There aren’t *THAT* many people who deserve to have their names in the same sentence as Tex Avery. Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Walter Lantz… there aren’t that many. In the modern era? It’s rough to come up with a list with even that many names. The name at the top of the modern list, however, would have to be Genndy Tartakovsky.
If you’re old, you’ve seen cartoons he’s worked on: Tiny Toons Adventures, Batman: The Animated Series, The Powerpuff Girls. Works of brilliance, all. Tiny Toons managed to capture the chaos and fun of the original Looney Toons. Batman:TAS is, itself, a collection of little masterpieces of the superhero genre. The Powerpuff Girls was the best kind of satire of superhero cartoons in that it not only sent up the tropes of superhero cartoons, but made for downright really awesome and fun and chaotic stories in their own right.
It’s his own creations that let you see how he really shines, though. Dexter’s Laboratory was his creation and he began remixing various stories to create something special. He managed to tie in Brother vs. Sister conflict, Mad Scientist experimenting in his “la-BOR-atory” gags, “Parents Just Don’t Understand” gags, Mad Scientist vs. Madder Scientist gags with the introduction of Mandark, and, yes, chaos and fun.
In Samurai Jack, he really came into his own with the creation of the ultimate remix cartoon. (To be honest, it’s a show that deserves a series of posts in its own right.) It’s a cartoon about a samurai lost in time trying to get back to his own era to continue to fight against Aku, the ultimate evil. Oh, and along the way, he helps people. The setting is such that it allows one episode to be almost-Jetsons futuristic, the next almost-Flintstones prehistoric and allows for all kinds of stories to be told without limitations beyond the continuity provided by Samurai Jack fighting against Aku.
Heck, this cartoon was soooo good, when the time came for The Clone Wars to develop a cartoon, Genndy was the guy that Lucas wanted to helm the project and they created a cartoon that tells the stories that we daydreamed about in the schoolyard in the early 80’s when we talked about how one of the kid’s older brothers read all of the star wars books and talked about how Obi-wan and Anakin used to be best friends but Obi-wan dropped Anakin in a volcano.
I’m sure we all remember being vaguely disappointed in the prequels… but the cartoons? They nailed it. They created the thing we hoped to someday see.
If you’ve never seen them, check them out:
So… what are you reading and/or watching?