NEW FRANKLIN Author and visiting speaker Marty Gitlin animated the Portage Lakes Branch Public Library on Feb. 24 with those eager to learn about the cartoons Americans have come to know and love through the years. Coauthored with Jon Wos, Gitlin wrote "A Celebration of Animation: The 100 Greatest Cartoon Characters in Television History" and is traveling the state promoting his work. The books is set for release March 15 by Lyons Press.
"It’s been incredible, said Gitlin. "I’ve been happily shocked that I have so many libraries that want to do this I have more than 40 set up already in Northeast Ohio, and I’m gonna go around the state and do a lot more."
Gitlin is a seasoned and successful writer. He’s been writing his entire professional career and is invested in a breadth of topics from historical biographies to a deep dive into phenomenon of American breakfast cereal.
"Around 2012 I became a freelance author exclusively and I write a lot of educational books about sports and history and pop culture, but the trade books I do like 'The Great American Cereal Book' and this one here 'A Celebration of Animation: The 100 Greatest Cartoon Characters in Television History,' those are the ones I really really like best."
Like so many of us, Gitlin fondly remembers the Saturday mornings of his childhood that he’d spend in front of the TV with beloved cartoon characters. It’s seems like every generation brings with it their own host of cartoons that become inseparable from our cultural DNA, but with so many characters, which are the greatest? That question is exactly the motivation behind Gitlin’s latest project.
Perhaps the icing on the cake of this labor of love of Gitlin’s is having the forward of the book written by the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants himself, Tom Kenny.
"The fact that were able to get Tom kenny to write the forward was the best, because right now Spongebob is probably the biggest cartoon character out there," Said Gitlin. "He’s been around since 1999. It’s almost 20 years now that he’s been around."
From Popeye and his best gal Olive Oyl to Bikini Bottom’s most famous fry cook, Gitlin’s presentation covers all the bases. He has a tremendous wealth of knowledge — history, animation techniques, voice acting, all things animation — and enthusiastically shares it with his audience, punctuated with cartoon clips and trivia. It’s an illuminating talk for anyone who might think they can compete with Gitlin’s knowledge of cartoons or for those who have a few favorite characters and are curious about where they come from.
And, of course, it’s a kid friendly presentation. Gitlin even brings along an activity for young cartoon lovers.
"Reception has been great, and the funny thing is different people laugh at different cartoon snippets. Sometimes I’ll have a clip that no one really reacts to very much and I’ll have a different one where they do. And then I’ll go to another place and it’s the opposite."
If you missed Gitlin, you can catch him again at 6:30 p.m. March 12 at the Green Branch Library or at 2 p.m. March 29 the Portage Lakes Branch Public Library.
You can purchase a signed copy of his book and learn more about it at www.cartooncharactersbook.com