Computer-generated toons may have overtaken the megaplex, but 2-D animation is still a long way from dead.
Just ask the guys who feed off of Adult Swim, the top-rated cable network among young men. Its fans — who stay awake during the 10:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. network schedule — are glued to the low-budget series, remembered more for its subversive substance than the matte look of it all.
Animation doesn’t come simpler, or more pointed, than on “12 oz. Mouse,” “Venture Bros.” or “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.” Even new hits like determined-to-be-politically-incorrect toon “Minoriteam” are drawn in a decidedly old-school style.
Much of the network’s programming is done in their Atlanta headquarters, a warehouse of young dudes who keep their computers and cubicles adorned with old and new cartoons. Adult Swim programming chief Mike Lazzo, who initially stocked the snarky service with traditionally animated 2-D shows like “Space Ghost,” says that he’s willing to take his hits from wherever they come.
“We’ve bookmarked plenty of people and (user-generated content) on Web sites like YouTube” who are doing a range of animation from conventional to methods untried on TV, Lazzo says. “We’re open to it all.”
That said, the channel is also branching out into different styles as seen in the Japanese anime-style of “Boondocks” and satirical sketch show “Robot Chicken,” which throws stop-motion animation into the mix. But the flat format fare isn’t going anywhere. After all, daytime counterpart Cartoon Network, from which Adult Swim sprung, continues to thrive with a variety of differently styled 2-D skeins ranging from “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” to “Ben 10.”
If anything, Adult Swim is known as a warehouse for experimentation: Cabler just got through a trial run of the old Saturday-morning favorite “Saved by the Bell” after seeing it explode on YouTube.
“All my freak producers are addicted to the morning play on TBS,” Adult Swim chief Mike Lazzo says. “I thought it was so goofy that we decided to test it out on air. Our philosophy is to do things differently, so why not?”