Episode two: “Hard Times at the Huskin’ Bee,” Cartoon Network, original air date November 3, 2014.
Fall, with all its gloomy skies yet cozy days, is known as time for a rewatch for fans of the cartoon, Over the Garden Wall. Since 2014 and with each passing year the cartoon has garnered new fans of all ages. The richness in storytelling interweaving childhood hurt, fear, insecurity, and sense of adventure against the backdrop of the unknown. The story draws on folk and fairy tale conventions and forms a story where the tone seems familiar yet unrecognizable at the same time that seems to keep audiences captivated. Adventure Time storyboard artist, Patrick McHale, created the ten-part Cartoon Network miniseries which draws inspiration from Dante’s Inferno, nineteenth to early-twentieth century Halloween cards, lithography, 1930s animation linework, the illustrations of John Tenniel, a 1890 board game called Game of Frog Pond, folk art, early twentieth century American music, and, for those in the know, McLoughlin Brothers children’s books.
Distinctive Collections has a small collection of McLoughlin Brothers Inc. children’s books in our Dime Novel and Popular Literature collections. McLoughlin Brothers Inc. produced children books, board games, puzzles, and paper toys between 1858 and 1920. The artwork was considered vibrant for the time as the company pioneered color printing technologies for children’s books with chromolithographs and photo engravings. The company specialized in retelling of classic stories for children. Their success and influence went hand in hand with the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries growth of children’s literature, also known as the Golden Age of Children’s Literature. Even many of the earliest board games in America were produced by McLoughlin Brothers, though, in 1920, the company’s board games were sold to Milton Bradley & Company. Today, the American Antiquarian Society holds one of the largest collections of McLoughlin Brothers archives including over 1,700 toy books, games, paper toys, publishers’ catalogs, and original art work. But you can view Distinctive Collections’ small collection in the Digital Library and/or in person in our reading room.
The cartoon pays homage to the McLoughlin Brothers in subtle ways as many believe in the opening credits the two boys playing with the steamboat in the creek to be the McLoughlin brothers. In the episode, “Lullaby in Frogland,” the steamboat Wirt, Greg, and Beatrice sneak on board is called the “McLoughlin Bros” steamboat. Throughout the episodes it’s easy to see the influence from color palette and style to characters.
Episode six: “Lullaby in Frogland,” Cartoon Network, original air date November 6, 2014
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