The Top Seven Cartoons of My Childhood
- The Herculoids
Zandor, Tara, and their son Dorno are people, and Gleep & Gloop (one large and one smaller mass of bendable, stretchable stuff), Igoo (a big, strong, stone ape), Thundro (a rhino-like dinosaur who fires exploding energy rocks from his horn), and Zok (a dragon who shoots energy beams from his eyes and tail) are monsters—together they are The Herculoids. They all live on Quasar and are its sole protectors from the many destructive forces bent on killing them and conquering the planet. Non-stop mayhem!
- Looney Toons & Merrie Melodies
I thank the Ramblin’ Rod Show for my love of these classic cartoons. Ramblin’ Rod was a children’s show in Portland, Oregon, which played these cartoons (along with old Popeye cartoons). Ramblin’ Rod wore a brown sweater covered in buttons that children had given him over the years, and he “rode” onto the set in a tugboat (on wheels). He also brought enough kids into the studio to fill a small bleacher, played the cartoons for them to watch on monitors, and then did fun activities with the kids between cartoons.
Ramblin’ Rod had a “Smile Contest” on every show and gave away Chuck E. Cheese (a pizza parlor chain) coupons and other cool kid stuff to the winners. One of the producers, “Auntie Someone-or-other” would choose the winners, and the cameraman would zoom in on them, while the words “Smile Winner” flashed on the screen. My elementary school, Chief Joseph, would take each class on a field trip to the show every year. It was filmed in the late afternoon, but was shown the next morning before everyone had to leave for school. That was the best part—you could see yourself the next day! My favorite cartoons were the ones that offered characatures of celebrities or were spoofs of travelogues. I also loved Foghorn Leghorn, Buggs Bunny, and Daffy Duck (not so much when he was “daffy,” but when he was actually insane in his earliest cartoons).
I refer here to the first three incarnations of the show, which had, as its “foundation,” Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman joining forces to save the world countless times over. I was not fond of Wendy, Marvin, Wonder Dog, Zan, Jayna, or Gleek, but I loved it when the “Minority Heroes” made an appearance. Do you remember Apache Chief, Black Vulcan, and Samurai?
- Thundarr the Barbarian
Thundarr the Barbarian, Ariel the Sorceress, and Okla the Mock (a strange hybrid of snake, lion, and gorilla) fought together to rid the Earth (post 3700 AD) of evildoers. Thundarr had an energy sword, Ariel had her sorcery, and Okla had brute strength. It was awesome!
- Mr. T
I loved the A-Team, so, of course, I loved this cartoon. Never mind that Mr. T hung out with teen gymnasts and the middle-aged woman who drove their bus — he had a dog with a Mohawk named Spike and he kicked butt! He also dispensed helpful hints at the end of the show: never accept rides from strangers, drink your milk, etc. “I pity the fool!” You can’t beat that.
This is a classic, no matter how you cut it. The gang, The Mystery Machine, the “And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you pesky kids!”, and “Rooby-rooby-roo”—what more do you need in a cartoon? Plus, Scooby snacks, ghosts, monsters, and people impersonating ghosts and monsters (many of whom had lost their jobs, and hence went “postal,” in cartoon terms). I loved this cartoon!
- Hong Kong Phooey
The hero was a dog who worked as a janitor in the police station, and when something would come up, he’d jump into a file cabinet and mysteriously reappear, in costume, inside his Hong Kong Phooey Mobile. He’d pull out of his hidden parking space, inside a dumpster, and fight crime. He was a bumbling fool though, and his cat friend, Spot, would usually save the day. Hong Kong Phooey’s voice was supplied by Scatman Carothers, and I swear Quincey Jones wrote the music for the theme song, which Scatman sang; “Hong Kong Phooey / number one super guy / Hong Kong Phooey / faster than the human eye…” I get the chills just thinking about it.