In its latest effort to take over the world of toons, Cartoon Network has launched a new Web site (www.cartoonnetwork.com), and claims to be making the largest-ever Internet commitment to animation with ‘Web Premiere Toons,’ a special area that will feature interactive on-line cartoons. The company’s recently formed on-line division has already signed Gary Panter to create the first Web toon; Panter is the well-known art director behind Emmy Award-winning TV series Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.
Sam Register, creative director at Cartoon Network Online, says his division is planning to run a college talent search next summer, in order to solicit fresh Net animation for ‘Web Premiere Toons’ from U.S. students. Cartoon Network is hoping that the area will generate toon concepts that can be adapted for the tube. ‘We think of `Web Premiere Toons’ as a laboratory where we can experiment with new characters and art styles,’ says Register. ‘The Internet is a much more affordable venue for testing ideas, and we’re also able to monitor people’s immediate reactions by including a feedback button in the design of the cartoon-it’ll be like the Nielsens on steroids.’
Among the other major content areas the site features are: ‘Department of Cartoons,’ which examines the inner workings of the animation process; ‘Space Ghost,’ a satirical interpretation of entertainment wire stories from Hollywood; ‘Favorites,’ a collection of cartoon character home pages; ‘Animate Your World,’ a kids imagination area with a Big Fridge for posting their artwork; and ‘Games and Information,’ with Shockwave games, downloadable icons and screensavers.
Cartoon Network Online picked up three sponsors for the launch (Gap Kids, Nintendo and Sony PlayStation), and is eager to attract a stable of regular advertisors.