It’s a big day for me, and my team at Cartoon Lagoon Studios. We are moving our little operation into Jacob Javits Center on the west side of Manhattan for the next few days. This weekend is the New York Comic-Con. It’s a pop culture nerd-a-thon matched only by the San Diego Con in size and scope. “A” list and “B” list Movie Stars (Even some “C’s” and “D’s”) will sign your autograph (if you get in line and fork over some cash.) Every manner of comic, toy, video game, book, movie or other related geek ephemera will be unveiled to the world. Some rare and not so rare comics, toys sculptures, prints, artwork etc. will be on sale. Struggling artists and superstar ink studs will do a sketch in your sketchbook. More and more every year, people will dress like their favorite characters. And to the joy of every fanboy, more and more WOMEN come dressed as every fanboy’s favorite female characters. (How many Batgirls will you spot?) But most importantly, we will finally be selling advance copies of our DVD, “Captain Cornelius Cartoon’s Cartoon Lagoon.” So come on down! (In my game show voice)
To commemorate this joyous occasion, we are releasing a very, very, sad video today, with a haunting song sung by the talented and formidable Mary Catherine Finney and composed by our Grammy-winning friend Jeff Elmassian. (We have asked him to bring his Grammy with us on walks in the park, and to dinner at Applebee’s, but he always refuses.) The point of the video is to explain a strange phenomenon in our culture that is given very little attention: Public Domain Cartoons.
What is a “PD Cartoon?” (As they are called in the trades) Is “Popeye” Public Domain now? No, the character is not, but some of his most famous cartoons certainly are. It means that somewhere along the line, a particular “work’s” rights have expired, been forfeited, or are somehow “abandoned.” There is a huge market for the sale of these cartoons, (500 CARTOONS FOR 5 DOLLARS!) but until today, at least to my knowledge, no one has tried to assemble them into one “show.” It’s a sad thing to think about cartoons that are lonely and unwatched, floating at the bottom of some lagoon somewhere, and that is the premise of “Captain Cornelius Cartoon’s Cartoon Lagoon.”
In the 80’s, there was a legend about an “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” Atari game, that sold so poorly, that it was dumped into a landfill in the desert, and is still probably sitting there, poisoning the earth. This is what my business partner, Manny Galán, was inspired by when creating the premise for the show. “What if there was an actual Lagoon, full of abandoned cartoons, VHS tapes, DVD’s, kinescopes, Beta tapes etc., just floating there to be plucked out and watched again?” But then he said “What if there was a tiny toy submarine piloted be teeny puppet sailors fishing for the worst cartoon ever made?” After I shined a flashlight into his eyes to see if he had been concussed by some blunt object, I determined that this in fact was a GREAT idea, and that we should spend the next two years painfully trying to produce it, no matter how much damage it did to our wallets and livers!
This concept has allowed us to pay homage to everything we hold dear from our childhoods and early adulthood: from MSTK3000 (yes we mock the cartoons, lovingly), to commercials, to puppet shows. And as you will see in today’s video, we even lovingly mock the pleas to help the helpless…after all, aren’t cartoons people, too? As the Captain says, “If you were a cartoon, I’d watch you!”