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. 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.
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 honour.