Ken Pontac was born in Glendale Memorial Hospital on May 22, 1957, or raised by electric eels in Peru, depending on whom you want to believe. His early childhood was colored by a series of incidents too remarkable and bizarre to recount fully in this brief text, but by the age of three the course of his life was to be set forever; young Kenny was determined to become the thirty-seventh president of the United States. The landslide election of Richard Milhouse Nixon in 1969 shattered these ambitions, however, and caused him instead to choose a career in art. He began doodling at an early age, and was told by his parents that he should draw something besides monsters.
When he was seven years old, Pontac met David Bleiman, and the two youngsters began an unbroken friendship that would span thirty-seven (so far) years. David, against his parents wishes, also drew monsters.
Pontac and Bleiman endured elementary school, junior high school, and high school together. Of these years, very little is remembered, but it was here that Pontac learned to question authority; and where he and Bleiman ran the yearbook, the school newspaper, and managed to draw an awful lot of monsters.
The pair finally ended up at Art Center College of Design, a prestigious and expensive institution where they cut class for three weeks and produced their first clay-animation film, Free Taco. Although the film itself was crude and unremarkable, it was the calling card which introduced them to Art Clokey, creator of the likewise crude and unremarkable adventures of that beloved American icon, Gumby. This introduction would prove to bear fruit in the future. Pontac, an Advertising Design major, realized that graduating with a B.F.A. in advertising would almost certainly insure a career in advertising, and dropped out of school, figuring to somehow break into the World Of Animation, where he would be allowed to draw monsters for money.
Meanwhile Bleiman, who had graduated with a major in film, had already broken into the World Of Animation by getting a job at Filmation Studios as a storyboard artist for such classic films as Sport Billy and Flash Gordon, where he was able to draw monsters for money.
Bleiman, then Pontac, soon found themselves employed at Midocean Motion Pictures, one of the many effects houses that sprung up in Hollywood during the late 70's. For the next seven years Pontac was a Migrant Film Worker, designing and directing for effects companies such as Robert Abel and Associates, Filmfair, and Doug Trumbell's Showscan Corporation. Pontac's commercial work included spots for Coca Cola, Norelco, Shell Oil (for which he is still paying a karmic debt), and other national clients. It was during this period that Pontac and Bleiman created characters and animation for B-52's singer Fred Schneider's music video Monster In My Pants.
In 1987, Pontac and Bleiman moved to the Bay Area to work on the New Adventures of Gumby. After a year and a half as Art Director on the project, Pontac (along with Bleiman, who was working as Line Producer) realized that the real money (and fun) was to be had in working on self-created projects. Utilizing the talent pool they had gathered for Gumby, the pair produced a two-minute promo film introducing their characters: The Danger Team. The film generated a remarkably positive response in the Hollywood film community. A sleazy producer tried to rip the property off, somebody else tried to sue them, and Lorimar brought the property to ABC, where it became a prime time pilot (and Pontac and Bleiman became Danger Productions). Although the pilot suffered from a weak script (Pontac and Bleiman didn't write it) and was not picked up, the stop-motion animation received very positive reviews, and pair were contracted by Lorimar for a term deal. They spent the next year producing ideas and scripts, but no further pilots, and at the end of the year were free to develop other projects for themselves. They soon started to draw pictures of monsters...
But not for a television show! For the next year or so Danger Productions created characters and produced digitized stop-motion animation for video games. Their first project, Harley's Humongous Adventure, featured the crazed monsters that have since become their trademark, and laid the groundwork for their next project: Clayfighter. Based on the popular fighting games currently under scrutiny by the fun police, Clayfighter featured big, clay animated characters whacking away at each other with cartoon mallets and pies instead of guns and knives. "No blood and guts...just goo!" was the catch phrase for this game, and the parents and children of America responded with wild enthusiasm. Clayfighter became one of Nintendo's hit games of 1994, inspiring a Sega Genesis version, a tournament edition, and two sequels: Clayfighter II and Clayfighter 63 1/3 for the Nintendo 64. Danger Productions also produced the animation for EA's MLBPA Baseball game, which was a top ten seller nationwide upon its release. During this time, Danger Productions was developing ideas for shows to pitch to the networks for children's programming. They started to draw pictures of the monster.
The monster's name was Mr. Bumpy, and the first network he was brought to was ABC. The network's response to the character was so enthusiastic that a development deal was struck in the room. Mr. Bumpy and his show, Bump In The Night, had found a home his first day in Hollywood, October 26, 1992. The next Saturday was Halloween. Everybody was drawing monsters.
Danger Productions swelled into a thirty-five-thousand square foot production facility with nearly one hundred artists, craftspeople, and animators working under its roof. Pontac and Bleiman were not only busy as Executive Producers, Directors, and Writers for the show, but were developing other properties as well (some of which involve drawing monsters).
When Mr. Bumpy made his first appearance on ABC on the separators for the 1993 Children's season, Pontac received a phone call from his mother. "Jeez, Ken," she told him, "You've been drawing that thing since you were a kid!"
And he'll never stop.
In addition, Pontac and Bleiman have directed and produced a stop-motion Christmas special for Will Vinton Studios, The Online Adventures of Ozzie the Elf, as well as developing a computer animated action series, Metal City P.D. They have also produced animation of intelligent agents for Microsoft's Office ‘97 and My Personal Tutor. Pontac has written scripts for various animated television shows and interactive CD's, while Bleiman has produced and directed at Vinton Studios for the Fox TV series, The PJ's. Pontac has recently completed directing several episodes of another Vinton-produced stop motion animated series for UPN, Gary & Mike, for which Bleiman is Supervising Director.
Pontac and Bleiman are currently developing the long form projects that continue to be the company's main focus.