The Art of Darkness

Ghosts of Cartoons Past

June 18th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Gather ’round, kids, as your Old Auntie Cobwebs reminisces about the 1970s, a dark epoch when the only time it was possible to watch Saturday morning cartoons was on Saturday morning. Look upon the Saturday programming schedule (not to mention the prime time schedule) and weep with despair at our limited choices of crappy cel animation. There were a few weird gems to be found, though, and they featured some of the funkiest monsters you’ve ever heard of.

Beginning the decade was Sabrina the Teenage Witch, based on the Archie Comics character of the same name (the series itself was a spinoff of the earlier animated Archie Show).

The first season of Sabrina included The Groovy Goolies, which then spun off into its own show. The main characters Drac, Frankie, and Wolfie resided at Horrible Hall, along with a collection of other “hip” monsters like witch Hagatha and skeleton Boneapart.

The 70s also kicked off with the first incarnation of Scooby-Doo, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. The show actually premiered in late 1969, but became an absolute juggernaut in the 70s.

What followed was a series of knockoffs, all trying to capitalize on the ‘Doo’s popularity. Some were overt, like Goober and the Ghost Chasers, whose pitch I imagine going something like, “Okay, we’ve got mystery-hunting teenagers and their cowardly dog; how do we not get sued?” “I know! Let’s make some of the ghosts be real!” “Perfect!”

…and Fangface. (“I know! One of the characters can be a teenager and the dog!” “Perfect!”)

Some tried slightly harder to cover their source material, like The Funky Phantom. (“Mystery-hunting teenagers, dog, but the ghost is not only real, he helps solve the mysteries.” “Perfect!”)

…and The Drak Pack. (“The teenagers are the monsters.” “Perfect!”)

There were a few animated versions of previous properties, like The Addams Family animated series (originally featured as a guest appearance on Scooby-Doo, voiced by the actors from the TV series, then launched as a standalone show).

…and Godzilla, in which Godzilla is the good guy. The show was notable for its introduction of Godzuki, the “cowardly cousin” of Godzilla, who filled a role similar to Scooby-Doo’s nephew Scrappy-Doo but somehow managed to be even more annoying.

Finally, an honorable mention to Thundarr the Barbarian, which took place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, had some monstrous villains (a group of werewolves with the acceptably-spooky name “The Brotherhood of Night” and the vampiric Stalker from the Stars), and even inspired a band name.

This was the cartoon landscape of my youth. Now get off my lawn.

Posted in Bittens | 4 Comments »