I’ve been a huge fan of the “reimagined” Space Ghost franchises since they first appeared on TBS back in the mid-1990s (notably as Cartoon Planet) and I’ve already talked about how Space Ghost Coast to Coast irreparably affected my psyche through middle and high school, so it should come as no surprise that I was genuinely saddened by the news that Marty Croker had suddenly passed.
I met Marty once at Anime Weekend Atlanta in 2001. The story goes something like this:
This was my first AWA, having come back for the occasion from my exile in Athens. I remember cosplaying as “Melvin” (Umino) from the Sailor Moon anime because it was easy, recognizable, and didn’t involve sourcing a proper flight suit. Walking around the exhibit hall, I ran across George Lowe (voice of Space Ghost) at a table chatting with some people and stepped up to see what was going on. Lowe was upset that he was not allowed to sell his autograph (per convention rules), so he was signing drawings that he did on the spot and selling those as his loophole. Anyway, Lowe seemed a bit of a jerk–he didn’t look to be enjoying himself, had a latent disdain for the crowd at the convention, and certainly didn’t want to talk to anyone there for longer than it took to sell a drawing–so I left his table somewhat nonplussed, browsing around the rest of the con.
Walking around the Airport Sheraton (which is where the con was held until KATL expanded, perpetuating the need to knock the building down), I noticed this guy with a small crowd gathered around him doing the best Zorak impression that I had heard! Better than mine, even (and mine was pitch perfect)! So it turns out that this guy was Zorak (and Moltar, actually, which made things even more interesting)! We chatted for a bit about the show and how he helped create the premise and characters, and about how “CHiP’s” was one of the best shows ever, and even about how George Lowe was a brilliant comedian–albeit a persnickety one!
The animation community has lost one of its shining stars, a dreamer born of the 1990s renaissance who created an entirely new paradigm when he was given the keys to Hanna-Barbera’s catalogue and a desk at TBS’s old Williams Street headquarters. He will be missed.