Header and Cover Photo: The Mighty Grand Piton / Courtesy of The Line Animation

1. Bebe’s Kids

Streaming on Netflix

Director: Bruce W. Smith

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Can you believe there’s only been like three theatrical animated features where the main protagonist is African American and stays human the entire movie? Bebe’s Kids, Home, and Into the Spiderverse! Take a dive back into the early '90s. The feature is directed by Bruce W Smith who created the Proud Family and animated several iconic characters at Disney in the '90s. This hip-hop infused comedy shows how to showcase black culture in a cartoon-y way!

2. Craig of the Creek

Currently airing on Cartoon Network

Streaming on the Cartoon Network App

Head Writer: Jeff Trammell

This series is incredible in so many ways. Meet Craig, who likes to hang out in the creek with friends! This series portrays an African American family in a unique modern way. Seeing black culture shown in an adjacent style to classics like Hey Arnold and Steven Universe is refreshing. The cast is great and most of the writing team is African American/POC. Shouts out to Cartoon Network for putting this on for the culture.

3. Hair Love

Streaming on YouTube

Creator: Matthew A. Cherry

Studio: Sony Pictures Animation

THE ACADEMY AWARD WINNING SHORT FILM! Helmed by creator Matthew A. Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver, the short about a dad who attempts to do his daughters hair took the animation world by storm last year. Cherry is the 2nd African American director to win best animated short (after the late Kobe Bryant won) and Karen Rupert Toliver is the first women to win an Oscar for animation ever. What started as a Kickstarter blossomed into an incredible project/movement about normalizing black hair and black stories. They really put on for the culture. Excited to see what Matthew does next with Hair Love!

4. Sugar and Toys

Currently airing on FuseTV

Creators: Carl Jones and Brian Ash

Starring rapper Super Duper Kyle and created by Carl Jones and Brian Ash, this sketch show parodies rap culture in a hilarious and twisted way. The show had an amazing season 1 that parodied Kanye West, Cardi B, Jay Z, Beyoncé and Drake. With season 2 just green lit, we’re looking forward to getting more hilarious celebrity satire. The aesthetic is so fun to look at.

5. The Mighty Grand Piton

Streaming on YouTube

Creator: Wesley Louis

Studio: The Line Animation

An anime starring a black girl and her newfound giant robot friend Piton? Sign me up! This dope anime is still in development but a great proof of concept trailer debuts to show how incredible this world and concept are. It’s so refreshing to see characters who represent African culture from around the world shine in animated series. We cannot wait to see more of this gorgeous story!

6. The Boondocks

Currently on DVD, streaming on Prime/iTunes

Streaming on HBO MAX in May

Creator: Aaron Mcgruder

Studio: Sony Pictures TV

With the show set to return in 2021, take a look back at the classic first season of Aaron Mcgruder’s amazing Boondocks. Follow brothers Huey and Riley and their grandad Robert (played by the late great John Witherspoon) adapt for living in the affluent neighborhood of Woodcrest. The first season tackles several issues such as survivors guilt, cultural appropriation, and exploitation of black youth. The series manages to do so with such sharp satire and grace. It’s incredible to go back and watch how nuanced and how some of the themes of the episodes still ring so true.

7. Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeast

Streaming on Netflix

Directors: Kalvin Lee, Bridget Underwood, Chase Conley & Chris Copeland, Young Ki Yoon

Studio: Dreamworks TV

A fantastic anime for kids and adults! Follow Kipo, a girl who is sent from her underground home to the surface and must now adjust. This hip-hop infused styled anime is gorgeous to look at and has a story that is very reflective of black culture and growing up “different."

8. Childish Gambino – "Feels like Summer" Music Video

Streaming on YouTube

Directors: Donald Glover, Ivan Dixon & Greg Sharp

Character Designer: Justin Richburg

Can’t forget the incredible video for Childish Gambino’s feel like summer! Seeing rappers and musicians animated as living in the same neighborhood, all playing each other while Gambino observes is an incredible concept. It was executed to the T! The amount of details in every one of the characters is staggering. This is one of my favorite animated musics of all time.

Chaz Bottoms

Chaz Bottoms is a Los Angeles based award-winning director, animator, writer and founder of CBA Studios. His short films include: All Kids Go to Hell (premiered at Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner), The Indies: An Animated Short (which raised $50,000 via Kickstarter and airing on RevoltTV), Introvert (featured in Season 6 of ABFF Independent and currently airing on AspireTV).

Chaz has collaborated with a number of artists including Lil’ Nas X Panani, Noah Cyrus featuring Leon Bridges July, TeaMarr Whorey Heart, John Legend Dear John: Legendary Love Letters and Steve Harvey Stories. He also has animated projects for Footlocker, Nike SB, and Black Women Animate.

His latest project, Battu An Animated Musical, is slated for a late 2020 release.
Chaz Bottoms
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