Tulip Olsen in a bind in Infinity Train

‘Infinity Train’ Creator Calls Out Warner Bros. Discovery for Removing Animated Series

After cruelly pulling the plug on Batgirl and the animated feature Scoob!: Holiday Haunt, Warner Bros. Discovery is removing several beloved animated series from HBO Max.  OK K.O! Let’s Be Heroes, Close Enough, Infinity Train, Aquaman: King of AtlantisUncle Grandpa, The Fungies, and Summer Camp Island are among the titles that have been discarded without warning. The mass removals are the result of the Warner Bros. merger with Discovery and new CEO David Zaslav, who is consolidating both studios, resulting in cancelled series, massive layoffs, and a confusing future for HBO Max content. And while it’s disappointing for fans, it’s devastating for the series creators and animators who have spent their blood, sweat, and tears on these projects over the years.

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Infinity Train creator Owen Dennis responded to the situation via his blog  “Owen Dennis’s Infinite Train of Thought” , where he discussed how the abrupt removal affects the artists and creators of these series. He notes that none of the creators or showrunners were warned that their series were getting kicked off the platform. He wrote, “The announcement on Wednesday of Infinity TrainOKKOSummer Camp IslandThe Fungies and many other shows being taken off of HBOMax was a shock to all of us. Not just to fans, but to the creators and artists that made the shows as well. I had no idea it was coming, neither did any other show creator I’ve talked with, nor any of their representatives.”

He adds that the removal was supposed to happen next week, giving Cartoon Network time to inform the series creators. That obviously didn’t happen, which is a massive betrayal of trust from the network’s overlords. “Cartoon Network warned them not to do this as it would hurt relationships with creators and talent, but they clearly do not care what any of this looks like publicly, much less about how we feel about it.”

Dennis then gets at the reason for the series removals, and it comes down to money. WBD is looking to save money via residuals payments, which artists and writers are entitled to for the life of the series. And while there is payment up front for this kind of work, many artists rely on residuals to survive. Dennis explains, “Our pay is not complete without the ongoing residuals. Those residuals aren’t paid directly to the artists, they actually go to our union to pay for our healthcare. So not paying artists residuals on their work means they are indirectly defunding our healthcare.”

Residual payments add up to a scant amount of money saved for the studio, but its crucial financial support for the artists. Cutting series to save on residuals is a cruel and unnecessary step that screws over writers and artists, who are already facing a pay gap with live-action writers. Dennis summed up his view point, writing “I think the way that Discovery went about this is incredibly unprofessional, rude, and just straight up slimy. I think most everyone who makes anything feels this way. Across the industry, talent is mad, agents are mad, lawyers and managers are mad, even execs at these companies are mad. I can’t think of a single person who works in animation and entertainment that, when you bring this all up, doesn’t say “What the fuck are they doing? How do they plan to have anyone ever want to work with them again?””

Many creators agreed with Dennis, sharing their heartbreak and dismay on social media:

https://twitter.com/lisadraws/status/1560135581568417793

Artists, writers, and animators deserve so much better than this.

(via Owen Dennis’s Infinite Train of Thought, featured image: Cartoon Network)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.
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