List of younger and junior versions of cartoon characters

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Since the 1980s and the 2000s, there have been many animated characters which are either junior versions (e.g., children, nephews, nieces, or protégés) or younger versions (i.e., the original characters presented as children) of other well-established characters. An example of a younger character is Scooby-Doo as a puppy, and an example of a junior character is Scrappy-Doo, Scooby-Doo's nephew.

Premise[edit]

This trend, often referred to as the "babyfication"[1] of shows, was kicked off by the 1984 series Jim Henson's Muppet Babies, which was based on a sequence in the (live-action) film The Muppets Take Manhattan. An earlier example of younger versions of existing cartoon characters, however, would be Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd from the 1944 cartoon The Old Grey Hare, which features Bugs and Elmer as babies (as well as very old characters) The same concept was used in a cartoon featuring an elderly Foghorn Leghorn and Barnyard Dawg who each have a grandson, and in a planned scene in the Three Stooges short Three Little Pigskins in which each stooge has an identical son.

Examples from comic books are Superboy, who was introduced in 1944's More Fun Comics #101 as the teenage version of Superman; Superboy would eventually be seen in an animated series in the 1960s and a live action TV series in 1988. Other examples were Little Archie, which featured the childhood adventures of Archie Comics character Archie Andrews, and How Obelix Fell into the Magic Potion When he was a Little Boy, about the character from the French comic book series Asterix.

A common trait of many of these spin-offs is their habit of causing plot holes and/or breaking whatever semblance of continuity (however minimal or nonexistent it may be) the previous versions of the characters established; for example, the original Flintstones series stated that Fred and Barney first met Wilma and Betty as young adults while working at a resort, an assertion backed up by several later episodes/spin-offs (as well as the second live-action Flintstones movie, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas). However, The Flintstone Kids shows them all as having known each other as ten-year-olds. Other differences between the two series include the 1980s-equivalent technology (video games, personal computers, etc.) seen in Kids vs. the 1960s-equivalent technology seen in the original series, as well as there being greater racial diversity in Bedrock in Kids (though other Flintstones spin-offs featuring the characters as adults have also shown a presence of minorities in Bedrock). For these reasons, some animation fans consider most of these "younger version" shows either as apocryphal or as having caused all the series with those characters to have "jumped the shark."

At the peak of the genre's popularity, circa 1990, even adult-oriented franchises were being adapted into younger or junior versions (see, for example, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and James Bond, Jr., and to an even greater discontinuity, Tales from the Cryptkeeper, which kept the titular Cryptkeeper at his usual age but told stories centered around children with much milder horror).

In Japan, the use of chibi versions of established characters to work out themes of self-parody has become a staple of manga and anime. It is generally the norm (where such parodies are used) to end a chapter with a page or two of chibi characters parodying the chapter's main themes. Usage of chibi in this manner often constitutes a form of catharsis for the readers and the writer, similar to the practice of having the actors in a play appear on stage to take a bow at the end of a performance, including characters who were killed off in the body of the play.

Chibi are often portrayed as leading separate, parallel lives to the characters they parody, occasionally going so far as to be portrayed as a variant species occupying the same fictional world.

Television[edit]

Television series featuring younger and junior versions of animated characters include:

  • An episode of Martha Speaks titled 'Martha and Skits' featured Skits as a puppy and a 2-part episode titled 'Martha's Life in Crime' featured Martha as a puppy.
  • Three episodes of Oggy and the Cockroaches titled 'Back to the Past!', 'The Time Machine' and 'Perpetual Motion' featured Dee Dee, Marky, Joey, Oggy, Jack and Bob as toddlers.
  • Krypto the Superdog episodes feature Krypto and the Dog Stars as young puppies in the episodes 'Krypto's Scrypto: Part 1' and 'Puppy Problems'.
  • Two episodes of Johnny Test titled 'Johnny's New Baby Sisters' and 'Johnny vs. Bling-Bling' feature Johnny, Dukey, Susan, Mary and Bling-Bling Boy as babies.
  • A Pup Named Scooby Doo (Hanna-Barbera, 1988): featuring Scooby-Doo and the Mystery, Inc. gang's adventures as junior high school students. Notably, this show made a more extensive effort to maintain continuity with its parent franchise, and would be referenced in later Scooby-Doo revivals.
  • Tom & Jerry Kids (Hanna-Barbera/Turner Entertainment, 1990–1995): featuring Tom and Jerry as children. Other segments on this program include:
    • Droopy and Dripple, featuring Droopy and his son Dripple.
    • Spike & Tyke, featuring the bulldog Spike, and his son Tyke. Tyke, oddly enough, is the same age here as he is in the conventional "adult" Tom and Jerry shorts.
  • Teen Titans- the Titans are younger than their comic book counterparts. Whereas the comic book depicts them as approximately eighteen, the Titans of the cartoon are more fourteen.

Comics[edit]

Comic books and strips featuring younger versions of animated characters include:

  • Captain Marvel Jr., a teenaged apprentice to Fawcett Comics' superhero Captain Marvel, introduced in Whiz Comics in 1941 and later popular in Master Comics and his own self-titled comic book. The character's comic adventures continued until 1953; when DC Comics assumed the rights to the Fawcett characters in 1972, Captain Marvel, Jr. was returned to publication.
  • Superboy: featured the adventures of Superman as a teenage superhero defending his home town of Smallville from various threats. Other characters seen in this series include the teenage version of Lana Lang, who made some appearances in the adult Superman stories as well. The series ran from 1944 through 1986, when the traditional version of Superboy was retired. A newer version of Superboy exists in the current Superman comics, but this version is a younger clone of Superman.
  • Little Archie: featured the adventures of the Archie comics gang as elementary school students.
  • Spy vs. Spy Jr., a running comic strip in the juvenile-themed Mad Kids Magazine (a spin-off of Mad Magazine). Unlike the more familiar version, the junior Spy characters do not attempt to murder one another. Instead, they engage in tit-for-tat pranks and plots (in one episode, a Spy ends up soaked by his own garden hose; in another, a Spy gets splattered by bad-smelling "skunk juice").
  • Petey: The Adventures of Peter Parker Long Before He Became Spider-Man, a Fred Hembeck backup feature in Marvel Tales featuring humorous stories of Peter Parker, Flash Thompson, and Betty Brant as children, with Aunt May and Uncle Ben. A typical example featured Petey sent by Aunt May to the pharmacy to buy Uncle Ben's medicine and told he can keep the change. not realizing the cost of medicine, he buys sodas for Flash and Betty, only to discover the change from the medicine is a quarter.
  • Spider-Man and Friends, and its successor, the Marvel Super Hero Squad, feature younger versions of Spider-Man and other superheroes from the Marvel Comics universe.
  • Little Endless: Child versions of the Endless from Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics, originally appearing in the story "A Parliament of Rooks]", illustrated by Jill Thompson, and subsequently in Thompson's graphic novel The Little Endless Storybook
  • X-Babies: Several X-Men stories parodied the concept by having younger versions of the cast created by Mojo.
  • Wonder Woman : Over the years there have been multiple comics involving a younger version of Wonder Woman. Some have been flashbacks comics of her early days, some have been as a result of her becoming younger and some involved 2 younger versions of herself going into the future and teaming up with her. The two younger versions of her are Wonder Tot and Wonder Girl. When writer Bob Haney, erroneously believing that Wonder Girl was a junior protégé of Wonder Woman, used Wonder Girl as a member of the all-protégé Teen Titans, the character was re-established as a genuine junior version to explain her presence as a Titan.
  • Senninha : Based on real racing driver Ayrton Senna as a child. It was created with the purpose of promoting the success of the corridor in campaigns, including getting to have comic books, but even after the death of Senna, the character marked legacy among fans and continued to be developed for several more years.

Concept albums[edit]

There has been one concept album with an accompanying music video DVD on the subject of younger versions of cartoon characters.

Other[edit]

  • Young Sherlock Holmes has Holmes and Watson meeting each other and fighting with Professor James Moriarty as teenagers.
  • Balto II: Wolf Quest features Aleu, Kodi, Saba, Dingo, Yukon, and Nunivat as puppies born by Jenna.
  • Monsters University, a prequel to the 2001 Pixar film Monsters, Inc., features main characters Sulley and Mike as young adults in college. During pre-production of the film, the producers explicitly avoided setting the film in the characters' childhoods.
  • Sanrio has baby versions of their characters Hello Kitty, Mimmy, Dear Daniel, My Melody, Cinnamoroll, Tenorikuma and Kuromi. The Hello Kitty Babies design series was a request from young mothers who had been loyal fans of Hello Kitty since her debut.
  • Rhino Entertainment has a younger version of the Elvis Presley rhino juggling 8 blocks with the words in them in the Kid Rhino Home Video videotapes.
  • Monica's Gang Baby, a baby version of main characters of Monica's Gang franchise.

One-off parodies[edit]

Several more adult TV series have ridiculed the concept and created more mocking parodies of the idea that lasted only one episode:

  • Part of an episode of Homestar Runner spoofed the concept, mainly as all of the characters as babies and "imagining" being something else a la Muppet Babies, such as baby Coach Z tossing a cardboard box (which says "not a ball!") with an actual football right next to him and "pretending he is the captain of the football team."
  • Wonder Showzen (Augenblick Studios) did an extreme parody of the concept, mostly of Muppet Babies featuring all the major Wonder Showzen puppets, even a disturbing parody of Nanny.

Video Games[edit]

  • Baby Pokémon are young, pre-evolved versions of other Pokémon (usually those introduced in an earlier generation), usually only obtainable by breeding. This concept originated in the second generation. Examples include Pichu evolving into Pikachu, and Igglybuff becoming Jigglypuff. This concept was inspired by the younger versions of cartoon characters phenomenon.[citation needed] The original Pokémon often have multiple levels of "evolution" (for example, the "fire type" starter Pokémon from the first generation games had a young, childlike version named Charmander, which was followed by the adolescent Charmeleon, and later the fully-grown Charizard).
  • Jak's younger self (known as Mar) appeared in Jak II and Jak III.
  • Dr. Neo Cortex's younger identies appeared on Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped (as a baby along with a baby version of Dr. Nefarious Tropy fighting over Uka Uka) and Crash Twinsanity (as a 5-year old along with kindergarten versions of his comrades).
  • Classic Sonic is a younger-looking reincarnation of Sonic the Hedgehog's original appearance from the early 1990s, and appears in the video game Sonic Generations, which celebrates the series' 20th anniversary.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Martin Goodman (2002-10-25). "Baby Steps". Animation World Network. Retrieved 2010-08-10. 

External links[edit]