Joseph Barbera – the more creative half of the immensely talented and successful animation partnership Hanna-Barbera – died in his home yesterday aged 95; with Joseph Barbera's cause of death probably linked to him being 95 years old.
In the 68 years since Joseph Barbera – along with partner Bill Hanna – first began to put pen to paper, he's created so many iconic cartoon creations loved by generations of children that it's almost too difficult to pinpoint Joseph Barbera's one true defining work. Was it co-creating Tom and Jerry in 1939? Was it helping to turn The Flintstones into one of the most successful TV comedies of all time? Everyone has their own favourite Joseph Barbera show, and we can't decide whether ours is Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, The New Scooby Doo Movies, The Scooby-Doo/ Dynomutt Hour, Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics, Scooby-Doo And Scrappy-Doo, The Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo Show, The Scooby-Doo/ Scrappy-Doo/ Puppy Hour, The All-New Scooby And Scrappy-Doo Show, The 13 Ghosts Of Scooby Doo, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, What's New, Scooby-Doo? or Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue!
Nah, it was probably The Jetsons.
As half of Hanna-Barbera, Joseph Barbera created more enduring pop culture figures than almost anyone else around. Although Bill Hanna helped to create Tom & Jerry – who went on to win seven Oscars – Hanna-Barbera is better-known for its television cartoons. The sheer number of lasting Hanna-Barbera creations is too long to list, but highlights include Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Secret Squirrel, The Flintstones, Wacky Races, The Hair Bear Bunch, Challenge Of The GoBots, 2 Stupid Dogs and official hecklerspray hero Top Cat.
According to CNN, Joseph Barbera was the man who made these creations live, while partner Bill Hanna – who died in 2001 – supplied something less tangible:
Their strengths melded perfectly, critic Leonard Maltin wrote in his book "Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons." Barbera brought the comic gags and skilled drawing, while Hanna brought warmth and a keen sense of timing. "This writing-directing team may hold a record for producing consistently superior cartoons using the same characters year after year — without a break or change in routine," Maltin wrote.
Already tributes from friends of Joseph Barbera are being published, like this one from Warner animation President Sander Schwartz:
"Joe Barbara was a passionate storyteller and a creative genius who, along with his late partner Bill Hanna, helped pioneer the world of animation. Joe's contributions to both the animation and television industries are without parallel – he has been personally responsible for entertaining countless millions of viewers across the globe."
And this one from Warner Bros. Chairman Barry Meyer, who said that Joseph Barbera's cartoons were:
"not only animated superstars, but also a very beloved part of American pop culture…. [from] the Stone Age to the Space Age and from prime time to Saturday mornings, syndication and cable. While he will be missed by his family and friends, [Barbera] will live on through his work."
The sheer lifespan of Joseph Barbera's career means that Hanna-Barbera will always partly be known for churning out a fleet of rubbish cartoons – Quick Draw McGraw answered the lifelong question of what would happen if you gave a gun to a slow-witted horse, while anyone who remembers Squiddly Diddly or Birdman And The Galaxy Trio with any amount of affection probably needs to take a long hard look at themselves – and ideas recycled to the point of inanity, Joseph Barbera's successes will always outweigh his failures.