Animated Black Family Sitcom

Animated Black Family Sitcom

©2004–present James H. Vipond

Stop using 1337-speak!
I did not create the animation above. I found it in a forum at Giant in the Playground.

Minerva and Max Watch the free online documentary Fiat Empire!

This is a revision of a concept I originated in early 1995, after observing two concurrent trends in prime-time television: animated sitcoms and sitcoms with black actors. I originally wanted to use the characters in a newspaper comic strip, but I was told that animation would be a better bet. I myself have no direct African ancestry, nor am I currently acquainted with any black families. I wish to offer both this project, tentatively titled Min & Max, and The Easy Breather to NBC⁠Universal or else produce both projects independently.

With ABFS programs on the Disney Channel, Fox, Nick at Nite and Cartoon Network, I am seeking some element to make my project stand out. Here is one possibility: Establish the characters with a few linear stories, and then produce an interactive DVD that enables parents and youth together to create and share original stories featuring Minerva and her family. I created prototype images on a PowerPC Macintosh with Poser 4.03 for Mac OS, and am now using a 2013 Mac mini with Poser 11, which I understand is better suited to animation. I would like to cast Walter Hopewell as Max and Kyle Walker and Cynthia Jones-Taylor as Minerva and Valerie.

The Walker family is featured in this webcomic story. This project has nothing to do with the 2016 Chinese romantic comedy film that is also titled Min & Max.

The Characters

Character names and descriptions are subject to change.

The mother, Minerva Gail Sullivan Walker, is the family’s stabilizing force. She is in her early 40s, works as a bank loan officer and belongs to a women’s group in her LCMS congregation. Physically, the short-haired Minerva is attractive and well dressed. (I think Minerva rather resembles CCH Pounder from The Shield.) She and her family do their best to defy all stereotypes attached to African people. Learn more about this rare feminine name.

Her husband, Graham Maxfield “Max” Walker, is the head of household and manages the group of one-story houses his family shares with other families; he could be a professional massage therapist as well. Except for a short mustache, Max has no discernible hair on his body. He and Minerva have hired tutors to educate their children at home, but they do not necessarily distrust secular schools; rather, they wish to empower their children to cope in a society that has all but abandoned Christian principles.

Valerie Grace, age 12, is the more athletic of the Walker children. Her favorite activities include in-line skating, Internet Relay Chat and basketball. Her 10-year-old brother, Kyle Graham, enjoys pinball, stage magic and Java programming. He plays aquatic sports in the summer and hockey in the winter. Like many siblings, Valerie and Kyle have a love-hate relationship. They resemble their parents (albeit with more hair). They also are responsible students. I have created a picture of the Walkers on summer vacation at the beach, using DAZ Studio, Enhance™ 4.0.2 and OmniGraffle 3.2.4, all for Mac OS.

Although the Walkers own their own home in an ethnically diverse neighborhood (they live next door to a Nordic couple), there are other African families living near them. While dealing with many of the problems of modern American society, the Walkers take a light-hearted but unpretentious approach to the Gospel of Christ.

Raymond Keith Fowler and his 6-foot 3½-inch amazonian wife, Andrea Joyce Rethke Fowler, the Walkers’ neighbors, are a voluntarily childless couple; in winter they play jazz, and in summer they enjoy the beach. Andrea’s large head, however, is more an indicator of high intellect than of conceit. As far as occupations are concerned, Raymond could be a landscape designer and Andrea could be a supermarket cashier.

Minerva’s supervisor at the bank is Alan Strickland, and her co-workers have yet to be identified. Minerva does her best to satisfy Mr. Strickland, and he tries to defy the “sadistic boss” stereotype of decades past.

Recurring characters might include Madison Springfield, a snobby rich girl who considers herself superior to Valerie, and Madison’s widowed mother, who shows an equally condescending attitude toward Minerva. I hope also to feature the pastor of the Walkers’ church.

Episode Plots

  1. Minerva must deal with a customer who is behind in loan payments.
  2. Max catches Valerie downloading sexually explicit photographs of black men: actors, athletes, amateur models, etc.
  3. Kyle is attracted to a girl who is part of a Muslim refugee family from northern Sudan.
  4. Minerva becomes a contestant on a new pilot for Inspiration, Please!.
  5. Valerie babysits a rebellious child. I used this plot as the basis for a three-part webcomic story.
  6. Minerva, hoping to impress her boss, tries to bake a soufflé in a noisy environment.
  7. Minerva and Andrea are partners on a game show similar to Friend or Foe?. (Note: Unlike most instances of game shows crossing over to sitcoms, this episode would not be fully scripted; rather, the game would be played spontaneously, and the only editing would be for time, without affecting the outcome. This would be possible with real-time animation à la Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.)
  8. Minerva declines an offer she considers too good to be true (e.g., an offer for a free tablet computer); she discovers later not only that the offer was legitimate, but also that a friend of hers actually benefited from it.
  9. After being scolded for his excessive video gaming, Kyle invites three friends over for a tabletop role-playing game session. Just after they get started, Minerva comes along and disrupts the game.

Content Standards

In devising a companion series to The Easy Breather, I decided not to rehash Bible narratives, but to do mildly humorous stories accessible to all ages and conforming to everyday expectations. I came up with these standards:
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