The Problem Solverz Are Back!


Friday, December 10, 2010

You might have been asking yourself, what’s Ben Jones been up to? Well, kind people, he is in Burbank, CA right this minute, working long days on his Cartoon Network series, The Problem Solverz. His first season, which was written with Eric (Futurama) Kaplan, is in the middle of production, with an air date sometime in 2011. This is not, as some of you may know, Neon Knome, which was an Adult Swim project that sprung briefly to life. This new show is, if anything, a more pure expression of Ben’s longtime characters, Horace, Roba, and Alfe. It perfectly exemplifies Ben’s genius for character, dialogue, and strikingly beautiful world building. Below is a clip from the first episode — it’s not complete, but gives you a flavor for this new and wonderful series. If you like it, click on over to YouTube and say so. We are also taking any and all “fan art”, which you can send to me for posting at dan (at) pictureboxinc (dot) com.

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22 Responses to “The Problem Solverz Are Back!”
  1. david` says:

    problem solved.

  2. sarah says:

    i find this post to be excessively controversial and boys club like, and i seriously question the motivations of the poster.

    still, i have a boner for ben jones that will only be alleviated with the country’s best yogurt and a bubble bath.

    gettin on that…

  3. […] Speaking of Jones, The Problem Solverz is indeed a full-fledged Cartoon Network show for kids, not an Adult Swim show for adults on […]

  4. BVS says:

    but these aren’t the same problem solvers as these problem solvers
    so whats up with that.
    personally I remember years back when the 4th aqua teen DVD and it’s subsequent ad campaign plastered NYC and everything came out everything basically looking like paper rad. I have no idea if he was actually involved with that at the time but I had a sinking suspicion that they just ripped him off. now I read about him doing murals and hes working on a show so I guess all’s well that ends well.

    • Dan Nadel says:

      Well, Ben has been making stories about those characters for a very very long time, and animating them since the late 1990s. So, that last iteration of TPS that you linked to was simply another step in their long gestation. It’s like how Mickey Mouse looked one way in 1930 and then another way in 1950. The clip above is the most recent TPS, done for Cartoon Network, as opposed to the “Noise Network”. And, I don’t think Ben and PR had anything to do with Aqua Teen, but that, in itself, came from a place not of “ripping off” PR but more like sipping from the stream. Now, many other things have ripped off PR, but that’s another story.

  5. Randy Bodek says:

    As Ben’s characters evolve and his ideas are pilfered by lesser minds, two things remain constant: delivery pizza and problems that need solving. Ain’t that America.

  6. Unbelievably stupid. Zero content, aggravating form and technique. Cultural illness sadly endemic. Amplifies my nascent dreams of apocalypse.

  7. brynocki C says:

    Wow. Once again BJ is getting clobbered by the general public.(although I guess the Neon Knome contest was rigged from the start). But Youtube commentators are pooing all over Alfe and the gang. Is this show really that weird and wrong? I am so lost on the M’Ass Mind of America. ALFE!!!!!!

  8. david says:

    i think this is one of those issues where some people perceive an immediately recognizable but ‘crude’ and ‘simple’ style as pretentious because it is ‘trying hard’ to not be ‘good’ mostly because there is not a lot of ‘believable 3d modeling’ behind the design of the characters which i guess means it is ‘purposefully insulting’ the tastes and the ‘ability to comprehend 3 dimensions of space’ of its audience

    i imagine there is a lot of overlap between the BJ haters and the Tim and Eric haters among Adult Swim fans

    not sure BJ is getting ‘clobbered’ in the comments though. seems like a 2/3 split against but not a unanimous sentiment at all

    in summary, i think most people really like ‘plots’ more than anything else and things like Problem Solverz make fun of plot. not to get all undergrad clove-smoker, but most people probably hate Waiting for Godot, the Glen Beck avant-garde play of yesteryear…
    and a bunch of people cried
    cuz they jelly

  9. Brian Nicholson says:

    I don’t know, I love Ben’s stuff but when watching this (initially I didn’t know it was for kids) I was really struck by the formulaic structure and “crowd-pleasing” nature of things like the way Tux Dog was trotted out. The jokes didn’t feel as weird as Neon Knome’s. I’m still down to see larger amounts of it. Something about the bomb made out of dinosaurs made out of robots felt like a weird distortion of Paper Rad reflected through its own influence and simplified. I felt pretty much like a crazy person, watching Alfe and Horace move through their kids show at a much more hectic pace than I am used to do from Ben’s narratives.

    The pace of kids’ TV has been increasing, and in the last few years I’ve attributed that to Paper Rad’s influence as well, and there’s something about that that worries me, also.

    It looks great though.

    Whoa is there someone on Youtube who thinks Matt Furie made this? FUCKED UP

    Like, this is the first time where I’ve seen the latest of Ben’s things, and rather than think “still ahead of the curve of all the biters,” I’ve felt like it’s caught up in a feedback loop of processing its own influence in order to be more culturally palatable, the way that people ripping it off have been. It’s a really weird feeling I get.

  10. brynocki C says:

    I think Problem Solverz is plot fueled as much as any other classic cartoon. But I did see a full length episode aside from this short.

    And as for clobbered on youtube. I guess 4 or 5 evil comments in a row is a pretty hard hit but I’m a light weight. Why I am still amazed by the vicious comments I have no idea, but I am.

    This is more formulaic than old BJ stuff, absolutely. This is an artist being put through the grinder of corporate cartoon making, and I find what comes out the other side interesting. It is what he wants. Witness the evolution of artist as young outsider weirdo/artist in art school/artist being tempered by the marketplace/artist being absorbed into corporate structures. Not the path I want but still an interesting journey to watch. Especially someone with such an established aesthetic. Weird shit will come of this.

    And also, BJ is not writing these scripts. He is deeply involved but there is a head writer. Divorce his old work from this new work when viewing.

    PapeRRad is dead. Long live Problem Solverz. Or whatever comes next. The old work remains intact.

    • Brian Nicholson says:

      “Intact” in this instance meaning “never really made available to people who didn’t personally meet the cartoonist,” if when you say old work you mean “things from before 2005.”

      • brynocki C says:

        It’s sad that there is not a DVD box set/downloadable library of all the BJ videos. I am not sure what work exactly is or isn’t available. I haven’t watched the Load DVD in ages and i don’t remember seeing that earlier problem solvers youtube stuff. BJ has had a series of phases, starting with videos i was lucky enough to watch in the late 90’s that were slow as molasses, pre any kind of TV sitcom vibe. Those early problem solvers are like ultra pop compared to his early early stuff.

        I was shocked at the pacing in Neon Knome, and was not into it. But I kinda got over it. Though I think this is a better work than that Knome episode, whatever the pace. Ben Jones lives in LA now, no longer a strange little house in Western Mass, his life may be just as hectic as Alfe’s.

        If Ben gets some success on this new work then perhaps his old work will be released because there will be a financial incentive for someone to dig it up. If he goes back to making more obscure work or mini comics, which i don’t see him doing any time soon, then the old stuff may Only be intact, and in fact, buried for a long time.

        His dream is to have a cartoon with some solid promotion/distribution and I am psyched to see how that will turn out.

        • david says:

          how representative of most of his comic/zine swag is BJ’s work in Ganzfeld 7, which was my entry point to that side of him …. ?

          • D. Weir says:

            I believe that could be noted as the moving apart from Paper Rad towards his own solo professional career point in time (or thereabouts). I like seeing the animation studio progress amplify the work. Why should it remain in the stasis of it’s initial impact? The present developments will open other “new” aspects to the work. Most show’s on Adult Swim improve on their feet, hang in there kids! Make 101 episodes please!

  11. david says:

    i totally projected old BJ onto this. never mind.

    sometimes i wish Ben Jones would push the sarcasm and ridiculous non sequiturs over the
    ‘festive style’ but if i had kids i would probably make them watch this

    can nothing top iCarly ???

  12. Jeff aka Beef Flump says:

    I am stoked that this is a kids show for KIDS! I am guessing a large majority of people commenting on You Tube arn’t kids, so who cares what they say?

    Also, the most viewed shows on Adult Swim are re-runs of American Dad so the majority of the viewers can flip-off.

  13. Lastworthy says:

    This is fucking awesome.

    This is the kind of shit that will eventually enable me to be the grumpy old 35yr old smoking analog cigarettes outside the bar/gallery eavesdropping on a bunch of 22yr olds smoking their digital cigarettes while they argue about who was “over” Paperrad first while I think about playing gameboy in black/green and grey/green.

    “I was Twelve!”
    “Yeah? I was TEN!”

    “Tetris for Christmas”

  14. david says:

    an essay on relevance:

    Marge: Am I cool, kids?
    Bart and Lisa: No.
    Marge: Good. I’m glad. And that’s what makes me cool—not caring, right?
    Bart and Lisa: No.
    Marge: Well, how the hell do you be cool? I feel like we’ve tried everything here.
    Homer: Wait, Marge. Maybe if you’re truly cool, you don’t need to be told you’re cool.
    Bart: Well, sure you do.
    Lisa: How else would you know?

  15. Dan Nadel says:

    I don’t entirely get the essay on relevance, but I’ll echo what Brynocki said: I love watching Ben grow and achieve the things he wants to achieve. If it works, it works, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t, but to see this sensibility, which to me still outshines all its many many imitators, broadcast across the nation is very exciting. This is not some kid who “likes stuff”, but a mature artist in his prime, working through a system in the same (albeit rather more complicated) way that he worked through the “noise” system and the “art world” system. It’s brutal and hard but worthwhile. If it’s not as much what it was 5 years ago, thank heavens for that. I like growth. And for those looking for the old stuff, tons of it is on Youtube – -check out P-Unit tapes on youtube, for example. I dunno if it’ll ever be on DVD. Isn’t that like asking when Forcefield is gonna be on DVD, Brynocki? We can only hope… and then follow Jessica’s Twitter feed.

  16. david says:

    the essay is lifted from an The Simpsons by Matt Groaning
    it dramatizes the following “asks” :

    does Ben Jones march to the beat of his own drummer?
    does Ben Jones sell out every second of every single day?

    These are the dramas that define our lives.

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