If you’ve not yet met the brilliant JC Little, the time is now. This extraordinarily talented woman is a television director and artist who blogs at The Animated Woman in her spare time. Her extraordinary cartoons cover everything from parenting and never-ending laundry to blog trolls and boobs. Sometimes roll-on-the-floor-hilarious, sometimes pull-your-heartstrings poignant, JC Little’s illustrations offer a riveting slice of life that everyone can relate to.
Your TV series, My Life Me, just got nominated for the Gemeaux Award (which is like the French Canada version of the Emmys) for Best Animated Series and Best Kids Website. That’s amazing. Can you share with us a little more about this series?
The Gemini Award nomination for the French version of My Life Me, “3 et MOI” is a great honour!
When my eldest daughter hit the tween years I realized that there was a huge amount of conflict in this age group. Not only are they struggling between themselves, but also internally, as they attempt to navigate the perilous terrain of adolescence. And anywhere there’s conflict, there’s also comedy! My Life Me follows 13 year old aspiring manga artist Birch Small and the three classmates she’s forced into a school group with. The four teens always disagree and hilarity ensues. So there is an element of conflict resolution at the heart of the show.
Do you think it will come to the United States?
I think it will. Kids in the United States will love this show; not only is it meaningful to kids from all walks of life, but it’s universally funny. My Life Me is on TV in countries across Europe and Asia, including on the Disney Channel Asia. It debuts in English in Canada this September 2011 on Teletoon. It’s only a question of time that broadcasters in the USA will pick up the show. Emailing your broadcaster will speed it up. They tend to listen to their audience.
So I hear you are from Canada?
I was born in Montreal! When I was about 28, I moved to London, met my husband and settled down there for a few years. Our first daughter was born there. Then work took me to Vancouver on the west coast for another few years, and two more babies, before we moved the whole family back to Montreal. My Huz was one of the first wave of Stay At Home Dads while I worked.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in the middle of two brothers, all one year apart. Moving from the sheltered suburbs of Montreal to the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong definitely had a huge impact on me. I was eleven at the time and my eyes opened wide with wonder! Our parents took us to several countries on the way there and back so that was great. I remember snorkeling in the Mediterranean in Spain, the smell of the carpet shops in Istanbul, and seeing the Taj Mahal by moonlight in India.
Did you draw as a kid?
The story goes that my mom tried to draw on one of my drawings when I was a toddler. Apparently I knocked the crayon out of her hand and pushed her away! After that? Other kids got toys for Christmas; I got art supplies. I’ve always drawn. When my younger brother was hospitalised for several months I drew a comic series just to see him smile.
What compelled you to move to Greece as a young adult and live in a cave?
I was pretty wild as a young woman – I was fearless. At one point I found myself in Paris, where I had escaped from a love affair gone wrong. I had very little money, and I’d heard about these caves one could live in on Siros, one of the less populated Greek islands. I grabbed my sleeping bag, stuffed a change of clothes and my bathing suit into a satchel and off I went.
Tell us a little about how you got into animation to begin with.
I was studying graphic design at University — I guess I must have been about 19 years old. I met an animator who had just finished working on Heavy Metal, the original movie based on Heavy Metal Magazine. He introduced me to the world of animation and it infected me like a virus! I was hooked. I’ve never looked back.
When did you become a television director?
I started as a cel painter, eventually animating, producing. I got tired of working on TV commercials in 2004 so I started creating and directing through my own company, Little Animation. We make cute and fun eco-educational DVD’s and web content for young children. My TV directing gig came with My Life Me, and since I finished the series I’ve been working steadily directing pilots and also making short films.
What is your favorite project you’ve worked on so far?
Creating and directing my own TV series was a huge accomplishment. But, The Animated Woman is my totally favorite project so far. It’s so personal and unassuming, and I can use my own voice. Because it’s a blog, the feedback is instantaneous and one on one. It’s unbelievably rewarding to hear that my drawings have touched someone’s life or made someone laugh out loud.
I love the way your drawings look at the whole gamut of life. They are funny, heartfelt, poignant, sassy, tearjerking and downright awesome. How do you come up for ideas for your drawings?
Thank-you! I mine my personal experiences for my blog. I have years of planned content ahead, but there’s always some new idea that pops up to inspire me, that I just have to draw, like right now!!! I get quite a bit of inspiration from my Twitter following. At first I was like, dang, I should slow down here. But I can’t help it — I get an idea and I just have to draw it and post it. I decided to stop fighting it and just go with my creative whim.
Do you have a favorite?
When did you decide to start blogging your drawings and animations?
About a year ago, I met this one super funny dude on Twitter called @WhyIsDaddyCryin. I made a film inspired by his blog called “Why Is Daddy Crying?” ….and then I thought, “Why should he have all the fun?” And The Animated Woman was born. So you can just totally go and blame it all on him, heheh.
Did you really take your clothes off on Twitter?
I did a comic strip! I bare it all for my followers! I did tweet a strip tease, which is quite different from taking all one’s clothes off. And I illustrated the whole episode in a blog post. But is it a scandalous bit of fun… or a clever social media strategy?
I know you have an intense job as a director and a busy family life. How do you manage to also find time to have such a successful blog and maintain so many vibrant friendships with other bloggers?
I don’t know how I do it. I often suffer from The Overwhelmption, especially as I am a YES-aholic. I really have to credit my husband for giving me the creative space I need. We pick up the slack for each other when things get heavy. We prioritize our children and each other; everything else takes its place after that. So far it’s always worked out, except that the house is a little bit messy. Okay, it’s more than a little bit messy.
What do your kids think of your work?
At 11, 14 and 17, my kids are my harshest critics and they actively contribute to my content. They’re especially fond of family stories, like “Catching The Easter Funny.” It’s a huge achievement to make them crack up, hug me in gratitude or even share it with their own friends. I occasionally enjoy the coveted designation of, “Your mom is cool.” And whenever I draw my own children, I always get their approval before publishing the content. If they like something, then I know it’s good.
Do they like to draw or write stories?
The apples don’t fall too far from the tree. All three of our children are musical, artistic and opinionated. It gets kinda noisy here. I SAID, IT GETS KINDA NOISY HERE.
What do you want most of all for people to get from your drawings and animations?
I hope that they feel included, like they are a part of the story.
What is your greatest dream?
I have a sneaking suspicion that I may already be living my greatest dream. So maybe someday I’ll be able to do it with a clean house.
JC LITTLE STATS:
- The Animated Woman (Page hits per month: 75,000)
- Twitter @LittleAnimation (11,500+ followers)
- My Life Me
- Little Animation 4 kids
Catch a sneak peek of JC Little’s brilliant animation in this short film, Why Is Daddy Crying?