It’s been a while since I rummaged through some of my older boards and sketches hidden in the inner recesses of my garage. There are good memories stashed there and much that remains to be scanned and catalogued. I hope to continue to unearth these buried ruins in times to come.
I often feel like an archeologist of my own remains as if I was already my own posthumous compiler and biographer. But what is more surprising to find are the traces of work that has been lost, where nothing but a memory remains of what once was and is no more. Alas! Not all of our best work is destined to survive the storm of the decades. But when you have no exterior object, no material evidence, nothing but a memory, the memory itself becomes a kind of object—a psychic phenomenon that stands before the mind’s eye.
A Very Special Family Guy Freakin’ Christmas was in production all through the summer of 1999. Twentieth Century Fox had its own operation in North Hollywood but it had enlisted the help of Bob Kurtz who headed his own studio Kurtz and Friends. I had already worked with Bob on some other projects but assisting him directly as a young storyboard artist was certainly a highlight of my young career.
I remember the way Bob would do all his work on little post-its, which he did at home the previous night. It was my job to turn these post-its into full-blown storyboards with camera directions, dialogue and action notes well organized. Although it took me a full week to master the models and their limited range of motion, Bob really liked my work as I began to understand the complex choices he had made so simply in those post-its. Bob approved vigorously and even hired my younger brother, Yorland Téllez, to work along with us doing storyboard clean-up. Hence, Bob has the rare honor of having hired both Norland and Yorland Téllez for a single production!
But Alas, none of that work survived. What a shame! And yet, not all is lost—I still had with me the vivid memory of the experience. So I set out to reconstruct the sequence that I most remember working on: Lois finally snaping and going on a violent rampage across town! But rather than pretend I can match a Bob Kurtz storyboard verbatim, I decided to let myself go with a fresh take on this sequence, thus making the sequence my own. Hence I do not claim that these are Bob Kurtz’ storyboards but he is there in as much as his intention made it to the screen.
If truth be told, however, I am not sure how much of Bob’s original ended up in episode 16 of the 3rd season of Family Guy, which aired on Dec 21st 2001 as A Very Special Family Guy Freakin’ Christmas. For I remember there was much back and forth between Bob’s studio and Twentieth Century Fox. So I am not sure Bob himself would take credit for what ended up in the episode released in DVD in 2008.
I put all this effort in bringing back this sequence because it constitutes an absolute climax of the episode, one of the funniest things on tellez-vision history.
I know I went a little overboard (no pun intended) with this rendition of It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) but I could not help myself. I really wanted to evoke the original ambience of the iconic scene in which George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) decides NOT to jump off that fateful bridge. In this metafictional moment Lois walks in as a potential danger to herself and others.
Finally, I decided to add a further level of cross-reference to the scene by invoking the moment in which Darth Vader kills Emperor Palpatine. Did any of you get that?
Checkout more storyboards at my storyboard page—click here.