A Pioneering American Cartoonist And Animator Who Inspired Walt Disney Cartoon Characters Worthy of Being Put in Museums

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Cartoon Characters Worthy of Being Put in Museums

When a museum in Belgium honored iconic animation icon Herge and his world-famous cartoon character Tintin on the second day of June this year, it was a fitting tribute to the achievements of Herge’s distinctive animation style. Imagine if a cartoon character is able to survive from a simple comic strip in 1929 to a television, theater and video game powerhouse today, then he certainly deserves to be recognized and honored in a museum.

Now throughout the recent history of mainstream animation, there are a few studios, animators, and cartoon characters that stand out from the rest. Such creations have an undeniable influence on popular culture, and a museum for them would serve as a high-level compliment. After all, museums are supposed to be an abode for art—and what better way to honor animation than to associate it with fine art? Here are some potential cartoon character features that pop into my head when I think of a museum:

Museum exhibits must have a rich historical and archaeological background in order to radiate a sense of credibility. Looking at all the popular TV cartoon characters of the last few decades, the common thread seems to be Hanna-Barbera Productions. While there has been much criticism of Hanna-Barbera Productions for falling into the trap of formulas and stereotypes in their animated cartoon series, they have still been successful in giving us many of the most beloved series of all time: The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Scooby Doo, and so on and so forth. Wouldn’t it be great to see all these iconic characters in one grand hall as if they were all great paintings? Currently, the partnership of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera and their body of work are honored in several museums, such as the Radio and Television Museum in Los Angeles – but it’s still nice to see a shrine dedicated to them.

To honor the tradition of stop motion animation, I’d like to see the green clay cartoon character Gumby get his own museum to honor his 233-episode run on American television over thirty-five years. During Gumby’s 50th anniversary, its creator Art Clokey was honored at the Museum of the Moving Image. Clokey is a pioneer of stop motion animation and described his work of Gumby as “massaging the eye cells”. A museum with Gumby at the forefront might as well be a showcase of all the other successful and emerging works of stop motion animation. This could include Aardman Animations’ Wallace and Gromit.

It’s also tempting to put beloved Walt Disney and Warner Brothers cartoon characters in this quest for a museum – but they’ve already created studio strongholds that serve as their museum/homes all in one. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig – sorry, but museums should be able to exhibit cartoon characters that have tremendous historical value and yet are lesser known. An example of this type would be Heathcliff the cat.

Heathcliff has black and orange stripes with a strange attitude in his boots. Sound a lot like Garfield? Well, one will be surprised to learn that Heathcliff came first before Garfield, but has been lost in the consciousness of many people today. It was created in 1973 while Garfield was in 1978. Characters such as Heathcliff, who was very popular during the 1970s, could benefit well from a museum.

Also, just for fun, wouldn’t it be fun to have a Where’s Wally Museum where visitors would have to find his likeness throughout the museum?

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