Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lou Scheimer 1928-2013

Filmation is one of those cartoon studios that seems to polarize people when talking about animation and pop culture. But there sure was a lot of it on TV when I was a kid.

When I was very, very young, I used to love Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle and Flash Gordon, both Filmation cartoons. In fact, those were the first iterations of those characters I ever saw; I was just that little. It was formative enough that there's always a small part of me that misses Nkima in any version of Tarzan that he's not in... And one of the first action figures I ever had was of Thun the Lion Man from Flash Gordon.

When I was in second grade, I remember rushing home to see He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, which was one of my favorite toy lines for a couple of years. I had one of those big Earl Norem-painted He-Man posters on my wall for a while. And my sister loved She-Ra: Princess of Power. We watched both shows, played with the toys, and got immersed in that whole universe. I've seen the show again as an adult, and it's... it's actually pretty terrible. There's nothing there for me now. But it dominated my childhood, fed and nurtured my love of science fiction and fantasy, and I still remember it fondly as something I had a real emotional investment in as a very young kid. Those were fun days. I played outside a lot, running around with my He-Man swords. Those shows inspired my imagination.

Even later, as I was starting to outgrow afterschool cartoons, I still enjoyed Ghostbusters (the one with the gorilla) and BraveStarr. And Filmation was there earlier, before I was born, with things that became favorites for me through reruns, like Journey Back to Oz, the animated Star Trek series (which still holds up as great TV science fiction), and Fat Albert. To this day I remember having a doctor's appointment one night in October, around 1982 or 1983, and being very upset that I might miss The Fat Albert Halloween Special on TV that night.

Lou Scheimer, the man who founded Filmation Studios, died a few days ago at the age of 84. Mark Evanier has a very nice post about him. I just had to mark it here and say a little thank you for contributing to a childhood that relished in fantasy and the imagination, and delighted at such things as lion men, monkey sidekicks, and ghostbusting gorillas.

Rest in peace, Lou Scheimer.

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