Tuesday, December 19, 2006

R.I.P. Joseph Barbara

Well, its a sad day indeed, because yesterday at age 95 Joseph Barbara died of natural causes. Obviously his legacy will live on with his amazing library of work, but I just wanted to take a second to thank him for making my life, and probably yours, a little brighter. Along with his partner William Hanna (who died in 2001) he created and worked on THE biggest cartoon characters ever. Look at this list culled from IMDB, and I encourage you to read through his WIKI for even more info...

- Tom and Jerry (1941)
- Ruff and Reddy (1957)
- Huckleberry Hound (1958)
- Quick Draw McGraw (1959)
- The Flintstones (1960)
- Yogi Bear (1961)
- Top Cat (1961)
- The Jetsons (1962)
- Magilla Gorilla (1964)
- Jonny Quest (1964)
- Secret Squirrel and Atom Ant (1965)
- Space Ghost (1966)
- Birdman and the Galaxy Trio (1967)
- The Banana Splits (live action/animated, 1968)
- Scooby-Doo (1969)
- Josie and the Pussycats (1970)
- Super Friends (1973)
- The Smurfs (1981)

There are so many cartoons there that meant so much to me throughout my formative years. Even the ones that grated on me like Tom and Jerry are really important cartoons, and I know that there are people out there who feel that that was the one that spoke to them most. But I grew up loving Yogi Bear, and The Flinstones for their simple and funny stories. The Jetsons was probably honestly my first continual exposure to sci-fi, and yes I know its comic and cheesy but I loved the 50s sensibilities to the future. And if it weren't for The Jetsons I would never have even wanted to see Metropolis, or The Day the Earth Stood Still. And although I'm a bit of a sci-fi nut now, I hit youth at an odd time (early 80s) where sci-fi had largely been supplanted by action shows. So toons like Jonny Quest, were instrumental in fostering a sense of fun and adventure while I waited for the next Indiana Jones film to come out. And who out there can say they didn't watch and love Scooby Doo from time to time. I invented at least ten uniquely crazy, and huge sandwiches after seeing how much fun Shaggy and Scooby had at it. And what about the Superfriends. Man... Me and my sister Catherine would watch that religiously. I loved Apache Chief, who could grow to be a giant when he shouted the word Inuk-chuk, most of all. And even though I watch them now and want to kill them, the Wonder Twins were always so fun. Me and Cat would always try to activate super powers, when playing as Superfriends. Finally though we come to The Smurfs... ahh Les Schtroumpfs, I loved those crazy little blue guys. I wanted to live in a mushroom house. I wanted to kick Brainy for being such a smart ass. I wanted to trick Gargamel and his cat Azrael and to learn from the wisdom of Papa Smurf. And honestly, I did. These cartoons were important to me, if only for being able to make me laugh, and to engage me, and to keep me dreaming.

Thanks Joseph Barbara, you will be missed.

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