I had the pleasure of interviewing Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! creator Bob Boyle, after he spotted a post I did about the lyrics of We’re All Together. Wubbzy, as he is called in our house, is an animated show on Nick Jr. I, of course, had a few pressing questions, and Boyle played along. Enjoy!
Honeysmoke: What inspired Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! and all the characters in Wuzzleburg?
Bob Boyle: The initial idea for Wubbzy was inspired by a story that my niece dreamed up. When she was 8 years old, she would make up stories and I would draw them out for her. So, what is now known as Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! started off being a little 4 page comic book that we created together called Flopsy, Mopsy, and Ted.
As I developed the idea into a TV show, many things changed but I think that some of the show’s innocence and silliness stems from the fact that it started from the mind of a child. And I have a pretty child-like mind as well, so that helps.
Honeysmoke: I asked Simone and Nadia to tell me what Wubbzy is. Simone said, “It’s hard to tell.” Nadia said, “He’s a Wow! Wow!” I’ve got my own ideas. Is Wubbzy a squirrel?
A squirrel is a very popular guess. But, no, he’s not a squirrel. Wubbzy is Wubbzy. He’s not a creature that we have ever seen before. I didn’t want to create characters that were known animals because there are certain traits that we tend to associate with specific animals. I also think that helps to make them stand out as ‘original’ characters.
Plus, it’s really great to have kids (and parents) use their imaginations to think about what the characters are. One kid thought that Wubbzy was made of marshmallows!
Honeysmoke: A lot of studies say preschool children should watch little, if any, television. Do you think Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! enriches preschool kids or is it geared for a little older audience?
Bob Boyle: Wubbzy is made to entertain preschool kids while delivering them a positive message about life. Unlike shows such as Dora, we are not a curriculum based show. We are not trying to teach kids to count or get them to learn another language. The stories in Wubbzy tend to deal with social or behavioral issues such as sharing, appreciating others, and generally being a good person. We don’t want to be preachy or heavy handed so we try to create stories that are imaginative and fun for the kids to watch but still have a good lesson. And I think because of that, many parents actually are able to sit down and enjoy the show with their children.
Honeysmoke: The lyrics are so simple and to the point. How do you cover such complex issues — lying, keeping your hands to yourself, differences — in such short, succinct songs? Do you consult with experts?
Bob Boyle: No, there are no experts involved. Usually, I just think about whatever the theme of the song is and try to simplify it into what I think might make for a catchy good chorus. When I am writing the lyrics for the rest of the song, I am always thinking about whether or not they will translate into fun visuals. That’s where it really helps to be an artist as well as a writer.
But the songs wouldn’t be anything without the super duper talents of Brad Mossman, the composer and singer of the songs. He has a magical ability to take my silly lyrics and turn them into a super catchy pop song.
Honeysmoke: I have to ask you. Beyonce appeared on the show in April. What was it like working with her?
Bob Boyle: She was very busy recording her latest album at the time so we were very fortunate that she was able to take the time to work with us. It was such a great experience. She was unbelievably nice and a real pleasure to work with. It was her first time doing a voice for a cartoon so she was a bit nervous at first. But once she got comfortable, she had a lot of fun with it and did a great job. She’s a real pro!
She also sings a song in the show. It was quite a thrill to have someone with her talent and stature to record a song that Brad and I had written and composed for her. We also paid homage to her husband Jay-Z during one of the episodes. Wubbzy briefly takes on a ‘cool’ persona and changes his name to Wubb-Z. That’s one for the parents!
Honeysmoke: What is next for Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!?
Bob Boyle: We are just starting to discuss what might be next for Wubbzy. It will probably involve more guest stars visiting Wuzzleburg. Last year, in addition to Beyonce, we had TV Handyman Ty Pennington, Football Star Tiki Barber, and Olympian Michelle Kwan all do guest spots. It’s always fun to see how we can make the characters fit into our cartoon world.
In the meantime, my first children’s book will be published March 23rd by Random House. It’s called Hugo and the Really, Really, Really Long String. So in the next few months, I’ll be doing some author visits to schools, libraries, and book stores across the country.
Motherhood is a daunting task without all of the input from others. In my quest to be aware of what I am up against, I clicked on a piece about body image. Those who have older girls may want to take a look at this Newsweek gallery. Unattainable Beauty: The Decade’s Most Egregious Retouching Scandals shows just how far editors will go to promote the beauty ideal. The photos of Madonna, Beyonce and others are striking, and the slideshow touches on everything from wrinkles, to dimples to skin color. Check it out.