||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2010)|
|Born||Phillip Roger Vischer
June 16, 1966
Muscatine, Iowa, United States
|Occupation||Voice actor, puppeteer, writer, producer, director, songwriter|
|Known for||VeggieTales and JellyTelly|
Phillip Roger Vischer (born June 16, 1966) is an American animator, puppeteer, writer, voice actor and songwriter known for creating the computer-animated video series VeggieTales alongside Mike Nawrocki. He provides the voice of Bob the Tomato in the series.
Background and career
He attended St. Paul Bible College and was involved in the puppet club where he met Mike Nawrocki. Vischer originally aimed to go to film school after Bible college but instead wound up working for Amoco and Montgomery Ward as a truckdriver afterwards.
Vischer founded GRAFx Studios 1989 in order to produce animated commercials and logos. As he watched the brand new field of computer animation come to life in the late 1980’s, it occurred to him that very simple characters, animated with this new technology, might be the ticket. So in his spare time he created Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato, with no arms, legs, hair or clothes. (Those were the tricky parts, he figured.) In early 1993, he raised a little money from friends and family members who liked his ideas, and, with the help of his wife Lisa, Mike Nawrocki and two young art school animators named Chris and Robert, he started Big Idea Productions (now Big Idea Entertainment) and made the first episode of a show about talking vegetables that loved God. His friend Mike suggested they call the show “VeggieTales.”
Phil, Mike, Chris and Robert worked very hard in a small storefront on the north side of Chicago, creating the first episode of VeggieTales. Phil’s church friend Kurt helped out with the music. His wife Lisa helped with scripts and provided the voice for a young asparagus named Junior. Phil took out ads in Christian magazines, hoping to sell their new show directly to parents who might be looking for just such a thing. Phil and his two animators worked around the clock on their one computer in their tiny office, even after the heat was shut off when the comic book shopkeeper next door – whose name was on the gas meter – stopped paying the bill. They worked in parkas with space heaters. They worked like crazy. And when they finished, they loaded 500 copies of "Where’s God When I’m S-Scared?" into Robert’s old station wagon and drove to the post office to mail them out to the 500 families who had seen the ads and called to place orders. And even though 500 copies didn’t even pay for the magazine ads, much less the production, Phil was happy, because making films for God was a lot more fun than making them for Montgomery Ward.
Then something weird happened. People liked the new show. A lot. Suddenly Phil was negotiating with big companies who wanted to bring VeggieTales to Christian bookstores. Then he was negotiating with even bigger companies who wanted to bring VeggieTales to Wal-Mart and Target. And little kids and grateful parents were writing letters from as far away as Australia, thanking Phil and his team for making such a big difference in their lives. It was growing so fast, Phil was afraid he wouldn’t know how to run it. He was afraid he would crash this really cool thing that God had dropped in his lap. So he hired executives to help him. And they gave him business books to read. And every book gave Phil more ideas for what he could build and the kind of impact he could have. It would be a big company, with big goals. Like Disney – only, of course, for God.
The executives made forecasts and studied market research. Phil made big plans and 20-year goals. He gave rousing speeches and people applauded. Resumes flooded the small company, and soon it wasn’t small anymore. Soon it was the largest animation studio between the coasts. Phil was in the Wall Street Journal and People Magazine. His “big idea” was a big hit. From 1993 to 2003, Vischer led the company as lead director and writer.
And then, without warning, everything started falling apart. The executive’s forecasts were way off. Sales were poor. Bankers got worried, and wrote stern letters. Lawyers were engaged. Phil was forced to lay off many of his friends. Even so, it wasn’t enough. Somewhere, it seems, he had gotten horribly off track, and 10 years after he and Lisa and Mike and Chris and Robert had started out in that tiny storefront, Phil found himself sitting alone in the back of a bankruptcy courtroom, watching it all fall apart. VeggieTales was later sold to Classic Media (now DreamWorks Classics). 
In 2005, he started Jellyfish Labs, a creative workshop where he produces faith-based projects. In 2007 Vischer expanded the company by launching JellyTelly. From 2010 to 2014, Vischer produced What's In The Bible, a direct-to-DVD video series using puppetry and animation to present biblical material in a news-broadcast format.
Vischer still works on VeggieTales as a voice actor, under a contract by DreamWorks Classics.
He currently lives in Wheaton, Illinois with his wife Lisa and two daughters, Sydney and Shelby, and his son, Jeremy.
Since 2012, Vischer has hosted a weekly podcast discussing life in what he characterizes as a post-Christian America. The podcast, co-hosted by Christianity Today editor Skye Jethani and actress Christian Taylor, regularly ranks in the top 100 podcasts.
"Veggies" voiced by Phil Vischer
As the founder of VeggieTales, Vischer has voiced hundreds of characters. These are the most notable.
- Bob the Tomato
- Archibald Asparagus
- Pa Grape
- Mr. Lunt
- Jimmy Gourd
- Mr. Nezzer
- Philippe Pea
- Scallion #1
- Tom Grape
- Grandpa George
- Phil Winkelstein
- Apollo Gourd
- Percy Pea
- Dad Pea
- Dad Carrot
- Annie's Dad
- Phillip Jr.
- Sheep #1
Puppets played by Vischer
- Buck Denver
- Captain Pete
- Helen Rosenfiddle
- Sunday School Lady
- Additional characters
Books by Vischer include the following:
- Junior's Colors (1997) ISBN 0-8499-1487-6
- How Many Veggies? (1997) ISBN 0-8499-1488-4
- Pa Grape's Shapes (1997) ISBN 0-8499-1507-4
- Bob & Larry's ABC's (1997) ISBN 0-8499-5986-1
- Archibald's Opposites (1998) ISBN 0-8499-1533-3
- Time for Tom (1998) ISBN 0-8499-1534-1
- The Story of Flibber-o-Loo (1997)
- Rack, Shack and Benny (1997)
- Dave and the Giant Pickle (1997)
- Larry-Boy! And the Fib from Outer Space! (1997)
- A Snoodle's Tale (2004) ISBN 0-310-70751-X
- Sidney & Norman: A Tale of Two Pigs (2006) ISBN 1-4003-0834-8
- Me, Myself, & Bob (2006) ISBN 0-7852-2207-3
- 47 Beavers On the Big Blue Sea (2007) ISBN 1-4003-0836-4
- Pirate in Training (2012) (co-writing with Karen Poth)
- "What Happened to Big Idea? (Part 1) - Phil Vischer - Official Blog". Philvischer.com. 2004-11-15. Retrieved 2015-04-05.
- [dead link]
- "Bible Made Easy for Kids | Christian Videos". Whatsinthebible.com. 2015-03-30. Retrieved 2015-04-05.
- "The Phil Vischer Podcast Archives - Phil Vischer - Official Blog". Philvischer.com. Retrieved 2015-04-05.
- "About". Skyejethani.com. Retrieved 2015-04-05.
- [dead link]
- "Stats for The Phil Vischer Podcast on podbay". Podbay.fm. Retrieved 2015-04-05.
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