HE'S GOT RADIOACTIVE
A Tribute to the 60s Spider-Man Cartoon
The defining cartoon of my childhood was
Spider-Man. Though there's been many animated versions of this great
character, it's the 1966 version that I still think is the best. Sure, the
animation cut a lot of corners, but the storytelling, mood, atmosphere, and
music was unlike anything else on TV.
With stories taken straight from the Stan
Lee and Steve Ditko comics, the cartoon was fantastic. As the first non
comic book version of the character to exist outside the medium, the cartoon
captured the angst of the Peter Parker wonderfully. Comic book legend,
Gray Morrow, served as the show's Art Director, which showed in the trippy
watercolored backgrounds which looked as if New York City was in the middle of a
nuclear holocaust as Spidey swung through the air.
In the second season, Ralph Bakshi, who is
best known for his animated feature films Fritz the Cat, Lord of The Rings, and
Wizards, cut his teeth on TV animation before he made it big. After
working on Terrytoon classics like Mighty Mouse and Deputy Dawg, he was brought
on to do the Spider-Man cartoon.
Just watching one episode showed you they
were operating on a budget, however. Though the 20 episodes were made in
Canada, the animation company went bankrupt due to the high cost of producing
the cartoons. Ralph Bakshi then came on board, and began recycling much of
the animation to save cash. It became rather funny to see the same shots
of Spider-Man swinging at you, shooting his webs, and landing on buildings.
Bakshi once performed the budget trick to
end all, he took the animation from an entire episode of Rocket Robin Hood, and
used it for a whole Spider-Man episode, merely replacing the Robin Hood
character with Spidey.
The craziest shot I'd always laugh at was a
long sideways shot of him swinging on his webs over the city. Only he was
so high up that his webs would have to be catching clouds for him to keep from
falling to his doom.
One of the goofier aspects of the cartoons
would be at the end, when Spidey would give the criminal to the cops, perhaps in
a block of ice while he quipped, "I guess he'll be KEEPING COOL for a long
time!" as he yucked it up with the cops, and they would laugh like it was the
funniest joke in the world until the credits came up.
Of course, the single greatest thing about
Spider-Man was its theme song. The snazzy horns and drums composed by Bob
Harris were present in the whole show, but it's the fantastic lyrics by Paul
Francis Webster that make it one of the best cartoon songs ever written.
If you've never heard it before, it's pretty easy to find on the net or file
sharing services. And you gotta hear The Ramones version of the song for a
SPIDER-MAN PRO TIP: Paul Francis
Webster not only wrote the theme song to Spider-Man but was nominated for 15
different song-writing Oscars during his career, and won 3 of them!
SPIDER-MAN THEME SONG LYRICS
Does whatever a spider can
Spins a web, any size,
Catches thieves just like flies
Here comes the Spider-Man.
Is he strong?
He's got radioactive blood.
Can he swing from a thread?
Take a look overhead
There goes the Spider-Man.
In the chill of night
At the scene of a crime
Like a streak of light
He arrives just in time.
Friendly neighborhood Spider-Man
Wealth and fame
Action is his reward.
To him, life is a great big bang up
Whenever there's a hang up
You'll find the Spider man.
I've been dying for these to get released
on DVD, and still can't understand why, with the massive success of the movie
that they wouldn't release a nice collector set of them all, but I was at least
partially happy to see they included an episode of the old show as a bonus
feature on the recent
Spider-Man The Ultimate Villian Showdown compilation.
I hope you enjoy these pictures I've got
from it! I'm thrilled to finally get some high quality pictures from the
show, courtesy of your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man!