Since I posted our latest Open Thread, I’ve been thinking a lot about the cartoons I loved while growing up. As kid of the ’70s and ’80s, my personal favorites were the various Spider-Man cartoons, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, The Real Ghostbusters, The Transformers, Jem and the Holograms, Josie and the Pussycats, and many, many more.
Most of the aforementioned toons are featured in cartoon historian Andrew Farago’s jaw-droppingly cool book, Totally Awesome: The Greatest Cartoons of the Eighties!. This impeccably researched volume features fascinating facts and behind-the-scenes anecdotes behind many of the Reagan Era’s best-loved cartoons. Here’s a breakdown of what readers can expect from the book:
Totally Awesome: The Greatest Cartoons of the Eighties is the ultimate guide to ’80s cartoon nostalgia, featuring the art, toys, and inside story behind icons like He-Man, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe, and the Thundercats.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. But for a generation of fans, it was truly, truly the most outrageous of times. The last decade for both a thriving schedule of network Saturday morning cartoons and a full complement of weekday syndicated programming, the 1980s saw a television animation boom featuring a cast of colorful and eclectic characters.
The offerings ran the gamut from the blatantly commercial (He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, created after restrictions on children’s broadcasting were altered to allow programming based directly on merchandise) to the surprisingly unmarketable (Jem, canceled despite its popularity due to its failure to sell fashion dolls) to the utterly inexplicable (The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse, helmed by underground animation legend Ralph Bakshi and future Ren and Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi).
Andrew Farago, a respected cartoon historian and a child of the eighties himself, provides an inside look at the history of the most popular cartoons of the decade, as told by the writers, animators, voice actors, and other creative talents who brought life to some of the era’s most enduring animation, along with forgotten classics.
FEATURED CARTOONS INCLUDE: He-Man and the Masters of The Universe, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero!, The Smurfs, The Transformers, Jem and the Holograms, The Real Ghostbusters, Garfield and Friends, The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies, Disney’s DuckTales, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Inspector Gadget, Star Wars Animated Adventures, and ThunderCats
What truly makes this book standout is the level of care for which Farago treats his subject matter. This is no half-baked “do you remember?”-type nostalgia trip that lacks any real insight but instead is a loving and reverent tribute to yesterday’s toons that examines the roles that these shows played not only in pop culture, but in the lives of anyone who enjoyed animation in a decade where programming was at its creative zenith. If you have warm memories of cartoons long gone, this book is essential reading.
Sunday Funday is a weekly feature that celebrates the latest and greatest from the world of pop culture collectibles, books, apparel, and film/TV soundtracks.