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Hooking them young

Acclaimed author and children’s book illustrator Noah Z Jones is the creator and co-executive producer of Fish Hooks,an animated show about the lives of three fish set in a high school. Jones talks about the inspiration and the aspiration behind the show that currently airs on Disney channe.

Written by Priyanko Sarkar |
May 13, 2011 3:00:59 pm

Acclaimed author and children’s book illustrator Noah Z Jones is the creator and co-executive producer of Fish Hooks,an animated show about the lives of three fish set in a high school. Jones talks about the inspiration and the aspiration behind the show that currently airs on Disney channe.

Where did you get the idea to create these three characters?

One day,I got a call from someone at Disney. They had seen my work online and wanted to know if I had any ideas for a television show. I sent them five ideas and the one they liked best was Fish Hooks.

Why did you choose fish as the main characters rather than other animals or pets? Why set the story in a fish tank?

I chose fish because they are so simple to draw and colourful as well. They look like little gumdrops with faces. We set the show in a pet store because we wanted to give the fish a huge world to explore and a space where they can have adventures. Also,it allowed us to create a very unique universe for our characters.

What specific insight did you use to design the characters?

The characters’ designs come from many different places. Sometimes,the drawing will come first and we’ll build a personality around it,and sometimes we’ll be throwing around ideas for a story and a character will come out of that.

What are the key messages that you are trying to convey through the three main characters?

The key messages are to show how important they are to one another. Milo,Bea and Oscar stick together no matter what and have a real love for each other. Also,we want to show how important it is to follow your dreams,to have a goal and work towards it as best as you can.

Going from children’s book illustrator to TV animation producer,what have been the major differences between the two roles?

The major difference is going from working in my studio at home all by myself to working with a huge team of creative writers and artists. It’s so much fun when we all get together at work and come up with new ideas for the show. We also have a great time drawing horrible pictures of each other.

What content on television does a child want to see and according to you,what should he see?

That’s a tough question. With Fish Hooks,we never try to talk down to kids. We don’t try too hard to give them what we think they want. Kids are savvy and easily spot when they are being patronised. If we’re having fun making the show and laughing at the jokes,we’re pretty sure that kids will like them too.

Why set the story in a high school environment? Do you refer back to or reflect on your own teenage experiences?

It’s set in a high school because it is such a rich environment for stories. All of us have been bullied and had dates that didn’t work out that well. It’s also a time when your friends are so important to your life.

While designing these characters,did you use any specific celebrities to model them after?

If we find out we’re able to get someone amazing for a role,I try to design the character to look a bit like them. The amazing thing is that,by complete accident,the actors and actresses we cast do look a bit like the characters they play on Fish Hooks.

Do you have any special experiences or stories that happened while designing and producing this show?

The best part of making the show is when our board artists are pitching out a new episode. They present a very rough comic-strip version of the story to the entire Fish Hooks crew and it is a blast to have everyone together and laughing at the antics of our fishy friends.

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