As reported by various sources, including rapper MC Chris and Adult Swim creative director Jason DeMarco, longtime Adult Swim animator and voice actor C. Martin Croker has died.
Croker was best known for playing both Zorak and Moltar on Cartoon Network’s talk show spoof Space Ghost Coast To Coast—the series that essentially established the template for what would become Adult Swim.
Details haven’t been released, but the tone of DeMarco and MC Chris’ posts suggest that Croker’s death was “sudden.” He was 54.
RIP C. Martin Croker pic.twitter.com/Ol6RNHhs60
— [adult swim] (@adultswim) September 18, 2016
Croker reportedly worked animating promos for TNT in the early ‘90s, and he transitioned over to Cartoon Network a few years later to work on its big rebranding. Around this time, Cartoon Network had also enlisted producer Mike Lazzo to create a cartoon show for adults, which ended up being a total reimagining of ‘60s-era Hanna-Barbera action series Space Ghost called Space Ghost Coast To Coast.
The series placed intergalactic superhero Space Ghost in a talk show setting, with the animated character conducting weird and intentionally hostile interviews with real-life celebrities who never quite seemed to be aware of what kind of show they had agreed to appear on.
Croker was the animation director on Coast To Coast, and it was reportedly his idea to add longtime Space Ghost foes Zorak and Moltar to the show, with Zorak as the bandleader and Moltar as the director and editor. Croker voiced both characters for the entirety of the series, with the two of them constantly antagonizing Space Ghost and openly expressing their intense hatred for him.
Often, the interplay between Space Ghost, Zorak, and Moltar was more involved and crucial to the show than anything the actual guest said, with celebrities left awkwardly looking from side to side while the animated characters had absurd adventures that didn’t involve them at all (and which they couldn’t see, since the animated stuff was produced later and wasn’t real).
Over the years, Croker reprised his role as Zorak on The Brak Show and Cartoon Planet, and he played the mad scientist Dr. Weird on Adult Swim super-hit Aqua Teen Hunger Force—all three of which were spin-offs of Space Ghost Coast To Coast. He also provided the voice of Moltar when the character “hosted” Cartoon Network’s Toonami block and cameoed in a few other Adult Swim productions.
These days, its virtually impossibly to (legally) get all of the episodes of Space Ghost Coast To Coast, but the show lives on thanks to YouTube clips ripped from Adult Swim broadcasts and the old DVDs.