One thousand years ago…
Well more like 20 years ago Disney’s animated series Gargoyles hit the airwaves and captivated the hearts and minds of youngsters across the globe. Created by Greg Weismen, the show followed a clan of gargoyles lead by Goliath after they awaken in New York from a thousand-year-old spell-induced slumber. They meet and befriend NYPD detective Elisa Maza who helps them adapt to the new world they find themselves in. The Gargoyles ultimately become the city’s guardians and together with Elisa help keep the streets of New York safe even though humans are the ones who betrayed them and locked them in their spell bound stone prison all those centuries ago.
While Gargoyles aired on weekday afternoons in the 90’s it was far from a “kid’s show,” with complex storylines that weaved in bits of history, legends, and classical literature. How many animated shows do you know that feature Shakespearean plot structures and characters? Full of drama, betrayal, family feuds, time travel, and romance, the plots played out like a primetime drama for adults. You had Goliath and clan who felt lost in this new world and were seen as monsters by the humans. Who didn’t feel lost and like they didn’t fit in during their teen years? The characters’ personalities were layered. It wasn’t as straightforward as good guys vs. bad guys. You understood why characters were driven to make the choices they did based on the circumstances in their lives. Hmm, sounds a lot like real life, doesn’t it? They also faced consequences for their actions unlike other cartoon shows in which the characters never seem to get hurt. Here choices made lead to some characters losing their lives. And let’s not forget one of the major subplots, the “Beauty and the Beast” romance between Goliath and Elisa.
Another reason Gargoyles stood out was for its diversity and themes of acceptance.
The characters’ racial backgrounds were the most varied in animated television at the time and included white, half-black and half-Native American, Scottish, Japanese, and of course the ‘race’ of Gargoyle. In an interview Weismen commented on diversity in animation by saying, “I’m a big proponent of diversity in cartoons, especially. I think there’s been a dearth of diversity, often... I try and create a world that reflects the world that I see, not the world that’s on television, which largely is white and male.”
The lessons in Gargoyles echo back to the X-Men, with the mutants’ struggle for understanding and acceptance in a world fueled by fear and hate of the unknown and all things different. Like the mutants, the Gargoyles are torn between forgiving the humans’ earlier betrayal and finding a way to coexist or destroying the human race and claiming the world as their own.
It’s not hard to see why Gargoyles gained a cult following differentiating itself from other shows airing during that time such as TaleSpin, Rescue Rangers or DuckTales by having relatable characters and tackling tough issues. Fans of the show hold their breath every time they hear another rumor of a possible live action Gargoyles movie, but so far all those rumors have been false.
Just know Weismen continues to fight the good fight to bring our beloved Gargoyles to the big screen. During a Q&A at the 2015 Long Beach Comic Expo in March he said there are still ongoing talks about a feature film with Disney, but for now all we can look forward to is the new Gargoyles comic book series he is currently developing which has yet to be officially announced.
It may not be the 1000 years our Gargoyle friends spent sleeping, but it will be a while before we can enjoy anything new from the franchise. For now let the spell be broken as Gargoyles fan art lives again!
It is the nature of humankind to fear what they do not understand.”
Maybe we shouldn’t believe everything we see on television.”
I’ll never get the hang of jumping off rooftops.”
We’ve dreamed for a thousand years, Goliath. It’s time for our dreams to come true.”
Why stare at marks on a page when you can rent the video?”
Revenge, as they say, is a sucker’s game.”
- Who is your favorite Gargoyles character and why?
- What would you like to see in future editions of Fan Art Friday?