June 28, 2010

Steve Lambe gets an Emmy!

Animator 'overwhelmed' by honours

An Ottawa animation expert walked the red carpet in Los Angeles last friday to pick up an Emmy Award for his work on a massively popular U.S. Saturday morning cartoon show.

"I am pretty overwhelmed," said Steve Lambe, a character designer with Ottawa's animation studio Mercury Filmworks.

"I don't know what higher honour I could achieve."

Lambe is receiving a Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Award for his work in Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation for characters he designed for the show Fanboy and Chum Chum in an episode called "The Janitor Strikes Back." The episode features an evil janitor and details his attempts to get even with the strange superhero duo of Fanboy and Chum Chum.

The pair are fans of superhero comic books and movies, and despite having no special powers of their own, dress in homemade costumes on a daily basis. The costumes include masks and underwear outside their pants.

The premier episode of the show, which aired in November, drew more than 5.8 million viewers, the second episode was watched by more than 5.4 million people, making it a breakout success.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is giving two Emmy Awards to the show in a gala awards ceremony.

Besides Lambe's prize, a second Emmy is being awarded to Caesar Martinez, a background layout designer also working on the cartoon.

Lambe performed the work while at Nickelodeon Animation in California. The company owns smash American network Nick Kids.

The animator, originally from New Brunswick, said the Emmy win was a shock.

Lambe has been hopping around taking cartoon animation gigs in various locales over the past decade. He parted ways with Nickelodeon late last year.

Lambe said the constant hassle of maintaining a work visa in the U.S. was proving to be more work than it was worth. Moving to Ottawa allowed him to reunite with friends and join a small, but talented, community of animation professionals.

"I didn't even know that they had submitted my work this year," he said. "It was a surprise."

Lambe said the award is particularly meaningful because animation was a last-minute choice.

Born in Newfoundland to two teachers, Lambe said he was initially going to follow in his parent's footsteps and teach. After three years at university, things just didn't feel right.

A new course in animation and design at New Brunswick Community College had opened piqued his interest. Lambe's life-long love of cartoons and art saw him jump head first into animation; it was a decision that would quickly change his life.

After graduating, Lambe was snatched up by a small local company that made comic strips for the Internet. His skills were soon noticed by others and his career skyrocketed, taking him to Spike TV, Teletoon, Disney Adventurist Magazine, Hasbro and Nickelodeon.

In his current job with Mercury Filmworks in Ottawa, a firm that has worked on successful movies and TV shows including Curious George and Fat Albert, Lambe is working on the second season of Jimmy Two-Shoes, a popular cartoon that airs on the Disney Channel in Britain, U.S. and Canada.

Lambe said he wants to take the leap from artist to cartoon show creator and has several ideas he plans to pitch to Disney and Warner Bros. studios in the coming months.

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