Meet the man who created the popular character Oswald, the city-dwelling blue octopus
Who is the mind behind the blue octopus that lives in a city full of odd characters--including a bicycle-riding daisy, a trio of roller-skating paper dolls, and a polka-loving penguin?
We talked to Dan Yaccarino, author and illustrator of children's books such as Big Brother Mike and Good Night, Mr. Night, to get insight on the inspiration for the Nick Jr. series Oswald.
How did you come up with Oswald?
I wanted to create a series about a group of very disparate characters (an octopus, a snowman, a butterfly, a flower, etc.) that all live together with one character, Oswald, in its center. Oswald is the show's heart. He is you and I.
Why a blue octopus?
Because I don't think I've ever seen an octopus character on television before and wanted to do something new. Besides, I have an affinity for octopuses and blue is my favorite color.
What makes Oswald different from other children's programming?
It's very funny, simple and soulful. It's both sweet and a bit off-kilter. I really don't think there is anything on television quite like it.
What is the goal of the show?
To tell very simple stories with a good message.
How do you make sure the shows are appropriate for the audience?
We listen to our audience. We research each story to make sure that what's happening in the show is comprehensible and enjoyable to our audience.
You cast a few celebrities many parents will remember from their favorite 1970s television series. Was this intentional?
No, they just happened to be the perfect people for the roles. Our whole cast is extremely talented and now consider themselves a "family." I am so pleased to see them all get along so well. I feel very lucky to be working with so many wonderful people.
What was it like having one of your books made into a television series?
It was just magical to see Oswald come to life and walk around and then speak! I am so pleased with the way the show turned out. I've never worked with a group of more talented and dedicated people. I think the animators, designers, musicians, and actors truly enjoy working on Oswald. It is a great experience for me.
How has the transition been from writer and illustrator to television producer?
It was surprisingly easy. I am still telling a story, just in a different way.
What challenges have you faced as series producer?
To help the people working on the show understand my vision. It is perfectly clear to me inside my head and sometimes it's difficult to express. But the biggest challenge is staying true to my vision. With so many people working together, it is easy to veer off course. However, Oswald has remained true to my original idea and I am very proud of the show. It is something I want my children to watch.