Los Angeles, CA. A conglomerate of animation studios announced today that it will be licensing cartoon-based technologies to the non-‘Toon’ world.
“Cartoons have been breaking new ground since their inception in the 1920s,” said a US government scientist, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Cartoons have always characters to do the seemingly impossible. The first time it really captured the imagination of an audience was Walt Disney’s Fantasia. Here we saw Mickey performing what was apparently real magic, admittedly, within the confines of an alchemist’s laboratory — but that was the breakthrough.”
During WWII, Mickey Mouse was co-opted in US government propaganda to raise morale, contributing significantly to the US War Bond drive. In what looks now to have been an amazing oversight, the cartoon world began to showcase technologies far beyond anything imagined in the real world. “For example,” says Professor Pat Pending of the Toon Medical Institute, “Toon medical technology has advanced to such a level that a man like Homer Simpson is apparently invulnerable to almost any medical condition. We have seen him forced to eat radioactive waste, exist for years on junk food, fall several hundreds of feet into ravines, be torn to pieces by a wild badger — and more. Yet his constitution is such that just seconds later he is back on his feet and displaying normal function. Admittedly, ‘normal function’ for a man like Homer is not quite what we would understand in the real world. But up until this point, we believed that the only organisms capable of surviving this sort of punishment were cockroaches.”
For years, mainstream cinema was used as a proving ground for many of these hi-tech solutions. “But what you still see now are essentially special effects,” said Prof. Pending. “It’s an illusion. The characters only appear to come back to life, grow new limbs or survive major falls without injury. What makes cartoons different is that there is no use of special effects. These paint-and-celluloid-based characters are experiencing these dangers in their own world, just as we experience the sharp steel of a knife in the real world. The key has been to understand how we can achieve the crossover into the non-Toon world.
“Cartoons are essentially two-dimensional. Add another dimension in for the real world and you go from a squared to a cubed relationship. But with powerful computer processors we’re now able to work around this problem.”
Amongst the first innovations slated for widespread non-Toon use are ‘air brakes’, which allow an individual to stop in midair towards the end of a long fall, and then to step down safely onto the ground. These are an advanced version of the comic device which allows cartoon character to walk or run in mid-air after going over a cliff unawares — widely used in Road Runner by Wile E. Coyote, as well as Tom and Jerry, Goofy, and Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther cartoons. It is hoped that air brakes will be an effective anti-terror device for civilian aircraft. In the event of a hijacking, passengers will be able to return safely to Earth without the use of bulky and difficult-to-use parachute equipment. Another version of the brakes will be used to save lives on the roads. Cars fitted with the device will be able to stop instantly, with the body of the car concertinaing to absorb the momentum. Early tests have been hampered by the sensitivity of the system, with cars often screeching to a halt for ants.