Kartoon Kingdom

I believe we can break down and classify all cartoon characters according to a system that is analogous to that used in Biology. As under the biological system, the Cartoon Kingdom can be broken down into Phyla, Classes, Orders, Families, Genera, and Species.

Major Phyla: Classic cartoons, TV cartoons, and Alternative cartoons

I think we’re all familiar with Classic cartoons and TV cartoons. The former is much easier to classify, however, since they fall into a relatively few major categories; they are analagous with Vertebrates in the animal kingdom. Classifying TV cartoons presents a challenge much like trying to classify invertebrates: something that would take years of study by specialists. Alternative cartoons represent an esoteric field of knowledge, and might belong to another Kingdom altogether; something like fungi.

Examples of Classes:

Classic cartoons > Major Studios: Warner Brothers, Disney, MGM, etc.

Classic cartoons > Minor Studios: Max Fleischer, who else besides?

Examples of Orders:

Classic cartoons > Major studios > Warner Brothers: Loony Toons, Merrie Melodies

Classic cartoons > Major studios > Disney: Feature films, Shorts

Examples of Families:

Classic cartoons > Major studios > Warner Brothers > Loony Toons: the Bugs/Daffy cycle; the Foghorn Leghorn cycle; the Roadrunner cycle; etc.

Classic cartoons > Major studios > Disney > Shorts: Mickey-centered 'toons, Donald-centered 'toons, etc.

Examples of Genera and Species:

Classic cartoons > Major studios > Warner Brothers > Loony Toons > the Bugs/Daffy cycle > Pigs > Stuttering Pigs (species porcus stutterus, to which Porky Pig belongs)

Classic cartoons > Major studios > Disney > Shorts > Mickey-centered 'toons > Dawgs > Human dawgs (species canis homii, to which Goofy belongs). And hey, if you don’t believe me, ask Unca Cecil

Suggestions, comments, recommended improvements or additions to this system? I’m thinking of basing my masters thesis on this theory.

Doghouse Reilly

Is anime it’s own kingdom? I would think so.

I don’t think computer animation (e.g. Toy Story) would count as a “toon”. But what about, for want of a better term, “computer generated drawings”?

What film studio did the classic Mighty Mouse? That would be one minor phylum of the Classic kingdom. Tex Avery’s stuff would be another.

But, where would you put something like the Laff-a-lympics, which is really quite a mish-mash? Also, would Superfriends and Mighty Mouse and Underdog ALL go into one category, or several? It seems far too complex for one measly thesis.

Mighty Mouse was Terrytoons. There’s also Hanna Barbera, I would say major studio, and UPA, minor (Mr. Magoo).

Your “orders” are going to be difficult to work with. Some characters appear in both shorts and feature films, or both Loony Toons and Merrie Melodies.

Aren’t the ‘Merrie Melodies’ by Disney? Because I thought ‘Loony Toons’ was WB’s parody of the name.


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Of course it’s all tongue-in-cheek (where did that idiom come from, by the way?). What got me started on this idea, though, was a legitimate interest of mine: my brother and I would often spend hours debating the merits and distinguishing characteristics of MGM vs. WB vs. Disney, etc. MGM seemed more slapstick, WB more sophisticated (especially under Chuck Jones), and Disney rather condescending in its humor. And there seemed to be different types of humor within a given studio–such as the Bugs/Daffy “family” versus the Foghorn Leghorn “family”.

DHR

GuanoLad, Loonie Toons and Merrie Melodies were both from Warner Brothers. Early Walt Disney shorts were known as “Silly Symphonies.”

Cecil explains in one of his books the difference between LTs and MMs.

I would consider anime a different phylum, as I would computer animation.

There’s always the question what is “major” and what is “classic.” How about something like Mighty Mouse, which has both “classic” and “made for TV” aspects?

Is MGM (Tex Avery, the later Chuck Jones, Tom & Jerry, etc.) major? I’d say so, but who knows?

What about Walter Lantz (Woody Woodpecker, et al.)? Paul Terry (Terrytoons, Mighty Mouse, Heckle & Jeckle)? Major or minor?

Where do you put Hanna Barbera? With MGM, for their Tom & Jerry, or with TV? How about Jay Ward (Rocky & Bullwinkle)? Is Prescott Scheimer (Star Trek) worth mentioning?


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That’s not completely true. The Silly Symphonies were a special series of cartoons that were originally developed between Walt and Carl Stalling that would make the animation subservient to the music instead of vice versa. Eventually they became a testing ground for experimentation in new animation techniques.

These would probably require a special category to themselves as there were very few recurring characters and only in a few instances did any of the major stars (Mickey, Donald, etc.) make appearances in them.


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