I can’t be the only one who never grew out of watching cartoons, can I?
Okay, let’s get on with the countdown…
10. Powerpuff Girls
Blossom, Buttercup and Bubbles: they are the Powerpuff Girls!
Yup, I know this is supposedly aimed at young girls but it’s just too much fun to be lost on the Bratz set. This trio of neon do-gooders have been Cartoon Network fare for a while now, but still continue to entertain week in, week out. Their mission is to destroy the evil forces of, no, not the Decepticons, but rather Mojo JoJo, Mr Him and a mix of other cute bad guys.
Clever, witty and cute with an insanely catchy theme tune that has even had the remix treatment thanks to Rob Zombie the Powerpuff Girls cartoon is just pure candyfloss fun.
9. Teen TitansAnother vivid cartoon concoction; this show is based on DC’s canon of teen heroes. Rather than going for the dark and gritty feel of Batman or the pure super-heroics of Justice League, the creative team instead went for the manga style. The result is the best of both worlds: the western superhero storytelling, characters and back story of the Teen Titans with the infusion of insane colours, fight scenes and a theme tune as addictive as Pringles.
Even with slight tweaks in design, all your favourite Titans are here, from the chameleon-like Beast Boy to Robin, Cyborg and StarFire (who is considerably less busty than her comic counterpart. Well, this is a kids’ cartoon after all). You also have classic bad guys like Madame Rouge, Mammoth, Gadget, Terra and Deathstroke making an appearance in storylines that reflect the classic Marv Wolfman and George Perez stories – but with a modern twist.
Great stuff, but like I said, you’ll be humming the anime-inspired theme tune for days to come.
8. Spongebob Squarepants
Ohhhh… who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Why, it’s our number 8 of course. For those of you who think that the yellow square of cuteness should be higher up on the list, tough. It’s my list, and really, even though Spongebob is good, it’s not that good. Plus it’s been dominating lists like this for years, most of which were done by people who don’t actually watch much kids telly.
Insane, fun and completely bonkers, Spongebob has an entire cult fan base and whether you are a fan of Mr Crabbs, Patrick or Plankton there is something for everyone to love in one of the most fun-packed and inoffensive cartoons ever.
7. Samurai Jack
Smooth, cool and way too much fun for kids, Samurai Jack takes everything that is great about cartoons (i.e. samurai, ninja, monsters and, erm, futuristic time travel caused by evil warlocks) and adds a good dollop of super coolness.
A Emmy award winner, the show ran from 2001 to 2004 but is still on nearly every night on Cartoon Network. Even though Jack says very little his actions speak louder than words as he hacks, smashes and destroys his way through the armies and monsters of Aku, all superbly designed by Genndy Tartakovsky and filmed in such a way that Michael Bay, Tarantino and co all look on with action sequence directorial envy. A precursor to Clone Wars that has let Tartakovsky and his company go on to become one of the biggest up and coming design and production companies in Hollywood (they are supposedly doing Dark Crystal 2) Samurai Jack is a superb show.6. Earthworm Jim
Yes, indeed. A cartoon that’s based on a computer game that is actually good. Originally hitting our screen in the late 90s, a quick trawl through Sky found that on occasion, Jim’s adventures are still shown. Whether fighting Queen Slug for a Butt, Psi-Crow, Bob the Goldfish or Evil the Cat, the show was full of insane ideas. From snow globes that can destroy the universe to bad guys who meet God by drinking too much coffee, to puppy werewolves and atomic cows, the show was just plain madness.
5. Dexter’s Lab
Another classic from Cartoon Network. Dexter has been a staple for the channel for many many years, and there’s a good reason for it – it’s just plain fantastic. Dexter’s Lab is chock-full of fun moments and written by a team that seem to have mixed a love of old cartoons, sci-fi and obscure TV with cameos by Blue Falcon, robots that resemble the Phoenix from G-Force and voice actors that include Macho Man Randy Savage. The show is a geek’s dream.
4. The Batman
A great take on the Batman mythos, and as good as the late 90s show, The Batman is a mix of the comic book version of the character with Adam West camp-ness (check out the theme tune) and new re-designed characters from Jeff Matsuda. Which all makes for a great cartoon.
Following the same style as a comic, the show weekly introduces us to new villains for Batman to overcome: from a great insane mutant clown Joker to a great killer Croc to a sinister Riddler and a design for Poison Ivy that will have comic illustrators kicking themselves that they never thought of it (check out her hair – it’s all petals and rose buds) all the Batman crew are here to make the show a great new spin on a franchise that has been around for sixty-odd years. The show keeps keen old school bat-fans happy and also appeals to a whole new audience.
3. Invader Zim
Doom to you, you dirty earth monkeys! The evil Irkan invader Zim’s show is just an insane mix of madness, monkeys and dancing robots. Created by comic artist Jhonen Vasquez for Nickelodeon, the show was first shown in 2000 but has reappeared on our screen at various times over the past year or so.
Aimed at a older(ish) audience, the cartoon appeals to kids, geeks and goths. The adventures of Zim, Dib, Gaz, mini moose and the rest of the cast is like watching a Tim Burton film mixed with the X-Files on a overdose of Ki-ora and Chewits.
2. Ben 10
Take a bit of X-Men, some Men in Black and a pinch of Kirby character design and you get Ben 10. It’s about a young boy who finds an alien watch/matrix thingy called the Omnitrix that allows him to turn into ten different superheroes, in a similar vein to the DC comics Dial H For Hero.
A great concept that seems to be a perfect vehicle for line upon line of action figures, the show is actually really rather good with the writers of the show tapping into monsters, aliens and mythology to bring a great mix of action and adventure to the screen. Ben’s transformation into the likes of the super-strong Fourarms, the fire-based Heatblast or the slobbering Wildmutt is such a great idea; each alien is unique, imaginative and useful in a variety of perilous situations.
Not only are the good guys great but the baddies are equally imaginative. Each story works as a single episode, but there are also subtle, over-arching stories running throughout. With a potential film adaptation on the way, this certainly is a cartoon worth checking out for comic and superhero fans.
1. Pinky and the Brain
A modern classic from the brains behind Loony Tunes, Animaniacs and Tiny Tunes, Pinky and the Brain started off as a small a recurring segment cartoon on Animaniacs way back in 1993. The gruesome twosome soon outgrew Wacko and co to get their own Emmy award winning show – never in the history of cartoons have two lab mice been so funny and no other double act, animated or not have provided so many insane laughs.
I’m sure everyone has seen the show but for those living under a rock, Pinky and Brain are genetically engineered lab mice who live in ACME labs. In each episode, Brain devises a new plan for them to ‘TAKE OVER THE WORLD’. Even though the premise of each episode is the same (Brain plans for world domination and Pinky somehow spoils it, taking them back to square one) the show is still brilliantly written. The Brain is just one of a long line of would-be cartoon world conquerors that include such notable bad guys as Stewie from Family Guy, Dr Colossus from The Simpsons and Earthworm Jim‘s Evil the Cat, but he’s head and shoulders above the rest just for the reason that he sounds like Orson Wells. And then there’s Pinky, whose made up words (like “narf”, “zort”, “poit”, and “troz”) have actually made it into common day speech, at least with engineers, techies and computer programmers. His naïve and fun outlook on life is just great to watch.
Piled with geeky references, film quotes, giant robot bodies and memorable characters such as Snowball the Hamster, the show has, over the years, been the point study for many academic papers, pub discussions and forum debates around the world. These discussions tend to chew over the many heady ideas brought up by the show; like if ‘one is a genius the other’s insane’, which one is which? What’s Pinky’s most insane reply to the classic question posed by Brain every week of “Are you thinking what I am thinking?” And, of course, to try to answer that most difficult of questions – “What do you want to do tonight, Brain?”
Cartoon genius at its best.