Monday, 16 November 2009
Posted by Jon Stone
I mentioned Cereal: Geek yesterday and thought I should talk about it a little more. In a nutshell, it's a full-colour, advertisement-free, independently published British magazine about 80s animation. As with Fuselit, each issue is a labour of love, and so rather than appearingly monthly or bi-monthly or whatever, they're ready when they're ready. It's lavishly - lavishly - illustrated. What editor James Eatock has managed to do is harness the power of dozens of children of the eighties who have grown up to be aspiring illustrators and artists, and who, as a consequence of their TV upbringing, honed their skills devotedly sketching the very characters that Cereal: Geek celebrates. The range of styles is considerable, given the need to replicate the bright colours and charmingly impractical costumes of children's cartoons. Often, a character is interpreted with a slightly kinky or surreal bent (the cover to issue 1 was a bruised and battered She-Ra) that hints at the kind of things we weren't supposed to see or think about with regards to these fictions.
The features are very inventive too. They've happened upon the 'imaginary top trumps' idea, same as wot we've done, except theirs are rather more convincing, and run a regular section speculating on what the cartoon version of popular live action franchises would have looked like. So if you've ever wondered how an Indiana Jones: The Animated Series might have played, Cereal: Geek gives you a pretty convincing idea.
Is the subject frivolous? I don't think so. This is pop fiction an entire generation identifies with and the magazine examines it through multiple perspectives. In fact, each issue so far has dealt with a particular theme - from Violence through to Evolution. Episodes are rewatched and rated on how blatantly they advertise new products to the intended audience, whilst other articles imagine the extended existence of characters in the afterlife of the show they starred in and how they adapt to life without an arch-enemy.
And let's not forget that eighties animation doesn't just mean Transformers and other 'gimmick' products (not that I'm down on Transformers - more on that later); it also includes things like the wickedly inventive British claymation series The Trap Door, voiced by the late Willie Rushton, and Jean Chalopin's epic reimagining of the myth of Ulysses as a space opera. The first article I wrote for the magazine concerns The Mysterious Cities of Gold, which combines myth and science fiction with the 15th century oppression of the Aztecs, Incans and Mayans by the Spanish empire, replete with real historical villains.
Now, I'm not making a case for eighties animaton as high art but it is a treasure trove of strange and wonderful pop culture, and Cereal: Geek dives right in. Plus it's only £6 for 100 pages, printed on high quality paper, which is remarkably competitive when you look at the prices on the Sainsbury's magazine rack these days.