Old Hanna Barbara cartoons

Occasionally I come across old Hanna Barbara action cartoons thrown in between shows on "Boomerang". Mostly things that were before my time, like MighTor and the Herculoids and Birdman, and the occasional Space Ghost (the original cartoons, not the 1990s spinoffs...) They're pretty funny. What I find amusing is that all of these superheroes are basically all-powerful. There isn't much suspense - basically some bad dude is doing something bad, and then the hero comes in and totally crushes them. I guess I saw a Space Ghost where he was in some degree of peril until the goofy kids he hung out with rescued him. But for the most part, it's just a matter of the hero taking out the trash. It makes me think - Superman would be a lot less interesting without the threat of Kryptonite hanging over him.

[quote="Bobby_Jim, post:1, topic:243133"]
It makes me think - Superman would be a lot less interesting without the threat of Kryptonite hanging over him.

[/quote]

Yep, I remember a pen and paper role-playing game from 30 years ago in which you designed your own superhero. In addition to picking out super powers, you had to also pick a weakness or two. It certainly made things more interesting for the gamemaster, and likely for the players. (I never played it, just knew people who did.)

Never forget their great documentary series 'Top Cat', everything you wanted to know about cats but were afraid to ask.

[quote="Kaninchen, post:3, topic:243133"]
Never forget their great documentary series 'Top Cat', everything you wanted to know about cats but were afraid to ask.

[/quote]

I remember the theme song had to be changed to 'Boss Cat', as there was a brand of catfood called Top Cat' so it couldn't be allowed on the BBC.

But was the actual dialogue changed? I mean, was 'Boss' patched in where' Top' might have been the original?

[quote="paperwight66, post:4, topic:243133"]
I remember the theme song had to be changed to 'Boss Cat', as there was a brand of catfood called Top Cat' so it couldn't be allowed on the BBC.

But was the actual dialogue changed? I mean, was 'Boss' patched in where' Top' might have been the original?

[/quote]

Oh, TC was TC ok. I've only ever invested in one DVD set of childhood TV memories - the complete Top Cat. :)

[quote="Kaninchen, post:5, topic:243133"]
Oh, TC was TC ok. I've only ever invested in one DVD set of childhood TV memories - the complete Top Cat. :)

[/quote]

Ah if only I could be so wise as to stop buying DVDs of programmes I enjoyed on the TV as a kid. Thus far in the last few years I've bought box sets of all the seasons of the original Star Trek, Blakes 7, Upstairs Downstairs* (yes I enjoyed watching the repeats of this in the early to mid 80's) and of late a box set of the Batman animated series cartoons that debuted in the early 90's. Although I was more of a young adult by that point.

I remember TC to and a lot of the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, some of which were of dubious quality and some which were quite fun and some which were probably awful but nostalgia has made seem better than they really were.

  • One of my favourite programmes of all time for the quality of acting and scripting when at it's best.

[quote="Bobby_Jim, post:1, topic:243133"]
Occasionally I come across old Hanna Barbara action cartoons thrown in between shows on "Boomerang".

[/quote]

1964 Jonny Quest was/is the best.

Peace, Graubo

[quote="JharekCarnelian, post:6, topic:243133"]
Ah if only I could be so wise as to stop buying DVDs of programmes I enjoyed on the TV as a kid. Thus far in the last few years I've bought box sets of all the seasons of the original Star Trek, Blakes 7, Upstairs Downstairs* (yes I enjoyed watching the repeats of this in the early to mid 80's) and of late a box set of the Batman animated series cartoons that debuted in the early 90's. Although I was more of a young adult by that point.

I remember TC to and a lot of the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, some of which were of dubious quality and some which were quite fun and some which were probably awful but nostalgia has made seem better than they really were.

  • One of my favourite programmes of all time for the quality of acting and scripting when at it's best.

[/quote]

Blakes7 [shudder], the only people I liked were Avon and Servalan - the naughty people. :D

[quote="Kaninchen, post:8, topic:243133"]
Blakes7 [shudder], the only people I liked were Avon and Servalan - the naughty people. :D

[/quote]

Me too. Avon is the best character ever in a sci-fi show as far as I'm concerned. Although it must be said the costumes etc. have aged even less well than Dr. Who episodes from the same era.

[quote="JharekCarnelian, post:9, topic:243133"]
Me too. Avon is the best character ever in a sci-fi show as far as I'm concerned. Although it must be said the costumes etc. have aged even less well than Dr. Who episodes from the same era.

[/quote]

Oh, the sets and kit were hilarious on Blakes7.

I must have been about 10-11 ish when it started and I think the thing about Avon was that he was an interesting introduction to complex motivation and a hero being a villain at the same time.

Indeed. Avon and Blake also made perfect mirrors of each other which is more noticeable when you watch the episodes back to back. Especially the infamous last episode on Gauda Prime where Avon asks Blake in their final encounter, 'Have you betrayed me?' Avon's slow descent into growing irrationality is interesting (if a bit hammy at times) in the final series is interesting as he becomes more fanatical in some ways than Blake himself was. I don't know if you remember the show Survivors from roughly the same age on BBC TV, that's another favourite of mine.

Upstairs Downstairs was a programme I felt shouldn't have been resurrected and I wasn't overly thrilled with the new version. I thought the oriignal series had a quiet charm that's lacking in the new version.

[quote="Graubo3, post:7, topic:243133"]
1964 Jonny Quest was/is the best.

Peace, Graubo

[/quote]

That's the one cartoon from the time period in question which I've gotten on DVD. Few animated shows have had the impact that one had while spanning only a single season. And I noticed even at the time that the show often managed to interest some adults. It had high adventure and a strong emphasis on family values.

Back to the OP's original thought:

Western societies have a curious obsession with superheroes, sometimes. Unlike the swashbuckler or the cowboy or the private detective (who are humans fighting for justice), the superhero is sometimes put on the pedestal of godhood, with powers and abilities that truly vaunt them into super-human status.

Competition between comic book publishers keep turning this notion on its head from time to time (Among the most popular is Spider-man, the antithesis of the omnipotent hero, resourceful in his own right except in his own life as Peter Parker, struggling to make ends meet). But the ghost of religion is often either cloaked by a superhero's powers or acts, or (rarely) is solidified as part of a story.

The religious statistics site Adherents.com has a page that notes the real-world religious affiliations of superheroes as depicted over time.

One thing I found notable--and disturbing--in the list is the number of heroes noted as Catholic. At first you'll notice that the list is long--perhaps understandable as nearly 1 in 6 people in the world are Catholic, which would have some impact in the publishing world. But then as the list progresses, the Catholic list changes to show many *clerical *affiliations, typically in stereotypical, authoritarian, and less-than-flattering versions of a clerical or religious position. There's obviously an obsession of sorts for those who see the Church as a "dark conspiracy" or "last hope for mankind" against the powers of darkness.

How do you see superheroes in society? What effect have they had on you and how you define "hero?" How have real-life events (such as 9/11) changed your view of the reality of the hero?

[quote="Spencerian, post:13, topic:243133"]
Back to the OP's original thought:

Western societies have a curious obsession with superheroes, sometimes. Unlike the swashbuckler or the cowboy or the private detective (who are humans fighting for justice), the superhero is sometimes put on the pedestal of godhood, with powers and abilities that truly vaunt them into super-human status.

Competition between comic book publishers keep turning this notion on its head from time to time (Among the most popular is Spider-man, the antithesis of the omnipotent hero, resourceful in his own right except in his own life as Peter Parker, struggling to make ends meet). But the ghost of religion is often either cloaked by a superhero's powers or acts, or (rarely) is solidified as part of a story.

The religious statistics site Adherents.com has a page that notes the real-world religious affiliations of superheroes as depicted over time.

One thing I found notable--and disturbing--in the list is the number of heroes noted as Catholic. At first you'll notice that the list is long--perhaps understandable as nearly 1 in 6 people in the world are Catholic, which would have some impact in the publishing world. But then as the list progresses, the Catholic list changes to show many *clerical *affiliations, typically in stereotypical, authoritarian, and less-than-flattering versions of a clerical or religious position. There's obviously an obsession of sorts for those who see the Church as a "dark conspiracy" or "last hope for mankind" against the powers of darkness.

How do you see superheroes in society? What effect have they had on you and how you define "hero?" How have real-life events (such as 9/11) changed your view of the reality of the hero?

[/quote]

wow, that's much deeper than I was thinking. I was thinking more along the lines of how HB must have saved a lot of money on writing dialogue for the Herculoids - it's pretty funny, these creatures carry on whole conversations consisting of various grunts and whistles.

with respect to superheroes in society - events like 9/11 do make you wish there was a superman. Even the recent tornadoes - where's Superman to catch the guy who was sucked out of the sunroof of the car coming home from his graduation. There was a documentary about Superman I saw a while back on cable, to some extent Superman faced this problem during World War II - in reality there was no Superman who could fly in and take out Hitler; it was all up to fragile and mortal and fallible humans rising above themselves and making a monumental abd super-heroic effort.

The best examples of religious characters in comics are (and this depends heavily on who was writing them at the time)

Nightcrawler when written by Christ Claremont, especially when his faith is contrasted with his best friend Wolverine as the latter is an atheist or agnostic at best. Especially noteable in a sequence where Kurt tries to persuade Wolverine that deadly force is not by any means always the best option. Something you would see nowadays I think what with Wolverine been one of Marvel's cash cows. Nightcrawler however has also been serious mishandled, especially be one writer who tried to have a story where he was supposed to become the eventual Pople and usher the rapture in. These details should give you an idea of that writer's grounding in theology and knowledge of Catholicism.

Daredevil when written by Denny O'Neill (although O'Neill has also been wont to trot out the cliched 'abused in an orphanage by Nuns stuff on at least one occassion' and Frank Miller in days gone by. Although Miller's work is truly awful nowadays sadly.

Superman has been handled well with regards to religion at some points. He is a Methodist but has also (especially in the silver age) been shown to have some belief in the pantheon of gods of his native krypton. There's a particular story with him from the mid 1970's combating religously inspired terrorism which sticks in my mind.

Wonder Woman during ONE period under the artist and writer George Perez was handled in an interesting manner. He contrasted her worshipping the Greek gods with modern society. Including a sequence over several pages that sticks in my minds of her visiting Greece and a conversation with several Orthodox clergymen. By the way that's one of the few occassions I can recall Eastern Orthodox clergy been used at all in American comics. Normally the level of knowledge is so poor you get stuff like Black Widow who is nominally Russian Orthodox going to Daredevil's (who has been her lover on and off over the years) priest for confession. Elektra, Daredevil's other big flame is presumably nominally Greek Orthodox as well. I get a bit worried about Daredevil as I have the same initials in real life, am partially sighted and am Irish and married to someone Orthodox. At times I think I'm living DD's life in an alternate universe.

Other Catholic characters include the Hulk, although Dr. Banner is a lapsed Catholic. The Spectre is one character that might interest readers here,his book was written for a time by an ex-seminary student and dealt with some very heavy questions about the nature of God's wrath and vengeance and sin. Additionally the Spectre's host was an Irish-American policeman Jim Corrigan.

By the way that list of religious adherents is useful but at times some what speculative. Especially with major characters like Batman whose faith has never been pinned down exactly. There's proof he might be Anglican or Catholic but his exact faith has never been specified and since he is sceptical of all organised religion in most modern takes on the character it's not likely to be. I see him as High Church Anglican for some reason myself although Frank Miller who I mentioned earlier saw him as definitely Catholic.

As to real life heroes contrasted with superheroes at their best superheroes are a modern folk tale with magic realism and are true despite not been real. However mostly superhero comics fall well short of that standard.

Didn't mean to hijack your original insight, Bobby!

Hanna-Barbera toons were a great bread-and-butter for me as a kid, though they don't stand the test of time now and were truly among the quintessential "cartoon" cartoons, as opposed to Warner Bros. Looney Toons (adult-themed though obviously not "adult) or present Western animation (heavily influenced by Japanese anime thematics, storytelling, animation and story quality). The very ill-fated "Yogi Bear" movie that came and went recently should've been a bit of nostalgia--but children today don't get exposed to these pleasant childish things, now...

JC: One book I found that attempted to study the nature of superheroes and religion was "Holy Superheroes!" by Greg Garrett. While its exploration of Christian themes is a bit wanting of Catholic theology, it's still a good read.

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