Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday Morning Memories: The Fantastic Four (Hanna Barbera-Style)

Karen: Last time around I said my Dad only watched the Warner Brothers cartoons with me and my brother. I soon realized I was wrong. My Dad, now 81 years old, has taken to Facebook, which is nice since we are separated by quite a distance. I had posted a picture of the Avengers from the film, and my Dad made a comment about "Where's the one that always said, 'It's clobberin' time!'?" I had to explain that the Thing was with the Fantastic Four -and then I realized, Dad had watched the old Hanna-Barbera Fantastic Four cartoons occasionally with us, and at least the Thing had made an impression upon him!

I was pretty young when these originally came on (1967) but I believe they were shown repeatedly  in the late 60s. They were actually pretty good, with many stories lifted from the comics. The animation certainly wasn't as limited as the Grantray-Lawrence Marvel toons. Getting a Hanna-Barbera show was like hitting the big time for Marvel. I also thought the theme song was pretty catchy.


david_b said...

Much like the Spiderman Animated and the MSH cartoons, I too had faint memories of these cartoons, and hunted like crazy for them when my parents started getting the TV Guide with the Milwaukee Journal up here.. All these weird affiliates from Illinois or Indiana always had the coolest shows, but I could never get them in..

"Oh the PAIN, William, the PAIN..."

(in my cheeziest Dr Smith impression...)

So for years I pined to watch these, then hating the later Bronze cartoons with HERBIE. I mean, c'mon, 'What's the FF without the Torch..?'

Seriously, these were great for integrating the Marvel now-classic stories along with admittedly lame 'evil movie director' episodes thrown in. But much like the other Marvel cartoon offerings mentioned above, I always loved the spirit and style behind 'em.

They had this wonderful attitude/spirit and great music behind them, like a sort of urgency you never had with Superman or Aquaman cartoons of the late Sixties. Not quite as edgy as the MSH cartoons or perhaps Jonny Quest, nor any scene-stealing supporting characters (like Betty and JJJ on Spiderman's show), it was nevertheless a cool Marvel superhero show to watch. You never quite saw the Thing really cut loose (thanks to children's programming censors who'll soon come into power with the likes of 'SuperFriends'..), but you knew he could.

I'm glad to say I've got all the eps on DVD, someone having recorded them off Boomerang Network a decade ago. Great stuff to have, I'll always watch 'em and cherish my youth..

Rip Jagger said...

In many ways this show along with the Spider-Man cartoon of the same vintage were my entrees in the Marvel Universe.

I discovered comics by way of Saturday morning TV. Needless to say they have a strong attraction.

Over twenty years ago, I made homemade VHS copies of the FF cartoons, which I've sampled a few times. I've never seen much in the way of a professional offering on these. I'd sure snap one up.

Rip Off

redartz said...

The F.F. was a part of that powerful 1967-68 ABC Saturday morning lineup. As david_b noted, the music really helped emphasize the action. Some of the same background music was used in Herculoids, Space Ghost, etc.

Looking back on the show now, it's striking how many episodes adapted stories from the comics. I love seeing Galactus and the Surfer in animated form!

And no, as a child I was never tempted to immolate myself in order to imitate the Human Torch...

david_b said...

Just slipped in and watched 'Behold a Distant Star'. Great adaptation, excellent pacing, probably one of the more entertaining episodes..

Ah, the simple joys of DVD's... I'm tired of folks who complain their old shows haven't been digitally remastered, etc..

With watching most stuff back in the day on a small cheap B&W TV, the ability to watch a fairly-good VHS-to-DVD copy in color on a 50" flat screen is pure heaven..

Pure Heaven, y'all.

Anonymous said...


That "c" above is all that remains of a long thoughtful post. :(

Doc Savage said...

Still have never seen this.

J.A. Morris said...

I occasionally watch my bootleg dvd of this series. I don't mind the lack of remastering, but I'd love to watch this show without the "Cartoon Network" logo on the screen. From what I've seen online, it's impossible to find the show without it.

I love the voice actors here, I think I mentioned that when I read FF comics, these are the voices that I "hear". Paul Frees (a voice-acting god) was perfect for the Thing and Mike Road (best remembered as Race Bannon & Zandor)made a perfect Reed Richards.

J.A. Morris said...

Also, this is one of the few superhero cartoons I can think that featured an onscreen death. When the Thing blows up Giganto, we see the monster's corpse for a few seconds.

Fred W. Hill said...

I can't really remember whether I got into the comics because of the cartoons or vice versa. My family moved to Japan in April 1967 and didn't come back until December 1969, and some of those cartoons I likely didn't see until after we got back, but I was already hooked on Spidey & the FF and I'm pretty sure I saw those FF cartoons during the winter & spring of 1970. To my mind, tho', the comics were always the real deal and the cartoons couldn't quite match them. But I still wanted to watch them whenever I could!

Pat Henry said...

Captured the feel of the team and their stories better than any other adaptation.

Reed was best played as the wise TV dad. Sue, TV mom. Ben, the unpredictable (but good-hearted) uncle. Captures it here.

I remember the Diablo storyline, with the con he ran on Ben and Ben's appearance, being somewhat chilling to me as a kid.

How I wish they'd introduced the Hulk. Don't think they ever did.

david_b said...

Odd association, but one cool thing about the 'Distant Star' episode was seeing the early Skrulls faithfully depicted. It's probably just me but that elder Ruler looked and talked some something out of the 'Yellow Submarine' movie.

As Redartz mentioned, it was cool to see them, the Big G, Surfer, Kurrgo, and Blastaar fresh from all those now-classic stories.

It's of these great Silver Age cartoons setting the bar that I measured everything I saw in the '70s against (like 'SuperFriends', 'Wacky Races' to an extent, and others..), and was greatly disappointed.

Edo Bosnar said...

So is there going to be a separate post for the late '70s FF (with Herbie)?

Anyway, I've never watched this, but I have to say that based on the clips provided I really don't like some of the voice acting here: specifically for the Thing. I remember that the voice actor from the '70s (apparently Ted Cassidy) was closer to the way I imagined the Thing's voice when reading the comics.
By the way, J.A., according to Wikipedia at least, Mike Road did Reed's voice in the '70s cartoon, while actor Gerald Mohr did the voice acting for the Hanna Barbera features here.

david_b said...

Forgot to mention, always loved watching the FF rocketship blasting off to adventures far and wide with the exciting music, sometimes sailing off to 'distant galaxies'..

Took a LOT of liberties with logic and science, but hey, it was back in the Lee/Kirby days so 'what of it..?'

And as Pat Henry commented, it really embraced the look and feel of the early days quite effectively.

Doc Savage said...

Never seen the '70s FF cartoon either.

Anonymous said...

JA Morris, nice link there! Gotta love an exploding whale.

It's funny,I never saw this series either in the 60s or 70s but rather recently. Thanks to the miracle of cable TV, I caught a few episodes just a few years ago. What struck me most about this series was how faithful it was to the original FF. Of course, being made just a few years after the debut of the FF in comics, there wasn't much back history or retcons to be made.

When I saw an episode with Blastaar, I thought, 'Holy cow, they got Blastaar on here?!'. When you compare a comic book like the 1908s George Perez Teen Titans to the modern TV cartoon version of it, it's like completely different teams. The only similarities are the names of the characters.

- Mike 'diggin the new version of TMNT' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Anonymous said...

I'm not old enough to remember the original F.F. cartoon, although I did see it on a T.V. in a bar when I was in college. (Isn't that always the way?) I remember Blastarr being twice as tall as everyone else, and Namor being blue, for some reason.
I remember the second attempt in the 80's, where the Torch was replaced by R2-D2. My understanding was they were afraid kids might set themselves on fire trying to emulate the Torch. Well, I was a kid once, and I can tell you that we never set ourselves on fire on purpose.
My favorite animated series about superheroes was Justice League and Justice league Unlimited. I think they really broke the mold, there. Even a notorious tightwad like me laid down some hard-earned shekels to purchase that run.

fantastic four fan forever said...

I loved both Spider-Man and Fantastic Four. I understand that Stan Lee didn't like the Hanna Barbera version. That's why it was never on DVD.

However for me the show inspired me to draw and create my own cartoons. I loved them both. The theme song and the voices all were true to the comics.

The FF and Spidey made my Saturday mornings. The later 1980 version of the FF by De Patie Freling never measured up to the 1967 HB version. That and I could not stand H.E.R.B.I.E. The Robot. It looks like they were afraid kids would try to emulate the human torch.

When I look at the ridiculous restrictions on cartoons and what the networks have now, it's laughable that parents thought these were violent and would influence children.

If you have good parents, who don't use the TV as a baby sitter, kids will make the distinction between right and wrong. My mother would watch cartoons with me on Saturday Morning. She taught me good values and responsibility.

But I digress, The FF was the most memorable toon of them all because they actually followed the stories from the close as network standards would allow them.

Edo Bosnar said...

Man, that rumor about the studio execs/network/FCC/some other vague authority being worried that kids would try to set themselves on fire if they saw Human Torch do it on TV really has to die.
The real reason those of us who were still little kids in the late '70s had to put up with Herbie lies in licensing problems. Here's the best explanation I could find:
The question was also addressed (and the above information is simply block-quoted) on the Comics Should be Good! site way back in 2005 in the "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed" feature - it's about halfway down the page:

I have to say, even before I knew the real reason, I was always skeptical about the "concerns that kids would set themselves on fire" explanation for Herbie. By that logic, there would have been no super-hero cartoons at all, due to worries that kids might fall off of rooftops in attempts to fly like Superman, drown in swimming pools trying to breath underwater like Aquaman, etc.
There's also the fact that those same kids watching Herbie on TV, like me, were probably also reading the comic book which had the Human Torch - if the comic book didn't inspire them to pour gasoline all over themselves and strike a match, why would a cartoon?
Sorry for the extended rant, had to get that off my chest...

david_b said...

Edo's correct on his points, it was all licensing. The only 'children's programming censors' issue I recall from the early 70s was the use of handguns in programming, due to the likelihood of dads and mom's returning from duty in 'Nam bringing home a pistol and kids getting 'hold of them. I mentioned this on a BAB column a year or so ago.

Hence you saw a lot of big cannons and well, 'anvils being dropped' still being shown, but little if any handguns used.

Apparently network censors figured out that parents rarely brought anvils or heavy artillery pieces home from combat.

Edo Bosnar said...

Completely and utterly off-topic, but David, I think this will interest you in particular given your fondness for the Star Trek Animated Series:
Also check out the links for the other episode posters.

I was just alerted to these cool retro graphics by Ortiz in this column that was posted yesterday at the Comics Should be Good blog:

These movie-style posters for each individual Trek episode are really, really cool - like I commented over there, I wouldn't mind having a few to hang on my wall.

Karen said...

Howdy all. I feel like I have been away forever, but I've been reading comments when I can.

I really like the theme music on this show -it has that exciting, up-tempo style like Jonny Quest but it's not as jazzy.

I would agree that the Thing's voice is not as I would imagine it, but Reed's voice is perfect, and Johnny and Sue's are good as well.

I think it is Vic Perrin doing the Surfer. He did quite a bit of voice work in the 60s, including the control voice for Outer Limits,the voice of the robotic Nomad in the Star Trek episode "The Changeling," and he also appeared on a Trek episode, "Mirror,Mirror," as the leader of the peaceful aliens.

david_b said...

Edo, very cool posters.., love the Klingon D-7's on 'Practical Joker'.

You're so thoughtful. :)

Redartz said...

There have been several references to the late 70's Fantastic Four cartoon. This brings to mind another potential topic- anyone recall the brief FF radio show? 13 episodes were made starting in 1975.

Edo Bosnar said...

No problem at all, David, glad you like them. And yes, that Practical Joker image is really cool. I think that's my favorite of the Animated Series posters.

Edo Bosnar said...

Redartz, I've heard of that FF radio show, thanks to Dial B for Blog - I remember a post dedicated to it, where I also learned that none other than Bill Murray was the voice actor for the Human Torch.
Just did a search of the site and found a link to that post:

david_b said...

ReDartz, if you check the Suggestion Box, you'll see I asked about a column on Bronze Age audio adventures months ago, from Power Records to the 'Beyond the Grave' LP with Spiderman to these FF adventures..

I love 'em, have them on my iPod for years. Would love to discuss. It's hard to listen to Bill Murray without laughing..

Fred W. Hill said...

Regarding concerns about children emulating behavior seen on tv, during that summer after my family returned to the states and were living with my aunt in Texas, one morning my mom & aunt were sitting at the dining room table when my little two year old brother ambled in with a gun my Uncle Billy had left on his bed, pointed it at them, and shouted "bang bang" while pulling the trigger. Fortunately there weren't any bullets in the gun!

redartz said...

Edo- thanks for the link. It's a bit odd hearing Bill Murray speaking Torch lines.
david_b- Couldn't agree more with your suggestion! Those Power Records were a blast.
Fred- now that is a scary story; sure glad to hear nobody was hurt!

david_b said...

Ah, I see I posted my suggestion on March 2nd of 2012... Just checked.

Doug said...

So in other words, you had 15 chances to discuss it in January 2013 during the "inmates running the asylum" month, right?

Just checking...


david_b said...

"Hey, I only suggest my bright ideas.., others can kudo/second/recommend 'em." is my motto.

It's all good, sir...

Doug said...

Ah, we're good. Just a Monday for this crabby Bronze Age Baby.

Life sucks, you know? Yesterday I was informed that the Director of Education at the USHMM passed away quite suddenly on Friday -- he was my mentor during my Teacher Fellowship year back in 2002-03. Great guy, young family. Taken way too soon.

I'm also contemplating selling my floppy collection, which includes my complete run of Avengers. About an hour ago I got an email from a broker requesting to evaluate the collection and then making a cash offer. Seeing that in writing put an air of finality about the whole thing.

Other than that, no matter what comes at us we still have our little 21-page escapes, don't we? I could use one today!



david_b said...

"Nooooo.... DON'T SELL....."

Yessir, I had a crappy weekend.. I took my faithful plucky canine sidekick out running on her favorite cross-country path a few miles away Friday afternoon, a VERY tricky narrow path, and I tripped on a tree root.

Was airborne for about 2 sec, then smashed my face into a tree log.. deep laceration.

("It tasted like birch, to be honest..")

Eight stitches later between my mouth and nose, and I'm sucking my weekend coffee intake through a straw... Ouch.

I told the nurses Friday night, "The last time I had stitches on my body was 1971, Chad Everett was starring on 'Medical Center'.."

I serious doubt any of 'em were even around then..

I'll stick to the running track next time. I could go as the 'Elephant Man' this Halloween, so Win-Win in a way....

On a serious note, sorry to hear of your loss, sir...

John said...

I am no doubt in the minority, in that my favorite FF cartoon series of the four different ones is the 1967 version. I can still remember my favorite episode, "The Three Predictions of Dr. Doom", wherein Doom takes Sue Storm hostage! The episode so reminds me of the early Silver Age issues when Sue was often kidnapped.

Related Posts with Thumbnails