Adult Swim Course at Kent State Catches National Attention


Return to Issue of Oct. 26, 2009

Russo's class has gained national attention.

Five years after the creation of his Cartoon Network: Adult Swim class, Professor Ron Russo says the course has grown along with the animation block of television programming and its huge following.

He says the course researches the extensive behind-the-scenes history of the various creative elements that are often not obvious to a viewer while watching the shows. Those elements include: animation techniques, music incorporated into the cartoons and the backgrounds of the creators.

“When the course first started, the Adult Swim (block of programming) was only running on Sundays,” Russo says. “Now, Adult Swim is a six-night-a-week program, which lends itself to lots more research.”

The most recent change he’s noticed is Cartoon Network’s investment in music.

“It just dawned on me recently,” Russo says. “I think they’re mimicking Disney now. They’re really putting money into music lately. For example, Dethklok’s first audio CD from two years ago charted number 21 on the Billboard charts and a new CD was just released.”

Dethklok is a cartoon metal band from the show Metalocalypse, and the animated band began its tour with live band Mastodon Oct. 2.

Along with his additional research on music and the added time slots, Russo recently authored the second edition of the first book ever written about the programming, Adult Swim and Comedy. The new edition features a foreword and a chapter written by Angus Oblong, the creator of Adult Swim’s “The Oblongs.”

“The second edition is much better; I’ve gotten some time with it,” Russo says.

The second edition is only available in a limited number of venues.

“The first edition was sold at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com,” he says. “A huge percentage of the profit margin for the book was going to Barnes and Noble and Amazon. So I decided to do complete control of distribution for the second edition. When I control it, all of the money goes to local charity after paying the printers and expenses for the book. “

In addition to creating the only adult swim class in the world and writing the only comprehensive textbook on the subject, Russo has received plenty of media attention, usually based on a “classes we wish we had” list.

“G4TV’s ‘Attack of the Show’ rated my class as the number three coolest (college) class on (the topic of) TV,” Russo says.

Only Alabama State’s “Zombie” course and Wesleyan University’s “Pornography” course ranked higher than Russo’s.

Russo’s course also on Mentalfloss.com’s12 More Classes We Wish Our Colleges Had Offered ” list comes in at number four (ahead of both the Zombies course at number eight and the pornography course at number 12.)

“G4 is my greatest achievement ever,” Russo says. “I’m going up against multimillion dollar programs from all across the country. It’s pretty cool that we can get a lot done for a little bit, and we’re still going five years strong! I want be number one someday.”

By Robert Checkal

Return to Issue of Oct. 26, 2009


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