Haha, not really? It’s weird because it’s more of the studio that I work for than Cartoon Network itself. I guess more accurately I would have worked for Adult Swim. But everyone is super cool, they’re all just out to make some awesome shows and they are doing a great job at it.
Kendra: I’ve always wondered, do animators get to pitch ideas or are you just there to draw?
Joshua: Oh man, if you’re in a good studio you’ll get to pitch stuff eventually. Good studios, which I have had the privilege of always being able to work for so far, are very aware that they have hired artists, not just “employees.” They always have their eyes open for new talent and new ideas. You never can tell where the next amazing thing is going to come from.
Kendra: How do you personally deal with the criticism Cartoon Network’s gotten over the years about there not being as much programming as there was back in the day?
Joshua: It is really sad that they had to cut back on a lot of the animated content on CARTOON network for more live action stuff, but that’s just [what] happens I guess. Just gotta make sure that every animated series I do work on, I make my best work to date.
Kendra: Anything else coming up for you work wise or just focusing on China, IL?
Joshua: I actually, last summer, worked on a show for Comedy Central called TripTank that is actually airing right now and if you like animated sketch comedy like Robot Chicken I would totally check it out because it is my favorite thing so far I have worked on. And as of this moment I am working a new adult animated show for Netflix called Bojack Horseman that is going to be amazing. There is a lot of talent and amazing story here; so much that it would totally engage younger me.
Kendra: Lastly, do you have any advice for aspiring animators out there to get to where you are today?
Joshua: I know it’s kinda cliché, but “keep moving forward.” In every aspect of that phrase — in your art and in your daily life. I worked at a furniture store for six months before I finally got my first job at a studio. You just have to want it enough to keep moving. The minute you stop you become stagnant and you’re not growing. Don’t stop. You can do it.