In the beginning (this was the 1960s for me), Saturday mornings existed for the sole purpose of watching cartoons. Before my brother and I were allowed to turn on the TV the only rule was that our beds had to be made, our breakfast eaten (Quisp! cereal) and our teeth brushed. Of course, we were up at the crack of dawn so as to not miss a thing. Luckily, with few exceptions, our taste in cartoons was in sync (except that he liked Quake) and the fighting was kept to a minimum. That was good for me since I was the “little” brother by 18 months. Over time, the rules relaxed and our cereal eating overlapped with the TV, but the routine lasted for years. I loved all cartoons; the frosting-colored superjocks, talking animals, new cartoons, old—it didn’t matter.
It’s funny to look back from 30-plus years at the cartoons that had such a hold on me. Most of them were terrible! Why did I like them so much? Who were the characters and what was the coolness factor that transcended the poor writing and meager production budgets? Maybe it was the inventiveness of the show’s concept. Maybe it was the music (I could listen to composer Hoyt Curtin’s Jonny Quest theme all day long). All I know is that I couldn’t get enough. Another favorite of mine was Hanna-Barbera’s Space Ghost, an outer space, superhero cop designed by the late great, Alex Toth. Brilliant! The music, design and titles were incredible (as in all those classic HB adventure shows). The shows themselves, well . . . not so brilliant. Nonetheless, I watched them religiously. Gary Owens’s voice acting didn’t hurt either. He could pull off the most ludicrous line with deadly seriousness. Hey, if Space Ghost believed in what he was saying, who was I to argue? As I got older, my cartoon watching gave way to comic-book
reading. Cartoons were on only once a week back then, but there were always more comics at the candy store! I still watched cartoons, but the pulp adventures of Spider-Man, Thor, Hulk and countless others had won me over. Comics took the pulp adventure to a new level, just as the animated superheroes on TV were becoming less superheroic and more, well, superfriendly. As I entered high school, I decided that I would exploit my meager drawing skills in comics, or so I thought.