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Cartoons 101

I was fortunate enough to grow up in what may be the golden age of cartoons.

Saturday mornings in households around the country were reserved for cartoons, and none so more than in my home.

First up on my menu was The Bugs Bunny Show.

The image of Bugs and Daffy Duck, complete with straw hat and cane strutting across the stage to the theme music “This Is It,” is forever burned into my memory.

“Overture, curtain, lights… this is it, we’ve hit the heights, and oh what heights we’ve hit, on with the show this is it,” they sang before an hour of cartoon entertainment came my way.

By that point I was hunkered down in my chair in front of my trusty black and white console television set (we couldn’t experience “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” until the 1970s), junk food within easy reach.

Always a hyper kid, my trusty spider bike was just outside the front door and available for forays through the neighborhood during those obnoxious commercials pushing sugary cereal and toys made by Marx and Hasbro.

Looney Tunes characters such as Yosemite (“I’m the roughest, toughest, meanest hombre’ north, south, east or west of the Pecos”) Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Tweety Pie, Sylvester, Pepe’ Le Pew, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig, Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, Tazmanian Devil filled the screen.

Later that morning it was time for Space Ghost, the cosmic crusader complete with a power band and more tricks up his sleeve than Felix the Cat.

Space Ghost always had a lot on his mind, what with minding twins Jan and Jayce and Blip the monkey, while fighting his arch nemesis, the Creature King.

Later on, it was time for George of the Jungle, Super (you knew the job was dangerous when you took it) Chicken, Jonny Quest and the Banana Splits Adventure Hour, actually a live action hour-long series of adventures, including Danger Island.

The Banana Splits Adventure Hour actually premiered one of the very first music videos, featuring the soon-to-be famous Seals and Crofts.

Remember “Summer Breeze?”

Jonny Quest was perhaps my favorite, and I identified with the precocious teenager who traveled the world with his scientist father, Dr. Benton Quest, along with Race Bannon, Hadji and Bandit.

A Friday evening prime time cartoon in the beginning, Jonny Quest migrated to Saturday morning, where I immediately fell in love with the adventure/science fiction theme of the show.

Adversaries included a robotic spy (which resembled a granddaddy long leg spider), invisible electric energy creature, a mummy and a very large, rather angry sumo wrestler with an eye patch.

Dr. Quest’s greatest enemy was the redoubtable and conniving Dr. Zin, who was to Dr. Quest what Dr. Moriarty was to Sherlock Holmes.

“We will meet again,” was Dr. Zin’s comeback whenever Dr. Quest got the best of him, which was every episode.

“Yes, and when we do…” was the inevitable reply.

Regretably, cartoons have changed, and not for the better.

Gone is the entertainment value, and now we have to have “educational” cartoons complete with public service ads.

Cartoon “violence” is a no-no, as when Wile E. Coyote hits the ground after falling over a cliff, a puff of smoke identifying the spot.

I was just a kid but old enough and wise enough to know they were just cartoons, and what’s so different between me and the current crop of youngsters, except for the fact they’re exposed to so much more than me and my contemporaries were at the same age.

There’s a bit of cartoon character in all of us, someone we can all identify with, complete with strengths and weaknesses.

To deny that part of us is to deny who we are.