Southeast Animation Talent Airs on Tru TV Comedy

JackAndTheBeanStalkFlyerArt_V4CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 6, 2016 — Several Southeast Missouri State University students and an alumna have helped in animating and colorizing the re-telling of the fairy tale “Jack and the Beanstalk” that recently aired in an animated segment in the skit-based comedy show “Late Night Snack” on Tru TV.

The two-minute piece, a comedic look at the old fable “Jack and the Beanstalk,” is the first animated cartoon short done by local and Southeast animation talent to appear on the show this year.

A Post-Premiere Party is scheduled for 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12, in the John and Betty Glenn Convocation Center at the River Campus, where the Cartoon will be shown and celebrated. The piece contains adult content.  The public is invited.

Southeast’s students and an alumna were tapped to assist with the project by Kevin Hand, a freelance graphic artist and animator living in Cape Girardeau and husband of Joni Hand, Southeast professor of art history. He is employed by Hollywood’s Titmouse Studios, which was tasked with producing 10 cartoons for the show. Kevin Hand was one of 10 directors brought in to complete one of the cartoons.

“Titmouse has a history of edgy cartoons like ‘Superjail,’ ‘Motorcity,’ ‘Metalocalypse’ and ‘China Illinois’ under its belt,” he said. “These shows have been successful for the last few years for Cartoon Network and Disney XD.”

Local talent assisting with the project were Southeast alumni Kari Arnold of Mount Vernon, Illinois, and Southeast students Ashley Tong of St. Charles, Missouri; Bridget Bingham of Chicago, Illinois; Michelle Pennington of Caruthersville, Missouri; Darrien Miller of Kansas City, Missouri; Sarah Stock of Naylor, Missouri; Molly Doty of Fairmont, West Virginia; and Josh Davitz of Rockwood, Illinois.

“This was their first foray into the professional world of animation, dealing with a real-world project with real-world deadlines,” said Kevin Hand. “I felt a party and celebration for them and their hard work was in order — not only for the animators, but also to trumpet the great talent SEMO has produced with their animation program.”

Kevin Hand has been involved in magazine publishing design and illustration. In 2009, after losing a magazine job at Newsweek magazine in New York, he landed a position at Titmouse Studios in Hollywood, California, as an assistant animator on a cartoon for MTV called “DJ and the Fro.”

“I worked for Titmouse animating cartoons for a few years, but eventually became a freelancer full time working out of my home,” he said.

When his wife, Joni, landed a teaching position at Southeast, they moved to Cape Girardeau from the New York City area.

“I still work at home with graphics for magazines and animation for web and TV,” he said. “I have used my experience at Titmouse Studios in Hollywood to help the fledgling talent at SEMO. I have spoken to the class several times about animation and the business of client relations.”

Two months ago, Titmouse Studio called him and asked if he would be interested in directing an animation for television. He accepted, but was told the deadline was seven weeks.

“I needed help,” he said. “I reached out to Professor Emily Denlinger (Southeast associate professor of art) for students that would possibly be interested in helping with the show. I got about 10 volunteers. We worked continuously for seven weeks on the project. The students were champs in that they had school work to do, plus help with the project. This party is in appreciation and celebration of their work.”

The television show is a part of a skit-based comedy show called “Rachel Dratch’s Late Night Snack.” It appears on Thursday nights at 10 p.m. Central on the cable channel Tru TV. Within  several skits the show offers, including Alec Baldwin’s “Joy Ride” and “Found Films,” is an animated series that pairs comedians with the telling of cartoon fairy tales.

“We (the students and I) were tasked with animating ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ narrated by comedian Blake Anderson of Comedy Central’s ‘Workaholics’” he said. “Most of the comedians just tell the tales as they remember them. In the process, comedy is the product since their memory of the tale is usually skewed.”