It was written and animated by my friend Brian Quarfoth. I’ve known Brian for around ten years and met him when the Uptown Girl movie was filmed. Brian and his studio partner Jerry did the animation for the movie and we’ve been friends since.
Working with Brian and Jerry went so well that we, along with writer Brian Bastian, gave an Uptown Girl animated series a crack. It was not a success collaboration for a few reasons and I take the blame for it, to be honest. One reason for the less than positive outcome was me being unwilling to compromise…anything. The characters had to sound a certain way, they had to act a certain way, had to do certain things…I wasn’t willing to budge on much. I wasn’t fun to work with. On one hand, you need to protect your characters and maintain their integrity, they are your characters after all. On the other hand, it’s easy to become too rigid and inflexible and not allowing the creative team to do what they want to do. There needs to be give and take when you collaborate on anything and I wasn’t really willing to give on much.
Looking back I realized that I was trying to protect Uptown Girl too much. I, like many creators do, love my characters and wasn’t willing to let them go. I had put too much of ME into the characters. I was and am very emotionally connected to these guys and I was freaked out about the idea of the characters changing in any way. I wish I had let the Brians and Jerry do their thing and stayed out of their way, but I didn’t.
In fact, I was so nervous about letting go that the night before another meeting with Brian and Jerry I quickly redesigned and renamed the three main characters, making them as different from the trio as I could. I think the “new” Uptown Girl worked in a coffee shop? I wonder if I still have those drawings. In the end, we moved forward with the creation of the series as it was. Giving someone creative control is like trusting someone with your car. Sure, I handed the keys to Brian and Jerry but I still sat in the passenger’s seat and kept one hand on the wheel. I should’ve let them drive.
After a year it was clear the series wasn’t working and we killed the project.
When Brian (Bastian, this time) and I developed The Retros promised myself I wouldn’t get too connected to these characters. Not that I don’t love them or care about them, but they are not…ME, not in the same way Uptown Girl and Ruby and Rocketman are aspects of myself. The plan for The Retros is to have a rotating group of characters, similar to how the Justice League or the X-Men do. Over the course of the series, characters will quit the team, new members will join, some will even be killed off. In fact, one of the five main characters will not be on the team by the time the current story arc is over. I am holding myself to this plan and I think if I can avoid getting too emotionally connected to them, I can stick to this idea.
At any rate, this mentality is key to giving Brian Q the keys and letting him do this thing. As far as I am concerned the cartoon and the comic have different continuities from each other which will allow Brian to do what he wants without sticking to what I am doing. The cartoon already contradicts the comic (you’ll see why soon-ish) and that is my fault, not Brian’s. The cartoon is funny. It’s about five minutes and Brian adapted it from an original Retros story that I will likely publish as a one-shot later this year. He wasn’t a slave to the comic I did and that makes it a better story and I think more enjoyable for Brian to work on. I think it gives him a sense of ownership, too.