The One Thing That No Cartoon Creator Can Control


A cartoon creator has control over many aspects of their creation, but there’s one thing that no creator can ever control: how their legacy will be handled after their death. Even those creators who craft careful plans ultimately have to rely on the trustees of their estate, oftentimes a spouse or child, to execute said plans.

In some cases, it works out, like Charles Schulz, whose name and legacy continues to be upheld and honored by his family with every new Peanuts project. The most visible outward expression of that on the upcoming Peanuts Movie is the huge credit that Schulz receives on every piece of advertising related to the film. Make no mistake, this isn’t just Peanuts: this is Charles Schulz’s Peanuts:




On the other end of the spectrum, you have the caretakers of Ross Bagdasarian Sr.’s inspired creation Alvin and the Chipmunks, who happen to be his son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr., and daughter-in-law Janice Karman. Here’s the title card for the new ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks series that debuts on Nickelodeon tomorrow:


And a promo piece:


Notice who’s name is absent: the creator of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Which might not be so egregious if there wasn’t another name in his place. Not only do Bagdasarian Jr. and Karman not credit Bagdasarian Sr. as the creator of the characters on the posters for the Chipmunks theatrical franchise, they actively go out of their way to obfuscate his authorship role. Janice Karman’s “created by” credit on this new series is the most flagrant attempt yet to rewrite the history of the characters.

Of course, their defense will be that Janice Karman created the Alvinnnn!!! and the Chipmunks TV series, not Alvin and the Chipmunks. And I’m sure there’ll be a standard “based on characters created by” acknowledgement somewhere in the credits. But this title card, with its bold promotion of Karman’s name and no mention of Bagdasarian’s, intentionally blurs the line between the show title and the characters, giving disproportionate authorship to Karman.

There were classier ways that Karman could have taken credit for the series, while making it clear beyond a doubt that she had nothing to do with creating the Chipmunks. For example, here’s a poster for Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin which acknowledges Tintin creator Hergé while giving a headline credit to Spielberg and Peter Jackson:


For reasons that only Ross Jr. and Janice Karman know, they’ve decided to not promote Ross’s father as the creator of Alvin, Simon and Theodore. Cartoon fans know the truth, however. So when the show premieres tomorrow, raise a toast to the true creator of Alvin and the Chipmunks, Ross Bagdasarian Sr. May we all be so lucky to come up with a beloved idea that audiences enjoy for nearly sixty years — even if our relatives take more credit for it than they deserve.



  • Grant Beaudette

    Oh, and I thought this was just gonna be a complaint of how Alvin looks weird.

    • Mandalore2280

      That’s why I came here….The hell is with that design!?!

      • Paul T. Gaston

        Its pretty obviously a inbetween the design of the classics and new movie looks to attract old and new fans. They still sound like they did in the 80s though…

  • enochrox

    Bright side to Bagdasarian Sr’s name not being on it is if the “Alvinnnn!!!” show happens to be garbage, which is likely a safe bet, there’s solace in knowing that Janice Karman will be solely at fault?

  • L_Ron_Hoover

    Well hey guys, at least it’s credited to a female creator, right? I thought this is what people wanted.

  • Danny

    Maybe it’s a legal thing? I know the screenwriters’ guild/directors’ guild etc. has some pretty specific requirements about what goes on a movie poster and promotional materials.

  • Chicken McPhee

    Why would you EVER call your show that? How can anyone ever find your show if it’s called Alvinnn!!! Nobody will ever remember how many Ns and !s there are… Marketing 101, you amateur!

  • Paul T. Gaston

    Maybe it’s also a reference to the fact that Janice Karman created the Chipettes, and a former title for this show was “The Chipmunks and Chipettes”. Can we please stop finding tiny reasons to crap on this new show from the people who brought us the 80s Classics most fans love, before it even starts! All this “their design is weird” etc, like their image doesn’t change ALL the time. At least this show will stay more true than the recent fox movies that don’t mention the creators @ all on advertisements…

  • Michel Van

    There is another Extreme mention in article
    The Adventure of Tintin by Hergé
    As Hergé died in 1983,
    his widow founded the “Hergé Foundation” aka Moulinsart SA

    This was to protect Hergé legacy against all sort of menace like
    Bootleg printing, sordid pornographic “parodies” feature Tintin
    Also in case of Animation Series by Ellipse & Nelvana
    the “Hergé Foundation” lawyers make sure that Nelvana stay true to source.
    Why they permitted Spielberg to make CGI move is a mystery

    But over time the “Hergé Foundation” became most notorious.
    Extrem prices for Tintin collector items up to 5000 euros !
    Next to that there lawyers attack everyone who try a homage to Hergé work.
    or hunt everyone who use Tintin art work
    last case were the “Hergè Genootschap” a Tintin fan club in Netherlands
    “Herge Fuoundation” sue then for 1 MILLION Euro
    because Illicit use of the Herge art work in there Fanzine
    but the Lawsuit ended in a Bombshell:

    the defender counsel show genuine Contract from 1942
    were Hergè sell the rights at Publisher Casterman !
    While Foundation Herge were unable to give any document,
    that show there have those Rights on Tintin !
    (is that reason Spielberg could make this CGI atrocity?)

    by the Way
    after French law the Right who got Publisher Casterman
    expire in 2017

    for moment former victims of “Foundation Hergé”
    going back to court to sue them for “extortion” and “fraud”