Most people are familiar with a variety of sushi types. There’s nigiri, norimaki, and, yes, even yam rolls. But we guarantee you’ve never seen a yam roll like Yam Roll.
The Very Good Adventures of Yam Roll in Happy Kingdom, a cartoon premiering on CBC this February, was spawned by the undercooked minds of Classical Animation grad Jon Izen and his creative partner Jono Howard. It tells the tale of Yam Roll and his. well. very good adventures in happy kingdom. For a preview of this new show, check out CBC Maple Shorts, where Yam Roll recently won the Best Short Animation award.
VFS caught up with Jon Izen and ordered up a few sweet morsels – special today, no charge for you.
|VFS:||So what’s with all this Yam Roll?|
|JI:||I’d been drawing Yam Roll for a while. Originally, I tried to pawn off the idea of having a fencing movie starring a CG Yam Roll voiced by Chris Tucker. He was to battle a once retired Kevin Costner, whose love interest was Mariah Carey. After about six months of my co-creator, Jono Howard, telling me to shut up, he cracked. We didn’t have 20 million for a feature film, and he still hated the idea…but he thought maybe we could do something with it for the tube.|
|VFS:||So you walked into CBC and said “We have a piece of sushi with your name on it”?|
|JI:||(laughs) Not exactly. We pitched it to all the folks we knew. We had some bites, but when March Entertainment contacted us we were pretty hyped. They had a great attitude and allowed us lots of freedom in moving forward. It was March that got CBC involved.|
|VFS:||And now you have a big show on CBC?|
|VFS:||What’s your role on the show, besides coming up with the original drawings and ideas?|
|JI:||I’m the Director/Show Runner. I review scripts, try to be involved in all voice recordings, review all aspects of design, and review and deal with story boards/leicas. As the director, I’m involved right through to the final on-line. I deal with the composer to ensure the sound pumps up the show. For kicks, I also do all the title cards for the show. Basically, I’m involved at every level as much as is humanly possible. Jono and I try to infuse as much originality and individuality into each show as we can manage. We both work ridiculous hours to make sure we can be happy with the show while dealing with incredibly tight deadlines and enormous work loads.|
|VFS:||So, what happens if Yam Roll becomes the next Sponge Bob?|
|JI:||I never look ahead. I’m currently happy where I am, as I was happy before I got this gig. If it ended tomorrow I would keep drawing for myself (as I always do) and remain happy.|
|VFS:||And where do you see yourself five years from now?|
|JI:||With any luck, in 5 years I’ll be buying my own shoes. My dad bought my second-to-last pair, and, currently, I’m wearing my late Grandfather’s. He bought them but wasn’t able to wear them, so my Grandma gave them to me. They’re New Balance…not bad.|