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The Celebrity Effect on Cartoons

Omar Jeter

Cartoons based on famous actors, sports icons and celebrities across the board can be hit or miss. Sometimes attaching your name to a cartoon gives it that extra bit of jet fuel to get the cartoon into orbit and sometimes it is nothing but the dead weight that will drag it down crashing faster than the stock market. Here are 10 examples of hits and misses of celebrity base cartoons

  1. HAMMERMAN: cartoons usually based on trending musicians and groups historically do not do well, apparently MC Hammer did not pay attention to his predecessors like New Kids on the Block, The Partridge Family, and Kid n play, because attaching his name to this very horribly drawn and very Bland nonsensical 22 minute disasterpiece did nothing to boost sales or popularity of his name brand. There is most certainly a hint of desperation and trying to keep his name in the spotlight when this came out. In 1991
    Verdict: Miss
  2. Hulk Hogan’s Rock N wrestling: in the 1980s there was no bigger athlete name than The Immortal Hulk Hogan. The flagship of the WWF and with everything with his name attached to it selling out all over the world the next logical step was for him to go to Saturday morning cartoons and on September 14th, 1985 he did that in a very very big way. Showing the Further Adventures of Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Rowdy Roddy Piper and the Junkyard Dog the cartoon was instantly a huge success and is still talked about today.
    Verdict: Hit
  3. The Karate Kid: Daniel Larusso and Mr. Miyagi were transported onto Saturday morning cartoons debuting on NBC during the fall of 1989, coming off of two very successful movies and being highly popular amongst kids and teenagers, it was logical for the crane kicking teenager to show up in animation form. Although not voiced by the original actors Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita, the cartoon was still a success.
    Verdict: Hit
  4. Teen Wolf: once again in 1986, Michael J.Fox what’s on a high tide of popularity between his hit TV show Family Ties, and fresh off of his box office hit Teen Wolf as well as filming Back to the Future, which also became a cartoon years later, the Misadventures of Scott Howard was an easy choice to be adapted into an animated sitcom. Although once again not voiced by Michael j.fox himself, there was little segments of endorsements and public service announcements at the end of each show. This was just enough to keep the show popular
    Verdict: Hit
  5. PROSTARS: this is a prime example of not Everything That Glitters Is Gold, this was an obvious attempt at hoping that this particular series would lead into the eighties Trifecta of comics and action figures. Never has a poorer attempt been made by athletes with a very nonsensical plotline and a very noticeable absence of the most popular character of the show Michael Jordan. While every episode did feature an intro and a special message from Bo Jackson and Wayne Gretzky, the lack of any participation from Michael Jordan just put out a message that kids were not important enough for him to take the time to get in front of the camera and say a few positive words of encouragement to.
    Verdict: Miss
  6. Camp Candy:
    It’s the 80s, one of the funniest comedians in the form of John Candy Anthony is a camp counselor, what kid in the world would not enjoy being chased by bears or watching a beehive drop on top of John Candy’s head as he dances around very humorously. Throwing a very catchy intro song, tons of humor, and periodical live segments from the funny man himself and you have yourself a hit that was picked up for three seasons by NBC.
    Verdict: Hit
  7. Pee Wee’s Playhouse: you can deny it all you want but there was not a kid in the world that did not watch this 22 minutes psychedelic, zany, kooky, weird, lovable, and surprisingly educational visit to the lair of Pee-wee Herman. With numerous successful HBO specials and two movies including Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and Big Top Pee-wee to his credit. Giving the Zoot Suit nerd his own Saturday morning TV show was a marriage made in heaven. Going on for four seasons with absolutely no signs of slow down this has to be one of the biggest examples are celebrity endorsements done right
    Verdict: Hit
  8. Wishkid: Macaulay Culkin was the child actor King of Hollywood. With a resume that carried 2 hugely successful Home Alone movies, as well as an animated feature movie call the Pagemaster, during the time. During the 80s and 90s, you can almost see the limousine pull up with a contract pitching a Saturday morning cartoon, unfortunately for him, Wishkid was nothing more than just a half-hour advertisement that can be taken in a very narcissistic way. The animation was lukewarm at best and the storylines were at times hard to keep up with.
    Verdict: Miss
  9. Bobby’s World: this was the show that nobody saw coming, but you never knew how necessary it was until you saw it. Considered a B Lister actor at the time it was a huge long shot to give actor Howie Mandel his own show, and to give him a show that would have an adolescent audience would almost seem like career suicide, but the B-lister had some A+ stories based on his life experiences growing up that all kids can relate to. It was very eloquently and Tastefully done touching on subjects such as the passing of a grandparent, living with and functioning handicapped, bullying, and the trials and tribulations of growing up. It wasn’t the perfect family, it wasn’t the perfect house, but that’s okay because it made for perfect storytelling.
    Verdict: Hit
  10. The Jackie Chan Adventures: action, adventure, suspense, drama, romance, and comedy. Never has a celebrity-based cartoon perfectly executed all of these things with the appropriate level of surprises and cliffhangers! And with action Megastar Jackie Chan personally lending his voice to this Epic hit that went on for five seasons, the show set a huge president and made readily available the formula, the perfect formula on how to put together an epic cartoon based on a celebrity. Making its debut on September 9th of 2000 ON The Kids WB cartoon block. It is still widely watched on syndication and multiple streaming services to this day.
    Verdict: Huge Hit!!!

All of the above-mentioned shows can be found on YouTube as well as multiple streaming platforms and of course on DVD.


Special to The Colletonian (3336 Posts)