Dr. Toon Turns 10: A Manifesto
Yet, in stopping here, I would shortchange both my readers and myself. Regarding animation as a subconscious expression of society's undercurrents and nothing more presents an incomplete picture. I write this column and share my thoughts because I genuinely love animation. From the first days I spent in front of a black-and-white Philco dial TV to the hours I've given running entire series on DVD on a 52-inch plasma hi-def, I have been seemingly wired for the enjoyment of cartoons. It was much later in life that I attempted to analyze them; at first I cherished their charm, wit, and visual joys. The debuts of The Jetsons and Top Cat were epochal events to me. My H-B puzzles and Popeye ring toss were among many toys that I owned having to do with cartoon characters. When most preteen guys were preening for middle-school hotties, I couldn't wait to see what the fall Saturday morning lineup would look like.
And so, when The Ren and Stimpy Show made its appearance I was able to glimpse the decades-old roots that John Kricfalusi planted beneath his animated wildflowers. I have, as a grown adult, cried at watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for the simple reason that I could not, and never would, be able to do with my life what Disney animators did with theirs. I have humbly stood in the presence of geniuses, tape recorder in hand, praying that I could ask the right questions that could give me the merest glimpse of what it was like to think like a brilliant animator. Bugs Bunny, in all his incarnations over the years, remains my spirit guide. I live in the absolute joyful certainty that the wellsprings are inexhaustible; the occasional bad series, ugly misfire, or cinematic flop can never derail the art as a whole. There will be ever greater animated efforts to come over the years, and I shall be here to see them. What pleasure!
That, dear readers, is the engine that powers everything I have written for you over the past ten years, and everything I will likely write in the future. The marriage of pure love and cultural/cinematic analysis may seem like a strange one, but this unlikely couple has survived to celebrate a ten-year anniversary with you. Together the two comprise my manifesto, but more importantly, explain why I do this and why it is important. Jerry Beck, you see, is right: Animation deserves equal respect with all other arts. In order to promote this viewpoint, I have to be able to understand it and analyze animation but, above all, to truly love it.
My heartfelt thanks to Animation World Network for hosting my column for the past 10 years and realizing that what I do is not merely a labor of love, but a labor of living as an animation fan. Of the many enjoyable experiences I have had in my life, this has been one of the best. Thanks most of all to my readership over the past 10 years; my deepest appreciation to you all.
Martin "Dr. Toon" Goodman is a longtime student and fan of animation. He lives in Anderson, Indiana.