Cartoon Characters and Merchandising

Independent animator (and former syndicated newspaper cartoonist) Chris Harding has a thought-provoking rant on his blog about the perils of allowing your cartoon characters to be licensed for merchandise. He writes:

Here’s how it works: You spend all your energy and passion, and it almost kills you, but somehow you manage to breathe a tiny bit of life into a character… your baby. And then some genius comes along and, bing-bang, sells the rights to print that character’s face on a napkin. That people wipe their food on. On your character’s face. That you worked so hard to breathe life into. Chocolate cake all over their face. It shows contempt for the very idea of a character, because they only exist where we put them. And if they are even slightly real to you, if you care even a little about them, it shows a lot of disrespect to wipe your filth on their faces. It only makes sense if your goal is just to cash out, leaving behind the husks of other peoples’ once lively creations to rot and stink in the nostrils of posterity.