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Cartoon characters reanimated on the Web

PC World

July 25, 2000
Web posted at: 11:04 a.m. EDT (1504 GMT)

(IDG) -- Need an inexpensive way to audition your animated series or other creative work of genius? Easy. Just put it on the Web and see what happens.

The recent premiere of Sam the Dog, a streaming Macromedia Flash animation about an inner-city pooch, is another example of how artists often post their creations online in hopes of making the big time.

From 1997 to 1999, Sam the Dog, by D.B. Dowd, appeared as a regular feature of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial pages, poking fun at local politics and culture. Now the cartoon canine is on the Web, appearing in the first of what is said to be a series of 3-minute episodes.

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With its colorful, well-drawn imagery, Sam is a top dog among Web animations. The first episode, however, is likely to leave viewers scratching their heads. The story, something about a green alien and a strawberry ice cream cone, is vague and lacks bite.

Dowd and his business partners, however, clearly hope Hollywood moguls will find Sam to be pure catnip. Dowd and company report they "will approach the roll-out of SamtheDog.com's features with an eye towards the possible migration of the ... characters to off-line realms including television, film, games, and print media. They will pursue meetings with representatives of the new media industry to explore development, production, distribution, and merchandising opportunities for the characters and the company's animated series and features." At least that's their intention.

In recent months, others with similar goals in mind have introduced animated characters on the Web. Late last year, for instance, a company called Masterminds of Fun introduced a Y2K Web cartoon that it hopes to expand into video games and animated cartoons. Both long-suffering cartoon engineer Dilbert and the raucous kids of South Park have found their way online. Even Spiderman creator Stan Lee has launched a Web-based superhero; as has the less famous Fatman.

On the more serious side, a British company built a news site featuring Ananova, dubbed "the world's first virtual newscaster." Her originators planned to license the character as an interactive guide to e-commerce transactions on computers, cell phones, televisions, and more.



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