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Book cover for "Wild Minds"
Atlantic Monthly Press / Atlantic Monthly Press

Before television, animated cartoons were often “little hand grenades of social and political satire” aimed squarely at adults. Early Betty Boop cartoons included nudity. Popeye stories slyly criticized the injustices of unchecked capitalism. Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner were used to explore hidden depths of the American psyche.

In "Wild Minds: The Artists and Rivalries that Inspired the Golden Age of Animation" author Reid Mitenbuler relates the origin stories of titanic animators like Otto Messmer, Max Fleischer, Walt Disney, and Chuck Jones—who were just as colorful as their creations.

The Spongebob Musical” National Tour sets sail at Proctors in Schenectady, New York on September 22 and will anchor there through September 28.

Conceived and directed by Tina Landau with a book by Kyle Jarrow, orchestrations by Tom Kitt, and choreography by Christopher Gattelli, “The Spongebob Musical” features songs by Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, John Legend, Panic! At The Disco, They Might Be Giants, David Bowie, Brian Eno - and more.

In the show, Nickelodeon’s popular right-angled aquatic invertebrate and his town of Bikini Bottom face catastrophe - until an unexpected hero rises to take center stage.

We are joined by the actors playing best friends SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star: Lorenzo Pugliese and Beau Bradshaw.

Shawn Stone joins us to talk about what he's seen lately and what cultural events are coming up this week in our region.

Seen: "They Shall Not Grow Old"

Upcoming:

  • Cartoon Madness: The Many Faces of Fudd - Capitol Theatre, Rome, Thursday-Friday 2/21-22 at 3 PM; Saturday 2/23 at 3 and 7 PM
  • Postmodern Jukebox - Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, Friday 2/22, 8 PM
  • Dane Cook: Tell It Like It Is - Palace Theatre, Albany, Friday, 2/22, 7:30 PM
  • Jontavious Willis - Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, Friday 2/22, 8 PM
  • Eddie Griffin - Funny Bone Comedy Club, Guilderland, Friday-Saturday 2/22-23, various times
  • Kaki King: Data Not Found - MASS MoCA, North Adams, Mass., Saturday 2/23, 8 PM
  • "The Big Sleep" - Palace Theatre, Albany, Monday 2/25, 7 PM
  • Roald Dahl’s "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" - Proctors, Mainstage, Schenectady, opens Tuesday 2/26 at 7:30 PM, through March 3
  • Rachael & Vilray - Helsinki Hudson, Hudson, Wednesday 2/27, 8 PM

New movies: "Arctic," "Never Look Away," "How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World," "Fighting With My Family"

Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein have been thinking deep thoughts and writing jokes for decades, and now they are here to help us understand Philosophy through cartoons, and cartoons through Philosophy. Covering topics as diverse as religion, gender, knowledge, morality, and the meaning of life (or the lack thereof), their new book is: "I Think, Therefore I Draw."

Daniel Klein and Thomas Cathcart studied philosophy together at Harvard in the last millennium. Danny has written comedy for Lily Tomlin, Flip Wilson, and others, and published scores of fiction and non-fiction books. Tom studied theology and managed health care organizations before linking up with Danny to write "Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar," "Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington," and "Heidegger and a Hippo Walk through Those Pearly Gates."

Peter Steiner has been a cartoonist for over thirty years. He created the cartoon "On the internet nobody knows you're a dog," the most reproduced cartoon The New Yorker has ever published. In the late 1990's he began writing novels, at first for his own amusement. Then his first novel, "A French Country Murder" was published in 2003. His second followed in 2008; his third in 2010.

His new work is a graphic novel entitled "An Atheist In Heaven."

Shawn Stone joins us to talk about what he's seen lately and what cultural events are coming up this week in our region.

Seen: “Hostiles,” “Paddington 2”

Upcoming:

  • Time for Three - Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, Thursday 2/15, 7:30 PM
  • The Next Women of Country: Sara Evans featuring Raelynn & Kalie Shorr - Palace Theatre, Albany, Thursday 2/15, 8 PM
  • They Are Waiting for You: Laure Prouvost with Sam Belinfante & Pierre Droulers - EMPAC Theater, Troy, Friday 2/16, 8 PM
  • Bridgman Packer Dance - The Egg, Albany, Friday 2/16, 8 PM
  • Loudon Wainwright III - Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, Friday 2/16, 8 PM
  • Birdland All-Stars featuring Tommy Igoe - Proctors, Schenectady, Friday 2/16, 8 PM
  • Warren Miller’s Line of Descent - Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, Mass., Saturday 2/17, 7:30 PM
  • Eddie Izzard: Believe Me Tour - Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, Saturday 2/17, 8 PM
  • Bindlestiff Cirkus Cabin Fever Cabaret (Adult Oriented Show) - Helsinki Hudson, Hudson, Saturday 2/17, 9 PM
  • “Looney Tunes”: “Bugs, The Beginning and Beyond” - Capitol Theatre, Rome, Monday 2/19-Saturday 2/24 at 3 PM; Saturday also at 7 PM

New movies: “The Insult,” “Black Panther,” “Early Man”

Bob Mankoff / The New Yorker

Bob Mankoff, cartoonist and influential cartoon editor for "The New Yorker," submitted more than 500 of his own cartoons to that publication before getting his first acceptance in 1977. He became cartoon editor in 1997, and is credited with nurturing a new generation of talent before retiring this past April.

He currently serves as the Humor and Cartoon Editor at "Esquire." He is the author of the memoir, "How About Never—Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons."

Mankoff will be in Albany later today with legendary New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast for a New York State Writers Institute seminar at 4:15 this afternoon in the Standish Room at the Science Library on the uptown University at Albany campus. There will be a reading at 8PM tonight in the Huxley Theatre at the New York State Museum in downtown Albany.

Before the rise of basic cable, Saturday mornings for many children in America were spent watching cartoons on one of three available television channels. From 1958 through the 1980s, a majority of those cartoons bore the Hanna-Barbera imprint. Creating scores of popular series such as The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, Scooby-Doo, Super Friends, and The Smurfs, Hanna-Barbera was an animation powerhouse.

Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning is the first museum exhibition on the world’s most successful animation partnership. It opens tomorrow at the Norman Rockwell Museum and runs through May 29th.

It was 1987 when the “Doonesbury” comic strip first imagined a Donald Trump presidential run. Since then, Trump has been a recurring character in cartoonist Garry Trudeau’s Pulitzer Prize-winning comic.

Over the years “Doonesbury” has taken on everything from Trump’s hair to his ego to his rampant use of insults. Those cartoons have just been collected in a new book titled Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump.

Garry Trudeau, the iconic cartoonist who created Doonesbury and has been skewering our political lives for over four decades has also worked in theater and television.

In an event last night, presented by Oblong Books and Music at The White Hart Inn in Salisbury, CT, we spoke with Trudeau about his career, politics, and his new book is Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump.

  Constance Shulman is best known as Yoga Jones on Orange is the New Black on Netflix and the voice of Patti Mayonnaise on the cartoon, Doug

She is currently performing at The Williamstown Theatre Festival as The Strega in Tennesse Williams' The Rose Tattoo, starring Marisa Tomei and directed by Trip Cullman. Shulman's daughter, Gus Birney, plays Rosa in the production. 

  In the summer of 1925, The New Yorker was struggling to survive its first year in print. They took a chance on a young cartoonist who was about to give up his career as an artist. His name was Peter Arno, and his witty social commentary, blush-inducing content, and compositional mastery brought a cosmopolitan edge to the magazine’s pages—a vitality that would soon cement The New Yorker as one of the world’s most celebrated publications.

Alongside New Yorker luminaries such as E.B. White, James Thurber, and founding editor Harold Ross, Arno is one of the select few who made the magazine the cultural touchstone it is today.

In his new biography of one of The New Yorker’s first geniuses, New Yorker cartoonist Michael Maslin dives into Arno’s rocky relationship with the magazine, his fiery marriage to the columnist Lois Long, and his tabloid-cover altercations involving pistols, fists, and barely-legal debutantes.

Michael Maslin’s cartoons have been appearing in The New Yorker for nearly forty years. He is the author or coauthor of eight books of cartoons. His new biography is: Peter Arno: The Mad, Mad World of The New Yorker's Greatest Cartoonist.