MGM apparently decided that the best way to celebrate Pink Panther’s 40th anniversary was to hire pop illustrator Shag to redesign him so that the character no longer has the slightest suggestion of appeal or charm. If you’re familiar with Shag’s contrived beatnik-tiki-mod-lounge paintings, then his redesign (or perhaps more appropriately, un-design) should be nothing surprising – stiffly and blandly drawn, awkward angularity, no sense of weight, and little flow or rhythm between the shapes. Somehow this utter contempt for draftsmanship, passing under the banner of “style”, translates to “hip” and “cool”. What’s sad is that now corporations are exhibiting the same lack of taste as the individuals who purchase his paintings, and seeking him out to ruin classic cartoon characters. There are countless artists out there with unique styles, and the draftsmanship skills to back it up, who could have re-interpreted the Pink Panther in myriad interesting ways. Instead, Shag’s insipid renderings of the Pink Panther now adorn New York City storefronts, all sorts of print advertising, and the official Pink Panther website. For the record, I’ve never met Shag and have nothing against him personally, but it angers me to see somebody who can barely hold a pencil ruin the legacy of terrific artists like Panther designer Hawley Pratt, animators Ken Harris and Bob Matz, and directors like Gerry Chiniquy, Friz Freleng and Richard Williams.