Animation writer-producers depend on the talent of the series’ designers. We can structure the stories, name the characters, and write their dialogue. We can pick the actors, direct their voices, and add evocative music and sound effects. We can push the studio to animate smoothly and edit seamlessly. We can get 99 out of 100 elements right, but if our series’ character designs are off, none of it matters. Think about “miscasting” movies, or even just screwing up the costumes a little. It takes you right out of the movie. You leave saying: “I would have loved that movie about the Los Angeles Lakers, but I found Danny DeVito as Kobe distracting.” Below are a couple of mashups that confirm this. The Simpsons is as great an animated series as will ever be invented. So much of the spirit of the series is evident simply in Matt Groening’s designs. While imagining our X-MEN:TAS characters drawn like Simpsons characters or those from American Dad (both below), is harmless (and clever) fun, it reminded me how much TV and movies demand that you believe their images. Theater can get away with cheesy costumes and 60-year-olds playing young lovers — and books don’t have this worry — but people really watch what we produce as well as listen to it, so if the images don’t feel right, nothing does. Still, Barney as Beast is pretty funny.