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Andy Van Zandt



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Argothian Treehouse

with Andy Van Zandt

Magic: The Saturday Morning Cartoon

Ask anyone who knows me, I like cartoons.  I watched Transformers
religiously as a kid, and I've been ecstatic at the re-release of the series
on dvd sets.  For that matter, I watched ALL the cartoons religiously as a
kid.  Thundercats, Fat Albert, Bugs Bunny, Spider Man and his Amazing
Friends, boy cartoons, girl cartoons, educational cartoons,  you name it, I
loved it.  Even now,  some of the stuff I enjoy the most is animated. 
You'll probably jump to assume I'm a big anime freak, which is not the case.
  Some is good, some is horribly flawed and/or the cultural humor or emotion
is lost in the translation.  I'm not saying the original Transformers series
was a work of art, but it was the foundation for one of the best franchises
and fiction pseudo-worlds even today, and if you assume you're going to be
watching a twenty minute commercial with some robots that turn into cars,
you won't be disappointed.  I give everything it's fair chance and there's
not always a good reason for what I enjoy.  Sometimes there is though, like
if you asked me about Samurai Jack or Powerpuff Girls,  I could talk for
quite a while on why those series' are so amazing for what they are.

Now on to the meat of the article:  I think Magic needs a Saturday morning
cartoon.  Saturday morning cartoons not only make little kids (and big dorks
like me) happy for years and years,  they also give you an additional
fanbase for your franchise.  Magic already comes with it's own
storyline/fantasy world to build upon,  and would get an automatic viewer
base of current magic players in addition to the kiddies.  Pokemon and
Yu-gi-oh did it backwards, cartoon first to promote the cards,  resulting in
fad card games.  Magic is proven not to be a fad, why not pull in the kids
who might otherwise be tricked into throwing away their money and time on
something with a half-life of a year at most.

What kind of cartoon, you say?  Well there's a veritable cornucopia (I like
that saying) of options.  Obviously there are a lot of us who'd prefer
something a little more serious, a la anime or batman the animated series. 
Or at least something with some intelligent dialogue or plots.  Maybe even
something that just makes very good and appropriate card references, and
occasionally has a force of nature or Serra's Angel beat up the bad guy on a
regular basis.  Let's look at some different templates:

Funny Cartoon
Looney toons, Disney stuff, etc. are the best examples of this, and to me
the first thing that would jump out was the Foglio's style of humorous
artwork for such an endeavour.  This would be entertaining certainly, but
not my first choice.

Mystery Cartoon
This has a lot of potential, a crime-fighting wizard in dominaria... who
stole the mox?  Who murdered the Viashino Bey? etc.  Think Scooby-doo, but
preferably a little better.  Fish police?  Sylvester and Tweety mysteries?

Buddy Cartoons
Or "coming of age" cartoons.  Doug or Rocko's modern life would be good
examples,  or Home Movies from cartoon network's adult swim line-up.  Maybe
even the old Mario Brothers cartoon.  Here we could explore the angsty
teenage wizard, or a mismatched group of monsters bumbling through some
misadventures at the local Bazaar.

Baby Cartoons
Like Muppet Babies or Tiny Toon Adventures.  Younger versions of your
favorite characters doing spazzy things with a kindly but disapproving
parent figure.  I don't much care for this concept, as I feel it comes a bit
TOO close to Pokemon.

Action/Adventure Cartoons
This is one of my favorites,  Falling in the Thundercats/He-Man/Batman The
Animated Series category.  You've got a group (or single guy who gathers a
group, or a foundation that recruits them) going around on misadventures and
probably facing some greater evil in the end.  The Mage-Punk style of magic
in general lends itself to this, plus it's one of the best opportunities to
use specific card names and spells in the cartoon...  Fireball the Giant
Spider and whatnot.

There are a couple of other less easily pigeon-holed cartoon categories out
there,  but these should cover most of my bases.  Now you've got to decide
whether you want to set everything within the card sets' story arc.  Do you
want to tell the story just like the cards starting from the beginning?  Do
you want to tell stories that tie into them?  Do you want to start where we
are now?  Do you want to start your own whole new branch of the magic
multiverse?  Do we want an anthology of stuff explaining the backstories of
specific cards?  Do we want to very loosely base it on magic at all and just
throw in the occasional teaser?  Lots of options, I'm sure  they'd find some
way to mess up what could be a good thing...  if they ever decided to do
this.  Which is the bad part...  I'm just making idle wishes at such things
ever coming to be.  But if anyone hears anything about WotC deciding to
start a cartoon,  or if you have any ideas of your own... or heck,  if you
ARE WotC and want my input on such a project, I'd be happy to oblige  ;)  
In any case, if you've got some thoughts on saturday morning cartoons in
general, or on the part where magic deserves one, shoot me a line.


You can reach Andy at:

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