“Rugrats” All Growed Up, for Real

Studio 360

As a Gen Xer, I grew up amidst Baby Boomer nostalgia for the 1950s — shows like “Stand By Me”and “Happy Days.” Today’s kids are being inundated with our nostalgia for 1980s franchises like “Ghostbusters” and “Star Wars.” And now we’re seeing the beginning of Millennial nostalgia, or at least a wave of artists who fondly remember the cartoons they watched on afternoon TVand imaginewhat those characters would look like as grown-ups.

Daria grown up

Full disclosure:I have something at stake here. I worked as a storyboard artist for the animation studio Klasky Csupo from 1999 to 2002, drawing”The Rugrats,” “The WildThornberrys,” “Rocket Power,” and the woefully underrated gem “As Told By Ginger.” Seriously, why didn’t you kids watch “Ginger”?It wasa great show.

What does that mean I was a storyboard artist? In our analog era, we’dget the scriptand a cassette tape of all the voices, already recorded. We’d imagine it playing out as a TV show, and draw every camera angle, every acting pose. Then the storyboards were shipped to Korea, where the animators blew them up on a Xerox machine, drew the animation based on our storyboards,and shipped the color footage back to us on videotape three months later. Myfavorite episodethat I worked on was”Cat Got Your Tongue,” when Phil and Lil thought their father’s laryngitis was caused by Angelica’s cat literally stealing his tongue (asalmon roll at a cocktail party.)

So when I see illustrationslike this, imagining the Rugrats today:

Or this:

Or this:

It really bugs me —not the quality of the artwork, but the interpretation. We referred to them as lumpy babies for a reason. If we ever drew the Rugrats as being too cute, our executive producer would scoldus. We were supposedto emulate the style of Eastern European animators —many of whom were brought over, with their sly witand husky voices (they took a lot of smoke breaks.) When I workedon “All Growed Up,” amade-for-TV movie where the Rugrats imagined themselves in junior high, Itried to keep the awkwardness in tact. But the studiospun it off into a series, which I thought was toositcom-y. If you wanted to see what the Rugrats would be like in junior high, you should’ve been watching “As Told By Ginger.” Did I mention it was a great show?

So no. The Rugratsdid not all grow up to be fashion models or self-confident hipsters. Especially not Chuckie. They probably grew up to be average if not slightly lumpy looking people —just like their parents. My best guess? In 2015, theRugrats would look look something like this…

Or this:

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