Monday, April 21, 2014


I was obsessed with Garfield as a kid. I devoured Garfield books by the dozens. There was something remarkably humorous and addictive about his irreverent personality. I even turned my son onto his books at a young age and he was a big hit. When I first heard of Heathcliff as a character, I think I assumed he was some kind of Garfield ripoff, so I started watching regularly. Heathcliff had a different kind of smart-alec nature to him and was considerably more active than Garfield, but I was immediately taken by him as a character. Certainly a big part of his personality came from the man who voiced him , the incomparable Mel Blanc himself. I'm not sure I knew at the time that Blanc was the master voice behind so many Looney Tunes characters that I loved, but subconsciously that must have crept into my head. Heathcliff certainly has a kinship with Bugs Bunny in a lot of ways. Feels like they'd hang out and have beers together (or carrot juice and milk) if they knew each other (though it'd be odd to hear Mel Blanc talk to himself in these similar voices). Both are incorrigible rascals who seem to always be one step ahead of their potential adversaries. Both Bugs and Heathcliff are both memorable rebellious iconoclasts. Heathcliff doesn't quite live up to Bugs, he's a orange ball of furry fun. Also, it's neat to hear Blanc voicing many of the side characters in the show as well. I could listen to him read the phone book. In addition to Blanc, the familiar voice of June Foray (most know as Rocket J. Squirrel) creeps into several episodes as regular side characters.
As for Dingbat and his pals The Creeps (a pumpkin and a skeleton), I'd never seen them before somehow. I'd seen Heathcliff perhaps as a part of his own show in some later incarnation. Regardless, this gang of nutty characters was right up my and my daughter's alleys. My daughter is somewhat obsessed with vampires at the moment, and comically ghoulish cartoons in general. This gang reminded me slightly of THE GROOVIE GHOULIES, another older cartoon that my wife used to love that my daughter is a big fan of. She's also obsessed with the recent live-action film VAMPIRE DOG (starring Norm MacDonald as the voice of the titular lead), so Dingbat (also a vampire dog) was a home run. We just love Halloween-y cartoons in general in our house. GROOVIE GHOULIES, THE DRAK PACK, THE ADDAMS FAMILY and so forth are all cherished here. Dingbat and his cronies are dopey, but quite fun indeed. And, as a bonus, Dingbat himself is voiced by the equally legendary Frank Welker. My daughter and I both being huge Scooby-Doo fans were quite pleased by this fact.
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I think I was on board with Jonny Quest from the opening drum and horn notes of the original theme song. It truly is one of the great theme songs ever, cartoon or otherwise. I was absolutely captivated by the reruns of the 1960s version of the animated show as a kid. There was this sense of danger to them that was unlike a lot of the other cartoons I was watching at the time. Maybe it was me relating to a "kids in peril" scenario as I did in some of the films of the 1980s that I loved. 
I can't recall if I had also seen this 1980s reboot of the show, but I feel like I might have. It reminds me a bit of G.I. JOE in terms of the animation style. Regardless this is a really fun set from Warner Archive. What's not to love about the Quest clan and all their various gadgetry? It's still a pleasure to watch. I think they may have even amped up the gadgets and vehicles quotient in this reboot. Jonny Quest was and is one of those shows that truly defined 'adventure' for me as a youngster. He was equal parts James Bond jr. and Indiana Jones jr. It's easily one of the best shows in the entire Hanna-Barbera canon. These new adventures feel a touch more modern technologically, but that same sense of Quest magic, fantasy and adventure are still there from the original series. It' great to see Jonny, Hadji, Race, Bandit and Dr. Quest back together again. Highly recommended.
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Marc Edward Heuck said...

I do recall that Heathcliff preceded Garfield in the Sunday comic strips as a kid, so I was already aware of him when Ruby-Spears created their cartoon incarnation. I don't recall Dingbat, but I guess that must have followed after RS' initial pairing with Marmaduke, which I think is still the best because it had an awesome theme song sung by Scatman Crothers. (Let's face it, anything sung by Scatman is awesome) "The hot dog cat and the pussycat hound!"

When Heathcliff's license switched from Ruby-Spears to DIC, I feel like the franchise lost something, though I can't put my finger on it.

gog magog said...

heathcliff was sort of a knock-off garfield in most people's minds yet the actual heathcliff comic strip that gained popularity in city dailies actually predates the existence of garfield. the inventor of heathcliff, the leather jacket and sunglasses wearing tough talkin kitty, was a failed jazz musician with pretentions towards fine art (however not evidenced in his most successful creation)

I dated a girl once who told me she cut out every heathcliff strip from her parents newspaper every day when she was a kid and she had amassed thousands of them. I fell more deeply in love with her on this information, only to be instantly cast out of love again when she informed me she had eventually decided this was all folly and thrown the lot into the garbage!