2D Animation: Some of our favorite shows through the years

Taylor Sterritt
Posted by Taylor Sterritt
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Animation was a popular form of entertainment since the release of the J. Stuart Blackton silent cartoon Humorous Phases of Funny Faces in 1906. Since then, animation changed rapidly, including some of my favorite shows like SpongeBob Squarepants and South Park.

SpongeBob Squarepants originally debuted on Nickelodeon in July of 1999. In the first season, the animation team used an animation technique called cel animation. Cel animation allows some parts of each frame to be repeated from frame to frame, thus saving labor. In the later seasons, the animation team switched to digital and paint animation, which can be seen in the changes in the image below.


The image on the left is from the very first episode using cel animation, while the image on the right is from a recent 2017 episode. SpongeBob got more yellow with time, while the colors of his outfit and Bikini Bottom got brighter and more vivid with each season. His nose is also straighter, his cheeks plumper, and his upper lip is now tucked in.

Another animated show that’s changed drastically through the years is Comedy Central’s South Park. The kids of South Park first appeared in the short film Jesus vs. Frosty in 1992. The animation style was originally influenced by the paper cut-out cartoons that Terry Gilliam made for Monty Python’s Flying Circus. For the pilot of South Park, animation was done with construction paper cut-outs and traditional stop motion cutout techniques. Subsequent episodes were computer animated.


Comedy Central

Cartman, originally referred to as Kenny, has come a long way since the paper cut-out illustration in episode one, but is still sporting his signature blue hat.


Comedy Central

Like Cartman’s, Stan’s eyes is filled in and looks more defined in the computer animated image on the right. He’s also traded in his pink and red beanie for a blue and red look.

What are some of your favorite cartoons that got a makeover since the first episode? Tell us in the comments below!

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