In 2003, inspired by my friend Toren Atkinson’s birthday cartoon marathons, I founded The Saturday Morning All-You-Can-Eat-Cereal Cartoon Party, a program of vintage cartoons, commercials, PSAs and Station IDs and an all-you-can-eat cereal smorgasbord intended to replicate the Saturday morning experience in a theatrical environment. The program was originated in Vancouver – my first experiment with a cereal smorgasboard was actually at my CineMuerte Film Festival, where I was always struggling to feed people after the all-night marathon – and the success of this was what prompted me to start the cartoon party, since the logistics of the cereal and milk is the biggest hurdle anyway. I brought the program to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas when I started programming there, and it was a staple there for many years even after I left, in addition to screening regularly in many cities worldwide.
Here’s the gist: “Remember Saturday mornings? Kids today may not realize the significance of the Saturday morning ritual, but once upon a time, we had to wait a whole week to get our cartoon fix, and when we got it, we tended to binge. In that gleefully gluttonous spirit, curator Kier-La Janisse presents a 3-hour trip down memory lane with a tribute to the eye-popping, brain-addling Saturday morning cartoons of yore, complete with a smorgasbord of delicious sugary cereals (and yes, we have non-dairy too!)! You’ll see both faves and obscurities spanning the 40s through the 80s, all punctuated with vintage commercials and PSAs! The lineup is always a secret, but there will be monsters, sci-fi, sleuths, superheroes and all kinds of 2D silliness, so get ready for a sugar rush and an explosion of nostalgia all wrapped up in one candy-coated package.”
As of this writing, it has now been going strong for 17 years and many programmers have since adopted the format without knowing its genesis. As for myself, I still love putting them together, though I admit that these days I get far more excited by finding a rare Station ID than the cartoons themselves!