Friday, August 22, 2008

Arthur: Worst Reboot Of A Children's Character Ever!

When I was writing the previous Dora the Explorer post, I remembered what I consider to be the worst translation of a children's character from book to screen ever:

Arthur The Aardvark.

Okay, here is the original "Arthur" book:

It's a book about how even though Arthur has a big nose, it's totally okay because everyone's beautiful and it's what is inside that counts.

Now here is Arthur after Hollywood got a hold of him:


Can you imagine being the creator of some character like Arthur and being told by TV producers that they totally love everything about this character -- except for the key concept?

But the ears...the ears are still there. Thank God.


  1. Horrible reboot. Doesn't look a thing like Dudley Moore.

  2. Actually, the change in Arthur happened way before the TV show.

    If you look at the covers of the books, Brown slowly recedes the nose on his own.

    As the father of 3 girls, I weep about the impending Dora change. Still, the show did 'jump the shark' a season or 2 ago when it added her 2 super-powered twin siblings. Further character demolition was inevitable.

  3. Did they cut off his nose or did brown. I have some books drawn by Brown where Arthur looks more like the TV show than the original book. Another odd thing is that in the books, there are... humans! Weird.

  4. I met Marc Brown when in 1985 when I was a wee tot, and he drew a sketch in my copy of the new "Arthur's Eyes" and even then he was starting to draw Arthur with a round face. I assume because it's easier/cuter.

    It was a slow drawing in of the nose over the course of the first few books. Something similar happened to Cerebus, actually. It's endemic of all longform aardvark stories, it seems.

  5. I think the design change happened before they started the TV show. Arthur already looked like that when I was reading them.

  6. See Marc consulted Dave Sim...

  7. @aboynamedart:

    I disagree.

  8. See, I think somebody must have gotten to Marc Brown early in his career and said:

    "This aardvark's got legs, kid...but drop the proboscis!"

  9. I vote they revamp Ugly Betty, call her "Pretty Betty," and give her contact lenses.

  10. He was supposed to be an aardvark?

  11. The Disney Winnie The Pooh is bad... and got worse. The original takes the complexities of adult life and fractures them through a child's perspective. The current version is all about sharing and teamwork.

    Oh, and what they did to The Magic Roundabout as a CGI movie is equally criminal.

    The Wombles. Paddington Bear. They were good.

  12. Dora has super-powered twin siblings? I gotta start paying attention.

  13. Also see UK to US translations:

    Death Us Do Part Took removed much of the nihilism and racism to become All In The Family. Ricky Gervais' characater was much more unpleasant in The Office than Steve Carell. And in UK Big Brother, the public still vote out contestants, making it much more a Roman Arena than a likeability comtest...

  14. Casting America Ferrera as Betty kinda undercut the concept from day one.

  15. Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I've got no problem with destroying the "key concepts" for the movie.

    If I am writing a book, then my creative vision is being expressed through the book. If someone wants to make a movie out of it, they are free to make their own creative vision.

    If its a crappy creative vision, it still might convince some people who hear that "the movie was nowhere near as good as the book" to check out the book. Who cares if its "Pretty Betty" or "Arthur the Pert-Nosed Aadvark."

    The only way I would care about the movie is if I were only writing the book in hopes of spring boarding into a movie deal.

  16. 1) It's his creation, he can do whatever he wants with it.

    2) How many kids have READ the books because of the TV show?

    3) Go look at the first year of the Garfield comicstrip. Or any popular strip which has been in the papers for more than five years. EVERY artist (worth his/her salt) improves as the strip progresses. Even Scott Adams and Bill Watterson improved.

    Or, if looking at animation, compare the pre-Simpsons Simpsons to the current designs.

    4) Animation requires simplification, ESPECIALLY if done on sheets of plastic. Look at Richie Rich.

    5) Go read "Who Censored Roger Rabbit". When finished, we'll meet for coffee and donuts and discuss if the book or the movie is better.

    6) Go read "Three Fingers" by Rich Koslowski. This sorta thing's been going on since the 20's. Look at Marilyn Monroe...

  17. But if that's an aardvark, how does he eat? Aardvarks are supposed to have snouts.

    Now, I can see the argument that as humanoid aardvarks evolved over time, their snouts shrank because they learned how to use a knife & fork and bought their ants at the supermarket.

  18. Anonymous6:11 PM

    Marc Brown definitely did this before the show, but yeah, he might as well be a bear like the Brain- Brain is a bear, right?

    Worse developments in Marc Brown's character design: The father of Buster, Arthur's rabbit best friend, has TWO SETS OF EARS. He has rabbit ears on top of his head, and human ears on the side. At least that's how he looks in the Postcards From Buster series of books. I kid you not.

  19. "It's his creation, he can do whatever he wants with it."

    And anyone can say anything they like about what he does with it. Saying you don't like something in no way infringes on any of his rights.

  20. He's an aardvark, not an anteater. I admit in his very first book he looks more like an anteater than an aardvark, but aardvarks have snouts (like pigs do) but they don't eat with them.

    Also, he's bipedal and wears contemporary human clothing and celebrates Thanksgiving and wears corrective eyeglasses and plays baseball and etc. My assumption is that he's not shoving his head into the dirt trying to forage for ants when it's time to eat?

    Or it could've been a Hollywood conspiracy, to get him a show on PBS!

  21. My niece used to adore Dora. Now she's all about Hannah Montana. That's not progress.

  22. Oops... I meant that comment for the Dora entry! Blast my early onset Alzheimer's.

  23. The TV show is so much better than Brown's books. It's like The Simpsons, but a lot better, actually, because it never got as stale.

  24. True Story - I grew up thinking Arthur was either some sort of Donkey boy or Monkey creature. When people told me he was an aardvark, I snorted and didn't believe them. They actually had to show me online that yes, he's supposed to be an aardvark.

  25. Anonymous9:50 PM

    I remember loving that book so much that I stole it from the library and was nervous the librarians would break into my house and arrest me.

  26. The reason they shortened the nose was because the mouth could only be seen when he was turned sideways. here is what pbs has to say about it;

    In Marc Brown's first book about Arthur, "Arthur's Nose," he drew Arthur with a long nose (like aardvarks have). But, with such a long nose, we can only see Arthur's mouth when Arthur is facing sideways! Mr. Brown wanted to draw Arthur so you could see him well no matter which way he was facing. That's why Arthur looks the way he does today. (pbs)