…Especially by people like us. What kind of people are we? You’ll know once you’ve learned more about what kind of series we’re alluding to, and what better place to learn than right here:
by Bryan Lufkin
Last month, it was announced that 25 years’ worth of Nicktoon characters—possibly everyone from Eliza Thornberry to Invader Zim to Ginger to Doug—will join forces in one all-star, ensemble, Avengers-style movie. A lot of these guys were on the airwaves back in the ‘90s. Seeing the fan-made promo images made me nostalgic. But it also made me think: Wow. Cartoons in the ‘90s were weird as hell.
I watched a lot of TV as a kid. A lot. It’s not because I hated sunlight or human interaction, either. It’s because the cartoons on TV consistently captured my imagination, or left me in a fetal position on the living room floor from laughing so hard. Sometimes they even freaked me out and haunted me. And I couldn’t stop watching. When you look up episodes of these old shows online, one thing is clear: ’90s cartoons were odd. Dark. At times, deeply disturbing. That’s what made them fantastic.
Let’s start with The Ren & Stimpy Show. In 1992, the New York Times dubbed it“the most original thing to happen to children’s television since Pee-wee’s Playhouse” and said it made “the free-form humor of Rocky and Bullwinkle look like a Noh drama.” Concerned parents rallied against it. I was obsessed.
I wasn’t the only one in my house who was, either. My dad loved the show. Every Saturday afternoon when a new episode aired, he ran in from mowing the lawn, cracked open a beer, and howled with me at Stimpy showing off his “magic nose goblins” (varicolored snot globs collected under a table), or at thedisgusting close-up stills of the characters, liver spots and yellowed toenails galore. I had a plush Stimpy that proudly declared “They don’t call me stupid for nothing!” when you pulled the hairball-on-a-string from its mouth. “Happy happy, joy joy” became a mantra in the Lufkin household for the better part of the Clinton administration….