Monday, 15 August 2011

All Chalked Up - with Simon and Rudy

"Rip-off" sounds like such a harsh, overused word nowadays. Yes, animation studios have had a tendency to "borrow" storylines/characters/ideas from one another over the years (from the discreet to the bluntly obvious), but "ripping off" is thrown about so often it's rather lost all meaning to me.

Believe it or not, there are times when two shows are created that, without intention, both share a familiar setting to one another - this is what's know as a coincidence.

And such an example can be found today:

Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings was created in the 1970's by Edward McLachlan, brought to animation by FilmFair Productions (Paddington Bear, The Wombles) and narrated by the enthusiastic Bernard Cribbens. The series featured the adventures of a lad called Simon who had a magic chalkboard/fence, from which his chalk drawings came to life in a land of their own, alongside a chalk friend called Henry. Directed by Ivor Wood and with a nifty theme tune by Mike Batt, it's another classic series that nostalgia fans can't forget no matter how hard one tries.

ChalkZone was created in 2002 by Bill Burnett and Larry Huber by Frederator Studios for Nickeloden. This show was about a kid called Rudy Tabootie, who possessed a set of magic chalks which enables him to enter the frantic world of ChalkZone. Whilst Simon had Henry, Rudy's chalk buddy was Snap, as well as gal pal Penny from school - and this series has since gained a popular fanbase for its zany originality in characters, soundtrack and storytelling. Plus, with voice actors like E. G. Daily (Rugrats, The Powerpuff Girls) and Candi Milo (Cow and Chicken, Codename: Kids Next Door), it's considered one of the better Nickeloden animations of its time.

I can happily say that Bill and Larry's ChalkZone is by no means a "rip-off" from FilmFair's Simon series. The fact that both shows have a 30-year gap between them, it's obvious that ChalkZone was created by pure chance and unknown from what we British offered first.

Then of course, somewhere in-between the two, Rupert Bear had an adventure with chalk drawings himself...but that's another story ;)

Here's an example of both shows to watch and compare - whether either are familiar to you or something new entirely =)

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