Welcome to the Tuesday afternoon edition of the new Beat feature, Monday Morning Funnies. This week features the YouTube tween cartoon sensation, Pubertina. Sorry for delay, but, well, you know how teenagers are. They’ve got issues! And Pubertina is no exception. Well, actually, she kind of is. Since the Shut Up! Cartoon about “Pubes,” a tweenager who’s been known to walk around with period stains on her pants, debuted, the first episode has earned an astonishing 2, 068,116 views.
Pubertina has been a huge hit for Alloy Digital and SMOSH‘s Shut Up! Cartoons. The show was one of the first Shut Up! Cartoon series to launch, with the channel making major subscriber gains right out of the gate. Additionally, ShutUp! Cartoons ranked consistently at #1 in subscriber gains Pubertina’s first week out while the channel maintains a solid slot in the Top 15 for weekly views. It’s currently the top ranked channel by subscribers (nearing 650k) among YouTube’s original channels, with total channel views that surpass 60MM.
Creator Emily Brundige adeptly and hilariously addresses some of the primary concerns of adolescence, such as crushes on teen heartthrobs, acne and tampons with ruthless compassion. You can watch Pubertina over on the Youtube and read the spinoff Pubertina comic on Gurl.com. You can also read a Q&A with Brundige below, where she chats about “Puberlievers” (Pubertina fans), the period blood taboo and the Pubertina phenomena:
Shannon O’Leary: How did ShutUp! Cartoons get in touch with you to develop Pubertina? Did they approach you or did you approach them?
Emily Brundige: Carolyn Bates, a producer for Shut Up! Cartoons, saw my first-year student film, Pubertina, at CalArts’ Experimental Animation Showcase in 2011. She approached me later that year with the idea of developing Pubertinainto a series for SMOSH. She had seen my weird videos and comics on my blog and thought I had an original but accessible sensibility.
SO: Did you already have the idea or did you develop it specifically for Shut Up! Cartoons?
EB: My student film was basically a short musical about a girl going through puberty. Since I had developed Pubertina as a short film, I did have a starting point for the web show, but I had to develop Pubertina and her world much further for the short film idea to become an ongoing series. I had a lot of fun figuring out other characters for her to interact with, and what kinds of stories I wanted to tell. It was also clear that I wanted music and song to continue to play a large role.
SO: You’ve managed to carve out quite a fan base for for Pubertina – what do you attribute that to?
EB: I created a Twitter for Pubertina early on before the series launched, and tweeted as the character. I worked hard to make her feel real via self-conscious tweets and drawings. A lot of tween SMOSH girl fans noticed her and started tweeting with her. My co-composer for Pubertina, Paul Fraser and I even recorded an original song for Pubertina fans (“Puberlievers”) which we insisted be a free download. Now she has over 6,000 followers on both Twitter and Facebook.
SO: I understand there’s been a rather virulent reaction from some teenage boys who are disturbed by a cartoon character with period blood on her pants. What’s that reaction been like for you as a creator? What do you think all the fuss is about?
EB: The Pubertinashow was my first creation to get so many views, and so fast. Not only that, but on Youtube, people are free to say whatever the f@#k they want. I probably shouldn’t have been so naive, but I didn’t expect such harsh comments and negativity. My sense of humor is definitely offbeat, but it was the subject matter (female puberty, vaginas, periods, growing breasts, etc.) that made mostly young guys (and some young girls) uncomfortable. So it goes: period blood is still wildly taboo, while graphic violence is disturbingly acceptable.
SO: But, on the other hand, you also have a really avid fan base of both girl and boy teenaged “Puberlievers.” What are some of your favorite fan interactions? What’s the most touching fan interaction you’ve had?
EB: Probably the most rewarding thing about the whole Pubertina process has been how the show and character have touched young audiences. There was backlash against it, but also a hardcore fan-base. It’s not really surprising that a show called Pubertina would have such split reactions. But the girls and boys who love it, really love it. I once posted (as Pubertina) a drawing of a symbol for Puberlievers, which was a bleeding heart. Without any instructions from me, fans started drawing in pen the bleeding heart symbol on their hands and posting pictures of them on Twitter. One girl commented on YouTube that she got her first period recently, and was humming the Tampon Song from Pubertina as her mom was helping her use a pad. An eighteen-year-old guy posted a Pubertina fan video on Youtube explaining why he loved Pubertina.
I’ve met some fans in person, at VidCon, Comic-con, and at a talk I
gave to a group of kids interested in animation, and nothing makes me more happy. I’ve been asked by friends
what my artistic goal is and how I think I’ll attain it, and I feel lucky to answer that I already have with Pubertina. For me, making art and films isn’t just to satisfy personal expectations of myself as an artist, it’s to contribute in some way to greater audiences. The fact that Pubertina has made puberty easier for some girls is a perfect example of this.
SO: When is Pubertina’s second season coming out? Where can people find it?
EB: Season 2 isn’t officially happening yet, but there’s still a chance it will. I hope fans can be patient and for now enjoy the Pubertina comic strip I write each week for Gurl.com, which my pal Josh Herron illustrates. It comes out every Sunday.