My daily routine when I was a young kid at school was to go home and watch the cartoons before it was time for supper. This was usually Popeye, Yogi Bear, Tom and Jerry, Roadrunner or Top Cat. I would laugh myself silly, and it was the perfect way to relax after a double lesson of math. My favorite animation character then was Top Cat. Inspired by the Sergeant Bilko TV series with Phil Silvers, TC ran his alley and gang of alley cats with cunning and style. I knew I would never be as cool as him.
I have retained a fondness for the animation character heroes of my youth, and love to watch the replays. Cartoons, on TV and in movies, are still my favorite things to watch. I’m sure I’m not alone in this, and I think adults gain as much enjoyment from Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles as children do. In fact, adults probably appreciate them more, because the best story involving an animation character works on two levels. There is the story which appeals to the kids and there are the inside adult jokes going on too.
The animation character has evolved over the years, from the first monochrome squiggles to the computer produced images we see today. The Walt Disney Studio made the major contribution in the early years, creating the iconic animation character of Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Goofy and Donald Duck. Walt Disney had a flair for knowing what the audience wanted and he wasn’t afraid to try new things. The movie industry was skeptical when Disney released the first full-length feature film for the animation character, with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was a success and the studio went from strength to strength, ending up with an empire of production companies and nine theme parks.
There is a huge industry surrounding the animation character, with merchandise and DVD’s. Just as there are rows upon rows of action figures of Buzz Lightyear in the film of Toy Story, so there are real figures of Buzz Lightyear in the shops. The Disney theme parks give fans the chance to see their favorite animation character up close and personal. Children are thrilled when Mickey Mouse walks right up to them and says hello.
The biggest television animated hit of recent times is of course, The Simpson’s. This dysfunctional family has captured the imagination of fans around the world. Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart and baby Maggie are well thought out examples of an animation character, appealing to adults and children alike. The kids like the antics of Bart and can sympathize with Lisa. There are lots of cultural references in the programme for the adults to enjoy, and guests queue up to be immortalized as an animation character. They include Paul McCartney, Sonic Youth and The Who.