Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tomorrow...

Boy, remembering what we had to live through before we got to make fun cartoons again in the 80s really got my blood boiling so tomorrow I'm going to offer you an


80s Saturday Morning Cartoon Rant







45 comments:

John E. B. said...

I cannot imagine not only how these ever caught on, but how they were perpetuated for so long. I honestly question the intelligence of the majority of people when I see things like those terrors.

Tom Agnew said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7po25hHY40w

whether we are working or a playing, we're together in whatever we do

Severin said...

As a kid I was always confused by 50's-throwback-styled movies and cartoons that were made in the 70's and 80's. Movies like Grease. I understood roughly that they were making reference to a time long past, but since the 50's kept coming back over and over the exact origin of the 50's became obscured in my developing mind.

It's funny to see how each decade re-interprets the 50's as we move further and further from it.

Abraham said...

They must have done something right, I was laughing hysterically the whole time.

My interest was peaked with the time-traveling Fonz show.

Oliver_A said...

Something tells me this will be a therapeutic process... bring it on!

Noel said...

All these give me that saturday morning sickness i use to get cause there was nothing on other that this stuff on. Also how Tarzan and Flash Gordon (and another character i think) always did the same jumping off the tree wrestle, the alligator movement the same way.... i was sick of TV, i watched too much. I did like some cheeze though like: Wheelie and The Chopper Bunch

Operation GutterBall said...

The great animation swindle.Ever get the feeling you've been cheated? Japan got 'Space Battleship Yamato', and 'Lupin the Third', and we got 'The New Shmoo', and' Fred and Barney meet the Thing'.Awesome!

Brandon Waltman said...

awwww rubick, the amazing cube. One of the scariest creations ever created by a human mind.

Yowp said...

I read the animator credits and cry.

Yowp

bergsten said...

OK.

There seems to be a key bit of "show business" economics you folks just aren't getting.

No matter how crappy a show is, those involved in its production get (in some cases very large) paychecks. Residuals, ad revenue, awards, and so on are nice perks -- kind of like winning the lottery, but are not germane to the fact that the producers got paid up front.

When you read that this or that TV show or movie cost 500 gazillion Samoleans, where, exactly, did you think these Samoleans are going?

Those involved have zero interest in quality, creativity, inventiveness, art, story, redeeming value, and so on. Their interest is in sleazing their buddies Samoleans (and vice versa). In fact, they hardly care about ratings and ad revenue either because these are the network's problem, and ad placement is so far removed from any large company's control, they just write checks for alleged demographic-relevant time slots and chalk it down to the "cost of doing business" (and the agency placing the ads gets their 15% for doing nothing and sleaze their Samoleans around too).

Once you understand and believe these economics you will finally see that bitching and lamenting the sad state of animation (or any Mass Media entertainment for that matter) serves no purpose, because nobody cares.

Sorry.

(I might have ended there, but in an attempt to be helpful...)

So, what's a poor artist to do? Sleaze your way into the Samolean trough.

Zoran Taylor said...

But is it even worth it?

Raff said...

Do we finally get to see a full list of every Sat-Morn cartoon series you worked on back in the day?

ChristopherC said...

John, great post! I never realize how bad those were! Nothing salvageable! I think the He-man stuff had the same kind of style.

Chris_Garrison said...

Okay, but please don't pick on Thundarr. I have a soft spot in my heart for him.

Guy Cx said...

The "Mr. T and the gymnasts" thing looks especially stinky... In fact, it's an offense to stink to call it stinky.

Eidenbrock said...

HAHAHAHA, "Rubik"? Seriously? My god.

Shawn Dickinson said...

Aaargh! All of those 80's cartoons are like a smorgasbord of boredom!

bergsten said...

Afterthought: I said above that the "money changers" don't care a whit about how bad animation is.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that they don't care about how good it is either!

Which means, you can in fact sneak quality into the work, get some job satisfaction, and still cash the occasional paycheck! And nobody will be the wiser.

All it takes is subversion (go watch M*A*S*H, Sgt. Bilko, etc. reruns for ideas), and letting the "suits" take credit after the fact for what was obviously "their" idea in the first place!

Oliver_A said...

There seems to be a key bit of "show business" economics you folks just aren't getting.

(...)


Boy, you are one clever son of a gun. Really, I mean, before you posted here, we were not even aware that executives don't care about quality! Hot damn, now we see the light! IT'S SO BRIGHT, THE PURPOSE OF THIS WHOLE BLOG HAS JUST BEEN REDEFINED!!!!

(...)

No, seriously. We bitch about saturday morning cartoons, because no one pays our psychiatric bills for growing up with them. John, being the humanitarian spirit he is, is just helping us to regain our sanity.

After all, there are really people out there who feel nostalgic towards this abominations. All of them need help, quickly. And so do you.

Taber said...

RUBIK THE AMAZING CUBE HAHAHA... Oh man... Does it gall you at all that all those crappy 70's cartoons got a new life in the 90's because they're so BAD they became funny again?

Jeffrey said...

Ya'see? That very first picture of the Saturday morning line-up is EXACTLY why kids my age turned to Anime. If anyone's wondering why the GenX generation has a Japan fascination, there's your answer.

I can understand the criticism that some offer towards anime, but look at what John posted. Ugh~ When I saw Robotech in 1985 after being reared on Plastic Man and Scrappy Do, it was like a new world opening up.

Tim said...

Are you trying to kill us, John?

Zoran Taylor said...

Oh crap, you worked on RICHIE RICH. Only one season of it though. Man, scanning those credits....feels weird....

MICHAEL E. VERNON said...

I have to make this short and(GACK!)sweet. I had repressed all of that from my memory. I remember, I re-mem-beeeeeerrrrr.

Niki said...

Not having ever seen the Mr't show's opening, I realize it looks like bad flash animation! And though the though of T being a gynastics coach is hilarious, the show was crap. No wonder they only showed it a 6:00 in the morning.

Shannon said...

The Mork and Mindy cartoon is especially funny because the original show was set in my hometown. Which... resides at the base of the Rocky Mountains? And Mindy lived in a neighborhood that's actually quite crowded.

And they apparently set the whole cartoon on a patch of flat green grass. Well done indeed. Don't stress yourselves, now.

C said...

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! I remember rewatching Care Bears at 18 to see what the fuss was about. It scared me to death. I don't want a bunch of creepy cult rainbow bears coming after me if I'm in a bad mood.

What's with the taking of shows and celebrities and making horrible cartoons?!

Damn you 80's!

It's crazy how something like this gets made, and this doesn't. Same character, different approach, but the bland version is the winner, so to speak.

John A said...

bergsten: It's true, the hack artist usually makes just as much as a more concientious artist, and he probably suffers from fewer headaches, but is that any excuse to just throw in the towel and not even try to raise the level of the art to something you don't have to be ashamed of?

Yeah, It's a business, and back then it was easier to sell a show to a network if it was based on a pre-existing product, toy ,or TV show. Sure, they made it on the air, but does anyone have any fond memories of these shows? Did the kids watching them at the time actually like them? Did it really matter?

See that's the big question; does it really matter? You could apply that question to any area of the arts, be it movies, books, music, theatre or painting. Does it matter if any of this stuff is made at all or if it's any good? It's not exactly essential to our survival as a species, is it? We could live in a world without(insert your own favorite artistic genius here),but would you really want to? There will always be people that approach the arts from a strictly business perspective. To these people, the sale will always be more important than the quality of the work being sold, and to the consumer, the ratio of garbage to gold will always be larger on the garbage end. A majority of the population might be satisfied with low quality goods, art,and entertainment,sure,and if you are content to join them, you're welcome to it. But there will always be another faction, be they artist or audience, that expects a little bit more. Believe it or not, there ARE creative people out there that DO think it's worth the extra effort to create quality work. For them it's a matter of personal integrity.

I can only imagine John's frustration when visitors to this blog only seem to hear: "I'm great! All other work is bad! Draw like me or else you suck", When time and time again, he presents several(oftentimes very different from his own work) examples of things that were done well (and sometimes exceptionally well) in order to show that that this business doen't have to settle for mediocrity. He isn't even ambiguous about it--he'll point right at it: "Look! Characterization! Character Design! Composition! Storytelling! Isn't that FUN? Isn't that a PLEASURE to LOOK at? Isn't this worth a few minutes of your time? Didn't you feel enriched by the experience? Wouldn't YOU like to do something that might make some future human feel the same way? Well, YOU can! These people did, and YOU can learn from them! There may be no set formula, but there ARE standards! If you work REAL HARD, you may even find yourself on this level!" And when he displays these forgettable examples of a professional studio's output he's saying,"OR-- you can take the easy way--put in the least amount of effort and collect your paycheck--lots of people do, that's how you end up with shows like "Richie Rich" or "Rubic the Cube" make no attempt to improve and nothing improves. The industry isn't going to fix itself, it can only be lifted up from the dregs by each individual artist actually trying to produce quality work." John can only show you the ingredients that went into someone elses' art--in hopes that you will (over time) learn to apply them in future projects.

True,the "business" trudges along as usual, like a fleet of trucks delivering their goods, unaware and uncaring of the value of its contents.Wether it's Crown Jewels or crates of manure, it's all the same to them. That doesn't mean the artist has to be just as cynical. There'll always be compromises, but the artist should see it as his or her own personal duty to produce and deliver art that can stand up to the finest examples of the craft.And that doesn't happen by copying someone else's lousy work just because "it sells".

Mark said...

I had never seen these cartoons when growing up they must not have made it over here phew(although there was other stuff similar), gotta love those marvel comic expressions smile, sad, angry etc

RooniMan said...

Mr T, The Rubiks cube ,and The Dukes of Hazzard had their own cartoon show? What the f***ing s***?!

talkingtj said...

iloved saturday morning cartoons deeply but even i was abandoned saturday mornings during the eighties, its like they were begging to be extinguished, no fun at all,repetituos, certainly not funny. i thought maybe i was all grown up so i stopped, but when mighty mouse came out, then ren and stimpy-bruce timms batman-the tick-when all that started i was back-and i was in my late twenties-it was the corporate mentality-wash rinse repeat-cartoons are always cool-network execs are never cool.

HemlockMan said...

Good grief that stuff looks horrid. People should die.

Chip Butty said...

Wow, look at all the Marquee value!!

I remember in the post-R&S afterglow of the 90s when Cartoon Network had their various "creator-driven" series and things were looking up, they would still run the really horrible crap like this in the wee hours every morning. My cartoon-loving friend and I would stay up late just to laugh at them. How lucky we were to have grown up knowing the difference...

We were still guilty of loving Adult Swim for a few years because of the ironically bad animation (culled from 70s Hanna-Barberra,) but reading this blog helped me grow out of that.

Franky said...

I love Thundarr, Jack Kirby designs and Steve Gerber story - the animation was sucky but it had some classic comic book chops.

"Eyenot" Petrie said...

I was watching a youtube movie (I am not sure but I think John K. doesn't appreciate youtube very much, but anyways): "[Tim & Eric] were commissioned by Absolut Vodka to make a film for their website. They were told they could do anything they wanted as long as they mentioned the product."

It reminded me of something that actually happened to me. I met the vice president of Absolut once, visiting from Sweden w/ his wife, at the home of his daughter Petra's BF. They spoke Swedish the entire time. I drank some pree-ty fine scotch. The BF agreed to put up signs for both the R's and D's ("I'll put a sign up if I get one for each party") which was myself & partner's point in being there.

I mention this and the Absurdist movement in America: "been watching since Ren & Stimpy", so I had to come here. At first I went to the Michael Moore entry from Oct 2009, thinking it was most recent (highest google result). I'll modify the comment I left there, here...

Reading Russian absurdism lately (Daniil Kharms & Alexander Vvedensky, compiled in "The Man With the Black Coat: Russia's Literature of the Absurd", Northwestern University Press) in particular which resulted from discontent with the Soviet revolution. I'm starting to believe that Absurdism in America has always been and is still being overlooked today.

Sure you can watch "Cartoon Network" and fill your head with the most pointless, randomized content ever published but it's still part of a movement that people obviously largely enjoy yet don't have any context for. Even my "peers" who were there while TV was economized (the most absurd thing going was "what's IN the burgers") don't today see anything particularly interesting in tracing a line from "Stimpy" to "Rocko" to "Sponge Bob" to finally "Cartoon Network" and the entire explosion of this whole thing being called nothing more than "randomness" by fans. I'd call that "overlooked". Well let me say, In Soviet Russia, movement overlook YOU!

Most people today only find historical analysis of R&S interesting in the context of censorship and draw parallel to "Beavis & Butthead". That informs me Americans still largely relate to corporate interests before their own. I had an hour long argument last fall with a fellow homeless guy about how the Nick decision to drop R&S was about protecting Nick from liability. He actually thought it was protecting consumers from dangerous content: "She had no idea that John K. was dangerously insane!" He had to be convinced, TV corps know what they're getting into when they produce programs that *will be considered "edgy"*.

Ultras and die-hards, conservative and liberal alike, are the source of America's political rigidity. Not one among them knows all Capitalism is, is "you get what you can with what you have". They want somebody to regulate the market, keep them out of risk. It's unnatural.

Well, so I was out there getting support for a mixed bag of "Reds" and "Blues", and one candidate lady saw an other-colored sign: "you're not supporting ME with THAT MAN'S SIGN in your office!" So I shrugged: "Fine! Now I'm supporting your opponent!"

Her behaviour is that unnatural rigidity Russians had in *their* daily environments at the blossoming of their Absurdism. It reflects the expectations America's entire political world today. I mean, Palin is their definition of "Rogue"? You can see why I bowed out and just stayed homeless. Drinking liquor & mingling with power is great & all, but just being right is worth a damn sight more.

Tanuki said...

Rubik - That sh*t's magical if you're stoned.

Elana Pritchard said...

J ustice in the cartoon industry!
O ften doing lots of doodles
H elping lots and lots of strangers
N ever loose control of drawings!

K now your construction, dammit!

Elana Pritchard said...

I mean lose. I always was a terrible speller.

Pete Emslie said...

I was pretty hopeless at trying to solve a Rubik's Cube. Maybe I would have tried harder if I'd known there was a tiny blue mutant inside it. As it was, I think I must have just given the little rascal a lot of intense pain with the way his body was likely mangled up inside.

AnArchyAl said...

i actually remember these cartoons...and hateing them.i had to be about 5 or 7years old at the time. i remember there being a noticable diffrence between bugs bunny cartoons and this crap and that they were boreing. most of the time i watched them waiting for something better to come on like looney tunes, tom and jerry, or mickey mouse. why didnt t.v. execs ever ask me what was good? i would had told them! i remember when the new mighty mouse came out too! i remember noticeing a diffrence and that it reminded me of those older better cartoons!

thomas said...

I could be wrong about this but; wasn't 70's filmation just stupid, post hippy loosey goosey; lets not try too hard and keep the animation at the level of what schoolkid could scribble on the back of their notebooks, because doing anything better just would not be cool; where 80's filmation was cynical, and more like we know this is crap, but they don't know anything else, and oh, lets put in some moral messages.

Anyway isn't there some differences between the two, although they're both bad ?

Brendan Body said...

Hey John,

What's your opinion on the new Ricky Gervais Show? Is getting animation on a major network good for the industry even though the animation/character design of this product is poor?

Ricky Gervais Show

Joseph said...

Now I'm depressed, thanks a LOT sir!

Kingfish said...

As a kid I could always tell there was something suspect about those Hanna-Barbera cartoons. I loved USA Cartoon Express, but on stuff like Scooby-Doo I hated the way the characters' eyes were the same color as their faces... and even as a youngster I could tell they were re-using the same poses and drawings over, and over, and over again. Even the stories were identical week to week. I don't know why that show is remembered so fondly.

These days they don't even show the HB stuff on TV, let alone Looney Tunes (what is it- Cartoon Network has exclusive rights and choose to withhold them?). That means all my and my friends' kids are going to grow up ignorant of Bugs Bunny (unless I buy the DVDs of course, which I will) but fully aware of Dora the Explora. What a ripoff

Ben Cohen said...

yeah there bad...but I was a kid and really enjoyed them. I have been complaining about most cartoons ever since the 80's (and I was exposed to older higher quality...and yes there have been some brilliant shows since)...but to look back now and say its crap to to hate what I loved as a kid. And I was the target audience. As a cartoonist today, it doesn't bother me to much. Now Captain Planet THAT was crap.