Elmer Earl "Butch" Hartman IV (born January 10, 1965) is an American animator, writer and actor, best known for the many, many shows he has created for Nickelodeon from 1998 to 2018.
Like many great animators from The Renaissance Age of Animation, Hartman is a graduate of the California Institute of The Arts. He managed to snag his first animation job between his first and second years as an inbetweener on An American Tail.
After graduation, he was hired as a storyboard artist on My Little Pony... then fired six weeks later. He spent a few years at Ruby-Spears before moving on to Hanna-Barbera, a studio he was a huge fan of. Starting as a model designer, Hartman quickly rose through the ranks to being a director on four of Cartoon Network's first five original shows, eventually becoming one of the key staff writers on Johnny Bravo alongside a young Seth MacFarlane (Dr. Elmer Hartman on Family Guy was named after him). He also worked on multiple shorts for the What A Cartoon! Show, one of which, Phish and Chip, was one of the only shorts not spun off into it's own show to receive a sequel short (Hartman also voiced Chip).
Hartman moved on to Nickelodeon as soon as his contract with HB expired to work on a slightly similar show, Oh Yeah! Cartoons. There, he created several shorts that would eventually become The Fairly Oddparents, one of the station's longest running shows (the Oh Yeah! shorts were retroactively named "Season Zero"). In fact, something else Hartman and MacFarlane have in common: their animated shows are the only ones to ever get Un-Canceled twice. Hartman has since produced three more shows for the station, Danny Phantom, T.U.F.F. Puppy and Bunsen Is a Beast, making him second to Klasky-Csupo as Nick's most prolific creator. In 2018, he parted ways with the company after twenty years of employment, assuring fans that he was still hard at work on new shows while making videos for his YouTube channel. He would also make a return to Cartoon Network for the action comedy Dynamice!... or at least attempted to. CN changed a lot since he last worked there and the pilot wasn't picked up, leaving him in a bit of limbo for the time being. At the current he makes Youtube vids talking about his career and topics of animation in general (read more on that below).
Hartman's cartoons are instantly recognizable: visually, his character designs tend to be angular and have thick outlines. Most notable is that his are the few characters in TV animation to have colored eyes rather than black circles. Writing wise, expect the characters to be so self-aware that you might be asking them if they are holding up the fourth wall, as well as including a healthy dose of pop culture references, both modern and not so modern.
In February 2021, Hartman returned to Nickelodeon as a producer for The Fairly OddParents: Fairly Odder, a live-action/animated Sequel Series to The Fairly OddParents!. It was released on Paramount+ on March 31st, 2022.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Hartman is admittedly one of the few who isn't at all interested in creating cartoons for adults, and has often expressed his disappointment in other animators for implying that there is anything wrong with cartoons that are exclusively for children. He even has a pet project Noog Network, an app which hosted exclusively "kid safe" shows. Regardless of one's agreement with him, it is clear that the career path he has chosen suits him.
Hartman has also had a fairly steady career as an actor, both in voices and live-action. In addition to some one-shot characters on his friend Seth's show, he was a regular on Days of Our Lives in the late '80s, and starred in the short-lived Generations as Sean Masters, as well as a smattering of small roles in late 80s/early 90s comedy films and shows. He was also part of the video reference cast for Disney's Pocahontas.
Hartman has also been a regular web presence in the second half of The New '10s, with semi-regular videos on YouTube giving career advice, doing live drawing sessions and interviewing fellow talents he's worked with. He is also producing a Web Animation series spin-off of the children's YouTube channel HobbyKidsTV, HobbyKids Adventures.
Since 2005, Butch and his wife Julieann have been running a Christian non-profit organization called Hartman House, which funds housing for the most poverty-stricken parts of the United States and provides homeless families with dinners during Thanksgiving. Butch has attended many of these events, doing personal drawings and autographs for charity.
No relation to Phil Hartman, by the way.
Tropes related to Butch Hartman:
- Adam Westing: Not Butch himself, but he and Seth MacFarlane were the Trope Codifiers in bringing Adam West and his titular trope to animation, first is the Johnny Bravo episode "Johnny Bravo Meets Adam West" and later on their individual shows as Mayor West and Catman, respectively.
- Author Appeal: Absolutely loves superheroes and the comic books they came from, which is visible by how many references he makes to them in his cartoons.
- Better than a Bare Bulb: The humor in his earlier cartoons is extremely self-aware, with characters frequently acknowledging the absurdity of the situation they're in.
- Breakthrough Hit: The Fairly OddParents! is what sent his career into high gear, starting 20 years of influence on childhoods everywhere.
- Contractual Obligation Project: Inverted. Rather than being under contract to do another cartoon while he was working on The Fairly OddParents!, Hartman willingly pitched his idea for Danny Phantom to the execs when he heard they were looking for a boys' action cartoon.
- Creative Differences: Such issues in Danny Phantom caused him and his longtime companion, Steve Marmel, to stop working together.
- Creator Backlash:
- He doesn't have much nice to say about the Same Language Dub he wrote for Doogal, if his answer to Pan Pizza is any indication."They hired me to fix that movie, it could not be fixed."
- He and most of the staff for The Fairly OddParents! have gone on record saying they agree with fans who hated the episode "It's a Wishful Life" that it was needlessly cruel. Hartman eventually got the episode pulled from rotation.
- He's very open about his disdain on his role as a storyboard artist for the original My Little Pony series, though he's more than willing to poke fun at himself for being so bad at drawing ponies that he was fired after six weeks.
- He doesn't have much nice to say about the Same Language Dub he wrote for Doogal, if his answer to Pan Pizza is any indication.
- Creator Cameo: He often lends his voice to minor characters on the shows he created.
- Creator's Oddball: Many are surprised to learn of Butch's voice role as the flamboyant Mr. Weed in the early episodes of Family Guy; despite his own shows being aimed primarily towards children. He reportedly voiced the character as a favor from his friend Seth MacFarlane.
- Deadpan Snarker: He comes across as one in some of his videos.
- End of an Age: His departure from Nickelodeon after working there for over 20 years marks the end of his overall style and influence on the channel, effectively killing off Fairly OddParents and Bunsen is a Beast in the process as well as ending any chances of the long-discussed Danny Phantom revivalnote . It also came at roughly the same time as Dan Schneider, which signaled a similar end for Nick's Kid Coms.
- He Also Did: Provided early concept art for Crash Bandicoot during his time at Hanna-Barbera.
- Let's See YOU Do Better!: Being a borderline workaholic (see Renaissance Man below), Butch has often been at odds with fans who don't find him very sympathetic to anything less than his level of dedication to their art and not very accepting of their criticisms of him.
- Meaningful Name: The name of his production company "Billionfold Inc" comes from the biblical term hundredfold.
- Mythology Gag: In his speed-drawing video ADULT CARTOONS as KIDS' CARTOONS, one of the requests was for Bojack Horseman as a My Little Pony character. He chuckles halfway through when he mentions that he worked on the original cartoon, though he draws it in the Friendship Is Magic style.
- Odd Friendship: With Seth MacFarlane, as the two are close friends in real life, yet have drastically different views in terms of religion, politics, and even their taste in animation.
- One of Us: A very major geek when it comes to other franchises outside his own, be they from other cartoons, video games, and even anime. His Twitter account is chock-full of examples of everything he likes drawn in his Fairly OddParents! style.
- Production Posse: Voice actors that have been involved consistently in his cartoons include Grey Delisle, Rob Paulsen, Tara Strong, Daran Norris, Kevin Michael Richardson, Carlos Alazraqui, and Jeff Bennett.
- Real Men Love Jesus: As stated before, Butch is a practicing Christian and many of his motivational tweets have vague Christian undertones. This actually got him in a bit of trouble when his crowdfunded app, OAXIS Entertainment, was accused of using dishonest tactics to get fans to fund Christian propaganda for him (Butch's pitch for it, once it had been funded, just happened to be in a church and he later assured founders that this had not been the case).
- Renaissance Man: Outside of animation and his personal life as a husband and father; Butch is also a painter, cartoonist, vlogger, podcast host, web personality, live-action actor, voice actor, occasional composer, scriptwriter/editor, comic book author, philanthropist, creator of the kid-friendly app "The Noog Network", and is currently planning to develop a family streaming network called OAXIS Entertainment. It's enough to make people like Fred Seibert wonder if the man even sleeps at night.
- Rule 34 – Creator Reactions: Simply put, it's not positive. He accuses those who draw porn of Danny Phantom characters and shippers in general of not being true fans. He even went as far as to accuse a toon porn artist on his forum of attempting to seduce an underage female user.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Mostly on the idealistic end of the scale, with a generous helping of Black Comedy.
- Take That!:
- This passive remark in his Powerpuff Girls 10 Years Later video.Butch: Ember is fighting Bubbles, Bubbles is fighting Ember, and what I hear about the new Powerpuff Girls is that the show fights off comedy.
- On Twitter, he took a shot at Logan Paul. The internet proceeded to respond appropriately.
- He also doesn't hide his disdain for amateur artists with non-traditional work ethics. See Let's See YOU Do Better!
- This passive remark in his Powerpuff Girls 10 Years Later video.
- That Came Out Wrong: In 2018, shortly after leaving Nickelodeon, his crowdfunded app, OAXIS Entertainment, was the subject of a minor scandal when fans and non-fans alike latched onto some tactless comments he made giving a speech about it. In addition to the typical Moral Guardian jargon of too much violence in the media resulting in real-world violence, depression and suicide, and how such things "didn't exist" when he was younger, some unfortunate wording and body language made it sound like he blamed Tara Strong for Mary Kay Bergman's suicide in 1999. He was also accused of deleting any criticisms of him via copyright claims.
- Trolling Creator: Hartman repeatedly tends to tease the idea of a Danny Phantom revival even after he left Nickelodeon. Despite being the creator, he does not have the copyright to the series and even if Nickelodeon decided to do one they're free to not work with him on it.
- What Could Have Been:
- At one point, he was in talks to direct a live-action movie of ALF.
- He was offered to be a storyboard writer for SpongeBob SquarePants, but declined when The Fairly OddParents! became successful enough to become a full series.
- According to art by Stephen Silver, Butch Hartman attempted another superhero cartoon after Danny Phantom called "Triple Threat", which detailed a family of African American superheroes.
- For a time, he was planning to make an Animesque series called Elf Detective, which was meant to be a more serious series compared to his previous works. However, the OAXIS kickstarter happened and work on Elf Detective was cancelled since it wouldn't fit the more family friendly tone of the platform.
- He pitched an action-comedy series to Cartoon Network called Dyna Mice. The network executives were only willing to pick it up if it were a comedy only series. The pilot that was produced didn't exactly win people over.