Damn Format Wars

Fuck Blu-ray. There, I said it; I said what some people think.

Format wars are nothing new in the world of entertainment and electronics. Beta vs. VHS, VHS vs. DVD, DVD vs. HD DVD, and so forth. So in actuality, I shouldn’t be angry at all about Blu-ray, but I am.

Every format improves on the one before it. The biggest change in this decade was the move from VHS and VCR’s to DVD’s and their players. Not even the best VHS or S-VHS tapes and machines could playback as clear and as vividly as the cheapest DVD and the most economic model of players. The 2000’s can be looked at as the DVD collector’s generation. Before this, yes you could buy VHS box-sets of your favourite shows, but DVD’s were so much better not only in picture and sound, but in storage capabilities as well – more room to fit more media, smaller in size than a VHS tape and easier to store. This decade saw a great deal of people turn the cable television off, and load up on season after season of their favourite shows to watch what they want when they want. During this time, thousands of animated movies and television shows were released. And of course because it’s on DVD, it has great clear picture and sound over your old VHS tapes, plus some may even stack bonus features and such. So like a consumer sucker, I bet you re-bought all of your old Disney and other movies on DVD, right? Thinking it would be the last time you’d have to replace all your favourite titles. And perhaps you bought a lot of television cartoons available for the first time on DVD, never thinking something else would come along and replace the format. Because DVD’s were so good, right?

Wrong. Blu-ray and the entire flat screen TV movement burst down the door, putting your DVD’s to shame and giving you even better picture and stronger more cleaner sound and even more storage capacity. This is where I have a problem. It seems like DVD’s weren’t even out that long before this new disc came to retail. When you go shopping, either for Christmas or on Boxing Day/Black Friday, it’s impossible not to notice the mass amounts of DVD product out there at stores like Best Buy, Future Shop, Wal-Mart, HMV, etc. So many titles…how is every single one going to get re-released on Blu-ray in the coming years? The answer is, some will not. Much like how there are still lone VHS movies and such that never got a DVD treatment, the same will be for DVD’s many years down the road that won’t see a Blu-ray release.

For those titles that do get re-released on Blu-ray, you’re getting boned if you want to re-purchase everything. Remember that the seller of a product, at the end of the day, only wants your money. Your hard earned dollars you slaved away for. As a “re-buyer”, you will pay out of your butt to get all of those old DVD titles on Blu-ray again, because they look 1000 times better on your new big flat screen television that will also be outdated in a couple years. You now look back on how much you paid for your DVD’s brand new, and how you lost money. This format change could be good for people content with their DVD’s. As titles that have been out for several years get older, and warehouses are stacked with crates of unsold and aging product, you can see prices finally drop. I recently discovered the Animaniacs collection of full season DVD’s released from 2006-2007 finally drop in price from an average of $45-55 CDN to $18-28 CDN. Why? It’s an aging title, everyone who wanted it owns it already, and corporations want to sell off their stock to make way for new products.

I guess I shouldn’t be cross at Blu-ray because unlike VHS vs. DVD, we are just dealing with plastic disc vs. plastic disc, not a bulky old cartridge more prone to wear vs. plastic disc. There is hope for backwards compatibility for DVD and Blu-ray. Where I do get ticked, however, is that a lot of animated titles don’t really benefit from the advancements Blu-ray offers. For your big budget 3-D CGI animated features released in the last ten years, yes I’m sure it makes a difference. But for older 2-D movies that were already put through the remastering ringer for a DVD release, how much more can you possibly squeeze out of an older film before you start to make it look like something it was never supposed to look like? Older television cartoons have nothing to gain by getting released on Blu-ray – the DVD medium is good enough for them. DVD provides what VHS lacked, and that should be good enough…we hope.

In the end we all seem to be victims of the fast movement of technology, and companies that want us to buy their products. They could re-package some old television cartoons on Blu-ray to make them look cooler, when in fact they looked fine on the DVD release. If they don’t re-release them, you are left with a DVD copy. And depending on the life span of the DVD market, you could very well find yourself without a DVD player many years down the road. Unlikely, sure, but you have to adapt or die in this environment. You have to keep re-buying what you bought so you can always have a fresh product and player to play it on. One reason why some people, like myself, have started stacking up on VCR’s – they are dead technology but still have a dedicated following. The key to “winning” this fight is to wait many years until a title you want becomes old, and buy it on sale/clearance, but buy before the format is at the end of its life cycle. Sure all your friends bought and enjoyed it years ago, but they paid a lot more money. Being patient will save you precious dollars in the end, moreover if you buy a lot of DVD’s. Heh, and if you’re not happy with that, go online and download a torrent and burn your own format! For only the cost of blank discs!

Blu-ray thinks it is king of the block for now, but you and I know someone else is coming to knock him off the boulevard soon enough. It’s happened before, it will happen again.


Avenue Q

Grow up on Sesame Street reruns? Ever wonder what it would be like to put puppets from a show like that in adult situations? Then I’ve got a ticket to a Broadway show that you, my friend, should be seeing…spoilers may follow.

I just came back from seeing a local production of Avenue Q that was presented at The Center In The Square. This musical is friggin’ awesome, I loved the numbers. I was completely satisfied with it and the ending was perfect, in my opinion. No happy ending, just a “for now” ending…it’s a grown up Sesame Street, and to be linked to that and make it for older audiences is a great combo. This is my first time seeing a musical live, and I don’t partake in theatre often – I may just watch more stage productions if they were done by puppets/muppets. It would make it much more appealing for me after seeing Avenue Q.

The cast for this version all sang and acted well, and I really have to give them props for their double acting. Not only do they have to “act” themselves, the people hosting puppets with their arms also have to “act” for the puppet. It’s a weird mix because as the viewer you’re sometimes not sure who to watch, however it’s a joy to watch how they move around the stage with their puppet so flawlessly as if they were on set recording an episode of a kids show. The person who played the character of Christmas Eve was over the top in this production, making good on the “rrrrrr”’s, and the person playing Kate Monster (as well as Eve) had excellent singing voices, moreover at high pitches. I have to say what really impressed me though overall about Avenue Q was the production. The set was well built and efficient as all scenes worked perfectly with changes, and the nightmare “propose” scene was nuts! The use of televisions to display other visuals was a creative move. I could not believe at one point the cast ran off the stage to ask for money, some guy in the audience threw in five bucks. And that one scene…well, it put Team America’s version of “puppet love” to shame!

I’d say the only distraction is the whole humans talking to “human puppets” who also talk to “monster puppets”. I tried to focus on the puppets alone but the actors are doing their part as well. I recommend going to see Avenue Q if it’s playing near you, and hopefully your cast does as good as a job as ours did. I think I’ll pick up the cast recording.


Teletoon At Night

What the hell, Teletoon? I mean no disrespect, but seriously – why change the long standing name of your adult block from The Detour to this horribly lame title? Teletoon…at night? It’s bland, and so are the shows airing in the block. Remember when Teletoon showed satisfying “adult” cartoons several years ago, and not just the same stuff everyone else aired? The set of shows they consider “adult” these days is dismal, they are too tame to really be considered anything more than the average “cartoon for an older audience” stuff you’d see in usual primetime hours on Fox or Global. This line-up runs Monday to Friday:

9pm – Futurama
9:30pm – King Of The Hill
10pm – American Dad
10:30pm – Futurama
11pm – Robot Chicken
11:30pm – King Of The Hill
12am – American Dad
12:30am – Futurama
1am – King Of The Hill
1:30am – American Dad
2am – The Critic
2:30am – Tripping The Rift
3am – Sons Of Butcher

Several things are wrong with this line-up. First off, the shows. Futurama: already aired on YTV (recently no longer does). King Of The Hill: already aired on The Comedy Network (recently no longer does), and still airs on Omni2. American Dad: still gets a fair bit of airplay on Fox. All three of these shows have been seen a million times over by the public, and all have widespread DVD releases by seasons, and lots of downloads floating around the Internet. These shows are popular and will be in rotation in some form or another for years on television and in your DVD player. Why not air something that’s unique alongside Robot Chicken? Something that has a hard to find, or no, DVD release perhaps? Your best offerings here get airplay nowhere else but on your network these days: The Critic, Tripping The Rift, Sons Of Butcher…are in a timeslot where most are sleeping the night away.

Secondly is the repetitiveness. It would be passable if each triple serving of the shows mentioned above were different episodes each time (lord knows each have enough episodes), but they aren’t! Watch the King Of The Hill episode in the 11:30pm timeslot, and it will be the same episode airing at 9pm the next day. I hate it when networks do this, because I have to pick and choose when the best time is to watch the show, so I don’t run into repeats the next day. If you watch a lot of Teletoon and are a teen/adult, chances are you’ll be watching at 9pm till maybe just after midnight – which means you get a double shot of three already overplayed shows. I don’t understand the reasoning behind this – this isn’t an “adult” block by any stretch. It’s a pitiful primetime party, leaving people that want to watch something a little more entertaining to stay up at least to watch The Critic. And that is the third thing I cannot stress enough – an “adult” block on an “all animation” network should offer things I can’t view anywhere else, and the content should be up for people over 18 years of age. Is that really asking too much, Teletoon? Believe or not, Canada is full of teens, 20somethings and 30somethings and beyond that are craving for something more, and are currently starving on the scraps you offer – what you consider to be adult animation.

And after all is said and done…The Detour itself…still exists. On weekends at least. It’s puzzling to have two adult blocks on one network. A topic I’ll cover another time.


He’s Dead…Chowder’s Dead

And so goes the lifespan of an animated series.

It seems just like yesterday I ranted about Chowder, which was getting glowing reviews from the cartoon viewing populace when it premiered in 2007. A fresh, upbeat show for Cartoon Network. It was a hit among viewers in the US, despite getting a good shaft on Canadian television airwaves. When it did finally land on Teletoon a year later in the fall of 2008, it was only airing Saturday mornings at 11am and Sunday mornings at 5:30 in the morning. It never had a chance to gain a fanbase here at all with a weekly timeslot, and currently only airs here Saturdays at 6:30am. That’s pathetic, to say the least – Teletoon has garbage cartoons scattered in their line-up, and they take a show as creative as this and shove it where no one is looking.

From what I can tell, Chowder is a victim of two things – starting strong and bad timing. When the show premiered, it premiered with a lot of buzz and started off strong, and did very well for Cartoon Network initially. The problem with starting off with such a perfect formula, is where do you go if you start at the top of your game? I haven’t had the chance to watch much Chowder due to when it airs here, and my lack of time to find new episode downloads online, but from what I can gather the show seemed to suffer from repetitiveness and characters personalities straying farther away from their original traits as episodes progressed. If I ever get a chance to sit through the series I could be wrong, but sometimes writers can run dry on good ideas quickly if they use their entire arsenal early on to fire shot after shot of good episodes in a short time.

While this is aging news, and a topic I still plan to cover, Cartoon Network changed their branding to include live-action programming earlier this year, a move that has baffled most viewers and long time fans of the network. Chowder is just coming up on being two years old, however it was already stated on creator C. H. Greenblatt’s blog in May 2009 that they were working on the final Chowder episode. It was stated here that the voice cast recorded their lines for the final episode. While people were hoping the series would get picked up again, things of this nature rarely happen in the animation industry, save for Family Guy. It was pretty much confirmed a month later on Greenblatt’s blog that Chowder had no place in the network’s future. I don’t get Cartoon Network here in Canada, but I hope at least the series is getting promoted well enough there, that the second season gets some positive ratings. I always thought a crossover episode with Chowder and the characters from The Marvelous Misadventures Of Flapjack would have been great, but that will never come to be.

Yes, fans can be angry at Cartoon Network for canning such a good show, only to promote live-action crap no one wants. But in a way, perhaps Chowder ending now is all for the best (?). Most cartoons air for many years to achieve the laughs Chowder got in its short run – isn’t it better for it to end now instead of being dragged out for years and years? Hopefully Cartoon Network doesn’t take forever in airing new episodes. It should also be noted that it’s a rarity when an animated series has a proper ending episode. From what I can tell from Greenblatt’s notes on what the last episode is about, I’m sure the last serving of Chowder will provide you a warming impression that will leave you with a satisfied feeling of a belly that is full.


I Wish I Could Stop Time

Forgive me, readers of this blog, for I know there are a few out there. I’ve been in a real funk lately about many things, and no surprise, have been kept busy and away from posting here as much as I’d like to. I can barley make a post each month, which is horrible as I just can’t collect my thoughts properly to make a good entry – no time. As I sit back and watch 2009 roll on, all I see is change (online and in real life) and many things never being the same again as they were as we enter a fresh decade.

Firstly, is the progression of Flash in websites and the constant revamping of many websites that didn’t need revamping at all; I wish things could be kept simpler, but some douche always thinks they can make something better even though the original concept is fine. I won’t go into details about each, but I hate how Hotmail changed its interface last year. AutoTrader.ca is worse to navigate and pictures don’t always load now as they use a Flash system to display them. Ebay has updated their viewer for pictures too, along with their layout, and I don’t like it. Flickr had a great browsing layout before, where I would see usernames and dates of pictures posted foremost. Now they have a newer Flash based way of going through search results with tiny thumbnails. The worst of all is the new YouTube channel layout – keep it simple, stupid! The older one was far easier to get through, and the newer one is just unnecessary and in my opinion, a real pain in the ass.

Secondly, is the deterioration of television animation and its networks over the past couple years; 2009 proving to be the worst year yet thus far in North America. This is a subject I’ve been meaning to get to for a long time, but its going to be an extensive rant. Saturday morning cartoons are non-existent now, long standing networks like Cartoon Network recently changed their format to include live-action programming, Flash cartoons domineer the landscape and offer cheap entertainment on a small budget. We have lost the art of character design, proper looking backgrounds, and even good sounding opening themes and scores. I have a strong feeling television animation is headed for the dark and dismal place it once crept from during the 1970s on through till the mid 1980s. Of course, I’m not a kid anymore, and it could just be me on the old “things were better back in my day” kick. But when you really sit back and take a look at the picture as a whole…things were better back in the day. Things, at least in Canada, were better even five years ago. Even animation here has sloped down a slippery path of disappointment, manufacturing shows that are instantly forgettable. The networks that air these cartoons have followed suit – if I had the power to make a new 24-hour channel dedicated to animation here, I would. Because Teletoon sure isn’t what it used to be, and that is a sad fact.


GeoCities Is No More

Well not quite yet, but almost.

Earlier this year I had talked about the death of the fansite and free web hosting in a world full of up and coming “Web 2.0” technology and applications. While it’s to be expected that another free web hosting service would close due to the popularity of such things like blogs, I was very surprised when I heard Yahoo GeoCities would be shutting down in October 2009.

Yes, it’s a super old service. But it was long standing and popular for many years and triumphed over other free web hosting companies that died out years ago, due to being easy to set up and maintain. I never thought Yahoo would close GeoCities; but it again goes to show that in an ever progressing online environment that things never stay the same forever, and “Web 1.0” as we used to know it years ago is gone forever as this decade comes to a close. Websites are a dying breed, and if you want to express yourself you can use Blogger or one of the many social networking sites out there.

The thing I liked about GeoCities was even after a site died and the webmaster abandoned it, it still remained online many years after or never went offline at all. There are still websites ten years old on GeoCities that will now be gone. Better start saving old URL’s if you ever want to visit sites via The Wayback Machine, or copy and paste important information to your computer. My gripe with Yahoo doing this is because they are wiping out an entire catalogue of older information and media that people will no longer have access to. When you stop and really think about it, there are millions of old GeoCities sites still online. When I Google for certain things a fair bit of the results come from old sites on GeoCities. It was because the service was so popular and that several of their sites stayed online many years after they had died – it was one of the reasons people made them there in the first place.

Websites almost and above a decade old, dead, but still fun to look at and gain information and media from, will vanish. Once GeoCities goes a huge chunk of Internet will disappear forever. Now what will Google hit if I’m searching for something? A blog post and a Wikipedia entry? That sucks. GeoCities sites always got picked up well on Google search results. They were key to looking up older information Wikipedia articles may or may not have. Too bad Yahoo just can’t keep the service online as a library of sorts to reference things. It’s a shame we have to say goodbye to GeoCities, but it did last the public a great 15 years.


Michael Jackson: 1958-2009

There I was, ready to work on another blog post for this place, and Michael Jackson suddenly passes away. I’ll never forget where I was when I found out. I could say a lot of things many others have said before, but I’ll try and keep it brief. While the events were unfolding and I kept seeing “Michael Jackson Dead” on various television channels, I just could not wrap my head around it. It was like a bad dream. But it was happening, and there was nothing I or anyone else could do to stop it. It still seems unreal to me now. How we lost this epic performer so suddenly. He was truly gifted. All I can think of now is that brain of his – that one vessel of knowledge, that brain that housed the skills of a superstar and allowed him to sing and dance like no other…is gone, forever. He is no longer a living, breathing, human being. That brain is dead, taking with it his fantastic abilities. We have lost something great.

We live in the age of media frenzy. The word of his death was so incredibly rapid spread online and in the television news, that if you didn’t know by at least noon the next day you were looked at as a fool. It was massive, it already felt like old news by Saturday and the world had almost gone back to normal. Its horrible how he was so close to making a comeback, its criminal he be taken away from us now at such a pivotal moment in his career. I wanted to see if he could still sing and move like he used too. Only a month away, this would have been his first tour in the age of Youtube; surely many fans would have snuck recording devices into his concerts to catch a shot of the pop star doing his thing. It would have been great. Now that he’s gone, you suddenly realize his last album was released eight long years ago. So much has changed in the music world in that time and a new MJ record would have been an interesting thing to listen to, as he always tried to make something new and exciting. Now, all we have is his back catalogue. Who knew when that last record was released, Michael Jackson wouldn’t even make it out of this decade alive.

All of a sudden, his music is everywhere again. His merchandise is selling out. Fans all over the world are celebrating his numerous achievements. Please just don’t focus on Thriller and “Billie Jean” like the news tells you to, he had many other great albums and songs. Admittedly, it’s hard to listen to songs like “Gone Too Soon” and “You Are Not Alone” now without getting an awfully eerie and depressing feeling as if Jackson is singing about his own passing.

It’s hard to think a mere week ago he was still alive. Now he’s gone and more and more things get revealed from his past and present, good and bad, everyday. Now the media is saying he could have been saved. A little late for that now, don’t you think? I don’t think the world will ever fully know what killed Michael Jackson, much like how the world will never fully understand him and his odd, at times child-like, personality. Only Jackson knows Jackson. He will forever be a mystery to his legion of fans and the press that perused him. He was an influential legend in his own time. The king is dead; long live the king…of pop.


A Small Bug

Fellow readers and Bloggers, I need a question answered.

When I started this blog I used the current layout/template you see know and have used it ever since. Then one day, for no reason mid last year, I noticed the text spacing had changed, as if the entire thing got double spaced. There is too much gap between lines of text, post title and text, date and post title, pictures and text, and layout lines and text. At first I thought I had accidentally clicked something, but I never found the reason why it happened. I hate it as I don’t like the way it looks. I have another blog I use for testing that had the same layout, and it never had the issue. It looked fine – until I started switching templates one day just messing around testing styles. When I went back to this current template on my test blog, it too had the same issue with the spacing.

I’m frustrated because every single other blog I see that uses the same layout does not have this problem. Check out Animation Backgrounds, Nerd Armada, and Brad Goodchild Art to see what I mean. They have their text more closely put together, no big gaps anywhere. If anyone knows how to fix my issue, please let me now. And if it’s a change that has been made by Blogger for recent users of this template, and it cannot be fixed, please let me know that as well. Thanks in advance.


New Hotmail Sucks

Sorry for the severe lack of any new entries here, I’ve just been crazy busy over the past couple weeks, mostly with stuff not even relating to the computer. Just life in general keeping me busy, many errands, stuff with the car, and long shifts at work. As I’ve stated before, I have lots to write about, lots of notes, but no time to expand on them. I fear by the time I do actually have time to get my thoughts in order on certain subjects, my points will be dated and of no importance. Or I’ll forget what I was going to write about in the first place.

Anyway, I know this isn’t cartoon related, but I just want to let people know that since Hotmail changed over to their new interface late last year (as in forcing their new layout and wiping out the old one people were still using), I have hated every single minute of it. Even now in 2009, it’s a hassle, and I’m hoping someone discovers this post and realizes that there are still people ticked off by this horrid version of Hotmail to this very day. I have used Hotmail since October of 2000 and up till now it’s been a fantastic service. I could rant a detailed complaint about the new interface and list every single thing wrong with it, but every damn aspect of it is completely terrible. From the huge ads in the way, to not being able to see the entire title of my e-mail subject anymore (sucks for large resolution users like myself, we all don’t have wide flat screen monitors), to the way I have to load attachments now in the same window (making the area where you write your text super small), to all the annoying “clicking” it makes from loading pages and ads, how it lists and displays address’ in your address (“To:”) bar and automatically boxes them when you leave spaces, how it shows me a dialogue box warning me when I leave writing a mail that navigating away from this page without sending it will discard it (duh!), how it doesn’t highlight the last mail you viewed anymore when you backspace from reading the last one (it also just refreshes to the top of the page), to how I can’t list the mail in the order I want it to (it resets to newest first when you log in), or how its slower and none of the better things it claimed it would be.

Microsoft took a great design and really screwed it up big time. I used to feel as if my inbox was a safe and secure place. It was tight and efficient. Now its wasting space in a lot of areas and I have ads everywhere. I don’t need this crap, but its all in the name of “progress” for MSN and Microsoft to make all of their services look the exact same interface wise. I’ve even had troubles with Hotmail freezing and crashing my IE browser now! I never had that problem before until now! I had at least two years worth of e-mails I wanted to clean out before Hotmail initially switched over, but I never had time. Now with this new interface it’s impossible! I can’t highlight text anymore in e-mails?! How blatantly stupid is that? Its so handy for me to copy and paste parts or whole e-mails when I need to reference them and use them, and now I can’t even do the smallest task of highlighting an e-mail by dragging my mouse over the text. If anyone out there reads this and knows of a solution, please tell me!

As for cartoons and this blog, I know I should get back on my Disney kick but it’s harder as time passes to get back into doing it. There are so many other issues at hand, like the recent controversy over Cartoon Network airing live-action shows and totally turning its back on their cartoon heritage. It’s not much better in Canada these days either, but that’s another story.


Links! Links! Links!

To coincide with my previous post about the death of the fansite, I thought I’d post up my collection of old comic/cartoon related Internet bookmarks to share with others who may not find these sites right away via search engines. What I have here is a fairly good list of fantastic fansites (even some official) that even though are old or very old, still provide useful content today.

Calisota Online – Various research on old comics and cartoons, including family trees.
The Unofficial Disney Animation Archive – Like the title states, a site full of useful info regarding their animation.
Dizpins – News and info for pin collectors.
Goofy Und Max Fanpage – German fansite about Goof Troop/A Goofy Movie, also available in English.
Russian CDRR Portal – A Russian Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers fansite.
The Acorn Cafe – A long standing forum for fans of Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers.
The Weekenders Shrine – The only fansite I know of for The Weekenders.
UltimateDisney.com – An excellent site to keep up with the latest DVD releases.
Indy’s Ranger Museum – An old Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers fansite.

BadBadRubberPiggy.comInvader Zim fansite.
Presseservice Nick – I think its official, contains high quality promotional artwork. German.
The Rocko Zone – Super oldschool Rocko’s Modern Life fansite.
Room With A Moose & GirInvader Zim fansite.
The Amazing Invader Zim WebsiteInvader Zim fansite.
The Unofficial Rugrats Online – I cannot express how immensely thankful I am for this site. I learned so much about Nicktoons and Nickelodeon in general, even found out interesting things about Canadian television going back many years. It’s huge, and I highly recommend taking the time to look through it. Its simple and well laid out, and covers everything Nickelodeon you can think of up until September 2003, the last time it was really updated overall (save for some minor things in September 2005). It was handed over to new ownership in May 2007. I find it a real damn shame this site isn’t updated anymore (I still remember visiting it when it was up-to-date), but it proves to be a time capsule source of information to this day.
The ZimdexInvader Zim fansite specializing in wavsounds from the series (Man, wavs are such a 90’s things to me now. I remember a lot of websites back then showcased huge amounts of wavs from various television shows and movies).
Don’s Hey Arnold! Site – The first Hey Arnold! fansite online since 1997, provides lots of info. Check out his main page for more links.
Sheltered Shrubs – Also from the webmaster above, a well done As Told By Ginger fansite.
The Unofficial Hey Arnold! Site – A well done Hey Arnold! fansite.

Tails.Kicks-Ass.Net – May look primitive by design, but this is an excellent site specializing in lots of downloads, including all the comics and television shows. Also has loads of fanart too.
BumbleKing Comics – This Side of Mobius – An informative forum about the latest Sonic The Hedgehog comics.
Fans United For SatAM – A long running fansite for the Saturday morning Sonic The Hedgehog series.
Planète-Sonic – A French Sonic The Hedgehog fansite, I wish it was in English because its well done.
Sonic Gear – A site tracking down and showcasing all available Sonic related merchandise all over the world.
Sonic HQ – One of the oldest Sonic The Hedgehog fansites, last updated in March 2008, but hasn’t been up-to-date since March 2007. Still provides relevant info.
Sonic The Hedgehog – Archie Comics’ official blog for the latest Sonic The Hedgehog comics.
Sonic-Gif – The biggest fansite providing Sonic related animated gifs.
The Sonic World – A long running Sonic The Hegdehog fansite.
The Sonic Staduim – Another long running and likely the most popular and up-to-date Sonic The Hedgehog site, features plenty of info and multimedia, well organized.
TeamArtail – Where Sonic fanartists submitted fanart for years before Deviantart was created and grew to take over for a popular place for submitting art. Had a huge gallery online for years featuring almost ten years of fanart that went offline sometime over 2008, along with the newer gallery created in 2006. Hasn’t really been updated in years, but for a while was a main source for Sonic X screengrabs when the series was current. Also has other downloads as well.

Bart, The One And Only – Decent Bart Simpson fansite.
Just D’oh It – Excellent Simpsons fansite from the UK.
Last Exit To Springfield – A long running Simpsons fansite, featuring over 70,000 screengrabs from every episode.
Springfield Shopper – A great German fansite, nicely laid out and has lots of info.
The Simpsons Folder – Before Wikipedia this is where you could find the latest promotional pictures. Also features screengrabs from The Tracey Ullman Show era.
The Simpsons Archive – An extremely detailed site featuring a lot of info.

Sinconan – Chinese Detective Conan fansite.
All-conan.net – Japanese Detective Conan fansite.
Shogakukan Online – I’m fairly sure this is the official site for the Detective Conan magna.
Animated Lust – A long running site covering various things in animation, hasn’t been updated since March 2008.
Animation Insider – A great site with up-to-date news and info concerning animation all over the world.
Animation Magazine – I’ve never seen a paper issue of this magazine in Canada. Excellent site for news and info.
Animation World Network – Fantastic site with large archives, has been very helpful to me when looking for info about certain shows and movies. A lot of well written articles; if you’re an animation lover I urge you to good through the older articles for some good reads.
Cartoon Resource Website – Still updated as of this post, a long running excellent site for info and airdates.
Chilly Willy’s Sub-Arctic World – Online since 1997, a fansite featuring everything to do with the character Chilly Willy. Lots of content.
Cybersix Data Domain – Old fansite for the little known Cybersix animated series.
Craig’s Cybersix Page – Another old fansite for the series, well written with details about each episode.
The Cyber Space – Another old fansite for the series, sadly was never completed in its entirety.
Cybersix.it – An Italian Cybersix fansite focusing on the comics rather than the animated series.
DConan.de – German Detective Conan fansite.
Edogawaconan.com – Japanese Detective Conan fansite, has tons of desktop wallpapers.
Don Markstein’s Toonopedia – A vastly informative site covering many areas in animation.
Jerry Beck’s Cartoon Research – This man has done his homework, and his Animated Movie Guide is certainly an educational read through.
Lambiek.Net – A great site about European comics and their creators.
Never Forgotten: A Foster’s Home Fansite – Lots of content and neatly organized. Hasn’t been updated in over a year.
Annie Awards – The official site, like the “Oscars” of animation.
Planète Jeunesse – I’ve found this site very helpful when researching European cartoons. I liked their older layout as it was easier to navigate shows, so you may need to dig a bit to find what you need.
Sons Of Butcher – The official site for the adult Flash animated series and mock-rock band. Proudly Canadian.
Sooper Secret KND Production Site – I wish other cartoons had a site like this, as it shone a light on the behind the scenes events when Codename: Kids Next Door was a current show.
The Raccoons – Nostalgia Zone – Still online after many years, small and simple, but informative nonetheless.
The Unofficial Raccoons Home Page – Terrific fansite for the Canadian cult classic series The Raccoons.
The Walter Lantz Cartune Encyclopedia – Everything you ever wanted to know about Woody Woodpecker and his creator.
Tiny Toon Image Gallery Plus – Long since abandoned, but a long serving fansite for the series Tiny Toon Adventures.
The Big Cartoon Database – Another old site covering everything in cartoons.
Toon Zone – Another old site with up-to-date news and info, also a good place to find interviews from series creators/producers/directors.
Toonarific Cartoon Archive – Yet again, another long serving site about cartoons, but I’m not sure if it’s up-to-date.
Zeichentrickserien.de – Resourceful German site full of info, airdates and episode lists and guides for a lot of animated shows.


The Times They Are A-Changin’

As much as I’d really like to continue with my review of Disney shows, I have some other subjects that I’d like to address.

Before opening this blog, I created and ran many websites throughout the 2000’s. They were all fansites for various cartoons – Sonic Underground, Kid Paddle, and Hey Arnold!. They were all created and hosted on MSN Groups (previously named MSN Communities). The online world was much different back then and it’s fascinating to pause for a moment and analyze how rapidly the Internet has grown in a ten or even five year span. What we did online and how we looked for information online in 1999 is largely different now in 2009. With the closing of MSN Groups after 14 years of service, and them being moved to Multiply which is a “social networking” type of place; and me recently going through all my old Internet bookmarks removing old dead or offline sites, I have come to a realization: that the “fansite” as we used to know it, as of 2009, is gone.

Think about it. Think how much has changed over the Internet in a decade. Yes, websites popped up online as early as 1994/95, but now its 2009 and it’s not uncommon to still see a couple of websites from 1998/99/00 still online after all these years. It was around the late 90’s, in my opinion, where personal websites and fansites really took off. And now look at them – these websites are ten years old, and many are dead or very outdated, with very few being translated into the current time. The Internet is literally littered with abandoned webpages from years ago that show their age and how the Internet was “back in that time”. Back “in the day” a fansite is where you could go to get anything and everything you wanted about your favorite animated series. As far as I see it, those days are finished.

Fact one: Many companies that offered free web hosting services for websites have died or no longer offer free hosting. Remember the early 2000’s? Many places offered a certain amount of storage and bandwidth, etc, free of charge. Cityslide, Homestead, AOL Hometown, and now MSN Communities/Groups all closed (Cityslide gave up “free” hosting but still exists). FortuneCity, Tripod, Angelfire and Geocities still offer free web hosting, although I’m sure their popularity is waning these days. There are a great deal of other places that offer far more storage space, bandwidth, and most of all free blog templates. Take Multiply for example – you can currently upload as many pictures as you like without any restrictions and can easily change the layout. Why would you use a service where you can only upload a few megabytes worth of media and only have 2-3 megabytes of traffic per hour? Fact two: So many online services have been created over the past ten years that really, you don’t need your own fansite anymore. All you need is a main webpage that has links to all the other places/accounts your stuff is hosted or where you can find information.

Want older information on a show? – Online encyclopedias (Wikipedia): Their articles are sometimes the first or second hit in what you are looking for, moreover for a show that never gained much of a big online fanbase, therefore no fansites exist. Some shows even have their own fan-created Wikipedia-styled encyclopedia.

Want current news and information or more detailed older information on a show? – A blog (Blogger, Wordpress): They have grown massively over the past couple of years and many (like this one) provide information you couldn’t find anywhere else. More series creators/producers/directors, etc, have blogs these days to keep fans updated on current events, and to educate with their history and knowledge working in the business.

Want a place to chat about a show? – A forum/message board/chat room, or social networking websites (MySpace, Facebook, hi5, Windows Live Spaces, Windows Live Groups, Multiply, LiveJournal, Twitter): It’s usually pretty easy to find a forum/message board/chat room dedicated to your favorite show so you can talk to others who share your interests. Many social networking sites have groups dedicated to shows so people can join them and talk amongst other members.

Fanart? – Deviantart, Side7, Fanart Central, VCL, Fur Affinity, Imageboards (4chan, 7chan): Deviantart has been around for years and has gained a reputation for its large amount of fanart and conversation it showcases. Side7 not so much, but its still a decent place to find good artwork. 4chan and 7chan are also great places to find fanart as well, but are NSFW (not safe for work) at times and therefore I won’t link them here. Imageboards can also be a great place to chat with others about favorite shows and gain information as well.

Fanfic? – FanFiction.net: Like Deviantart, this place has been around for years as well and holds a ton of fan generated fiction for various shows.

Videos/Fan Videos? – Video hosting websites (YouTube, Veoh, Blip.tv, Break.com, Dailymotion, Google Video, AOL Video, Imeem, Newgrounds, LiveVideo, Hulu, Guba, Vimeo): Perhaps one of the biggest changes of all in the Internet in recent years, these places offer free video hosting. Users can post episodes, bumpers/commercials and special exclusives of their favorite shows, as well as fan made music videos, dubs, and animations.

Screenshots/Official Art? – Image hosting services (Photobucket, Flickr, ImageShack, Picasa), Imageboards (4chan, 7chan): These places offer free hosting for large amounts of pictures, and are handy for organizing them and being able to hotlink images for use on other websites and forums/message boards. 4chan and 7chan are also great places to find screens and promotional artwork for shows too.

Downloads? – File hosting/downloading services (RapidShare, FileFront, Megaupload, SendSpace, YouSendIt, Fliiby): Are handy for uploading entire episodes of shows and other related videos, mp3’s, fanart/fanfic, screenshots, official artwork, scanned comics – anything you can think of, you can find it at these places.

Other Links? – Google it. Or check the “Links” page of the Wikipedia article you’re reading, the website/blog you’re visiting, or check out links on forums, message boards and chat rooms.

See what I mean? Why have all this stuff on your website and pay for large space and bandwidth when you can put it up for free somewhere else and it gets noticed more? Face it people, the fansite as we knew it, is dead. MSN Groups closing last month is another sad progression to technology geared more towards social networking websites (What is it with all of them these days?! It’s almost impossible not to be tracked down. There is no privacy anymore!). It took MSN shutting this service down for me to realize “Holy fuck, 1999 was ten years ago!”, and I remember being online in high school back then and what it was like, and look at how hugely different the world wide web is now! Its nothing like it was...and I kind of miss the simplicity it had back then.

I guess if I ever continued work on my fansite projects, for the “information” portion, I’d start a blog about it. Really, it seems like the right direction to go. Blogs get noticed a lot in search engines and whatnot. They are a great place to find information and personal opinions. It may not be laid out like a website...but then again a lot of websites these days use a “posting like a blog” layout system which allows visitors to comment on the latest updates. Who needs a guestbook anymore these days, either? Or a fanlisting? Or a webring? One downside to having a different account for everything is remembering passwords and usernames. I have so many now I had to write them down.

A great deal of what I’ve stated here relates to “Web 2.0”, surprise-surprise Wikipedia provides a great article about the second generation of web development and design. What also makes “Web 2.0” interesting is that it takes a lot of work out of creating a website from the webmaster’s hands and places it in the hands of the people who visit the site. You just need to set up a service and people will start filling it with content for you. You don’t necessarily have to offer interesting stuff on your site anymore to get people to visit it, you just need to make a platform that gets people’s attention. Take Facebook or Youtube for example – the people who own those services don’t need to add any content; the users do for them…and in the process make the owners stinking rich!

I'm not sure if I like where the Internet is going these days, but there is nothing we can do to stop it. Its progression is fanatic. Its momentum is increasing. Its space is expanding. And the possibilities of what the Internet can provide are always growing. It will be intriguing to see where world wide web will take us, and the world, in another ten years.


One Year Later

Thought I’d break free from my current reviewing of Disney television animation for a moment to explain myself and what happened with the blog during 2008.

Fact is, very little happened. See, back when I created The Cartoon Couch Potato at the start of 2008, I was excited taking on a new project. I had so much to write about; opinions to express, cartoons to explore – I had several ideas swirling around in my head for what to post about. When I started in January I had more free time to focus on the blog, and I tried desperately to keep my posting pace up as my free time waned in the coming months. First I committed myself to at least four posts a month…then it became three…then two…then only one. And even then, I could barley commit myself to making even one single post a month, usually rushing it on the last day of each. If I had really slacked I could have gone six months without posting again, but that would have gotten me nowhere with gaining readers. I know my blog won’t get anywhere fast without frequent posting, and I know my 25 posts over 2008 is what most people post in a single month.

After starting to review Disney’s television cartoons, I wanted to stick to that only and not break topic. But at the current speed I’m going I won’t be done for another two to three years, and by then I will have missed a lot else to write about. I’m not even near the half way point with Disney, and I do apologize to readers that dislike my extremely slow pace. You have to understand I have a very busy life, and a seemingly endless list of other online and computer endeavors and tasks to attend to, some of them years old already. When all is said and done with me working on separate projects, I don’t get far per month, and am limited to one post a month here because I’m so insanely busy with 1001 other things. It sucks to see how positive I seemed to be when I started this blog, ready to set off for an adventure which would lead the blog to becoming very well known before the year ended. Due to my lack of activity, this blog is still barley known.

I still have many things to write about – scribbled down on pieces of paper and typed in documents. Sad thing is most of what I wrote doesn’t make sense to me now at all, as I’ve forgotten some of what I was going to write. And even when I do get to writing these ideas, they will already be so dated. I know my posts are slow coming, but you have to admit I deliver pretty long posts if I have enough to write about. That factor itself is a small problem, as it usually takes me so long to research and compile a single post and to proof read it several times before I post it, it usually takes me hours to get the job done. Even though I’m just as busy as ever and more behind than ever before (due to a virus a month ago causing me to reformat and loose two weeks time), I will try and post more here in 2009. Just don’t hold your breath.