February 12, 2007

Jot: Praise The Lord & Pass The YouTube

"The Lutherans had Davey & Goliath and I wondered what we Baptists could do for children's television," said Dr. Paul Stevens, President of the Southern Baptist Radio & Television Commission. He was talking about Jot, a series of mod, 4.5-minute cartoons starring a bouncy ball with a conscience and ready access to some basic Biblical teachings.

The RTVC began producing Jot in 1963, and it went on until 1974, then it was resurrected [sic] in 1980 for another four episodes. A Dallas animation studio named Keitz & Herndon produced most of the episodes, which didn't try to obscure their religious content, but which wasn't all fire-n-damnation about it, either.

The remarkable, expressive visual style, clearly inspired by UPA, is actually kind of freaking me out, it's so awesome. UPA's Mr Magoo had been around for a decade, and Fritz Freleng's The Pink Panther was becoming a cartoon series at the same time, so it's not like Jot was pioneering anything. Just that it is so beautifully and sensitively done, yet it's almost invisible now.

If a Veggie Tale ever crossed my kid's path again, I'd julienne it up and throw it in a fajita. But I think I could watch Jot with the kid all [Sabbath] day long. Now if only someone'd dig up more than two episodes.

Christian TV Kid Shows Of The 1970s
Some Jot episodes [via natepacheco and cartoonbrew]

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