Wednesday, July 11, 2007

He Yam What Today's Cartoons Ain't

John Kricfalusi has a terrific post on his blog (link to his site at right) regarding the Fleischer "Popeye" cartoons now finally being released on DVD. I suspect John and I had similar childhoods, both being Ottawa boys. Back in the 1960's, Canadian kids only had access to our own home-grown TV channels: local affiliates of CBC, CTV and a handful of independents. We didn't get any American channels until the early 70's when cable was first introduced into Canadian households. As such, exposure to cartoons on TV was somewhat limited back then. "The Bugs Bunny / Roadrunner Hour" was carried on CBC Saturday evenings, and we had "The Wonderful World of Disney" (one of the titles of its various incarnations) every Sunday evening at 6 pm, also on CBC. Since Disney would only run a show with cartoons only once every five or six weeks or so, there really wasn't that much regular exposure to the Disney shorts, although that was still the era where Disney would have a couple of vintage cartoons accompany a new film release at the theatre, so it wasn't completely bleak.

However, that was also the era of the various kid's shows on local TV channels hosted by affable middle-aged fellows, sometimes in goofy costumes like "Howdy Doody's" Buffalo Bob. These shows were mainly comprised of whatever old theatrical cartoons were available to them cheaply to run to their heart's content. Fortunately, this meant that the old "Popeye" cartoons were on practically every day in lunchtime and after school timeslots. As such, back when I was really young, Popeye was my favourite cartoon character, by virtue of the fact that I had seen more of those cartoons than anything else at that time. Somewhere there's a photo of me at about age 5 or 6 holding these big solid plastic toy figurines of Popeye and Wimpy - great toys as I recall. I remember drawing Popeye and the gang all the time, (and the Goons!) and that was probably the catalyst that launched me into this lifelong pursuit of working as a professional cartoonist. Admittedly, as I saw more of the Disney animated features at the theatre in those formative years, they became my real passion in the medium, but I will always harbour a special fondness for Popeye the Sailor, and I will certainly be adding this new DVD set to my cartoon library.

PS: Rather than give my own summation of the Fleischer "Popeye" cartoons, I would rather point you to what John K. has written on his blog, as he certainly has covered all the bases far better than I could on why these cartoons are so great.


JohnK said...

Hey Pete

did you watch Uncle Chichemus when you were a kid?

Oogly Woogly?

The Funny Company?


Thanks for the plug!

Pete Emslie said...

Hi John,

I certainly remember "Oogly Woogly" the worm kid! Also, "Dodo - The Kid From Outer Space" was a regular event when I would walk home from my nearby school for lunchtime. I know the name, "Uncle Chichemus", but I don't think I ever saw that show. He was sort of like Toronto's "Uncle Bobby", right? I do recall "The Magic Tom Show", however, which was kind of in that same genre of hosted kid shows.

Do you remember the puppet show, "Hi Diddle Day" on CBC? I ended up working for its creator, puppeteer Noreen Young, right after completing high school. She was working on another show called "Pencil Box" at the time, and she hired me as an apprentice where, among other duties, I got to help her sculpt and build the puppets. It was a great first job!

harpo said...

Never heard of the other cartoons you guys are talking about. Maybe you can post some examples later? That would be great.

Sometimes I feel I have been born 50 years too late :)

JohnK said...

I remember Noreen Young's puppets. They were great!

Uncle Chich was a puppet too. He was on with Champ Champagne.

I had a classmate who ended working for Noreen too and his name was Peter ...Evans I think.

What area of Ottawa did you live in?

I was in Heron Park and then Riverside Park.

Say hi to Adam.

JohnK said...

Or how about "Johnny Jellybean"? He was another Montreal host like Magic Tom.


Whit said...

"The Funny Company" was supposed to be the first p.c. cartoon series, but it was made in an era before anyone figured calling a Native American character "Super Chief" who spoke like the horn of a Santa Fe locomotive, might somehow be offensive.

Pete Emslie said...

Hey John,

It seems like we really did share a similar childhood. I grew up on Walkley Rd, then moved to Riverside Drive across from Mooney's Bay in 1973. From 1979 until 1984 I lived on Heron Rd, across from the Heron Gate Mall. I remember in one of your past posts, you mentioned buying your comics at "Paul's Sundries" on Bank Street - me too!! Weird, huh?

I'll definitely pass along your hello to Adam. He's become a very talented cartoonist with a real knack for drawing funny stuff. Unfortunately, he's overqualified for the Flash dreck that is currently coming out of Toronto studios, as he doesn't get much opportunity to actually draw anything. He tells me that many of the "animators" he works with on Flash animated shows don't even draw at all or want to. Sad state of affairs, in my opinion...

JohnK said...

Hi again

Paul Sundries was great!

Did you buy your Adolf Hitler model kit there? I did.

Does Adama have any of his latest work online?

Pete Emslie said...

"Did you buy your Adolf Hitler model kit there? I did."

Hah!! No...can't say that I did. I did have other, um, monster models, but they were all of the Universal Studios variety. (Bought at "Towers" - remember that great store?)

Paul's Sundries was my favourite shop for buying "Vampirella" and "Famous Monsters of Filmland" magazines.

I'll bet Adolf looks real cool next to Yogi and Huck on your toy shelf, though! :)

JohnK said...

Unfortunately, I blew up Hitler on Firecracker day...


hey guys,

don't want to horn in on the Ottawa boyz fest there, but-

Razzle Dazzle?

Forest Rangers?

Littlest Hobo?

And the one i can't find : Pic (or Pick) -A -Letter ?

You can get some of the Chichemus shows and other early CBC stuff thru the CBC store. The CBC site also has ALOT of archived stuff you can watch....

scott caple

Pete Emslie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pete Emslie said...

(Oops, I made a blunder in the above comment, so I deleted it)

Hi Scott,

I certainly remember "Razzle Dazzle" with Alan Hamel and cute little Trudy Young co-starring with Howard the Turtle.

I know I watched the original "Littlest Hobo" quite faithfully, but I never did bother to tune in to the later series.

"The Forest Rangers" has been showing up regularly on the various digital channels and I like to tune in sometimes for warm, fuzzy nostalgia. It actually was a pretty neat show. Definitely very representative of ones childhood memories of Canadian TV.

William Wallace said...

TOO funny... I worked on Pencil Box, the final season... Remember Noreen well-Holly Laroque was a major crush I had!! Too cool!! Stumbled on these posts via Google... And you're almost local! I'm in Waterloo.

Take care, and keep up the good work-OH! And I attended Sheridan for theatre... Small freakin' world!

Sandy Wallace