State of Animation today

Jon McClenahan directed some of the best TINY TOONS and ANIMANIACS cartoons around ten years ago. If you remember the original Baby Plucky short (“Water go down the hall!”), you know his style. It was distinctive in a good way, as opposed to one or two other directors at the time whose distinctive styles were a little less exciting. (There was animation house for TINY TOONS that had all the characters speaking out of the corners of their faces, and stretching and squashing as they walked. The name “Kennedy” comes to mind for some reason.)

In any case, has a fascinating interview with the man, in which he talks about learning animation in Australia, starting his own company in the early 90s, and watching it boom and bust with the animation industry over the course of the decade. I haven’t thought much about the animation industry in the past few years. It used to be a real passion of mine. It seems that I’m not the only one who feels left out of today’s market. The market for traditional animation in this country is in the crapper. It’s a sad sad thing to see and read about. McClenahan’s story is an excellent example of what’s happened, it would seem.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I would watch hours of animation a week. It was a Golden Age, and not just because I was the right age. In fact, I wasn’t. I was a few years past the prime age for Saturday morning animation. But like I said in an earlier entry today, look at the quality TV you had back then: BATMAN, TINY TOONS, ANIMANIACS, etc. Quality shows, even to this day. Too bad we’re not getting any of that any more.


12 Responses to “State of Animation today”

  1. Joseph J. Finn
    29. October 2002 at 17:33

    Sadly true, though we can get into any number of exceptions (such as Jackie Chan Adventures, which somehow managed to become a well-written, gently snide gem.) But overall, they’re sacharine crap lately. They’re either message obsessed, disguised commercials, or both.

  2. Joe Torcivia
    30. October 2002 at 09:34


    Being the “right age” has nothing to do with it. It comes down to QUALITY and the ability to produce a product that someone of ALL AGES — not just a target demographic age — can enjoy on some level.

    I was between 33 and 43 during the incredible WB run of TINY TOON ADVENTURES, TAZ-MANIA (…anyone remember that?), ANAMANIACS, FREAKAZOID!, PINKY & THE BRAIN, BATMAN, SUPERMAN, and BATMAN BEYOND.

    I enjoyed those even more than I enjoyed HUCKLEBERRY HOUND and THE FLINTSTONES, back when WAS the “right age”.

    Today, I only care about JUSTICE LEAGUE and THE SIMPSONS.

    Like you, I fear the time for animation has passed — or, more likely, been killed by network suits who “know better”.

    (Sigh!) At least we still have comics…

  3. Augie De Blieck Jr.
    30. October 2002 at 09:52

    Of course I remember TAZ-MANIA. Although there was a time I’d be able to also give you the name of the guy who helped create it and design it. Worked on a few TINY TOONS cartoons, first. I think his name was Art Vitello. Something like that.

    Francis X. Bushlad, Didgeri Dingo, Wendell T. Wolf (Woody Allen), Bushmaster Bob and his mother, etc. etc. The episode with the orange tree was their best, I thought.

    Then Taz would stick his tongue out at you at the end of the opening credits and all would be right with the world.

    Yackety Schmackety, blah blah blah

  4. pmpknface
    30. October 2002 at 10:16

    God, you’re taking me back. I worked at the WB store in the Prudential Mall between 95-98 and worked in the art gallery for 1/2 of that. I actually got to meet Maruice LaMarsh (The Brain) and Rob Paulsen (Pinky, Yakko, etc…) a few times.

    I loved those cartoons. I caught a few minutes of Wakko’s Wish on CN the other day.

    Seriously, try the He-Man cartoon. It’s really good! I can’t stand Transformers Armada. The only other cartoons I currently follow are X-Men Evolution, Justice League (on Sat for the 2-parters!) and of course, the Simpsons.

    And I really miss Family Guy…

  5. Augie De Blieck Jr.
    30. October 2002 at 13:19

    FAMILY GUY was a great show, but I never got to watch it because of the time slot. Heck, I thought it was funnier than THE SIMPSONS.

    I once applied for a job at a WB Store. They never called me back. Me! The guy who had a shelf of reference books on the history of Warner Bros. animation and Termite Terrace, let along a couple of boxes of videotape filled with WB shows and shorts.

    Go fig.

    I’m not teribly upset about the lack of good animated shows on television today. I’m trying to cut back on how much television I watch so I can be more productive elsewhere (like here).


  6. Joe Torcivia
    30. October 2002 at 13:54


    Yes, FAMILY GUY WAS funnier than THE SIMPSONS! Where’s the DVD boxed set?

    On TAZ-MANIA, you left out my favorite recurring characters. I would never fail to crack a good smile — if not an out-loud laugh — when BULL GATOR and AXEL would appear!

    John Astin’s relentless and cheerfully focused BULL was perfect when paired with Rob Paulsen’s “Pinky-Like” AXEL.

    Indeed, BULL & AXEL were probably forerunners — of sorts — to PINKY AND THE BRAIN. The main difference was BULL’s unending optomism, in contrast with THE BRAIN’s more dour nature.

    Paulsen also supplied many laughs as DIGGERY DINGO, who would continuously “gas-on” about something, completely oblivious to poor TAZ repeatedly getting trashed! I may never completely forget: “TAZ HATE WATER! TAZ HATE WATER!”

    It was the great and consistant humor of TAZ-MANIA that convinced me that WB’s (…and FOX’s) success with TINY TOON ADVENTURES was more than just a fluke.

  7. Augie De Blieck Jr.
    1. November 2002 at 14:42

    A FAMILY GUY boxed set would be lovely, wouldn’t it? I don’t need any extras. Just slap all the episodes together, 8 to a disc. Make it two separate boxed sets, if need be. Those shows were brilliant.

    I left out Bull and Axel because I was coming up with the names as I sang the theme song to myself and forgot their part. Whoops. And, yes, I can still remember most of that song nearly a decade later. Wow. I think Art would be proud.


  8. pmpknface
    1. November 2002 at 15:19

    FYI – You CAN find DVD’s of this on ebay, buy you need a multi-zone DVD player to use them. I really want that set too!

    And I agree… Funnier than the Simpsons. But it always got the crappy time slot.

  9. Augie De Blieck Jr.
    1. November 2002 at 16:18

    THE SIMPSONS/FAMILY GUY was a powerful one-two punch that left my stomach hurting from laughing so hard.

    FAMILY GUY/THE TICK against SURVIVOR and FRIENDS and WHOSE LINE just got the short end of the stick.


  10. Toon
    6. January 2003 at 14:35

    Will Taz-mania ever come back to TV? I really miss the show.

  11. THE T
    21. June 2003 at 18:12

    comment Transformers Armada is crap! I shallm make myself heard, they have got everything wrong e.g. laserbeak is now an Autobot,apparently (that was supposed to be sarcasm), and Megatron is now a cross between a bulb and a fork! Since the Transformers are so bloody detailed it costs too much money to make them gtransform so that is why they rarely do!
    Thank you for your time!
    THE T

  12. sparkchronic
    30. June 2003 at 05:45

    does anyone remember sam and max? i heard theres a video game based on it coming out this yr.

    pinky and the brain was the best!