by: Tyler Spinosa
After attending the SCAD Student Showcase at the DMC Theater, my girlfriend and I had a premium spot in line for the much anticipated Adult Swim panel. Once inside, the excitement in the room was undeniable. It peaked when the panelists walked into the auditorium and took their seats below the big aTVfest screen.
Joining us was SCAD alumnus and co-creator of “Toonami,” Jason Demarco, the Senior Vice President and Creative Director of On Air Production and Chris Hartley the Vice President of On Air Production. To their left and our right were four current and recently graduated SCAD students who participated in the CLC (Collaborative Learning Center) program. It started as panels always do with a series of introductions and applause coupled with some cheeky banter.
As a part of the CLC program, the students were tasked with creating short station identification bumpers from a list of about seven shows as jumping off points. Some of the shows included “Rick and Morty,” “Venture Brothers,” “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell” and “Mr. Pickles.” One group of students asked if “Toonami” was on the table as well. Mr. Demarco allowed it, but only if it was handled with extreme care as “Toonami” was his baby. The students took on the project anyway and responded enthusiastically with “Challenge accepted.”
Demarco and Hartley explained that in many cases when they approach students or independent artists to create bumpers that the contracted creators are surprised by the amount of creative freedom that is given to them. Often when networks reach out to artists to create bumpers and promotional material, they give the artists very strict guidelines to adhere to. But the nice people over at Adult Swim emphasized how they wanted to stray away from the rigid and frankly annoying practices of other networks.
The audience had the privilege of witnessing the world premiere of six different bumps. Two for “Mr. Pickles,” two for “Rick and Morty,” a “Venture Brothers” bump and one for “Toonami.” Each one got lots of laughs and a rousing round of applause from everyone in attendance. Even though the person conducting the panel asked the audience to applaud wildly after each bump concluded, the responses still felt emotionally charged and genuine. I have attended other events where the audience had to be coaxed into responding because of a lack of interest and this was not one of those.
This panel was more rewarding than most because of the sense of hope it conveyed for everyone at SCAD. Other than the fart I thought I heard during a brief moment of silence during the Q&A and the awesome exclusive content we got to experience made me feel like the dream of working with Adult Swim is not too far from becoming a reality. It was also very reassuring to see that a network like Adult Swim is reaching out to places like SCAD for help. To top off the ice cream sundae of hopes and dreams, Mr. Demarco is a SCAD alumnus proving that our thousands of dollars in debt may pay off in some way or another in the years that follow graduation.
When it was time to open up the floor to answer questions, I asked, “How does it feel to create something (“Toonami”) and have people who have grown up on it and love it be able to have the experience of contributing to it?” Mr. Demarco explained that it’s probably the most satisfying part of his job. To create something and have someone be affected by it even if it is only for a few moments is, at the end of the day, the most rewarding thing you can expect from art and creativity. SCAD may be a soul crushing vacuum of time and money, but it is making some dreams come true for passionate students willing to enthusiastically say “Challenge accepted.”