Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Glen Keane's Duet

Color:



Pencil:
  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Disney Channel Toon Gender Ratio 1990s

From the start of 1990 to the end of 1999 there were 24 narrative cartoons that aired on Disney. Some of these started before the nineties, and some continued into the 2000s, but all cartoons that aired during this decade are included. Cartoon shows featuring shorts with a rotating cast (Raw Toonage, Mickey Mouse Works, and The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show) were not included.

Shows:
Adventures of the Gummi Bears (1985-1991), Duck Tales (1987-1990), The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1988-1991), Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers (1989-1990), TaleSpin (1990-1991), Darkwing Duck (1991-1992), Goof Troop (1992-1993), The Little Mermaid (1992-1994), Bonkers (1993-1994), Marsupilami (1993), Aladdin (1994-1995), Gargoyles (1994-1997), The Lion King's Timon & Pumbaa (1995-1999), Quack Pack (1996), Mighty Ducks (1996-1997), Jungle Cubs (1996-1998), Disney's Doug (1996-2000), 101 Dalmatians (1997-1998), Nightmare Ned (1997), Recess (1997-2003), Pepper Ann (1997-2002), Hercules (1998-1999), PB&J Otter (1998-2000), The Weekenders (1999-2004), 

Ensemble Casts

Adventures of Gummi Bears (4M, 2F)
Tummi (M), Zummi (M), Grammi (F), Gruffi (M), Sunni (F), Cubbi (M)
Duck Tales (4M)
Scrooge McDuck (M), Huey (M), Dewey (M), Louie (M) 
Gargoyles (6M, 2F)
Goliath (M l), Elisa Maza (F), Hudson (M), Brooklyn (M), Lexington (M), Broadway (M), Angela (F), Bronx (M)
Quack Pack (4M)
Donald Duck (M), Huey (M), Dewey (M), Louie (M)
Mighty Ducks (4M 2F)
WildWing Flashblade (M l), NoseDive Flashblade (M), Duke L'Orange (M), Mallory McMallerd (F), Tanya Vanderflock (F), Check Hardwing (M),
Jungle Cubs (6M)
Baloo (M l), Bagheera (M), Louie (M), Shere Kahn (M), Kaa (M), Hathi (M)
101 Dalmations (2M, 2F)
Lucky (M l), Cadpig (F), Rolly (M), Spot (F)
Recess (4M, 2F)
T.J. (M l), Spinelli (F), Vince (M), Gretchen (F), Gus (M), Mikey (M)
PB&J Otters (2F, 1M)
Peanut (M), Butter (F), Jelly (F)
Weekenders (2M, 2F)
Tino (M l), Lor (F), Carver (M), Tish (F)

Main Character (Plus Supporting Ensemble)
The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (M) (6M, 1F)
Winnie the Pooh (M)
Tigger (M), Piglet (M), Rabbit (M), Eeyore (M), Owl (M), Roo (M), Kanga (F) 
TaleSpin (M) (3M, 2F)
Baloo (M)
Kit (M), Rebecca (F), Molly (F), Wildcat (M), Louis (M)
Darkwing Duck (M) (2M, 1F)
Drake Mallard (M)
Gosalyne (F), Launchpad (M), Honker (M)
The Little Mermaid (F) (2M)
Ariel (F)
Sebastian (M), Flounder (M)
Bonkers (M) (1M, 1F)
Bonkers (M)
Miranda Wright (F), Lucky Piquel (M)
Marsupilami (M) (2M)
Marsupilami (M)
Maurice (M), Stewart (M)
Aladdin (M) (1M, 1F)
Aladdin (M)
Jasmine (F), Genie (M)
Disney's Doug (M) (3M, 2F)
Doug (M)
Skeeter (M), Roger (M), Patti (F), Beebe (F), Porkchop (M)
Nightmare Ned (M)
Ned (M)
Pepper Ann (F) (3F, 1M)
Pepper Ann (F)
Nicky (F), Milo (M), Lydia (F), Moose (F)
Hercules (M) (1M, 1F)
Icarus (M), Cassandra (F)

Duo (Plus Supporting Ensemble)
Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers (2M) (2M, 1F)
Chip (M), Dale (M)
Monterey (M), Gadget (F), Zipper (M)
Goof Troop (2M) (2M, 2F)
Goofy (M), Max (M),
Peter (M), Peg (F), P.J. (M), Pistol (F)
Timon and Pumbaa (2M)
Timon (M), Pumbaa (M)

Out of 68 main characters: 52 M, 16 F
Out of 109 main characters and main supporting characters: 78M, 31F

19 shows had a male lead and male majority (79%), 2 had a female lead and female majority, 1 had a female lead and a male majority, 2 had equal male and female main characters

In all cases where there was a leader in an ensemble cartoon (5), the leader was a male character.
In both of the cartoons that had equal male and female main characters, a male character was the leader.

While ensemble cartoons had an average of 5 characters, there were never more then 2 female characters on an ensemble show.

1/24 shows had at least 3 female main characters including ensembles (Pepper Ann with 4).
14/24 shows had 3 or more male main characters including ensembles

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Actual Cannibal

Pop art at its finest.

Am I the only one who wants to see a horror film with Shia LaBeouf playing himself? In the movie, he would just have been cast in the part of a cannibalistic serial killer, unfortunately he would take method acting to an extreme. What would start out as simply living in the woods for character authenticity would slowly spiral out of control, until crew members start going missing.

It would, of course, be a musical.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Banned, Censored, and the Obscure: Part 3

Witch's Night Out


When I was at the store they had a  Halloween cartoon for sale that I haven't seen in years. Every year after trick-or-treating my family would watch this special. While not banned, or censored, this is one of those strangely obscure cartoons that has a cult following and is not well remembered, (despite the fact that it was released on VHS, and aired every year on the Disney channel and Fox through the mid nineties.)

This is the first year it has been released on DVD. Blogger and author Adam Selzer has the most  information on this cartoon, and a fabulous interview with Jonathan Rogers the creator of Witch's Night Out. Rogers apparently had no idea until about five years ago that the special had even been airing for all those years, or that it had such strong fan base. He currently has partnered with Jimmy Cross and written a Valentine and Thanksgiving special that *fingers crossed* will soon be made.

Witch's Night Out is the story of a morose witch who has been out of work for some time. Meanwhile, the adults of the town decide to throw a Halloween party in what they believe is an abandoned house (really the home of the witch). The adults are out of touch with their child side. None dress up, and  Goodly who helps plan the event sees the whole thing as a sort of community building activity. Tender and Small our child protagonists want to celebrate the spirit of Halloween and reach out to the witch to help them.


The character designs are like nothing you've seen before. Each character has a playful outline and is painted a monochrome color, with the kind of inky edges that makes me think Shinbone Alley. It is vibrant, fun, and the perfect kind of kid-friendly creepy. It starts with a catchy song, blasts through the twenty something minute short, and ends with everyone happily embracing the Halloween festivities.

I remember finding this cartoon visually enthralling as a kid, but I also remember loving the ending. Halloween is about having the opportunity to be someone you're not, but it is also - as is the case for the gently wicked Malicious and Rotten - an opportunity to explore who you could be. Even just for a night.

Having just rewatched it I can definitely recommend the DVD, it cost me a whopping $5 on sale for Halloween, comes with some golden age bonus cartoons, and has been gloriously remastered. It was also everything I remembered it to be.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Boxtroll Review

Having never read Here Be Monsters, the book this animated film was based on, I can make no comment on similarities to the original tale. So, this review will only be looking at the movie itself.
Growing up, I was a huge fan or Roald Dahl. But there is something about the grim, exaggerated nastiness of the villains paired with strange sometimes violent humor and plucky child protagonists that seems to be difficult to translate well into visual story telling. The Fantastic Mr. Fox, by Wes Anderson, managed to make that jump and The Boxtrolls follows suit. It takes this genre, and makes a movie that manages to capture the heart of these kind of strange tales.


Eggs is our primary protagonist, the adopted human child of a family of Boxtrolls that live under the city. The humans who live above believe the Boxtrolls are violent monsters. Meanwhile, the cunning Pest exterminator, Archibald Snatcher, creates a deal with the White Hat Society that if he kills all the Boxtrolls he will be allowed to join their illustrious club.

The characters are so much fun. Eggs is sweet, and funny, and utterly sympathetic in his adventure to try and save his dwindling family. Archibald is a fascinating villain, whose dream of eating cheese with the White Hats is a struggle in the impossible, made all the more hysterically absurd because of his deathly allergy to cheese. His henchman, Mr. Trout and Mr. Pickles, have deep (sometimes fourth wall breaking) discussion on the moral grays of their profession. Both insistently believe they are the heroes of the story.

The Boxtroll is funny, exciting and absolutely gorgeously animated. It is also the kind of world where the secondary protagonist’s father takes the money for a children’s hospital and uses it to buy cheese – and he is not a villain. He is simply one of many comedic morally ambiguous adult figures that populate these kinds of stories.  Children are our heroes and they live in uncertain worlds where adults cannot always be trusted, and there are harsh consequences to ones actions.  But, as someone who loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, despite the cruel consequences that were doled out to unreasonable children – I think kids gravitate to these kinds of stories. The Series of Unfortunate Event books are proof that a love of this genre lives on.


Navigating growing up is complicated, it is a common experience for children to feel unheard, or misunderstood by the adults in their live. While adults might look upon these kinds of stories as too grim, they carry a humor children love. They speak to an understanding of the child experience, without writing down to them. There is no candy-coating. Terrible things happen…  but so do great things. And it is the smart, brave, children who will save the day.

The Boxtrolls is not the type of family animated film we are used to seeing, but it is absolutely a film for families, and one I cannot recommend highly enough.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cartoon Closet Part 4

Part 4: Female Duos (in theory)


But what about female duos? Clearly the comedy tradition is not inherently gendered, and live action comedies like The Heat have done well. While there were a handful of female/male duos like Cow and Chicken or Wanda and Cozmo in the 1990s there were no female duo leads, even while the male duo had a resurgence.

When looking at animated female duos, it is important to look take into account the role of female characters in animation. In 1991, Katha Pollitt wrote an article that helped define a common trope: The Smurfette Principle. In the article Pollitt discusses the tradition of a male cast of cartoon characters having only one female character, who tags along with the boys.
“The message is clear. Boys are the norm, girls the variation; boys are central, girls peripheral; boys are individuals, girls types. Boys define the group, its story and its code of values. Girls exist only in relation to boys.”



Nostalgia Chick has a fabulous video that gives an overview of this phenomenon. As I blog about in more detail HERE, the 80s became a spread of marketing based animated shows. The cartoons also became decidedly gendered, with shows like Transformers for young boys, and My Little Ponies for girls. In the nineties, shows became less product based, and less gendered in their marketing. Cartoon’s became more inclusive for viewers. But as the Nostalgia Chick points out, the result was that in the shows themselves, the majority of protagonists were male. Token female characters would be a part of ensemble casts, but primary female character who carried a show were rare.
Looking at Disney Channel cartoons from 1990-2000 gives a good example of this. 10 out of the 24 shows that aired were ensemble shows with no primary protagonist. Even though these shows had an upward of 8 main characters, and averaged 5 characters per show - no show had more then 2 female main characters.

Of the 24 shows that aired only 2 had female primary protagonist. While 14/24 of the shows had 3 or more male main characters  (including ensembles), only 1/24 shows had at least 3 female main characters (including ensembles).

And Disney was leading the pack. It wasn’t until 1998 that Nickelodeon featured a cartoon with a primary protagonist who was female, The Wild Thornberrys. Similarly, 1998 was the year that Cartoon Network first featured a show with primary female protagonists, with an ensemble cast, The Powerpuff Girls.

It’s probably not surprising then, that while on the rare occasion male/female comedy duos appear, female/female comedy duos don’t. Rarely are there enough female characters to make a comedic duo. Even when there are, female characters are more likely to be daughters, love interests, or sisters to a male character. There is little room for female characters to have a female partner and carry a show, the way male duos did in large numbers during the 90s.  


What would a Female Duo look like if they followed Male Duo traditions?
Two of my favorite web comic artists, Lisa Vandenberg and Rebecca Schauer, co-created an animated web series for a while. It was the first time that I had seen a cartoon that brought the comedy duo to female characters with all of the traditional comedy duo humor (including ambiguous/not so ambiguous relationships). Embracing the hapless idiot and angry friend trope, not only does Nikki and Page embody the best of the “heart” and “brain” characteristics that define male duo comedy in animation – it rises to the standard of bizarre wit that Adult Swim has popularized for older viewers.




Watching this cartoon, is like getting the taste of food everyone tells you can’t be cooked. Of course it can, you’re eating it right now, it’s delicious… but when you try to order it out an a restaurant, everyone simple stares at you blankly and tells you “food like that doesn’t exist.”

Nikki and Page is hysterical, and it doesn’t shy away from overtly “female” comedy. Two shorts in a row joke about menstruation, in the kind of gross-out humor one expects from Ren and Stimpy tradition. Jokes like this don’t fly on mainstream adult targeting animation, humor that deal with “womanly” issues must be coached through a male perspective to be considered universal humor.

Vandenburg  recently posted on Tumblr, about a cartoon that she and Schauer had pitched to Nickelodeon.
I saw this in my old folder and remembered when me and Becca pitched this show about young lesbian girls who hang out with spoiled snails that have realistic baby faces to Nickelodeon. They didn’t think it was as funny as we did, though.”

#the world isn’t ready for this kind of greatness
…and though the hashtag is intended with humor, she’s absolutely right. But this is exactly the kind of show (in genre) that was being made with male characters in the 90s. Shows like Ren and Stimpy capitalized on the humor that came from the ambiguous relationship of its title characters.  


Vandenberg is now working on Sanjay and Craig as a Storyboard Revisionist. This is a male duo show that matches her comedy style. Seeing an artist like her get an opportunity working for Nickelodeon gives me hope that someday we might see more diverse female characters in shows that are considered not just for female viewers, but for everyone. Maybe someday animated female duos will rise to the ranks of Pinky and the Brain, Ren and Stimpy, and Sanjay and Craig.

Part 5: Female Duos (in practice)