Povenmire has been a long-time contributor to the animation business, working on several different animated television series such as Hey Arnold!, The Simpsons, Rocko's Modern Life and SpongeBob SquarePants. He was a long-time director on the prime time series Family Guy, where he was nominated for an Annie Award in 2005. He left the series to create Phineas and Ferb with Jeff "Swampy" Marsh. Povenmire has been nominated for several awards for his work on the show, including a BAFTA, an Annie, and three Emmy Awards. He lives with his wife and their two daughters in Pasadena, California.
Povenmire was born in San Diego, California on September 18, 1963, and grew up in the city of Mobile, Alabama. A child prodigy, he began drawing at age two; by the time he was ten, his work was displayed in local art shows. His first efforts in animation included a series of flip books that he produced in his school text books. As a child, Povenmire considered animator Chuck Jones his hero; in a 2009 interview, he stated that "every drawing he did was beautiful to look at and had so much energy in it."
Povenmire received his secondary education at Shaw High School in Mobile. Initially, he attended the University of South Alabama, where he created his first popular comic strip, Life is a Fish, devoted to the life of Herman the goldfish and the college students he lives with. Povenmire also supported himself as a waiter and performer at a dinner theatre. In 1985, he transferred to the University of Southern California (USC), planning to pursue a career in film.
Soon after arriving at USC, he pitched Life is a Fish to Mark Ordesky, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Trojan, the university newspaper. Ordesky first "basically brushed him off", but, after viewing Povenmire's portfolio, accepted the strip. Fish ran daily in the paper. Though the rapid pace left Povenmire afraid he was "running out of ideas", he never missed a deadline and made $14,000 a year through Fish merchandise, which included t-shirts, books, and calendars sold at the campus craft fair. The discipline of regular production also helped teach Povenmire to "represent something in the least amount of lines."
Povenmire left USC without finishing the degree requirements, and used the money from Fish merchandise to fund a short-lived career as a street artist. His first professional animation commission came on the Tommy Chong project Far Out Man, for which Povenmire produced two minutes of animation. By age 24, Povenmire was freelancing on several animated television series, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In 1989, he appeared in a small role as a band member in Adam Sandler's first film, Going Overboard.
In the 1990s, Povenmire secured a job as a character layout animator on the hit animated series The Simpsons. His desk placed him opposite Jeffery Marsh, another up-and-coming animator. They shared similar tastes in humour and music, and later became colleagues on other projects.
Povenmire's experience, from both previous industry work and from his own projects, earned him respect at The Simpsons. He worked on layout animation and collaborated on storyboard production for the series, recalling later that staff were handed pages of production notes and instructed to "Do the Brad Bird notes and any others that make sense." He maintained a side interest in film, writing scripts and the screenplay for a low-budget horror movie, Psycho Cop 2. The movie's producers offered Povenmire the opportunity to direct the film, but its terms required that he quit The Simpsons. Povenmire chose to stay with The Simpsons, which he enjoyed and considered a better fit with his future ambitions. Rif Coogan ended up directing the picture instead.
Rocko's Modern LifeEdit
Work on The Simpsons involved an irregular schedule. The producers laid off the animation staff for two-to-three-month periods, and rehired the staff later in the production cycle. During one of these layoffs, Povenmire found a temporary job on the series Rocko's Modern Life, Nickelodeon's first in-house cartoon production. The show's creator, television newcomer Joe Murray, hired Povenmire solely on the strength of his Life is a Fish comic strips, which proved he could both write and draw.
Though Povenmire started on Rocko simply to occupy his downtime from The Simpsons, he found the greater creative freedom he enjoyed on his temporary job compelling, and quit The Simpsons to work on Rocko full-time. There, he reunited with Jeff Marsh, this time as a writing partner; Marsh claimed the crew hoped Povenmire's neatness would offset his own sloppy storyboarding. The pair developed a distinctive style characterised by characteristic musical numbers and chase scenes. Povenmire and Marsh won an Environmental Achievement Award for a 1996 Rocko episode they had written.
Povenmire later became a director on Family Guy, starting with the season two episode, "Road to Rhode Island". Creator Seth MacFarlane granted Povenmire substantial creative freedom. Povenmire recalled that MacFarlane would tell him "We've got two minutes to fill. Give me some visual gags. Do whatever you want. I trust you." Povenmire praised MacFarlane's management for letting him "have...fun." Povenmire brought realism and material from his own experiences to the visual direction of Family Guy. For "One if By Clam, Two if By Sea" (August 1, 2001), several characters demonstrate Fosse-like movies in prison. To correctly depict the moves, Povenmire asked colour artists Cynthia Macintosh, who had been a professional dancer, to strike poses so he could properly illustrate the sequence. In the episode "To Love and Die in Dixie" (November 15, 2001), Povenmire drew on his childhood in the Deep South to create and sequence a background scene in which the redneck character nonchalantly kicks a corpse into the nearby river.
"Brian Wallows and Peter's Swallows" (January 17, 2002), a Family Guy episode which Povenmire directed, won the Emmy Award for Best Song. Creator MacFarlane, the recipient of the award, noted that Povenmire deserved to have received the award for the contribution the visuals made to the episode's win. Povenmire jokingly responded "That's a nice sentiment and all, but did he offer to give me his? No! And it's not like he doesn't already have two of his own just sitting in his house!" Povenmire was nominated for an Annie Award for Directing in an Animated Television Production for the episode "PTV" (November 6, 2005) but lost out to a fellow Family Guy director Peter Shin, who had directed the episode "North By North Quahog". Povenmire and several others were also nominated for their work on "PTV" in the Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour) category at the Primetime Emmy Awards. Povenmire also received the same nomination for "Road to Rhode Island."
While directing for Family Guy, Povenmire was offered a job as storyboard director of the series SpongeBob SquarePants. He wrote various musical numbers for the series, including "The Campfire Song Song" in "The Camping Episode" (April 3, 2004).
Phineas and FerbEdit
In 1993, Povenmire and Marsh conceived the series Phineas and Ferb, based on their similar experiences of childhood summers spent outdoors. Povenmire spent 14-16 years pitching Phineas and Ferb to several networks. Most rejected it as unfeasible for the complexity of its plots, but Povenmire persevered, later observing "It was really the show we wanted to see: if this was on the air, I'd watch it, and I don't always feel that about every show I work on." Even the Walt Disney Company initially rejected Povenmire's pitch, but asked to keep the proposal packet: "Usually that means they throw it in the trash later," Povenmire recalled. Eventually Disney called Povenmire back with an acceptance, on the condition that he would produce an 11-minute pilot. He called Marsh, who was living in England, to ask him if he would like to work on the pilot; Marsh accepted immediately and moved back to the United States.
Instead of a conventional script, the pair pitched the pilot by recording reels of its storyboard, which Povenmire then mixed and dubbed to produce action and vocals. The network approved the show for a 26-episode season. Povenmire left Family Guy to create the series.
Povenmire and Marsh wanted to incorporate into Phineas and Ferb the kind of humour they had developed in their work on Rocko's Modern Life. They included action sequences and, with Disney's encouragement, featured musical numbers in every episode subsequent to "Flop Starz". Povenmire described the songs as his and Marsh's "jab at immortality", but the pair have earned two Emmy nominations for Phineas and Ferb songs to-date. A third Emmy nomination, for the episode "The Monster of Phineas-n-Ferbenstein" (2009), pitted the show against SpongeBob SquarePants, although neither nominee received the award due to a technicality. In 2010, Povenmire was nominated amongst several other Phineas and Ferb crew members for the Daytime Emmy Award for both "Outstanding Writing in Animation" and "Outstanding Original Song- Children's and Animation" for their work on the show, winning for "Outstanding Writing in Animation".
The distinctive style of the animation legend Tex Avery influenced the show's artistic look. Like Avery, Povenmire employed geometric shapes to build both the characters and the background. The style developed almost accidentally, with Povenmire's first sketch of title character, Phineas Flynn, which he produced while eating dinner with his family in a restaurant in South Pasadena, California. He doodled a triangle-shaped child on the butcher paper covering the table. He was so taken with the sketch he tore it out, kept it, and used it as the prototype for Phineas and as the stylistic blueprint for the entire show.
During his college years, Povenmire had performed with a band that played at clubs and bars across Los Angeles, California. His current band, Keep Left, releases albums through Arizona University Recordings. Their second CD, Letters from Fieldin, became available for download at aurec.com during 2004. They have an official website maintained and updated by artist Larry Stone. A 2004 email exchange about the website between Stone and Povenmire resulted in a "clever and twisted" series of comic strips drawn by the two, eventually moved to the website Badmouth.
|1988||Never on Tuesday|
|1989||Going Overboard||Yellow Teeth|
|1990||Far Out Man|
|1991||The Dark Backward|
|1991||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Planet of the Turtleoids|
|1993||Psycho Cop 2||Writer|
|2011||Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension||Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz (1st and 2nd Dimension)|
|1991||James Bond Jr.|
|1993-1996||Rocko's Modern Life|
|2007-present||Phineas and Ferb||Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz|