Carl Jones and Brian Ash Skewer Hip-Hop and Kids’ Cartoons in ‘Sugar and Toys’
When the news announcement first crossed my desk that Carl Jones and Brian Ash, two producers on the brilliantly written and savagely funny animated series, Black Dynamite and The Boondocks, had a new animated show, Sugar and Toys, I immediately set down my UglyDolls plushy and happily dug for details. Now streaming on Fuse TV, Sugar and Toys is the fast paced, stream of consciousness riff-style show that appeals to today’s interrupt-driven, fractured attention span digital audience. However… like with all good parody and satire, there is an often subtle, layered depth to the humor, more cerebral and more nuanced than the obvious onscreen yucks — from what I’ve seen, this new show deftly integrates a barrage of in-your-face comedic visuals that are both outrageous and outrageously funny. Kudos to the creative team.
Promoted as “where adult comedy, social commentary and music culture parody crash the cartoon party,” the show “puts a wild twist on the Saturday morning cartoons we all grew up with.” Hence, the tagline: “It’s all the sugar but a lot less sweet and innocent!” The series features multi-platinum rapper and actor KYLE (The After Party) — each episode is a kaleidoscope of original cartoons and live-action segments that KYLE bookends.
According to Jones, “I came up with the idea for Sugar and Toys after realizing that we only had these cartoons growing up because corporations were selling children sugar and really cheap lead-based toys. So, I wanted to make a Saturday morning cartoon block that poked fun at the woes in society and touch taboos. I also wanted to challenge popular beliefs and societal norms, but with a Saturday morning cartoon aesthetic.”
Florida studio Echo Bridge produced the animation on each of the first season’s 10 episodes. Led by animator Esteban Valdez (Axe Cop, Chozen), the production team gets the traditional 2D animation look through Flash and Toon Boom Harmony, with a bit of 3D thrown in as well.
Back on-air once again with an animated series that has something controversial to say about contemporary culture, Jones is not one to shrink from the premise that when it comes to satire, honesty, with all its brutal, often dark humor, is the best policy. “Just about anything Brian Ash and I write is going to have a healthy amount of social commentary, satire and fuckery,” he shares. “I mean, the key to us, to this style show, is to be honest. Unapologetically honest and fearless as storytellers. And our recipe shows, you really need to start a story off with something or someone that the audience is familiar with… put the audience in their car with what is familiar, for what appears to be a normal ride… then you take a sharp left, floor it and run them into a wall. Or, sometimes a Trump dinosaur. Or, maybe even a LEGO Katt Williams riding an alligator. Who knows?”
For Ash and Jones, the biggest challenges so far have been producing both animation and live-action segments at the same time. “It was really difficult,” Jones reveals about the process. “We had a really awesome live-action team led by director Nick Goossen. But trying to shoot, write and record at the same time was almost impossible. Gotta figure out a better schedule. We could not have pulled it off without producer Nicco Ardin of TIJAT [This is Just a Test Productions], our partners. She definitely worked her ass off to orchestrate all of the madness.”
The show boasts a talented roster of voice actors that Jones highlights as key to the shows success. “We have great voice over actors!” Jones notes. “Giana Lawrence, Jade Novah, Nick Murdock, JD Witherspoon and Slink Johnson! They did so many voices, played so many characters. I mean they are the true magic that brought this show to life. Also, on the live-action side, super-duper KYLE was phenomenal! Great performances from everybody really.”
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-at-Large of Animation World Network.