Elmer Earl "Butch" Hartman IV (born January 10, 1965) is an American animator, writer and actor, best known for the many, many shows he's created for Nickelodeon. He worked there from 1998 until February 2nd 2018.
Like many great animators from The Renaissance Age of Animation, Hartman is a graduate of California Institute of The Arts. He managed to snag his first animation job between his first and second years 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, including one of the only ones to get a sequel, Phish and Chip, for which Hartman voiced one of the main characters.
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 Uncanceled twice. Hartman has since produced three more shows for the station, Danny Phantom, Tuff Puppy and Bunsen Is a Beast, making him second to Klasky-Csupo as Nick's most prolific creator. Nothing, however, can last forever, and in February 2018, Hartman announced his resignation from the company after 20 years of employment. Hartman quickly assured that he was still working on projects, saying that he is currently developing a show named Elf Detective for his YouTube channel, as well as working with Cartoon Network on another show called Dynamice!.
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're holding up the fourth wall, as well as a healthy does of pop culture references, both modern and not so modern.
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's 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's clear that the career path he's 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.
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.
In July 2018, he suffered a case of Internet Backdraft over a crowdfunded streaming service he created, called Oaxis Entertainment, after he was perceived to be dishonest with the purpose of his campaign. note As well as several comments that have been perceived as tactless.note
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.
- Creator Cameo: He often lends his voice to minor characters on the shows he created.
- 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 revival.
- Lull Destruction: A lot of his works are very loud and hectic.
- 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 animation.
- Older Than They Look: It's easy to forget that he is in his 50s.
- Real Men Love Jesus: As stated before, Butch is a practicing Christian and many of his motivational tweets have vague Christian undertones.
- Renaissance Man: Outside of animation; Butch is also a painter, cartoonist, vlogger, podcast host, web personality, live action actor, stand-up comedian, occasional composer, script 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.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Mostly on the idealistic end of the scale.
- Something Completely Different: His upcoming cartoon that he is doing for his own network, Elf Detective, is a much more serious, anime-inspired cartoon.
- Take That!:
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.
- This passive remark in his Powerpuff Girls 10 Years Later video.
- On Twitter, he took a shot at Logan Paul. The internet proceeded to respond appropriately.