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Interview with Steven Banks
  • CatDog writer

  • 1. What are some of your fondest, and zaniest moments working on CatDog?

    "Giving the Heimlich maneuver to Neil Martin (writer’s assistant), watching Jon Ross (writer) search for a bride from Russia on the internet (he actually went to Russia, but no bride), decorating Andrew Gottlieb’s office with a hundred pictures of his favorite singer Barbra Streisand, packing up Neil Martin’s entire office so he thought he had been fired, seeing Robert Lamoreaux and Rob Porter go at it on Martial Arts Friday, wearing turtlenecks on Steve McQueen Wednesdays, watching Barry Bunce draw, coming up with the Girls Of CatDog calendar from among the delectable female co-workers, listening to the voice actors cut up between takes and cashing all those sweet checks."





    2. Describe a day at the CatDog "office". Were you responsible for anything else besides writing?

    "Writing was enough to be responsible for! There was no such thing as a typical day at CatDog. We were either pitching a story, writing a episode, punching up someone’s script or quietly napping. I served under 4 different story editors/head writers who all had their own “style”; the scary and funny Vince Calandra, the laid back Dean Stefan, the brilliant, bullying, loud, obnoxious, egomaniacal, funny, eating machine Andrew Gottlieb and the Les Miserables loving pussycat Vic Wilson."





    3. Which CatDog songs did you write? Which one do you find yourself singing most? Did you also write some of the music too?

    "I wrote the music and lyrics to: The Best Part Of Christmas, Pretty Little Piece Of Paradise (my two favorites), Who Wants To Rock?, We’re Off To Washington, D.C., It’s A Boy Mrs. Lincoln, Sure Chops A Mean Piece Of Wood, Gettysburg Shuffle, We Are The Cats, Life Is Great, I Love Money, We’re Gonna Get That Cat, Surfin’ CatDog, and Someday Maybe I’ll Have A Home. I would play the songs on guitar to teach the actors the melody and then they would sing them. Sometimes I sang background vocals along with Peter Hannan, Neil Martin and others but don’t tell SAG."





    4. Since you've written a lot of episodes, are you responsible for any of the character quarks that came about? Such as Shriek's crush on Dog for example?

    "I made Lube obsessed with food for awhile but that disappeared. I might have come up with “turr-rrifc” but I maybe dreaming."



    5. What are some of your favorite characters on the show? Which one can you see yourself relating to most? Which is the most enjoyable to write about?

    "Cat, Dog, Winslow and Shriek were great to write for."





    6. Out of your many episodes, do you have one that sticks out as a particular favorite? Which ones are definate favorites and why?

    "I liked THE ISLAND because it was the first cartoon I ever wrote and I got to put a song in it (Pretty Little Piece Of Paradise). I hadn’t told anyone about the song and I just whipped out a ukulele at the table reading and started playing and singing. Peter and the others joined in and that was it. I also like CATDOGS END(butts are funny), THE COLLECTOR, SEND IN THE CATDOG (I actually went to Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey’s Clown College) ALL ABOUT CAT (who doesn’t like musical theater?) and THE CAT CLUB (though they toned down the Leni Reifenstahl-esque movie they showed to the cats)."





  • 7. Do to complicated story lines, or difficult animated scenes, which episode seemed to take the most time putting together that you wrote?

    "THE GREAT PARENT MYSTERY (or The Great Foster Parent Mystery as it was sometimes referred to) took the longest. It also changed a lot. I went on vacation and when I came back Cat was adopting a “critter” that we were all sad to see go. The Halloween episode also went through many changes."





    8. I'm in awe at how many details go into the making of this cartoon. Like a fishbone shaped telephone or, to minor details that make up the story, such as a rubber duck shaped Dr's office, "Mother's Day Mean Bob", sunken Titanic, etc. With how much time it takes to put a cartoon together, how did everyone manage to do such a flawless job in detail?

    "The details in the art are all the artists’ work and they work very hard (much harder than writers). We would make suggestions, but it was mostly the good artists coming up with great ideas."





    9. Out of the CatDog books you wrote, do you have a particular favorite?

    "My favorite CatDog book is ROCK AND ROLL CATDOG, which unfortunately was not published. Of the published books I like A SPACE ODDITY."





    10. When did you decide to get involved with writing and cartoons? Do you have any special writing degrees?

    "I have written since I was a kid. Originally I was a performer and writer. I wrote a one-man show HOME ENTERTAINMENT CENTER that was a Showtime special and live-action pilots for Disney, NBC, CBS, FOX and I also had a series on PBS called (oddly enough) The Steven Banks Show. My agent called me in June of 1997 and asked if I was interested in writing animation. I had never thought about it before. I went in, met Peter Hannan and Vic Calandra, saw the CatDog pilot, they read my stuff and I started working on July 1st and was there until writing ceased in February of 2000."



    11. What advice do you offer to those reading, that want to get involved with cartoons, and or writing?

    "Watch cartoons, watch movies, read books and plays and write, write, write and then write some more. If you don’t give up or go crazy you may end up on a show."



    12. What special projects are you involved with now?

    "Currently I am working on a animated project with none other than Peter Hannan. It has to do with Christmas, but that’s all I can say. I’m also writing a play with Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller fame) called LOVE TAPES. I have just finished a screenplay THE BLOOD CROWN and a sit-com pilot THE HARDEST THING IN THE WORLD and let’s hope somebody buys them and makes them. I also have a new one-man show in the works called TALENT SHOW. I may work on a new cartoon called JIMMY NEUTRON if Nickelodeon coughs up the bucks."

    13. Cat or Dog, which side seems to suit you more and why?

    "I’m more like Cat (unfortunately)."



    14. In your books, it says you play several musical instruments, which ones do you play? When we hear any of the CatDog music are we hearing you playing, such as the piano in "Silent's Please"?

    "I play a bunch of different instruments to varying degrees of efficiency - guitar, drums, bass, harmonica, ukulele, piano, and recorder. You hear my music in all the songs I wrote, but I didn’t play an instrument on any of them."





    15. A few episode hint questions.

    I've always been curious, is there an actual determined number of "Mean Bobs", in "The Collector"?

    "I don’t know how many Mean Bobs there are. Freeze frame the pan of the boxes and you’ll see some of the other odd ones."

    In The End- If Cat and Dog were actually a regular cat and dog, are we to assume that the orange cat and tan dog that Nostradummy are holding is in fact the type of feline and canine that Cat and Dog would be (a tabby like Garfield, and a golden retriever)?

  • ALSO was this episode written just in time, to poke fun at the Y2K hysteria?

    "CatDog 3001 was the Y2K tribute show."

    Hotel CatDog- Is that inspired from Fawlty Towers? Cat sort of reminds me of Basil in that episode for some reason.

    "Hotel CatDog had a bit of FAWLTY TOWERS in it. It’s basically a French farce in a hotel."

    Battle of the Bands- The different CatDog rock costumes, are they all supposed to parodies of actual groups? Obviously Sony and Cher is the one, the rapper one looks like Run DMC, what about the other 4 (Punkers, alternative,heavy metal and mod? )?

    "I think Sonny & Cher and Run DMC were the only “out and out” parody outfits. Barry Bunce did those designs."

    Talking Turkey- The balloon holding guy, is that supposed to be anyone in paticular from the staff? Are there any background Nearburg citizens that were drawn like any staff members?

    "The only artists that I know of that was portrayed in a cartoon was Ray Pointer as The Amazing Ray. I named the character after Teller the magician and then one of the artists drew him as Ray Pointer."





    16. Is there anything else you would like to say in closing?

    "Thanks to Kristen for a great web site. I met some strange and interesting people in my two years and seven months at CatDog. Some I hope will be life long friends and others continue to haunt me in sweat drenched nightmares that I awake from screaming. Many thanks to Peter Hannan for hiring me (and not firing me)."





  • Ahh shucks, Thanks Steven for the compliment, and sharing your CatDog experience with us. CatDog lovers everywhere are intrigued. :-)

    AlSO Thanks for the autograph!


    List of Steven's episodes, written or co-written
  • CW=co-written
  • ALSO wrote: "Mean Bob, We Hardly Knew Ya", and "CatDog in Winslowland" (these episodes haven't been seen America yet. What's the hold up Nick??)

    Co-wrote CatDog and the Great Parent Mystery

    The Island Shriek Loves Dog Diamond Fever The Collector CatDog's End
    New Neighbors All About Cat Send in the CatDog The Lady is a Shriek The Cat Club
    Fred the Flying Fish CatDog Divided Battle of the Bands Dem Bones It's a Wonderful Half Life
    Shepherd Dog Surfin' CatDog Guess Who's Going to be Dinner(CW)w/Neil Martin House of CatDog CatDog Campers
    Winslow Falls in Love(CW)w/Neil Martin Hotel CatDog Rich Shriek, Poor Shriek CatDogula(CW) Andrew Gottlieb, Mario Piluso Remain Seated
    Talking Turkey Shriek on Ice CatDog 3001 Cloud Bursting(CW)w/Robert Lamoreaux Dog Ate My Homework
    The End Cliff's Little Secret Dog Show Lube in Love Stunt CatDog
    CatDogumentary Back to School Silent's Please CatDog Candy CatDog Booty

    Books

  • Space Oddity
  • CatDog Vacation
  • CatDog Undercover
  • Rock and Roll CatDog(not published unfortunately)