For what’s starting to seem like a weekly occurrence, yet another U.S. animation studio has shut its doors, and this time it hit close to home. This week it was announced that Soup2Nuts, Boston’s largest studio, is folding after 22 years. “Soup” wasn’t a big fancy studio working on primetime TV shows or blockbuster movies, but much like Boston, it was a scrappy group that created brilliantly-written cult hits like Dr Katz and Home Movies, and later Wordgirl.
The studio gave hope to young writers, animators, illustrators, filmmakers, and actors who weren’t ready to move west and endure the bottomless talent pool in LA. Will Shepard, longtime Soup writer and producer, once likened it to the “minor leagues” (in the best possible way). The studio was a place that gave bright-eyed grads a chance to learn new skills, gain experience, and most importantly build confidence. If you watch cartoons today, you’ll see the names of many Soup alumni in the credits of well-known animated shows such as Breadwinners, Looney Toons, TRON: Legacy, Teen Titans Go!, Super Jail, Archer, and many many more.
The studio also helped launch the careers of successful writers, comedians, and creators. Loren Buchard (Bob Burgers), Brendon Small (Metalocapalyse), and John Benjamin (Archer) all got their start at Soup. Many up and coming comedians such as Louis CK, Maria Bamford, and Eugene Mirman got some of their first TV credits because of this relatively unknown animation studio in Watertown, MA. In many ways, Soup2Nuts quietly influenced “adult animation” for generations to come.
The studio’s closure is especially sad for me, because I got my start in animation at Soup2Nuts. I learned more about animation during my short two year stint than I ever thought possible. During that time, I wrote my first TV script, pitched my first ideas, and directed my first project. Soup gave me the confidence as an artist and a writer to start developing my own ideas and making them a reality. Above all, Soup fostered a community of collaboration. I worked with so many creative and talented artists and writers who taught me volumes about animation, art, design, production, writing, and comedy. These people helped shape my career and ultimately CloudKid (as well as other Boston-area studios such as Clambake and Planet Nutshell).
The Boston creative community didn’t just lose an employer. We lost a creative cheerleader, a mentor, a teacher, a lottery ticket, and a shot at the big leagues.