Infinity Train Book 4: Duet
A brand new season of Infinity Train!
The Future of Infinity Train
As you may or may not know, Infinity Train Book 4 has been announced!
On April 15, all 10 episodes of the fourth book of Infinity Train will be released on HBOMax.
Here’s the trailer:
It will, unfortunately, be our last season. I really appreciate everything that every fan has given to the show. We absolutely wouldn’t have a show if it weren’t for all the fans making their voices heard on the pilot and on the other seasons!
We also had a really great crew, and you should follow their future work. The best way to find most of them is on twitter, instagram, or their personal websites.
Owen wtf why wasn’t the show picked up??
I dunno dude! They never told me. I have educated guesses and I certainly have a few opinions to share (ask me again in the future when I’ve got more job security and I’m feeling less pain), but as near as I can tell, what Cartoon Network wants right now isn’t what Infinity Train is giving.
This isn’t to say that Infinity Train can never come back. We live in an age where IP is everything. I’ve often said to my friends “I wish that we’d made Infinity Train twenty years ago so that we could get more made right now” because that’s all that most studios are picking up. Give it 10 years or so and maybe we’ll see more Infinity Train as a new wave of nostalgia takes over the industry, but in the meantime, the show has been cancelled.
On that note, you might notice that people avoid saying the word “cancelled”. The reason is that word is harsh and often prompts a big backlash. Instead, euphemisms will be used like “it’s on an indefinite hiatus” or “it’s just not picked up” or “it is bereft of life, it has kicked the bucket, it has ceased to be.” All of them mean the same thing: there are no more episodes coming, no one is working on the show, and there are no plans to make more.
This was not the intended ending for the show and, in fact, we were working on more when we were cancelled. I can talk more about what else we wanted to do and where we were in production on future seasons after Book 4 airs. Luckily, it IS a self contained story, just like all the seasons before it, so I guarantee you’re still going to have a great time watching it.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I’d love to make more Infinity Train. Maybe someday I’ll become a millionaire and I can buy back the rights to the show. Maybe someday I can convince the new head of Cartoon Network, who saw and loved Infinity Train when they were a kid, to make more of the show. Maybe someday we’ll all be living in some kind of hyper-communistic state where all intellectual properties are released into the public domain. Who knows!
All this leads to…
In the meantime, I’m working on several new projects with different companies that I hope you’ll hear about soon.
I want a new future for animation. I believe that in the next 3-4 years, an animated movie or two are going to be released in the US that does for animation what Jaws and Star Wars did for film. They’ll act as a one-two punch that shows the western world that animation can be for adults and teens, not just children. Imagine the day where a kid wants to go see an animated movie, but they’re turned away because it’s rated R and no one under 17 is allowed in without a parent. That’s a world I want to live in!
I’ve currently drafted several animated stories and scripts that are trying to make that future exist. They’re all PG-13 or R, some are TV shows, some are movies, some are IPs that already exist, most are wholly original.
Something that has given me a lot of hope is that I’ve pitched my stories now to about 40+ different studios. The one pattern between them (besides saying no to almost everything I’ve pitched) is that all of them, ALL of them, believe that there is a future in adult animated content that isn’t just “adult comedy”. They are all poised to break into it, but studios are notoriously conservative, so they’re all nervous about making that first leap. They know it’s coming, but it’s a scary new world to most of them. However, someone is gonna do it. Someone is gonna make that leap, and when it happens, it’s going to be glorious.
So to make them more comfortable, we must ask ourselves…
How do we get more people to watch animation?
Ah, the eternal question of animation lovers everywhere.
Continuing to support and share the shows and movies you love most will always help. Studios take risks when they see there’s money to be made in taking the risk. It’s always a gamble for them, and most of their gambles are failures, so it kinda bums them out after awhile and makes them gun-shy. That’s why IP that already exists is so key to everything right now, it’s less of a risk. So our goal must be to give them numbers and change the culture so it’s absolutely undeniably the right decision to make animation for older audiences.
I also would strike the phrase “animation isn’t just for kids” out of your brain because it plays into the frustrating narrative by using that narrative’s framing. When you talk about animation, just talk about it like you would any other show or movie. For example: include animated shows in your year end top lists, don’t separate animated shows into a separate list. If you want to separate them, separate them by genre, not by medium. When you talk to someone about shows you like, sprinkle animated shows into the conversations along with the live action shows.
As someone who makes animation, I’ve often dealt with people who act like “oh he just makes kids’ stuff” but after having a conversation about the deeper philosophies of what we’re doing on the show, adults have changed their mind and decided to watch it. I’ve had people try to make fun of me to my face about making cartoons, but I make sure my reaction isn’t embarrassment, but confusion. I look at them incredulously and say “Do you… not watch cartoons? That’s so weird.” It changes the conversation immediately to being “Watching cartoons is normal, not watching them is weird, so here’s a list of cartoons I like so you can become normal.”
Talk about the animation in a video game you like. At this point, there is no difference between watching a movie and playing a video game except for what you’re doing with your thumbs and how long it is. When you play a video game, you’re watching animation. I’ve used this technique when talking to different production studios and they always react with “Oh yeah, I guess that’s true…” and it has slowly convinced them to come to our side and see the value of animation beyond children’s fare.
Just do whatever you can to talk about cartoons like they’re the most normal thing in the world and then guess what? They’ll become the most normal thing in the world. That’s how normalization works, and this will totally work.
Companies are not going to advertise aged up stuff unless it’s comedy, so the only way to get them known is via word of mouth. Here’s some recs you can use on your classmates and coworkers (though some have subtitles so that’ll be a hard sell for some people as well):
OMFG this is so boring…
Yeah this whole newsletter is a pretty big self-indulgence. It’s kind of embarrassing. This is what happens when I ban myself from Twitter for a week.
So here’s another update: I’m trying to become a licensee for Infinity Train. My agents and lawyers are in talks with Warner to try and make it so I can at least make an online store for Infinity Train merch.
No guarantees! I’m trying though. Here’s some partial screenshot sneak peeks of some of the merch I’ve been designing for the past month!
Ooo what could this be?
Pretty sure we can guess what this is, but what is it, you know?
Oh this is already on some cloth?
Well this just looks like some stitching of some kind…
Feel like I’ve seen this in the show at some point…
Alright that’s enough!
As I said, I’m gonna try to make these as officially licensed Infinity Train merch. If I’m able to make them, they’re gonna show up in this Etsy store. I’ve got other stuff on there right now, non-Infinity Train related, so check that out if you’re interested!
So as promised, I thought I would answer some questions that were brought up from the previous newsletter!
We actually work backwards. We decide on the arc of the character first and roughly where they should be in that story arc at the beginning of each episode, and the end of each episode. So if we decide “Ok, Tulip has to feel this way about what’s happening to her and learn about this sort of lesson by the end of this episode, what sorts of obstacles or things do you deal with in life that are like that?” and then we extrapolate from that some kind of situation, then extrapolate from that a car that could create that kind of situation.
Some cars are just made up because we need them to get from point A to point B, like the pinball car or other montage cars, but most of the cars we spend some amount of time in were thought up because we wanted to have it represent something specific.
Hiatuses in animation are a little different than what might happen in live action. They’re sort of like a rolling schedule resetter. So sometimes one part of production gets a little behind, for example, background paint. The storyboard artists, between seasons or mid season, might then take a couple of unpaid weeks off so that the background painters can catch up to where they’re supposed to be in the schedule before more work is shoveled onto them. Hiatuses are a way to adjust the schedule between seasons basically.
During hiatus, there’s always someone working unless the show has been cancelled (in which case it’s not a hiatus lol). So there have been times when the storyboard artists were all on hiatus and the writers were working on the next season, and the background painters were still painting the previous season. Ideally, everyone takes a hiatus for a little while, but I’ve never actually seen that ideal happen.
You’re doing fine. Everyone works at different speeds. It’s hard being online and seeing the good stuff everyone posts. People only post stuff they’re proud of, so it can make you feel like you’re not as good as everyone else. In reality, you can be at any point in your career at any age. It’s all a bunch of made up nonsense, there’s no set age where you supposed to be a particular point. You’re doing fine!
All parts of the pipeline have completely different things about them that make them challenging or fun.
Writers don’t normally see all parts of the process. Our writers were able to see a lot of it because I wanted them to. I think it helps the process if the writers see the results of what they’re writing. So they’ll think of things like “Oh, all of this should take place in one location, not seven, because it’ll be easier for the painter in the cubicle two doors down from me.” This is something that doesn’t happen on most productions and, I believe, is one of the reasons some shows are so difficult to work on.
I oversee every part of the process, that’s my job as showrunner. I do final approval on every aspect of the show. I even sometimes write parts, make music, animate scenes, paint backgrounds, everything really. The only part I don’t do is render the final mov files and send them to the network. I also don’t have control of the schedule for the crew or marketing, though I have some influence.
Well, take what I’m saying with a grain of salt made from a straight white guy who was able to go to college, but it’s not just connections. Connections get people to see you and know you exist, but that’s it. If you don’t have the skill to back it up, 9 times out of 10 you’re not gonna stay in that job for very long. Toby Jones was my connection to Regular Show, however, Toby Jones’s connection to Regular Show? He didn’t have one. He sent a facebook message to JG after JG tweeted about needing storyboard artists. JG looked at his comics and liked them. Toby was basically the 2011 equivalent of a cold call. This method basically doesn’t exist anymore, but there are always new methods opening up. I was shocked that what he did worked at the time. Cartoon Network put the kibosh on it after Toby tried it.
It’s important to find out who the recruiters are at different studios so that you can send them your stuff. You never know when a show is looking for someone, nor how quickly or soon they need someone, so sending your stuff to the recruiters could be the exact right thing to do at the exact right time. Usually their title is something like “talent coordinator” or “artist outreach” or something like that.
I decided it seemed appropriate to add some goodbye songs to the playlist today. Some technically aren’t goodbye songs, but they feel like goodbye songs, and since I’m the one making the playlist I can do whatever I want!
While the show is over, it’s not actually over yet!
All 10 episodes of our final season release on April 15. Put it on your calendar in your phone!
I’m still deciding whether I wanna do a watch party of every new episode for a week following the release. What do you think? Do I stream the show on twitch and then answer questions from the chat box? Do I hop onto discord and do it all there?
Either way, you’re going to have fun. Can’t wait for you all to see the last season of Infinity Train!
Have a question you want answered in the Q&A Car? Leave a comment marked with #QA or just talk with other fans here: