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Libraries to debut original animated series

It’s easy to get lost in a book. Sometimes the story just sucks you in.

Ryan Bradley, marketing coordinator for Jackson County Library Services, has spent months leading development on an original animated series where that happens to the main characters — literally. And soon anyone with an internet connection will be able to watch it. The series, aptly titled “Lost in a Book,” concerns Daisy and Zak, two kids who get sucked into a book while visiting the library, resulting in an adventure through multiple genres, characters and stories as they try to make their way home.

Written by Bradley, who adds his voice to the production with library youth services coordinator Brystan Strong — and a smattering of other library employees — the series is brought to life by Massachusetts-based animator Nick Canton. The first episode will debut at 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 10, on the JCLS YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/JCLSN2K. A second episode is set to follow March 31. Cast members are scheduled to record their lines for episode three soon, and episodes three through six are planned for a spring release.

The series is intended to connect with local youth and expand their knowledge on what libraries offer.

“We really made an effort to make this about the library and its staff and the community,” Bradley says.

Daisy and Zak’s adventures take them through fantasy, mystery, science fiction and even horror. But don’t worry, the latter isn’t scary, Bradley assures.

Bradley, who has also written several novels, has had the basic idea for the series for a while, a hybrid of his love for animation and the written word. He pitched it in late 2020 as a new way to create content for children during the pandemic. The county’s 15-branch library system is currently not offering in-person browsing, but patrons can still reserve and check out books online, picking them up at the library doors.

Bradley reached out to some animators, including Canton, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based animator whose work he follows on Instagram.

“Nick was the most enthusiastic person that I talked to,” Bradley says.

Canton says he and Bradley shared a variety of interests, notably the popular “Adventure Time” cartoon series, which ran on Cartoon Network 2010 to 2018, according to the Internet Movie Database. Canton graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with an economics degree in 2008, but is now a full-time freelance animator.

“Numbers weren’t making me happy,” Canton says, adding that the first time he saw an “Adventure Time” episode was a key catalyst for his interest in animation.

Much of his prowess is self-taught, with additional knowledge gleaned from other animators he has sought out for advice.

The amount of creative control Canton says he’s been granted for the library series is what’s attracted him to the project.

“There’s this really great collaboration where (Ryan and I) are doing the parts that we love,” Canton says. “It’s simultaneously having a clear section that you’re working on but being able to dip into other parts.”

Bradley writes the scripts for the 3-1/2-minute episodes and goes over them with Canton. Then he, Strong and others record in the library. They always try for the quietest rooms, Bradley says. The cast has had to record all lines separately, trying to abide by social distancing guidelines during the pandemic, with Canton cutting the lines together to make dialogue.

Recording separately has been a challenge, Strong says. She had originally volunteered her voice for the endeavor after Bradley pitched it.

“I wish we could all record together, but I think we’re overcoming that,” she says. “It’s such a small thing in the grand scheme of this project that we’re doing. It doesn’t take away from the experience.”

Voice work for Bradley feels like a natural extension of being a parent, a pastime in which he already is well versed when making silly voices from reading to his son.

“It’s so much fun to bring those things into this fun project for work,” he says.

Both Bradley and Strong hope to do more after the first six episodes wrap. Canton is interested, too.

“I’m really hoping that our patrons love it as much as we do,” Strong says.

Reach Mail Tribune web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com.

Daisy and Zak, the main characters from “Lost in a Book,” an animated series coming soon from Jackson County Library Services. Art by Nick Canton