Feb 3, 2009

Why Doesn't Adult Swim Create Original Action Cartoons?

I wrote this back at the Adult Swim forums many moons ago, but it's something that's stuck in my brain. It's pertaining to something I never understood about the whole Time Warner company infrastructure.

Why don't Warner Bros. Animation and Turner Entertainment work TOGETHER on projects more often than they do. No, not just on kid-friendly DC Comic adaptations or spinoffs for Cartoon Network. How about both separate sibling companies working together to co-develop original action animation for the [adult swim] brand? Animation isn't just limited to kid-vid, as [adult swim] as proven for a little over six years now.

It doesn't always have to be the latest and the lamest from Japan ALL the time. Just because it's premade doesn't mean it's always going to be good. If anything, I think the core audience would actually want to see something original on the block from time to time. The anime acquisitions are fine, but in essence, they're reruns. Not reruns to all of us, but something from another country that the most vocal of fans have already seen via *cough* dubious means.

It's not like either Turner or Warner Bros. have properties that couldn't easily translate into animated properties. You could always go the route of adapting comic titles from DC Comics, including darker core DCU properties like Lobo, Dr. Fate, or Swamp Thing, the Vertigo titles (Hellblazer, Sandman, The Invisibles, Y: The Last Man on Earth, 100 Bullets, or Preacher), the Milestone titles (Blood Syndicate and Hardware would be nice), and the Wildstorm titles (including The Authority, Wild C.A.T.S. [darker than the Nelvana series and closer to the comic's origins], and even something like Danger Girl or Crimson [and honestly, who wouldn't kill to see a teenage vampire take on hellborne demons alongside angelic knights and werewolves?]).

[adult swim] could even be bold and create an animated action mini-series. They could redeem themselves in the hearts of the classic Hanna-Barbera by adapting the recent Space Ghost origin comic into animated form restoring the heroic aspect of the classic character. An animated revision of something like Blade Runner would not only shock the [adult swim] viewers but the sci-fi world at large that never saw it coming. And heaven knows Babylon 5 could be revamped via animation.

If push comes to shove, you could even develop brand new action properties. There are many creators out there, but they have the strangest idea that [adult swim] only does comedy.

People like new programs. Will they be successful all the time? No. But you'll never know if you don't even try.


Mark Lungo said...

Wow, Jeff, you're back in a big way--and I'm very glad to see it!

Anyway, I think there are two reasons Adult Swim doesn't do original action cartoons. First, doing so would cost more money than they're willing to spend-- or at least they think it would. Most of their original shows are 15minute comedies with minimal animation (if any), and so they're cheap to produce. Meanwhile, making an original show that looks as good as (for example) Ghost in the Shell or Death Note would obviously be a major expenditure, and thus a bigger risk. (Of course, my theory doesn't explain The Venture Bros. or The Boondocks...)

Second, let's face it, action shows just don't do as well as comedy on Adult Swim. The reason why is a matter for debate, but look at it from a purely financial perspective. Why should AS pay for an original action show when they can get equal or better ratings with an original series like Robot Chicken, or a recent rerun like Family Guy, or even an older rerun like King of the Hill or The PJ's?

Mind you, I'd live to see AS do some original action series, but at a time when most of their "new" shows are cheap acquisitions such as Look Around You, I don't see it happening anytime soon. I hope that situation changes someday...

Sean DL said...

They actually tried to create and action cartoon with Cartoon Network Studios


But for now the closest to action on Comedy night is Venture Bros...

Mark Lungo said...

Sean, rumor has it that the reason Korgoth wasn't picked up is that it would have been an expensive show. If this is true, it proves my theory that Adult Swim can't/won't spend enough to make a decent- looking action show.