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The Austin-American Statesman Does Cartoons

These are your father's toons

It's a pretty good article about the preponderance of cartoons these days on TV and the increasing presence they bring. It also deals with Cartoon Network's dominance and the reasons it grew to the size it's at currently.

Surprised that adults are gravitating toward the toons, even the ones that got canned? You probably shouldn't be, considering the longest-running sitcom on television will soon be "The Simpsons." And not while "South Park's" Cartman says things that, even now, manage to curl your mother's hair in completely new ways.

Mike Lazzo, senior vice president of programming over "Adult Swim," always knew toons weren't just for kids. "From the very beginning when Cartoon Network started getting ratings, a third of our audience was 13 or older," he said. "We'd historically bring in an older audience in a number of ways parents watching with kids, nostalgia, animation freaks but didn't have the resources to cater to them."

While other networks have geared cartoons toward older audiences, including MTV with shows like "Daria" and "Beavis and Butt-head," few have stuck with it as long as Cartoon Network. What began modestly with the 1994 launch of "Space Ghost: Coast to Coast," a late-night offering that was part live-action, part crude animation, has since extended throughout Cartoon Network's programming. Though "Adult Swim," which mixes comedy and anime (Japanese animation) action shows in its Sunday through Thursday night blocks, is specifically for mature audiences, shows such as "Samurai Jack," "Dexter's Laboratory" and "Powerpuff Girls" have built the channel's viewership far beyond its 2- to 11-year-old core audience.

As a result of its success, on top of "The Simpsons" and "South Park," cartoons are now aggressively popping up all over cable.

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