Monday, January 4, 2010

A brief history of cartoon animation

Happy Birthday Popeye! (80) Scooby-Doo! (40), The Simpsons! (20), Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner! (60). You all look terrific, you haven’t aged at all. You’ve got what they call... timeless beauty. And a good story to tell.

Yesterday’s Seattle Times picked up the Toledo Blade’s recent retrospective of classic cartoons (and their 2009 birthdays) and I couldn’t help but smile. Regarding ancient classics like Felix the cat (90!) when cartoon shorts were just getting their start in the silent film era, Andrew Farago, curator of the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, said “I don’t think the Disney empire could have happened without him.” (Was it a game of cat and mouse? Sorry—couldn’t resist that one.)

It reminded me of an Animation exhibit I attended earlier this winter at the Pacific Science Center where kids got to experience first hand the art of animation, including drawing, video and special effects.

One thing always leads to another. Yet as we go into 2010 and view new animated films – like the Princess and the Frog, getting back to the Disney magic minus all the bells and whistles or Avatar, and its breakthrough special 3D effects – I wonder what the next decades will reveal.

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