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cic2008-01-15.jpgOne of the pleasures in previewing Mark Evanier’s Kirby: King of Comics over the last two installments of this column was realizing that work in cartoon art that I had first discovered when I was growing up was now considered significant enough to be honored in art books and museums. In the eight hands comics and cartoon art can achieve greatness. I will return to my commentary on the Kirby book when it is published in March. Now, however, I intend to look at the other end of the spectrum: cartoons from my boyhood that demonstrate the depths to which the artform can sink. I’m not talking about the merely mediocre, of which there is plenty all around us, but the truly awful. Last week we ascended to the summit; now prepare to descend into the abyss.

There can be a certain fascination in looking at cartoons that are utter crap: watching them inspires a certain kind of stunned awe that anyone would put anything so atrocious on screen. But it certainly helps if these aesthetic outrages are presented within the proper ironic format, encouraging us to laugh at their sheer awfulness.

And so it was that I attended the New York City premiere of Cartoon Dump, an comedy stage show that showcases the worst that television animation of the 1950s and 1960s had to offer (http://www.cartoondump.com/). Presented every fourth Tuesday at the Steve Allen Theater in Los Angeles, Cartoon Dump made its Manhattan debut at the comedy club Comix (353 West 14th St.) on January 8 of this year, and will return to Comix on February 19 and March 11.

Like Krusty the Clown’s show-within-a-show on The Simpsons or Patchy the Pirate’s live action segments on SpongeBob SquarePants specials, Cartoon Dump satirizes a kind of television show that is familiar to Baby Boomers from their childhoods but which no longer seems to exist: the low budget local TV kiddie show in which a costumed host introduces animated cartoons.

Cartoon Dump separates itself from other such parodies through an intriguing twist: its live action cast of characters are themselves fans of these brain-dead cartoons, who love them rather too much. Emotionally damaged in various comical ways, Cartoon Dump’s main characters have retreated from adult life by attempting to transform themselves into real life cartoon characters. The show’s host, Compost Brite (played by Erica Doering), is perky and cheerful, even over inappropriate topics, like her anorexia: she happily boasts of going for so long without food that she falls into delirium. One of her friends is Moodsy the Clinically Depressed Owl (played by Frank Conniff), whose other problem include alcoholism, auto-erotic asphyxiation, and other vices that can only be hinted at. Another is Buf Badger, the “rageaholic animation historian” (played by Kathleen Roll), unable and unwilling to conceal her furious contempt for anyone who doesn’t share her encyclopedic knowledge of cartoon history. (It strikes me that she’s be the dream date for The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy.) The concept appears to be that if these sorts of kiddie shows still existed on TV, these would be the sort of people, who grew up loving bad cartoons, who would get jobs working on them. It makes me wonder about some of the people engaging in “cosplay” that I see wandering around comics conventions. (Like those young women in “Gothic Lolita” outfits at the recent New York Anime Con: what are they thinking?)

Then again, such obsessives don’t necessarily wear costumes. In the New York show there was a character named Cissy Kafka, the alleged winner of a Cartoon Dump essay contest, who outwardly seemed to be a normal, presentable young woman in a business suit, but soon confessed that she had based her life on Cartoon Dump and considered Compost Brite, whom she’d never before met, to be her only friend. The performance at Comix also had as a guest stand-up comedian Mike Dobbins, who likewise wasn’t in costume, but the weirdness of whose act–including an impersonation of the Hamburglar performing pilates–fit the show.

Cartoon Dump is the creation of Frank Conniff, who was formerly one of the writer/performers on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (and was interviewed by Quick Stop editor Ken Plume here). MST3K likewise used the format of a low budget kiddie show, in its case, complete with puppets, in order to mock the old live action movies it presented. Cartoon Dump is this another example of the MSTie diaspora, in which the show’s ex-writer/performers devise and appear in new variations on the theme, such as Michael J. Nelson’s RiffTrax (see “Comics in Context” #185; “Get Off of My Cloud” and www.rifftrax.com) and MST3K creator Joel Hodgson’s brand new Cinematic Titanic, in which Conniff is a participant.

Cartoon Dump’s execrable cartoons are supplied by animation historian Jerry Beck, who introduced the New York performance, supplying background information about the evening’s selections. Beck presents an assortment of such anti-masterpieces on his own at his “Worst Cartoons Ever” show, which he gives every year at the San Diego Comic Con, although I finally saw it last fall at New York University. Beck also hosts the Worst Cartoons Ever! DVD, which is available from Rembrandt Films, although the animated tripe within–including Sir Gee Whiz, which the Dump showed shown at Comix– is about as far from Rembrandt as is imaginable. (Jerry Beck is better known for his expertise on the masterpieces of classic animation, and he played a major role in putting together the recent Popeye and Woody Woodpecker DVD sets which I so highly praised: see “Comics in Context” #189: “Woody’s Woodpeccadillos” and #190: “Pop Eye-Con.”)

You can also see video podcast versions of Cartoon Dump segments, complete with cartoons, at Beck’s Cartoon Brew Films website. Watching the Dump performers on the videos, their comedy comes across as more drily ironic. To get the full impact, you need to see them with an audience, where both they and the cartoons get enthusiastic laughter. The audience at the Comix performance, which included comics and animation professionals, was particularly good, knowledgeable enough to burst into laughter at the sight of particularly terrible animation.

Actually, while I was waiting for the Cartoon Dump show to begin at Comix, I was delighted to listen to the good examples of early television animation. Over the sound system was played a mini-retrospective of Hanna-Barbera theme songs and background music, including, during the time I was there, the theme songs to Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, Wally Gator, Magilla Gorilla and Peter Potamus. These were the work of composer Hoyt Curtin (with a few spoken lines performed by the great voice actor Daws Butler as Yogi Bear and Peter Potamus), and presumably came from the extensive CD collection Hanna-Barbera’s Pic-a-Nic Basket of Cartoon Classics. My Quick Stop colleague Fred Hembeck wold correctly point out that SpongeBob has featured some remarkably good musical numbers. Still, I found myself reflecting that as a boy I took for granted the jaunty, energetic, funny and memorable tunes that Curtin continually turned out for Hanna-Barbera, and how rare that level of excellence is in “children’s” animation today.

Having reminded us of some of the true classics of early TV animation, the Cartoon Dump show proceeded to introduce us to its collection of animated garbage. I must have had a happy childhood, since I can’t remember ever having seen any of these four cartoons when I was a boy. But in adulthood one learns that it’s impossible to escape life’s horrors forever.

The first cartoon was an episode of The Mighty Mr. Titan, a 1965 series of cartoons from Soundac Productions, which, Beck informed us, was inspired by the Kennedy administration’s promotion of physical fitness for children and adults. (Mr. Titan’s theme song instructs us, “Your country needs an active crew/Of healthy boys and girls like you.”) President Kennedy may have responsibility for the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion, but I doubt that he would have accepted the blame for The Mighty Mr. Titan.

Beck refers to Mr. Titan as a superhero. Well, the character’s name and his short with the “T” insignia suggest that Mr. Titan’s creators wanted the audience to think of him as one. But Mr. Titan is really like a poorly animated cartoon version of Jack La Lanne, who hosted a TV exercise show in the 1960s and is still active today, except for the fact that La Lanne possesses real charisma whereas behind his unchanging smile, Mr. Titan has no personality whatsoever.

Nearly all that happens in his cartoons is that Mr. Titan demonstrates some simple calisthenics and encourages his audience to exercise along with him. And just why did Mr. Titan’s creators think that kids watch cartoons in the first place? Is it to work themselves into a sweat, or to goof off and have a good time? If kids want to exercise, they’d go outside and play baseball or anything else that is more involving and fun than joining Mr. Titan in his dreary workout routines.

So the Mr. Titan cartoons would be doomed by their premise, even if they didn’t have bargain basement limited animation. In the cartoon at the Dump show, I watched in bewilderment as Mr. Titan repeatedly performed the same exercise while counting, “One, two, three, four!” But the exercise involved only two positions: whenever he called “two” or “four” he did absolutely nothing. At least Mr. Titan’s wooden movements match his personality.

But the Mr. Titan cartoons aren’t totally devoid of interest. Mr. Titan has a sidekick, Tip Top, a stick figure with an expressive, oval face, who moves in a sprightly manner in the few moments he gets on screen; he doesn’t talk, but he has far more personality than his robot-like boss. If only these cartoons had been about Tip Top instead!

Then there was, “King of the Sea,” a cartoon from the 1967-1968 NBC series Super President, whose title character, James Norcross, is indeed the President of the United States who gains superpowers and secretly becomes a superhero.

The creators of this show stumbled over an interesting idea, linking the American pop culture icon of the superhero with America’s status as a world super-power. The late Mark Gruenwald insightfully explored this concept in his 1986 Squadron Supreme series, in which superheroes take control of the United States, and today DC Comics publishes Ex Machina, writer Brian K. Vaughn’s critically acclaimed series about a superhero as mayor of post-9/11 New York City. I wonder if Super President was the inspiration for Robert Smigel’s X-Presidents cartoons that burlesque politics on Saturday Night Live. But, you see, Gruenwald, Vaughn and Smigel all treated the idea with intelligence; Super President’s creators stumbled over the idea and fell flat on their faces.

People forever ask, how come nobody recognizes Clark Kent as Superman with a pair of glasses on? Ah, but Clark Kent is a master of disguise compared to President Norcross, who may wear a mask but calls himself “Super President.” And yet nobody realizes that they are one and the same! (Marvel fans may find it disturbing that Super-President’s costume looks uncomfortably similar to that of Guardian’s from Alpha Flight, though I would hope this is merely a coincidence.)

And just how old does a kid have to be to realize that the President cannot just disappear for hours at a time to go on secret missions? Not only would the Secret Service notice, but so would the White House staff.

In classic superhero tradition, Super President has a sidekick, but he’s not a kid in costume, but a pudgy, bespectacled adult in a business suit: presidential aide Jerry Sayles. Jerry Beck keeps calling this other Jerry a Karl Rove lookalike, but I think he looks like a young Dick Cheney before he went over to the dark side. (Longtime comics pros might think that Super President’s Jerry looks a little like the late DC editor E. Nelson Bridwell. Take a look at Jerry’s picture accompanying this satiric Salon piece in which Super President comments about our current less-than-super President)

It would be nice to think that the perpetrators of Super President were consciously making a joke by pairing their superhero with this chubby, mild-mannered bureaucrat. But since the cartoons are devoid of any sense of humor or any sense of minds working at more than half capacity, I’d say no.

All this dumbness might be more forgivable if Super President at least gave its characters memorable, vivid personalities or provided thrilling action sequences, but no. Like all the cartoons in Cartoon Dump, their cardinal sin is dullness. Even considering the limitations on the animation imposed by the low budgets, Fred Flintstone running past the same cave wall over and over is more exciting than any of the action in this Super President cartoon. The villain has the same number of dimensions to his personality as Super President and Jerry, which is to say, negative three.

The only spark of life in this cartoon comes from the fact that Super President’s voice was supplied by the great Paul Frees. It’s a pleasure to hear him, but even Frees could not do much with the character’s bland dialogue and minimal personality.

Super President was produced by the animation company DePatie-Freleng, one of whose heads, as Beck noted, was Friz Freleng, the great director of so many classic Warner Brothers cartoons of the 1940s and 1950s. Freleng apparently did not work on Super President himself. Still, it’s a cautionary tale about how corporate demands can seduce even a great creative artist into permitting godawful hack work to go out under his name.

In the 1960s Freleng was still capable of producing good work, like the animated title sequence for The Pink Panther (1964) and the spinoff series of animated cartoon shorts. The third cartoon in the Cartoon Dump, “Lindy’s Dream,” is the result of a downright appalling story of creative decline. This was the pilot for the stillborn series The Adventures of Sir Gee Whiz on the Other Side of the Moon (1960), which is one ludicrous mouthful, and was produced by the team of Hugh Harmon and Rudolf Ising, who started out working alongside Freleng in the earliest days of Walt Disney’s animation studio, then produced and directed the earliest Looney Tunes for Warner Brothers, and later went to MGM, creating some cartoons, like Peace on Earth (1939) (see “Comics in Context” #66 : “A Christmas Potpourri”) that are now considered classics.

But most of their cartoons that I’ve seen fall far short of enduring greatness, and Harmon and Ising seem to fall into that sad but familiar category of creative artists who are left behind by changing times. Whereas their former colleagues Disney and Freleng went on to create important work in the 1940s and beyond, Harmon and Ising’s heyday ended at the start of the 1940s. Jerry Beck wrote on his blog, “Hugh and Rudy gave it up to support the effort during World War II, creating instructional animated films for the Armed Services. They spent the rest of their careers creating educational, industrial and commercial films, never achieving the public fame they once enjoyed during the 1930s. Not that they didn’t try.” But they were already out of the creative mainstream. Sir Gee Whiz was an attempt to make a comeback, but instead demonstrates just how out of touch they had become. Beck continued, “Limited animation was not something Harman and Ising could grasp easily. This short shows just how badly Hugh and Rudy didn’t get it.”

I interpret that as meaning, in part, that Harmon and Ising didn’t recognize, as Hanna and Barbera and Jay Ward already had by 1960, how clever scripts, good voice acting, and vivid musical scores could compensate for limited movement. Beck has also suggested that the concept behind Sir Gee Whiz was something Harmon and Ising could have used in the 1930s but had grown dated by 1960. Indeed, by then America was in the Space Age, and kids fantasized about going to the moon by rocket and encountering aliens, not floating up there hand in hand with an elderly elf.

The main reason why Sir Gee Whiz seems to be a signature piece for the Dump is the creepiness of its premise. An old bearded gnome, Sir Gee Whiz (And how did he receive a knighthood? Especially since his accent marks him as Irish?), puts an underage girl’s nanny to sleep and then takes the little girl, Lindy, off with him to his home on the other side of the moon. In other words, what if Humbert Humbert had been a lunar leprechaun?

Should we accept this set-up as innocent? In The Wizard of Oz underage Dorothy goes on a road trip to the Emerald City with three adult males and no one thinks there’s anything wrong with this. Then again, the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and Cowardly Lion don’t invite her back to their lairs to look at their etchings or whatever.

Or is this a case of creators of works intended for children who so lack perspective on their work that they are blind to the highly inappropriate subtext of their stories? No one bought the pilot for Sir Gee Whiz, so perhaps that subtext didn’t escape everyone’s notice at the time.

“Lindy’s Party” ends with a look at characters that Sir Gee Whiz’s creators intended to use in later episodes. The Dump audience burst into loud, astonished laughter at the sight of one such character, Senor Ropo, who is indeed an enormous (and somewhat phallic) piece of rope, with eyes, a mouth, a mustache, a sombrero, and a stereotypical Mexican accent. Just what could Harmon, Ising and company have possibly been thinking?

The fourth and final cartoon in the Dump performance was “The Black Vapor,” an installment of the 1967 series Johnny Cypher in Dimension Zero: the names “cipher” and “zero” are all too appropriate in grading this cartoon.

Beck pointed out that Johnny Cypher was produced by the Oriolo Studio, headed by Joseph Oriolo, who produced the 1960s Felix the Cat cartoons and the animated series The Mighty Hercules. I haven’t seen the 1960s version of Felix–the one in which he had a literal “bag of tricks,” contended against nemeses like the Professor, the thuggish Rock Bottom, and the alien Master Cylinder (a sort of Dalek predecessor), and had an intellectual young friend, Poindexter–in decades, but I recall my fondness for them from my childhood, and for the colorful voice acting, which I now know was performed by Jack Mercer, the classic voice of Popeye.

I liked The Mighty Hercules even more as a boy; in recent years I watched a batch of them for free on one of Time Warner Cable’s “on demand” channels, and they’re not bad at all. Certainly I have more sophisticated tastes by now, but I still appreciate how Hercules transforms the stuff of Greek mythology into what amounts to a superhero series set in ancient times, with Herc as Superman, his girlfriend Helena standing in Lois, the young centaur Newton (whose falsetto voice I now find annoying) as Jimmy Olsen, and a pack of fine supervillain-like menaces like the sorcerer Daedalus. The analogues to the superhero genre are hardly accidental, since the series was written by DC Comics veterans George Kashdan and Jack Miller. Despite the limited animation, the Hercules cartoons still succeed in creating a sense of action and momentum that demonstrate how much could be done even within the low budgets of early ‘60s cartoons. And Hercules had a great, unforgettable theme song! Indeed, Oriolo and company seemed to have consciously designed elements of the series to be iconic: each episode builds to a high point when Hercules dons the magic ring that endows him with superhuman strength, to the accompaniment of thunder and lightning, the equivalent of Popeye downing his spinach while his theme music plays triumphantly. But did I wonder, even as a child, why Herc just didn’t keep the ring on full time?

The difference between Oriolo’s Felix and Hercules on one side and Johnny Cypher on the other is that Felix and Herc are good, and Johnny is very, very bad. Part of the problem, as Beck explained, was that Oriolo farmed the animation of Cypher out to Japan, making this an early example of anime. But, unlike, say, Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy, this isn’t some enduring landmark in anime history. Whereas Oriolo’s Hercules propulsively carries its young viewers along for the ride, Cypher leaves them mired as if in a pool of molasses. In “The Black Vapor,” the vapor turns people to stone, thereby, as Beck pointed out, eliminating any need to spend any effort animating them.

But the real reason that “The Black Vapor” was included in the Dump show seems to be its two villains, who, at one point, break into a frenzied dance of joy, which is not only badly animated but comes off as a presumably unintended burst of over-the-top homoerotic ecstasy.

On the Worst Cartoons Ever! DVD (which I may review at length in the future) Jerry Beck starts out by telling us that “no one sets out to make bad cartoons.” This is a kind and generous thing for him to say, but I disagree. Perhaps the makers of the cartoons in Cartoon Dump didn’t consciously think of their work as bad. But I don’t get the impression from these cartoons that they were striving towards goodness, either.

Back in the 1990s, when I was continuity cop at Marvel (before the present tidal wave of lawlessness in that area), I was speaking with a writer, advising him about the continuity-related holes in his storyline. His continual rejoinder was that “the kids” wouldn’t notice and wouldn’t care. What he really meant was that he didn’t care, and this was his rationalization for his own sloppiness in his craft. Of course by the 1990s Marvel’s readership was mostly adults, the series on which this writer worked soon bombed, and, as far as I know, the writer has since vanished from the comics business.

I suspect that the makers of the cartoons in Cartoon Dump or Worst Cartoons Ever! told themselves much the same thing about their audience. Yes, the animators and other artists at Disney studied the works of great illustrators, and the animators at UPA studied modern art and design, and each group in its on way sought to treat animation as art. And I suspect that many of the makers of the Dump’s cartoons thought that Walt Disney and the UPA guys were nuts. Why put so much time and effort into cartoons? Aren’t cartoons just time-killing junk for small children? Won’t little kids watch anything that we put on their TV screen? Why should anyone take cartoons seriously?

Many other talented people who worked in animation for early television–Hanna and Barbera, Jay Ward, Bob Clampett, the makers of numerous animated commercials-strove against the limitations imposed by the low budgets they had to work with, and even created work that attracted intelligent adult viewers But not the perpetrators of many of the cartoons destined for the Dump.

In the course of the Cartoon Dump stage show, Compost Brite warned us that people who strive for excellence lead “stressed-out” lives, but that plenty of people who deal in “mediocrity” turn out to be successful. Reminding us that “D is a passing grade,” Ms. Brite leads cast members in singing the praises of making only a “minimal effort” in life. The cartoons in the Dump exemplify that very philosophy, except that the actors playing Ms. Brite and company are just kidding, and the cartoons aren’t.

Wondering whether other cartoon series I hadn’t seen since my grade school days would prove to be as awful as those in Cartoon Dump, I tracked down episodes of some of them on YouTube.

The same people who inflicted The Mighty Mr. Titan on innocent children–creator Robert D. Buchanan and Soundac Productions–were also responsible for the earlier 1957 series Colonel Bleep (and http://www.toontracker.com/bleep/bleep.htm). Like Mr. Titan’s sidekick Tip Top, Colonel Bleep is basically a stick figure, only the Colonel has a triangular-shaped head encircled by transparent, round space helmet. This time Buchanan and Soundac had the wisdom to make the stick figure into the star of the show. Since Mr. Titan was basically an exercise instructor, he had to resemble a real human being, but the extremely limited animation turns Mr. Titan’s actions into laughable caricatures of actual human movement. But the limited animation suits the simplified figures of Colonel Bleep and Tip Top, whose movements are comparatively energetic.

Indeed, one of the delights of Colonel Bleep is its emphasis on graphic design. As noted, the Colonel is a semiabstract figure, composed of a triangle, circle and straight lines. His sidekick, Scratch the caveman, has a figure shaped like an oval. (The other sidekick, a puppet resembling a young boy dressed as a cowboy, is named Squeak because he cannot talk but merely squeaks; this just seems weird.)

The characters in Colonel Bleep have no dialogue, but there is a narrator who adopts a tone like that of an adult reading from a storybook to children. But whereas the fantasy of Sir Gee Whiz seems dreadfully dated, Colonel Bleep capitalizes on the growing interest kids in the late 1950s had in science fiction and the emerging Space Age. Colonel Bleep, then, is an early example of what must have been a new phenomenon: science fiction aimed at small children.

The opening episode, “Colonel Bleep Arrives on Earth” establishes that the Colonel is an extraterrestrial from the planet Futura, and that the Futurans see themselves as responsible for maintaining order and justice in the universe. It rather reminds me of DC Comics’ Green Lantern Corps, and perhaps reflects the United States’ emerging sense that as a world superpower it had the duty to police the world. The first episode further explains that the Futurans decided to send Colonel Bleep to Earth when they detected the first atomic explosion on Earth in 1945 and then observed how Earth had begun firing rockets into space; this suggested to them that Earth posed a potential threat to the rest of the universe.

I hadn’t expected to find concerns about nuclear war crop up in a children’s cartoon from the late 1950s. But this is a key to understanding why the Colonel Bleep cartoons have more life and imagination than many other animated series of early television. The writers on Bleep were working themes with relevance to their adult lives into the backstory. Similarly, in designing the characters, the artists were creating forms that would be appealing to kids, easy to animate, but also aesthetically satisfying to themselves.

I also located an episode of Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse (and http://www.toontracker.com/courcat/courcat.htm), an animated series whose creation is credited to Batman creator Bob Kane. My regular readers know that Kane may have come up with the idea of a superhero costumed as a bat, but that writer Bill Finger cane up with most of the other basic elements of the early Batman mythos. I wonder how much imaginative effort was necessary to devise the concept for Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse, who are basically Batman and Robin as a talking cat and mouse. It’s as if Kane crossed Batman with Tom and Jerry. I wouldn’t be surprised if Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw! had Courageous Cat partly in mind when they created their funny animal superhero team, Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew, which DC Comics has recently revived.

One of the best things about Courageous Cat is the theme music, which conjures the feel of an urban crime thriller of the period, seeming to promise a much more adult sensibility than these kiddie cartoons actually possess.

In the episode I found on YouTube, “The Case of the Big Movie Star” (1960), the series’ premier villain, the Frog, intends to abduct Marilyn Mouse, a movie actress whom he compels to star in the movie he is making. Our heroes, Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse, have virtually blank personalities. Minute, however, speaks in a falsetto voice, suggesting he is meant to be a prepubescent child. So it’s a little weird and creepy when Minute becomes dazzled by the charms of Marilyn Mouse.

The cartoon becomes way kinkier when Courageous Cat disguises himself as Marilyn Mouse, leading to a sequence in which the Frog attempts to seduce her. Yes, there are plenty of instances of Bugs Bunny in drag, but his disguises are always transparent to anyone with a higher I. Q. than Elmer Fudd’s. Courageous Cat turns himself into an exact lookalike of Marilyn Mouse, which somehow seems weirder. Dr. Fredric Wertham thought Batman was kinky; what would he have thought of this?

But I was amused by the fact that Marilyn Mouse spoke in a breathy voice, reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe’s. And what I remembered most fondly about Courageous Cat cartoons proved to be as good as ever: the Frog himself, whose voice is a superb imitation of that of Edward G. Robinson, the actor best known for his iconic gangster roles in the 1930s and 1940s. When I first saw Courageous Cat I probably did not know anything about Robinson, but that voice gives the Frog a vivid, memorable personality: he’s like Robinson crossed with Mr. Toad from The Wind in the Willows. It’s too bad no one thought to cast such distinctive voices for Courageous and Minute.

Watching this Courageous Cat cartoon, I got the feeling that some people connected with it–the writers and the voice actors–were having fun, even if the rest of the cartoon was uninspired hackwork.

And that’s the sort of thing that makes the difference. Those writers and artists and actors who smuggled sparks of imagination into their cartoons turned out work that still shows some virtues today. Cartoons that just seem to have been ground out as mindless time wasters for kids end up only as specimens of creative bankruptcy, interred in the Cartoon Dump.

-Copyright 2008 Peter Sanderson

Comments:

3 Responses to “Comics in Context #209: Down in the Dump”

  1. Blog » Blog Archive » Comics in Context #209: Down in the Dump Says:

    [...] Quick Stop Entertainment wrote an interesting post today on Comics in Context #209: Down in the DumpHere’s a quick excerpt One of the pleasures in previewing Mark Evaniers Kirby: King of Comics over the last two installments of this column was realizing that work in cartoon art that I had first discovered when I was growing up was now considered significant enough to be honored in art books and museums. In the eight hands comics and cartoon art can achieve greatness. I will return to my commentary on the Kirby book when it is published in March. Now, however, I intend to look at the other end of the spectrum: car [...]

  2. Jacqueline Carpenter Says:

    This would be a riot.

  3. Marco Milone Says:

    Jacqueline, you’re right!

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