Go Back One
Back to the Beginning
I often wish that I had been the age I am now round about 1980. That's largely because back then it was far more possible to become established and make a living as a game designer or writer of fiction. We don't really think of it as such, because much of it was underground (save D&D, which was a cultural phenomenon and later along with heavy metal, a much-reviled scapegoat for everything that was wrong with the youth of America), but the 80's was a really productive and creative time for genre literature and all the stuff that would later become geek prerequisites.
Among other things, the 1980's was the Golden Age of Cartoons, to my mind. We had all of the best stuff--the toons of today don't even come close to matching the amount and quality of what we got in the 80's. And a lot of it still holds up. I still watch the D&D cartoon, G1 Transformers, the original G.I. Joe, He-Man, and She-Ra cartoons (and yes, targeted at girls or not, She-Ra was a pretty cool toon. So was Jem, for that matter--not the least of which because Duran Duran wrote some of the music for Jem). We had cartoons on all over the place. Weekday mornings before school. Weekday afternoons, after school. And Saturdays. Oh, glorious Saturdays, when 'toons began at roughly 6 am and lasted till noon or later. I'm talking on networks, not on cartoon-dedicated cable channels.
We had Thundercats. We had Mask. We had Voltron. We had Robotech. We had Gummi Bears. We had the Smurfs. We had Hulk Hogan's Rock n' Wrestling. We had Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (which incidentally featured the first cartoon appearance of the X-Men...Wolverine as an Aussie? WTF?) We even had a Pac-Man cartoon, which kicked ass. Later in the 80's we got a terribly kiddi-fied version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which was nevertheless fun to watch. There was even a Lazer Tag cartoon in which the kids used their Starlytes (read: guns) to travel through time and space a la Doctor Who. To accomplish this, they stood in a circle and fired their Starlytes at each others' sensors, and a portal would open (to the Time Vortex?) that would whisk them away to wherever the needed to go. The fun part is, it made a pentagram every time they did it. And the Religious Right/Parents' Watchdog groups never caught on to that one.
Early weekday mornings I used to love to watch The Great Space Coaster. It was like Sesame Street for kids that had a more psychedelic bent, or the Muppet Show, but not quite as many adult references snuck in. I will never forget "No G'news is Good G'news, with Gary Gnu."
Of course, we also had The Muppet Show (though that was late 70's), and we had Fraggle Rock.
By the early 90's we had pretty awesome versions of Spider-Man and a few other Marvel heroes. We also got a really cool X-Men cartoon that ran for quite awhile.
Unfortunately, as the 90's wore on and we all grew up, the networks decided that we didn't need cartoons anymore. That was sad. You can still catch some cartoons on Saturday mornings, but they just aren't on par with what we used to get. I've picked up Transformers G1 seasons 3/4, and the D&D cartoon on DVD just so I can have something to watch. The last decent effort to produce a cartoon in the grand 80's style was the most recent TMNT cartoon, which was very cool. Then Nickelodeon bought TMNT and that all ended.
I'm feeling a bit unfocused, today...so nothing really profound, here. Just thinking about the toons I used to watch and love. I still think about those cartoons. They, as much as anything else, contributed to my continuing geekdom. I think it's high time I started building a cartoon DVD collection.
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