A few weeks after the David Feiss interview went up, Platypus Comix started getting repeated Facebook posts from somebody named Pilar MenÚndez. The name rang a bell but I couldn't place it. Where did I hear that name before? Then it dawned on me. "Oh, riiiight.....Feiss's ex-wife....." Uh-oh.
She wanted an interview of her own. Pilar insisted that she had a larger role in the production of some of Dave's cartoons than Dave admitted she did, that he deliberately obscured some facts regarding her, and that we needed to print a follow-up interview with her to get the true story of the creation of Cow and Chicken told.
Of course, if you're going to look for flattering information regarding someone, conventional wisdom says you won't find it from an ex. She made a couple remarks that were so catty I felt I had to delete them from the published version. But....that doesn't mean Dave couldn't be the liar, so who knows? With the exception of two people who were once married to each other, no one will ever know what really happened.
There's also a risk here that Dave is going to load up this page, become furious, and E-mail us again demanding another interview. (Hi Dave! Ahehheh, nice weather we're having!) He already got one, and whether he or Pilar is telling the correct version of this story is up to the reader to decide. Platypus Comix is not going to take an official side in this, nor do we have any desire to get in the middle of a domestic dispute. However, I am sure of this: while plenty of people have asked for interviews from Dave in the past, and will continue to do so in the future, no one will probably ask for an interview with Pilar, and many of the bigger publications might not even listen to her Facebook protests. If this is the one chance to get an alternate side of the story out there, then we have a responsibility to print it. So John Pannozzi went back to interview Pilar, and this is what she said.
John Pannozzi: Are there any details
regarding your life prior to meeting David that you want to
share? (i.e. your family, how/why you became an artist, etc.)
Pilar MenÚndez: I was born in Zaragoza, Spain. Growing up I went to church that had a painting of Goya. I asked my grandma at age 5 or 6, Do they have women artists in Spain? My grandma didn't know, and I told her I would be one. At age 10, I was on Spanish TV because I won a sculpture contest. I drew always. Before I met David I was in Law School, University Autonoma of Madrid. I got my first job as an assistant animator for a Spanish company, Romagosa y Cruz Delgado. Once this ended, I got a job in Studios Moro doing a feature TV series, "Katy Caterpillar." It lasted one year. Then I moved to another studio, Estudios Filman, that did work for Hanna-Barbera, making The Smurfs. That's when I met David. He came to do a movie in Madrid, "The Daltons." I worked there as an assistant. Working there I met Bill Hanna, and he offered me a job in Hollywood. I didn't think twice; I left Spain and David and I traveled together to work in LA at Hanna-Barbera. That was 1982.
JP: How did you meet David and how long after that did you become a couple?
PM: I met David in 1982 and six months later we married in Reno. My son David Jr. was born on February 7, 1984. We moved from LA to Madrid because I wanted my son to be born here, to be with my father and family. Then we moved to Canada to work in Atkitsons Film Art. I love Ottawa; I was an assistant animator there. We returned to Spain and Bill Hanna offered a job to David to work in Taipei, so David, my son and I traveled there. It was a great experience. At James Wang Studios, David worked on the Jetsons movie, but I left to Madrid because my son was very little. David stayed 2 more months. We stayed in Madrid for a year, but the unemployment there was very high and we decided to move back to California. We settled in Sacramento where David's family was.
JP: Prior to Cow & Chicken, had you collaborated on any projects with David, or done anything in the animation/entertainment world without him?
PM: The reason I met David was, he was an animator here in Madrid and I was his assistant animator. We became friends; my English was not that good.
JP: You're officially credited for the story of the Cow & Chicken pilot "No Smoking" along with David and Sam Kieth, but what do you feel was the true extent of your contributions to the conception of Cow & Chicken and the making of its pilot? Any recollections of working on the pilot and coming up with certain ideas for it? (David says you came up with the idea of Super Cow speaking Spanish, anything else you remember?)
PM: In 1988, my daughter was born in northern California and at that time I was more centered on my kids. I did work at that time in a feature for Ross Bagdasarian, doing assistant animation from Sacramento, and with Michael Sporn in New York from Sacramento. In 1996, I started to go to school. I wanted to graduate in Art Studio and Art History. I went to UC Davis and I graduated with honors. It was during this time when Cow and Chicken was born.
JP: How involved were you with Cow & Chicken when it went to series? I see you wrote the episode "Me an' My Dog"; were there any other episodes you were involved with?
PM: We got a studio in Orangevale, and one day I went there and I found David very depressed. He was working for DIC and got fired on the phone. I told him, Dont worry, we can come up with a story together." He told me Cartoon Network was looking for ideas for a pilot, and I told him this was our opportunity. It is my character to not be afraid of taking opportunities in life. I tried to help him.
David and I came up with the story; first the characters. I told him to get paper and he started to do some drawings. I thought we should reflect my kids' personalities. As we talked together he drew Cow and Chicken. He was not in a good mood and I told him I would color the drawings for him, and I did. This is how the storyboard was created, and he still has that storyboard. Once it was painted I told him to go to CN and do a pitch; the worst they could do was say no. We need to try, I told him. CN gave him money to do the pilot, and he did it....it took him one year or less.
I was always cooperating with him; I did stories, I did the backgrounds for the backgrounds artists, I painted the storyboard, I helped him with the voice actors. He didn't know what actor was going to do the voices. He played a record to me of the voice actors and I chose Charlie Adler because of his creativity. I asked him, could he play more than one character? And he did. I thought he was not only my partner but my friend.
When it went to series, many times David asked me for ideas for new episodes, so I sat there on the kitchen table and told him. The stories were never written scripts. I was credited on No Smoking, Folsom Blues, Orthodontic Police, and Me and My Dog -- I had 6 stories besides the pilot idea. It was our story, our kids, my smoking problem, our trips, etc. We were nominated for an Emmy award, and I sat next to Ted Turner and Jane Fonda.
The problems with me started when Entertainment
Weekly did an article about him. He was on the cover, and he said
we created the cartoon together, but he said "my wife and
I." It was in 1998 when Time Warners lawyers called
me. Because I was doing all this work for free, not for Union,
the lawyer told me that I needed to gave up my rights because he
signed an agreement about said rights. I told the lawyer that I
should be compensated or acknowledged. I never was. After this
telephone confrontation, I did not hear from Time Warner and it
was later when David changed the story that he came up with the
idea, telling a story to my daughter. That is simply not true.
Time Warner and David Feiss got rid of me, but I was fully
involved in the creation and development of Cow and Chicken.
JP: Were you involved with I Am Weasel at all?
PM: I was not involved with I Am Weasel.
JP: You're officially credited with the original concept for Dave's 1999 Cartoon Network pilot "Lost Cat." How did you come up with the idea, and how much did you flesh it out as a script/outline/storyboard with David?
PM: It was my last year at Davis, and I drove a long distance everyday to Davis from Roseville. One day, driving, I realized every American is looking for a cat, or that was what they thought, and I started with that idea. Also, my painting teacher in Davis was Wayne Thiebaud, and I knew he started in animation. I thought would be a good idea to get him involved in the project. I talked to Wayne and he liked the idea, and he did fantastic backgrounds which are in his possession today. I introduced Wayne Thiebaud to David. David did the pilot, but it was canceled as a project. It was my idea and David does not own the rights.
JP: Are there any other animation/entertainment projects you've worked on (without or without David) that I should know about, besides what's on your IMDb profile?
PM: My profile is on LinkedIn; I worked in Madrid with a Spanish painter Antonio Lopez lately and I copyrighted another story for animation with the WGAW.
JP: Not to get messy, but are you still on good terms with David?
PM: Well, the divorce took three years, 14 court appearances from his part. The idea was getting me exhausted; it was very rough.
No, I am not on good terms with David. He wanted to take everything from me, self-esteem, money, friends, copyrights, but he did not. I am a very happy person, and able to paint everyday and enjoy life. I am very lucky and fortunate.
JP: Have you married or had any more children since then?
PM: No, I am not married or have any children. I have a partner.
JP: Tell me about your art projects/exhibits? Any memorable moments from your time as a fine artist?
PM: Yes, memorable moments. I was admitted in the gallery of Antonio Lopez twice since I moved to Madrid in 2008. You send pictures of your paintings, and he decides who's in. I was with a group of 20 artists from all over Spain and was working with him every day for two weeks. It was fantastic. Antonio Lopez is one of the most important contemporary artists in the world; he had an exhibition of his life work at the Thyssen Museum in Madrid.
JP: What are you working on right now?
PM: I am painting almost every day, and gardening. I write stories and once in a while, I have the urge to write poetry. I have to say that I had an uncle, Julian MenÚndez, who was a composer and the Metropolitan Museum in New York has his clarinet next to Benny Goodman. Great Honor.
JP: Any advice for aspiring artists you want to share?
PM: Yes. For the new artists in animation, if you have an idea, copyright it. Also I would like to see more women appreciated in animation. It looks like companies still pay more attention to males than females.
I dont want to give personal information about my partner and my private life. In 2010, I was working out of a studio here in Madrid, and suspiciously I got fired without any reason. Soon I found out David Feiss was working for them from Los Angeles. I am very happy right now, and I dont want anybody to get in my life. I hope you understand.
Best Wishes to all. Mis mejores deseos a todos.
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