The Eighties. A time of shoulder pads, electronic music, the miners' strike, Roland Rat and Timmy Mallet. It was my childhood and a time of renaissance for animated TV.
The quality of the animation was better than the decade before, with Western cartoons taking more influences from Japanese anime. Plus, the censorship that began to plague cartoons in the Nineties had yet to kick in.
Whilst some disregard Eighties cartoons as glorified advertisements for toys, many of the cartoons were entertainment first, aimed at the prime Saturday morning children's television demographic.
Nostalgia is big business these days, both in comics and cinema. Plus, TV shows like We Love The Eighties can often be found filling the schedules.
Last summer, I was introduced to the Eighties animation magazine cereal:geek. A self-published magazine produced in the UK, cereal:geek features articles, illustrations, scripts, storyboards and a wealth of unseen production materials from your favorite shows, plus interviews with the creators.
Local writer, Martin S. Smith (The Redundancy Of Flightless Birds), is one of the contributors and helped me get in touch with the publisher, James Eatock.
Some of you may have heard from James earlier this year after he and Dan Schoening posted their pitch for a Ghostbusters comic online. If you haven't seen it, do check it out.
James was recently kind enough to take some time to catch up with me and answer a few questions about cereal:geek.
Prowling The Savannah: How did cereal:geek get started?
James Eatock: My now-ex girlfriend and I were on holiday in Wales. Whilst at lunch with another couple I drifted away from the conversation and thought to myself (without any prompting), "What if I made a magazine about cartoons of the eighties?" And that was how cereal:geek was born!
Soon after coming up with the idea I contacted all my on-line friends who had a love of animation (and discussing it) and numerous artists whom I had become friends with over the years. I explained what I wanted to do and began assigning work to each of them. As soon as the work started rolling in I began designing the magazine; and within a few months had assembled all the content for issue one!
What was your favourite 80s TV cartoon? What made you love it? And has it stood the test of time do you feel, or do you prefer a different one these days?
Without a doubt, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is my favorite show from the eighties! I love that cartoon above all others because of the wonderful balance between sorcery and science depicted on the show. I can safely say the adventures of He-Man truly inspired me creatively as a kid.
I think it has stood the test of time from a storytelling point of view. Many of those that worked on the show truly believed in what they were making. A lot of the writers and artists were limited in what they could do, so instead of large action scenes highlighting limited animation, they focused on character development.
The trend for nostalgia is something our generation has experienced and spent money on more than others in the past, as evidenced by the continued sales of magazines like cereal:geek, Retro Gamer, etc. and the numerous revivals, remakes and reboots. Is this something that you feel is a good thing, or is it damaging originality?
I feel that it is a very good thing; especially in the way that our generation have kept certain brands alive.
For example, Transformers was a cartoon/toyline in the eighties; and when it ended, people thought it had run its course. But because the fans actually cared about the product, those in charge gave them something new to enjoy in the form of Beast Wars, whilst introducing Transformers to a new generation of fans. Now Transformers is one of the biggest money-makers on the planet, and that is largely down to our generation celebrating these cartoons!
Comic characters like Superman, Spider-Man, etc., they have endured because the fans keep them alive; each new generation discovering the characters. I don't for a second believe that any of this nostalgia damages originality in the slightest.
Do you have any tips or advice for someone looking to start their own publication?
It's odd giving out advice because I knew nothing about publishing when I got into this. I literally made a decision to quit my day job and publish a magazine. I suppose the hidden message there is "If I can do it, anyone can do it!"
In all seriousness though, if you’re thinking about going into publishing be prepared to lose a lot of money in the beginning. But know that if you believe in the end product and stand by your convictions (and your magazine) it will work out!
What's next for yourself and cereal:geek? Any other projects in the pipeline?
I still hope to get issues six, seven, and eight of cereal:geek out before the end of the year, but that may be pushing it a little!
I've recently written an unofficial 300-page guide to the He-Man cartoon which will come out in June if all goes the plan.
I also wrote a Ghostbusters comic, illustrated by cereal:geek contributor Dan Schoening, that will be published by IDW later this year; with more Ghostbusters stories in the works!
I'm also working on a few secret projects which I hope will see publication before the end of the year. The remainder of 2010 should be quite exciting!
cereal:geek is currently on sale in Proud Lion, or you can buy a pdf compilation of material from the early issues from the cereal:geek website.
Ben Fardon is the owner, proprietor, manager and filing clerk for Proud Lion. Bascially, Ben is Proud Lion is Ben. He often uses the personal pronoun 'we', in an attempt to not feel like a man alone. In that context 'we' refers to Ben, the bricks and mortar, the stock and the branding that comprises Proud Lion. It also makes him sound kind of crazy. 'We' are OK with that.
Ben has been reading comics since he was five years old and his Dad bought him a Transformers comic at the local newsagent. In the same comic were reprints of Iron Man in the red and silver armour. To this day, Tony Stark is his favourite superhero.
He likes eating, swimming and science fiction Tv series. He recently became addicted to The West Wing.
One day, he'll finish a script for something.