Greatest Cartoons, Part Deux

Since ten monkeys on drugs could have picked a better list by throwing their feces on the wall and trying to figure out what character it looked like (oh, wait, that’s how TV Guide did it, sorry), we figured we could not do worse than to come up with our own list of the Greatest Cartoon Characters.

The main problem with their list was that they did not define “greatest” or “cartoon”. That’s how their list wound up with crap like “Josie and the Pussycats” and questionable entries like “Gumby” and “Superman.” (I don’t even want to know where “Bill” and “Gerald McBoing-Boing” came from…)

So, without further ado, we present our criteria and list of nominees (none of which look like monkey feces…except Scooby Doo…)

First some definitions. The most obvious being: “What counts as a ‘cartoon’ for this list?”

Keith Poulson has an excellent, extended definition of a cartoon. Here, the a cartoon is defined as “a form of media where, using animation, characters are shown with simplified features, but still maintaining an ability to be recognized.”

There are several key terms there that narrow the field. For example, “Final Fantasy” is animated, true, but it’s far from simplistic. Not a cartoon.

Further, in order to limit ourselves to a specific ‘class’ of cartoons, we are going to set the bar higher and say that this list is to find the greatest original cartoon character. So, if they were not created as a cartoon first, they are off the list (sorry, Charlie Brown), and if they cannot stand alone, they are off the list (sorry, Beavis and Butthead). [We will be coming up with side lists of the greatest cartoon shows, ensembles, comics, etc.]

Now, let’s define “greatest.” Sgt. Grump came up with five categories to classify a cartoon as “great.”

1. Is it revolutionary? Was it the first of its kind? Did it make some technological or social breakthrough? For example, Mickey Mouse (the first successful sound cartoon).

2. Did it maintain consistent, high quality over its lifespan? For example, The Simpsons (or, for our purposes, one or more Simpsons characters).

3. Did it have a large cultural impact? Are there certain widely known “catch phrases” that came from the character? Do you see the character’s image used in other media? For example, Fred Flintstone’s “yabba-dabba-doo,” references to “Jetson-like” devices, or Mickey Mouse in general.

4. Is it long-lived? How long has it been around? For example, Mickey is from 1928; Bugs Bunny is from 1940.

5. How popular is or was it? Once again, Mickey Mouse is known world-wide.

So, with our definitions in mind here is Solonor’s Greatest Cartoons page.

Thanks goes to the great Chronology of Animation by Richard Llewellyn.

While you’re at it, check out Eric Szulczewski’s column at I’m not a big fan, like Ric the Schmuck, but Mr. S got it right.

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