Sunday, August 12, 2007

"Cartoon Pabulum"

Last night I was up fairly late and had the t.v. on The Cartoon Network, or "Boomerang", or some such, and was watching "Justice League Unlimited", and after that was over I just left it on that network and shortly thereafter they showed "Super Friends".

On JLA Unlmt., the JLA was fighting "Darkseid", and on "Sup.Friends", they were doing the same (which just shows the staying power of popularity of the old Jack Kirby characters, I suppose). But I couldn't hardly even watch the old SF's from 25+ years ago due to the crudeness of the design work. I'm sure that back when those cartoons first appeared I thought they were great, but really they hadn't changed in quality a bit since the first DC and Marvel super-hero series began around 1967 (and this isn't counting that Ghod awful series of cartoons called "Marvel Super-Heroes" which preceeded the 60's 1/2 hr. FF & Spider-man shows).

DC may have finally gotten rid of the monkey and the kids and "The Wonder Twins", but the animation was still the same, which makes me wonder even to this day "why" these animated super-hero shows haven't improved even more so?

Occasionally you saw a little computer graphics done on JLA Unlmt., but that's just mixed with what has become known now as a "house style" on all DC characters in animation (outside of maybe "The Teen Titans" with their anime-look). 'Can't see why the entire shows can't be done the same way their opening sequences are done, with better shading. It's sort of like seeing a comic book on the stands with really great cover art to only open it to find it's by some hack filler artist.

I remember one of the Spider-man shows had some excellant animated graphics at the END of their episodes, showing Spidey sitting on the Marvel logo, but the animation on the show itself was just that "same ol' same ol". How great I always thought that could have been had they used the same level of time and energy on the episodes as they did with that 4 seconds clip. But I guess it all comes down to economics and just how much $ they can pour into their cartoons.

The downfall of animation really began with television since previously cartoons produced for movie theatres were aimed basically towards adults, which is "why' we had such wonderful work from the like of Warner Bros. (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, etc.), Terrytoons (Mighty Mouse, Heckles & Jeckle, etc.), Disney (Mickey Mouse & that gang), Fleischer Studios (Popeye, the 1940's wonderful Superman cartoons, etc.), MGM (Tom & Jerry, & the like).

When t.v. got started they did in fact start showing some of those old great cartoons, but mostly it was filled with new shows and they had a specific budget they had to maintain. There was less detail, less background, repeated backgrounds (especially on Hanna-Barbera shows), and less frames per second making the movement less fluid. They were also aimed primarilly towards children rather than adults. Then political correctness reared it's (sometimes) ugly head and these cartoons were either clipped all to hell or eliminated from broadcast completely.

It's not that everyone did this even today. The Japanese still rule on amimated shows, but there all just that damn anime-look that over the years I've gotten where I can't quite handle anymore. "Astro-Boy" was a novelty back in the 1960's, but it's tending to wear on my nerves these days and those sort of shows are the first I change the channels on anymore. I'm afraid my own sense of humor is pretty different that what THEY seem to think is funny. Different cultures...different times...and obviously a LARGE age gap there to that level of humor.

It's like watching a "Godzilla" movie today. When they originally were made I would literally beg my dad to take my under-the-age-to-drive-a-vehicle-ass to the local drive-inn to see one. Now I can't hardly even watch one at all, and if I do it's with the whole new perspective that it's camp and humor more than adventure & thrills.
And it's also much like trying to read a DC or Marvel comic book from the 1980's compared with what is being currently offered. The stories and artwork are crude in the 80's in general (not that there weren't a handful of gems in that gravel), much worse than a lot of it in the 1960's and 70's. In fact, the 1980's were almost like a lot of companies took a step back, rather than forward.

So I can only hope that now since the original JLA Unlmt. run has ended and DC has new animated projects in the works, they will be a little bit better than before. "The Legion of Super-Heroes" is only fair...and PLEASE NO MORE "KRYPTO" SHOWS!


At 8:01 PM , Blogger Johnny Bacardi said...

Dave, do you really think that the animation on Justice League Unlimited and so on is no better than the Super Friends-era stuff?

Please tell me I'm dreaming...

At 5:08 PM , Blogger ~D.Puck' said...

Oh no, it's MUCH better, but it could be even more so with the technology available today. The artwork is still too simplistic. And something tells me that 25 years "on down the road" fans will be looking back at today's animation thinking how crude IT is (compared to what they have then).

At 5:51 PM , Blogger Johnny Bacardi said...

I don't know- the 3D animation used in the opening credits still looks lifeless and artificial to me. The Timm-style JLU proper animation has more life, more of a human touch if you will, at least to me.

The simplicity is part of its charm to me, as it is with Timm, Cooke, and all those others' on-paper style.

At 7:11 PM , Blogger ~D.Puck' said...

Yeah, well..."to each his own". It's not like I hate the artwork on the animation; just think it could be better. Look at the 40's Superman cartoons. Those were made approx. 65 years ago and still considered the best super-hero animation ever produced. If they could do it "then", they could do it now.


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