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Cartoon Network May Pick Up The Ball Netflix Dropped


The mood among animation fans lately has been dour, with the bombshell news that Netflix was cancelling the majority of its animated projects in favor of licensed material propelling the gloom. But it’s not all bad news. A new article from Vulture suggests the new king of innovation in cartoons could very soon be Cartoon Network.

Isn’t that the same place that’s resigned itself to an eternity of Teen Titans Go and Gumball reruns? For the moment, but things could be in turnaround very soon. The words of Sam Register in this piece, who became ruler of Warner Bros Animation in 2020, are everything we want to hear from an exec these days, and usually don’t. Terms like “original” and “creator-driven” are thrown around. The words “Boss” or “Baby” never come out of his mouth.

“For a long time, Cartoon Network did only shows for kids — mostly boys — aged 6-11, mostly 11 minutes, with production mostly shipped overseas,” says Register. “It made amazing content, but that alone doesn’t work in a streaming universe. So instead of just doing 6-11 kids’ content, we’re doing preschool content and adult content, and in different formats: making movies, making more YA content, bringing back shorts.”

“The first thing I decided was to not just make a pilot program, but to celebrate animation by opening the aperture as much as we can, and by inking partnerships with groups that think outside the box — Exceptional Minds, Black Women Animate,” Register explains. “In a world where everything’s all about IP, IP, IP, we want to celebrate animation from all different kinds of creators. Even if a hit doesn’t come out of it, a hitmaker might.” PREACH IT BROTHA!

In addition, a slew of fresh, original cartoon projects are revealed in this conversation. Things like Invincible Fight Girl, described as “a half-hour comedy-adventure series about a girl who comes from an island where everyone is an accountant but wants to be a wrestler.” Haven’t seen that before! The image above is from the series.

The return of Genndy Tartakovsky to family entertainment is also mentioned with Unicorn: Warriors Eternal, a new series due out later. Details are scant beyond the below image and the vague description of “a team of young ancient heroes who band together to protect the world from a sinister force.” But it’s Tartakovsky, so you already know it’s going to kick ass.

You could throw cold water on this by pointing out these are cable projects and cable is a sinking ship. I can counter that by pointing out anything developed for CN will also be part of HBO Max, so these new toons will get plenty of exposure. Change is coming — and this time, it’s the better kind.