By Laura Wood
Joe Murray grew up in northern California during the late 1960’s. Immediately as a child, he found his love for cartoons, and that’s what he decided he wanted to be. For years he worked, mostly for newspapers and political cartooning gigs. In his early 20’s he took animation and business classes at a community college and started his own design studio. With minimal luck, he slowly grew more clientele. One person would tell him that he could see his illustrations coming to life through animation? This sparked a whole new direction. He immediately started drawing and a year later he made “My Dog Zero” about a man who was trying to take out his fat cat. His teacher loved it and recommended he send it off to competitions.
Fast forward 10 years later and he was pitching “Rocko’s Modern Life,” a zany new approach to the otherwise substandard television animation of the day. It was a time of exploration and experimentation. Always sketching on recycled paper and still nostalgic of his northern California past, he made “Spring Cleaning” and “Zanzibar” in 1996. These went on to win the environmental media award. The other show he is popular for is “Camp Lazlo” which was inspired from his youthful days at summer camp. This shows anamorphic creatures enjoying the adventures of nature, and also driving their camp counselor nuts! The theme of exploring and respecting nature come up repeatedly throughout all his shows, which is why I love to watch them.
Artists have a vast influence on the public, especially with a tool such as the Internet or television. Joe Murray used his fame and status to help spread awareness of the environment and what we can do to help. This is extremely successful not only because of the catchy tunes, but in the fun and positive way he says it. People might actually want to recycle and conserve after its stuck in your head for days!