You’ve probably read or heard by now that Joe Barbera, half of the indomitable Hanna-Barbera team, died this past Monday at the age of 95.
I’m surprised at how saddened I was to hear of his passing. On the one hand, you know, 95 is a pretty good run as lifetimes go. And it’s not as though I knew him personally, or anything. But on the other hand, as a child of the ’70s and ’80s, I sort of feel that my childhood was synonymous with Hanna-Barbera. I grew up on all of those cartoons—Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, the Jetsons—I watched them all. Usually on a 13″ black and white television. I watched them after school and I got up early on Saturday mornings to watch them some more.
And in an age where computer animation far surpasses anything we oohed and aahed over years ago, I still got a huge kick out of my children “discovering” Tom and Jerry and informing me about how funny they think it is. (Oh, they still think I’m pulling their leg when I tell them I used to watch it when I was little. Surely dinosaurs still roamed the Earth back then, and cartoon mice did not scheme to outwit cartoon cats.)
Some of the Barbera remembrances floating around the ‘net are touching, some are funny; all are fascinating glimpses into the life of a man who “never set out to be a cartoonist.” ToonZone points to some tributes worth checking out, my favorite of which is the Cartoon Brew entry on Barbera. (That’s where you’ll find the above caricature of Barbera, which was created by Patrick Owsley.) Fans around the world are leaving their memories and comments on the BBC News site, too.
Whether you were a fan or not, there’s no denying the impact he had on the industry. Joseph Barbera was a legend, and he will be missed.