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.