In the 1990s, Nickelodeon rose to fame for its original, child-centric programming. The network focused on crafting new content instead of repurposing and licensing existing characters. It was a gamble, but it paid off, helping the network become a leader in children’s programming. One of its first cartoon series, Doug, remains beloved even today. Did you know that the creator, Jim Jinkins, actually developed Bluffington, Doug Funnie’s town, after a rough breakup?
Jim Jinkins created the idea for Doug during a rough year in his life
Jinkins was always an artist, and he spent a ton of time doodling. Over the years, Jinkins sat for several interviews. Inevitably he is asked about how he came up with the idea for the series. Jinkins admits that a television series wasn’t initially in the works. Instead, the character of Doug Funnie and his dog were just doodles.
According to Fandom, Jinkins was injured in a bad bike accident and spent much of his time nursing his injuries doodling. Doug came to life during that time, and so did his dog, Porkchop. Jinkins added additional characters along the way. People from Jinkins’ past inspired each one. Patti Mayonnaise, for example, was inspired by Jinkins’ childhood crush.
Bluffington came to life while Jinkins was dealing with a tough breakup
Jinkins doodled Doug during his recovery, but the idea for Bluffington came about while he was in a tough place. Jinkins was dealing with a tough breakup and wanted to create a world where he didn’t have to worry about much of anything. The tiny town that Doug and his family moved to fit the bill.
Bluffington was small, safe, and easily navigated. It had several main attractions, including Honker Burger, the burger joint where everyone hung out. Jinkins also introduced fans to Lucky Duck Lake, Funky Town, and the Bluffington School during the show’s run on Nickelodeon. Bluffington, simply put, was a laidback world were Jinkins could escape to when things got too complicated.
Jinkins initially intended to sell Doug as a children’s book
Jinkins didn’t initially create Doug for television. Instead, the animator was hoping to sell Doug as a children’s book series. He shopped the idea to multiple publishers, but nobody was interested. His meeting with Nickelodeon was a bit serendipitous and resulted in the cartoon that became a first for Nick.
In an interview with Vulture, Jinkins explained that the network was in its early days when he connected with executives. With a startup mentality, they were willing to take a shot on an original idea, something that wasn’t being done much at the time. Jinkins worked with the network to create the pilot, then made 52 more episodes before Nick canceled the cartoon series. Jinkins, who retained the rights to the idea thanks to a contract addition he fought for, could shop the show to other networks after five years. Disney bought the idea and produced an additional 65 episodes of the show.