I am, ever, a kid of the 1970s, a member of Gen-X. Today I am here to tell you that I love Saturday Morning Cartoons.
I mean real Saturday Morning Cartoons. I mean The All-Starr Laff-A-Lympics and The Superfriends. I mean Captain Caveman and The Teen Angels and Schoolhouse Rock. In fact, I will testify, under oath and on a stack of bibles that a lot of what I know today about grammar and math and history – not to mention the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution – can be traced directly back to Schoolhouse Rock and those magical 7 AM Saturday mornings of the late 1970s, a bowl of Cheerios at the ready, and nothing but four straight hours of glorious Hanna Barbera cartoons to keep me company.
Despite the fact that Gen-Xers – commonly classified as those born between 1965 and 1980 in the first generation to follow the Baby Boomers after World War II – have long transcended the disaffected, slacker stereotype that defined our youth in the 1970s and 1980s to become productive and responsible members of society, we have always sought a collective identity based on the seismic cultural and technological shifts that have reverberated throughout our lives, despite the fact that we do not identify totally with any of them.
Except for one thing: Saturday Morning Cartoons.
It is what binds us. I’ll stand on anyone’s coffee table and yell this.
Now, what to my wondering eyes should appear in Heritage’s July, 2014 Animation Art Auction? A wide and glorious selection of animation cels from the late-1960s and 1970s, the heyday of Saturday Morning Cartoons. When these beauties hit the auction block, it may well mark the coming out party for a whole new generation of collectors – Gen-X, of course – who have the nostalgia of the childhoods driving them and, some of them, now the necessary funds to support that quest. Cartoon names like Superfriends, Scooby Doo, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, Captain Caveman, Hong Kong Phooey, Schoolhouse Rock, Inch High Private Eye and the like are names that bind the collective memory of Gen-X and the names that are now spurring them to collect.
This is a chance to preserve those Saturday mornings in front of the TV. If I could, I’d buy every last one.
Examples of production and presentation animation cells from some of the biggest cartoons of the era – Superfriends, Star Trek, the Laff-A-Lympics, Scooby Doo, Josie and The Pussycats and many more – are estimated to bring a range of prices, ranging from several hundred up to as much as a few thousand, by conservative estimates.
COMMENT FROM JIM LENTZ, DIRECTOR OF ANIMATION ART AT HERITAGE:
“Gen-X has seen and been a part of more cultural change than any generation before or after it, based on the evolution of technology, industry and media. The interesting thing about this is that its’ members don’t identify completely with any one aspect of that change. Put it this way: they were born before the cassette tape and, by the time they had come of age, the Internet had been born. The technology they only dreamed of while watching Saturday morning cartoons is now the stuff of everyday life. No other generation has been as uniquely poised to experience the massive change in the world of the last 50 years.
“It’s a powerful thing when a generation of collectors comes of age and begins to feel nostalgic for its youth. Gen-X’s entry into the market may well now signal the beginning of a seismic shift in collectibles and memorabilia markets.
“The gold standard in animation has always been classic Disney animation, which is still the case in large part, but we’ve seen a very decided and marked entrée into the market of Gen-X collectors hungrily demanding the material that populated the long Saturday mornings of their youth now that they are in a position to collect. It’s a fascinating shift to watch and, looking at the cyclical nature of the animation market, I’d say it’s right on time.”
Highlights from Saturday Morning Cartoons in the Heritage July 1 Animation Art Auction in New York
By Noah Fleisher