If ever there was a compelling reason to wake up early on Saturdays, it was Saturday morning cartoons. But who watches television anymore? The crippling nostalgia this programming evokes is enough to make you enter into an ill-advised contractual agreement with a notorious cable company. But before you reach for the remote, take a moment to click through your burgeoning Internet options.
“Nothing beats cartoons and cereal,” says the online video streaming service, Hulu. Even without a subscription, users can browse a selection of free Saturday Morning Cartoons, including classics like Felix the Cat, or “by the power of Grayskull,” He-Man and my personal favorite, Bill and Ted’s Excellent [animated] Adventures. Too bad Bill and Ted’s Excellent Cereal has been discontinued.
But if you’re not willing to trade one monthly bill for another in order to watch Hulu’s entire catalog of cartoons, then keep clicking, because this is the Internet and there’s a lot of free stuff around these parts. In fact, an entire generation of cartoonists regularly create content exclusively for the web at no cost to their viewers.
If you are a fan of alternative cartoons, but would like to steer clear of the unsavory material that often pervades the Internet, Channel Frederator Network on YouTube is a good place to start. Founded in 2005 by Fred Seibert, Frederator Studios has proven itself as “Cartoon Central on the Internet” by bringing together thousands of independent artists for hundreds of millions of viewers.
Through its partnership with YouTube and now Sony Pictures Animation, Channel Frederator Network champions innovative animators and empowers them to keep doing what they love even as the industry changes. Internet-based animator, Sam Green said, "[The Channel Frederator Network] has literally changed my life. They've allowed me to move out of my parents' basement."
Frederator not only carries on the legacy of irreverent Saturday Morning Cartoons but has also colonized most other days of the week in the name of animation as well, proclaiming Tuesday as “ToonsDay!” Now that Saturday morning cartoons are available any day of the week, you can “consume irresponsibly,” as Frederator’s Cartoon Hangover encourages you to do, every day. Here is a sample itinerary for a week-long cartoon binge:
In 2005, Jason Steele created a flash animation test called Charlie the Unicorn for his mother, which went viral. You may feel a little bit like this curmudgeonly unicorn at the beginning of the week, but the trip to Candy Mountain will make you feel better about being a grump.
A great way to discover new talent, "ToonsDay!" on Channel Frederator spotlights one of the many gifted animators on the Channel Frederator Network every Tuesday. The “Spacetime Fabric Softener by Professor Soap” episode (above) from 2014 is one of my favorites.
What would the Internet be without cats? Simon’s Cat is this generation’s Garfield. In the video above, creator Simon Tofield, shows us how he draws his mischievous cat.
San Francisco-based artist, Levni Yilmaz, animates Tales of Mere Existence by filming his drawing process on the back of vellum. He describes it as “confused comedy for confused people.”
Check out Cartoon Hangover’s shorts, Too Cool! Cartoons, which give up-and-coming animators a chance to share their best work in the hopes of having it spun off into syndicated series. Watch the Bee and PuppyCat short by Natasha Allegri, which recently got its own Internet series.
Saturday Morning Cartoons on Channel Frederator often feature shorts from three different animators, which is good because all that sugary cereal is probably giving you a short attention span.
Influential animator Don Hertzfeldt is originally from Fremont, CA. This clip introduced The Animation Show he and Mike Judge sponsored and explains some of his philosophies on animation. Even though Hertzfeld prefers to show his work in movie theaters, this is a good way to end any cartoon binge. Hertzfeldt's short film, World of Tomorrow, will premiere at this year's Sundance Festival.
In the words of Hertzfeldt's characters, “I hope we’ve all learned a little something about the fascinating world of animation today and can now think of it a little differently. An animated film is not just a random series of mindless, self-indulgent, violent cartoon images meant only to be enjoyed by young children or people with mental handicaps, but is a serious valid art medium all unto itself in which the artist is free to explore the purity of the film medium down to each and every single frame, the animated arts are --"