ROCKLAND, Maine — Known throughout Maine and beyond for the 'Temp Tales' series of cartoon videos ("The Great Lost Strain," "Crittah Gittahz"—even a "Stahm Centah" promo), the team behind O'Chang Comics might not be who you'd expect to create musical videos for children.
But cartoonist Hanji Chang noticed her young daughter's fascination as she drew the stories of Green Bud Kelly and Donny the Grumpy Maine Dad—cartoons voiced by her husband and partner, Andy O' Brien.
"She'll be turning three in March and ever since she was born, she's been watching me animating," Chang said Monday of the couple's daughter. "Eventually, she sees it on [YouTube], although we try not to let her watch it. She recognizes Andy's voice ... She knows 'Daddy has a cartoon character.'"
At the same time, Chang had tired of the typical children's music videos.
"No disrespect to Baby Shark, but as a parent, listening to the song for the fourth time is enough," she said. "It gets really annoying."
This fall, O'Chang Comics debuted a YouTube channel, "Crocodile Rock," and debuted their first children's video, "Pack Your Bags."
They worked with a former pastor from Ontario, Josh Barbour, and his eight-year-old daughter, who sings and plays keyboard for the video.
In November, they added a second video about social distancing during the holidays, featuring the same little cat character Chang said she's fallen in love with.
'We wanted to do something that celebrated Thanksgiving, but with everything that's happening this year we wanted to do something that makes children feel good," Chang said. "With social distancing, I understand people are getting tired of it, and in some ways it's being politicized, but I just kind of wanted to spread this idea of, 'We're isolated, but you're not alone, and it kinda sucks this year to have to do this, but if we don't do this, we're going to end up doing this every year.'"
On Monday, the channel added, "Jingle Bell: Christmas Music for Kids."
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The couple's own daughter loves the videos, Chang said. In fact, the channel was named for the child's love of the Elton John song, "Crocodile Rock."
"Every morning when she wakes up, she says, 'Meow Meow Christmas,' or 'Meow Meow Space Rocketship,'" she said, referring to the cat in the videos. "Every day she's excited. She says, 'Oh, Mama, you've got a new Meow Meow done. It's very exciting for her to see."
Chang hopes to continue to collaborate with artists and musicians, and is now working with Barbour on songs in different languages, as well as a video.
"The new one will be about the Mexican Axoltl salamander, which is our daughter Nora's favorite," O'Brien said.
Earlier this year, she and the artist Spose worked on a Halloween video, and his four children recorded the music, but "with the craziness of this summer," they never finished the project (they hope to have it ready for next Halloween, Chang said.
Meanwhile, O'Chang Comics is moving ahead with Temp Tales, with a new teaser for "Temp Tales: The Great Lost Strain Episode 4 (Bub)" posted Dec. 1.
"I'm super-proud of 'Temp Tales,' but in some ways it's very limited," she said. "We can't show our cartoon to our daughter, and many fans can't show them to their kids. And also, for me, ["Crocodile Rock:] is something creative—another outlet."