Keeping an eye on the VeggieTales

It’s great when I’m surprised by something.
For years, I’ve heard of “VeggieTales,” the Bible-oriented kid’s program that’s super popular, and to be honest, I didn’t expect much out of it. 
I’m certainly not “anti-Bible,” not by a long shot, but I always feared that the cartoon would be ridiculously preachy and generally intolerable on an adult level.
But then I watched one … then another … and another, and it turns out that the shows are darned funny. Filled with quirky characters, silly songs and clever messages, they’re hard not to like. Instead of being preachy, the show entertains and then slips in the Bible verses when you least expect them. In all, it’s totally unobtrusive and I’ve never seen an episode where I rolled my eyes as they tried to hammer the message home. In “VeggieTales,” they don’t beat the message in, they make it part of the fun.
But what really impresses me about “VeggieTales” is just how expressive anthropomorphic vegetables can be. I’ve sat and studied the show, and now I see that it’s all about the eyes. That’s not any sort of revolutionary statement, Steven Spielberg knew about it for “E.T. — The Extra Terrestrial,” after all.
But even beyond that simple statement, I’ve figured “VeggieTales” out. If you ever get to watch the show, study how the eyes are shaped. Any cartoonist will tell you that shaping an eye differently can make a person look mean, sad, happy and everything in between. But “VeggieTales” goes beyond that. They match the shape of the pupil with the shape of the eye. And every time the eye changes shape (usually with a blink), the pupil changes the shape too. And with every blink, a knew emotion erupts across those silly vegetables.
Strange, yes, but  that simple technique makes the a pickle … er … cucumber and a tomato become real characters Weird, I know, but it works, and I’m amazed by how well it works.
So the next time you’re developing a cartoon of your own, think about how the eyes work and think about the “VeggieTales” And that, my friends, is your Sound Advice for Today.


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