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Tom Warburton (born ca. 1968), often credited as Mr. Warburton, is an American animator, producer, writer and designer. He is best known for creating the animated television series Codename: Kids Next Door. He also created the animated short Kenny and the Chimp. Prior to that he served as production designer on the first season of Beavis and Butt-Head and was the lead character designer for the animated series Pepper Ann. He is also the author of the book A Thousand Times No.Since moving to Los Angeles in 2009 he has worked at Disney Television Animation serving as Creative Director on "Fish Hooks" and Co-Executive Producer on "The 7D".
Warburton was born and raised in Pennsylvania, particularly the Philadelphia area. He attended Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, where he became interested in creating cartoons in his second year.
After graduating from Kutztown University, Mr. Warburton moved to New York City to work at Buzzco Associates. The studio, run by NYC animation veterans Vincent Cafarelli and Candy Kugel, primarily took on commercial work to help fund their own independent films like the award winning short, A Warm Reception in LA. Warburton learned the basics of animation production from the ground up and got to meet many people in the industry that he remains friends with today.
After cutting his teeth at Buzzco Associates, Warburton went to Jumbo Pictures to work as an assistant layout artist on the first season of Nickelodeon's new series Doug. The show premiered alongside Rugrats and The Ren & Stimpy Show, which ushered in a new creator-driven approach to cartoon-making. Warburton also provided assistant animation to the end credit sequence for the show.
J.J. Sedelmaier Productions
Originally signing on as JJSP's first staff artist in 1992, Warburton spent five years working as an animator on dozens of commercials for clients like Levi's, Converse, Slim Jim and 7 Up. He also animated, designed and directed on Saturday Night Live's TV Fun House, directed new episodes of Schoolhouse Rock! (including the award-winning "The Tale of Mr. Morton") and served as production designer on the first season of MTV's groundbreaking and controversial series Beavis and Butt-head. While working on 7-Up commercials at the studio, Mr. Warburton met Fido Dido creator Sue Rose and the two found that their similar art styles might work well together in the future.
While at JJSP, Warburton did freelance work helping Sue Rose design characters for a series about a quirky and imaginative girl named Pepper Ann. The show was initially in development at Nickelodeon, but was later picked up to series by Disney TV Animation. Even though the production was based in Los Angeles, Warburton remained in NYC, working as Lead Character Designer and faxing his drawings at night. The series ran for four seasons on Disney's One Saturday Morning block. Eventually, Warburton left JJSP to work solely on Pepper Ann and to develop his own projects.
Kenny and the Chimp
Kenny and the Chimp was an unproduced animated series planned by Warburton. It was about an unlucky boy named Kenny who was constantly accompanied by an unintelligent chimpanzee named Chimpy, who would regularly create trouble for him in the various situations they experienced. The episode Diseasy Does It was the only one produced. Its alternative title was Chimp -N- Pox. Warburton also provided the voice for the chef in that short. There is also another episode called Got Your Nose, and it was about to also be produced, but never released. Among the recurring characters were a group of rebellious children calling themselves "The Kids Next Door" who would often cause trouble for Kenny. These characters would evolve into the members of Sector V and provided the basis for Codename: Kids Next Door. In addition, the character Professor XXXL, who was featured in Diseasy Does It, became a recurring character in Kids Next Door. Kenny and the Chimp make a brief cameo in the pilot episode of Codename: Kids Next Door, No P in the Ool.
No P In The Ool
After realizing that Cartoon Network was not going make Kenny and the Chimp into a series, Warburton began developing the Kids Next Door into a series. Instead of just being five troublemakers, the five kids became a "multi-ethnic team of experts battling against evil adult sooper villains bent on raising the drinking age of soda up to 13 and making Summer school year round." Cartoon Network commissioned a pilot so Warburton temporarily moved to Los Angeles to make the short at the newly opened Cartoon Network Studios in Burbank. The story involved the KND's plot to stop the local swimming pool's seemingly endless adult swim guarded over by lifeguards Mr. Wink and Mr. Fibb (characters loosely based on Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd from the 1971 James Bond movie Diamonds are Forever). The 7 minute KND short was the first of 10 pilots Cartoon Network planned to make that year so Warburton went back to New York City to work with his friend Mo Willems.
Sheep in the Big City
Mo Willems was starting the second season of his Cartoon Network series Sheep in the Big City and asked Warburton to come aboard as a director at NYC based Curious Pictures. The two found they worked well together, each feeding off each others similar and differing talents. Sheep's second season proved to be its last and the series was cancelled. This coincided with Codename: Kids Next Door winning Cartoon Network's 2001 Big Pick Weekend and being greenlit to series.
Codename: Kids Next Door
After the cancellation of Sheep in the Big City, the art and production staff at Curious Pictures was shuffled around to start pre-production of Codename: Kids Next Door. Warburton hired Mo Willems as the show's head writer, later bringing on Andy Rhinegold to replace him after Willems left to pursue a career in children's books. Six seasons were produced from 2001-2007 along with a network crossover, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy and the direct to TV feature, OPERATION: ZERO. The show became an international smash hit, continually garnering top ratings on the network and spawning a diverse range of toys, clothing, a trading card game by Wizards of the Coast, as well as two videogames.
1000 Times No
After finishing Kids Next Door, Warburton pitched his first children's book to Laura Geringer Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. 1000 Times No was released on April 28, 2009. to positive reviews. An animated version was made for Nickelodeon's Nick Jr. channel at Curious Pictures.
In 2010, Warburton moved with his family to Los Angeles. Shortly afterwards, he was hired as creative director on the Disney Channel series Fish Hooks, created by Noah Z. Jones and executive produced by fellow Cartoon Network alum Maxwell Atoms. Three seasons were produced before coming to an end.
After Fish Hooks, a good portion of the staff rolled on to the Disney XD series The 7D, a comedic take on The Seven Dwarves from Disney's first feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. With character designs by Noah Z. Jones and executive produced by Tom Ruegger (Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain), Warburton was initially brought on as creative director but was soon promoted to co-executive producer. The show received strong ratings upon its premiere and as of April 2015[update] is in production of its second season.
- "Cartoon Network's Codename: Kids Next Door Challenges Tyrannical Rule of Adults Starting TOMORROW — December 6". Business Wire. December 5, 2002. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
- "Audio interview: Tom Warburton". Frederator Studios. November 9, 2006. Retrieved 2008-10-24.
- "Animator Profile: Tom Warburton". Cartoon Network. Retrieved 2013-01-25.
- Blangger, Tim (October 20, 2008). "Animations color KU grad's world". The Morning Call. Tribune Company. Retrieved 2013-01-25.
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