‘Space Ghost Coast to Coast’: How a Hanna-Barbera Talk Show Started an Entire Comedy Counter-Culture

Cartoon Network introduced their “Parental Block” in April, 2001, then formally launched Adult Swim in September of that same year. The hunk of mature programming was complete with animated shows reclaimed from other networks, such as Brendon Small’s Home Movies, and anime shows like Cowboy Bebop in the vein of their already successful Toonami block. The iconic bumper commercials showed senior citizens wading in waist-high water and warnings to parents that the network was about to turn 18+ once the lights went off. Space Ghost and its spin-offs formed the base of the content, but the dedicated programming block would eventually take off as anyone with an idea too weird, crass, convoluted or unseemly could find a home at the renegade network.

Today, Adult Swim is a media monolith that defines the adult animation genre, and it is the de facto hub for alternative, avant garde and iconoclastic comedy as told through shoddily-animated cartoons. But even Rick and Morty owes its success to Simpsons-envy and a 1960s superhero who has been dead since long before any of us were born.

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