Face it, it’s something we all have in common.
Whether we’re old enough to remember cartoons screened before the main feature at the cinema, or we avoided healthy childhood exercise by sitting in front of the television on Saturday morning. These animated delights defined our childhood!
Two Studios Ruled!
When I was young, Hannah-Barbera and Warner Brothers ruled the roost. I was fed a diet of Looney Tunes and could recite the song which Daffy and Bugs performed in top hat and tails, before a selection of classic ‘toons from decades past, burst onto the screen.
And even as kids, it seemed odd that Barney and Fred, or Scooby and Shaggy, would run down a street where the same background would whisk past continually over and over again. After all, when we’re young we try to make sense of the world, and this did not match reality.
Tuba Tooters (1930s)
But I had some strange tastes.
I was never one for super heroes. Cinematic ones, yes. Cartoon ones, no. I was drawn to the world of oddball 1930s cartoons made for cinema, but screened on the Ten Network in the 1970s. Surreal Popeye shorts were matched with sexy sirens like Betty Boop. It was all deliciously weird.
This was a time when Daffy Duck was loony, and Bugs had a fascinatingly long face. And movie stars were satirized! With so many reality stars today, animation would be the perfect forum to send them up in a similar way.
The Goody-Two-Shoes Rabbit.
I admit it! I loved Crusader Rabbit! ‘Who?’, I can hear people of my own generation asking. He was a charming rabbit who had a sidekick named Ragland T Tiger. Apparently it was the first American television cartoon and consisted of short four minute soap-opera-like episodes. As a child I thought this series was magic.
Crusader Rabbit and Ragland T. Tiger
Then I Got Older
Before I reached puberty, the first all-ages television cartoon that I remember screened for a very short time. Wait ‘Till Your Father Gets Home had Happy Days‘ Tom Bosley as the long-suffering Dad of an early-seventies family. This show resembled an adult sit-com which, before the days of The Simpsons, I thought was pretty cool.
A generation before me can say the same of The Flintstones, but as a youngster staying up past my bedtime to regularly watch All In The Family, I thought the Bedrock crew were kids play. How grown up I must have felt coming to that conclusion.
Wait ’till Your Father Gets Home
I’ve been blessed to grow up at a time when animation has found a new golden age. The cinema has given us all-age delights like The Iron Giant, while television created charmingly ‘out-there’ stuff like Duck Man.
The latter is a series I hold close to my heart, even though it never rated well. In this country it was shoved around in odd time slots. Only recently have I seen the all four series, and if you get to find it in some forgotten corner of your DVD store, skip the final series. It lost the plot in the end but the third series it where it fires on all cylinders.
So what are your favourites?
Are yours as out there as mine? Those early images that hypnotised us before we knew how to tie a shoelace, left their mark. And although we may think they’re silly now, when we were young they were some of our earliest adventures.