Although cartoons are generally thought of as media for adolescents, the truth of the matter is that a smart, well crafted cartoon resonates beyond the youth and remains relevant to the viewer throughout their adult life. A truly influential cartoon will maintain relevancy over several generations. There are a few cartoons (or specific characters) that should be celebrated for their continued popularity.
Bugs Bunny, the star of the Looney Tunes crew, was created by Warner Bros. Cartoons. His cartoon debut took place in 1938, alongside Porky Pig in “Porky’s Hare Hunt”. The Looney Tunes were originally created as shorts that would lead into feature films. But, the cartoons became so popular that they started being produced as stand alone, longer-length cartoons.
The Simpsons is a cartoon that qualifies as an “animated sitcom”. It was the first cartoon to have adult content, and uses satire to represent the American middle class family. It’s such a popular concept, that the Simpsons actually holds the record for longest running sitcom and the longest running animated series.
Betty Boop was created by Max Fleischer, and debuted in 1930. She was a caricature of a flapper, and inspired by the singer Helen Kane. Betty Boop, interesting enough is considered to be one of the first cartoon “sex symbols”, as she was popular with mostly adults, and was a caricature of a sexualized woman. A little known fact about her is that Helen Kane actually sued Max Fleischer because the cartoon was so popular that it created “unfair competition” for her. Betty Boop continues to be popular even today with her likeness being available on countless retail goods.
Mickey Mouse & Minnie Mouse
Also developed in the late 20s/early 30’s are the famed mouse duo by Walt Disney. Mickey Mouse was created by Walt to replace a previous character, and he knew that the key to success was to create a couple. So Minnie Mouse was born. Minnie, like Betty Boop, was also stylized to be a flapper character. Mickey and Minnie made their first appearance in Steamboat Willie and have been winning over hearts ever since.
The brainchild of Charles Schulz, Charlie Brown was the main character of the Peanuts series. He was the unexpected ringleader of a group of characters called the “Peanuts Gang”. Charlie Brown seemingly won the hearts of so many because he was a caricature of the normal, anxious/nervous adult. He stumbles along and struggles but also experiences some beautiful moments of euphoria. The comic strip ran from 1950 to 2000, and was so popular that several movies, and a HUGE franchise were born from the cartoon.