I lived through the Golden age of Rap music, and the tail-end of the Bronze into the Modern Age of comics. But, in all honesty, I don’t know, or even care, a whole lot about certain classifications regarding time periods, other than that I experienced certain things and they were labeled after the fact by some outside entity. Growing up in the 80s and early 90s, there was quite a number of older Hannah Barbera, Warner Bros., and Disney cartoons still being televised regularly. These, of course, are referred to as classics, or rather, from the “Golden Age of animation“. Feature length animated films started being created during this time period and a lot was developed that continues to air to this day. I recently just came across an article on Retro Junk, that refers to a “Silver Age” of cartoons, as well. But the confusing part for me is that the term was being applied to cartoons like Animaniacs, and Tiny Toons, which came through just as I was outgrowing such things. Somehow, they skipped over the 80s and the animated action teams like Thundercats, GI Joe, Transformers, Silver Hawks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, M.A.S.K., Masters of the Universe, C.O.P.S., Visionaries, and all of the rest of the shit that I was so into. During that time, there was a clearly defined and increased sense of good vs evil, with a hefty militaristic undercurrent, and an emphasis placed on large-scale weaponry and explosions, which could only be a reflection of modern paranoia regarding the cold war (this style of cartoon didn’t really occur as much after 1991). Of course, every generation associates most fondly with it’s own nostalgia and, for me, this was the height of toy construction and adrenaline-based childhood recklessness. Were they prepping us to become future soldiers? Perhaps, but when they were spewing images of anthropomorphic beasts, cybernetic organisms, and sorcery at me on the regular, they were also prepping me for a future in psychedelic experimentation and extravagant concepts that stemmed far beyond being a soldier for someone elses cause–unless it involved being in a spacecraft armed with a squad of bionic laser-armed mutants. Everyone processes things a little differently, and how we process it is just as interesting as, if not more than, whatever the original intention was behind the creation of this stuff in the first place. This was considered childhood entertainment after all, so the way that a child absorbs that entertainment should be worth taking into consideration.
As I got older, I began to notice some of the hidden messages in the shows that I watched in my younger days and how I honestly didn’t even understand most of them on a conscious level. The stuff from the 80s had plenty of guns and missiles, but nobody on GI Joe ever actually died, they just parachuted out of every explosion. When I was in about 6th grade or so, my mom rented an old Loony Toons cartoon for my younger brother and sister, and it turned out to be filled with political commentary, Nazi imagery, and resulted in a duck being seduced by an undercover female spy and becoming so ashamed of himself for letting out classified information that he blew his brains out with a pistol, after his head turned into a “jackass” (or maybe it was a sucker, I can’t remember). That’s the first time that I remember ever really processing anything in detail in real time and realizing that there was something particularly fucked up about some of the imagery that had been funneled into my skull over the years. Having a kid of my own now, I suddenly don’t want him watching shit like Tom and Jerry, because I’ve turned Marge Simpson on that scenario and am legitimately concerned that he might wind up going Maggie-style on my dome with a ball-ping, at some point.
But like I said, everyone processes things a little different and the way that they process it is some of the most fascinating information to consider. Adults from one era make viewing material for children from another; it’s processed and re-released in their future actions and work through some form of their own interpretation. That’s also what makes the concept of the WWA Gallery‘s annual Gag Me With A Toon group exhibit, showcasing the interpretation by 50 plus artists of the cartoons that have influenced them, so appealing to me. Now that the exhibit is in its 5th year, what will differentiate these artists’ interpretations from the originals, or even from each other? Will their varying styles simply be the defining factor? How much of it will filter through their current mindsets and values? Will it simply become a channel for them to express the ways that they’ve always understood and viewed particular figures, even as children? What kind of importance and associations will be projected into, and out through, these “innocent” animated chums of our youths? Below we have provided a selection of preview images about what can be expected, as well as some details regarding the exhibit which opens tonight in Culver City, Ca.
via press release
Curated by artists Steven Daily and Tomi Monstre, this much-loved annual exhibit has over 50 artists re-imagining the cartoons of their youth resulting in some totally tubular recreations of iconic characters spanning the 1960s-1990s! Throughout previous “Gag Me with a Toon” events, G.I. Joes, Ninja Turtles, Smurfs, Thundercats, The Jetsons, The Flintstones, Jem, Scooby Doo, The Super Friends and gobs more have starred in artistic interpretations fused with social commentary, pop-culture references, humor, satire and sex appeal.
here is a full list of artists scheduled to contribute:
2Shae, Alex Pardee, Antonio Canobbio, Ashley Fisher, Aya Masuda, Brandt Peters, Brent Nolasco, Carlos Ramos, Chloe Rice, The Chung, Cig Neutron, Craig Edmonds, Chris Prynoski, DAINO, Dan Quintana, Daniel Galvez, Dave Correia, DR Hill, Dave MacDowell, David Cook, Deph, Desiree Fessler, Devious, Dominique Blaskovich, Erik Alos, Forrest Card, Gabe Larson, Geoff Oki, Graham Nystrom, Hezaa, Holly Payne, Honkey Kong, Jasmine Worth, Jason Gallo, Jeff McMillan, Jefferey Page, Jim Mahfood, Joe Benitez, John Chase, JoKa, Jonathan Bergeron, Jon Schnepp, Jonathan Wayshack, J.R. Goldberg, Julia Sonmi Heglund, Justin Bloomer, KASL, Kevin Peterson, Krystopher Sapp, Les Schettkoe, Lou Pimentel, Matt Ritchie, Maxx242, MENSO, Mike Clem, Mike Kelley, Mike Mitchell, Misaka Sawada, MUNKONE, Natalia Fabia, N.C. Winters, Raymond Sanchez, Richard Taylor, Robert Bowen, Roman Dirge, Shannon Prynoski, Steven Daily, Suzy Splab, Terry Ribera, Tom Haubrick, Tomi Monstre, Travis Louie, Veronica Rodrigues-Lima, Vincent Cacciotti, Vyal and Zoetica Ebb
Make sure to check out the preview images after the following event details…
Gag Me With A Toon 5
annual group exhibit
Saturday, May 4th
Opening is ALL AGES w/NO COVER
First 100 attendees will receive a limited edition print
Show will be on view until June, 1st 2013
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/451679241574869/
[click images to enlarge]
ink and watercolor on clayboard
16 x 20 inches (framed 17 x 21.5 inches)
“Gettin’ Smurfed Up”
acrylic on canvas
11 x 14 inches
“Fancy Cats HO!
acrylic on canvas
16 x 20 inches
oil on wood
Optimus – 24 x12 inches
Megatron – 24 x18 inches
Sideswipe – 24 x12 inches
acrylic on paper
4.5 x 4.5 (framed 10 x 10 inches)
“Popeye Mutant Ninja Turtle”
acrylic on board painted with toothpicks
6 x 4 inches (framed 8 x 6 inches)
oil on canvas
18 x 24 inches
“I Must Possess All, or I Possess Nothing” -Skeletor
acrylic on panel
8 x 16 inches (framed 10 x 18 inches)
oil on wood panel
9 x 12 inches