The Golden Age of American Animation
Growing up on cartoons, all of us have wondered when have most of them been made. Some of us grew up on older cartoons while the current generations are growing up on something a bit more modern, a lot better in terms of animation. What was once made by hand and drawn, is now made by computers, looking almost lifelike if that is what the creator wants.
But what about the roots, the golden age of animation, specifically, American animation? There have been some amazing cartoons in the 20th century, in the first half, even. The golden age of American animation started with Walt Disney, of course.
The Beginnings of the Greats
Like everything great in this world, it needs a beginning. For the golden age of animation, it started with Mickey Mouse, a cartoon named Steamboat Willie. It’s the famous scene of Mickey piloting the steamboat, and it has sound. Remember, sound was a big deal in 1928. There have been a couple successful cartoons after that one, like The Chain Gang, the Wise Little Hen and Mickey Revue. In 1937, the world was surprised when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released. It was the first feature length animated film and it is to this day amazing. During that period, there have been plenty of other cartoons from competitors.
Competition Makes the Already Great Better
Even if you have seen Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, you already know that there are better cartoons, which came in the two decades following its release. Popeye the Sailor was first released in 1934. It was in color, which immediately drew people in. Max Fleischer was the mind behind Popeye. He also created Betty Boop, a cartoon with its own franchise. Warner Bros. had its own series on the way, something all of us are (hopefully) familiar with, the Looney Tunes. The first editions of Looney Tunes were released in 1930. The 1940s saw a beginning which is to this day influential, Tom and Jerry. Hanna-Barbera reshaped our world, as did Chuck Jones, with Looney Tunes cartoons.
The End of the Golden Age of Animation
When you call something the Golden Age, you always assume that it must have ended at some point. In case of this Golden Age, you are right. We give various names to periods in history and this name is fitting.
During the 1960s, there was a decline in viewership of various cartoons, feature length and short. Ironically, one of the most popular cartoons was made in 1964, in the intro to the Pink Panther movie.
Theatres stopped screening animated movies. They were too expensive for that, and the longer animated movies were often dismissed as worse than their predecessors. They did start a whole new era of TV cartoons, which we have witnessed dominate until the 2010s and the start of streaming, which offered a new medium to animators.
The Golden Age of American animation started with Disney and their cartoons and ended with greed and TV cartoons. Something ends, something beings and not for the worse.