Frederator Studios’ Cooper Nelson checked in with Elyse Castro, creator of “The Summoning,” the newly released GO! Cartoons short on Cartoon Hangover, to ask a few burning questions. Let’s see if her answers are equally on fire.
Elyse Castro created “The Summoning,” about Claire, a witch, and her cat Edgar, on a quest for a missing spell ingredient. When I asked her our usual opening question—“Where did you study animation?”—Elyse just chuckled.
“Can’t answer that one,” she explained, “I didn’t!”
Rebellious against the ‘usual,’ Castro, of Brisbane, Australia, is a prolific creative, with experience ranging from playwriting to comics to taxidermy—she recently gave blacksmithing a go. Below, she doles out the deets on “The Summoning,” and leads us down her windy path to cartoon-creating.
So what did you study in school?
I went to uni for theater and visual art, but halfway through got really into the culture of tattooing, and became a tattoo apprentice. My Catholic parents were horrified. I was a tattoo artist for several years, then cooled off it—partly because of a hurt wrist, partly because I was tired of people’s shit tattoo ideas.
I can imagine. So then what’d you get up to?
I was doing freelance comics, some fine art, but also studied to become a drama teacher. I was frustrated about the neglect of arts and theater education in Australia, and decided to quit harping about the problems and lend a hand to the solutions.
Do you enjoy teaching?
I love connecting with the kids. And it’s creative—I teach at an all boys school, so I often write us alternative plays to fit them better, like our own version of “Robin Hood”. It’s a lot of laughs—I love making people laugh.
Is that why you wanna make cartoons?
Oh yeah – it’s always been a big motivation for me. My biggest goal in life all through growing up, and even now, is to make my sister laugh. It isn’t too hard, she’s thinks I’m a riot. She ended up becoming a research scientist, while I’m an adult entertained by Yo Gabba Gabba.
I respect that. So then what inspired “The Summoning”?
Certainly my maniac cats [see Winston below]. And actually, a lot of experiences with my sister. Voices we’d use, stupid things we’d do. And some gross stuff. Like, the whole bit with the dandruff in “The Summoning” was based on a time that I picked a big flake of the stuff off her head. I remember it now, a nice, sunny day…
Aha, gross! Gotcha. What mattered to you while developing your own short?
I thought about what I wanted to see in a cartoon—I’m drawn to the macabre, odd stuff, like my taxidermy. I’m very crafty, always making things, which lends itself to a witch character. And tone-wise, I wanted to keep it real, even have nuggets of education. Like in “The Summoning,” I tucked in a great factoid about poo consumption in the animal kingdom.
Sounds about as educational as a Frederator show gets!
I still can’t believe I have a project with Frederator. It was my childhood dream to make a cartoon, and I’m a huge fan of Pendleton Ward and Natasha Allegri. I even got to work with Natasha, who directed “The Summoning”! I was fangirling, it was so hard to act cool.
What’re your favorite cartoons?
Definitely Daria, Ren and Stimpy, South Park, and Adventure Time.
So about the witchcraft stuff – dabble in witchcraft yourself?
Not really, but I’m very interested in paganism and witchcraft. I study it, love the history behind it. My friends and I mess around with tarot cards sometimes, but I haven’t gone farther than that… yet.
Watch Elyse’s “The Summoning” on Cartoon Hangover!
(this was also my first interview! We’re at ~50 a year later, with video and probs audio ones too on the way. Anthology post forthcoming! ?)