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Topic: Happy Fiftieth Anniversary To Spider-Man Cartoon Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 10:41am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

The 1967 SPIDER-MAN cartoon is fifty today.

Back in the 80s, this show was both airing on TV - and available at various video rental stores. I think each tape had about 2 episodes on (imagine how much rentals would have cost to see the complete series). About fifteen years ago, I bought the complete series on R1.

It's awesome!

My favourite Marvel cartoon to date remains THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1982), but this one would be second. The theme tune is great, the stories are solid and fun - and I like the animation. Other 60s cartoons featuring the likes of Thor and Namor "copied and pasted" panels from the comics. Good though they were, SPIDER-MAN is unique. I don't know if any of the stories were adapted from the comics, but I did enjoy what I read.

A really atmospheric and great episode is "Neptune's Nose Cone". The web-slinger ends up on an island with cave-people and creatures (whilst trying to locate a space shuttle's cone). With no buildings to swing off, Spider-Man has to be resourceful, battling flying snakes - I think it was a flying snake - and saving a female colleague from the hostile island.

There were differences between the cartoon and comics. The Green Goblin was more akin to a robber, showing none of the savvy or intellect that comic book Goblin had; and Jonah Jameson was very, very negative, bordering on psychopathic (I felt). Apart from that, though, it was good to see so many villains featured. Old favourites such as the Rhino and Mysterio featured, but many were, I'm certain, created solely for the cartoon, i.e. Parafino (wax museum owner) and Dr. Von Schlick (an oil-themed villain). 

In short, I like this show as you never knew what to expect: one episode would featured Rhino, but then you'd get Spider-Man trapped on an island. We got to see the Flying Dutchman, too.

I like the voice cast (particularly the ones doing the voices for Parker and Jameson). And having grown up with this series, it's this tune that ALWAYS "plays in my head" when reading the comics.

I'm sure there are fans of the show here. So let the discussion begin...
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 2:15pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

As you say, the Parker and Jameson voice actors were good.  Even though his voice seems too old in retrospect, the actor who supplied Peter's voice sold it well enough that it's what I hear for him to this day. 

The animation was interesting.  Ralph Bakshi had a hand in some of it, which might explain why it's both frustratingly underdeveloped yet intriguingly funky at times.  A while back I learned Gray Morrow, an artist I admire, was also involved though I don't really see his touch in the final product.  A lot of Spidey's web slinging moves were definitely recycled week after week after week but given the limited budget, I guess they did pretty well with what they had. 

Backgrounds / colors (and stories) seemed to get darker and more psychedelic as the series progressed (perhaps the Bakshi influence again?) so some of the material feels a bit dated.  Bakshi also tended to go away from Spidey's comic villains and more towards mystical or magical foes, which weren't my favorite.  One thing they got pretty right was Peter's youthful trials and tribulations and working at the Bugle.  While Peter's romantic life wasn't quite like it was in the comics (more Betty Brant and Susan Shaw than Gwen Stacy or Mary Jane) they captured some of the feel of it. 

Loved the jazzy and moody music, which probably has also dated for some but which I still enjoy and which often helped set the tone.

The show as a whole is a bit primitive and not perfect but they got enough broad strokes right that I think of it fondly to this day. 


Edited by Rick Senger on 09 September 2017 at 2:25pm
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 2:39pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

The show as a whole is a bit primitive and not perfect but they got enough broad strokes right that I think of it fondly to this day.  

***

Amen to that, Mr Senger.

Also, and kids today wouldn't appreciate this, I remember trying to find out whether some of the villains from the cartoon existed in the comics. Before Google, before online resources such as Marvel's website, you had nothing other than the comics!

I remember wondering if Dr. Von Schlick would ever show up in a comic. I suspect he didn't.

The origin episode was very dark. When he punched that burglar, it was brutal. I'm surprised the burglar's neck, jaw, back and skull didn't get broken. ;-)
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 2:51pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

God, I love this cartoon. 
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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 3:46pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I used to wonder why they didn't use photo backgrounds for New York.
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 7:04pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I was watching that cartoon and the Batman '66 show before I ever read a comic. I'm sure it was the basis to  progressing to that next step. 

A Spider-Man comic would be my first. 
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 10 September 2017 at 1:27am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

As far as i`m aware we didn`t get this in the UK until
the mid 70`s! I distinctively remember rushing home from
Secondary school to watch it!It`s unheard of nowadays to
wait 8 years for a tv show to cross the Atlantic!
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Jason Scott
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Posted: 10 September 2017 at 4:16am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

In Scotland, I remember watching it on Glen Michael's Cavalcade, back when I was oh...about 4 years old! Which seems almost centuries ago now.

In my teens I stumbled across it again, and was surprised to see that the early episodes largely held up. (The Mysterio one does seem quite similar to his comic appearance. And I loved the Lizard episode.) I lost interest with the later ones when they moved away from the comic villains to weird mystical other worldly plots.

I do agree that the voices were nice, as were the music chocies. (Both the in-episode themes and the iconic signature song.) And to this day I think it's influenced me in wanting to see more of Betty in the books. As I guess it was ingrained into to me that that was Peter's first big romantic interest. And yeah, I do agree that it was much better than the other Marvel cartoons of it's era.


Edited by Jason Scott on 15 September 2017 at 10:30pm
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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 10 September 2017 at 5:39am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I enjoyed this immensely at the time, and even now it's still fun.

Very recently (2014), "Ultimate Spider-Man" had an episode, "Nightmare on Christmas", where they did a segment of Spider-Man fighting the Enforcers, and they aped the animation style of the original cartoons.. I giggled for ten minutes after.

AS I RECALL: Spider-Man was supposed to be one of the features in the Marvel Super Heroes cartoon, but the rights were purchased first by Gantray-Lawrence; that's why MSH had Namor instead. 

Then, Gantray-Lawrence couldn't afford to produce a second season, so it was purchased by Krantz Films, and they decided to go an entirely different direction (and I think a lot of that was due to costs as well.) So there were no standard Spider-Man villains, he was in unusual situations, and - if I recall - Bakshi's involvement included a lot of reused animation from another cartoon. However, I can't substantiate that at the moment... just relying on the Silver Age memory.

But that first season was fun and seemed pretty close to the comics for me. Great entertainment at the time!
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Wallace Sellars
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Posted: 10 September 2017 at 6:50am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I enjoyed this immensely at the time, and even now it's still fun.



Ditto!

I still appreciate most of the old school Marvel cartoons of that style/vintage.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 10 September 2017 at 7:16am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Me too, Wallace.

I like the Thor cartoon. The theme tune makes me think of Asgard every time I hear it. I love the episode where he fights Hercules.

Regarding the SPIDER-MAN cartoon, it appears Spock was in one episode:

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Steven Myers
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Posted: 10 September 2017 at 8:01am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Love the show. I showed some episodes to my K-2 art classes last year, and the kids today really like them!  I also play the theme on my guitar at times--kids request it a lot! 
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Andrew Saxon
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Posted: 11 September 2017 at 2:15pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Spider-Man was the first TV show I ever saw in colour. A school friend's family had just bought a colour television and he invited me in to watch Spidey with him. I'll never forget how, erm, amazing that was. I wonder what my younger self would have made of video tapes, DVDs and television-on-demand.
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 11 September 2017 at 2:29pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Andrew,you must be a similar age to me...I grew up on
black and white tv's that had to be tuned like a radio to
change channels,and as they had valves instead of
transistors, during the '3 day week' when the electricity
company reduced the power,the tv's were useless! Then our
first video recorder in the early 80's had a remote
control...that was connected to the video by a cable!
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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 11 September 2017 at 2:40pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

I was watching that cartoon and the Batman '66 show before I ever read a comic. I'm sure it was the basis to  progressing to that next step. 

A Spider-Man comic would be my first.

Same here. My second comic book was an issue of The Incredible Hulk. I'd never seen his '60s cartoons and this predated his live action show, so the Hulk was the first comic character that I "met" in a comic.

I think that Spider-Man show also partially helped teach me to tell time. I knew that it came on at 7am, so I needed to be in front of the TV by then!

Still the best theme song of any cartoon. Possibly of any TV show, ever.


Edited by Brian Rhodes on 11 September 2017 at 2:40pm
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 11 September 2017 at 2:55pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

'Is he strong? Listen bud, he's got radioactive blood'
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 12 September 2017 at 2:14am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

The second-catchiest TV cartoon theme was that jazzy instrumental tune that played at the end of each episode,  accompanying a montage of random clips from the series...always punctuated by Jonah's angry-door slam at the very end.
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Christopher Frost
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Posted: 12 September 2017 at 5:34am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

For a lot of kids, the show was an introduction to Spidey and the world of comics. It's the gateway drug to a comic book addiction, lol.
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Charles Valderrama
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Posted: 12 September 2017 at 8:59am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Ahhhh, yes... the first superhero show I enjoyed in my childhood... tho' I did notice the flaws, it was still quite good for the times - plus that catchy theme music set the standard:


Amazing how much recycled animation was used in the last two seasons!

-C!
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John Popa
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Posted: 12 September 2017 at 1:33pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Being born in 1973, this was my first exposure to super heroes.  Electro being my favorite Spider-Man villain stems from this cartoon as does a good dose of my affection for those old characters.  I wouldn't pick up an actual comic for years.

In fact, one summer a bit later, the cartoon was replayed all summer at 8 am and I got up every day to watch it, even though I normally slept in during the summer.  

Sweet memories to be sure.  
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 12 September 2017 at 3:28pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Can't recall the year, but networks here in the UK perversely put cartoons on between 6am and 7am (weekends). I think this cartoon aired at such a time along with the likes of ROUGH AND READY.

In the days before recordable boxsets and catch-up/streaming services, yours truly had to get up around 6am and watch this show. Bummer! 
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Christopher Frost
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Posted: 12 September 2017 at 8:21pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

I guess I was a little luckier than some of you. Here, the show aired during the week at lunchtime so I got to watch it everyday when I came home from school for lunch as a kid.

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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 12 September 2017 at 11:58pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

AS I RECALL: Spider-Man was supposed to be one of the features in the Marvel Super Heroes cartoon, but the rights were purchased first by Gantray-Lawrence; that's why MSH had Namor instead. 
 
Interestingly, I've uncovered evidence that work had started on a MSH Spider-man segment.  All that remains are stat cels of Ditko art which date to 1966.  Another company had purchased the rights to animate Spider-man, but as I've detailed below things get a little complicated.

The first season of Spider-man was produced in Toronto by G-L with Baby Huey creator Shamus Culhane as supervising director.  Just as production was starting on season 2 G-L producer Al Guest was embroiled in a lawsuit with Krantz Productions, Culhane was fired and Steve Krantz sent Ralph Bakshi from NYC to supervise.  As I understand it Krantz had originally purchased the rights to produce Spider-man but subcontracted the work to G-L. (and this is presumably why G-L abandoned the MSH-style animation for the expensive full animation).

I'll quote someone else's account of these events:
  

"Just as the lawsuit was getting rolling, and as a judge was considering injunction applications from both Guest and Krantz seeking to bar each other from studio premises, Krantz instructed Bakshi to pack up the show's model sheets - critical animation artworks - and go back to New York. Bakshi came in on the weekend, quietly did so, then drove across the border that Sunday.

On Monday morning, when animators discovered the master documents missing and Bakshi MIA, they alerted Guest. Furious, Guest called police and claimed that the studio had been robbed. The police interviewed Krantz, but didn't arrest him because there was no direct evidence that he was involved in the artworks going missing. When they failed to find Bakshi, Toronto's finest issued an arrest warrant for him, for suspicion of theft - but he had of course already left the country, with the model sheets under his arm."


Bakshi recalls that he and another Krantz employee were stopped at the border in Buffalo and questioned because officials thought it was odd that they were trying to enter into the USA when everyone else was trying to get to Canada to dodge the Vietnam draft.  The remaining two seasons of Spider-man were done at Krantz (in reality it was Steve Krantz's NYC apartment) as they were still contractually beholden to ABC to produce a specific number of episodes.  From this point onward the quality of the show plummeted, with lots of reused animation.  At it's lowest point, two episodes from Krantz's Rocket Robin Hood were recycled into Spider-man episodes to buff up the episode count.


One interesting footnote to this story is the remaining G-L animation materials (mostly Rocket Robin Hood) ended up languishing in a storage closest at Sheridan College's Oakville campus for more than 30 years.  A local friend of mine was crucial in finding and recovering this lost material.

When I get some time I'll share some tidbits about the Spider-man voice cast.


Edited by Rob Ocelot on 13 September 2017 at 12:00am
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 13 September 2017 at 5:01am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

Fascinating stuff, Rob. Thanks!
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John Byrne
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Posted: 13 September 2017 at 6:34am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

'Is he strong? Listen bud, he's got radioactive blood'

This may be the origin of the now-canonical notion that Parker's blood is iteself radioactive. There's no reason it should be.

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