Family is clearly important to Dan Povenmire, co-creator of Disney’s Phineas and Ferb and Disney XD show Milo Murphy’s Law. He has created multiple characters in his shows based on people in his life.
For instance, Isabella, a side character from Phineas and Ferb, is based on his eldest daughter of the same name. A girl in his newest show, Milo Murphy’s Law, is based on his younger daughter who felt jealous of her older sister’s televised persona.
Sometimes he doesn’t realize he’s creating them, though. Tina Povenmire-Kirk, Dan’s younger sister, told the Emerald that her brother used a high-pitched voice when they played as kids. That tone eventually became the voice used for Dr. Doofenshmirtz, the evil professor on Phineas and Ferb.
Family is bringing Povenmire to Eugene this Thanksgiving weekend. On Saturday, Nov. 26, from 2-4:30 p.m, Povenmire will speak at a fundraiser for his nephew Sullivan Kirk, a one-year-old with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. It will be at the First United Methodist Church in Eugene, located at 1376 Olive St.
Kirk has had two open heart surgeries because the left half of his heart was not properly developed at birth. Both surgeries were before he was seven months old.
Povenmire and his family are aiming to raise funds for the cost of Sullivan’s upcoming surgery and subsequent recovery.
“He’s the happiest and sweetest child in the world,” Povenmire said of his nephew.
Even just a few years ago, medical science was not capable of keeping someone with this condition alive, said Povenmire. Prenatal screenings and other tests can now detect a condition like HLHS.
“It’s a small miracle that he lived after birth,” Povenmire said. “We’re hoping that he can come through this with flying colors.”
Povenmire will sign autographs, answer questions about his work and even do the voice of Phineas and Ferb’s infamous Dr. Doofenshmirtz, all for a suggested $10 donation.
Povenmire spoke fondly of his childhood in Mobile, Alabama — where his wild summers formed the basis for Phineas and Ferb’s endless school vacation.
His time in television also includes work on Family Guy and Rocko’s Modern Life.
But Povenmire said the work he’s most proud of is Phineas and Ferb because it’s a show that appealed to adults as easily as children.
“Forty percent of our audience on Phineas were adults,” Povenmire said. “It was the first time that had ever happened on a Disney Channel show.”
When Disney executives would question his jokes, Povenmire argued that as long as they didn’t make the audience change the channel, the jokes would be fine.
One episode that exemplifies this sense of humor is “Tip of the Day.” Povenmire said that not many people on the show’s production team knew what the tip of a shoelace was called. (It’s called an aglet.) This turned into an episode where Phineas and Ferb raise “aglet awareness.”
“Everybody looked at me like I was an idiot,” Povenmire said of the meeting. “And I said, ‘No, no we should absolutely do that.’ Everyone asked how that would work and I said, ‘I don’t know. We’ll figure it out.’ That became a lot of people’s favorite episode.”
There’s an undercurrent of humor and positivity that runs through Povenmire’s work, whether it means coming up with new characters or helping his family out during hard times.
His new show, Milo Murphy’s Law, developed accidentally. Povenmire was creating a character for another pitch, but found himself thinking about the character (who later became Milo Murphy) more than the pitch itself.
“I drew him to look like a friend of ours that’s super positive all the time and I was like, ‘What would Noah look like when he was in middle school?’ ” Povenmire said. “I drew this little caricature of what I thought Noah would look like and I just liked it so much that I wrote ‘indescribably positive’ next to it.”
When asked how the Eugene community can support his nephew, Povenmire said his family would appreciate any help people are able to give. Whether that means raising awareness for Kirk’s heart condition or coming to the event this Saturday, anything counts.