It’s Genndy Tartakovsky’s 42nd birthday (Jan. 17th) and I thought I’d write a little bit about what the man means to me as an animation fan.
To put it very simply, he means a lot. This is the man who, in my opinion, created and wrote one of the best American cartoons to ever be aired, Samurai Jack. Despite the relatively static plot, had a stunning visual flair and style and a quirky sense of humor. It took pleasure in itself as a cartoon and as a highly visual medium (witness the lack of dialogue in episodes like “Samurai versus Ninja”, “Tale of X-9”, and at the climax of “The Princess and the Bounty Hunters”), refusing to behave like a story told using animation, but rather, animation used for storytelling. Looking back on it as an adult, the cinematic pacing, the character types (Jack’s seriousness and sense of purpose pitted against Aku’s villainously goofy personality) and lack of ‘kid humor’ jokes is refreshing and appealing next to the usual shit we get on TV, and the throw-it-in variety of episode plots gives the show a madcap narrative style. Old West bounty hunters? Sure. Medieval children kidnapped and brainwashed in a rave? Why not? 1920’s-style gangsters, Shaolin monks, dragons, mecha, aliens, Lupin III, Star Wars throwbacks, Totoro; you name it, and it found a way in there, and in bright, brilliant colors. When Tartakovsky set out to make it, his idea was that he wanted to make the best action/adventure show ever. It’s not the best, but it’s pretty damn close, and the sheer visual artistry of the entire thing outmatches most animated productions on television. And then Samurai Jack got cancelled.
And so then Genndy Tartakovsky started work on a new show, Symbionic Titan, which is not hailed as a classic of modern animation, showed up rather modestly on Cartoon Network, and got moved around a bunch from Friday to Wednesday to Saturday. But, dear lord, the visuals. The style is pretty much identical to Samurai Jack, as in a masking-based animation (highly detailed backgrounds and simple characters) but, oh my god, the visuals. They kicked it up to 11. Every background is beautifully colored and painted. The animation is, for the most part, glorious, and the action sequences are clear, fast-paced, and clever, like only Tartakovsky can do - like I said (sort of) earlier for Samurai Jack, this is a show that enjoys being a cartoon. (See “Roar of the White Dragon” for a very nicely done drag race, every fight scene featuring giant robots, and all of “Escape from Galaluna”.) The quiet moments are also very well done - in particular, the opening minutes of “A Steel Foe”, which very adeptly and beautifully tell a story of two people losing hope and growing closer together at the same time, but with very few words actually passing between them. And I could go on and on about the characters of the show, which despite not being very representative in terms of women and minorities (a major thorn of mine), are well-crafted and diverse in personalities and interests; but I’ll just leave it at ‘homesick princess, lovestruck robot, space marine’.
And then it got cancelled.
But my point here, in gushing as restrainedly as possible about two of my favorite shows (without even mentioning his work on Dexter’s Lab, Powerpuff Girls, and Clone Wars), is that Genndy Tartakovsky was responsible for them; for creating and producing not just cartoons, not just animated shows, but art, art that relished the fact that it was a kinetic, colorful, dynamic medium unrestrained by the physical rules of our washed-out reality, and so took itself wherever it wanted to go. I love animation because you can do whatever you want with it, both in terms of art and narrative, and I sincerely believe that Tartakovsky’s style of animating exemplifies the artistic freedom available to those who would dare to indulge in such a ‘lowly’ medium. So -
Thank you so much, and happy birthday, Genndy Tartakovksy! 
from a loyal fan.

It’s Genndy Tartakovsky’s 42nd birthday (Jan. 17th) and I thought I’d write a little bit about what the man means to me as an animation fan.

To put it very simply, he means a lot. This is the man who, in my opinion, created and wrote one of the best American cartoons to ever be aired, Samurai Jack. Despite the relatively static plot, had a stunning visual flair and style and a quirky sense of humor. It took pleasure in itself as a cartoon and as a highly visual medium (witness the lack of dialogue in episodes like “Samurai versus Ninja”, “Tale of X-9”, and at the climax of “The Princess and the Bounty Hunters”), refusing to behave like a story told using animation, but rather, animation used for storytelling. Looking back on it as an adult, the cinematic pacing, the character types (Jack’s seriousness and sense of purpose pitted against Aku’s villainously goofy personality) and lack of ‘kid humor’ jokes is refreshing and appealing next to the usual shit we get on TV, and the throw-it-in variety of episode plots gives the show a madcap narrative style. Old West bounty hunters? Sure. Medieval children kidnapped and brainwashed in a rave? Why not? 1920’s-style gangsters, Shaolin monks, dragons, mecha, aliens, Lupin III, Star Wars throwbacks, Totoro; you name it, and it found a way in there, and in bright, brilliant colors. When Tartakovsky set out to make it, his idea was that he wanted to make the best action/adventure show ever. It’s not the best, but it’s pretty damn close, and the sheer visual artistry of the entire thing outmatches most animated productions on television. And then Samurai Jack got cancelled.

And so then Genndy Tartakovsky started work on a new show, Symbionic Titan, which is not hailed as a classic of modern animation, showed up rather modestly on Cartoon Network, and got moved around a bunch from Friday to Wednesday to Saturday. But, dear lord, the visuals. The style is pretty much identical to Samurai Jack, as in a masking-based animation (highly detailed backgrounds and simple characters) but, oh my god, the visuals. They kicked it up to 11. Every background is beautifully colored and painted. The animation is, for the most part, glorious, and the action sequences are clear, fast-paced, and clever, like only Tartakovsky can do - like I said (sort of) earlier for Samurai Jack, this is a show that enjoys being a cartoon. (See “Roar of the White Dragon” for a very nicely done drag race, every fight scene featuring giant robots, and all of “Escape from Galaluna”.) The quiet moments are also very well done - in particular, the opening minutes of “A Steel Foe”, which very adeptly and beautifully tell a story of two people losing hope and growing closer together at the same time, but with very few words actually passing between them. And I could go on and on about the characters of the show, which despite not being very representative in terms of women and minorities (a major thorn of mine), are well-crafted and diverse in personalities and interests; but I’ll just leave it at ‘homesick princess, lovestruck robot, space marine’.

And then it got cancelled.

But my point here, in gushing as restrainedly as possible about two of my favorite shows (without even mentioning his work on Dexter’s Lab, Powerpuff Girls, and Clone Wars), is that Genndy Tartakovsky was responsible for them; for creating and producing not just cartoons, not just animated shows, but art, art that relished the fact that it was a kinetic, colorful, dynamic medium unrestrained by the physical rules of our washed-out reality, and so took itself wherever it wanted to go. I love animation because you can do whatever you want with it, both in terms of art and narrative, and I sincerely believe that Tartakovsky’s style of animating exemplifies the artistic freedom available to those who would dare to indulge in such a ‘lowly’ medium. So -

Thank you so much, and happy birthday, Genndy Tartakovksy! 

from a loyal fan.

NOTES

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