Today we have a guest contributer on the ROB-BOX: Dennis Schamp (colloquially known by the members of the shop as Big Red)
Picture a cool, Saturday morning. 1966. There’s just a little light entering through the window, through a small crack in the bedroom curtains. Not enough to blind, but enough to cause a sleeping child to stir. He stretches, yawns, and swings his feet out from the covers, plopping them down on the carpeted floor. With kitten-like stealth, he makes his way down the stairs, taking care not to wake his parents.
The young boy flips the switch on the television set, and quickly adjusts the volume so that only he can hear. Thinking for just a moment, he grabs the TV Guide and checks to make sure of the correct channel. Then, having turned the dial, he sits back into his father’s large, plush recliner, leaning slightly forward to make sure he can hear the TV. His eyes go wide, and a smile cracks his mouth as the announcer lets fly with: “Spaaaaaace! Ghooooooost!”
That morning in 1967 changed the way I watched cartoons. Sure, I still flipped channels for Bugs and Daffy. But this was different. This was danger, action, evil people bent on galactic destruction (OK, I probably didn’t know the word “galactic” at that age, but you get the picture). And there were kids! Kids with powers! Oh, the mornings I sat in that chair, eyes squinted tight, fingers crossed, wishing upon all hope to be able to turn invisible, even for just a few minutes.
This was my first experience with, for want of a better phrase, “The Heroic World” of Saturday cartoons. As more and more Saturdays arrived, I was treated to Jonny Quest. Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles. The Galaxy Trio. Dino Boy. Moby Dick and the Mighty Mightor. Nothing – and I mean NOTHING – got done around my house until the Saturday Morning Cartoon event had concluded. These half-hour adventures fueled my days, encouraged me to be strong, and to wear a towel as a cape while running around the neighborhood.
After the heroes had run their course, they were replaced by others: Penelope Pitstop. Dastardly and Mutley. The Hair Bear Bunch. Josie and the Pussycats. Hong Kong Phooey. And still, I sat there on Saturday mornings, well into my teens and twenties, still enjoying that escape from everyday troubles and toils. As my own kids came around, Saturday morning became a family ritual. To this day, I still start my Saturday mornings with a cartoon or two, be they Gumball, the Powerpuff Girls, Regular Show, or others. Still, something was missing. That sense of childhood wonder I used to feel when Birdman and Avenger came swooping out of the sun,or when Samson clanged his gauntlets together to change from mild-mannered teenager to muscular strongman,or the Challenge of the Super-Friends.
And just like that, a few months ago, my childhood came rushing back to me on the printed page, from DC Comics no less. Four new titles, featuring the characters and legends from my early years, were beckoning me back into the fold.
1) Future Quest: Space Ghost, Jonny Quest, and many other H-B heroes mashed together into one universe/dimension-spanning series. 2) Wacky Raceland: The Ant Hill Mob, Professor Pat Pending, Penelope Pitstop, and the rest of the racers thrust into a Mad-Max-Style wasteland. 3) Scooby Apocalypse: Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy, and Scooby return, facing off against genetically-altered humans. 4) The Flintstones: The Rubbles and the Flintstones, together again, with a bit more “realism” to make the stories more interesting.
I’m sure that many people of ‘my generation’ picked up the first issues, just to see what was what. But unlike me, they let go with the second issue. Woe unto them, I say. The characters have depth. The storylines are just getting started. The art is clean and crisp and colorful. And the writing,well, take it from me you WILL get sucked into the stories.
So yes, while I still do enjoy reading about my absolute favorite character Hal Jordan, I now also look forward to the monthly adventures of Jonny, Space Ghost, Penelope, Fred,their friends, and their enemies. And I hope you will, too. If you haven’t grabbed the first few issues, I encourage you to do so! If you did, and stopped after #1, please, come back and give them another read. You may just find yourself looking for a bright red towel and a wooden clothespin.
This has been Your Pal, Dennis.