RIP C. Martin Croker of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast

Illustration for article titled RIP C. Martin Croker of iSpace Ghost: Coast to Coast/i

Clay Martin Croker, best known as the voice of Space Ghost’s belligerent and entirely unwilling cohosts Zorak and Moltar on Cartoon Network’s seminal Space Ghost: Ghost to Coast, passed away yesterday at the age of 54.

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Croker wasn’t exactly a household name, and SGC2C is probably best-known as a cult TV series. About a year ago, my friend and journalist/critic Sean T. Collins wrote a piece for Grantland titled “The Phantom Fame: ‘Space Ghost Coast to Coast,’ Secretly TV’s Most Influential Show.” In it, he wrote:

...from its bargain-basement launch in 1994 to its place at the center of the wildly popular Adult Swim lineup in the 2000s, [SHC2C] helped introduce cringe comedy to the American viewing public, deconstructed the idea of the talk show beyond repair for a generation of comedians, and changed the look and feel of the entire animation art form.

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That’s hardly all. As Collins points out, Space Ghost: Coast to Coast is responsible for the existence of Adult Swim itself, which in turn brought Family Guy and Futurama back from the dead. It launched the career of Adam Reed and producer Matt Thompson, who are currently making Archer. Adult Swim is responsible for the majority of modern TV animation, and Space Ghost is responsible for Adult Swim.

And C. Martin Croker was responsible for a significant part of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. He was the lead animator for the show (as well as Adult Swim’s later megahit Aqua Teen Hunger Force). But more importantly, he was the one with the idea to give Space Ghost two co-hosts—former alien foes Zorak, the humanoid praying mantis alien-turned-band leader, and Moltar, the lava man and show producer—and voiced both characters. If you’ve seen the show, you know that the interplay between the three was integral to the show and its success, as Zorak and Moltar mocked Space Ghost, disrupted the show, and still managed to be infinitely more capable than the host. Honestly, seeing it for yourself is better than any description:

Croker died of undisclosed causes, in his home, at the age of 54. At the moment, Adult Swim is currently offering every single Space Ghost: Coast to Coast episode (that don’t have some sort of rights issue) to watch for free on its website in Croker’s honor.

Rob Bricken was the Editor of io9 from 2016-18, the creator of the poorly named but fan-favorite news site Topless Robot, and now writes nerd stuff for many places, because it's all he's good at.

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DISCUSSION

I suppose I can share this story here too:

So who wants to hear a story? Back in the Year of Depends Adult Undergarments (or maybe it was the Year of Glad. 2012 or 2013), a couple of friends and I went to the up-and-coming LA convention Comikaze. We were still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about it all, before we ended up on the other side of this particular convention, peddling our wares to mostly apathetic Angelenos.

At any rate, a pair of my friends, A and C, were huge fans of basically everything Croker had done for Adult Swim. In fact, their relationship of five or so years started because they met in an AOL chatroom for the Brak Show, I believe. Which is to say, they were pretty goddamn jazzed about the fact that C.M. Croker himself had a table, doing drawings and whatnot. Personally, I didn’t just didn’t have cable and never got the chance to watch early Adult Swim. That being said, my nonplussed attitude about it all is what led to me flat out asking Croker if he wanted to hang out after the con, maybe grab a bite. Sure enough, he agreed.

So we hung around until closing, then looped back around. After a quick stop at his hotel, we made our way over to a Yard House, I believe. Or maybe it was Cole’s. I’m starting to realize that we might have done this two years in a row. Anyway, we went out for dinner and heard fun stories about George Lowe and MC Chris and just generally geeked out. I mean, he was a great guy all around and even came back to the parking garage to smoke a little weed with A and C.

Feels bad, man. Here’s a photo we took with him, which had the added humor of me being cast into the darkness. http://imgur.com/a/CiF2l