Interview: 'Peter and Company' creator Jon Ponikvar
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jon Ponikvar about his plans to turn his webcomic 'Peter and Company' into an animated series. My questions and comments are not to be taken seriously.
Jon Ponikvar: Thank you for having me.
Isiah Jacobs: So, as I understand it, you have a webcomic that you call Peter and Company. Could you please briefly explain what this comic is all about?
Jon Ponikvar: Yes indeed. It runs off a basic premise. "What if a child's imaginary friend were actually his guardian angel?"
The story revolves around Peter, a young cat, who is having trouble making it through childhood. Sort of a social outcast, has a hard time making friends, that sort of thing. One day he makes a new friend in Seth, a white-suited duck. He also realizes that he's the only one who can see him.
Isiah Jacobs: Sounds like he's tripping balls. Do you condone drug abuse?
Jon Ponikvar: LOL if it's a hallucination, then it's a pretty advanced trip. Considering other kids have Guardians as well and they can interact with each other. But yes, that's the basic premise of the comic. It's sort of a slice-of-life design with a tiny bit of fantasy mixed in.
Isiah Jacobs: Did you have an imaginary friend growing up?
Jon Ponikvar: Nope, I did not.
Isiah Jacobs: Sorry, let me rephrase that. How many drugs did you take?
Jon Ponikvar: Hehe. No drugs. Admittedly I was in Peter's shoes as a kid, in terms of his social place. The comic is semi-autobiographical in that most of what Peter goes through (in the situations and such) are based on stuff I did as a kid. Not all of it, though.
Isiah Jacobs: So you weren't creative enough to have your own imaginary friend?
Jon Ponikvar: Well, no. I just got bored easily as a kid. LOL I was plenty creative. I just put that energy into drawing or building stuff with LEGOs. Or video games. Typical kid, y'know.
Isiah Jacobs: Well, at least you weren't doing drugs then. Moving on, you recently started a campaign to turn P&C into an animated series. Why do you want to animate it? Isn't a comic good enough?
Jon Ponikvar: Oh, I wouldn't say it's a question of the comic being "good enough." I'll always love doing the comic and plan to continue with it even if P&C takes off as an animated series. The animated aspect of it just came about because that's something I've always wanted to do, whether with P&C or anything else. The opportunity just presented itself with P&C specifically.
I grew up watching Disney and Warner Brothers animation, so inevitably I think everything I've done has kind of had this idea of it someday being animated in the back of my mind.
Isiah Jacobs: I understand that you did this Kickstarter project, and you raised enough money to to get it off the ground. How much money did you raise?
Jon Ponikvar: Yep. The Kickstarter goal was set at $10,000, and as of this point (one week until the end of the campaign) we are at $10,276. So we have officially met the goal. Anything additional that comes in from this point will go towards making the episode as high-quality as possible.
Isiah Jacobs: Why do you need $10,000? Do you plan on hiring Lauren Faust?
Jon Ponikvar: Hehe, honestly the names I'd have higher on my list would be a few voice actors in particular. But no. The $10K covers the production costs for the animation company I'm working with, payments for the voice actors (which we'll be holding auditions for coming up soon), the soundtrack (we are working with Alexander Brandon, whose composing credits include Unreal Tournament and the Vigilante 8 series), and the costs of advertising/pitching to major networks.
Isiah Jacobs: So is it going to be on Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network?
Jon Ponikvar: We have a few potential networks that we'll be pitching it to, including Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and the HUB. We may also approach online distributors such as Frederator.
Isiah Jacobs: That wouldn't happen to have anything to do with that God awful demon spawn from Hell, the Fred Show, would it?
Jon Ponikvar: Geh. I honestly don't know who distributed that one, haha. Though I thought that was a Nickelodeon release? I don't know for sure. *shrug*
Isiah Jacobs: The only thing I watch on Nickelodeon is The Legend of Korra. Are there any particular voice actors you're looking to hire?
Jon Ponikvar: Oh, if I had the funds to do so, I'd hire Billy West or Tress Macneille in a heartbeat. But they're likely just a BIT out of our price range, unfortunately.
Isiah Jacobs: I would suggest Robert Downey Jr. He has a sexy voice. Or Liam Neeson.
Jon Ponikvar: Also, if I could get Bernadette Peters to do a character voice, that'd be amazing. But I have no idea if she'd come back to animation. She was Rita, the singing cat on Animaniacs.
Isiah Jacobs: That's who she played as! Hire her. For the love of God.
Jon Ponikvar: Yes! I've always loved her voice. Not even just singing, but her speaking voice also has this unique quality to it. I could see her as an amazing fit for either Persephoni or Chelsea (if she'd be willing to play an antagonist, hehe). I just have no idea how to even contact her, let alone how much she would ask for payment to record a single pilot episode.
Isiah Jacobs: So what's next, then? A feature length live action film directed by M. Night Shyama-I can't believe he's still allowed to breathe-alon?
Jon Ponikvar: M. Night Shyamalamading-dong.
Isiah Jacobs: Either one.
Jon Ponikvar: And P&C as live-action.... I shudder to think of it.
Isiah Jacobs: Really?! Why is that?
Jon Ponikvar: If we ever went the route of a full-length film, it'd have to be animated. It just wouldn't make sense to make it live-action. It would be animated characters over live backgrounds. Like Roger Rabbit, but if there were no humans. It'd be kind of bizarre, almost surreal. .... hmmmm. Actually, that's a thought.
Isiah Jacobs: If you go through with this, I want to be credited!
Jon Ponikvar: HAHA
Isiah Jacobs: I'm not asking for money. I just to be the one that gave you idea.
Jon Ponikvar: Okay, deal. If we ever end up making a P&C feature film using live video backgrounds with overlaid animated characters, I'll give you a credit for it.
Isiah Jacobs: And now we have it writing. Is there a certain direction you want to take the series? Will it be based heavily off the comic?
Jon Ponikvar: Oh yes, it will definitely be based on the comic. Though the first episodes will actually take place sort of in the middle of the story. I wanted to avoid the typical pilot episode of "here's how the characters meet" establishment kind of deal.
Mostly because – particularly since this is going to be pitched to studios – we wanted to be able to show them what an episode in the middle of a season would be like. But also make it to where you wouldn't have to have read the comic to get what's going on.
Isiah Jacobs: Will there be show stopping musical numbers?
Jon Ponikvar: In the series? I'd like there to be musical numbers, definitely. Not every episode of course, but the occasional song when appropriate. When it helps push the plot along, rather than just an excuse to have the characters break into song, hehe.
Isiah Jacobs: So no big-lipped alligator moments?
Jon Ponikvar: HA. All Dogs Go to Heaven. Nice.
Isiah Jacobs: Now, I know you're a furry, and you have trouble keeping your sexual urges in check. How much innuendo will this show have?
Jon Ponikvar: LOL Ahh, the "furry" thing.
Isiah Jacobs: What, you don't consider yourself a furry? You have an account on Fur Affinity. You drew a sexual comic recently. Involving Peter!
Jon Ponikvar: Honestly I didn't, and still kind of don't. I'm a cartoonist who draws cartoon animals. That's just how I've always placed myself, in terms of the fandom or whatever. Well, yes. I've drawn adult works with older versions of the characters (actually, that's going to be connected to a future comic idea that my wife and I are working on). But still, to this day I don't really call myself a "furry." I just know where my target audience is.
Like I said, I grew up watching Looney Tunes, Tiny Toons, and countless Disney films all featuring cartoon animals. That's just the type of character design that I always loved as a kid. So it just kind of worked out that it's what I loved drawing as well. That's about the extent of my "furry"ness, hehe.
Though to get back to your question (sorry for the tangent there), no, this will be the original P&C. Meaning that it will be G-rated material, where the characters are young kids. There actually are no sexual innuendos anywhere in P&C
Isiah Jacobs: So you don't want to corrupt the youth and turn them all into gay communists?
Jon Ponikvar: Not with this project! haha
Isiah Jacobs: I'm on to you, Mr. Ponikvar!
Jon Ponikvar: But no. Like I said, the material with the older Peter/Whitney is actually going to be related to a spin-off series. Though that one is still VERY early in the works.
Isiah Jacobs: Will that one be animated as well?
Jon Ponikvar: Likely not. I'll keep it only in comic form. It's going to be more PG-13 (not quite the "adult" level of the FA submissions).
Isiah Jacobs: What if your fans started a Kickstarter project to turn that into an animated series?
Jon Ponikvar: But it will show a sort of epilogue to the main P&C series, showing how Peter and Whitney end up finally getting together and marrying, in their early 20's. I would be wholeheartedly impressed! And it looks like I'd be having a talk with the animation studio to see what they think. hehe
Isiah Jacobs: I think Nickelodeon would be happy to take on that series.
Jon Ponikvar: It'd probably be more fit for Adult Swim, honestly. lol
Isiah Jacobs: So, let's get started on that adult P&C Kickstarter project! Our goal is $50,000! Mr. Ponikvar, thank you so much for your time! I look forward to having you back on the show!
Jon Ponikvar: Thank you! It was a pleasure, sir!