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Aug. 29, 2006
Contact: Mary Jane Dunlap, University Relations, (785) 864-8853.

KU senior bringing Zook Mayhem to life on a Web site near you

Nolan T. Jones and Richard Jose Sanchez Zayas work on their original cartoon "Zook Mayhem and the Bandits."

LAWRENCE — Aspiring filmmaker Nolan T. Jones, a senior in theater and film at the University of Kansas, is working to bring his original cartoon “Zook Mayhem and the Bandits” to an Internet audience.

Jones, a Pittsburg native, created the animated series using a KU undergraduate research award. He will launch at least two shortened versions of the cartoon Sept. 4 in advance of the first 15-minute episode, which Jones says he wants to premier sometime this fall. The audience for “Zook” is young adults. In appearance, Jones’ cartoon looks similar to the animated shows that are routinely featured in Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” lineup.

Zook is a college student at the University of Campus who dies mysteriously. His ghost returns to his dorm room to cause problems for the university’s administration.

Along with a small but professional staff of student colleagues, Jones has created and produced “Zook” to be distributed strictly via the Internet. Episodes will be distributed through a central Web site and through file-sharing Web sites such as Limewire and E-mule. Jones will monitor and track of the number of people who watch the show.

Jones is not only creating the cartoon but analyzing the effect marketing can have on Internet media projects such as “Zook.” Similar projects, such as “Red vs. Blue,” relied mostly on word of mouth, Jones says. He hopes to determine the impact marketing has on making an animated series a mainstream success compared to other Internet media projects that used little or no marketing.

Michael Baskett, KU assistant professor of theater and film who is advising Jones’ research, said Jones’ superior work ethic and good judgment have served him well on the project.

“Everyday, the media is changing so you don’t have to be located on the coasts to make it. All you need is to create a buzz about your project,” Baskett said. “His project is certainly a gamble. There are no guarantees he will find an exact audience, but it is a good gamble with academic merit.”

Jones plans to utilize the local media, fliers and other Web sites such as myspace.com and facebook.com to promote “Zook.”

“The success of the project will depend on how the project is marketed and how many people view the project,” Jones said. “If the show is funny then people will watch it.”

Jones received the undergraduate research award through the University Honors Program from special funds made available by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The funds are given to generate and support original, independent research from undergraduate students at KU.

Jones and his primary crew are listed below by hometown, level in school, major and, when available, parents’ names and high schools:

CRAWFORD COUNTY
From Arma
Riley G. Dutton, sophomore in English and political science, son of Randy and Tama Dutton; St. Mary’s-Colgan High School.

From Pittsburg
Nolan T. Jones, senior in theater and film, son of Brian and Patricia Jones of Pittsburg; St. Mary’s-Colgan High School.

Christopher S. Moodie, senior in sports science, son of Chloe and Jack Moodie; St. Mary’s-Colgan High School.

LYON COUNTY
From Americus
Benjamin I. Grother, senior in English, son of Ronald and Susan Grother; Northern Heights High School, Allen.

DOUGLAS COUNTY
From Lawrence
Austin J. Kelly, junior in political science and geography, son of Stephen and Elizabeth Kelly; Lawrence High School.

MCPHERSON COUNTY
From McPherson
David Kent Noffsinger, junior in business, son of Kent and Faye Noffsinger; McPherson High School.

MISSOURI
From Smithville
Richard Jose Sanchez Zayas, junior in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, son of Phillip Lee Punzel and Maria Teresa Punzel; North Platte High School, Dearborn.

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