Cultural historian Gitlin (Powerful Moments in Sports) and cartoonist Wos (Myths and Monsters) set themselves an almost impossible task: ranking “the greatest cartoon characters ever to grace the small screen.” Readers may disagree with the individual rankings—Bugs Bunny at #1, Homer Simpson at #2—but the authors succeed in their goal of capturing a near definitive list of animated legends in this thoughtful and funny book. Starting with “an objective set of criteria” for placement, including factors such as “legacy,” “longevity,” and “uniqueness of voice,” the authors lucidly explain their decisions. Each entry provides basic historical information, a section of “tidbits essential to understanding the animated subject” (e.g., Peter Griffin of Family Guy was inspired by Archie Bunker), and a final section that explains the basis for the actual ranking (Bugs Bunny is #1 because of his “status through three quarters of a century”; Homer Simpson is #2 because he is “the central character in easily the most successful primetime cartoon ever”). But the real fun comes in the middle: Is Rocko (#51) really better than Charlie Brown (#56)? And are Beavis and Butthead (#26) really better than both? The book will inspire countless debates and arguments. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/11/2017 Release date: 10/01/2017 Genre: Nonfiction
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