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Saturday, January 11, 2014 

Young Justice cartoon only existed to sell toys?

I don't have a high opinion of Kevin Smith, but the animator Paul Dini did tell him on an interview the reason why the Young Justice and Green Lantern cartoons he produced were cancelled:
DINI: "That's the thing, you know I hate being Mr. Sour Grapes here, but I'll just lay it on the line: that's the thing that got us cancelled on Tower Prep, honest-to-God was, like, 'we need boys, but we need girls right there, right one step behind the boys'—this is the network talking—'one step behind the boys, not as smart as the boys, not as interesting as the boys, but right there.' And then we began writing stories that got into the two girls' back stories, and they were really interesting. And suddenly we had families and girls watching, and girls really became a big part of our audience, in sort of like they picked up that Harry Potter type of serialized way, which is what The Batman and [indistinct]'s really gonna kill. But, the Cartoon Network was saying, 'F***, no, we want the boys' action, it's boys' action, this goofy boy humor we've gotta get that in there. And we can't—' and I'd say, but look at the numbers, we've got parents watching, with the families, and then when you break it down—'Yeah, but the—so many—we've got too many girls. We need more boys.'"

SMITH: "That's heart-breaking."

DINI: "And then that's why they cancelled us, and they put on a show called Level Up, which is, you know, goofy nerds fighting CG monsters. It's like, 'We don't want the girls because the girls won't buy toys.' We had a whole… we had a whole, a merchandise line for Tower Prep that they s***canned before it ever got off the launching pad, because it's like, 'Boys, boys, boys. Boys buy the little spinny tops, they but the action figures, girls buy princesses, we're not selling princesses.'"
That's weird enough they would cancel a cartoon despite sufficient audience because it was mostly girls watching it. But even more peculiar is that they decided to can those cartoons just because they didn't view them as a great way to sell toy action figures. I think it says a lot about what's gone wrong with markets today. We've arrived at a situation where a cartoon's existence (and a comic book's) depends entirely on whether it can sell merchandise to either gender?

The irony is that years before, the New Teen Titans, which the original Young Justice series from 1998 was a continuation of, did have quite a few girl fans (over a decade ago, I knew a woman who built a fansite for Gar Logan), and while there may have been merchandise built, I never got the impression it's existence depended entirely on that.

I think I can see just what's wrong with commercialization today, even though things have changed drastically since the 80s, with bad writing in the comics that now only owe their existence to being sources for adaption to other mediums, yet the animators aren't interested in encouraging children to try the comics any more than the editors and publishers are. Commercialization has turned a lot of products with potential into jokes. What does it matter whether a comic or cartoon sells toy action figures based on them? Don't they make enough revenue from the commercial interruptions on TV? No wonder the medium's in such disarray.

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More proof that the comics medium is obsolescent and irrelevant. DC and Marvel exist almost solely to maintain copyright and trademarks on the characters, so the parent companies (Time Warner and Disney) can market them where the real money is: toys, video games, and movies/TV.

Hey! Young Justice KICKED ASS and, from what trusted others have told me, so did Green Lantern!

Young justice was a good cartoon, I agree... but the Green Lantern cartoon (IMO) sucked.

Imagine that: a schizophrenic studio. Never seen that before.

Writing for boys is a good idea, though. Frankly, there aren't that many shows aimed at boys, and almost all of those seem to revolve around stupidity and fart jokes. Wide open market for semi-intelligent action for boys. I thought YJ managed to hit the sweet spot on this well.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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