Hilliard Northwest News

Animation ace settles into life as a writer

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Hilliard resident Mike Gasaway, who worked for several years as an animator and director for the popular Nickelodeon shows The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and Back at the Barnyard , has been writing children's books, teaching online courses on animation and working to obtain funding for his company, the Gasman Group, since returning to his home state in 2009.
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By ThisWeek Community News  • 

While living and working in California and Texas, Mike Gasaway won an Emmy, helped animate a feature film and directed and produced a computer-animated TV series.

The Hilliard resident decided to try his hand at a few new challenges when he came back to his home state.

Since returning to Ohio from California in 2009, the 42-year-old father of two has been writing children's books in addition to teaching online courses in animation and working to obtain funding for his company, the Gasman Group.

His current goal is to make "Wiley Wogglesmith" a household name for adolescents.

Wogglesmith is the title character in a children's novel Gasaway hopes to have published.

"Right now, I have about six readers who are giving me feedback," Gasaway said. "I don't want to self-publish the novel. It will take more work, but I want to find a publisher."

Gasaway self-published his first children's book last year, Little Mikey the Vampire Monkey, an illustrated book for the younger children.

The Spectacles of Wiley Wogglesmith, on the other hand, is intended for older children about 10 to 12 years old.

"I want to find a publisher this time," said Gasaway, adding that he desires the marketing that goes hand-in-hand with having a publishing house and an agent.

"My dream is that it would be made into a movie," he said.

The story centers on the discovery of a pair of glasses that permit the main character, an orphan named Mac, to view an alternate world, Gasaway said.

Gasaway's 13-year-old daughter, Summer, is among those getting an early peek at the novel.

Summer, a student at Heritage Middle School, said she is about half way through the 292-page novel, which her father has pared down from more than 400 pages.

"I've given him a few pointers, like making the description of the orphanage not so dull," she said. "They play dodgeball now at the beginning."

Gasaway chronicles the process on his blog, www.gasmangroup.com/blog.

While making final revisions to the novel, Gasaway also is trying to get his full vision for the Gasman Group off the ground. The company, he said, will produce story boards and other kinds of pre-production for television shows and feature films.

Gasman, he explained, is a nickname that survived from his days at the University of Cincinnati.

Gasaway, a 1988 graduate of St. Clairsville High School in eastern Ohio, was drawn to animation when he dropped out of Cincinnati's architecture program in 1993.

"I decided to take life more seriously, so I moved to Minneapolis and began computer animations," Gasaway said.

That move led to a career in the digital entertainment industry.

After making a few commercials and medical animations, Gasaway created a short film, Television Monster, that was shown at the 1996 SIGGRAPH, an electronic theater festival in Los Angeles.

It caught the attention of Walt Disney Imagineering, which offered him a job.

During three years with Disney, Gasaway animated virtual attractions at Disneyland, including the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.

Next, Gasaway went to Dallas and worked for DNA Productions as an animator for the 2001 feature film, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.

After production concluded, DNA Productions named Gasaway as one of two directors for the Nickelodeon TV series, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.

While with DNA Productions, Gasaway directed more than 16 hours of programming.

In 2006, Gasaway returned to California to work for O Entertainment.

Until 2009, he served as supervising director for Back at the Barnyard, a Nickelodeon computer-animated series. He directed 14 episodes and supervised 33.

In 2009, Back at the Barnyard earned a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class Animated Program.

Gasaway said he was disappointed to learn then that it would cost him $800 for a certificate marking the occasion. Obtaining a replica of the Emmy Award was not offered.

So Gasaway relies on his memories, which include meeting host Alex Trebek and musician will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas.

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