Monday, April 02, 2018

Craig Bartlett | April 2018 Reddit AMA Highlights

Craig Bartlett, the creator of Nickelodeon's iconic '90s animated series Hey Arnold!, today did a Reddit AMA, in which he answered fans questions about Hey Arnold!, Ready Jet Go! and Dinosaur Train, as well as space travel! Check out the highlights from Craig's Reddit AMA below, and read his the full transcript at!

This is Craig Bartlett, animation creator of Ready Jet Go!, Hey Arnold!, and Dinosaur Train – ask me anything!

Hi redditors, this is Craig Bartlett, animation creator!

Proof that it is really me:

Season 2 of Ready Jet Go! launched today, April 2 on PBS KIDS (check local listings) with a special week of new episodes that will get young viewers from coast-to-coast excited about space and science. My two-hour TV movie, "Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie," launched on Nickelodeon November 24 and is now available on DVD and digital download. And we are starting production of 11 more half hours of Dinosaur Train, also on PBS KIDS, that will take the total number to 100.

I'm looking forward to talking to you all about my shows Ready Jet Go!, Hey Arnold!, and Dinosaur Train – so ask me anything!

Hi Craig, I'm a University Professor and here are some questions from my (brilliant!) students enrolled in my Media and Popular Culture class.

phgau2: Regarding Hey Arnold:

1a. What was your primary objective in creating such a diverse cast of characters in Hey Arnold!? 1b. How did this diversity aid viewers through the process of identification or identity formulation (who we are and where and with whom we belong)?

2a. What distinct steps were taken to ensure that the content and characters within Hey Arnold! were both relatable to global communities as well as individuals particularly within the West? 2b. Did you initially consider that your material could be interpreted differently by viewers with varying cultural backgrounds?

Regarding Dinosaur Train:

3a. Dinosaur Train does a great job of expressing inclusion and observing differences between the different dinosaur species. Why do you think this message isn’t lost on the youngest viewers (ages 2-4) that are watching the show?

3b. Dinosaur Train is aired in different parts of the world. How do you keep the message and meaning of the show the same through different cultures?

Thanks for answering. Keep on the amazing work!

CraigBartlett: 1a) I just thought it was time for an ethnically/gender diverse cast on a cartoon show. I knew I wanted to set it in the big city, and my experience living in LA in particular was like that: a big gumbo of different cultures, all living side by side. 2a) I hoped for the best when I made HA! but didn't know if it would resonate internationally. I think in storytelling you aim for the personal, and hope it will be universal. 3a) little kids are so cool -- they have amazing intuition and absorb our messages like sponges. I feel like those details may fly under the radar, but the kids will pick them up somehow. 3b) same answer: the personal becomes universal!

qilincrusader: I have a stupid wish fulfillment question. Does Stinky have a chance with Lila? Stinky always seemed to be the 2nd most interested in Lila next to Arnold (3rd if you count Arnie) and I’d always thought they would make a cute pair when they become teenagers.

CraigBartlett: They would be a cute pair. And they both seem to be transplants to the city from the country so they'd have something in common.

Hi Craig! Thanks for taking the time to do this, it's really exciting (and probably not as nuts as those old live chats, hah). I have a few Hey Arnold! q's.

- In your career you've created content targeted to many age ranges, from your early PeeWee shorts, to Nickelodeon and of course Hey Arnold!, and later to educational shows for the younger crowd like Dinosaur Train. You've also pitched ideas that were targeted for older audiences such as The Patakis. What has your experience been creating content aimed at different audiences? Do you find any segments more challenging and/or rewarding, and in what ways?

- A lot has changed since the original drafts of the Jungle Movie script, from the voice actors growing up, to crew members moving on to other projects, and in particular the loss of Steve Viksten, who was such as integral part of the show's development. What were the biggest obstacles in bringing something like this back, and in what ways do you feel the completed movie lived up to and even improved upon the first version?

- One of the most gratifying and touching parts of Hey Arnold! was the development of Helga as a character, seeing snippets from the beginning of the show about her crummy home life and her obsessive nature, expanded on in episodes like Road Trip and Helga on the Couch. In the Jungle Movie we see her mature in a lot of ways, but she still has shrines and insane levels of Arnold worship. How do you see Helga growing in the future? If HA! were to continue beyond the Jungle Movie, what challenges do you imagine Helga facing?

Thanks again, and congrats on the new episodes for Ready Jet Go and Dinosaur Train!


CraigBartlett: Wow, so many questions! I'll go in order: it's easier to write for older audiences because there are limits to what preschoolers will even "get." Also my preschool shows have curriculums, which we need to learn before we can write the shows! luckily the subject matter is really fun to me: paleontology and space.

CraigBartlett: to continue! The Jungle Movie actually benefitted a lot from taking 15 years to complete. I had a chance to think about what fans wanted most from the series, and so when I got the chance to return to the story, I put all those answers in. And at first, Steve didn't even want the parents to be alive, but after all these years, I thought, I don't care, it's my universe and I'm going to bring them back alive. I do think Helga has the farthest to go. She's very impulsive and often acts out like Big Bob, not really caring about the consequences. I'd like her to grow more compassionate in the future, but I'm torn because her acting out is so damn funny! So maybe there won't be a whole lot of learning there. Luckily Arnold is a very wise kid and can probably tolerate her shortcomings.

Alex-7-E: I grew up watching Hey Arnold, and Doug.

Are any of the characters based on real people?

Had no clue there was a new Hey Arnold movie, any plans on more?

Thank you for the show.

CraigBartlett: The kids in Hey Arnold! are very loosely based on people I knew. There was no Helga -- she's too complicated a character to be based on anyone real!

qilincrusader: Do you think Miles and Stella would ever adopt a child to make up for the time they lost with Arnold?

CraigBartlett: Haha, we're going to have our hands full as it is with Arnold's parents back! I think I'd start with just trying to deal with the new dynamic of having parents in his life!

NYCNICO: Is there any episode of Hey Arnold that you’re not satisfied with and wish you could go back in time and change?

CraigBartlett: Hi, I'm online and ready to go! I remember being unsatisfied with some of the first season episodes where we got so many notes, the stories changed from our original intent. "Biosquare" and "World Records" were a couple examples.

Synviks: Hi there Craig! I posed these questions to Francesca Marie Smith when she did her AMA several months back, and now I'd love to hear what you've to say!

1: Helga’s depth as a character seems to originate from many contradictory aspects of personality:

Very large heart and emotional sensitivity that’s walled off by cynicism and fear of vulnerability, an extremely gifted intellect that's nevertheless prone to repeat mistakes which alienate those she cares about (namely Arnold), a loathing of familial interaction yet a deep-seated desire to have an authentic/loving interaction with them, a strong sense-of-self/self-confidence that is occasionally tossed aside when it may impress Arnold/deflated when comparing herself to her sister or peers, etc. etc.!

These almost paradoxical traits push and pull her in many directions, causing her instability and anguish. In your view, what would Helga need to be “okay”? That is to say, to grow up in to a successful, stable person who is mostly secure with themselves and doesn't feel empty?

2: Since the advent of feminist frameworks of analysis and criticism, the trope of female characters being defined in relation to/motivated by male characters has been rightfully called out for its sexist underpinnings. One would initially think Helga would be an example of this trope, but many viewers find enough depth and complexity within her character to feel that such a reading is erroneous. What are your views on this matter?

And one more question for my own nerdy satisfaction: throughout the series the effort is made to portray Helga as being someone who doesn't fit the archytypes for Western beauty standard in various ways (large nose, large ears, unibrow, lanky, overbite, etc). This aspect of the series, and Helga's alternating views on herself in those regards, made her character more relatable and somewhat inspiring when she fully embraced her qualities.

As such I simply must know: does she keep her unibrow?

Haha on that note, thank you very much for your time here! It goes without saying that all of us here have a great love and appreciation for your art and the way it has effected our lives, and we certainly look forward to the wondrous beauty and effect of your future endeavors : ).

CraigBartlett: 1) for Helga to be "okay," she will have to fully accept herself with all her faults and love herself. I think she's on that path. If you think of her satisfaction pulling her hand away from Arnold and saying "who said you could touch me?" it seems that she's empowered by being able to be okay all by herself. She'll set the terms about how they get along from here, thank you. 2) I hope that Helga's complexity as a character takes her beyond the trope of being motivated by her devotion to Arnold. The scene above seems to say so. 3) yes, she proudly keeps her unibrow!

DoodlesAndJunk: Hi! Thank you so much for such an amazing journey that was TJM. I wish it was longer. Are we eventually going to see the deleted scenes, other than Steve Lowait’s awesome cinematics? Could there be an ‘’uncut’’ version available on BLURAY? Because I know I’m not the only one who needs more. (◍•ᴗ•◍)❤

CraigBartlett: If we get a better, bluray version of the movie, with extras, maybe we could add some deleted scenes. Many scenes were cut in script, some were cut in storyboard and animatic, and some were even cut from final animation. There's so much background it would make an excellent "extras" section. I don't know, write to Nick, maybe they'll do it! I'd love to do commentary with the artists, too.

puiopfgh: Hey Craig. My partner and I wanted to say thankyou for creating the best show in Nickelodeon's history. We have a couple of questions

Were there certain side characters you feel were under-utilized? We personality would love Nadine-centered episode as well as for Lorenzo to be more recurring

If I recall correctly, you said in an interview that Hey Arnold could potentially go on forever with the characters ageing up. With that in mind, if you were given an opportunity to do a more mature version of Hey Arnold! aimed at now grown up fans of the show that wasn't gratuitous but explored mature themes (similar to what Cartoon Network did with Samurai Jack). Would you do it?

CraigBartlett: Sure, I'd do all of the above if I had the chance. I would love to do a Nadine episode, where she's further developed as a character.

Weird_donut: Hi, Craig! I am a huge fan of your work - especially Ready Jet Go. I'm going to ask a lot of questions. My first question is a Ready Jet Go question - do Mindy and Mitchell like each other? I have seen some hints in the show.

CraigBartlett: I bet Mindy would be friends with Mitchell. Maybe she can draw him out.

Sh4zayum: What episode of Hey Arnold! personally struck a chord with you the most?

CraigBartlett: I think "Helga on the Couch" most of all. It was really fun to show her back story and build more sympathy for her. I feel that way now more than ever, because so many people have told me how much they love that one.

ChervalR: Why did you choose the fourth grade? I'm making a cartoon myself and a lot of cartoons have kids in the fourth grade? Is there a certain formula that involves the fourth grade?

CraigBartlett: Good question! I chose 4th because to me, it's right in the middle of childhood, right in the heart of grade school. You're not the youngest, you're not the oldest.

guywholuvcartoons: What do you think about "Arnold Betrays Iggy" and "New Bully on the Block"?

CraigBartlett: They aren't my favorites. Steve Viksten wrote "Iggy," and my only comment was that if Arnold was going to have to wear the bunny pjs, we should really go for it, with it being like a festival crowd and Jim Lang's tragic music. I realize how much the episode is hated by fans, but I take responsibility for it. I was around for the whole process, so that internet version that has me being really mad when I saw it is crazy, because I was around for the writing, I directed the voices, oversaw the animatic and the final cut, and I mixed it. So of course I knew how it would come out.

Zeether: You mentioned seeing a lot of Studio Ghibli anime movies back on one of the Arun Mehta show interviews (loved those by the way, they got me back into HA!), have you seen any other anime?

ArunMehtaShow: Thanks everyone for supporting the show! You can check out all the Craig Bartlett interviews here:

CraigBartlett: I remember when I did a job in Japan, at the end of the 80s, I watched "Totoro" and "Kiki" and they blew my mind. At the very same time, "Akira" came out. They all were huge influences. I saw other anime shorts and features but those were my favorites.

Nestly25: I know that the fans of Hey Arnold are incredibly passionate about the possibility of pushing for more. While the decision is ultimately up to Nick, what are some things that you think fans can do to help contribute in this happening? We do things like fan art and stories, fan group get togethers, advertising our love through social media. But I always wonder if there’s not something more that we can do besides that, and hoped you’d have more insight on what the people in charge look for when deciding to revamp/continue a series like this!

CraigBartlett: Thanks for asking! I guess the only thing to do is to write to Nickelodeon, and maybe the sheer number of requests about the show will help convince them. There were many, many factors in Nick ordering up the Jungle Movie, and fan interest/requests was certainly one of them!

emwo: Season 6 finale hey Arnold or nah?

CraigBartlett: Okay, everyone, when you see a question for "will there be a season 6" refer the asker to this. I want to do a season 6. My crew wants to do a season 6, and the cast wants to do a season 6. Nickelodeon knows this, we have been talking about it for a long time. I've put together a proposal about what would happen in a season 6. Now it is up to Nickelodeon if it will happen or not. I don't control it; Nickelodeon does. If they decide to do a season 6, they will tell me, and as soon as I know I will tell the fans on my social media. Meanwhile, until I know something, I won't say anything about it, because I simply don't know. I don't want to jinx it by speculating, and besides, nothing is real until "the ink dries and that ship has sailed," as Big Bob likes to say.

King__Barsoom: What ever happened to cousin Arnie?

CraigBartlett: Arnie's doing well. Maybe we'll bring him back, he's a lot of fun.

SpectrumBunny: Hi Craig! I'm wondering what inspired you to create Ready Jet Go. At what age did you start taking an interest in outer space?

CraigBartlett: I was the perfect age to witness the space race to the Moon. It was happening all though my grade school years, from Mercury to Gemini to Apollo. So I was in love with space exploration from the start! I created Jet to be a "kid's first space show." And then they could grow up and move on to "Cosmos" etc.

no-Pachy-BADLAD: Hey Mr Bartlett, great to have you here, a few questions:

1) You've mentioned before one of your regrets about the show was how the writers treated Lila, especially towards the end when they leaned perhaps a bit too much on the love triangle aspect with her and Arnold/Helga - and I think this may have had an effect on -whew - QUITE the amount of anti-Lila fanart that I've seen in the fandom (one example coming to mind right now is a Mean Girls parody one of your fave artists(!) Limey404 did),

THAT SAID, it seems that in recent years, perhaps since news of the Jungle Movie came out, that anti-Lila sentiment seems to have died down, and some of the newer spat of artist that came out around, say, 2015+ seem to have an even more positive view of her (or at least relative to the antipathy I've mentioned above). I was wondering if you've ever noticed this as a creator engaging in any fan space since then?

2) Speaking of recent artists, are there any from this recent batch that you've grown a liking to? I believe you've mentioned before (on places like the interview with Arun Mehta?) that you've liked stuff from the aforementioned limey404, bloochikin/Najja Porter and criminyy, anyone else since then whose artwork you've really liked?

CraigBartlett: 1) Well, we added Lila to the show as an innocent kid who gets in Helga's way because Arnold likes her. But as the show went on, she becomes more manipulative, and it was amusing to us, but probably made all the Helga fans hate her. I'm sorry about that, because she's such a sweet kid. She's complicated though! 2) there are so many new fans making unbelievably cool art! Go to my IG and see all of them, I post them all the time.

desi1197: Hi Craig, I just have a couple of questions:

1.) What jobs do you imagine Miles and Stella having since they're back in hillwood?

2.) Will Arnold ever get a sibling? If so, would it be a little sister or little brother? I'd personally love it if he had a little sister.

And I just want to say thank you for doing this AmA. Hey Arnold is my favorite show ever and it just brings me so much joy! Thanks for everything!

CraigBartlett: The idea of what will happen with Miles and Stella now that they are back in the neighborhood would be a main theme of a season 6. I think they would try to update the boarding house and take over running it from Grandma and Grandpa, and there would be tensions over that.

CraigBartlett: Go to Jim Lang's website knobworld, or google him, he posts up mp3s of the show's music. You can email him and request stuff too. He's the coolest.

Weird_donut: Ready Jet Go question: what kind of dog is Cody?

CraigBartlett: Cody is a mutt, I think! I'm glad you like him! Rachel Lipman wrote Cody into the series, I'll ask her. I think he's based on her dog.

r/IAmA Heads up for Season 3 Episode 1 comparison of Mindy Turns 5 u/ahaq2869 Season 3 Episode 1: Jet gets a Sibling (2 parts)

Hey there Craig Bartlett, When will you start filming season 3? Anyway here is a heads up for the very first episode and I really reallly really want you to make it first once you start making season 3

What would it be like for a newborn Bortronian baby in space?

Could it be like Mindy's first time in space in Mindy turns five perhaps?

In the episode, only Carrot and Celery will go to Bortron 7 in their car that becomes a flying saucer to get the baby delivered and Celery would use a baby girl's vegetable name, in which the baby would be named Lettuce. Before the baby is delivered, Carrot and Celery will get Bortronian disposable diapers on Bortron 7 through the galaxy. And Lettuce would be in a Bortronian long sleeve inside sleeper onesie with booties connected, and a baby's beanie in the same color outfit the Propulsions are wearing. Carrot and Celery would be giving Lettuce a tour of the Solar system on the way home from Bortron 7 starting with Pluto, to the Sun and then back to Earth to welcome Lettuce to the Propulsion's house and family along with Jet, Sunspot, and his friends.

The part where Carrot and Celery are on Bortron 7 here will be the script (Part of it) Celery: We're ready to get the baby delivered! Carrot: And to get some Bortronian disposable diapers! Celery: You're right Carrot, we need to get some disposable diapers that are perfect for space and protective for planets and moons that are not good for life. Carrot: Well Celery, maybe Jet can take care of Lettuce a lot. Celery: Even when we take the kids to space.

The very young baby character named Lettuce Propulsion will be included in all Ready Jet Go episodes starting from season 3 along with Mindy still going to space with the kids.

CraigBartlett: Haha, thanks for the story pitch! I love the name lettuce for the baby.

DoodlesAndJunk: Will you be attending SDCC this summer?◔‿◔

CraigBartlett: I hope so! Nick could send me... hint, hint.

kimbergal: Would be sweet if you went for a third year! A group of fans are planning a big get-together at Comic Con this year. ;)

qilincrusader: Are there any other classic plays you wish you could have done in Hey Arnold? Like "Much Ado About Nothing" for example.

CraigBartlett: Yeah, more Shakespeare! We chose "Romeo and Juliet" since I know that's usually the first one kids encounter in school.

HeyArnoldRox: If Hey Arnold took place right now (Before a The Jungle Movie) what topics would it focus on? Would the setting look different? Would there be more advance technology?

CraigBartlett: We updated the time to now, so it's magically the present, even though 20 years have passed.

theITshroud: I thought it was so appropriately Rhonda for her to use her smartphone the way she does in TJM 😂

CraigBartlett: Me too. We wanted at least one kid to have a smartphone, since it is 2018 now.

ChervalR: Do you consider Rhonda to actually be filthy rich or she just happens to be better off financially among the rest of the kids?

CraigBartlett: Nah, she's just a little better off than the others. Rhonda mostly acts rich.

Weird_donut: Was Arnold Betrays Iggy actually banned?

CraigBartlett: Not that I know of.

jeffreykare: How did the idea for the episode ‘Arnold’s Halloween’ come about?

CraigBartlett: Great question! I'm a big Orson Welles fan, and love the story of his halloween prank broadcast in '39. We were working with Maurice LaMarche (Big Bob), who does a hilarious dead-on Orson Welles (the Brain in Pinky and the Brain) so I thought, why not do an Arnold version of the '39 broadcast? Maurice can play the Orson Welles character!

epictoyseries02: I binge-watched the entirety of Hey Arnold!, back in October-November of last year, to prepare myself for The Jungle Movie. And I have to say, the show was fantastic. You and the rest of the HA! cast and crew did an amazing job doing the show. Same goes for TJM, I enjoyed it. And I wish you the best of luck on the future of your cartoons!

Compliments aside, here's my question. My original question was on Season 6, but someone asked that question and you already answered that. So, I'll go with this: From each of your shows, Hey Arnold!, Party Wagon, Dinosaur Train, and Ready Jet Go!, which character is your favorite? It can be either one that you've created or one that another crew member made. Take the time to respond back, when you can.

CraigBartlett: ha, that's a great question. I think I love Arnold the best, since he's been with me the longest, but in making these different shows I've decided Jet Propulsion is the most like me: perpetually enthusiastic, kind of ADD about remembering new things, and willing to burst into song at any moment: a "Music Man" from outer space.

jellopuddingstick: Hey Craig, I'm posting these on behalf of my sister, who is a huge Hey Arnold! fan. She tried to post these herself, but it looks like Reddit might be throwing away new users' questions. If you could answer any or all of them, it would mean the world to her.

Why does Helga take her hand away at the end of The Jungle Movie? Her fear of rejection is gone, and presumably everyone knows her secret at this point since they were in her Arnold collection, so the fear of ridicule is gone too. What's her motivation for continuing her bully facade?

What was Arnold's and Helga's dynamic like during the 5th grade year that we didn't get to see? Are the Draw Somethings you've posted on Facebook and Instagram supposed to take place then?


CraigBartlett: Hi sister! Helga takes her hand away because she's still not comfortable with public displays of affection. She likes being tough and brittle and isn't ready to quit just yet. You can see that it makes her happy to be in charge... she's a complicated girl. 5th grade is now the "lost year." I guess that my DrawSomethings cover it, but they kind of have a life of their own!

DoodlesAndJunk: Would you consider making an artbook of HA, series and movies, combined or in volumes? Ca-ching! If so, please take my money.

CraigBartlett: I think it's a great idea. Write to Nick and ask!

jjc927: Who had more say in the casting for the Jungle Movie, you or Nickelodeon? Was it more your intention or theirs to have some bigger names (Mason Cotton and Alfred Molina specifically) in the cast along with the returning cast and Nick personalities?

Did you and Nick audition younger actors/actresses for the child characters that were voiced by now-adults (Frannie, Andi, Justin, Olivia, etc), or once they came in and showed they could still do the voices there were no other auditions done for their roles?

CraigBartlett: We cast the movie with a lot of great help from Nick. We brought in Mason and Benjamin because the original Arnold and Gerald were too different-sounding now. But Alfred Molina was our first choice as Lasombra. I love his work. He crushed it, btw. what an actor! The kid actors who returned did so because they still could sound like their kid versions.

jjc927: Mason and Benjamin were great as well, and Alfred Molina totally did crush it!

RainbowTubaStudios: Hi, Craig! I'm a HUGE fan of Hey Arnold, and it's really exciting to see you answering questions here! I've been wondering, I know you've said both Mr Simmons and Eugene are gay, but are there any other characters on the show that are LGBT+? Representation is something very important to me, and I'd love to hear if there are any other characters you see as LGBT (particularly transgender characters, since we REALLY don't see a lot of those)

CraigBartlett: That's about it for now, but if the show went on, I'd try to represent different kinds of characters.

Weird_donut: You already answered this type of question for Hey Arnold, but are any of the characters from Ready Jet Go and Dinosaur Train based on real people?

CraigBartlett: Tiny and Shiny remind me of growing up with my two older sisters. though they don't really resemble them. And I am Buddy, of course, who is really a lot like Arnold: friendly, optimistic, likes to be right in the middle of everyone.

RTJ1992: Every Christmas my family and I watch the mr hyunh Christmas episode. It really is a beautiful episode. How was that episode inspired?

CraigBartlett: We wanted to do something different. We loved Baoan Coleman, who plays Mr. Hyunh, and Steve Viksten suggested a Vietnam flashback story, as crazy as that sounds. When I pitched the idea to Baoan, he told me that he had been in the fall of Saigon and had helicoptered out and to the US. So it seemed like fate -- we had to do this story!

jennyleigh1976: Thank you so much for Ready Jet Go! My soon to be 3 year old and I are in love with it. Do you know if plans for merchandise/toys are still in the works? If so, do you know when they might be released? Thanks!

CraigBartlett: Thanks! Yes, we are working on licensing all kinds of merch, and hopefully it will come out soon. I want a Sunspot plushie!

michellejohansen: Hi Mr. Bartlett! I was hoping you could tell me what your favorite "Arnold moment" is? Also what's your favorite "Helga moment"?

CraigBartlett: Hmm, I think Arnold's tears of joy when he's reunited gets me the most. I also like when he's delivering a nice dry line like, "Did some plaster just fall on my head?" in "The Baseball," Or "Thanks, Grandma" in "Partners." Helga: I just love her monologues that end in punching Brainy, from the first in "Downtown as Fruits" to the latest in the Jungle Movie.

Weird_donut: Is the RJG episode "My Fair Jet" supposed to be a reference to the film "My Fair Lady"? I found several similarities.

CraigBartlett: Yes it was! The plot is: can Sean and Sydney transform Jet into a normal Earth kid? just like Professor Higgins has to transform Eliza into a "lady."

jeffreykare: When you were given the chance to develop the Hey Arnold! movies, how did the idea for Arnold Saves the Neighborhood come about? Also, had you developed Arnold Saves the Neighborhood strictly as a theatrical film as opposed to a TV movie, how different do you think it would’ve been?

CraigBartlett: I remember Paramount wanted big "stakes" -- that kept coming up. "What's at stake?" So we thought, how about if the whole neighborhood is going to come down? I think if we had made the movie for theaters instead of TV, we simply would have spent more on time, animation, and shot it on film. The worst thing about the release was we transferred our video to film and it didn't look as good as it could have.

jjc927: If season 6 does happen will Arnold and Helga be public with their relationship right away or will be it more just between them at first or something that develops as the season goes on?

CraigBartlett: I haven't decided -- probably whatever is funniest, and creates the most possibility for good stories.

jeffreykare: Where did the idea for Dino Spumoni come from?

CraigBartlett: Joe, Steve, and I all love Frank Sinatra. We love all the crazy stories about his career, and his mid-fifties albums are amazing. So we came up with Dino, as a "low-rent Sinatra," so we could spoof some of the things Frank did.

qilincrusader: What's your favorite Dino Spumoni song and do you wish you could have done more? I personally adore "I Won't Smash Your Heart".

CraigBartlett: I agree, "Smashed" is a favorite. Jim and I have made an extended version of that song, and someday we hope to bring it out to the public! I also love "My Last Bow." I sang that one at Steve Viksten's memorial service.

guywholuvcartoons: Why did Coach Wittenburg say "circumcised swimming"

CraigBartlett: Coach gets a lot of words wrong -- we call them "malaprops." That became an essential part of his character.

ChervalR: When you're coming up with episode ideas, do you think about what kind of situation that character would get into or do you think of events that you would like to animate?

CraigBartlett: probably the first one, then the second. Sometimes I think how fun it would be to riff on a favorite scene in a movie, but usually it comes from character.

elly1517: Hi Craig, I'm writing my master's thesis on Hey Arnold!; examining how Arnold is an empathetic character with a love of the natural world - like plants (Mighty Pete) and "unusual" animals (Chester, Abner, Lockjaw).

Was your relationship to nature a lot like Arnold's while growing up in an urban environment? How important was it to include Arnold and the kids interacting with the natural world?

I noticed your post on Instagram from International Women's Day of your Grandmother. What was her influence on you growing up, and did that ever influence the show? Your writing of Grandma Gertie?

Was Big Bob meant to be a symbol of patriarchy, or did that sort of come around naturally? (He runs an "empire," dresses up as a king, the house is his "Castle," his domineering relationships with Miriam, Olga, and Helga)

And I have to ask - any chance of a season 6? ; )

Thanks Craig!

CraigBartlett: What good questions! First, when I was around 12, my parents moved us out of Seattle to a remote beach (Snee-oosh) where I had a ton of "alone time," mostly paddling around in a canoe. I made a huge connection to nature there, nearly drowning many times, hiking through the woods, putting out a crab pot and digging clams. That connection was huge in building my inner life and creativity. I recommend it to everyone! My grandma, "Nanny," was my favorite relative. Not only did she bring my mom Kay into the world, she was sweet, fun, full of energy, and took care of us kids a lot. I remember her crazy driving around Seattle, me in the back seat with a smelly wool blanket scratching the back of my neck. I love your Big Bob question. He certainly is an excellent symbol of the patriarchy, tho we did not do it consciously. He just became, so Helga would have a perfect narcissistic blowhard for a dad. See above in the session for my answer about season 6! Good luck with your thesis!

Jackeline-Scollyn: Hello Craig I am your follower since childhood from the caricature of Hey Arnold so several of my questions are related to the series and some other more personal, I was part of the group on Facebook that was called "save the jungle movie" when I was in high school , and the wait was long, I must say that it was totally worth it, here are my questions:

What was it that motivated you to do The jungle movie?

This question is a bit funny but have you considered making the perfume of Arnold and Helga? This as a reference to the episode where Helga goes to the psychiatrist when she confesses her love for Arnold and mentions that she wanted a perfume with the name of both.

Once Toys R Us closed and some of Nickelodeon's original merchandise was sold there now, where can we get more merchandise from Hey Arnold?

Maybe this is a more personal question but tell us about how you met your wife, love the love stories haha

Is there going to be season 6? Hey Arnold

6.In the episode of "Girl trouble" where the grandfather is telling Arnold about the girl who was bothering him, in the final part arnold leaves the room, the grandfather never tells him that it was his grandmother, then ... He never knew ?

Have you considered coming to Mexico one day? Here you also have many fans that you would make happy.

In Comic Con de San Diego will you have time for your fans? I would have liked to be able to go more I will not have the opportunity this year, however a friend is going to attend and I want to send an embroidery of Hey Arnold that I am doing to you ☺

In the episode of Valentine's Day when Helga poses as Cecile and in the end Arnold realizes that she was not, saves her shoe at the end of the episode, what's wrong with that? I think that this is one of the questions that most cause me curiosity, it would be good if Arnold would realize this in the future, along with Helga who helped him in the Christmas episode, when she changed her boots for information about the Hyunh's daughter

I live with the fear that you block me on instagram because I like everything you upload hahaha I'm glitter_tears_blossom tree the girl with the Helga Pawtaki and the Kiss embroidery (If one day you occupy a dressmaker I offer myself haha)

CraigBartlett: Hi Glitter_tears! Yeah, that embroidered kiss was awesome. 1) the Jungle movie started as our first movie, because Paramount wanted something big, and finding Arnold's missing parents was considered the biggest thing of all. 2)Haha, the "Arnold and Helga" perfume would be pretty cool. 3)Amazon! 4)We met at her sister's Memorial Day party. 5)The answer is somewhere on this Reddit! 6)Yeah, Arnold was out for that last scene! 7)I want to come back to Mexico, it's been many years since I've been. 8)I still don't know if I'm going to ComicCon this summer. 9)I think he'll find all that out eventually. Sometimes those mysteries are best left not shown. It's more magical that way.

beans2008: Hi Craig! Huge fan here, I’ve been watching Hey Arnold since I was 9, and writing letters to Nickelodeon since I was 13 to greenlight HATJM, I was finally able to get closure after watching it this past november as a 27 year old woman (i missed the first couple hours of a friends wedding to watch it, no lie lol have my reaction on IG) as i felt it would close the last chapter of my childhood and help me move on to adulthood. It is my belief that a deep character like Helga is why the show meant the world to a broken soul like me. I was wondering if the Patakis is possible?

ALSO ofcourse praying that NICK gives us a season 6!!! ❤️


CraigBartlett: Thanks for missing the wedding for TJM! Apologies to the bride! May all your prayers be answered.

sourpatchkidj: Hey Craig! Thanks so much for doing this AMA! Greetings from Asia! (3 AM here!) Been waiting all week for this!

I have a couple questions, if you would be so kind as to answer:

1) You mentioned in an interview that the Arnold/Helga love confession scene played out very differently in an early draft of the Jungle Movie (like 10 years ago?) What did that look like? Furthermore, are there drastic changes you had to make to the Jungle Movie that we saw last year, compared to the original draft from years ago?

2) I just watched Operation Ruthless last night (1-7A) where the characters go to the Cheese Festival for the first time. I noticed that Rhonda forced Harold onto the Tunnel of Love ride. Other than our 2 class couples (Arnold and Helga, Gerald and Phoebe), are there other people you would couple up? (Lila, Sheena, Katrinka, Nadine, Sid, Stinky, Park, Eugene, etc)

3) Lastly, what became of Curly? He's one of my favorite characters, cause he's so demented. Is he a psychopath? Mentally ill?

Thank you for creating such a brilliant, historic series that I will forever cherish. You're a legend. Be well!

CraigBartlett: 1) In other replies I answer the question about changes to the story in this new version of the Jungle movie. 2) Fans have been hoping for Stinky to hook up with Lila. That sounds like fun. 3) Curly is pretty psycho, but he's fine, he'll be around for future episodes if I get the chance to do them.

CallMeNettie: Craig, if there is a season 6, will Arnold ever find out that Helga was his Christmas Angel? That was such a selfless thing for her to do I've always felt he should know.

CraigBartlett: Like I said elsewhere, I think Arnold eventually finds out the various selfless things Helga has done. But I think he'll find them out on his own, without our seeing it. It's more poetic that way.

qilincrusader: Have you considered making a character that paid homage to Penny in Hey Arnold?

CraigBartlett: Haha, but she's got pennies for eyes! and is made of clay!

supermikeRs: What is your episode of a Hey Arnold that you are most proud of?

Which voice actor for Hey Arnold did you feel was the best match over the seasons?

CraigBartlett: Toran had a great sensitivity; Philip had a really "centered" regular-guy vibe; Spencer was very versatile; and I think Mason now feels like the most "Arnold-y" Arnold of all!

Weird_donut: Are Mitchell Petersen from RJG and Stinky Petersen from HeyA related?

CraigBartlett: No, I don't think so. Apparently I just really like the name Petersen.

matt_tighe: Hey Craig! My name is Matt Tighe, and I'm an intern at Nickelodeon in NYC. I'm a huge Hey Arnold fan, and we actually met briefly at Comic Con! I was wondering what it's like to work with Jim Lang, and if you were with him during his recording process. It seems to blend so perfectly with the show! Did you animate with specific music themes/moods in mind?

sourpatchkidj: Jim Lang is a king. Parents Day is one of my favorite pieces of music! So many feels.

CraigBartlett: Jim and I go WAY back, to the end of the 80s. He is the best, period. He is such in integral part of the Hey Arnold vibe that I honestly can't picture the series without him. When he wrote the new cues for the Jungle Movie it was as if we had never stopped making it. The piece that goes under Gerald's "Arnold the hero" video, the score for The Kiss, and the Jungle Movie end credits are essential Arnold music. We will sit and "spot" the episodes together and talk about what went goes where, and for me mostly I point out where music should tell us how to feel.

DoodlesAndJunk: What are some plot elements that were in the original TJM script 15 years ago that were removed or modified in the final edit? Were some ideas rejected by Nick that you wish you could have gotten away with?

CraigBartlett: The whole finding of the hidden city and the discovery of his parents went through huge changes. Also we added Helga's influence in the waking up of the parents. Giving the main characters bigger roles in teaming up to save the day, bringing the parents back alive, all that happened in this version.

Weird_donut: Why did PBS and Nickelodeon premiere episodes of your shows out of order? I know all your shows have continuity.

CraigBartlett: Once we deliver the episodes, sometimes the networks decide to come out with one before another, but they usually stick to our deliveries. Nick held on to Parents Day for a long time, waiting to decide how they wanted to promote it. Also "The Journal," for the same reason.

J-Ali16: When do you think we’ll get to mars?

CraigBartlett: Maybe sooner rather than later, with Elon Musk getting involved! However I'm skeptical, as Amy says we would arrive on Mars dead from solar radiation -- that is until we figure out how to shield our astronauts from the radiation bombardment, both en route and in our Mars habitats.

ironicstickballoon: Hi, Craig! I loved Hey Arnold! as a kid, and I've found that the show still very much holds up today, due to how relatable the stories are.

If you were to make more episodes of Hey Arnold!, what issues would you want to cover now that you couldn't during its original run (maybe due to the topic not existing yet or Nickelodeon not allowing it at the time)?

CraigBartlett: Good question! We would basically try to make a season that was balanced with advancing the stories of favorite side characters, coming up with new Urban Legends, and just seeing what Arnold will do now that he's gotten his slightly-batty parents back, and how they will all figure out how to live in the boarding house together.


More Nick: Nickelodeon Hints That 'Hey Arnold!' Season 6 May Be In The Works!
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