The Serious, Subversive (And Sometimes Shocking) History Of Cartoons | Connecticut Public Radio

The Serious, Subversive (And Sometimes Shocking) History Of Cartoons

Oct 5, 2020

It's been over 100 years since the first cartoons were drawn by hand. Since then, the form has delved into everything from sex and drugs to racial inequality and war crimes. Even the tamest, G-rated cartoons have often found ways of slipping in adult humor past the eyes of younger viewers.

Cartoons have been the vehicle for government propaganda, social change, and political satire. Some have been boycotted and even banned for their content while others have been deemed masterpieces and praised by critics for their bold message and style.

Today, cartoons continue to find ways of subverting the status quo in surprising (sometimes shocking) new ways. This hour, we speak with animators, animation experts, and historians about what makes cartoons so well suited for the exploration of, well, everything.


  • Maureen Furniss - Program director of experimental animation at California Institute of the Arts, founding editor of Animation Journal, and the author of A New History of Animation
  • Paul Wells - Director of the Animation Academy at Loughborough University in England and the author of several books including Animation, Sport and Culture
  • Ralph Bakshi - Animator, writer, and director of animated and live-action films and TV shows including Fritz The Cat, Coonskin, and Heavy Traffic
  • Lisa Hanawalt - Producer and production designer of the Netflix animated series BoJack Horseman, which ended in January

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Colin McEnroe, Jonathan McNicol, and Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired April 18, 2017.