Sunday, April 18, 2010

Loss of a pioneer: RIP Carl Macek

The bad news came to me via Cartoon Brew: Jerry Beck broke the news that his former partner in Streamline Video, Carl Macek, had died of a sudden heart attack. This occurred Saturday, April 17th.

Carl Macek was one of the first people in Hollywood who realized that the cartoons Japan made for their domestic consumption had great potential for American audiences. He took several Japanese series, wrote new stories, and redubbed them to create Robotech. Scoff if you must, but Robotech was the first taste of anime for some people. He also brought seminal classics Akira and Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro) to America, with little compromise. I still think the Streamline dub of Totoro is wonderful, perhaps better than the Disney/Pixar dub.

Macek didn't restrict his involvement in the animation industry to creating America-friendly versions of anime, he also helped the four original "Big Shots" of Spumco sell Ren and Stimpy to Nickelodeon. True, there were unintended consequences to that as well. But Macek's role in the initial big splash of R&S was apparently crucial.

Macek was a rarity: a geek making a living from being geeky. Something we all aspire to. And he died too soon. 58 years is too young.

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