Thursday, August 31, 2006

Exit Ed Benedict

Over at Cartoon Brew, Jerry Beck has announced the passing of animation legend Ed Benedict at the age of 94.

Benedict had a long and varied career in animation, but his greatest impact on pop culture occurred during his tenure as Hanna-Barbera's character designer in the late '50s through the early '60s. The Flintstones (and the Rubbles), Quick Draw McGraw and Baba Louie, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Snagglepuss, Snooper and Blabber, Snuffles, Yakky Doodle, and many others sprang from Benedict's fertile imagination -- to be given the spark of life by the vocal talents of Daws Butler, of course, and the musical genius of Hoyt Curtin. All gone now, alas... but we still have the cartoons. The characters. The Pez dispensers. The lunchboxes, even!

Apparently Benedict didn't care for the H-B cartoons at all, but as a wise man once said, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." I went through a season when I was disenchanted with the H-B cartoons myself, in my teens, when I saw them as the harbinger of limited animation; but animation has long since circumvented that little problem, which makes it easier to appreciate the H-B cartoons as the clever, satirical little films they are. Speaking for myself, I find that -- much moreso than the classic Warner Bros. and MGM cartoons, which are more overtly clever, artistic, and ingenious -- the H-B cartoons are animation's comfort food. When I see them on Boomerang today, they make me feel good, pure and simple. They're cute. And I love how flamingly gay Snagglepuss is.

So zip on over to Cartoon Brew and read all about Ed Benedict, the man who gave us these great stars of paint and celluloid.

PS: Yes, I have heard about the passing of Joseph Stefano and would like to respond in some worthy manner, but that task seems to require more of me than I am able to give at present.

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