Recently I had the opportunity to interview C.H. Greenblatt about his latest show Harvey Beaks. If you aren’t already familiar with the name, C.H. Greenblatt was the Executive Producer of the popular Cartoon Network show Chowder. He is also known for his work as a writer/storyboard artist for other hit cartoons such as SpongeBob SquarePants and The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy. I don’t know about you, but those last two shows were a huge part of my childhood, so I was very excited to learn about his latest project.
Harvey Beaks is about an extremely well-behaved bird named Harvey who befriends two incredibly mischievous creatures named Fee and Foo. Harvey never ever breaks the rules, but Fee and Foo are complete rebels, breaking every rule they can. This of course comes as a huge challenge to Harvey who has a very hard time doing anything he isn’t allowed to, but the magical forest the three companions live in present many challenges for Harvey to face.
Below is my interview with C.H. Greenblatt. Thank you again Mr. Greenblatt and Katie Wilkins, Publicity Assistant for DKC Public Relations, for this opportunity and for taking the time to answer these questions!
How did you come up with the idea for “Harvey Beaks”?
Hi, Caitlin! Harvey is very much based on me as a kid. I was a polite, nearly OCD child who never wanted to break the rules or do things any way except how they supposed to be done. I guess that’s a parent’s dream, but it means you create your own excitement since you’re not out getting into trouble. So I thought it would be fun to pair a character like that with two kids who have never had any rules or guidance. He gets to have someone help him push his boundaries and they get someone that accepts them like family they never had.
This show seems to be about breaking out of your comfort zone (whether that means being a rebel or someone who always follows the rules). Do you think that’s an important lesson for kids to learn? Why?
I think that to learn who you are, you have to see where you land when making hard decisions. Kids are always being put into new situations, so I think they’re constantly dealing with moral and personal dilemmas even though they may not realize it.
Who do you relate to the most in “Harvey Beaks,” Harvey, Fee, or Foo?
Definitely Harvey. He’s named after me, after all (Carl Harvey). One of my happiest memories as a child was when I would organize my desk. Then I would lie in bed and just look at, supremely content at how clean it was. I also kept all my action figures in a case and would only take out the ones I needed, putting them back immediately when I was done. I really relate to his not being comfortable breaking the rules. That’s something I could
always do in my head, but never in real life. Now I get to do it all the time on the show!
What drew you to animation (excuse the pun)?
The fact that I can create my own world with my own rules is hugely appealing to me. Animation lets you take whatever is in your mind and put it out there, however fantastical it may be.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
There are a million inspirations running around in my head. I consumed way too much television. I was heavily inspired by Jim Henson and Looney Tunes… but there’s also Terry Gilliam, Akira, Simpsons, and the Cohen Brothers. All sorts of stuff floats around in there.
The shows you’ve worked on tend to be out-of-the box. Where does your sense of humor come from?
I think it’s a mix of my parents and all that TV. I spent a lot of time entertaining myself as a kid, so I guess I started to see the world in a weird and different way.
How has your time on other shows (such as “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy,” etc.) influenced the shows you’ve produced yourself?
Every show has been an influence. With SpongeBob I learned to tell a simple story with a strong character that has humor and heart. On Billy & Mandy I got to flex my more twisted and sarcastic muscles. Chowder was a show where I was able to do anything I wanted, so I did everything. Going into Harvey Beaks, I wanted to do something a lot more focused. I wanted to spend time making characters that you could connect with and care about. It’s more important to me that I make the viewer feel something in addition to making them laugh.
What do you feel is most important when you’re creating a story, whether for a kid’s show or other projects?
Tell a story that the audience can connect to emotionally. They don’t need to have been in the exact same situation, but they need to have felt what the character is feeling.
Again, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I’m really looking forward to watching this new show of yours!
Harvey Beak is set to premiere on Nickelodeon this Sunday, March 29.