Bob's Burgers is a new, animated show airing in a prime spot after The Simpsons on FOX. And, guess what? Not just one, but two San Francisco artists created original artwork for the series: Sirron Norris made the backgrounds, and Jay Howell created the characters. While the artists are quite different in style and approach, their work is a perfect match for the cartoon. Both are local icons and their work can be seen all over the city, so I got in touch with them to find out more about their network television debut.
Most of Jay and Sirron's work for Bob's Burgers is complete, but it wasn't an easy gig. Sirron said it was the hardest he'd worked in years. "I worked my butt off for six months, 12 hours a day, plus weekends." When asked how they felt seeing their art in the context of a prime time cartoon, both artists seemed stoked. Though it looked different than his final drawings, Sirron said it was cool to see how his "original intentions passed Fox scrutiny." He drew himself into one of the scenes as a student "although," he says "they put hair on me." Jay says the characters are pretty close to his original design, though his "had bigger noses and were skinnier. As he puts it, "It's been Simsonized to the max. I'm happy with how it turned out. It's simply amazing to see something you worked on come alive on T.V." Jay calls Loren Bouchard, the show's creator, a genius and says he's grateful to have worked on the show.
The Victorian-lined streets in the cartoon's scenery are clearly inspired by San Francisco. Bouchard, who's known for Dr. Katz and his work on the Adult Swim channel, lived near some of Sirron's first murals in the Mission, where the cartoon was originally intended to be set. Sirron said Bouchard wanted "every aspect of his show to stand out and be original," and explained the production's move from SF to LA. "We all worked out of a studio on 16th street and then FOX changed the animation style from Flash-based to Full-Motion, so Loren had no choice but to move it to LA. He felt bad leaving us for greener pastures but I encouraged him to forget about us -- we had our own careers and he needed to do what was best for him."
Sirron opened a studio and gallery for his work on Valencia Street last year where he teaches cartooning classes. He's about to start an "epic mural on Sacramento & Polk" and plans to raise funds for the mural on Kickstarter.com. He'll paint donors' names into the piece as an incentive. He's also branding a new restaurant, Taco Libre, which is set to open next month, and is working a reality series pilot based on his gallery and internship program.
Jay recently moved to LA to work on a new cartoon for Nickelodeon with SF pals Jim Dirshberger and Andreas Trolf. Local band The Oh Sees are writing the theme song and the show is "about a young boy and his wacky ass life, friends, and family." Jay says it's not as nasty as his other original cartoon, Forest City Rockers, but "it's gross, and for kids." He's still making art for gallery shows alongside the animated projects and says "being able to draw full-time for a living is the greatest job ever."
Watch the premiere episode of Bob's Burgers on Hulu.com