Tuesday, January 27, 2009


(Originally posted on MySpace on Sunday, August 05, 2007)

(This article refers to MySpace's ability to allow highlighting "Top Friends" on your homepage.)

July was an overly depressing month for me, with the death of my cat and the end of my jury service. (There will be more about my jury service and why it depressed me in two weeks.) With the Simpsons Movie opening this last week, I decided that I needed some lightness in my life. So this month's friends are going to be a selection of some of my favorite characters from various cartoons that I have watched throughout my life. It's a bit light this week with information due to trying to get caught up with everything, but next week I'll be back with more Thin White Rope road stories.

I was disappointed to find that several of my favorite cartoon characters were not represented on Myspace, such as those crazy crows, Heckle & Jeckle, Woody Woodpecker and his friends, and a good many of the MGM and Warner Bros characters. But I still found plenty to highlight.

First are some of my favorites from the Warner Bros crew of characters. There are so many that didn't have pages, like Claude the Cat or the "Giant Mouse" Kangaroo. But I did find the frightenly loveable monster, Gossamer, Sylvester the sneaky cat, Tazz the Tasmanian devil, Marvin the Martian, that little cutie Sweety Pie, and Bugs Bunny himself. The WB characters were my favorites growing up and are still my favorites as an adult. I've seen most of these cartoons dozens of times and I still laugh until I choke each and every time I see them. The timing of the animation, with the great music from Carl Stalling and the clever scripts has never been beat. These were perfect cartoons. Amusing for kids and relatable to adults.

Coming in second place were the MGM cartoons like Tom & Jerry and Droopy Dawg. I loved the surreal humor in the violence of these cartoons, which was trademark of Tex Avery, who also worked for WB on many of those great cartoons.

Bob Clampett worked with Tex Avery at WB and was also responsible for one of my all time favorites, Beany & Cecil, who I couldn't find on Myspace. I loved Cecil, the seasick sea serpent, and had dolls and toys devoted to him as a kid. And once again, as an adult, I can still watch these cartoons and love the surreal humor presented in them.

Popeye was one of my favorites as a kid. More than anything else, the Popeye cartoons were probably responsible for my love of vegetables as a kid. There wasn't a vegetable I didn't love growing up, much to the surprise of my parents. To this day, there isn't a vegetable I won't eat, with the possible except of Malaysian sour vegetable, a leafy green with the smell of horse manure.

Rocky & Bullwinkle were also favorites as a kid, but have persisted into my adult years. I loved the humor of the cartoons, but as an adult, I can really appreciate the sometimes-surreal political humor behind many of the stories, including the fractured reworking of old fairytales. It's too bad the live action film made about the "moose and squirrel" was such an artistic bomb.

Hanna-Barbera created some great characters that have managed to last through the ages. The Jetsons, the Flintstones, Yogi Bear were among a strong group, including Hunkleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, and Quickdraw McGraw.

And of course, there was also Disney. I've gone on about Disney before, but I thought I'd highlight my favorite Disney cartoon character, Scrooge McDuck, the penny-pinching miserly uncle of Donald. Carl Barks created Scrooge for his wonderful series of Disney Duck comic books that starred the whole Duck family (of which I have a full reissue collection), but he made his mark in the cartoons as well, especially in "Mickey's Christmas Tale", a great Disney retelling of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol".

And there were so many more while I was growing up. The glamour of Betty Boop. The weird Claymation of the Gumby cartoons. The crazy coolness of the Pink Panther. The sci-fi excitement of Astro Boy. And the adventures of Simba the White Lion, a cartoon that preceded Disney's "Lion King" in wildlife themes. There's the nostalgic family feelings that the Peanuts gang brought to me, especially Marcie, who was perhaps the first gay cartoon character. And He-Man and his Masters of The Universe, whose ongoing war with Skeletor was a homoerotic dream. (And I'm certainly looking forward to the upcoming live action adaptation, although they'll probably screw it up.) And that just scratches the surface of what I grew up with.

These days, hand drawn animation isn't quite as refined as it was back in the days I was growing up. But there are still a good amount of modern cartoons that grab my attention and entertain me every week.

These include Ren & Stimpy and their neighbor George Liquor. Dethklok, the speed metal band from Hell. The Tick and his group of dysfunctional superheroes. South Park and its group of fowl-mouthed kids and their friends, including the constantly stoned towel, Towelie. Aqua Teen Hunger Force, featuring a trio of living fast food items, Frylock, Meatwad and Master Shake, and their enemies, including the Mooninites. The undersea adventures of Spongebob Squarepants. And even Space Ghost has reappeared as a talk show host with some alien co-hosts, including Brak.

My favorite modern cartoon show right now is "Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends", which is created by Craig McCracken, the same guy who did the wonderful series "Powerpuff Girls" on the Cartoon Network. It's all about a young boy whose parents think he's too old to have an imaginary friend any more, so he takes his friend, Bloo, to live at a home set up by Madame Foster to house unwanted imaginary friends. There he can visit him any time he wants without his parents knowing about it. The show is full of colorful characters, but my favorite is Eduardo, the scary monster who is actually extremely kind-hearted and afraid of his own shadow. The first season just came out on DVD and I urge you all to check it out.

And then there's the king of the newest cartoons, The Simpsons. I really love many of the minor characters such as the Catlady and Snowball and I think Krusty is probably the ultimate TV clown. And the same creators came up with the underestimated "Futurama", with the beer drinking, swearing robot, Bender.

(Just as a postscript, I'm not a big fan of many of the newer shows like "Family Guy" or "American Dad" or the poorly thought out humor of some of the shows like "L'il Bush" or "Drawn Together". I do love "The Powerpuff Girls". And "Spongebob Squarepants" just keeps getting better, although the movie was the best episode ever.)

So there you have it. Like I said, I'll be back next week with more Thin White Rope stories, this time from an American tour. Comments are always welcome.

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