A&E » Arts

Whistler gets starring role in animated series premiere

Sea to Sky Highway, sasquatches and weird Whistler conventions get cartoon treatment in new Studio B show



The batteries for the Incredimobile have died, Barbie’s endured a radical new coiffure and the turkey’s not due on the table for another two hours. How can you save Christmas afternoon from degenerating into sibling tag-team wrestling?

Parents take note: YTV will be previewing Being Ian , a new series from Vancouver-based animation house Studio B, at 3 p.m. on Christmas day. Kids suffering the effects of holiday-induced hyperactivity will glue their eyeballs to the screen to take in this show which is at once both incredibly original and comfortably familiar. This gag-laden, animated sitcom comes off like a cross between Bugs Bunny and Malcolm in The Middle . Making the show even more attractive to local members of the pre-pubescent set, the premiere episode, titled "Sask-Watch", is set in Whistler.

Much of the show’s appeal can be attributed to the main character, 12-year-old Ian Kelly. Ian is a brighter-than-average kid who aspires to be a filmmaker and live a life free of wedgies, shoulder punches and other cruelties inflicted by his older brothers, Kyle and Korey.

The Whistler episode features Ian’s attempt to capture the elusive Sasquatch on video during the Kelly family’s trip to the resort, where mom attends a convention for souvenir spoon collectors and brother Kyle inadvertently ends up in a snowboard commercial. The Sea to Sky Highway, timeshare "chalets" and ski bunnies are a few familiar aspects of corridor life that take a gentle ribbing in the show.

The semi-autobiographical take on creator Ian Corlett’s life is set entirely in B.C. Like fictional Ian Kelly, Corlett was a Burnaby-raised boy who dreamed of working in Vancouver’s film industry.

"We’re proud to locate this show in B.C. It makes it fun for local audiences," says Blair Peter, Studio B co-owner and producer of Being Ian .

Familiar locations aren’t the only way Being Ian will capitalize on its B.C. roots. Scheduled guest voices include Vancouver Canucks alternate captain Trevor Linden, BC CTV news anchor Tony Parsons and the band Gob. Local artists as diverse as New Yorker cover artist George Juhasz and Dry Shave’s Ron Filbrandt will be contributing imagery for the cartoon’s fantasy sequences. And best of all, local animation legend, Marv Newland ( Bambi Meets Godzilla ) has contributed the distinct designs.

"When the first designs came in they looked a lot like ( What About ) Mimi . I thought we needed something really different so I got Marv," says Peters.

Peters was familiar with Newland’s work by reputation and experience. As a graduate of Sheridan College, Peters has moved west and found himself freelancing for Newland’s International Rocketship Studio.

Newland’s design for Being Ian harkens back to the days of Steamboat Willie , utilizing a "rubber hose" look. Without the constraints of the implied physics of body joints, the animators have had an opportunity to go wild.

"The animators loved working with the designs. It allowed them to do things like have one of the brothers pull a wedgy right over Ian’s head," says Peters.

Peters is exceptionally proud of the animators who have combined traditional 2D hand drawn animation with Flash and 3D computer animation to create the sixth of Studio B’s indigenous programs.

Over the past 16 years Studio B has grown from being a service provider for companies such as U.S. entertainment giants Universal and Walt Disney to becoming a contender on the international playing field. To date, Peters and business partner Chris Bartleman have produced more than 175 half-hours of animated programming that include Yakkity Yak , Yvon of the Yukon , What About Mimi? , D’Mynah Leagues and Something Else .

With its hilarious sight gags and witty story telling, Being Ian is well-poised for a bull’s-eye with its target market: 8-to 12 year olds. But Peters, a father of three, hopes the show’s appeal will be broader.

"What broadcasters are looking for are shows that are appropriate for co-viewing, the kind of shows that parents can sit down and watch with their kids. That’s certainly the case with Yvon of the Yukon . We do as well in the 18-35 demographic as we do with the eight to 13 demographic."

If "Sask-Watch" is any indication, Being Ian also fits that bill.

The regular season of Being Ian begins airing regularly on YTV in January.