As we saw in Adult Animation part 1, adult animation has come a long way since Betty Boop’s dog loving days. This week, we’ll bring it to today and around the world. and what better place to start than with Adult Swim, the cartoon network for adults?
The Adult Animation Channel
One of the biggest developments in the American adult animation scene was the introduction of Adult Swim. It was the adult side of Cartoon Network, and offered animation that would appeal to grown-ups. Or at least an older teen/early 20’s crowd. One of it’s first major successes was Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast, which was a parody of late night talk shows that combined live action and animation. It rarely made much sense, but it was damn funny.
This paved the way for further adult cartoons such as Home Movies, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Boondocks and countless other in-house offerings.
Adult Swim also increased it’s popularity with shows from other channels. One of the most important of these was Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy. Family Guy was previously aired on Fox, and had been cancelled twice. Adult Swim picked up the syndication rights, and it was an immediate hit on the fledgling network. The show became such a success, it was picked up for new episodes on Fox yet again.
Family Guy was run alongside the also cancelled Futurama on Adult Swim, and it too was revitalized due to increased viewership.
Proving that the third time really is the charm, Fox has since gone on to run two more shows by Seth MacFarlane, American Dad and The Cleveland Show, a spin off from Family Guy featuring the least interesting member of the group. Seth MacFarlane shows now dominate the Fox Sunday night animation block. Unfortunately, to make room for The Cleveland Show, Fox cancelled King of the Hill.
Another critical component of Adult Swims succcess came from it’s anime lineup. in Japan, as well as other countries, animation has always been more than just cartoons. Adult Swim began airing many of the more popular Japanese anime in the States with great success. They’ve aired such hits as Cowboy Bebop, Gundam, Full Metal Alchemist, Wolf’s Rain and countless others.
Many excellent animations come from Japan, and unlike American animation, there are a great many that are not mostly humorous in nature. An excellent example of this is Princess Mononoke, or Mononoke Hime for the pretentious, a film that has a dramatic message about the corruption of nature. Mononoke was the second most popular movie in Japan after Titanic for a long time. Not animated movie, just movie.
Not even Disney has managed to pull that one.
The future of adult animation has never been brighter. People such as Seth MacFarlane, Matt Groening and Mike Judge are still around and incredibly active in their field, and there are also a host of up and comers. Vernon Chatman may not be familiar to everyone, but if you’re reading this, likely you’ve seen something he’s worked on. He’s written for South Park and along with Jon Lee, helped create both Wonder Showzen for VH1 and Xavier: Renegade Angel for Adult Swim.
Another newcomer to adult animation Steve Dildarian. A former advertising copywriter, he’s met success on HBO doing The Life and Times of Tim. That show was based on an animated short film called Angry Unpaid Hooker, which won the best animated short at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.
There are tons and tons of people entering the field of animation every year, and while most of them probably work for Nickelodeon and Disney, channels such as Comedy Central and Adult Swim still unveil new cartoons on a regular basis. While they’re not all winners, the next South Park could be just around the corner.