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Thread: What do you think was The Golden Age of Animation?

  1. #1
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    What do you think was The Golden Age of Animation?

    Some will suggest that it began in 1928 and ended in the late 1950s or 1960s. Others -- many orgers -- contend that The Golden Age of Animation was the 1980s and 1990s. I hold with the latter position as this was the era when scripted animation -- i.e., animated television series containing storylines as opposed to, with notable exceptions, primarily artist writing a few lines here and there -- came into being.

    Unquestionably, driven by toy, product and licensing, an animated series and films garnered staggering, almost never-before-imagined, profits during those heady days. But it was also a time when writers such as myself were given free rein to develop real stories and, as a result real and lasting characters that turned into iconic franchises.

    What are your thoughts?

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    Heroic Warrior Rikki Roxx's Avatar
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    Hmm. Interesting question. On one hand, the earlier era definitely had smoother animation and arguably more creativity. Looking back at things like the Fleischer cartoons is still a sight to behold even today, particularly the Superman shorts.

    On the other hand, the 80s/90s era definitely showed a strong evolution insofar as character development and longform storytelling. While a lot of the animation itself was a lot more "stiff" and recycled than the prior era, a case could be made for doing more with less. BUT, it could also be argued that that has more to do with "scripting" than "animation".

    Tough call. I was born in '82 so naturally I'm a bit biased towards the stuff produced in the 1980s. MOTU is still probably my sentimental favorite cartoon show of all time. But going by strictly the quality of animation, if you compare the early Fleischer "Popeye" cartoons, for example, to the Popeyes produced in the 1980s, objectively I think the originals look and hold up a lot better.

    No real easy answer here! It's much easier to identify which era was "the dregs" of animation, which was almost certainly the 60s and 70s. Lots of memorable stuff came out but it was arguably of very poor quality animation-wise.
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    On a purely artistic basis, the earlier era to me deserves the first Golden Age title. The Fleischer and Disney studios produced absolutely amazing and beautiful animation, their attention to detail was incredible as they were innovating the processes to actually animate it. The 80's and 90's were more of a renaissance to me, or a second Golden Age. Also a fabulous time, and much as I'm an 80's kid I thought the 90's in particular may have been overall one of the greatest decades for animation. In addition to the TV animation, you also have Studio Ghibli form during this latter period of 80's and 90's, also producing some of the most amazing animation ever.

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    I would definitely say the 80's-90's are the best time for animation! That said, I do love all the many years of Disney and DC Comics animations, and classic series like Smurfs and Scooby Doo which just keeps getting better, but yes, the 80's-90's are the most awesome!

    I especially love:

    MOTU/POP/NA
    Thundercats
    Bravestarr
    Blackstar
    Centurions
    Punky Brewster
    Gargoyles
    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    Dungeons And Dragons
    Jana Of The Jungle
    Captain Planet

    I haven't seen Silverhawks yet, but I hope to soon.

    I also love the new millenium's Winx Club.

    It's not animated, but I love Power Rangers too.

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    Heroic Warrior Granamyr's Helmet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rikki Roxx View Post
    But going by strictly the quality of animation, if you compare the early Fleischer "Popeye" cartoons, for example, to the Popeyes produced in the 1980s, objectively I think the originals look and hold up a lot better.
    The magic era was the pre-Paramount buyout period of 1933-43. Some of the early Famous Studios era is still decent compared to what was to come, but the Fleischer era was just incredible. Likewise Superman as you mentioned, I love the 90's Superman for the storytelling and familiarity to "my Superman" growing up, but the animation on the Fleischer era is just a work of art.
    Last edited by Granamyr's Helmet; January 27, 2021 at 10:15pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Granamyr's Helmet View Post
    The magic era was the pre-Paramount buyout period of 1933-43. Some of the early Famous Studios era is still decent comparted to what was to come, but the Fleischer era was just incredible. Likewise Superman as you mentioned, I love the 90's Superman for the storytelling and familiarity to "my Superman" growing up, but the animation on the Fleischer era is just a work of art.
    I love the Fleischer Superman animations too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikey View Post
    I haven't seen Silverhawks yet, but I hope to soon.
    I finally discovered it like 7 years ago and couldn't believe I had missed it back in the day. Definitely has that Thundercats DNA, I think you'll enjoy it

    Gargoyles from your list...man, another example of how the 90's just kept upping the game after all the great 80's stuff. Then there's Batman and the whole Diniverse.

    I don't know, more I think about it, I'm with you Rikki, no easy answer! They're both golden.

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    Heroic Warrior Rikki Roxx's Avatar
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    Yeah, as I've said it's much easier to figure out "the worst" vs. "The Best." So many variables, so many strong cases to be made for either side,

    Whereas then in the 60s/70s, you had a bunch of static, non-moving characters with only their mouths moving if they had to talk, but little else as far as actual "animation", and that was the standard. And thus while a ton of memorable cartoons came out of that era, just about nobody anywhere would argue that it was "the Golden Age" by any stretch.

    Whereas the 30s/40s and 80s/90s eras both had some really fantastic and well-drawn stuff at the highest levels. But at the same time, how CAN one objectively compare the Fleischer Supermans to the Bruce Timm Supermans? How can one grade one as being above the other? It's so hard.

    I'm personally more apt to re-watch stuff from the 80s than from the 40s, BUT, that has a lot to do with nostalgia and personal biases. I'd feel a little arrogant in proclaiming "My" era to be better. There was a lot of magic to go around in both.

    Nice little thought experiment, Jack. It's a fun topic to think about even if there are no easy answers.
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    The Golden Era was 1940-1958 in my opinion.

    1940 saw a lot of notable firsts:

    Fantasia (first stereophonic movie)

    First Tom and Jerry short

    First hybrid animation/live action film The Reluctant Dragon

    First true Bugs Bunny short, A Wild Hare

    Production begins on the Fleischer Bros. Superman series


    1958 was the year focus shifted in the industry from theatres to television. As a short subject, studios made very little in returns from theatres. Cartoons were essentially an expensive cake icing that the studios felt they needed to include with their theatrical films in order to differentiate themselves from the competition. With television, they could sell the broadcast rights and make real money.

    As a result, several of the pioneering studios folded or shifted ownership. Freling Enterprises took over Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. Tom and Jerry ended as Hanna and Barbara left MGM to start their own company, making cartoons for television only. Tex Avery left film to begin animating television commercials.

    The animation industry was never the same (and some would argue, never as good) after 1958.
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    Not my Tempo Fendi's Avatar
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    I agree on the late 40's and early 60's were the golden age, I enjoyed those era a lot. But for my view my Golden Age is Disney Renaissance. To be honest I watched all of the Disney movies, including the non Disney Anastasia, Antz, Prince of Egypt, Land Before Time. I think the last Animation movie was Ratatouille.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fendi View Post
    I agree on the late 40's and early 60's were the golden age, I enjoyed those era a lot. But for my view my Golden Age is Disney Renaissance. To be honest I watched all of the Disney movies, including the non Disney Anastasia, Antz, Prince of Egypt, Land Before Time. I think the last Animation movie was Ratatouille.
    I love Prince Of Egypt with Val Kilmer, who would later go on to play Moses again in Ten Commandments: The Musical.

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    To me the Hayao Miyazaki films (Studio Ghibli) are the more modern equivalent of golden age Disney, and have achieved a similar level of greatness.

    Spirited Away is possibly the greatest animated film of all time, and when I think of Nausicaa, Castle in the Sky, Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle...I think there's a big parallel between the eras here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heeeere's Olesker! View Post
    Some will suggest that it began in 1928 and ended in the late 1950s or 1960s. Others -- many orgers -- contend that The Golden Age of Animation was the 1980s and 1990s. I hold with the latter position as this was the era when scripted animation -- i.e., animated television series containing storylines as opposed to, with notable exceptions, primarily artist writing a few lines here and there -- came into being.

    Unquestionably, driven by toy, product and licensing, an animated series and films garnered staggering, almost never-before-imagined, profits during those heady days. But it was also a time when writers such as myself were given free rein to develop real stories and, as a result real and lasting characters that turned into iconic franchises.

    What are your thoughts?
    I do not have the required level of intelligence and life experience to properly answer this question. So, it is just my opinion!

    I would peg the golden age of animation as late 70s through to early 90s. My reasons were due to the fluidity of the animation, the ability of the animation to show "complex" settings (e.g. not simply static backgrounds that were panned). The ones that define great animation for me during these years were (in no particular order):

    Japanese animation:
    Atom (aka Astro Boy)
    Gold Lightan
    God Mars (aka Rokushin Gattai)
    Voltron (Lion force)
    Plaswres Sanshiro
    Macross
    Orguss
    Mirai Keisatsu Urashiman
    Dragon Ball Z

    US-based / North American Animation:
    Bionic Six
    M.A.S.K.
    He-Man and The MOTU
    Thundercats
    Galaxy Rangers
    C.O.P.S.
    Dinosaucers
    Transformers
    BraveStarr
    SilverHawks
    G.I.Joe
    Gummi Bears
    Darkwing Duck

    Overall I felt Japanese animation generally were of a higher quality, but I thought some of the US/North American based shows did have more interesting stories.

    Quote Originally Posted by Granamyr's Helmet View Post
    To me the Hayao Miyazaki films (Studio Ghibli) are the more modern equivalent of golden age Disney, and have achieved a similar level of greatness.

    Spirited Away is possibly the greatest animated film of all time, and when I think of Nausicaa, Castle in the Sky, Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle...I think there's a big parallel between the eras here.
    No no no ... how can you say Spirited Away? That title belongs to Laputa: Castle in the sky, with Nausicaa a close second. Honestly, just kidding! I loved Spirited Away too, and each one of them are great features in their own ways. Have you seen the animated version of the Earthsea novels? Same studio, different director. Still worth watching in my opinion.

    And if you love the Ghibli style of animation, check out Studios Ponoc's Mary and the Witch's Flower. That studio is made up of quite a few former Ghibli animators.

    Also, if you have not see any of Makoto Shinkai's works, do check out Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below (yes it's a very lengthy title, I believe the UK version is known as Journey to Agartha). It has a Castle in the Sky vibe, with slightly more mature themes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Iluvart View Post
    No no no ... how can you say Spirited Away? That title belongs to Laputa: Castle in the sky, with Nausicaa a close second. Honestly, just kidding! I loved Spirited Away too, and each one of them are great features in their own ways. Have you seen the animated version of the Earthsea novels? Same studio, different director. Still worth watching in my opinion.
    Laputa is a very very close second to Spirited Away for me, I can't argue against that as a contender for the title as well

    Nausicaa is truly spectacular too. Also forgot, technically pre-Ghibli, but Miyazaki directed the Lupin movie Castle of Cagliostro which is a fun one as well. And yes, I did see the Earthsea adaptation...that was actually his son who directed! It's funny, Hayao had asked Ursula Le Guin for permission to make it, but got turned down. Then she decided to OK it but by then he was busy with Howl's Moving Castle so he talked her into letting his son Goro direct.

    I definitely need to check out your other recommendations...thanks for suggesting them!

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    I'm going to go on a little different direction here and define "Golden Age" as something being at it's very best.

    Having said that I'm not sure we've seen it yet. Heck we may be living in it right now. Some many artists up and coming and with the newfound popularity of animated online series as well as American's continually growing interest in Anime, I'm seeing great stuff right now.

    Add to it that right now our countries' movie heroes are actual comic characters and animation is even more desirable.


    I just feel like there's a good possibility that the best is yet to come.
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    the individual needs to define what 'golden age' means. than you will find the answer to which you are searching.
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    I think I'm a fan of way more late 60s and 70s stuff than I am of any other period, for me there was so much amazing stuff that came out in that time frame.
    Yellow Submarine
    Wacky Races
    Laff-A-Lympics
    The Robonic Stooges
    Lord Of The Rings
    Fantastic Planet
    Wizards
    The Point
    Fantastic Animation Festival

    It is difficult to pick a particular period though.

  18. #18
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    I'd like to clarify that when I'm speaking of The Golden Age of 'Animation' I'm not exclusively referring to just the artwork -- Traditional Animation, 2D, 3D, anime, flash and stop motion artwork. I would like, instead, that this thread embraces and discusses the totality of 'Animation' and animated series and films -- i.e., the artwork, writing, story, characters...everything.

    I think it should be interesting to compare the totality of Animation in the 20s, 30s and 40s to the totality of Animation in the 80s and 90s.

    In the interest of transparency, I've been approached to consider doing a project based on 80s and 90s Animation, which I personally consider to be The Golden Age of Animation.

    Have at it, my friends.
    Last edited by Heeeere's Olesker!; January 28, 2021 at 02:33pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heeeere's Olesker! View Post
    I'd like to clarify that when I'm speaking of The Golden Age of 'Animation' I'm not exclusively referring to just the artwork -- Traditional Animation, 2D, 3D, anime, flash and stop motion artwork. I would like, instead, that this thread embraces and discusses the totality of 'Animation' and animated series and films -- i.e., the artwork, writing, story, characters...everything.

    I think it should be interesting to compare the totality of Animation in the 20s, 30s and 40s to the totality of Animation in the 80s and 90s.

    In the interest of transparency, I've been approached to consider doing a project based on 80s and 90s Animation, which I personally consider to be The Golden Age of Animation.

    Have at it, my friends.
    I think the technical aspects of animation and the visual creativity are easier to critique, but stories and writing are such a reflection of the periods they come from, the countries they are made, and personal tastes in general.

    The stop motion Prince Achmed from 1926 is very simple in the storytelling, but taken as a whole it is still completely sublime. The aforementioned Fleischer material like Popeye in the 30's...it's not just the better animation, it often had a surrealism to it that put it on another level to the highly simplified fare later on.

    I look at Star Blazers from the 70's and while the animation wasn't at the level that would come in the 80's/90's, it actually had a depth where there was continuity and the actions of one episode would carry through to the next and had consequences through to each series' finale.

    MOTU, G.I. Joe, Transformers and all the other usual shows we list...they just looked great and were such a step up in a lot of ways from obviously the decade before, and the 90's kept the trend of great shows going. But comparing that storytelling to the traditional fairy tale storytelling of Disney movies back in their early years is very apples to oranges.

    Ask an animation student and they might say the Russian "Hedgehog in the Fog" film is a high point, and that was 75.

    It's a great topic, but there was such a legacy before the 80's and 90's that I have a hard time calling it exclusively the "Golden Age" even though I think there was a tremendous surge of creativity and continued evolution of animation.

  20. #20
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    Well I'd respectfully suggest that we remember that storytelling and characters development is as critical an element to a great series or film as is artwork.

    Admittedly, I'm somewhat biased because I'm a writer. Heck, I'd have trouble drawing stick people! So while I appreciate great artwork, it's not my forte.

    That's storytelling and creating rich characters is very important to the totality of a series or film. As an example from another arena, there's no question but that the Mona Lisa is one of the most magnificent paintings in history, But people are also fascinated by the idea and story of the 'woman' behind the painting, as well as the artist. There's definitely a story to be told there and a lot of speculation has been made about it. My point is, we can look at amazing animation artwork from the 30s and be in awe of it. And granted some of the films in those early years also contained fantastic stories. But then we look at the thin stories and characters in 60s and 70s animated series and we see the importance of story and characters, and the result of a lack of it.

    Things changed when writers like me and other very talented writers were given free rein in the orly 80s to begin writing 'large', with sprawling stories and great characters. Imo, we should be just as much in awe of and give props to the characters and stories generated during the 80s and 90s as we do to the brilliant animation art of the 30s and 40s. After all, the animated series and characters and toys that grew from the 80s and 90s television series and resulting films is a big reason why we're all here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Granamyr's Helmet View Post
    I think the technical aspects of animation and the visual creativity are easier to critique, but stories and writing are such a reflection of the periods they come from, the countries they are made, and personal tastes in general.

    The stop motion Prince Achmed from 1926 is very simple in the storytelling, but taken as a whole it is still completely sublime. The aforementioned Fleischer material like Popeye in the 30's...it's not just the better animation, it often had a surrealism to it that put it on another level to the highly simplified fare later on.

    I look at Star Blazers from the 70's and while the animation wasn't at the level that would come in the 80's/90's, it actually had a depth where there was continuity and the actions of one episode would carry through to the next and had consequences through to each series' finale.

    MOTU, G.I. Joe, Transformers and all the other usual shows we list...they just looked great and were such a step up in a lot of ways from obviously the decade before, and the 90's kept the trend of great shows going. But comparing that storytelling to the traditional fairy tale storytelling of Disney movies back in their early years is very apples to oranges.

    Ask an animation student and they might say the Russian "Hedgehog in the Fog" film is a high point, and that was 75.

    It's a great topic, but there was such a legacy before the 80's and 90's that I have a hard time calling it exclusively the "Golden Age" even though I think there was a tremendous surge of creativity and continued evolution of animation.
    Last edited by Heeeere's Olesker!; January 28, 2021 at 03:30pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heeeere's Olesker! View Post
    Well I'd respectfully suggest that we remember that storytelling and characters development is as critical an element to a great series or film as is artwork.

    Admittedly, I'm somewhat biased because I'm a writer. Heck, I'd have trouble drawing stick people! So while I appreciate great artwork, it's not my forte.

    That's storytelling and creating rich characters is very important to the totality of a series or film.
    Oh, I totally agree actually! My post was not meant to dismiss that at all, I apologize for giving that impression.

    What I was trying to say is that the storytelling and characterization can be harder to compare across periods if looking at the field very broadly. If we're just saying MOTU and Gargoyles were miles ahead of the storytelling of say Spider-Man 67 and Super Friends, sure, not even remotely close.

    In my examples, I was trying to actually show aspects of strong storytelling, but how it is difficult to compare. The surrealism of Fleischer Popeye is beyond the visual, there was much bolder and clever storytelling going on. My Star Blazers example is that despite the cruder animation compared to the 80's and 90's, they actually had a depth of storyline.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Heeeere's Olesker! View Post
    Imo, we should be just as much in awe of and give props to the characters and stories generated during the 80s and 90s as we do to the brilliant animation art of the 30s and 40s. After all, the animated series and characters and toys that grew from the 80s and 90s television series and resulting films is a big reason why we're all here.
    Trust me, I'm here as well because those are nearest and dearest to me having grown up in those decades. And I think we should be proud of them. The sheer creativity alone was fantastic during that period.

    But if the premise is "the 30's and 40's get credit as the Golden Age", and we're trying to find the counter argument that it's really the 80's and 90's, I'm not sure it lines up evenly was what I was trying to go after. But the many great examples already listed of 80's and 90's I think do showcase a lot more than the visual, lots of those had great characters and interesting storytelling that are just as integral.
    Last edited by Granamyr's Helmet; January 28, 2021 at 03:59pm.

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    Absolutely no offense taken. Remember I created The New Adventures of He-man, along with 1,200 episodes of television. If ever there was a guy who could take criticism, I'm you're man.

    But seriously, differing points of view is precisely what this thread is all about. There is no one all-encompassing 'correct' answer; just people who are passionate about animation, animated television and films expressing their opinions, for the illumination and benefit of us all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Granamyr's Helmet View Post
    Oh, I totally agree actually! My post was not meant to dismiss that at all, I apologize for giving that impression.

    What I was trying to say is that the storytelling and characterization can be harder to compare across periods if looking at the field very broadly. If we're just saying MOTU and Gargoyles we're miles ahead of the storytelling of say Spider-Man 67 and Super Friends, sure, not even remotely close.

    In my examples, I was trying to actually show aspects of strong storytelling, but how it is difficult to compare. The surrealism of Fleischer Popeye is beyond the visual, there was much bolder and clever storytelling going on. My Star Blazers example is that despite the cruder animation compared to 80's and 90's, they actually had a depth of storyline.

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    Heroic Warrior Granamyr's Helmet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heeeere's Olesker! View Post
    Absolutely no offense taken. Remember I created The New Adventures of He-man, along with 1,200 episodes of television. If ever there was a guy who could take criticism, I'm you're man.
    That's amazingly cool! Well, total sidebar, I am NOT a hater of the New Adventures...it's awesome to virtually meet you. Would love to know more about your whole television writing history as well if there's a good spot to read up on that. (EDIT, found your website!)

    And back on topic, appreciate the open exchange of ideas as well. I'm very passionate about all things 80's in particular, but sometimes the hardcore "historian" comes out in me and I feel the need to systematically explore aspects of all the periods.
    Last edited by Granamyr's Helmet; January 28, 2021 at 04:33pm.

  24. #24
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    Thanks for that, Granamyr. For the record, I welcome and embrace constructive and civil comments and criticism of my work on NA and all of the projects I've been associated with. I've learned much from my mistakes and missteps over a career of almost forty years. I believe that's called "growth".

    These links should provide you with adequate background you requested on my career:

    https://jackolesker.com

    https://www.nwitimes.com/entertainme...375cb7531.html

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    https://www.awn.com/news/jack-oleske...reative-studio

    And here's a link to a great podcast that focused on NA and my career:

    http://masterscast.com/2007/01/28/ma...st-episode-25/

    But enough about me. As this thread is about The Golden Age of Animation, let's return to the topic.


    Quote Originally Posted by Granamyr's Helmet View Post
    That's amazingly cool! Well, total sidebar, I am NOT a hater of the New Adventures...it's awesome to virtually meet you. Would love to know more about your whole television writing history as well if there's a good spot to read up on that. (EDIT, found your website!)

    And back on topic, appreciate the open exchange of ideas as well. I'm very passionate about all things 80's in particular, but sometimes the hardcore "historian" comes out in me and I feel the need to systematically explore aspects of all the periods.

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    Just now seeing thread

    I....um...good question. One I never thought of nor do I know how to answer.

    I think this is one you have to look at from an overall historical view. And I think that would take a bit of time to do.

    My knee jerk reaction is the 80's because of all the 80's cartoons. But I'll admit that is probably the most fair and accurate answer.

    Was it some of Disney's first animated movies?

    Maybe when Looney Tunes came on? Upon quick search the interwebs say the Golden era for them was 44 to 64 when several of their well known characters debuted.

    Was when the Flinstones or the Jetsons debuted?

    When thoughts like that enter my mind as I try to figure it out my new answer is there is none. Animation is something that comes in surges or waves. It ebbs and flows. Like the tide.

    I do know that I prefer hand drawn. American over anime.

    I do know what my favorite cartoons are. I know if I had to pick one toon what it'd be.

    Is there a golden era? Beats me. I'm to busy watching kick A toons that hold up to time to care. And I'm not educated on the subject to answer.

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