Cartoon Network’s Original Checkerboard Branding Info Now Back Online On The Wayback Machine
Some good news, Hatmaker’s website, the company that designed Cartoon Network’s original logo and Checkerboard era presentation is now finally accessible again on the Wayback Machine. The website was inaccessible for about two years ever since the domain registrar that now owns the domain – Uniregistry put a Internet Archive block on hatmaker.com.
I first came across Hatmaker’s website back in 2015 while doing some research on who did Cartoon Network’s first graphics package and the black and white checkerboard logo. While searching on the internet, I found out that a design company called Hatmaker Studios developed the channel’s launch graphics which was later used on Cartoon Network in Latin America, Europe and Asia. I tried to search for anything about the company, but couldn’t find anything, so thought I’ll try my luck with archive.org’s Wayback Machine, the first domain I typed in was “hatmaker.com”, and by chance, it was exactly what I was looking for!. I would of included this information for the Cartoon Network 25th Anniversary blog post, but as mentioned, the Hatmaker website was inaccessible. I’ve been waiting a long time to write a blog post on this.
Not only Hatmaker developed the Checkerboard graphics package, but they also designed Cartoon Network’s checkerboard infamous logo, the first one to be used in public, unlike the original round logo which was used in the 1991 sales presentation. Hatmaker designed the logo in a way to make sure it stands out at all times against a backdrop of various colours, after discovering that black and white were the least used colours in cartoons, it made perfect sense to use black and white in the logo, the checkerboard idea came from finding a way to avoid drop shadows so the logo text stands out, it also worked because the words “Cartoon” and “Network” have exactly the same amount of letters – 7 letters. Finding the right typefaces for the logo and the channel’s presentation was done through a trial and error process, in the end, four typefaces were chosen for Cartoon Network’s identity: Gothic 821 Condensed, Spumoni, Eagle Bold (the typeface used on the Cartoon Network’s original checkerboard logo) and Birch.
The presentation had to have cartoon characteristics to fit into the nature of the channel, the presentation adopted a cartoony illustrative style with flexible, bouncy, lively and constant movement, with typical cartoon sound effects. The presentation had a wide range of hues and textures and because the logo was black and white, it contrasted well and always stood out.
In addition to the channel’s presentation, Hatmaker also designed Cartoon Network’s stationary such as letterheads and business cards and also produced an image guide for the launch of Cartoon Network, which explains the channel’s identity. Copies of the guide were given to advertisers, MSO’s (Multiple System Operators aka Cable Companies) and members of the press.
Hatmaker also produced an animation for the transition between Cartoon Network and TNT Classic Movies in Europe, every night at 8pm CET (7pm UK), Cartoon Network closes for the night and hands over to its sister channel TNT Classic Movies. The animation features one of Cartoon Network’s earliest mascot characters (used exclusively in presentation) – Hi-Ball the Jester. Hi-Ball wears an hourglass on his wrist to remind him how much time CN has left for the day, when the time’s up, Hi-Ball pulls down the switch from CN mode to TNT mode starting the transition sequence and electrocutes him in the process. Then a stick of a dynamite explodes (a pun of Turner Network Television’s acronym and the well known explosive also called TNT), then the TNT Classic Movies logo appears. The transition animation features somewhat weird characters, such as a mouth with lips and teeth, an eyeball with with and a propeller, a toothbrush and a match. In my opinion, the transition was one of the best examples of television presentation I’ve seen (although its somewhat nightmare fuel-ish), no other timesharing channel ever replicated as something as seamless and that connects two channels that have little in common with each other so well, the only common factor is that Turner owns both channels. From what I remember, the transition stopped airing on Cartoon Network Europe after the channel became a 24-hour service, although on most providers the channel still timeshared with TNT. Cartoon Network Poland adapted and reused the same animation many years later but this time for TNT Classic Movies’ spiritual successor – TCM.
In 2003, Hatmaker Studios closed with its portfolio merged with its sister company – Corey McPherson Nash. Hatmaker was also known for creating Hanna-Barbera’s logo during the Turner-owned era and during when the animation studio started to produce shows for Cartoon Network. http://www.hatmaker.com:80/design/logos/logo_html/hanbarlogo.html
Hatmaker was also known for creating the famous orange Nickelodeon logo (along with Fred/Alan Inc.), FX’s original logo and graphics package, Comedy Central’s original logo and also UK Gold’s (now branded GOLD) first ever logo. It’s a shame that Hatmaker closed, it created some of the most iconic and recognisable branding in television, also the website looked very good compared to mid-to-late 1990’s standards which was when the World Wide Web was just in its infancy.
Channel ID (with more info about the logo): http://web.archive.org/web/19981206165950/http://www.hatmaker.com:80/design/netids/cnid.html
Cartoon Network Image Launch Guide: http://web.archive.org/web/19981202215357/http://www.hatmaker.com:80/design/print/print_html/cartprint.html