R.I.P. Filmation Co-Founder Lou Scheimer

He-Man cartoon producer Lou Scheimer dies aged 84

God, how I hated their stuff.

You see, before Filmation came along, I’d already seen Japanese cartoons such as Astro Boy, Marine Boy, Prince Planet, and Speed Racer. They all had style. They were all cool.

It was only much later that I appreciated the fact that Filmation — and Hanna-Barbera — basically kept American animation alive, even in the sorry state of “illustrated radio.” They kept American animators employed, even if the work might have caused them to go home at night and drink themselves to sleep. Hey, at least they still had a home and could afford the drink! That is still something.

To be fair, I loved The Archie Show, just like everyone else. And The Fat Albert Show. So when they weren’t doing superheroes or SF, I could watch because the pace was slower than the hyperactive storytelling I’d gotten spoiled on by the Japanese.

It wasn’t just the challenge of keeping animation alive in America that Scheimer and others faced. In the 1970s, there was a noxious group called Action for Children’s Television that managed to stick its blue-nosed snout into the TV networks and was intent on making everything as bland as possible. ACT once published a handbook. In the back was an appendix that condemned every single TV show I loved as kid. They were the Nazis of TV. They were PC before the term was even invented. (Luckily in the 1980s, companies again imported Japanese programs, dubbed them into English, and re-exposed Americans to anime. ACT withered and died in the face of the popularity — and profitability — of those programs.)

So, while I didn’t think much of Filmation, I have to give Lou Scheimer his due for sticking it in a very hostile environment.

Rest in peace.

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