For many ’90s kids, the Nickelodeon lineup was crucial to their everyday routine. A standout in the stream of animated TV shows was the series about Doug Funnie, an awkward preteen who journaled, talked to his dog and sometimes dressed up with his underwear over his pants.
From Honker Burger to the nematode swamps, the world of Doug is likely familiar to anyone who had access to Nick, and later Disney, in their youth. While the long-running animated series ended in 1999 with Doug’s 1st Movie, its creator Jim Jinkins is still pushing for a comeback: “I am far from done with Doug in my own mind.” Same here, Jim. Same here.
Anyway, check out some interesting things that you might not have known about the series before it makes that (hopeful) comeback.
The Bluffington residents’ weird and varied skin colors were thanks to a “margarita stupor.”
As fans of the show age, the Internet has been flooded with conversation about the various and unique skin tones of Doug’s neighbors and classmates. Jinkins insists it’s not a commentary on race, however. In fact, green-toned Roger and blue Skeeter were simply the products of a few too many tropical beverages.
While at a New York City Mexican restaurant with co-creator David Campbell, Jinkins said they conceptualized the tones over a “margarita stupor.”
Jinkins said that after realizing he had complete control over his character’s coloring, he really went wild.
“Now it’s time to color in the people, so you grab your eight shades of skin, you put them in your hand and start,” he told The Huffington Post. “But then I looked back up at my full set of 200 design markers and thought, ‘I’m making this up. I can do what I want to do, why stop here.’ ”
But why is the lead white? There’s no meaning behind it other than he was the first to be drawn, so his complete look was finished before Jinkins had even accepted the possibilities. “Patti is a little more thoughtful, I wanted her to have dark skin, so I picked a flesh-range color, and that can be a great tan or ethnicity, but it all just started out as an experiment in how that could go,” he told HuffPo.
And for the haters – Jinkins said he’d even go back and happily make Doug something eccentric – even magenta.
“People are certain that Skeeter is an African-American guy,” he added. “I’m like, ‘well, he’s blue!’ You put together that he’s the music guy and he does some rap stuff or several other things, great. If that’s how you see him, that’s great. It’s not a bad thing, but I never planned it. Skeeter is blue and he’s Doug’s friend.”
Before he got his own series, Doug was in a grapefruit juice commercial.
Just a few years before he hit the Nicktoon airwaves, Doug was just an “any guy” character in a juice commercial.
In a non-speaking role, the cartoon served as the spokesman in a 1988 Florida Grapefruit Growers spot (above).
Then, in 1990, Doug was joined by an early version of Porkchop in another silent spot for the USA channel. The duo stacked cartoon televisions that lit up to spell the network’s name.
Doug’s name was almost Brian.
Brian may seem like a simple, all-American moniker but for Jinkins it was just a little too fancy.
When the illustrator first began drawing his most famous character – an alter ego, of sorts – he was named Brian. It didn’t last long, however. He wanted something more in line with the plainness of his own title, a name more evocative of a “neutral, middle-of-the-road guy.”
“I just thought Brian was too fancy of a name,” Jinkins said in an interview. “So, I geared it down and started calling him Doug. If you think about what that sounds like, it sounds incredibly average, and that’s what I was trying to do: express from that point of view.”
The Dink’s last name has a secret meaning.
Aside from showing off his “very expensive!” new toys and annoying his wife, Tippingdale, Bud Dink was your average nosy neighbor. And his name reflected just that.
D-I-N-K equals “Double Income No Kids” – the lucky members of society that can afford all the fun toys and have successfully avoided the responsibility of raising offspring.
All the characters are based on people in Jinkin’s real life.
Doug was Jinkin’s way of reliving his preteen years: in fact, many of the characters were based on real people in the creator’s life.
Patti Mayonnaise was inspired by a girl named Patti that Jinkins spent his youth infatuated with. “There was a real Patti in my life whom I had a massive crush on for forever, it felt like,” he told Splitsider. “Certainly from junior high through high school.”
Roger lived down the street from the illustrator, right next to the Klotz family, Ms. Wingo was Jinkins favorite teacher, and Coach Fritz (A.K.A. Coach Spitz) was his actual football coach.
“And so anybody that was from Richmond [Jinkins’ hometown] and was from my past got sort of an extra bonus when they watched the show,” Jinkins revealed.
Jinkins had three sisters rather than Doug’s one, though, and none were anything like the over-the-top Judy. There was, however, a girl named Judy that he dated – his first relationship.
And as for Skeeter – well, that was Tommy Roberts, his BFF.
Doug’s age jump when the series moved to Disney was partly due to the loss of Billy West.
After 52 episodes on Nickelodeon, Doug jumped networks and joined Disney’s Saturday morning lineup. The switch also aged the green-vested tween from 11-and-a-half to 12-and-a-half, which partially explained the character’s deeper tone.
But it was really the loss of famed voice actor Billy West, who had gotten too big for his britches, which led to the growth spurt.
West, who also voiced both characters from Ren and Stimpy, came with a larger price tag after his years at Nickelodeon, and Disney’s budget simply didn’t have room for the star.
Tom McHugh stepped in, but not without a little fight from Jinkins to keep West on board.
“It was a deal that I just couldn’t take,” West told HuffPo. “No one was taking me seriously, and they kept sending me deal memos. And they kept saying, ‘Time is running out!’ And I kept saying, ‘I don’t care.'”
West still gets approached by fans who were impressed by his work on the show – both as Doug AND Roger.
“It’s so funny, no one ever talked about it over the years when I would go meet people at these conventions, and suddenly [there] they were,” West told Style Weekly. “A whole generation had turned. I had bikers come up to me and shake my hand: ‘Man, Doug was my whole childhood.’ It was touching.”
Originally published on November 7, 2015