Aug 15, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 537: Animaniacs #1, May 1995

After reading this comic this morning, I decided to have a quick look at the history of the Animaniacs television show. It's credited with being a part of something called the "animation renaissance" of the late 80s and early 90s, that time when television started realizing the potential that the animated medium has. It might seem obvious to us now, as with comics, that this medium has the ability to tell complex and satisfying stories, but it hasn't always been so.

I've loved Animaniacs, and specifically Pinky and the Brain, for longer than I've been a father, and about as long as I've been married. I realized that this comic is actually 21 years old this year, which I find stunning. The lead story features my favourite genetically altered lab mice, and, lack of cellphones and Facebook references aside, it's a remarkably fresh tale. The comic takes after its cartoon predecessor in offering not only amusing sight-gags that might appeal to a younger demographic, but also intelligent comedy for those of us who enjoy a bit of satire and wit in their anthropomorphic animal stories. The Warner siblings tale that follows is a bit more on the nose, but still enjoyable. The only sticking point I had with this comic is the last tale, a historical piece starring the Warners and Christopher Columbus. While these historical insertions were a staple of the series, the utter lack of critique of Columbus' role in the "discovery" of the Americas really does point to a certain agedness of the comic. But, as with the horrendous racism of Barks' otherwise brilliant Duck comics, we have to use moments like this to recognize the absences and abuses that have dogged the history of the North American continent.

Quite a different read from my Batman stuff of the last few months. Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings! Onward.

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