SDCC 2016 – Happy Happy Joy Joy Panel

NicktoonsSPLATCelebrating 25 years of groundbreaking animation, Nickelodeon presented the Happy Happy Joy Joy panel at this year’s 2016 Comic-Con with host Hector Navarro (Nick Animation podcast) interviewing the astounding creators of Hey Arnold (Craig Bartlett)Invader Zim (Jhonen Vasquez), Fairly OddParents and Danny Phantom (Butch Hartman), Rugrats, Wild Thornberrys, and Rocket Power (Arlene Klasky).


For those of us who grew up watching the classic Nicktoons, it’s hard to believe that this year is the 25th anniversary. For some of us, myself included, it’s hard to believe we’re past our 25th year at all. So when I walked into the Happy Happy Joy Joy panel and saw the gods of my childhood sitting there, I finally knew how Angelica felt about those chocolate chip cookies. Nothing would ever be better than this moment.    

I don’t know if it was the nostalgia for Nicktoons or the Comic-Con energy but the panel created magic for the audience, myself included. Butch Hartmen gave the audience a special sneak peek at his upcoming cartoon show Bunsen the Beast, giving fans something awesome to look forward to. In short, Hartman was an absolute riot! His consistent wit and need to torture the host Hector Navarro, sent the crowd ablaze with laughter whenever he would ask for pledges to “call this number if you want to have kids with Hector” in an attempt to increase the next generation of Nicktoon fans.


Left: Craig Bartlett, Butch Hartmen, Arlene Klasky, Jhonen Vasquez

The theme of family and legacy was one that continued throughout the panel. When asked what was the most memorable fan experience he’d had, Jhonen Vasquez said the fact that his fans who grew up watching Invader Zim, who now have kids of their own, and show them his Christmas Special was the most indescribable experience. “I’m a tradition. In some households I have become apart of their family traditions.” Not only was it amazing to see and hear Vasquez speaking about his experience, but to hear the genuine surprise and almost embarrassment that he felt realizing, that what he created, had become bigger than him and had impacted so many lives. It was endearing to watch.

Arlene Klasky, providing her own familial connections, shared with the audience that infact her owner small children were her inspiration for Rugrats. Klasky discussed, at the time when she was a stay at home mother, her curiosity and wonderment at why her toddler children would do such things as sticking their hands in the toilet prompted her creativity.

One of the major highlights of the hour was when Craig Bartlett announced and confirmed that Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie would be released Thanksgiving 2017. Audience members saw first hand the updated looks for Arnold, Gerald, Helga, and Phoebe. The updates are great. The characters look crisp, clean, and 100% recognizable. Any 90’s kid would be pleased. The crowd was also treated to early sketch scenes from the upcoming film. Gasp!

As children we experience longer and hold on harder than we seem to as adults. Hell, I hardly remember yesterday but I remember how I felt watching Chuckie remember his mother playing with him in the backyard. More often than not we discount the experiences of children. Believing that their understanding is small and fleeting. This panel significantly proved otherwise and gave everyone lucky enough to see it some happy happy joy joy.

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