Joe Barbera and The Flintstones

Cartoon pioneer Joe Barbera who along with Bill Hanna created The Flintstones and other early cartoon classics has died.

Hanna-Barbera’s cartoons have become icons of American pop culture and as important in the history of cartooning for television as Pixar is currently in the movie world. What a run: The Flintstones, The Jetsons, The Huckleberry Hound Show, The Yogi Bear Show, Jonny Quest, Wacky Races, Scooby-Doo, and Smurfs. Not too shabby.

The Flintstones was revolutionary: one of the first situation comedies in cartoon form. Taking characters and structure right out of The Honeymooners, The Flintstones really worked. Jackie Gleason and Art Carney just could not do all of the various things that Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble did. And, in a sense, the stone age was where Jackie and Art really belonged.

All of that said, I just never warmed to Hanna-Barbera artwork or story lines: the drawing was flat and the story lines were predictable. I preferred Chuck Jones’ and Warner Brothers cartoons: Road Runner, Bugs Bunny, Looney Tunes, Daffy Duck. I also preferred the work of Jay Ward with his Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. The animation was crude, but the writing was fantastic, even for a kid.

However, Hanna-Barbera’s work appealed to most Americans and along with Jones and Ward they made cartoons appeal to both kids and adults using a totally new medium: television. Pretty amazing thing to do when you think about it.

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