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Toon Zone's 10th Anniversary: Memories from Staff

On August 24, 1998, Toon Zone opened its virtual doors to the Internet. To commemorate our 10th anniversary celebrating the art of animation, several Toon Zone staff members have contributed their memories and reminiscences of the site. In alphabetical order by username:


Alex Weitzman

What first brought me to Toon Zone was a pursuit of elevated discussion about animation (particularly DC animation). I was invited here in 2003 by Jay “Maxie Zeus” Allman, whose essays on his Animated Batman website had been a remarkable find for me and inspired me to concoct a rejoinder essay to one of his. That pursuit of elevated discussion has been both wonderfully fulfilled by the good folks at Toon Zone, and sometimes gloriously overthrown by silliness.

But all in all, I remain at Toon Zone for alternate reasons, and on its 10th anniversary, I find these reasons are worth voicing. I first met Brian Cruz and Eileen Delgadillo (along with Jay) at SDCC ’04, and was struck by what incredibly decent people and passionate fans of the artform they were. When they married in ’07, I was fortunate enough to be geographically close to the wedding and they graciously passed along an invitation. The kind of honest welcome that Brian and Eileen gave to me on both of these occasions is what we see on this site in all its aspects. From the wide range of its forums, the varied subjectivies of its reviews, and the fairness and intellectual curiosity of its interviews, Toon Zone exemplifies the love of animation and the fondness for animation’s fans that Brian and Eileen themselves personify.

Many animation fansites have come and gone. Toon Zone has not only remained strong for a decade, but it has grown exponentially in presence and influence on the Internet and in the animation industry. This takes more than simple fandom. The site has attracted the kind of people that Brian and Eileen are, in the ranks of the site’s staff, reviewers, moderators, and regular posters. This is where longevity lies, and the effect on the industry cannot be overstated. As one of the few TZ folk located in the Southern CA area, I’ve been lucky enough to meet quite a few people in the industry, and have on multiple occasions been able to speak to them about Toon Zone and how the immediate contact with the TZ fanbase has changed the face of artist/audience relationships and interactions. In the last ten years, Toon Zone has made itself into the main place where cogent and passionate fans of animation can be found. Congratulations, Toon Zone (and Brian and Eileen): we’ve captured the attention and respect of the industry.


dtemplar

I didn’t know about this until now, but I have something to say.

I’ve been a reporter for over 2 years, I was thrilled to be part of being a member of the news team. I’ve been a fan of 70s and 80s toons like Superfriends, Transformers, G.I. Joe, and everything from the Filmation library. I mean I grew up at a great time period, there’s no TV ratings, there’s no age group for which toons to watch, and Saturday morning was a great time to watch TV.

I’m 31 years old, and most of the toons I see today are not really good, but give me something from the 70s or 80s and I’ll be happy.

What I mostly do as an old school professor is mention what show was produced, when it was aired, and which network showed, and who voiced the characters. I’m just glad I didn’t give you all a pop quiz. Believe me, there are still some toons that haven’t been out on DVD yet, and I don’t mind sharing the information.

To Zedd, who introduced me to do this job. Thank you. To William C., Maxie Zeus, Ace (Ed), Jim Harvey, Harley, and all the editorial staff. Thank you guys. To the writing staff, thank you.

To make this long story short, congratuations Toon Zone for 10 awesome years. God bless America, and God bless Toon Zone!

dtemplar
Old School Professor


Ed Liu

Toon Zone members are crazy.

No, seriously. We’re insane. Nuts. Off our rockers. Out of our gourds. Utso-nay razy-cay. Think about it: we are a group of people ranging from teens to near senior-citizens who love animation so much that we’re willing to come up with strange screen names and talk about it (or even just read about it) with a bunch of other total strangers who think like we do.

We think that animation is a wonderful art form. We think animation don’t get no respect. We think animation has limitless potential. We like some of our cartoons a whole lot and hate some of them a whole lot and generally aren’t afraid to share that with a bunch of people, not all of whom agree with us. We want to watch cartoons, find better cartoons, talk about cartoons, and make better cartoons. We are a bunch of people who really dig our cartoons, when most of our friends in the real world look at us and ask, “Aren’t cartoons for kids?”

We’re crazy. Toon Zone members are crazy.

Thank goodness for that. I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all my fellow moderators, who keep the site running smoothly despite their busy schedules, all for little reward and less gratitude. I’d also like to thank all the staff members of Toon Zone News, who keep me on my toes and keep me informed (now get back to work, guys!). Special thanks to News editor Maxie Zeus, who started it up by asking me all those years ago, “Hey, how’d you like to be a reporter?” and continues to be the high-water mark I measure myself against. Related to that, I’d like to thank all the people in the industry who read our site and act happy to see me when I finally meet or talk with them. I’d like to thank Brian, Eileen, and Colin for opening the site in the first place and for putting up with my babble for so long.

But most of all, I’d like to thank all the Toon Zone readers and members, current and former, with whom I’ve laughed and cried and argued and joked and argued and expounded and argued and made and taken recommendations from and argued. Regardless of how it might have sounded, I was having fun all the time and I hope you were, too. You all are the reason why I keep contributing and coming back for more.


Harley

Wow. Ten years. Where does the time go?

Why does this place even exist? Well, some college kids really, really loved animation. They had a lot of time on their hands and created some animation-related fan sites under the misguided and arrogant pretense that they could do it better than anyone else.

Time has changed them. They’ve grown up. A number of them have been successful in ther chosen professions. Those who lost direction or purpose in life found their way back. Marriage. Children have been had. They have homes of our own. Once fiery personalities have mellowed into a common understanding of where priorities lay in life.

One thing hasn’t changed. They still really love animation. It’s an amazing storytelling medium that has no boundaries past those we place on it. There’s an innate beauty to any form of communication that’s truly limited only by the imagination (and budgets).

During these ten years, we’ve seen animation in the States begin it’s journey towards the mainstream. The industry is beginning to find alternate routes to the market of adults who are very willing to part with their money for animated stories that (if not catered to) do not entirely exclude their demographic. It’s less uncommon to have a conversation with a co-worker who watches shows like Avatar and SpongeBob SquarePants without the prompting of their sons or daughters. It’ll be fascinating to see how the industry evolves over the next ten years. Hopefully, some of you reading will join us for that.

I’d really like to thank those who have worked with us over the years. It’s been a pleasure to hang with people who love animation as much as I do. This site would be nothing without your contributions. Thank you for your hard work. (For those who haven’t contributed as much as they originally thought they could… For the love of God, get to it!)

It’s been an amazing honor to play some part, however minuscule, in your lives. It’s also quite bizarre that we’ve known each other so long, shared so many stories and (at times) stayed at each other’s homes that we’ve cobbled together some odd sense of family. Those who have met in person will tell you it’s like seeing someone you’ve known forever, but just haven’t seen in awhile. And I just couldn’t close this thing out without saying how amazing that is and how much love I have for you guys.

So, let’s keep watching cartoons and to hell with anyone who tells us we’re too old for it.

Eileen “Harley” Cruz


Jacob T. Paschal

Toon Zone is a special place in that brings together many different types of people, whether they are male or female, film or animation buffs, video gamers or writers and sometimes all of them being embodied by one, outside of the initial pair. As the ultimate testament to this claim Toon Zone was founded and even today still is run by two of the most opposite of pop culture icons, a ninja and a pirate (a third was rumored to exist but we at the Dharma Initiative cannot confirm such). If that is not coming together to partake in civil discussion of common interests in fiction through numerous outlets then this anecdote-writing fool is as blind as he is lazy.

My user profile tells me I joined Toon Zone May 14, 2006 but those are times I have thankfully forgotten. Coincidentally and most thankfully, I forget a lot of things but what I do remember is the good things. Long ago there was this lawyer—yes children, a lawyer—who ran parts of our dear site but for reasons this one shall leave unexplained he has not been seen for sometime—rumor has it the staff Wookie and he got into a bit of a tiff on a long since past poker night but those tales are unsubstantiated—but this man was always calm, collected, and reminded us to stay on topic but more so then that he led. This man was always a rock and hardly ever was moved by whispers of despair and his advice has allowed me to do things I never would have ever thought I would do or could.

If there is one thing I like about Toon Zone it is her reviews and interviews. The editors are always sharp and ask questions that always get those lengthy I-think-I-just-aged-a-year-reading-replies that are fun to read and always allow the reader a deeper insight into the subject’s mind.

Tossing caution to the wind, I wish to reveal that I have indeed bought the official Toon Zone boxer shorts, and damned I shall be if I don’t say they wear better then a tutu.

Thank you, Toon Zone for ten happy years to your readers.


James

Toon Zone is a special place.

Indeed it maybe the only website in the world run purely by accident. By a series of seismic cosmic co-incidences, the activity of small thicket just off the M25 near Romford, England, is the allegoric gravy that makes Toon Zone possible.

The movement within this natural habitat is unusually out of sync with the natural biosphere of its surroundings. A small portion of this animal infested outcrop has managed to get itself improbably wedged within a digital carrier. The natural activity from this geographical anomaly is transmuted by unknown forces into binary code and by further unyielding twists of expectations happens to form a small animation community that sits on the internet like a dirt caked diner just off your least favourite interstate highway.

This may be an unusual occurrence on the internet, but such ties between geriatric mother earth and the virile yet vapid entertainment industry have been spotted before. The final season of Happy Days was actually the result of an analogue translation of two sparring grizzly bears in Montana. The entire run of Class of 3000 was the result of a constipated dung beetle. These things happen around us all the time. It’s just a matter of spotting them.

So when you consider the news team itself is born from the ground thumping wide-eyed bunnies that co-habit a small warren choked on local petrol fumes, you may find Toon Zone makes as much sense as its origins defy.

Happy Birthday Toon Zone.

(This message was brought to you by a grey squirrel gnawing on a particularly resilient nut.)


James Harvey

I’m Not Good At These

I’m never good at these. That’s why even though The World’s Finest also has a 10th anniversary on the way in September, you won’t be seeing one of these. Maybe. But, like I said, I’m never good at writing up one of these. And, right now, I wish I was a little better. Because the people here at Toon Zone deserve it. They started something good ten years ago, and it’s still going on today.

I can still remember coming to this site early on. It was around the time when “The New Batman/Superman Adventures” premiered and I was going back and forth between this board and The Animated Bat, a great Batman-themed website that went under a couple years after. I can remember it was thanks to this board and this site that I tried series I would’ve never usually given a shot to. I knew what was coming, I read all the posted comments and that, in turn, really helped me dive into Kids’WB!. And Kids’WB! was such an excellent programming block for the first few years. It slowly drifted toward what it has become now, but then? Yowza! I parked myself down on the couch for many hours, switching between Kids’WB! and Cartoon Network, and I had this site to thank. I was able to catch all the series I wanted because this site had the news I wanted.

Not only that, but the people behind Toon Zone genuinely cared about what they did, and still do. I personally preferred how they can be stern when they had to be, like when dealing with drama queens or trouble-makers, and then turn around and talk about a gag from Animaniacs or Looney Tunes, and just go on into an absolutely fascinating conversation. I specifically remember my conversations with Craig Crumpton, “Gookie,” who could simply write circles around me on any subject.

But Toon Zone has given me so much over the past few years. Thank to them, The World’s Finest has the best possible hosting imaginable. The site is doing gangbusters and I have Toon Zone to thank. Marvel Animation Age, a small site that’s still struggling to both find its own look and take off as The World’s Finest has. Toon Zone has really opened up some opportunities for me and, for that, I can never repay them. My schedule is now jam-packed every day of the week and, well, I love it. Sure, the comes with the standard ups and downs, but all of this is opportunity, and all of it expands upon my enjoyment of both writing, no matter how poor at it I may be, and journalism. And this is all thanks to Toon Zone.

And, as we sit here on the cusp of their 10th anniversary, an anniversary well deserved, I still wish I could do more. That is what this site does for me, and how great the people behind it are. I wish I could say my dealings with the site have been perfect, because I’ve clashed on occasion like everybody else, but that has only made my resolve and passion for this site stronger. Toon Zone will always be the place that gave The World’s Finest a home. It will always be the place where they gave my site arguably the biggest DC Animation forum on the net. It will always be the place that, through thick and thin, has been there for me one way or another.

Eileen, Brian, Craig, Romey, and countless others have been here for countless milestones in my live. High School graduation. University Graduation. Getting that first real job. Marriage. And there’s still a pile more milestones to go and I know that, in one form or another, Toon Zone will be present for those. That, whenever something big happens, the gang at Toon Zone will know. Not only are these people my colleagues, but they’re friends, and they’re damn good ones. There’s nothing I can really say because, besides the fact that my writing abilities may not be up to snuff, words can’t express how much these people have made a difference in my life. That where I am right now is something I would have never imagined ten years ago when I started posting here at Toon Zone.

I know this all sounds rather goody-goody and almost over-the-top, but it’s true. Like I said, I’ve had my run-ins with a few people here from time to time, but, at the end of the day, we’re all big enough to put whatever our differences may be behind us and work toward a common goal. And I think looking at what Toon Zone has become, the common goal is pretty obvious. But, on top of that, we get to share our passions with each other. And, frankly, a couple of the Toon Zoners here are really damn good at what they do. Looking at the assorted sites and forums, it’s quite obvious to tell just how ridiculously good these people are.

If I had more time in the day, I think I could seriously go on and on here. I could give specific examples and instances, but, well, perhaps being mushy and vague is the best way to go about it. I don’t claim this is anything remotely good or even original, but, well, this site is a big part of who I am, and I hope it continues to be. Whatever your opinion may be on the people here, you have to acknowledge that they know how to deliver. And that these are some great people. In fact, as I write this, I wish I had more time to give to these people, because they deserve it, no question. No matter what our personal beliefs and differences may be, we’re all able to push that aside and come together, as a whole, to deliver what I believe is quite possibly one of the strongest online destinations with, hands down, the best online community to be found. Things may get ugly from time to time, but, I like to belief that, at the end of the day, the right thing is being done. And, to me, that has to do with the people here, the great people, and the work they do.

Now, I think I’ve shown adequate proof on my lack of writing abilities, more than enough proof perhaps, so I’ll wrap this up and give my thanks to the people who started this site, say my thanks to the people who maintain it, say my thanks to the people who have given me so many great opportunities, and say my thanks to the people who have become my friends. Finally, I’d like to wish a Happy 10th Anniversary to Toon Zone. It’s been a remarkable decade (wow, a decade!) and I’ve been truly blessed to spend a great majority of it here, with some of the best people to step foot on this planet. I don’t care what anyone else says, because these people truly are the best of the best. My endless thanks go out to them. I am truly proud of the work being done here, and, more importantly, the people here who make it possible. Truly the best crowd anyone could ask for.

James Harvey-Richardson

I also just want to say a special thanks to Zach Demeter, known as “Bird Boy” on the Toon Zone forums. He’s done more than he’ll ever know, and more than I’ll ever be able to thank him for.


Jave


This place was built on that strange chemical reaction that we call love. You know that feeling that has you left at a loss for words the first time you see something that will have an affect on you for the rest of your life, even if you don’t realize it at first? That gobstruck, knackered feeling that leaves you weak in the knees, unprepared for the moment, and the need to have that emotion every waking minute of your life or at least a longing to be a part of it?

That’s love.

What the founders of Toon Zone did a decade ago was express their love of animation to others that feel that way. Toon Zone is a celebration of animation, and that’s what drove me to the site. It wasn’t just Disney, Warner Bros. (well, it kind of was, but hey, things change), classic cartoons, modern cartoons, or, as the craze of the time dictated, just anime. It was love of the medium, those that dare to create it, those that aim to be a part of it, and those that just enjoy it.

Toon Zone came around at the right period in animation history, the end of broadcast television’s dominance of the medium, the beginning of the cable takeover, the evolution of computer animation in theaters, the rise of independent productions, the rebirth of the animation history movement, the creation of the DVD market, the birth of the modern anime industry, and, of course, the first real impact of the internet on pop culture and society. That’s not to say there wasn’t much before Toon Zone . . . but it wasn’t as interesting.

Yeah, Toon Zone gets this reputation of being a “gated community,” but in the same breath, there’s a bit of love and respect from the readers that keeps the place running. Even critics of the site dig it, or at least one aspect of it. For people not totally entrenched in the industry like a lot of people are, Toon Zone has gotten pretty far in this world.

And while our tastes and attitudes may have changed over the last decade, the fact that Toon Zone still remains when other sites have fallen by the wayside is a testament to the love of its creators, staff, and hosted sites as well as those that read and discuss the news, participate in lively dialogue (or at least watch those that dare to participate themselves), or just connect with like-minded animation fans.

I’ve been a part of Toon Zone officially since 2000, but I’ve been a fan ever since the WB Animation Club days. This was one of the first animation forums I’ve ever been a part of, and even after all this time, I’m still having fun here. They’ve been ever-so-gracious hosts, and I’ll also say they’re pretty good company to be associated with, and I’m still thankful.

Here’s to your 10th, Toon Zone. May you have greater success in the next decade. And continue to enjoy the love from your fans.



The Falcon

having many unique names
during my stay here…
corn dog


Weatherman

Ten years? Isn’t that a band?

No? Oh right, that’s how old we are this year. 10 years of being one of the largest and most grounded animation focused web sites around. That’s quite a thing. Having been a part of 7 of those years since migrating over from the denoument of another animation website I’ve certainly seen some huge changes around these parts. I’ve been fortunate enough to join the staff here at Toon Zone and it has been my pleasure to be involved with such a fine group of people, both on staff and in the forums.

In what can only be described as a labor of love Eileen, Brian and Colin have created one of the most respected sites for animation news and commentary. I feel quite honored to be part of this and I look forward to celebrating many more aniversary’s with them in the years to come.

Since it’s out 10th birthday and all, where’s the cake?


Zedd

Happy 10th Anniversary Toon Zone!

I first want to thank Toon Zone’s owners: Brian Cruz, Eileen Cruz, and Colin Feder. You all created one amazing site, and your dedication throughout the years is a real inspiration. From the quality News and Reviews articles, to the well-conducted interviews and the insightful Opinion pieces, Toon Zone News sets the standard for quality animation news. The Toon Zone Forum is home to some of the best animation discussions on the net. Toon Zone’s hosted sites cover several specialized aspects of animation, with several including forums hosted on the Toon Zone Forum. With both Toon Zone owned forums and hosted site forums, the Toon Zone forums cover an array of animation topics. There are far too many pieces that come together to form Toon Zone to list in one paragraph, but they all help make Toon Zone what it is today.

Over the past five years, I’ve had the privilege of working with lots of great people here at Toon Zone. I first joined Toon Zone as a Reporter for the News division under then Editor-in-Chief Jay Allman (Maxie Zeus), and I wish to thank him for all of his help and support over the years. I also had the pleasure of working for Ben Applegate, as well as alongside Ed Liu, William C. Maune, and Alex Weitzman. I wish to thank the entire News staff at Toon Zone. You guys do some great work.

I especially want to thank Eileen for getting me involved in the technical aspects of Toon Zone.

From Editors to Reporters, from Administrators to Moderators, from Site Owners to CD, and everything in between — Toon Zone sure has a lot of great and dedicated staff members. I greatly enjoy working with members of all departments. Toon Zone certainly is a wonderful place to be.

Happy Birthday Toon Zone! The last ten years have been great. Here’s to the next ten.

Zedd
Toon Zone Site Administrator


And there you have it. See you in 2018!


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