Bootleg Classics: Batman Beyond “Rebirth”

Welcome to 2010. A new year, and new look for Art of the Cartoon. What better way to start out the new year with a Bootleg Classic. (and yes, hopefully I’ve put behind me most of the cryptic, love-sappy posts =P)

For my return, I give you an animated series that really should’ve never worked. How can you have a show set in the future, and have someone else not named Bruce Wayne as Batman? How can Batman be a teenager? That’s just a recipe for disaster. But for some reason Batman Beyond worked, and brought about the rebirth of The Batman…

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Bootleg Classics: The Iron Giant

10 years ago, one of the finest animated movies ever to grace the bigscreen debuted in theaters. The Iron Giant was the breakout movie that put Brad Bird’s (The Incredibles, Ratatouille)  name out there among the elite animation directors. Even though it underperformed in theaters  and was  a box office failure because many felt Warner Bros. didn’t properly market the film, The Iron Giant was praised by critics and is still seen as one of the better examples of storytelling in animation. See the original trailer here:

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Bootleg Classics: Transformers “Heavy Metal War”

Who is going to see the new Transformers tonight? Raise your hand…

(Raises hand)

Yeah, you know I was going to go see the newest live-action Transformers tonight. I mean I started this blog with a post about Transformers! And even though we won’t get near the number of homies attending this showing as the last one, the nostalgia factor is just too strong for me to resist. Look for a review of the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen hopefully tomorrow. But in the meantime, I would like to re-visit one of my favorite Transformers Generation 1 episode, and yes… it is a bootleg classic.

Transformers “Heavy Metal War” December 15, 1984

Primeheavymetalwar1Background:

You already know! But just in case… they are those robots that change (transform)  into cars, airplanes, etc.  C’mon you know… Optimus Prime and the Autobots (aka the good guys)  vs. Megatron and the Decipticons (aka the bad guys).  You know what!?  If you need a background on Transformers why you reading this blog!

The Episode:

Megatron challenges Optimus Prime to an honorable one-on-one gladiator style duel. The loser of the duel must take his respective team and leave Earth forever, thus ending the long bitter war between the Autobots and the Decipticons. However, unbeknownst to Optimus, Megatron cheats by taking the abilities of the other decipticons, giving Megatron a huge advantage in the duel.

(Hit the Jump to find out what makes this a Bootleg Classic) Continue reading

Bootleg Classics: Speedy Gonzales (film)

Some of my favorite cartoons while growing up were Transformers, He-Man, ThunderCats, and Ninja Turtles. I even enjoyed watching Jem, Strawberry Shortcake, and Rainbow Brite with my older sister. But between those shows there were always several Looney Tunes shorts to fill out the Saturday Morning Cartoon lineup. Of all the Looney Tunes characters, there was one that resonated with me the most.  That would be the one “brown” Looney Tune character out of the whole bunch, Speedy Gonzales.  This Bootleg Classic is the best of the Speedy Gonzales shorts, and the Academy Award win proves that.

Speedy Gonzales/ dir. Friz Freleng/ 1955

speedy_gonzales_titlesBackground:

From 1930 – 1969, Warner Bros. had a cartoon series called Looney Tunes, that consisted of animated shorts that showed at movie theaters.  These animated shorts featured the popular characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Sylvester, Tweety, Marvin the Martian, Taz, Wile E. Coyote, the Road Runner, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite San, Pepe Le Pew, and many others. The Speedy Gonzales short featured the newly redesigned Speedy Gonzales, and was the first meeting between Speedy and Sylvester the Cat.

The Film:

There are a group of mice who are starving and are trying to get cheese from the AJAX cheese factory. The only problem is that there is a cat, Sylvester, who is gurading the the factory and the cheese. Other mice have attempted to get past Sylvester and get the cheese, but all of them have been eaten and died in the process.

Then one of the mice has a  brilliant idea to enlist the services of “the fastest mouse in all Mexico” Speedy Gonzales. After telling their plight to Speedy, Speedy agrees to help.speedy_gonzales2

Then some hilarious confrontations between Speedy and Sylvester occur, with Speedy always ending up the victor. Eventually, Sylvester decides to blow up the whole factory so nobody will get the cheese, but the plan backfires as all the cheese lands near the hungry mice.

Speedy then says “I like this pussycat fellow; he’s silly!” and the short ends.

To watch this Academy Award winning short and find out WHY it is a Bootleg Classic, hit the jump…

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Bootleg Classics: Justice League Unlimited “Question Authority”

Watchmen week continues here at Art of the Cartoon…

The original “superheroes” that were supposed to be used for Watchmen were taken right from the pages of Charlton Comics. Charlton Comics was bought out, however, by a major comic studio named DC Comics in 1985. Since DC planned to incorporate the heroes from Charlton Comics into the DC Universe, Alan Moore, writer of Watchmen, along with Dave Gibbons, Artist/ Penciler of Watchmen, decided to create original characters for their soon to be classic book. Even though the new characters were original, they were still influenced by the Charlton Comics superheroes that were supposed to be in Watchmen.

Case and point, Rorschach was loosely based on The Question:

 

Question on the left, Rorschach on the right
Question on the left, Rorschach on the right

 

 

And Doctor Manhattan was loosely based on Captain Atom:

 

Capt. Atom on left, Dr. Manhattan on right
Capt. Atom on left, Dr. Manhattan on right

What would have happened had Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons been able to use the Charlton Comics superheroes for Watchmen? This intriguing question is somewhat answered in this Bootleg Classic.

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Bootleg Classics: The Simpsons “Homer at the Bat”

Awww Yes… Players have reported to spring training and baseball season is about to begin. With Griffey Jr. returning to the Mariners, I thought it would be fitting to have this Bootleg Classic dedicated to one of Griffey’s greatest guest starring roles ever. Even though baseball is tainted at the moment, and because of the “steroid era” we’ll probably never feel the same about baseball ever again, this Bootleg Classic takes you back to a time when baseball seemed as genuine as Griffey’s smile on his Upper Deck rookie card.

The Simpsons “Homer at the Bat” 1992 (originally aired Feb. 20, 1992…17 years ago!)

homerathtebatBackground:

Do I really need to do a background on The Simpsons? It is one of the most influential animated programs in the history of cartoons. So influential that folks have written books on the Simpsons’ effect on society. So I am going to assume everyone knows about the misadventures of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson, as well as the other loveable townfolk of Springfield.

The Episode:

Homer and the other Power Plant workers sign up for their work’s softball team. Thanks to Homer’s homemade bat, the Power Plant goes undefeated and makes it to the championship game vs. the Shelbyville Nuclear Power Plant. Mr. Burns (owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant) makes a million dollar bet with the owner of the Shelbyville Power Plant that his team will win. In order to secure victory, Mr. Burns hires 9 Major League players: Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey, Jr., Steve Sax, Ozzie Smith, José Canseco, Don Mattingly, Darryl Strawberry and Mike Scioscia, so they can play for the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team.

Hilarity ensues…

(Hit the Jump to find out what makes this episode a Bootleg Classic)

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Bootleg Classics: The Boondocks “Return of the King”

Bootleg Classics is a new feature I’m trying to start. It feature cartoons that are so great, so fantastic, so creative, and/or so inspirational, that they can’t help but be bootlegged.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I decided to start with this Bootleg Classic.

The Boondocks (animated series) “Return of the King” 

boondocks_s1e9

Background:

The Boondocks is an animated series based upon Aaron McGruder’s comic strip of the same name. The Boondocks is a social satire of American culture and race relations, revolving around the lives of the Freeman family,ten-year-old Huey his younger brother, eight-year-old Riley, and their grandfather, Robert.

The Episode:

This particular episode of the Boondocks explores the scenario  “What if Martin Luther King Jr. survived his assassination in 1968? Was in a coma for 32 years, and woke up and lived in our society today?”

What makes it a Bootleg Classic?

“Return of the King” begins with two quotes:

The 1st  “I want young men and young women who are not alive today to know and see that these new privileges and opportunities did not come without somebody suffering and sacrificing for them.”  -Martin Luther King Jr.

The 2nd  “Whatever, nigga.” – anonymous

These two quotes lay an analogous foundation for this episode. It begins the approximately 20 minutes of what I believe to be the best representation and portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr.’s ideas and messages on civil and human rights…EVER. Not only that, but the episode is able to be a social commentary on how Dr. King’s message is lost in today’s world.

From the initial celebration of Dr. King’s revival, to his downfall in the American public due to his commentary on the Afghanistan War, to the conclusion when Dr. King steps up and delivers one final controversial speech, this episode was able to show that the same sentiments and feelings that Martin Luther King went through in the 1960’s were still around today. At same time it was also able to mirror Dr. King’s life as a civil rights leader from the 1960’s, from celebrated to denounced in the American public (Dr. King was very vocal against the Vietnam War), to his final days as a more “radical” civil rights leader (many people forget this). The clear message, “there is still work to be done.” The amazing thing, all this was done in 20 minutes.

I have read other reviews that have lambasted this episode as being too preachy. Or that it just wasn’t that funny or entertaining. It was also highly controversial since Dr. King’s speech at the very end is leeched with the dreaded “n-word.” So much so that even the reverend Al Sharpton got worked up about it and tried to get the episode pulled forever (I don’t think Al even watched the show, he heard the n-word and that’s it). My response: You just don’t get it.

Now, I hate saying the phrase “people just don’t get it,” because we are all grounded in different circumstances and have differing point of views. But I believe this episode was important in starting a dialogue that we, as a society, have a lot to do before we even start scratching the surface of Dr. King’s dream. Like it or not, this episode needs to be watched.

Watch a condensed version of this episode, with the 2 quotes,Dr. King’s speech at the end, and the ending:

To end (this has gone on way too long), there is much hope with Barack Obama being the first African American president. But we need to realize that we have not come full circle and that much work needs to be done. President Obama realizes this and iterates it constantly, and so does this Bootleg Classic.

<hit me up, if you want to watch the whole episode>