Cartoons aren’t just for kids. But it took me a long time to embrace this idea.
On Saturday mornings as a kid, I sat on the couch to watch cartoons. He-man, Ghostbusters, Batman, and Superman were my favorites when I was young.
As I aged I replaced He-man and Ghostbusters with Batman Beyond and Yu-Gi-Oh.
I thought they were darker and edgier. More grown-up cartoons. So it felt like I could get away with it. Except I kept feeling the pressure that I should be following more adult shows as I entered my teenage years.
My parents gave me grief as I continued to watch Saturday morning cartoons. I didn’t get to do it often as most of the time I was playing baseball or basketball, but when I was home, that’s what I wanted to do.
I didn’t share this love of cartoons with other people. Embarrassed at my childish behavior, I hid it from my friends.
The message that cartoons are for kids took hold inside of me.
Soon I stopped watching cartoons altogether.
It’s ironic to me because I tried to watch The West Wing when I was 16 and I didn’t enjoy it. When I watched it in college, it quickly became my favorite television show. Sometimes the timing isn’t right and sometimes it’s perfect.
The closest I would get to cartoons in my college years was Watchmen. That felt safe because Zack Snyder was making the movie in the same style as 300. Nobody could push back on this cultural phenomenon.
So I finally took out my graphic novel and read it proudly in front of my teammates in our house. A few of my friends mentioned that they were big fans too. We decided to purchase opening night premier tickets to the movie.
In those days there weren’t any pre-assigned seats so we wanted to get there early. 5 hours before the movie we showed up to stand in line. 3 college baseball players.
We were surrounded by costumes.
It was amazing.
And it showed me that I could start leaning into cartoons again. So slowly I dipped my toe back in.
When I went home that summer, I sat down in my parent’s living room and turned on Yu-Gi-Oh.
“Robbie...you’re too old for this.”
At first, that old feeling started to creep up. That little voice saying I need to be watching “adult” shows. Then I remembered the conversations we had in our baseball house after The Watchmen where most of the team ended up reading and seeing the movie.
I turned to my parents and just said “I like it.”
From that point on I didn’t shy away from cartoons.
Ghost in the Shell, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Attack on Titan, Into the Spiderverse, Your Name, and pretty much anything Studio Ghibli are regulars for me now.
All of this is to say that it’s amazing how I shied away from something I loved for so many years.
Quirks and idiosyncrasies make people different and interesting. There are enough boring, bland, and basic people out there.
Playing life safe. Hiding their authentic self.
I don’t want to be that.
I want to put my Millennium Puzzle together.
I want to fully embrace my Yami.
Cartoons are for everybody.
I'm the Founder of Performative Speaking. In December, On Deck acquired my startup and I'm now the Program Director for On Deck Performative Speaking.
Want to learn more or talk? Robbie@beondeck.com
Follow me on Twitter and Clubhouse @robbiecrab