Friday, January 29, 2016

Sorry, D.C., I'm Not Interested

You’re friends with your next door neighbour. He’s a nice guy, someone who invites you over to watch the game on TV and have a beer. You go out and have some laughs together. What would you think if the guy completely changed and became sullen and angry and anti-social? Someone who wasn’t the guy you knew and liked?

You’d be pretty much turned off and likely want to avoid him if humanly possible.

That’s how I feel about re-boots of cartoons.

You may have heard read that D.C. Comics wants to reboot some of the great Hanna-Barbera characters of the 1960s. The Flintstones, Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, Scooby-Doo and others. D.C. Entertainment co-publisher Dan Didio is quoted on screenrant.com:
“...these characters resonate with so much of our fanbase. It was so fun to go out and look at them, but not just bring back versions that existed 40, 50 years ago, and really look at it the way of saying, if these characters were created and interpreted today, how would they exist?”
Here’s my question.

Why?

Why if the “characters resonate...so much,” why must they be changed to something that aren’t the same characters that resonated? And why would they be any different if they “were created and interpreted today”?

Scooby Doo was about some fairly ordinary teenagers, with a comic-relief dog, getting to the bottom of mysteries. It wasn’t about tatted-up hipsters with “futuristic weapons,” so why should it be now? Granted, I’m not a big Scooby fan, but why not hue to the story structure of the original show that attracted millions of fans? And why does anyone think the way it was structured is neither entertaining nor relevant to today’s audience?

And I’m sorry, the “classic look” of Fred Flintstone isn’t like some steroid monkey who gave up on the gym and decided to grow a gut by overeating. He’s supposed to look like Ralph Kramden. Or even Alan Reed.

I realise there are fans who dote on anything if you slap the Hanna-Barbera name on it, no matter how misguided or inane. If they’re entertained by something, that’s their prerogative. I’m sure they’ll comment here and tell me I’m full of something or the old stand-by justifications “Give it a chance” or “You haven’t seen it yet.” But I just don’t see the need to take characters who are loved and then reinvent them so they’re not what anyone loved.

Your next door neighbours don’t change drastically in real life. Why should they in comic books?

21 comments:

  1. Just a minor note: it's just DC Comics, no periods.

    At least Future Quest looks great. But don't they test any of these other new concepts out on anyone?

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  2. I'm okay with giving them a fresh look, and I'm especially okay with doing something completely different with them, because then at least you aren't as likely to make a comparison to the original.

    I think DC pulling out these properties is a response to the huge success Archie comics has been having with their books. The new Archie was given a serious teen drama approach and people have been eating it up. Can the Flintstones be given the same treatment? Afterlife with Archie is a fantastic book with a great twist on the characters we are all familiar with. Can Scooby Apocalypse do the same thing? I think it's worth a shot. They will still have the old Scooby-Doo ongoing series.

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  3. Considering Hadji could fly with no real explanation AND they fought monsters in the original, I don't see Future Quest as much of a stretch as some purists might. Sorry. Plus the art looks great. Very Alex Toth.

    The rest? You have a point.

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  4. Why are their furs so short? Bit 'fan-servicey' if you ask me. Although I am clearly not the kind of fan who is being served!

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  5. There's a not-very-fine-line between taking old characters and tweaking them for modern audiences, and simply wanting to use a familiar name, and throwing out everything else about the concept and characters that made them popular in the first place.

    I had a few problems with "The Flintstones - On the Rocks" when it came out, but at least you could see that the people behind it cared about the original concept (and preferred the Season 1 versions of the characters than the softening that followed). But if the goal is simply to use the same name of the original show and possibly the same names of 4-5 of the original characters, while making them talk and act nothing like the original characters, you might as well just call in something else.

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    1. I am a lifelong Flintstones fan and I collect cartoon memorabilia. I am 62 now but in the mid 2000's I walked past the tv and caught a glimpse of The Flintstones On The Rocks. At first I didn't know what to think and then I became fascinated and now I collect anything Craig Kellman style I can find. Usually I am not a fan of seeing my childhood heroes from Hanna Barbera altered.
      The awful cartoon short Cartoon Network showed of Huck and Quickdraw was pathetic. The original drawings can't be improved on and the fact that Kellman took The Flintstones back to a style closer to what Benedict settled on is the reason I have come to prefer his drawings above the rest. Some of the softened Flintstone animation got to the point to where I couldn't look at it. I guess we shall see what comes along next.

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  6. 21st century DC is all about taking existent trademarks which they own and changing virtually everything about them except their names (you could probably count the number of original heroes created in the past decade on the fingers of one hand). Just take a look at any of their TV series--if there's a resemblance to the original versions, it's mostly coincidental. Thus, these 2016 versions of H-B trademarks, which have the same Warner execs controlling their exploitation as DC's (and since H-B is essentially a dead company, they ONLY have their old trademarks to...trade on) follow the only pattern these creative dullards know: bait and switch. Lure them in with a name they know, then surprise them with something completely unexpected, and almost always inferior to the thing you actually wanted. Unsurprisingly, this rarely works, and what they wind up doing is dumping the brand-new approach after a couple of years for something completely different, again. And again, and again, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. By the way, don't feel cheated that they're changing SCOOBY-DOO; DC has published nearly 240 issues of SCOOBY since 1997, and every one stars the same dog and the same Shaggy/Fred/Velma/Daphne we all know (and in fact may be continuing, for all I know, even with this spin-off APOCALYPSE title)--in fact, all the DC versions of H-B comics till now (with the exception of attempting a SPACE GHOST mini-series in a dire, Dark DC style) have absolutely hewed to the H-B style guide. Surprisingly, these are the first titles which show any kind of DC input. The fact that three out of four of them are hideously awful from concept to artwork, well, that tells you all you need to know about 2016 DC Comics.

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  7. Not just DC, but who ISN'T trying to use their existing IP to reinvent it for the public in new ways? Disney made all those movies based on their attractions, Hasbro not only made a Transformers movie franchise but even tried Battleship(???) ... heck, a few years ago there was a proposal to make a movie based on the Viewmaster (?!)

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  8. Two words:

    "Loonatics Unleashed"

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  9. Change for the sake of change is usually always a bad thing. The people behind these proposed changes (or have they already happened?) merely reveal their lack of creativity and imagination when it comes to coming up with fresh stories for characters that almost everybody loves just the way they are (or were).

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  10. "If the “characters resonate...so much,” why must they be changed to something that aren’t the same characters that resonated?"

    I fully agree. It reminds me of when Turner Entertainment Co. decided to rebrand Boomerang. When they made the announcement late in 2014, they said that surveys said Boomerang was their most beloved channel. So because it's your most beloved channel, you decide to radically change it? Yeah, that makes sense...

    "And why would they be any different if they “were created and interpreted today”?"

    I have to part company with you here. Cartoons are a reflection of the era in which they are created. These characters would almost certainly be radically different if they were created today. That's because social norms have radically changed since the era in which they were created. Let's take "The Flintstones" as an example. If created today, Fred would not be a blowhard constantly yelling at his wife, and Wilma would not be so nagging or such a spendthrift. She would also not be a housewife. Virtually every character would not be Caucasian, with the few incidental minority characters being blatant stereotypes. These things just wouldn't be acceptable today. I know they're jokes, and I find them funny, but society today just seems to take offense at everything. I could go on and on and on, but you get the point. This may be hard to imagine, given the fact that "The Flintstones" is such a beloved property. But suppose it had not been created in 1960. Suppose it was created today as a prime time show and that it somehow turned out to be exactly the same as the original series in fact was. Feminists and Black Lives Matterers would have a field day tearing it apart. It would most likely be quickly cancelled. "The Flintstones" is beloved because we understand full well that it is a product of its time. And don't get me wrong -- I say all of this as a huge fan of the original series. All I can say is thank God that it was created when it was.

    That said, those redesigns are an abomination. All of them, even Future Quest (though that one much less so than the others). I really don't understand the need to redesign classic characters. I realize that many beloved characters were redesigned multiple times in their day -- Bugs Bunny comes to mind immediately. But, once a character design is established, I don't think it should be changed. To change the design comes across as the company bastardizing its own characters. That's why I have never had the least bit of desire to watch "The Looney Tunes Show, "Be Cool, Scooby-Doo," etc. Ultimately, though, if this gets more people interested in Hanna-Barbera, that's all to the good.



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    1. Redesigns. Here it appears DC has farmed out this project to DeviantArt.

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  11. I'd be more upset about this news if it wasn't semi-standard practice for HB properties under Turner and Time Warner to undergo periodic "reimagination". Space Ghost Coast to Coast/Cartoon Planet, Super Secret Secret Squirrel, Harvey Birdman, and Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated are "reimagined" versions of 1960s HB. Tom and Jerry crosses over with The Wizard of Oz and...well...Jonny Quest. Whether re-releases of old material ACCOMPANY said new material, that's a different question. I also wish companies exploiting their older intellectual properties would outright state that fact, rather than claim "old favourites in a new form", as DC Comics does (http://www.dccomics.com/blog/2016/01/28/hanna-barbera-beyond-flintstones-scooby-and-more-are-getting-comic-book-reimaginings). DC actually types "don't you worry, purists", as it lights that flaming bag.

    After thinking about this a bit more, nothing aside from Future Quest looks like it has a point to it. DC has its publicity from this announcement, yet HB did stuff in the 1970s and 1980s similar to what DC does here - The Three Stooges as robots, Fonzie in the TARDIS, Yogi Bear and friends/Casper and his own-brand Charlie's Angels as space cops, etc. I don't see the target market anything bar Future Quest even aims at.

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  12. It seemed to me that DC Comics did a perfectly fine job with both THE FLINTSTONES and THE JETSONS in the SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP title not that long ago… so why the need for a change?

    This is just DC needlessly screwing up great characters again, as they did with their “New 52” fiasco! Pity, as I’d been a huge DC fan for many years.

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  13. I read his name as "Dan Dildo" at first.

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    1. And you were not wrong the first time.

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    2. Comics (con) artist Rob Granito claimed he knew him, but called him "Jay Diddillo."

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  14. Kurtis is right about the influence of 'Afterlife with Archie.' Plus, post-apocalypse Scooby has been a meme in fan sketches for quite a while.

    I'm going to give the 'Quest' book a chance. The team of Parker and Shaner were quite respectful to Flash Gordon and Captain Marvel. I'd prefer three storylines to a 'team-up,' though.

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  15. Speaking of relaunching classic HB, we're working on relaunching the Mighty Mightor show but in 3D. Same characters with minor adjustments. In other words, close to the original, not a total redesign like DC's Scooby Doo. You may check 3D Mightor art at www.jotaemeproductions.com :)

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    1. I like it though cartoon network are no longer interested in action cartoons just funny ones (almost)

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  16. I see what you mean even i don't like what dc comics are about to do to the hannah barbera properties they dont look faithful to their source material why can't they do the similar thing like IDW,dynamite or maybe boom ( i think) even though the future quest series looks great because it looks faithful to the original source material .

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