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It was the Internet, rather than a fishing net, that helped make Disney's "Fish Hooks" possible

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It was the Internet, rather than a fishing net, that helped make Disney's "Fish Hooks" possible

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"Book publishers send me out to schools all the time. And the kids there always ask me how they can get a job like mine. And my answer is: Put your stuff up on the Web. Because you never know who's going to see it."

Trust me, folks. Noah Z. Jones knows of what he speaks. You see, this illustrator of terrific children's books like "Those Shoes" and "Not Norman: A Goldfish Story" was enjoying a relatively quiet life in Camden, Maine back in 2007. When - one day - The Walt Disney Company came calling.

"I had set up a few websites online where I was showcasing my art. Then one day, I get this e-mail from Mike Moon, who's the VP of Animated Series at the Disney Channel," Jones explained. "And Mike says 'I love your artwork. Have you ever thought of doing anything in television?' And the next thing I know, I'm being asked to pitch six ideas for a brand-new animated TV series."

Noah Z. Jones at a 2008 book signing for
"Not Norman: A Goldfish Story"

So Noah sends Mike six premises for TV shows. And among those ideas is "Fish Hooks," the inventive animated series that premieres on the Disney Channel tonight at 9 p.m. ET / PT.

Mind you, it took three-and-a-half years for "Fish Hooks" to go from being that rough idea that Jones quickly sketched out for Disney executives to becoming this sweet, silly yet sophisticated show (which uses an innovative mix of digital animation and photo collage to give this new Disney Channel series a very distinctive look).  But you won't hear Noah complaining about the glacial pace of television animation production.

"You have to understand that I come from the world of children's book publishing. Where you send all of your artwork off to the publisher and - one year later - they then send you back a complimentary copy of the finished book," Jones said. "So to now work in a world where you send storyboards off to be animated and - three to four months later -a fully animated cartoon comes back, that seems positively zippy to me."

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

So how did Jones celebrate when - earlier this month - "Fish Hooks" was previewed right after "Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam" aired? To be honest, all of Noah's ambitious plans for that night got derailed by the flu.

"I had such big plans for that night. But then I got sick," Noah laughed. "So instead of partying with my friends and family, I wound up sitting on the couch as I watched this episode with my wife and drank Theraflu ."

Speaking of episodes, I asked Jones which "Fish Hooks" episode he thought might appeal most to Disney fans. And he immediately talked about the upcoming show where Oscar hits his head & then dreams that he's traveled back in time to a medieval fish tank.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"That one should really appeal to Disney fans. Given that 'Fish Hooks' art director studied "Sleeping Beauty" - especially Eyvind Earle's backgrounds for that animated feature - to get that medieval look just right," Noah continued. "Mind you, the reason that I myself ike this particular episode is that - in order to rescue the princess - Oscar has to battle a dragon fish. Which, you have to admit, is a pretty funny idea.

There are lots of other fun episodes of "Fish Hooks" in the pipeline. Like the one where Clamantha falls in love with a laptop. Speaking of Clamantha: Jones is quick to praise people like Alex Hirsch (who not only voices this crazy clam but also directed the pilot for this new Disney Channel series) who helped make this animated show look so polished and professional.

"I work with so many talented people on 'Fish Hooks.'  People who have years & years of experience when it comes to animation," Noah said. "Which is why I feel so fortunate as to have landed a gig like this. Where artists, animators and writers take the characters & settings that I created and then use those to produce this great looking animated series."

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

But that's just Jones being modest. After all, if Mike Moon hadn't seen something special in all that artwork that Noah was displaying on those websites back in 2007, he'd have never thought to ask Jones to propose some premises for a new Disney Channel series.

But to Jones' way of thinking, it wasn't his artistry that made his relocation to Southern California (which - thanks to all the palm trees - looks a little too much for "Jurassic Park" for Noah's liking. "I keep expecting dinosaurs to come stomping out of the underbrush," Jones smiled) possible. It was the magic of the Internet that made this move from Maine to Hollywood happen.

"Normally, as an artist, I would have had to pound on hundreds of doors before I ever got an opportunity like this. But - instead - thanks to those websites, it was Disney that sought me out. This opportunity came to me.  All because of the Internet," Noah concluded. "I totally lucked out."

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Well, you can judge for yourself whether it was luck or artistic skill that ultimately led Disney Channel executives to greenlight "Fish Hooks." Which is set inside of a giant fish tank at Bud's Pet Shop. Where BFFs Bea, Milo and Oscar deal with all the typical triumphs & traumas that tweens encounter  when they enter high school.

And if you like what you see with "Fish Hooks" ... Well, you have the Internet, rather than a fishing net, to thank. Or says Noah Z. Jones.

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  • This show is REALLY lame, foul and NOT funny.

  • I was going to say the same thing..."Great looking"?? Who are they kidding? It's one of the most awful looking animated show, and this is very disappointing when you know it's coming from Disney. I despise the art direction, and the content of the show is not much better. To think they started with Gummi Bears and ended with...THAT!!

    What do this show has to do with Disney, seriously?? Just a bland copy of everything they're doing or what other companies do : High school setting + Spongebob.

    Yuck. Bring on Lasseter to work on the Disney TV animation, it's the Disney department that needs it the most...

  • This show is extremely generic and uninspired as it is, but it's downright depressing knowing just how many veteran animation artists/writers/producers are behind it. It's hard to believe that the creators of such edgy and downright disturbing toons like Billy & Mandy, Chowder and Flapjack would suddenly resign themselves to such a bland high-school/"teenage drama" show (did they need Disney's money THAT much?).

    And the Flash animation is from the same unit that did Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends? Where did the vibrancy and creativity go? I guess their services are worthless without the guiding hand of a consummate legend like Craig McCracken (or a skilled writer like Lauren Faust who can make viewers actually care about the characters as more than obnoxious one-note stereotypes... which is basically what everyone on Fish Hooks is.).

  • This is the worst thing to come out of WDTVA since The Buzz on Maggie.  But at least I could get a few chuckles out of Maggie. There are none to be found in Fish Hooks.  I feel bad since  a lot of people put a lot of work into such a piece of garbage

  • I can't believe the poo poo ing going on over this show, it is well designed, written and extremely cartoony, which can not be said for many contemporary cartoons these days. You folks should get your heads out of the clouds and see what's out there compared to this show, you'll see that it's thoughtfully put together.

    I feel more sorry for people who have to work on shows that aren't as energetic and lively as this one.

  • Ah the result of anonymous commenting. You people are out of your minds! This show actually surprised me. The premiere episode was WAY better than I was expecting it to be. Lots of truly funny moments and surprises. I was delighted to see that the characters left the confines of the tank. The world instantly opened up with endless possibilities. The voice talent is great and I for one, expect this show to last a long long time.

  • Horrible show

  • For the record, I wanted it to be known that I think that Phienas and Ferb is probably one of the BEST animated shows ever. VERY funny (most of the time), VERY witty and safe for the WHOLE family (my wife who HATES animation and my 2 year old like P&F).

    I think steet said it best about Fish Hooks when he said "High school setting + Spongebob", but I would add + bad animation. I think this is the best analogy since Fish Hooks relies on the same potty humor as Spongebob.

  • Geez, rough crowd on here...glad to see a guy getting his dream out there!  Congrats Noah.

  • I've gotta say, this show absolutely surprised me! I don't understand why there's so much polarity toward it, this is one of the most creative shows I've seen in a long time!! I had honestly given up on Disney Channel animation YEARS ago, (yes, that's right, even Phineas and Ferb), but this has entirely re-kindled my hope. I just wish that people would give the show a fighting chance instead of just going "OH, it's underwater, so it must be a spongebob ripp-off! It's animated in flash, so the quality must be poor!". The art style is wonderfully expressive and fun, and the setting is brilliant! I had really low expectations, especially toward the high school setting, but they've really taken a bland idea and brought life into it!!

    I hope this series has a good run, and I'm glad that Noah Z. Jones was able to have his talent noticed and put to good use!! Real talent needs to be praised, and the fact that he's trying out so many new things in this show is something remarkable. The animation is unlike anything out there right now, and the balance of humor and sweetness gives this what so many other shows have been missing right now- heart.

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