Phillip Roger Vischer (born June 16, 1966) is an American animator, puppeteer, writer, voice actor and songwriter known for creating the computer-animated video series VeggieTales alongside Mike Nawrocki. He provides the voice of Bob the Tomato in the series.
Background and career
Phil Vischer was born June 16, 1966 in Muscatine, Iowa, United States, and grew-up in Chicago, Illinois.
He attended St. Paul Bible College and was involved in the puppet club where he met Mike Nawrocki. Vischer originally aimed to go to film school after Bible college but instead wound up working for Amoco and Montgomery Ward as a truckdriver afterwards.
Vischer founded GRAFx Studios 1989 in order to produce animated commercials and logos. As he watched the brand new field of computer animation come to life in the late 1980âs, it occurred to him that very simple characters, animated with this new technology, would be a popular method for telling stories. In his spare time he created Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato, with no arms, legs, hair or clothes as in his mind those were "the tricky parts". In early 1993, he raised some money from friends and family members and enlisted the help of his wife Lisa, Mike Nawrocki and two young art school animators. He started Big Idea Productions (now Big Idea Entertainment) and made the first "VeggieTales" episode.
Vischer and Nawrocki worked in a small storefront on the north side of Chicago creating VeggieTales. Kurt Heinecke, a friend of Phil's from Church, produced the music. Phil's wife Lisa helped with scripts and provided the voice for a young asparagus named Junior. Phil took out ads in Christian magazines, hoping to market directly to parents. Phil and his two animators worked around the clock on one computer in their office, and managed to sell 500 copies of "Whereâs God When Iâm S-Scared?" to families who had seen the ads and called to place orders. Although 500 copies didnât cover the cost of the magazine ads or production of the film, Vischer was pleased. He considered making films for God more fulfilling than working for Montgomery Ward.
Vischer and his team were unprepared for the popularity of their new show. Soon they were negotiating with companies who wanted to bring VeggieTales to Christian bookstores and eventually to Wal-Mart and Target. They received correspondence from parents and children as far away as Australia, thanking Phil and his team. It was growing so fast, Vischer feared he didn't have the business acumen to maintain momentum. He soon began to build a team of business executives to assist him. Soon, his small company grew to be one of the largest animation studios in the US and Vischer was being interviewed in the Wall Street Journal and People Magazine. His âbig ideaâ was a big hit. From 1993 to 2003, Vischer led the company as lead director and writer.
After 10 years of home video sales and the production of a full-length film shown in theaters, Vischer and his executive team found themselves leading a company that was losing money fast. Sales were poor, and costs were high. Several factors, including poor business forecasting, overly ambitious projects and inexperience among top executives contributed to the studio's downfall. VeggieTales was later sold to Classic Media (now DreamWorks Classics).
In 2005, he started Jellyfish Labs, a creative workshop where he produces faith-based projects. In 2007 Vischer expanded the company by launching JellyTelly. From 2010 to 2014, Vischer produced What's In The Bible, a direct-to-DVD video series using puppetry and animation to present biblical material in a news-broadcast format.
Vischer still works on VeggieTales as a voice actor, under a contract by DreamWorks Classics.
He currently lives in Wheaton, Illinois with his wife Lisa and two daughters, Sydney and Shelby, and his son, Jeremy.
Since 2012, Vischer has hosted a weekly podcast discussing life in what he characterizes as a post-Christian America. The podcast, co-hosted by Christianity Today editor Skye Jethani and actress Christian Taylor, regularly ranks in the top 100 podcasts.
"Veggies" voiced by Phil Vischer
As the founder of VeggieTales, Vischer has voiced hundreds of characters. These are the most notable.
- Bob the Tomato
- Archibald Asparagus
- Pa Grape
- Mr. Lunt
- Jimmy Gourd
- Mr. Nezzer
- Philippe Pea
- Scallion #1
- Tom Grape
- Grandpa George
- Phil Winkelstein
- Apollo Gourd
- Percy Pea
- Dad Pea
- Dad Carrot
- Annie's Dad
- Phillip Jr.
- Sheep #1
Puppets played by Vischer
- Buck Denver
- Captain Pete
- Helen Rosenfiddle
- Sunday School Lady
- Additional characters
Books by Vischer include the following:
- Junior's Colors (1997) ISBN 0-8499-1487-6
- How Many Veggies? (1997) ISBN 0-8499-1488-4
- Pa Grape's Shapes (1997) ISBN 0-8499-1507-4
- Bob & Larry's ABC's (1997) ISBN 0-8499-5986-1
- Archibald's Opposites (1998) ISBN 0-8499-1533-3
- Time for Tom (1998) ISBN 0-8499-1534-1
- The Story of Flibber-o-Loo (1997)
- Rack, Shack and Benny (1997)
- Dave and the Giant Pickle (1997)
- Larry-Boy! And the Fib from Outer Space! (1997)
- A Snoodle's Tale (2004) ISBN 0-310-70751-X
- Sidney & Norman: A Tale of Two Pigs (2006) ISBN 1-4003-0834-8
- Me, Myself, & Bob (2006) ISBN 0-7852-2207-3
- 47 Beavers On the Big Blue Sea (2007) ISBN 1-4003-0836-4
- Pirate in Training (2012) (co-writing with Karen Poth)
- Vischer's Web Site
- What's In The Bible
- Phil Vischer at the Internet Movie Database