Monday, February 26, 2007

Jackmike Moves into Action!


Tux continued:
The shadow of Maelstrom's ship swallows up Tux's crew and the farmers alike. The farmers are so distracted by the sight that Jackmike cannot pass up the opportunity to take charge of the situation. He leaps aboard the farmer's skiff, nabs their gun and shoves them off all in one deft move. Other skiff's pour out of Maelstrom's ship and Tux encourages the crew to climb about the commandeered hovercraft and hightail it from the huge threat. Jackmike mutters under his breath that he's tired of running and moves the skiff to intercept Maelstrom's men.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Herculoids: An Appreciation


So over on the TAG blog there has been some discussion about old Saturday morning cartoons that are available for watching on YouTube. I have a personal favorite... the Herculoids. It was a Hanna Barbara cartoon set on a far-flung planet with a small nuclear family and monstrous friends/pets with super powers. They would fight of invaders to the planet as well as the hostile locals.

These cartoons were pretty short on story and long on action. Chuck Jones had once called TV cartoons "illustrated radio" because the characters would always say what they were doing rather than use complicated and costly animation to tell the story. However, by this point HB had gotten pretty good at making due with very limited resources. The quality of the drawing varies wildly from shot to shot, but they have fairly complex action “gags” that are easy to follow and fun to watch.

The Herculoids also benefit from having Alex Toth for a character designer and veterans like Homer Jonas working on the backgrounds. The inventive sound FX, voice acting and music round out the package.

Watching these as I did last night I noticed a few things. One is that this is a super team, just like the Fantastic Four and the X-Men. Because most of the characters are “animals” of a sort, they writers can by-pass all of the time consuming character development (such as it was and is in the TV cartoon world) and focus on the action. The human characters filled their stereotypes: Mother, Father, and Son. This also streamlined the story telling. There may be some sort of back story as to why these folks are on this planet living the way they do, but it doesn’t matter… it’s all about the action.

The other thing I noticed upon reflection is that my story Tux is clearly influenced by these cartoons that I watched during my formative years. As with the Herculoids, Tux is about a super team of a sort, with animal-ish characters fighting exotic enemies. I never made the connection until last night.