April 18, 2024


Simple Impartial Art

Cartoon Characters Worthy of Being Put in Museums

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

Now throughout the young history of mainstream animation, there are a few studios, animators, and cartoon characters which stand out among the rest.  Such creations have an undeniable impact on popular culture and a museum for them would serve as a top-notch compliment. After all, museums are supposed to be an abode for art – and what better way to honor animation than associate it with the finer arts? Here are a few potential cartoon character properties which pop in the top of my head when thinking of a museum:

The exhibits of museums should have some rich historical and archaeological background in order to radiate a sense of credibility. Looking back at all the popular television cartoon characters of the past decades, the common thread seems to be Hanna-Barbera Productions. While criticisms have been aplenty about Hanna-Barbera Productions falling into the trap of formulas and stereotypes in cartoon animation series, they have still been successful in giving us many of the best loved series of all time: the Flintstones, the Jetsons, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Scooby Doo, and so on and so forth. Wouldn’t it be nice to see all these iconic characters in one grand hall as though they were all exquisite paintings? Presently, the partnership of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera and their body work are honored in a few museums such as the Los Angeles Museum of Radio and Television – but it’s still nice to see a dedicated shrine for them.

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

It is also tempting to put the lovable cartoon characters of Walt Disney and Warner Brothers in this search for a museum – but they already have established studio strongholds which serve as their museum/homes all in one. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig – sorry but museums should be able to expose cartoon characters which are of immense historic value and yet are less popular. An example of this kind would be Heathcliff the cat.

Heathcliff has black and orange stripes with a cranky attitude to boot. Sounds a lot like Garfield? Well, one will be surprised to find out that Heathcliff came first before Garfield but was lost in the consciousness of many people today. It was created in 1973 while Garfield was in 1978. Characters such as Heathcliff, which was very popular during the 1970s, can benefit well from a museum.

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