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Great animation from the master of the ridiculous, Joe Murray. If you an insight into what is happening in animation today the is a must watch.

Born and raised in San Jose, California, Joe Murray said that he developed an interest in working as an artist as a career when he was three years old. According to Murray, hiskindergarten teacher told his mother that he was the only student who drew zippers on pants and breasts on women. Murray credits his Leland High School art teacher Mark Briggs for teaching him “so much about my art.” ] At age 16, he became a full-time artist.

Taking the position of political cartoonist for a newspaper in San Jose, his cartoons often targeted then-President Jimmy Carter. On his website, in a 2007 entry he said that he admired Carter’s post-presidential work.

As a young adult, he was hired as a designer at an agency. Murray invested his earnings from the company into independent animated films. At age 20, Murray founded his independent illustration company, Joe Murray Studios, in 1981 while still in university. His early attempts at animation date back to 1986 when he joined De Anza College. Murray created several short animated films, his most successful was made in 1987, which was a two minute animated short titled “The Chore,” which focused on a harried husband who uses his cat as a novel solution while not wanting to do a chore for his wife. He drew the scenes on typing paper and shot the scenes with 16 mm film. For creating “The Chore” Murray earned the Student Academy Award two years later in 1989.

In 1988 he did 2 network ID’s for MTV, and left in 1991 in hopes of starting his own projects. One of the MTV ID’s Murray created involved the future Rocko’s Modern Life character Heffer Wolfe; the ID featured Heffer being pushed out of a building with the MTV logo branded onto his buttocks.

“My Dog Zero,” released in 1992, was Murray’s third independent film and first color film. Murray said that “My Dog Zero” was his “most gratifying” artistic project to date because of his own “stubbornness” in resolving the obstacles and issues involved in the production, such as lack of funding and lack of resources. With a grant he employed twelve people, mostly university students, to cel paint the film. According to Murray, when he finished the film, several distributors refused to air it. He appeared at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco with a copy of the film and persuaded the staff to air the film with the scheduled films. According to Murray, “My Dog Zero” received “good response.” [5]

To fund the film Murray initially tried to pre-sell the television show rights to “My Dog Zero” but instead created a separate television series called Rocko’s Modern Life.[2]

Murray created and was the executive producer for the animated series Rocko’s Modern Life, which aired on Nickelodeon from 1993 to 1996.

Originally, the character Rocko appeared in an unpublished comic book titled Travis. Murray tried selling the comic book in the late 1980s, but was never successful of getting it in production. Murray wanted funding for “My Dog Zero,” so he wanted Nickelodeon to pre-buy television rights for the series. Murray presented a pencil test to Nickelodeon Studios, which afterwards became interested in buying and airing the show. After deciding that “My Dog Zero” would not work as a television series, Murray combed through his sketchbooks, developed the Rocko’s Modern Life concept, and submitted it to Nickelodeon, believing that the concept would likely be rejected. According to Murray, around three or four months later he had “forgotten about” the concept and was working on “My Dog Zero” when Linda Simensky informed Murray that Nickelodeon wanted a pilot episode. Murray said that he was glad that he would get funding for “My Dog Zero.”

In 1992, two months prior to the production of season 1 of Rocko’s Modern Life, Murray’s first wife, Diane, committed suicide. Murray had blamed the show being taken as the reason for his wife’s suicide. Murray felt that he had emotional and physical “unresolved issues” when he moved to Los Angeles. He describes the experience as like participating in “marathon with my pants around my ankles.” Murray initially believed that he would create one season, move back to the San Francisco Bay Area, and “clean up the loose ends I had left hanging.” To his surprise Nickelodeon approved new seasons.

After season 3 he decided to hand the project to Stephen Hillenburg, who performed most work for season 4 and created SpongeBob SquarePants shortly after that; Murray continued to manage the cartoon. Murray said that he would completely leave the production after season 4. Murray said that he encouraged the network to continue production. Nickelodeon decided to cancel the series. Murray described all fifty-two episodes as “top notch” and that, in his view, the quality of a television show may decline as production continues “when you are dealing with volume.”

Rocko’s Modern Life

After completing 52 episodes of Rocko’s Modern Life, Murray took a break from the animatio business and produced two children’s books and illustrated two children’s books: Who Asked the Moon to Dinner?(1999), The Enormous Mister Schmupsle: An ABC Adventure (2003), Hugville (written by Court Crandall) (2005), and Funny Cryptograms (written by Shawn Kennedy).

Murray was working on a web-based cartoon named The Family Pop, which was produced in Flash and was in the middle of negotiations for this cartoon just prior to the onset of Camp Lazlo. On September 30, 2008, Murray added a new feature to his website, The Tin Box, where Murray posts some of his independent work. The first work posted was Where’s Poppa, a short episode of The Family Pop.

Camp Lazlo

Main article: Camp Lazlo

Murray decided to return to television cartooning, this time selling his work to Cartoon Network Studios. In 2005, he produced a pilot for the cartoon Camp Lazlo, which was picked-up for a 13 episode first season and ran for five seasons, with production ending in November 2007. On September 8, 2007, the TV movie “Where’s Lazlo?” won an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program (For an hour or more). During the production ofCamp Lazlo, Murray underwent a divorce.

Post Camp Lazlo

Once production finished for Camp Lazlo, and the final episodes were delivered, Murray developed a new television series. While he is working out details about production and distribution, he has started work on his next independent film project, Fish head, and publishing Crafting A Cartoon, a book on creating and producing an animated TV series, and working on producing a new short series, entitled Frog In A Suit.


Murray is currently planning to develop KaboingTV, a web network entirely dedicated to cartoons. On April 20, 2010, Murray launched a donation drive on Kickstarter to fund the project, he required $16,800 by June 5 to reach the total funding amount for his project; otherwise, it would be cancelled. The project surpassed the amount of funding needed, and Murray is currently developing the next Frog in a Suit episodes. KaboingTV premiered in March 11, 2011.