It’s hard to believe that the institution of Cartoon Network has been around for twenty-five years. The channel created by Ted Turner was originally run on Hannah Barbera cartoons from the 1970’s. Patrons could expect to see Scooby-Doo, Space Ghost, and The Flinstones.
Soon, animators were hard at work adapting these classics to their modern equivalents. Harvey Birdman became a low-level criminal defense attorney, defending the many characters of the extended universe. Space Ghost hosted a half-hour interview show. As the channel began to pick up steam it wasn’t long before original content with new characters began to dominate the airwaves.
Shows like Ed, Edd, and Eddy, PowerPuff Girls, Teen Titans, and Dexter’s Laboratory spoke to a new generation of kids. Cartoon Network’s content spoke more to kids in their early teens as opposed to the 5-10 age range many other animated shows were trying to reach. The decision to target older kids kept people watching well into their twenties.
Now shows like Steven Universe, Ben 10, and Adventure Time, coupled with limited-run series like Over the Garden Wall and Gravity Falls have changed the way audiences view animation. Currently, at the Paley Center for Media, “Drawing on Creativity: 25 Years of Animation” showcases work from some of Cartoon Networks most daring series.
On the second floor, Cartoon Network highlights Ben 10, Ok KO!, Adventure Time, and PowerPuff Girls. There are giant PowerPuff Girls statues, perfect for selfies. There is also a model of their Townsville home. My favorite portion was a wall filled with artists renditions of themselves at PowerPuff Girls. There is no limit to the creativity expressed here. Each image could easily be its own television show.
The first floor is dedicated to creator Rebecca Sugar. The wall is lined with early character development sketches of Amethyst, Garnet, and Pearl from her hit show Steven Universe. In the collection are some unusual ships drawn by Sugar herself. There is also a musical break down of each character and partnership on the show.
Figures from OK KO! and the many alien faces of Ben 10 greet visitors at the entrance. There’s a tablet where individuals can turn their face into one of the aliens from the show. Along the opposite wall, there are screen printings of still from the stop-motion episode of Adventure Time. The printing process makes them look like oil paintings worthy of a place on any fireplace mantel.