The comments and views expressed here do not reflect those of my employer, my doctor, my bookie, or anyone really, including myself.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Under the sofa, behind the monopoly shoe

Look, here it is again for the first time.

Back when I drew this, I said "She should have worn a shirt." It's as true now as it ever was, but the passage of time has revealed more layers, including the ones I can't remember.

I've started watching some old Johnny Quest episodes my brother-in-law gave to me along with a stack of other cartoons (again, many thanks Scott, if you're reading this, or even if you're not, in which case does my gratitude even exist? Is it like Schrodinger's Thank-you note?), and I noticed something that I never noticed before. You probably have, as it's pretty obvious: there's no women in that cartoon. Not one. Not even in the background. Now, it could be that it's because boys were the target audience. But it could also be that Joe and Bill just don't know how to make girl characters.
And once you start walking down that road, you kinda notice that most cartoons don't usually have a lot of women characters in them. And when they're there, they just kind of seem tacked on, with the same two or three personality types recycled through them. "This girl's SPUNKY! Such a thing has never been done before!"
It happened to me once in animation school. Both me and one of my classmates came up with two very different pitch ideas for cartoons independently. However, what the two pitches had in common was that they both had exactly ONE girl character, and they both had EXACTLY the same personality description. It was kinda sad.
Could I do better now? Am I older, wiser, with a more mature outlook? I dunno. I doubt that picture I just posted is helping my case very much, in any event.
Plus, we're making cartoons here. If someone describes a cartoon to you as "older, wiser, with a more mature outlook," they usually aren't going to add in "hilarious".
Fact is, most cartoons usually rely on stock character types for both genders. You don't need to know someone's deep dark character background to hit 'em with a hammer fer a laff. Still, I think it's worth thinking about, if only to recognize the limitations we place on ourselves because "That's how we've always done it."

Well, this post got way out of hand and wandered all over the landscape. I was originally going to bring up Johnny Quest because the other thing that struck me about the show was how it was parodied in Venture Brothers over forty years after it was on TV, and how everyone was giving Space Knights a hard time about being a parody of fifteen year old property.

Of course, those folks who cared about Space Knights at all stopped caring about it two years ago.

Man, I'm behind the times. Like, in cubesville, Daddio.