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Cel Mates : A look inside the world of the people who make cartoons

September 06, 1992|N.F. MENDOZA | Times Staff Writer

Once that many episodes have been made, new shows are not immediately made because the cartoons can be played over and over.

Jymn Magon, a story editor at Walt Disney Television Animation, points out that children will watch things again and again, whereas adults wouldn't feel the same way about even their favorite show.

Whatever the length or whoever the characters, because cartoons are mainly directed toward children, considerations are often given to a message. Most cartoon creative personnel agree that children can tell when cartoons become condescending and react better when characters are put in situations that they can relate to.

Jim Jenkins, story editor and creator of Nickelodeon's "Doug," says: "Story drives our series and we always consider, 'What's the kid issue; what does Doug learn from the experience?' For example, we don't want to just preach, but in one episode, 'Doug's A Big Fat Liar,' we show that lying can be a really stupid way to live and takes a lot more work than the truth."

Shows such as "Captain Planet" and "Widget" are message-driven, with their characters encountering environmental issues throughout each episode. Nick Boxer, executive producer of "Captain Planet," says that through the advice of experts, they can "present correct and authentic cultural, social and environmental issues."

Says Burton: "The message is very clear, but if it's not told in an entertaining way, it won't get through."

Mark Evanier, who writes all episodes of "Garfield" and "Mother Goose and Grimmy," says: "I do very little toward conventional moralizing. I tend to think that the messages in cartoons are things (kids) already know. There's a much more basic message that I learned from Bugs Bunny--you have to outthink the system and be prepared to cope with the stupidity around you. Our characters are good at figuring that out, and it gives out a very important message to kids. They must rely on their smarts."

Paul Germaine, story editor of Nick's "Rug Rats," says: "We take our child audience very seriously, we don't want them to feel patronized or talked down to. We try to deal with them in a realistic way--how kids can be mean and how they can be kind. We don't have an overall message; we try to give children the quality that adults expect, TV that doesn't talk down. The key is to show intelligence."

"Throughout the batch of 'Tiny Toons,' Ruegger says, "the underlying message is two-fold: don't underestimate the little guy and bullies can be tolerated to a point, but when the bully goes too far, you have to take a stand."

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