Monday, December 18, 2006

Rest in Peace, Joe Barbera

Joseph Barbera, the surviving member of the pioneering animation team Hanna-Barbera passed away at 95. It is impossible to overestimate their contributions to the art and (arguably more importantly) business of cartoons.

They got their start at MGM in the 1940's, doing the original run of Tom and Jerry cartoons for theatrical release. When MGM shut down the animation unit in 1957 ("Sorry boys, we got enough cartoons already") the pair set up shop cranking out original cartoons for television, developing a method of limited animation that could be produced for a fraction of the cost of theatrical animation.

The finished product may have looked dodgy, but they created a gallery of memorable characters, including Yogi Bear, QuickDraw McGraw, Ruff and Reddy and Huckleberry Hound (Oh mah darlin', oh mah darlin, oh mah daaarlin' Clementine).

They also created the prime time hit, the Flintstones, a stone-age rehashing of the Honeymooners. I have vivid memories of going to the grocery store with my parents on Friday after my dad got paid, and eating sandwiches and Fritos while watching Fred and Barney. To balance the equation we also got the Jetsons, flying cars and all.

Later years gave us Magilla Gorilla, Jonny Quest (freakishly realistic), Josie and the Pussy Cats, Top Cat, and -- least we forget -- Scooby Doo. There were lots more; I hope I haven't left off any of your favorites.

Not all great art, but part of a lot of people's childhood memories.

Thanks, Joe.

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