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Cat’s Cradle: ‘Primal’ is Genndy Tartakovsky at his prime

Genndy Tartakovsky is the American animator behind shows such as "Dexter's Laboratory" and "Samurai Jack" while his direction in the "Hotel Transylvania" film series has left a lasting impact on animation. However, his most recent work, "Primal" is the artist's best work yet.

The cartoon follows a caveman and a dinosaur across primordial earth pulled from the work of Frank Frazetta, "Conan the Barbarian" and the minds of "Heavy Metal." It is a silent world, as characters speak through grunts and yells; it is a story told through action.

Tartakovsky is no stranger to action, imbuing it in cartoons such as "Powerpuff Girls," "Dexter's Laboratory" and "Samurai Jack," where his creative direction took foot. He drew from action films like the aforementioned "Conan the Barbarian," "Popeye" and Japanese media.

These inspirations come out in Tartakovsky's work as simplicity and action blend. Nowhere is this more apparent than "The Clone Wars" Here, scale and power are translated onto the small screen in a way that is unique to Star Wars.

He further explored this creativity in an Entertainment Weekly interview. When asked about the initial shock at the egg birthing scene from "Primal," Tartakovsky said, "When can you find something that really hasn't been done, especially in animation? That's when storytelling gets exciting." 

The scene is truly a standout in a show defined by its violence and its absence of dialogue. It's a rare moment of calm in the storm that is punctuated by something unexpected and unique. Though the probability of seeing a live dinosaur birth is very slim at the least, Tartakovsky uses his art to explore this idea.

Oftentimes, his creative process leads to pieces that are methodic in their pacing, though Tartakovsky prides himself in creating a slowed down animation style. Compared to the quick breath animation of modern cartoons, Tartakovsky is a deep inhale. Moments are drawn out to linger and emotion is conveyed entirely through action. It shows the possibilities of animation and the places Tartakovsky can take it. 

Genndy's narrative direction reflects a deeper aspiration to be a recognized artist. He describes his goal as reaching a level of recognition like Hayao Miyazaki, whose work at Studio Ghibli has made him a household name. For Tartakovsky, animation projects are a way to explore and to create unique narratives. 

In a media landscape where animation is often forgotten or pushed to the fringes, it is difficult for a creative voice to reach an audience, let alone stick. With this in mind, Tartakovsky has maintained his popularity as a creator, working on several animation projects, including an upcoming film and show

From the earliest moments of his career to studio lead animated projects, Tartakovsky has become an animator for a generation, in a similar way that Walt Disney and Ralph Bakshi were to their own respective generations. 

Cartoons cannot be overlooked, as they are an integral part of modern animation. Looking through Tartakovsky's work shows the progression of an artist as he innovates and creates new narratives in animation. His unique footprint in the industry will be felt for a long time. 

Benjamin Ervin is a senior studying English literature and writing at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Benjamin know by emailing him

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