Cartoon Network’s Original Checkerboard Branding Info Now Back Online On The Wayback Machine

Cartoon Network's Original Checkerboard Branding Info Now Back Online On The Wayback Machine

Cartoon Network’s Original Checkerboard Branding Info Now Back Online On The Wayback Machine

Some good news, Hatmaker’s website, the company that designed Cartoon Network’s original logo and Checkerboard era presentation is now finally accessible again on the Wayback Machine. The website was inaccessible for about two years ever since the domain registrar that now owns the domain – Uniregistry put a Internet Archive block on hatmaker.com.

I first came across Hatmaker’s website back in 2015 while doing some research on who did Cartoon Network’s first graphics package and the black and white checkerboard logo. While searching on the internet, I found out that a design company called Hatmaker Studios developed the channel’s launch graphics which was later used on Cartoon Network in Latin America, Europe and Asia. I tried to search for anything about the company, but couldn’t find anything, so thought I’ll try my luck with archive.org’s Wayback Machine, the first domain I typed in was “hatmaker.com”, and by chance, it was exactly what I was looking for!. I would of included this information for the Cartoon Network 25th Anniversary blog post, but as mentioned, the Hatmaker website was inaccessible. I’ve been waiting a long time to write a blog post on this.

Not only Hatmaker developed the Checkerboard graphics package, but they also designed Cartoon Network’s checkerboard infamous logo, the first one to be used in public, unlike the original round logo which was used in the 1991 sales presentation. Hatmaker designed the logo in a way to make sure it stands out at all times against a backdrop of various colours, after discovering that black and white were the least used colours in cartoons, it made perfect sense to use black and white in the logo, the checkerboard idea came from finding a way to avoid drop shadows so the logo text stands out, it also worked because the words “Cartoon” and “Network” have exactly the same amount of letters – 7 letters. Finding the right typefaces for the logo and the channel’s presentation was done through a trial and error process, in the end, four typefaces were chosen for Cartoon Network’s identity: Gothic 821 Condensed, Spumoni, Eagle Bold (the typeface used on the Cartoon Network’s original checkerboard logo) and Birch.

The presentation had to have cartoon characteristics to fit into the nature of the channel, the presentation adopted a cartoony illustrative style with flexible, bouncy, lively and constant movement, with typical cartoon sound effects. The presentation had a wide range of hues and textures and because the logo was black and white, it contrasted well and always stood out.

In addition to the channel’s presentation, Hatmaker also designed Cartoon Network’s stationary such as letterheads and business cards and also produced an image guide for the launch of Cartoon Network, which explains the channel’s identity. Copies of the guide were given to advertisers, MSO’s (Multiple System Operators aka Cable Companies) and members of the press.

Hatmaker also produced an animation for the transition between Cartoon Network and TNT Classic Movies in Europe, every night at 8pm CET (7pm UK), Cartoon Network closes for the night and hands over to its sister channel TNT Classic Movies. The animation features one of Cartoon Network’s earliest mascot characters (used exclusively in presentation) – Hi-Ball the Jester. Hi-Ball wears an hourglass on his wrist to remind him how much time CN has left for the day, when the time’s up, Hi-Ball pulls down the switch from CN mode to TNT mode starting the transition sequence and electrocutes him in the process. Then a stick of a dynamite explodes (a pun of Turner Network Television’s acronym and the well known explosive also called TNT), then the TNT Classic Movies logo appears. The transition animation features somewhat weird characters, such as a mouth with lips and teeth, an eyeball with with and a propeller, a toothbrush and a match. In my opinion, the transition was one of the best examples of television presentation I’ve seen (although its somewhat nightmare fuel-ish), no other timesharing channel ever replicated as something as seamless and that connects two channels that have little in common with each other so well, the only common factor is that Turner owns both channels. From what I remember, the transition stopped airing on Cartoon Network Europe after the channel became a 24-hour service, although on most providers the channel still timeshared with TNT. Cartoon Network Poland adapted and reused the same animation many years later but this time for TNT Classic Movies’ spiritual successor – TCM.

In 2003, Hatmaker Studios closed with its portfolio merged with its sister company – Corey McPherson Nash. Hatmaker was also known for creating Hanna-Barbera’s logo during the Turner-owned era and during when the animation studio started to produce shows for Cartoon Network. http://www.hatmaker.com:80/design/logos/logo_html/hanbarlogo.html

Hatmaker was also known for creating the famous orange Nickelodeon logo (along with Fred/Alan Inc.), FX’s original logo and graphics package, Comedy Central’s original logo and also UK Gold’s (now branded GOLD) first ever logo. It’s a shame that Hatmaker closed, it created some of the most iconic and recognisable branding in television, also the website looked very good compared to mid-to-late 1990’s standards which was when the World Wide Web was just in its infancy.

Channel ID (with more info about the logo): http://web.archive.org/web/19981206165950/http://www.hatmaker.com:80/design/netids/cnid.html

Logo: http://web.archive.org/web/19981206015546/http://www.hatmaker.com:80/design/logos/logo_html/cartlogo.html

Stationary: http://web.archive.org/web/19981205135901/http://www.hatmaker.com:80/design/print/print_html/cartnet.html

Cartoon Network Image Launch Guide: http://web.archive.org/web/19981202215357/http://www.hatmaker.com:80/design/print/print_html/cartprint.html

Cartoon Network UK’s 25th Anniversary: A Brief History Of The Channel

Cartoon Network UK's 25th Anniversary: A Brief History Of The Channel
An article from the UK’s Daily Express (30th August 1993) about the then soon to be launched Cartoon Network Europe. (Click To View The Full Image)

Cartoon Network UK’s 25th Anniversary: A Brief History Of The Channel

Tomorrow (17th September), 25 years ago, Cartoon Network Europe commenced broadcasting, it became Europe’s first television channel dedicated to animation, the channel launched only 11 and a half months after its U.S. counterpart and just like the original U.S. version, it aired cartoons from Hanna-Barbera’s animation library, which includes all time classics such as The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo!, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound and many more, plus the Tom and Jerry shorts from MGM.

Cartoon Network Europe’s oldest (publicly known) schedule that can be found on the internet (including TCM’s first night and CN’s first 24-hour schedule) can be found on the link below:

https://www.toonzone.net/forums/threads/old-international-cartoon-networks-schedules.5253261/page-3

Cartoon Network Europe was the first version of the channel based outside the United States, a Latin American version did launch in April 1993, although that version was based at Turner’s HQ in Atlanta and to an extent, it’s still based there today. Cartoon Network USA had somewhat of a slow start, initially not every cable service carried the channel (it was available for those with a satellite dish), this wasn’t really Turner’s fault, it was just the reluctance of cable companies making long-term contracts. But when Cartoon Network launched in Europe, it took a different approach, the channel launched as a free-to-air channel available to all cable providers around the UK and Europe and anyone with a satellite dish pointing at Astra’s European satellite service. The first general manager of Cartoon Network Europe was Sue Kroll (now the Head of Worldwide Marketing and Distribution at Warner Bros.).

At launch, Cartoon Network Europe broadcasted between 5am and 7pm, it launched alongside and timeshared with another new channel from Turner – TNT Classic Movies, this was the precursor of TCM (Turner Classic Movies), which launched in the U.S. the following year. At launch, Cartoon Network already had rivals in the UK multichannel market, its biggest U.S. rival – Nickelodeon made it to UK shores 16 days earlier, Nickelodeon had the support of British satellite TV provider – Sky who still owns a stake in the channel today, Nickelodeon was already quite established in the U.S. and already had some original content, however, Nickelodeon had a slower but more localised approach to Cartoon Network and didn’t expand into other parts of Europe until later in the 1990’s, also Nickelodeon required a subscription to Sky’s newly launched Multichannels package.

CN’s other rival was UK-based TCC (The Children’s Channel) which was also available in the Benelux and Nordic parts of Europe and in France, it faced competition against children’s channel Canal J. It seems it was no co-incidence that Cartoon Network launched with a partial soundtrack service in French, Norwegian and Swedish, also a localised version of CN launched in the Netherlands four years later. Even though, CN was available in Europe, although it had quite a heavy UK focus as all shows were in English and mostly had UK focused advertising. In December 1996, Cartoon Network Europe became a 24-hour service, however most cable operators (as well as Sky’s analogue satellite service) continued carrying the Cartoon Network/TNT timeshare service.

Immediately after the channel’s initial launch, CN Europe was met with controversy on Continental Europe as the governments of France and Belgium prohibited cable companies from carrying Cartoon Network, as it was seen as an “invasion of American culture”, the ban was lifted. Turner’s news channel – CNN International has been broadcasting from London since 1985, so Turner already had an established base in the UK. On 26th November 1993, Cartoon Network Europe took part in “The Great International Toon-In”, where Cartoon Network USA and all six Turner-owned entertainment networks in the United States (that existed at the time), Cartoon Network Latin America and Cartoon Network Europe shared a marathon schedule presented by 3D-CGI character Moxy the Dog.

After a successful launch in Europe, Cartoon Network launched in the Asia-Pacific region the following year, which means, after two years, the channel already had near global coverage. The next stage in Cartoon Network’s journey will be one that will change the course of the channel forever. Over in the United States, the now Turner-owned Hanna-Barbera animation studio set up a new studio brand – Cartoon Network Studios and started to experiment with new ideas for the channel in a brand new animation shorts programme called “World Premiere Cartoons” (later became “What A Cartoon”), What A Cartoon spawned Cartoon Network’s original Cartoon Cartoons such as Dexter’s Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Cow and Chicken, Mike, Lu and Og, Courage the Cowardly Dog and Johnny Bravo. As years went by, Cartoon Network started to become less dependent on its classic animation archive and started to focus on more original programming, also the merger with Time Warner in the mid-1990’s further supplemented the channel with animated productions from Warner Bros. Animation, this included Tiny Toon Adventures, Batman: The Animated Series, The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, Taz-Mania, Animaniacs and the all-important post-1948 Looney Tunes shorts.

By the late 90’s, countries and regions started to have their own versions of Cartoon Network, where as the UK version (i.e. the original pan-European version) still functioned as the pan-European version of the channel up until 15th October 1999, a separate pan-European version was launched that summer which copied CN UK’s schedule (with some shows excluded and replaced), however after a couple of years, things started to differ. Also as a whole, Cartoon Network Europe started to diverge from its American counterpart in terms of presentation, by using an altered version of CN USA’s Powerhouse rebrand. All the movies from TNT were moved to a new channel – a UK version of TCM, TNT became a short-lived UK and analogue only entertainment channel.

In May 2000, Cartoon Network UK welcomed in the new millennium with a new channel that celebrates animation from the past – Boomerang (which originated from a programming block from the channel’s early days), this means Cartoon Network’s schedule was now freed up for more original shows, Cartoon Network Europe also started to make its own co-productions by partnering with European studios with new shows such as The Cramp Twins and Fat Dog Mendoza. In later years, came Robotboy, Spaced Out, Skatoony and Chop Socky Chooks. Cartoon Network UK started to air Japanese anime starting off with Dragon Ball Z, the popularity of Dragon Ball Z led to the establishment of the Toonami programming block, which led to a new channel called CNX in 2002 which targeted teenagers and young adults and featured productions from Adult Swim, action movies and Japanese anime. Less than a year later, the CNX channel was rebranded as Toonami and became more child friendly. Toonami started to move away from the action animation format and started airing live-action sitcoms, after this change, it closed a year later. In 2006, a companion channel – Cartoon Network Too launched, the channel acted as a overflow to the main CN channel and later focused on action animation, the channel also had a pre-school programming block called Cartoonito which later spawned the Cartoonito pre-school channel which launched in 2007. In 2014, Cartoon Network Too closed and Cartoon Network UK’s one-hour timeshift service – Cartoon Network +1 was reinstated.

The 2000’s decade saw an explosion of brand new animation from Cartoon Network Studios with Sheep in the Big City, Time Squad, Samurai Jack, Grim & Evil (later became The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy), Whatever Happened to Robot Jones? and Codename: Kids Next Door. In 2002, Cartoon Network introduced a brand new look called “Casillas” (Spanish for Boxes) as it was developed by design studio – Ink Apache, the rebrand was very creative and made use of existing archive footage of Cartoon Network’s animated shows.

In 2005, Cartoon Network UK (and the rest of Europe) introduced Cartoon Network USA’s “CN City” graphics package on its channel, CN City featured all of Cartoon Network’s cartoon characters living together in one city making it effectively one big crossover. The CN City era remains one of the most memorable eras on Cartoon Network and saw the launch of Foster’s Home of Imaginary Friends, Camp Lazlo, Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi and Cartoon Network’s most successful action-animation franchise – Ben 10. After CN City era, Cartoon Network UK introduced another rebrand featuring an arrow that heavily featured the logo, this era featured bumpers animated by British animation studio – Pesky. The second stage of the Arrow Era featured CGI bumpers developed by design studio – Stardust. During this time, Chowder and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack were airing on the channel.

In 2010, Cartoon Network UK introduced a fresh new graphics package known as “Check It” that helped reboot the channel for the new animation renaissance of the 2010’s, Check It is considered to be a modern adaptation of Cartoon Network’s original Checkerboard graphics package. This era saw the successful Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Cartoon Network Development Studios Europe first ever show – The Amazing World of Gumball, which had its world premiere on Cartoon Network UK in 2011. A high-definition version of Cartoon Network – Cartoon Network UK HD also launched in 2011. Uncle Grandpa, Clarence, Teen Titans Go! and Steven Universe later followed with another iteration of “Check It” – Check It 3.0. Before the end of Check It 3.0. The Powerpuff Girls reboot was introduced in 2016, followed by Ben 10 later that year. In 2016, there was a short-lived Check It 4.0. rebrand that only lasted a year. In 2017, the Dimensional graphics package was introduced, which is Cartoon Network UK’s current era, during this era, OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes, Ben 10: Challenge, The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe, Unikitty! and Apple and Onion premiered, and next month, the channel will premiere Craig of the Creek. Coming soon in the near future another CN Studios Europe production will premiere – Elliott From Earth.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/media-american-invaders-are-targeting-your-kids-childrens-rights-and-non-stop-cartoons-will-do-1487639.html

https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=229iAAAAIBAJ&sjid=3nYNAAAAIBAJ&pg=1307,57411&dq=cartoon+network&hl=en

https://web.archive.org/web/20010826133132/http://www.cartoonnetwork.co.uk/news/frame_findex_exclude.html

https://web.archive.org/web/20080928103809/http://europe.turnerinfo.com:80/CN/UK/timeline/index.jsp

https://www.cartoonnetwork.co.uk