We recently reached out to the people responsible for our YouTube Favorites and we were able to connect with 30 year old animator, writer, and YouTuber Lionel Richardson. LR is the creator of one of our favorite YouTube Channels, Kartoon Management, as well as our favorite YouTube cartoon series, Barry Tales. We also get the scoop on his original series, Jay’s Life. Go behind the scenes with us and learn more about LR, his cartoons, and his story in this exclusive interview with Goddess Isis:
How did you begin making cartoons? “I went to college for a year, then I dropped out and went to the military for four years. After getting out of the military, I began to transition jobs and became a neurology technician, which I’m still currently doing. It was 2007 and I had about three months of waiting on things to be set in stone and I spent a great deal of that time watching cartoons on YouTube. I found that they were making cartoons using windows paint and I figured I’d do the same thing.
I made a show before I made Jay’s life that didn’t really take off. So when I began creating Jay’s Life, I said the first name that popped in my head I would stick with and that was Jay. I made Jay’s life for about 4 years. Some stories were made up, but a lot of them were from real life experiences.”
I was shocked to find that you have another occupation besides being a cartoonist. Do you think you’ll ever stick to solely making cartoons? “I do think the time will come one day, but my job is really easy. That would be like leaving money on the table. I can actually animate while I’m at work.. for 3-4 hours out of my work day I’m not really working on too much,” he laughed. “I just got started with Barry Tales, but I definitely feel like this is something that I really want to do. It’s a process.. right now we’re just on YouTube.”
How much of your shows are made up and how much of it would you say comes from real life experiences? “Of course, none of the kidnapping, zombies, and stuff during Jay’s Life were real. Me and my wife, who plays Kani,–she wasn’t a stripper or anything–but most of Jay and Kani’s dialect has a bunch of similarities from our life’s experience.
With Rick and Jay, most of their experiences are from me and my brother. We love each other, but we fought. He always had something asshole-ish to say. I was able to pull a lot from my personal relationships.”
The scene with the lottery ticket, Jay, and the homeless man leave me literally weak in tears every time I watch it. Was there any truth to that scene and how did you come up with the little victory song Jay sings during the scene? LR begins to laugh as I do my best impression of the song Jay sings and shares, “I sing a lot around the house. I don’t sing a lot in episodes because I don’t want people thinking I’m trying to sing, but I do sing a lot around the house. So, if my wife stomps her toe, there are times I’d sing it real quick like, “you stumped yo’ toe!”
Are you still animating with Windows paint or are you using a different program now? “Basically, ever since the first Jay’s Life, I used Anime Studio which was in February of 2009. They continuously upgrade the program and now I’m using version 9.5. I just continue to develop the skill as they progress with the program.”
What has been your favorite episode or moment from your cartoons? “My favorite episode is Episode 45 of Jay’s life. I love Dragon Ball Z, so that was definitely my favorite episode. It was just hilarious to me, especially because [Kani] is a female.”
He continued with his favorite moments by sharing, “I don’t know if people notice, but Barry Tales takes more work than Jay’s Life did. In Jay’s life I didn’t synchronize the mouth with the words, but with Barry Tales I have done that. So it takes a little longer to make, but I release a new episode about every three weeks. I’m in the process of writing episode 7 now. I have a list of how each episode goes to go by, just to keep up with events and the story line, but I do write them one at a time.”
I did have one person reach out to me after publishing our YouTube Favorites on how she found the show a little offensive. One of my favorite things about Barry Tales is how relatable it is to me as a young Black woman. It’s all in good humor, which is important. Do you ever get negative feedback about the show being offensive? “To be honest, I don’t really get negative feedback. Barry Tales will have like 5,000 likes to about 20 dislikes. The only thing I can find offensive is the strong language, but they are saying ‘migga’ not n*gga. Another important thing to understand is the simple fact that the characters are bears so I don’t even see where race plays a factor. So, I wouldn’t really understand anything else being offensive. Even my wife’s boss who is an older White woman watches the show along with several of my co-workers who are also White.”
Sunshine is my absolute favorite cartoon character to date. Do you have a creative director as far as the characters go, or how do you go about creating the characters in your show? How do choose the voices of your characters and which characters do you provide the voice for? “Well, I play Rick, Jay, Grandda, Diamond, Grandma, and a bunch of other characters. I did Xavier for the last part of Jay’s life, but for the most part, I just audition some people and go from there. There are a few of my co-workers from the military who also play a few of the characters.”
With Barry Tales, when you’re coming up with their different personalities, who will voice them, and other details, how strenuous is that process for you? “In the beginning with Barry Tales, I knew who people would grasp to the strongest, so with Grizzly being a street character.. I wanted Barry to be the kind of middle ground. Grizzly was the first character I created and I just wanted him to be hood. It didn’t take too much. Once I did the auditions, I just went through all the people who sent their lines in and chose the voice from there.”
I thought the fact that LR creates an opportunity for people to voice his characters was phenomenal. How many of the voices are from auditions? Specs and Claude are from Jay’s Life–they have stuck with me this whole time. I play Barry Ponds. Specs played Iso and Claude was Bricks, but Autumn, Paul and the rest of the characters are new voices.
Do you have any words of encouragement for others who may be thinking of pursuing a career as an animator? “The hardship was time. I’ve been animating for the last 6 years. I lost a lot of time with family and friends. I’ve missed significant events for the sake of animation. Earlier on, I felt like I always needed to animate because I did want to make it on television. Then I got to the point where I didn’t want to animate anymore. It is a process. If you want to be an animator, it’s important to have a strong team. It’s really difficult trying to do everything on your own.” He continued in his encouragement by sharing, “The good thing about it is having people share with you that they had a terrible week or day and that one of my cartoons has been able to bring them a little joy. I get a lot of fan comments letting me know how much they appreciate me responding to fans on twitter and social networks. Whatever you find that you enjoy in your craft through animation you just really have to enjoy doing it.”
Did you have to make any major investments that would be helpful in getting started? “As I mentioned before, I used to use Windows Paint to animate. Now, the program I animate with is called Anime Studio Pro 9.5. I did not have to invest any money in the product because it was given to me, but I definitely recommend it. I did have to put money into my website, but that was just about the only investment besides the production and selling of DVD’s which I no longer do.”
We can’t wait to see Barry Tales on Comedy Central, Adult Swim, or whatever network does decide to pick up the show, but for now continue to enjoy all of LR’s cartoons with us by checking out his Official Website and by subscribing to the Official Kartoon Management YouTube Channel. Also, be sure to keep up with LR via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
While you’re at it… check out the latest episode of Barry Tales: