A Johnstown native responsible for drawing the characters of children’s cartoon series “Danger & Eggs,” recently accepted the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing in an Animated Program along with other contributors to the show, which streams on Amazon Prime.
Mike Owens helped create and is co-creator, executive producer and supervising director for the show, which stars D.D. Danger, the daughter of a stunt daredevil and her cautious best friend, a giant talking egg named Phillip, voiced by Aidy Bryant of “Saturday Night Live,” and Eric Knobel respectively.
“Danger & Eggs” earned the award this spring at the 45th annual awards ceremony held in Pasadena, California, beating out other nominated shows on the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and Netflix.
During a recent phone interview, Owens recalled the seven members of the show’s directing team creating an extended pause in the award ceremony as they all rushed to make it from their balcony seats to the Pasadena Civic Auditorium stage for acceptance of the award.
Amazon picked up the show for a pilot in 2015. Last year, Owens and co-creator Shadi Petosky were given permission to develop a full season, which was launched on the online streaming service.
Owens said he’s still waiting on word about the potential for a second season of the show and is working on other projects in the meantime.
Winning the Emmy has “just opened a lot of great doors for me,” he said.
Owens graduated from Greater Johnstown High School in 1991 and spent two years at Penn State University before transferring to Columbia College Chicago.
He eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in film and animation there and earned internships that helped him make connections in the business.
Owens’ first job was at a company named Startoons, where he was an animator for popular cartoons such as “Animaniacs” and “Pinky and the Brain.”
From there, Owens did freelance work for animation used in General Mills commercials and spent five months teaching 300 students at one of India’s first animation schools, Heart Animation Academy.
After marrying his fiance, Wendie, Owens moved to Minnesota, where he found himself with less animation work.
It was during that time that Owens found Puny, an animation studio in Minneapolis, where he began working on creating animation for mobile games and advertisements – first on a part-time basis and then full time.
Puny eventually landed the animation work for “Yo Gabba Gabba,” a cartoon show on Nickelodeon, for all four seasons.
Owens then began working on digital shorts for both Nickelodeon and Disney, along with opening credits for “Super,” a 2010 movie directed by James Gunn, now most known for directing and writing the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films.
As Owens continued developing his own ideas to pitch, Puny established an office in Los Angeles to arrange meetings and earn contracts for more work in the industry.
By 2014, the beginnings of “Danger & Eggs” had been further developed and picked up by Amazon for the pilot the next year.
Since its launch, Owens said he’s received support from Johnstown-area family, childhood friends and teachers who have tuned in.
Last month, Owens made his way back to his hometown, a trip he takes about once a year to visit with old friends and his parents, David and Kathleen.
They were the first people he called when he received word that “Danger & Eggs” had been nominated for the Daytime Emmy. The show also received a nomination for a Critic’s Choice Award, and Owens was nominated for an Annie Award, which is an American award for accomplishments in animation.
“They’re always the first people I call,” he said.
Later this year, Owens plans to return to the area during the Cambria City Ethnic Festival and hopes to speak with art students at his high school alma mater and give a presentation at Bottle Works.
Owens said he and his wife are working to produce a movie they hope will be ready to screen at film festivals by February.