Natasha Allegri’s Cartoon Girl Power

Natasha Allegri, Bee Character Design, 2013

Natasha Allegri, Bee Character Design, 2013

Cartoon girl power evokes images of Disney princesses, Sailor Moon and Powerpuff Girls, but behind the scenes women have remained virtually powerless in an industry run predominately by males.

As a part of an Internet cartoon revolution, Frederator Studios, known for creating cult favorite cartoons like The Fairly OddParents, Bravest Warriors and Adventure Time, has won the attention of the Internet for empowering the up and coming female cartoonist, Natasha Allegri.

Natasha Allegri, Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake, 2013; courtesy BOOM! Studios
Natasha Allegri, Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake, 2013; courtesy BOOM! Studios

Starting as a storyboard revisionist for Adventure Time, Allegri contributed to the adventures of (cue whimsical intro music) “Jake the dog and Finn the Hu-man.” But her most notable contribution was the character design of these male protagonists’ female alter egos: “Cake the cat and Fionna the Hu-man.”

In season three, Allegri’s parallel universe was given its own episode, which became one of the most popular in the series. Writing for the A.V. Club, Oliver Sava described it as “the most aggressively girl-friendly episode of the series.” This gender-bending spinoff gained momentum with additional episodes in later seasons and its own comic book series for BOOM! Studios.

Fred Seibert, the founder and executive producer of Frederator said, “For years I’ve tried to convince network executives and cartoon executives that cartoons that center around women, created by women — for something more than just little kids — would be a really wonderful, valuable cartoon to have, and they’ve been kind of resistant.” Thanks to the Internet, Frederator was able to use YouTube and Kickstarter to launch Allegri’s career.

In an interview for Toon Buzz, Allegri recalls pitching her original cartoon, Bee and PuppyCat, to the Nickelodeon producer, Eric Coleman, during a meeting that she walked to, in 90 degree weather, while wearing a “polyester shirt, polyester skirt, polyester tights and boots.” After dripping sweat on her storyboards during her presentation, her pitch was politely shot down and she went back to her Los Angeles apartment “sweating and crying.”

Thankfully a woman in New York saw her pitch, rescued it from the cutting room floor and helped make it into the Cartoon Hangover short that has captured the attention of both female and male Internet audiences. The Kickstarter that followed surpassed its goal for creating a complete series by nearly $300,000, and became the 4th most funded video and film project to date.

Inspired by early 90s anime, Allegri’s heroine, Bee, is a spastic out of work twenty-something who pairs up with a mysterious pet, PuppyCat, to work intergalactic temp jobs. Watch the short for yourself and see why Allegri’s approach to cartoon girl power is so fresh.

Even a year after the short’s debut, a visit to the official Bee and PuppyCat website reveals an endless stream of fan art, cosplay snapshots and encouraging comments from audiences waiting for the first crowd-funded season of the to begin. With evidence like this, networks can no longer deny that there is a market for cartoons made for women, by women.

Sneak peeks at what is to come this year can be found on Frederator’s YouTube channel and Natasha Allegri’s Tumblr. In the meantime the Bee and PuppyCat comic book makes the wait more bearable.

Author

Adrienne Blaine

Adrienne Blaine is a Millennial writer from the South Bay. She has a BA in Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies combined with Communications and Media Studies from Franklin University Switzerland. She currently works as a writing and reading instructor and academic interventionist.

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