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Posted at 8:30 AM ET, 04/ 7/2010

The Riff: It's high time to make CUL DE SAC an animated show

By Michael Cavna


Maybe it's seeing those fluidly loose lines in motion. Perhaps it's the thrill of watching Dill rock back and forth, back and forth, just so. Or it could be, simply, the just-right sound of Alice Otterloop's voice.

Whatever the foremost reason, I am particularly charmed by a coupla recent "Cul de Sac" quickie animations (both posted here). Enough so that I'm convinced:

It's high time to have an animated "Cul de Sac" TV special.

Next month, "Cul de Sac" creator Richard Thompson will be in the running for the National Cartoonists Society's big Reuben Award And he's already had two book collections (one with the notable endorsement of a foreword from Bill Watterson). Yet the
development (deal) I would most eagerly, as a fan of the strip, is to see "Cul de Sac" receive a "Peanuts"-style holiday "presentation" on TV.


So many strips, of course, don't make the transition to screen successfully. I enjoyed "Baby Blues" and "Dilbert" on the small screen -- to cite two -- but neither was able to find the same kind of popularity as a TV series.

With "Cul de Sac," though, we're not talkin' a full series. At least yet. But when watching the two animations below, I can't help but see a thoughtful, warmly observed holiday special. The writing, even in this brief shorts, is ripe with possibilities -- for true creative expansion.

Sure, perhaps it's easier to sell an edgier animated series such as "Drawn Together" or "The Boondocks" or "Ugly Americans" or "The Life & Times of Tim" to some networks. (To say nothing of converting Marmaduke to a largely live-action screen.) But there has to be a home somewhere in the cable universe for a "Cul de Sac" special as appealing as these two animations.

TV isn't the end-all be-all for every strip, and some print-to-television projects are ill-advised. But sign up the voice actors from these "CdS" shorts now. In case some comics-loving TV executive has as much taste and class and smarts as the strip itself.

DINNER CONVERSATION:


TOY OF MYSTERY:

By Michael Cavna  | April 7, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  The Animation, The Comic Strip  | Tags:  Comic Riffs blogger Michael Cavna on Richard Thompson's Cul de Sac deserving an animated TV show; RingTales.com creates Cul de Sac animations; animated Dilbert & Baby Blues & Boondocks & Ugly Americans  
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Comments

Requesting an animated version of "Cul de Sac"? Aren't we getting a little bit ahead of ourselves here? First, let's request that WaPo resume printing the gorgeous Sunday version of CdS in color, and in the same place every week (preferably on the glossy pages of the magazine in which it was born, but barring that, then at least in the Sunday Comics pages!). Then, let's request that WaPo online post a new CdS strip every day, instead of being stalled at the same episode from last September. If neither of those is granted, then I'd like to see someone who is in charge of comics at WaPo do an on-line chat, or at least a Comics Riffs interview, in which he or she explains why the Post treats CdS the way that it does. Of course, I'd also like to win the Powerball jackpot, and I estimate that those two events are about equally likely to happen.

Posted by: seismic-2 | April 7, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

This is an absolutely terrible idea that offends virtually all "funnies purists," to say nothing of arguably the greatest comic strip author of all-time, Bill Watterson (who, as you mentioned, wrote a forward for the inaugural “Cul De Sac” collection). If we want to see more of “Cul De Sac,” why don’t we focus our efforts on getting the Sunday strip IN The Washington Post, as opposed to having it run in its current bastardized format in Style & Arts. “Cul De Sac” doesn’t have anywhere NEAR the national following to be considered for something like this, and frankly, that’s a good thing. Why should we ROOT for the dumbing down of the artistic integrity of the best modern strip by miles and miles and miles? I have to believe that “making it” for Richard Thompson wouldn’t be having his little treasure converted into a cartoon, it would be sharing his actual gift with more and more people in its proper format - the newspaper. “Cul De Sac” is BARELY acknowledged by its hometown rag – one step at a time here…

Posted by: MarylanDChris | April 7, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Not Cul de Sac related, BUT... Fresh Air on NPR had a great interview with Trey Parker and Matt Stone in honor of the 200th South Park episode. Interview was 3/24, you can hear the entire thing at NPR's website. So if anyone is interested in an indisputably GOOD animated series, check it out.

Posted by: ishkabibbleA | April 7, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the various kind words & stuff. I'm not sure if I'm ready for a close-up yet or if I'm ready to sell out (unless I already have..). Till then, I'm really happy with these animations, especially with the voices.

Posted by: rhompson | April 7, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the various kind words & stuff. I'm not sure if I'm ready for a close-up yet or if I'm ready to sell out (unless I already have..). Till then, I'm really happy with these animations, especially with the voices.

Posted by: rhompson | April 7, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

I don't much like the voices in these animations. Using young (kid) voice actors may be the problem for me... they're not as talented as adults would be, and the characters are more sophisticated than actual kids their age are.

Contrast with the voice actors on the Simpsons or SouthPark, who are all adults.

Posted by: egc52556 | April 8, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

I personally loved the animation and the voices that were used. I went and watched all the Cul de Sac animations I could find and I thought they were true to the spirit of Alice and her friends. I was worried that Dill wouldn't fit my mental voice for him, but he did. I think if Richard Thompson wants to do these I will watch and support every one.

Thank you.

Posted by: elyrest | April 8, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Dill's voice, one of my favorites, is an adult. One soon to be released animation has my wife Amy as Mrs. Otterloop.

Posted by: rhompson | April 8, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Richard,

Your strip is genius. Any chance we'll be seeing Mr. Danders again soon? I hope so!!

Posted by: MarylanDChris | April 8, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Elyrest, I personally prefer child characters to be portrayed by child voice actors. Adult women just don't sound the same, for the most part.

All of the characters on the various Peanuts TV specials (with the exception of Snoopy) were voiced by child actors. They just wouldn't've been the same with adult women.

Aang in the TV series "Avatar: The Last Airbender" was voiced by Zachary Tyler Eisen, and Toph was likewise voiced by young actress Jessie Flowers. Both did an outstanding jobs. I simply cannot imagine adult women in either role. Child actors likewise voiced some minor child characters as well.

Several characters on "Tiny Toon Adventures" and "Animaniacs" were voiced by the young sons of producer Tom Ruegger: Nathan Ruegger voiced Baby Plucky Duck (a recurring character) and Skippy Squirrel (a major character). His younger brothers Luke and Cody voiced occasional characters (Luke: "The Flame", "The Brave Little Trailer," et al, and Cody: "Birdie the Baby Bluebird" in the episode "Wild Blue Yonder"), and all three would go on to major voice characters in the later series "Histeria."

In the 2004 "Kid Stuff" episode of "Justice League Unlimited," four of the most famous Leaguers: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern, were transformed into children by Morgaine le Fay to deal with her son Mordred (himself a child) who had, by a very powerful magical item, banished all adults from Earth to a duplicate Earth. All of the transformed Leaguers and the child villain Mordred himself were voiced by child actors, and very well indeed.

Both Alphonse Elric and Fletcher Tringam were voiced by young male actors in the English dub of the original "Fullmetal Alchemist." You can clearly hear the difference in voice quality between those characters and some younger characters that were voiced by adult women, such as Elicia Hughes and Nina Tucker. Both carried on conversations with Alphonse (voiced by Aaron Dismuke), and they sounded quite fake next to him.

Posted by: JoelER | April 8, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

[QUOTE]Dill's voice, one of my favorites, is an adult. One soon to be released animation has my wife Amy as Mrs. Otterloop.[/QUOTE]

I stand corrected. But whatever the reason, the voices just didn't work for me. I guess my internal hearing of the characters' voices was just very different, enough to put me off.

Either way, I'm a fan of Cul de Sac, and will keep reading.

Posted by: egc52556 | April 9, 2010 4:14 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, egc, I appreciate it!

Posted by: rhompson | April 9, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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