Jul 02 2008

Adapting and Updating Cartoon Franchises

Published by at 11:43 am under Comic Books,Marketing,visual design

The New York Times has an interesting run-down of cartoon updates, from apparently successful endeavors like Strawberry Shortcake and the ugly-but-popular TMNT series to horrible flops like Magic Earring Ken and Warner Brother’s Loonatics…

“There have been some noteworthy misfires. Warner Brothers has struggled to make the Looney Tunes crowd relevant to modern children, introducing futuristic-looking versions of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck in a new television series in 2005. But many parents hated the ‘Loonatics,’ which had mohawks and menacing eyes.” I think that Warner Brothers really missed the point. Kids aren’t moving away from L.T. because they aren’t “modern” enough, but because of the advent of children’s shows that are far better. For example, shows like Jackie Chan Adventures, Kim Possible, Justice League, Pokemon and TMNT actually have plots and make cursory (and sometimes successful) attempts at characterization and humor. In contrast, the characters on L.T. are not actually characters but just a single zany antic played to the hilt. How many times do kids want to see Wily Coyote fail to catch the Roadrunner, or Sylvester fail to catch Tweety, or Fudd fail to catch Bugs?

I think that the L.T. as currently written have about as much of a future as Tom and Jerry.

This story is not doom and gloom for all franchises, however. The NY Times shows the graphic redesign of the Strawberry Shortcake character.

I’ve never watched any variation of Strawberry Shortcake, but I feel absolutely confident that that its stylistic update has made it more watchable and pleasant to look at. Nor does it seem to have compromised the wholesome quality of the original, unlike Loonatics and Magic Earring Ken… According to the NYT, Strawberry Shortcake has actually sold 2.5 billion dollars worth of merchandise since 2003. Hot damn.

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