DIC Entertainment (stylized as DiC Entertainment; often shortened to DIC and pronounced "deek") was an animation company that created and licensed many programs, including Inspector Gadget, Heathcliff, Sailor Moon, and The Real Ghostbusters.
DIC also produced a number of licensed animated series based on video games. In addition to shows such as the three original Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons (Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Sonic Underground), Double Dragon, and Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?, DIC was responsible for the three animated Mario shows, as well as other closely-related shows such as Captain N: The Game Master and The Legend of Zelda.
DIC was started in 1971 by Jean Chalopin in France, as Diffusion, Information and Commercial, a subsidiary of Radio-Television Luxembourg. Chalopin found international coproductions advantageous for animation, gaining acclaim for France-Japan partnerships like Ulysses 31 and The Mysterious Cities of Gold.
The company's American headquarters were established in 1982 in Burbank, California. Managed by former Hanna-Barbera writer Andy Heyward, DIC's US division opened with a major success in the form of Inspector Gadget. The company also successfully entered in the market for tie-in cartoons for action figure lines with shows like M.A.S.K, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, and C.O.P.S. DIC's success during this period was attributed by commentators and its competitors to its outsourcing of the animation process to Japanese studios before the practice became popular for US production companies, aggressive merchandising deals, and low wages (for instance, DIC paid storyboard artists half the salary of its unionized competitors).
In December 1986, Andy Heyward bought DIC from Jean Chalopin, making the company purely American-owned (although Chalopin would retain the original Luxembourg office and continue to produce animated series as C&D). The acquisition was expensive (an article by the LA Times stated the company was $70 million in debt as a result of the transaction), leading to cost-cutting measures for DIC's following shows. These measures included outsourcing animation to cheaper South Korean and Chinese animation studios such as Sei Young and Pacific Rim, aggressively discouraging attempts to unionize, and having most voice acting recorded in Canada due to the favorable exchange rate. This lead to DIC getting derisive nicknames such as "Do it cheap" or "Done in China" in the animation industry, although others noted DIC's loose structure made it an effective training ground for aspiring animators, with many of its former employees becoming successful in the business.
During this period, DIC heavily invested in animated adaptations of existing media franchises, including video games. When asked about this trend, executive Robby London explained that while not all employees of DIC's liked the company's focus on adapting existing properties, video games were the company's favorite medium to adapt because "[...] the videogames themselves were colourful, imaginative, hip and more than a little bizarre – in the best sense" and that the sparse lore and simple characters in games of the time allowed for more creativity than when adapting material from other media. Andy Heyward approached Nintendo with a proposal to make an animated series based on the Super Mario games, and, after some initial reticence, managed to convince them. Aside from approving DIC's decisions, Nintendo generally took a hands-off role in the production of these series; when asked, neither Robby London nor the Mario cartoons' producer-director John Grusd remembered any instances of intervention from Nintendo. London in particular praised Nintendo of America's professionalism and contrasted it with DIC's more difficult dealings with Sega for its three Sonic the Hedgehog animated series.
On July 23, 2008, DIC was acquired by and folded into Cookie Jar Entertainment. Cookie Jar, and by extension DIC's portfolio, was then acquired by WildBrain (then known as DHX Media) in 2012. After the end of his one-year contract with Cookie Jar, Andy Heyward started a new company named A Squared Entertainment (now Genius Brands) with fellow DIC executives Robby London and Michael Maliani.
Mario series produced by DIC