With A Little Help From His Friends

Children's author Trevor Romain tries out DVD

With A Little Help From His Friends

If you're not a school-age kid, a member of Parent Council, or a regular reader of School Library Journal, the name Trevor Romain probably means nothing to you. Romain is the based-in-Austin brains behind Cliques, Phonies, and Other Baloney, True or False? Tests Stink!, and other motivational books, brimming with goofy gags and puns, for the primary grades.

If you are a school-age kid, a member of Parent Council, or a regular reader of School Library Journal, the name HorseBack Salad probably means nothing to you. Former code monkeys who turned their severance pay from Sapient into a thriving animation business, HBS has inked videos for Patty Griffin ("Rain") and Riddlin' Kids ("I Feel Fine") and are the creators of Question Authority, a trivia game screened at the Alamo Drafthouse Village.

Combine the two, and you get three straight-to-market videos for the family: Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain, How to Do Homework Without Throwing Up, and What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies?

The videos' stars are Skye (voiced by Anna Reyes) and Jack (Eli Black, son of Chronicle Editor Louis Black), best friends and students at James Tovar Junior High – named for HBS co-founder Jimmy Tovar. Tovar and colleague Yehudi Mercado are among the animation team, a local who's-who that also includes Cinematexas alums Shea McFarland ("Cat Fight") and Max Porter ("Red Things"), Samantha Harte and Dominic Vitucci (co-instructors at the Center for Young Cinema), and Korey Coleman (film commentator and creator of Eddie the Albino Squirrel). In a playfully slapdash style, Jack and Skye contend with schoolyard toughs, geometry homework, and the loss of loved ones. A live-action Trevor Romain plays God around them, tossing out advice and scribbling helpful maxims ("Start with the hardest assign-ment!" and "Keep a journal!") amid the scenery.

Didactic? Quite. But the series maintains Romain's cornball bonhomie – booger jokes being a hit with the 10-and-under crowd – and the animators sneak little touches of offbeat visual humor here and there. The homework episode is par-ticularly ambitious, following Jack and Skye on a jungle adventure whose musical montage interlude (to Darin Murphy's "Finish Line") recalls the madcap heyday of "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?"

Elsewhere, you'll hear Lisa Tingle and Donnell "Overlord" Robinson, and local producer Carl Thiel kicks in the peppy score. Additional voices are "The kids at the Dougherty Arts Center," and how cool is that?

DVD and VHS editions go on sale in stores March 8. Until then, they're available at Romain's Web site, www.trevorromain.com.

Trevor Romain will be at BookPeople on Thursday, Jan. 13, 7pm.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Trevor Romain
Books can heal your soul and there are several ways to do so in the upcoming weeks in Austin. Also, this year's Violet Crown Award winners.

Clay Smith, Oct. 1, 1999

More Screens
Pressing the Flesh
Pressing the Flesh
The world's leading adult toy manufacturer for men wants to take the stigma out of sex

Dan Solomon, May 11, 2012

Get Schooled
Get Schooled
James Franco-produced Web series tracks UT Film students

Kimberley Jones, April 13, 2012

More by Marrit Ingman
Wonder Stories
Wonder Stories

July 25, 2008

King Corn
The film’s light hand, appealing style, and simple exposition make it an eminently watchable inquiry into the politics of food, public health, and the reasons why corn has become an ingredient in virtually everything we eat.

Nov. 9, 2007


Trevor Romain, Eli Black, Anna Reyes, HorseBack Salad

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle