The Island of Misfit Freelancers

The year is drawing to a close and the storyline in Scooter and Ferret is referencing that old Rankin-Bass annual staple, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I’m going to tell a short story that keeps that cartoon very personal for me.

My first job was a perma-lance gig with Primal Screen Studios. The Cartoon Network was keeping them busy with a lot of commercials, and that meant a group of young artists was always on hand. But the space at the time either didn’t allow for real desks to be installed for the non-staff, or the non-staff couldn’t be bothered with. So a bunch of desks were pushed together and the artists would try to make some part of that space their own. Since we were never sure when we would be working, we could never quite be sure when we might come back and find our paper trays missing, our pencils moved around, or heaven forbid, someone else sitting in our spot. We were acutely aware of our non-status and the transient nature of our existence.

That awareness gave us a sense of comraderie. The area had been dubbed “Freelance Island” before I was even hired on. Some of the artists that served with me included Chris Purdin (Will Vinton), Brian De Tagyos, Claude Edwards (Primal Screen), Brian Ludwick (University of Indiana), Todd Wahnish, John Henshaw and a series of one hit wonders. Brian D. immortalized Freelance Island by comparing it to the Island of Misfit Toys and drawing each of us as one of the toys. I’m happy to say I was the doll.

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