Articles: Black Dynamite: A Cartoon For Adults




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Samantha Ofole-Prince

It’s brash, outlandish, funny and a far cry from Bugs Bunny and Bambi.

Adult Swim’s latest animated series “Black Dynamite” is a cartoon for late-night audiences. An alternative to the wholesome Looney Toons, and other children’s cartoons, it relies heavily on pop-cultural references.

Featuring the voices of Michael Jai White (“The Dark Knight”), comedian Kym Whitley (“The Cleveland Show”), and Byron Minns (“The Practice”), it’s a half-hour animated series set in 1970s Los Angeles that chronicles the exploits of its central character Black Dynamite (White), and his motley crew that includes his sidekick Bullhorn (Minns), Cream Corn (Tommy Davidson) and a no-nonsense Afro sporting prostitute called Honey Bee (Whitley).

A polyester pant suit wearing caricature with a black belt in martial arts, Black Dynamite is a former CIA assassin who gave up his career to protect the orphans and prostitutes in his neighborhood and the series is comedy at its best.

“It’s us being kids at heart and these characters embody that. They say all the things that people will never say and do and get away with it, says Minns, who also serves as Co-producer.  “Movies don’t represent one race of people and these people come from a slice of life. This is a dysfunctional family and they all have different backgrounds.  They’re not sparkling people. You have a lead character who was an assassin for the CIA at one point who now decides he doesn’t want to work for them anymore and goes back to the neighborhood to protect the prostitutes and orphans and in his world that is noble.”

Written by Carl Jones (“The Boondocks”) it’s a controversial animated series based on the 2009 live action feature film which was directed by Scott Sanders about an African American legend called Black Dynamite who was also played by Michael Jai White.

“We are very respectful of the characters that we created in the original live action film,” Minns continues. “What makes the animated series special is that we are able to delve into the characters in full, and take it so much further than we can take it in film.”

With plenty of salacious humor and foul language, there’s a satirical episode where Black Dynamite, who is heavily in debt to the IRS, is forced to take on the job of getting the drug induced, foul mouthed and belligerent comedian Richard Pryor to the Sunset Strip for a live performance. It’s an episode that ensures humor, and if the filmmakers are worried about any backlash from the Pryor foundation -- they are not showing it.

“I wanted to take a look at the dark side of Richard Pryor,” Jones says. “It is important to show different sides and dimensions to the characters. Conditions and circumstances make a person. There are a lot of pressures that exist in society.”

“It’s a cartoon and anything can happen in it,” adds Whitley. “It is for fun and we are not trying to heal the world in it but it is a place where you can escape. It is going to offend and it might have some things that everyone is not going to be happy with. As an artist, if you spend your time trying to please everyone, your product will fall apart and you will please no one.”

A series which is set to premiere on Cartoon Network’s late night programming block, Adult Swim, the show, like the movie, is predominantly a parody of and tribute to Blaxploitation cinema, and features a dynamic animation style similar to “The Boondocks” only with more censored dialogue.

“You really don’t have to think when you watch cartoons like this,” continues Whitley. “When I turn on Adult Swim, it’s just to laugh, have a good time, and not really get deep in the story. It’s all about imagination because cartoons can do anything.”

Black Dynamite” premieres on Adult Swim Sunday, July 15th 11:30 pm ET/ PT.

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