In doing some reading about Genndy Tartakovsky last week, I saw that he was one of the classmates of Craig McCracken. Like, they went to CalArts and were classmates. They both worked on 2 Stupid Dogs together and then worked at Cartoon Network together where they both worked on each other’s creations. McCracken worked on Tartakovsky’s Dexter’s Laboratory and Tartakovsky worked on McCracken’s Powerpuff Girls.
Last week we talked about how Tartakovsky’s career went off in that direction, this week, we’re going to look at the brilliance of McCracken.
The Powerpuff Girls need no introduction, of course. The “True Grit” of superhero cartoons. It takes the over-the-top conventions of the genre and then turns them up to 11 and, wouldn’t you know it, ends up with a downright awesome superhero cartoon. Memorable main characters (sing it with me: “Blossom, commander and the leader! Bubbles, she is the joy and the laughter! Buttercup! She’s the toughest fighter!) and really spectacular supporting characters of the Professor, the Mayor, Mojo Jojo, Fuzzy Lumpkins, the Ameoba Gang…, tight writing, brilliant voice acting, and fun animation.
After exploring the superhero thing for a while, McCracken went off into another direction entirely: Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. Another brilliant cartoon, but not one that was particularly intended to target inner children (the way that Tartakovsky’s work did) but was, instead, targeted toward children themselves… but with such a high quality that adults wouldn’t mind watching it too. Stories about friendship, loyalty, mischief, and imagination. He said that one of his inspirations was the psychedelia of the late 60’s and, from Foster’s, went on to work on C.H. Greenblatt’s “Chowder” before jumping back into his roots with the brilliant and funny and surprisingly poignant Wander Over Yonder.
Wander Over Yonder is, unfortunately, over but manages to hit the highlights of what seems to be the core of what McCracken sees as important in a story: Memorable characters, tight animation, and morals like “Friends are good and we probably need more of them”. Here’s the absolutely perfect final scene from the show proper:
And with Wander Over Yonder being behind us, I’m holding my breath to see what McCracken does next. Will he have a new show for the Disney Channel? Has he reached a handful of conclusions about working for places like Disney instead of places like the Cartoon Network? I can’t wait. I’m looking forward to his next show already.
So… what are you reading and/or watching?