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Being inspired by the truly awful

July 05, 2007|Alex Chun

Animation historian Jerry Beck says there are some cartoons that are so bad they're embarrassing -- so naturally he wants everyone to see them.

For the last five years, Beck has hosted a nighttime program at San Diego's Comic-Con International titled "The Worst Cartoons Ever." Taking that concept one step further, he and actor-writer Frank Conniff (best known as TV's Frank from "Mystery Science Theater 3000") have come up with "Cartoon Dump," a live-action production that plays for one night only, Wednesday at the Steve Allen Theater.

Written by Conniff, "Cartoon Dump" is a sendup of the hosted kiddie shows of yesteryear -- only this time featuring costumed characters such as Moodsy, the clinically depressed owl; Buff Badger, the rage-aholic animation historian; and Hangover Hound, whose best friend goes by the name Johnnie Walker Red.

Beck calls "Cartoon Dump" a dark, neurotic comedy based on the kind of TV show that often included the low-production cartoons he's spent much of his life ferreting out. So in addition to learning important lessons about "love, friendship and self-mutilation," audience members can expect to be subjected to the likes of "The Mighty Mister Titan," a barely animated superhero for physical fitness, and "Captain Fathom," a 1965 animated TV series that was nothing more than still drawings accompanied by moving human mouths.

"You watch these things and your brain just says they're wrong," says Beck, who has also, antithetically, written the book "The 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals." "I still have a hard time believing they actually made them, and that they were actually on TV."

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-- Alex Chun

"Cartoon Dump," 8 p.m. Wednesday. Steve Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., L.A. $10. www.cartoondump.com

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