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Interview with ‘We Bare Bears’ creator Daniel Chong

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Grizz, Pan Pan and Ice Bear are returning for all-new episodes of We Bare Bears on Cartoon Network. The lovable trio of brotherly bears are back to their old tricks, learning more about the world and eating everything in sight. Since the show premiered in 2015 it has gone on to win multiple awards including a BAFTA in 2016. Based on Chong’s online comic The Three Bare Bears, the show presents the escapades of three brother bears Grizzly (Eric Edelstein), Panda (Bobby Moynihan) and Ice (Demetri Martin) as they attempt to assimilate to human ways of life. We first spoke with creator Daniel Chong about the show’s origins at the Annecy International Animation Festival in 2015 (watch below):

We were able to catch up with Dan more recently and talk about the show’s development as well as what’s happening in the future for the ursine trio. 

Since you last talked to Skwigly the bears have picked up a couple of awards including a BAFTA. With a new season on the horizon how are you finding the success of the show and its ever-growing audience?

It’s been amazing; we work in a bit of a vacuum here so it’s sometime hard for us to know if it’s resonating with people. I mean, we have the internet, but I try not to look at it to much, so it’s hard sometimes to tell if people like what we’re doing or if it’s something people think is worth it. However getting the rewards has definitely been very validating and encouraging to the whole team, so we’re very grateful!

What are some of the highlights from the new season?

We Bare Bears (©Cartoon Network)

There a lot of these storylines that will highlight each bear individually. For example, we’re airing an episode where Ice Bear is a cub on his own that we’ll see wandering alone, trying to survive, and we’ll get a glimpse at what his life was like before he met the other bears. That’s going to be spring-boarding future episodes that we’ve been working on, where you’ll see the bears by themselves and where they were, leading to when they all met for the first time.
Another one, which is really exciting, is a video story, which simulates that act of going through YouTube and clicking on video after video. It’s like our version of Bears: The Musical, it’s just singing back to back! We have another one called Icy Nights that’s going to track another storyline that’s separate from the show, where Ice Bear is by himself in an action-adventure mystery story. We have more of those lined up as well!

You have a pretty impressive cast of voices for the characters; how involved were you with that?

Very involved – casting the bears was, of course, very important. We took our time to cast the right people and it worked out great! Now that I’ve gotten to know our entire cast – especially the bears – they’ve all embraced the characters and definitely helped pushed the writing in a way, as we see them improvise on the show. We’ve all met them in person and as we’ve gotten to know them and understand where they come from and understand them, we’ve written them in certain ways based on that. So they’ve informed the show in a lot of ways. We’ve also been able to add to that cast with our secondary characters; we’ve been very lucky and thrown names around the room and been fortunate to get them. It’s helped create a great family atmosphere, with all the characters and people working on the show.

As a lot of our audience work in animation I’m sure they’d like to hear what it’s like to work at Cartoon Network?

It’s definitely one of the most creatively freeing places I’ve been able to work at. I’ve worked at at least five studios prior to this – predominantly feature studios – but working at Cartoon Network has been the most liberating. They trust the artists and us to create a show that is heartfelt and personal. It’s a very collaborative show, where we all talk to one another and work on stories together, make sure we’re on the same page about what the show is going to be. That’s been one of the best things about doing the show here is to be able to work that way.

What would you like to happen in the future for the brothers? Perhaps a game or even a movie?

I don’t know, we’re working so hard on making the show and trying to survive as it moves so fast, so we don’t really have time to think outside that. I don’t play a lot of video games but my crew does and it was really exciting for them to see the bears in three dimensions, so it would be great to see that. I have thought about a movie for the bears – I think we do have a 22-minute episode screening in the UK soon, that was a nice test to see if we could handle something more long-form. It went really well and I think we want to keep doing that, exploring bigger stories.

Catch all-new episodes of We Bare Bears weekdays at 6pm on Cartoon Network.

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