American anime pioneer Carl Macek passes away

Writer and producer Carl Macek, best known for his work on the popular 1985 syndicated anime series Robotech, died April 17 of a heart attack, former business partner Jerry Beck reports. Macek was 58.

A somewhat controversial figure among anime devotees, Macek served as producer and story editor for Harmony Gold USA on Robotech, a sprawling space opera that was actually a redubbed and edited adaptation of three different mecha anime series: Macross, Southern Cross and Mospeada. Although Macek would later be criticized for that approach to Robotech, the series was an undeniable hit that's regarded as key to anime making inroads in North America.

The TV anime spawned a feature film (which also used repurposed footage), novelizations, toys, games and comic books -- the latter perhaps most notably from Comico.

With art historian Jerry Beck, Macek in 1988 co-founded Streamline Pictures, the distribution company that imported and dubbed such anime as My Neighbor Totoro, Akira and Fist of the Northstar. He also partnered with animator John Kricfalusi on Spumco Inc., and helped to sell Ren & Stimpy to Nickelodeon.

"Carl had his critics," Beck wrote. "But one thing is certain: the popularity of anime in the North America would not be where it is today without Macek’s groundbreaking work on Robotech and his efforts on behalf of Streamline Pictures."

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