La Linea (TV series)
La Linea ("The Line") is an Italian animated series of about 100 episodes created by Osvaldo Cavandoli in 1969. Due to its short duration (usually 2 minutes 30 seconds), it is often used as an interstitial program.
The cartoon features a man (known as "Mr. Linea" or, in some parts of Europe, "Balou", as well as "Linus" in Sweden), drawn as a single outline around his silhouette, walking on an infinite line of which he is a part. The character encounters obstacles and often turns to the cartoonist to draw him a solution, with various degrees of success. One recurring obstacle was an abrupt end of line. The character would often almost fall off the edge into oblivion and get angry with the cartoonist and complain about it. He was voiced by Carlo Bonomi in Italian gibberish, giving the cartoon the possibility to be easily exported without dubbing. The voice resembles Pingu's, the Swiss animated penguin, which was also voiced by Bonomi.
The character's relationship with his cartoonist is very similar to that of Daffy Duck's plight in the Warner Brothers' 1953 cartoon short Duck Amuck where he too is at the mercy of the cartoonist (Chuck Jones). Their reactions to their artists' whims are also very similar in as they both try to work with what is drawn around them, but often end up hurt and losing their tempers.
The first 8 episodes of the series were, in fact, created to publicize Lagostina kitchenware products, and the accompanying narration identified Mr. Linea as "Agostino Lagostina, a sharp little man with a truly expressive nose." After the 8th episode, however, the series broke its association with Lagostina.
From 1972 on La Linea was shown on numerous TV stations in Europe as well as in cinema, mostly as interstitial between commercials. La Linea was shown in more than 40 countries over the world. The series won prizes 1972 in Annecy and 1973 in Zagreb.
In the United States, the cartoons were featured on the children's TV series The Great Space Coaster, although La Linea was given different names by the show's characters, Roy and Goriddle Gorilla, before the cartoon was played. Not all La Linea cartoons were featured on this show as a few of them featured some rather suggestive content that children would not have understood. In 2005, the video for the Jamiroquai song (Don't) Give Hate a Chance paid homage to La Linea. The video is an animated commentary on the War on Terrorism and features 3D representations of the familiar La Linea character, as well as the animator's hand and pencil. A similar concept was used in the final introduction for the British version of Whose Line is it Anyway? Cavandoli drew La Linea for the last time, just before his death, for use in advertisements of an Icelandic bank called Kaupthing.
In Canada, the La Linea cartoons aired on TVOntario.
A set of 3 DVDs with all episodes was released in Germany in 2003 (but seems to be out of print now), and the first volume was recently released in France and Serbia.