Cartoon life

If loving cartoons is wrong I don't want to be right

I love cartoons, and don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t. From Coyote and Road Runner to Simpsons and everything in between, cartoons have been a massive part of my life, both creatively and just for fun.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how watching cartoons has influenced the way I write but  here are a few thoughts.

My love for cartoons is expressed in many ways from mugs to books to toys.

Freedom to be ridiculous, silly and weird

One of the hardest things about writing – any writing – is dealing with the voice inside your head telling you everything you write is crap.

The internal editor is restrictive, it doesn’t want you to try new things, to stretch boundaries, to put your most outlandish and ridiculous ideas down on paper. Watching cartoons is the perfect antidote to that.

Pretty much every one of  my favourite cartoons has an element of the ridiculous, the silly and downright weird, especially when it comes to characters.

Rocky and his friends.

Adventure Time.

Scooby Doo.

SpongeBob Squarepants.

They’re all off-the-charts silly.

Entering into these worlds and enjoying them helps me open up my imagination and ditch my writing fears. Great things can come from writing silliness.

Inverting expectations

I love the good monster trope, and I first fell in love with it as a kid watching Milton the Monster. To this day I remember the theme song, probably because my sister and I were always singing it to each other (along with the actions of course).

The great thing about Milton the Monster was that it made those childhood monsters, those things that hide in wardrobes and under the bed in the dark of night, less scary.

An overdose of the “tincture of tenderness” during the creation of Milton made sure he was never going to carry out the evil plans of his master, and I loved him for that.

Embracing the childlike

My love of cartoons hasn’t diminished as I’ve got older. If anything, it’s got stronger. Switching from watching the news to a cartoon instantly changes my mood. No more yelling at talking heads on the TV screen! 

Adventure Time is the cartoon I turn to whenever I’m feeling particularly stressed, and even watching the ultimate stress-head, Lemon Grab, makes my day better. 

For me, Adventure Time is a perfect expression of all the great things about being a kid: adventure, imagination, weird friends, embarrassing first love, negotiating the incomprehensible world of adults, and of course, candy.

Love of the weird

The weirder the cartoon, the more I love it. From Uncle Grandpa to Futurama, from Angry Beavers to Regular Show, the more outlandish the cartoon world and the way the characters operate in it, the more likely I am to love it. 

Cartoons are the home of weird, and in some ways no cartoon celebrates this more than one of my all-time favourites, Daria.

The weirdness in Daria wasn’t in her world it was within Daria herself. She dealt with amped up but ultimately real teenage issues – clueless parents, borderline sociopathic teachers, friendship jealousies, the embarrassment of first crush – with her own particular brand of weird and witty style. 

If I was going to be any cartoon character, it would be Daria (except for the days when I’d be Sponge Bob – gotta love his innocence and optimism).

I could write so many more things about cartoons and my love for them but I’ll keep those ideas for another day. For now I’ll sign off with this song that perfectly expresses my love of cartoons. 

Warning: Breakfast Club is about cereal. It also has swear words.

3 thoughts on “Cartoon life”

  1. Yes Maree,

    the absurdity of cartoons and comic life really does bring out the form and content

    and does make other forms of writing.

    And it makes a lot of post-humanism possible and probable and plausible.

    Thinking of Ken Maynard and his cartoon life too as shown through the Australasian Post.

  2. Totally agree! In the 1990s my daughter was into some strange Canadian and French cartoons but one I enjoyed was The Angry Beavers, an oddly endearing American cartoon series created by Mitch Schauer for Nickelodeon.

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