October 19, 2013

RIP Lou Scheimer, co-founder of Filmation

RIP Lou Scheimer, co-founder of Filmation

Today, news came of the death of Lou Scheimer, the co-founder of Filmation, the animation studio that (along with Hanna-Barbera) dominated Saturday morning animation between the late 1960s and late 1980s. Cartoon Brew and Wikipedia have more on Lou Scheimer’s career.

While the studio’s output was variable in quality (and bargain-basement in animation procedures), Scheimer’s studio did do some positives during its heyday:

  • Producing one of the most successful animated series starring an African-American character (and one of the most successful educational series for commercial TV), Fat Albert.
  • Various other characters also got their animated starts with Filmation, including: Batman; Aquaman; the Justice League of America; the Teen Titans; Star Trek; Captain Marvel; Archie; and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
  • By various accounts, despite the studio’s output, Scheimer was supposedly a decent guy to work for, including being supportive of his employees. His studio also resisted (longer than most) the outsourcing of animation to overseas (usually Asia).
  • While Filmation churned out its share of half-hour toy ad shows in the 80s, it did give one show I liked as a child, “He-Man.” There’s also “He-Man”‘s distaff counterpart show, “She-Ra.” Both were pioneers in first-run syndicated animated programming, avoiding the need for broadcast networks and their various rules (especially regarding violence).

Besides He-Man, I also enjoyed much of Filmation’s output as a kid, including their Superman and Superboy cartoons, which were some of my earliest exposures to the Superman mythos. I also liked their version of “Star Trek,” complete with the original cast doing their own voices. Additionally, Filmation’s version of the Archie gang also likely influenced the comics, including elevating Sabrina to star status.

Tags: animationFilmationLou ScheimerMediaRIP