The long awaited Tiki Trouble book is now available created by Disney Veteran Dominic Carola. It was my honor to be part of this book during the Kickstarter campaign and now seeing it come to fruition. Tiki Trouble is definitely a must for any fan of great art and story. We asked Dominic Carola a few questions about Tiki Trouble to get an insider look on the production.


Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I have been very fortunate to be working professionally as an Artist and Creative Director in the animation, publishing and theme park industries for well over 25 years. As far back as I can remember, I was always drawing and making little stories. I created my own comic book brand in elementary school – and actually would sell and give away Xerox copies of some of my own comic book characters and stories.

What started me on this journey? Seeing Pinocchio when I was really young cemented my love for the classic Walt Disney films. Then a few years later, Star Wars also impacted me to be a filmmaker using my art.
This lead me to doing comics on the way to becoming an animator and visual storyteller.

Steven Spielberg summed it up really well with his wonderful perspective of being an animator:

“I think all directors should be animators first, because you really can take the imagination to become something tangible, something you can hold in your hand, and say, “Can you see this? No? Well, I can.” And then you make that, make that happen.” – Steven Spielberg

Specifically, I really wanted to be a Walt Disney feature animator, but I wasn’t sure how to get there since I was an East Coast kid and didn’t know anyone who even remotely knew a Disney animator.

Then while visiting art schools in the East, I found out about the school that Walt Disney personally founded for character animation called California institute of the arts. I had no idea how limited the slots were or how hard it would be to get in, and it was probably a good thing I didn’t realize that at the time. It would have really freaked me out when preparing my portfolio.

After seeing the Disney film the Little Mermaid, I worked really hard over a summer to build up a portfolio for submission to CalArts. I also worked a couple of jobs to help save up some money since I would have to relocate across the country, and even back then, it was a really expensive school. This was just on the cusp of when feature animation was really just about
to explode with a resurgence.

It was an amazing experience, and we had an incredibly talented group in our class and the class ahead and behind us. I look back, and it’s really a list of many current well-known directors, animators, story artists and studio heads working in the industry today. Many of us are still close friends, and in a way, it still seems like it was just yesterday.

Disney saw my second year student film and recruited me before I could use the rest of my scholarship. But here was the dream job staring me in face and 3 of us were chosen to go to Walt Disney Feature Animation. It was an incredible journey!

After the dream of a lifetime came true, I went on to work my way up as a lead animator for Walt Disney. And I spent almost a dozen years there working on many features from the “Lion King” through “Pocahontas,” “Hunchback,” “Mulan,” “John Henry,” “Lilo & Stitch” and “Brother Bear.”

In 2004, there was a Disney Feature Animation consolidation and the wonderful Florida Animation studio was forced to close. It was one of those moments in life where you have to choose a new path. My options were to potentially head up a Disney sequel with the DisneyToons division in LA or chose another dream that had taken root in my latter years at Disney – which was to launch an independent studio…

…A place where we could develop our own content and also choose the projects that attracted us as well as be with wonderful friends that worked well together. Several colleagues joined me in a new venture we called Project Firefly. It was the first time we were doing features for studios other than Disney. After a couple of years, we all went on different paths, and I continued on with Premise Entertainment, an independent visual storytelling and animation design studio. While supporting daily professional relationships with partner studios, themed entertainment, publishers and co-production needs, I became very engaged in developing original family-friendly content and intellectual properties.

Outside of commercial work, we next launched into doing features again – ironically with Disney animation. Even though Disney remains a long time partner and client, we have worked with a plethora of other clients and studios.

During the last several years, I decided to pour some more time into my creative content and properties. They are all fully developed to be market ready as films and shows.

I launched a publishing company called Premise Press where I pull double-duty as creative director for both companies, and we are off to a great start launching 3 titles – one of them is a labor of love called “Tiki Trouble.”

Several more titles are in the works in and around the day-to-day current studio commitments.

What is the origin of Tiki Trouble?
“Tiki Trouble” grew out of this fertile creative writing time of focusing on original content for Premise Entertainment. I really wanted to tell a unique story about being courageous and facing your fears. It’s a timeless story of living a life you would have never known if you didn’t risk everything to get there. It seems even more timely now given recent events.

Will their be a followup to Tiki Trouble?
The original version I had for “Tiki Trouble” took place in the past, and while writing it and getting some feedback, a second version of the story grew out of that which takes place in present day. Once I got through the process of looking at the two stories of “Tiki Trouble,” it became very clear that the one story centers around the villain and his origin. It takes place in the 1700’s. For the overall property, it felt right to release the present day version, which in essence is the sequel to a prequel no one has seen yet. So that is kind of an exclusive to share this information. The one available now, an adventure complete in itself, is “Tiki Trouble.”

How about a Tiki Trouble feature film?
As I mentioned earlier, “Tiki Trouble” was originally designed as a screenplay for a film. The original treatment was about 50 pages and then I brought on a good friend and writing partner to help flesh out the screenplay. So there is certainly a lot more to the “Tiki Trouble” saga. The 60-page special edition large format illustrated adventure book represents some of the story but definitely not all of it. For instance, many of the pages you see in the large format book are snippets of whole sequences in the screenplay. The screenplay is currently being novelized and has a planned release in the not-so-far future also through Premise Press.

Can you tell us some behind the scenes info about the making of Tiki Trouble?
When I was a kid, I fell in love with the large format storybooks from Walt Disney. You remember, like “Peter Pan,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Alice in Wonderland” and many others we grew up with. They don’t make books like that anymore. And I really wanted to bring that back and upgrade it with the printing process. So in keeping with this rich idea of yester year’s immersive way of enjoying an adventure book, went ahead with this giant format and high quality paper so you can see all the details of the meticulously drawn storytelling pages.


I did go ahead and do some speed drawing video demonstrations and explained my approach on our YouTube channel in a series called “LATE NGHT at the drawing Board.” You get a really exclusive look at my thought process and the evolution of making the most dynamic scenes I could for each page of the book. It’s a BTS (behind the scenes) of sorts.

Is their anything you’d like to add for your Kickstarter supporters and fans?
A huge THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart goes out to all the early “Tiki Trouble” adopters and supporters. Their help with pre-sales made the Special Edition book possible. Knowing they were there gave me the encouragement I needed to finish the project. I am always so busy in my role as Creative Director supporting and guiding quality teams through various stages of productions for Visual Storytelling, Pre-production, Development and Planning for our clients and daytime studio work. I wasn’t putting my IP projects first, and as a partner studio for larger companies, it’s hard to do that. So this was literally the “kickstart” I needed to fire up the original content to begin releasing it. Hopefully we will be seeing our own IP shows and films go into production in the not-so-distant future. For now, you’ll be getting them as high-end illustrated adventure books. All of the existing titles and upcoming titles are meant to inspire the reader and to take them on a purposeful journey.

The LARGE FORMAT Special Edition Hard cover with dust jacket available while supplies last:

The Standard Hardcover or Paperback Available at Amazon NOW:


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Lavalle Lee

Lavalle Lee

Lavalle Lee has been creating animated cartoons online since 1999/2000 for his website Many cartoons on the site have gained viral video status reaching millions of viewers online. In 2009, Lavalle started learning hand drawn animation from Don Bluth in his animation classes, as well as attending his Masterclasses in Arizona. He has also personally studied animation and visual effects from Veteran Disney animators in Orlando, FL.

Lavalle is widely known in the animation industry as the creator of the website. After seeing that most animation sites were about all types of animation, not any specific to classical hand drawn animation, Lavalle knew Traditional Animation needed to be represented online. has become the leading website and social media account for all things 2D. The website served as inspiration for “The Traditional Animation Show” in which Lavalle was both producer and host.

His partnership with Don Bluth began when he championed the Dragon's Lair Indiegogo campaign as lead project manager, editor, voice actor and in-betweener. The campaign reached $730,000 dollars to produce a 7-minute pitch video. In 2017, Lavalle brought the idea of creating a school to Don Bluth, and Don Bluth University was born. After a decade of learning from Don Bluth and working together on multiple pitches and business ventures, Lavalle accepted the position as Vice President of Don Bluth's new company Don Bluth Studios.


  1. Ryan W
    May 29, 2020 at 10:12 pm — Reply

    Finally!!! I’ve been waiting forever for this!

  2. Eve Decker
    July 8, 2020 at 11:43 am — Reply

    Another animation that we can’t wait to watch out for!! Animation will inspire a lot of shows and even games. Say for example popcap games , some of their games are inspired by animated shows and series and people always love them.

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