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A Tribute to the 60s Spider-Man Cartoon
Robert Berry webmaster@retrocrush.com

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 real treat.

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, Spider-Man,
Does whatever a spider can
Spins a web, any size,
Catches thieves just like flies
Look Out!
Here comes the Spider-Man.
Is he strong?
Listen bud,
He's got radioactive blood.
Can he swing from a thread?
Take a look overhead
Hey, there
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.
Spider-Man, Spider-Man
Friendly neighborhood Spider-Man
Wealth and fame
He's ignored
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!




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Robert Berry, retroCRUSH.com, or their respective copyright holders.
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