Carl Macek came to public attention in 1985 as the producer and story editor of the influential animated television series Robotech, which he produced for Harmony Gold USA. Robotech is considered one of the titles most responsible for igniting anime fandom in North America and internationally. Macek intended to produce a sequel to Robotech, Robotech II: The Sentinels, but this project was cancelled due to a number of circumstances. While at Harmony Gold, Macek also produced the little-known, rarely seen Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years (which combines the stories of Space Pirate Captain Harlock and Queen Millennia).
Macek went on to co-found (with Jerry Beck) Streamline Pictures in 1988. Joining him were writers who had worked with him on Robotech, most notably, Steve Kramer, Tom Wyner, Greg Snegoff and Ardwight Chamberlain, each of whom are also experienced voice actors. Streamline Pictures is one of the first American companies to successfully deal in the regular production of imported Japanese animation. Among the titles released by Streamline are Lensman, Robot Carnival, Doomed Megalopolis, Twilight of the Cockroaches, Crying Freeman, Wicked City, and the original English dub versions of Hayao Miyazaki’s Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Fist of the North Star, Akira, Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro, and Lupin III: Mystery of Mamo. As of 1993, Streamline Pictures distributed their anime through Orion Pictures and was eventually purchased by Orion in 1996. Both companies are now defunct.
Carl Macek is a co-editor of McGill’s Survey of the Cinema and Film Noir—An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style (1979).
Carl Macek is also the author of The Art of Heavy Metal: Animation for the Eighties and Robotech Art 3: The Sentinels in which he chronicles in detail the conception and what went wrong during the production of the latter aborted animated series.
Carl Macek has also worked as a script writer for the animated series C.O.P.S. and was the executive consultant for the animated film Heavy Metal 2000. He recently wrote the animated adaptation of Brian Pulido’s Lady Death.
Carl Macek adapted the treatment by Merian C. Cooper (the producer of King Kong) for the unproduced film project War Eagles into a novel and screenplay in 2008. The book was published in the summer of 2008 by Angelgate Press.
Carl Macek became one of the most controversial figures during the second and third waves of English anime fandom. Many consider him one of the early pioneers of the medium outside of Japan. Streamline Pictures dubbed anime were among the first to be available on home video as well as broadcast on cable. Over the years he has seen his share of detractors and proponents.
There is a significantly large portion of the anime fandom that still regards Carl Macek negatively for heavily altering the original Japanese versions of many of these titles. In particular, Robotech, which consists of three originally unrelated anime rewritten to tell a continuous storyline (Macross, Southern Cross, Mospeada). In many of the titles he produced, Macek changed dialogue to remove what he called “ethnic gestures.”
Compared to earlier years, anime’s ethnicity has become more accepted and even trendy among North American fans. For these reasons, some in anime fandom called him the Antichrist. Carl Macek was also criticized heavily for the major, and some fans argue, pointless changes to the dubbing of Aura Battler Dunbine.
Macek and Streamline initially released only dubbed anime and remains the only major anime distributor ever to do so. He believed that in order for anime to reach a general audience, it had to be dubbed. A significant portion of the hardcore anime fandom watches exclusively subtitled anime, and many actively boycotted Streamline. Streamline Pictures later released a subtitled home video version of Akira and episodes of the three original series Robotech was based on. These videos became Streamline Pictures’ only subtitled home video releases as an independent company. They, did, however, subtitle a theatrical print of Castle of Cagliostro which is still screened in certain theaters to this day. The process of heavily revising translated anime scripts to appeal to a Western audience has been derisively nicknamed the “Macekre” (by analogy to massacre).
Other anime fans have noted that many Macek-related titles introduced them to anime. Market conditions for anime were different in the 1980s and early 1990s. The issue of releasing dubbed vs. subtitled anime has become increasingly irrelevant with the introduction of multi-lingual anime DVDs, which quickly supplanted VHS in the anime market. DVD technology only became available in the last years of Streamline’s operations. Today, dubbed anime is more widely accepted throughout anime fandom, with the voice actors being very well-known and the center of attention at anime conventions, as well as many anime sites online. In regard to the deletion of ethnic references, many of Carl Macek’s earlier adaptations were in science fiction or other genres where the setting was ethnically neutral, and these changes did not significantly affect the integrity of the script. More importantly, there were a number of dub-only titles released under the company which were otherwise unedited. And in a market dependent on toy-sales, rather than home video sales, these anime titles would not have had the opportunity to get a release in the U.S. without Macek’s backing, since they were clearly not as merchandise-oriented as Robotech.
Robotech combined three unrelated anime series to meet the contemporary 65+ episode guideline for daily TV syndication, a goal desired to promote Revell’s Robotech Defenders line.  (Weekly syndication requires fewer episodes, and the three original anime series had aired weekly in Japan.)