Last year ago, we took a long look at the live-action representations of some of our favorite heroes over the years. They weren't all flattering, but it was nice to see them moving. Now I thought we'd look at the flip side of the coin: cartoons.
Believe it or not, some superheroes have given us great cartoons over the years. While I can't possibly cover them all, I wanted to hit several that I think deserve mentioning.
Superman was the first superhero to see animation, and what a great job they did. Using a process called "rotoscoping", the cartoons were drawn over live actors in places, giving it a realism that makes each of the cartoons fun to watch even today. In all honesty, these cartoons look better than most of the "anime" style we're seeing in stuff like Teen Titans and such.
The Filmation DC Heroes (mid-1960's)
Long before they were on Cartoon Network, heroes like Hawkman, The Flash, The Atom, and the Teen Titans were on television in short cartoons. These weren't ground-breaking in animation (but much better than their Marvel counterparts, as you'll see in a minute), but the stories were fun. Kid Flash had a really weird look that combined the comic book version and something else. See what you think:
The Marvel Heroes (mid-1960's)
The animation here is incredibly weak (mainly just animated panels of comic books at times), but the chance to see the heroes in action was a huge draw.
Here's something you might not know: the first animated appearance of the X-Men was in one of these old cartoons. Sub-Mariner needed help in one of his episodes, and the X-Men answered the call. It was the classic version with the yellow-and-blue suits, but it happened.
And let's not forget Thor!
This one is particularly special to me. I watched this in reruns in the early 70's as a kid, and it was the absolute highlight of my Saturday morning. When my mom took me to someone else's house for them to babysit me, they were told that Spider-Man came on at 10 (no, I'm not Rain Man or anything...I just loved that show!). I can still dramatically remember the morning I sat in front of the television at the appointed time with my cereal and orange juice only to see "The Addams Family" come on. My world was shattered! This was a decade before something called a VCR, so you watched what came on and when it was taken off the air, it was GONE, baby! Of course, thanks to the wonders of DVDs I now have the complete series in my collection, but there for a while it was painful.
The animation was pretty good here, the villains were fairly close to the comic book versions of themselves, and they even got Spider-Man's quirkly little comments during the fights right. Sit back and enjoy the ZZZZZZEEERRRPPPPP as Spidey goes swinging by!
The Super Friends (several incarnations over the 70's - 80's)
There were so many versions of these guys over the years it's hard to concentrate on any one era. Basically, this was the first real super-team I saw on television as a kid and every time I went swimming during the Summer I was Aquaman!
Casey Kasem (the voice of Shaggy) did the voice of Robin, and I always wondered how much fun it must have been to see him doing the voice recordings for that Scooby Doo episode where he met Batman! "Zoinks, Scoob! It's Batman and Robin!" "Holy Talking Dog, Batman! It's Scooby Doo and Shaggy!" "Like, wow, man!" "Holy Zoinks!..no, wait, I'm sorry, I got that wrong. Cut!"
Plastic Man (1979-1981)
We close out today with a look at one of the more obscure heroes to actually get a series. Don't get me wrong, I loved Plastic Man! But how he was chosen for a series I'll never know. It worked though (well, until Plastic Baby came along and killed it for everyone). I just wish Woozy Winks would have made an appearance.
That brings us to the 80's, but there are still a lot of folks who need mentioning! Next week, we'll talk about more modern heroes including: Justice League, Batman the Animated Series, Superman, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (second appearance of the X-Men), The X-Men and more!
Before we go, here's a little something that proves anyone can get on the internet if you have a video camera, imagination, and a lot of time on your hands: