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February 15, 2006

Cartoon Nostalgia

My wife and I just made the ultimate podcast, except we didn't record it. But we walked all the way back down memory lane thinking about all the old TV shows and cartoons we used to watch when we were kids.

But we had to turn to the internet when I rattled off a few of my all-time favorite characters some of whom were unknown to her. The one that I have had countless controversies over was Super President. Nobody but nobody remembers Super President, who was pretty much the most invincible superhero ever. See, most of the superheroes have some weakness. When Super President got rid of his costume, he was still the President of the United States. He could change the molecular structure of his body, and even when I was a kid, I knew this was the coolest power around. I had figured out the periodic table and realized that gave him over 200 elemental powers, plus unlimited molecular powers. So if he wanted to defeat Superman, he could just turn himself into Kryptonite. If he wanted to defeat Green Lantern, he could turn himself into wood.

The other great cartoon that the Spousal Unit didn't remember was Gigantor. Gigantor, of course, had one of the three coolest theme songs in all of children's television. The other two being the theme song for the Amazing Three and the mod jazz of Hoppity Hooper. What? You don't remember Hoppity Hooper? Next to Snagglepuss, another favorite, Hoppity Hooper was one of the coolest of the hokey characters. I preferred them straight, which is why like many of my geek bretheren who grew up in Atomic America, I am in agreement that the greatest cartoon of all was Johnny Quest.

Oh but those hokey characters. Remember when cartoons went all soft? I mean we started off with cool superheroes like Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Ironman and the Flash. Then they gradually got softer. First they added sidekicks, which wasn't so bad if they were like The Mighty Mightor's flying dinosaur. But then they sprouted families with half-powers. On the one hand it could be great like with the Herculoids because most of the time even the gloopy characters could do cool things, on the other hand it could be completely ruinous. This is where I part company with the fans of Space Ghost. I say Space Ghost was lame because of his dependence on those dumb kids and their monkey. What was the point of them anyway?

It reached complete lows by the 70s when you had doofus 'heroes' like Hong Kong Phooey and Inch High Private Eye, and by the time we were beyond cartoons our poor baby brothers sucked up reprocessed French cheese like the Smurfs. But even in the early days we got goofballs like The Impossibles, who were fun to watch, but no contest to The Amazing Three or The Fantastic Four. Then finally the whole thing died at the birth of Super Friends with the Wonder Twins. Holy crap, Batman. Super Friends? You call that the Justice League of America?

Anyway, I wasn't all hardcore. I mean I could dig the irony of Jay Ward so I did like Super Chicken, Tom Slick, George of the Jungle and Roger Ramjet. Even though there was no greater whipped character this side of Pepe LePew, I actually did like Underdog. But whatever happened to the great off-beat cartoons like Winky Dink?

You realize of course that it took the Japanese to bring back power and justice to cartoons. And what did that better than Space Cruiser Yamato? Once we decided to go limp with our heroes what could top the moral clarity of Kimba the White Lion, or the upbeat grit and determination (as well as homage to hijinks) that was Speed Racer? Also, if you ask me, I'd take Marine Boy anyday over Aquaman.

I could go on and on, but I have to push the G button in my own Mach 5 and hop to work (if you didn't realize what that graphic was all about). Meanwhile, psychoanalyze yourself over at Toonopedia. I guarantee you will waste half your day.

Posted by mbowen at February 15, 2006 08:50 AM

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You forgot Japan's G-Force (aka Battle of the Planets).

Posted by: memer [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 15, 2006 12:41 PM

Space Cruiser Yamato? OUR star blazers. Didn't get better than that until Marcross.

"We must be strong and brave, our home we got to save. If we don't in just one year. Mother earth will disapear. Through all the fire and the smoke we will never give up hope."

And at the end of each esp they have only 263 days left. The new Battle Stat galatica does that with the 57,356 surviors at the begining of each esp that changes as people die.

Posted by: Scott Wickham at February 15, 2006 02:31 PM

G-Force, Star Blazers, Voltron...same show. The one difference...Star Blazers had the thang? The "don't pull the thang out unless you plan to bang" thang. You remember, the WAVE MOTION CANNON.

Game over.

Posted by: avery [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 15, 2006 03:57 PM

Exactly. Yamato had the super ultimate weapon.

Just watching Nausicaa the other day (and vague memories of Appleseed) reminded me about how the Japanese have done something quite dramatic with ultimate weapons. Those giant warriors from Nausicaa were freaky scary. Compare that to the robots of Evangelion..

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 15, 2006 04:06 PM

Was Snagglepuss gay?

"Heavens to Mergatroid!"

Posted by: brotherbrown [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 16, 2006 03:01 PM

I've only thought so in retrospect. I always thought he was just very well mannered with the cufflinks and bowtie. But he is pink, after all. I certainly didn't know what gay was until long after I stopped watching Hanna Barbera.

"Exit, stage left!"

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 16, 2006 03:23 PM

Right, only in retrospect, but I would hate to think all that Subliminal Seduction stuff is actually true.

Posted by: brotherbrown [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 17, 2006 04:55 PM

Salon did a fairly funny sendup of the entire silly idea.

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 17, 2006 04:57 PM

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