Joe Murray Biography
Joseph David Murray, also known as Joe Murray, is an animator, voice actor, producer, and director. Joe is best known as the creator of the Nickelodeon show, Rocko’s Modern Life, and the Cartoon Network show, Camp Lazlo. Joe is part of the fresh crop of independent animators, who are not afraid to experiment with their creativity. Joe used his characters to openly make fun of a variety of things that we hold dear, and at the same time, made us rethink our priorities. Perhaps, this is not surprising since Joe was at one point hired as a political cartoonist, and he spent quite an amount of time making fun of Jimmy Carter.
Joe was born on May 3, 1961 in San Jose, California. He developed an interest in art since the age of three. But, it was his high school teacher, Mark Briggs, who stoked Joe’s passion for art. Joe credits Mark for teaching him “so much about my art”. By 16, Joe was already a full-time artist. He began his career as a political cartoonist with a newspaper and was later hired as a designer by an agency. Joe saved up the money he earned in this job to start his own illustration studio, Joe Murray Studios. This was in 1981 when he was still in the University. However, it wasn’t until 1986, when he joined De Anza College that he started focusing his talents on animated videos. He created several animated videos at the time, out of which The Chore became the most popular. The Chore, a two-minute video of a harried husband using a cat to inventively escape doing a chore for his wife, ended up winning him the Student Academy Award two years later.
Murray’s third independent film, My Dog Zero, was released in 1992, but got no takers. He considers it his most gratifying artistic projects because he was able to complete it despite unbeatable odds. He had no funding, no distributors, and no resources. In fact, he approached Nickelodeon with the idea for My Dog Zero, who felt that it won’t work as a show. Faced with rejection, Murray dug through his piles of sketches. Out of them, he picked the character of Heffer Wolfe, which he had used in the MTV network ID. Building on the character, Murray developed the idea for Rocko’s Modern Life. After four months, Murray received a call from Nickelodeon informing him that they liked the idea and wanted to work on a pilot. Murray was happy that with this, he finally had the funding for My Dog Zero.
After completing 4 seasons of Rocko’s Modern Life, he took a break from the industry, and focused on children’s books. His surreal work and color infused characters were an instant hit with the children. But, the animation industry kept beckoning him, and this time he sold his work, Camp Lazlo, to Cartoon Network. In 2011, Murray started his own web network, KaboingTV, where he featured some more independently developed web series. He raised the necessary funds for the project on Kickstarter. You can watch a lot of Joe’s work on TV with a subscription to DIRECTV.
Murray currently lives in Southern California with his two lovely daughters.