On (Not So) Classic Cartoons

A recent post on My Non-Urban Life opened a floodgate of childhood cartoon memories, primarily focused around Deputy Dawg, the first TV show I can remember avidly, diligently watching. So obsessed was I with this character that I absconded with one of my grandfathers fedoras and wore it around, refering to it as my Deputy Dawg Hat. Years later, I caught some Deputy Dawg cartoons on late night television, and was amazed at how borderly-offensive the thick Southern accents and broad yokel comic strokes were. But it occured to me that the reason I liked it so much as a kid in South Carolina was because everyone else I knew in real life talked that way too.

Later, when we moved to New Jersey, I became a Speed Racer fan, a much more urban/northern sort of cartoon obsession. This Christmas, I bought my nephew a DVD of some classic Speed Racer episodes. The current Japanese manga/anime fad seems to keep Speed (the first Japanese animated series to run in the States, I believe) in the public eye a lot more than poor Deputy Dawg is these days. Somehow I don’t imagine Deputy Dawg gettting an official, slick flash website anytime soon.

Other favorites from the ’60s and early ’70s: Underdog, Wacky Races, Hillbilly Bears (I don’t think I realized they had funny accents either), and Quickdraw McGraw (but only the El Kabong episodes). Towards the end of my regular cartoon watching days, I also liked The Groovy Goolies and Hair Bear.

I think kids today would find any and all of these cartoons to be woefully inadequate, spoiled as they are by CGI and digital animation, and by 24/7 opportunities to watch cartoons. But, man, in the ’60s and early ’70s, Saturday morning cartoons were the bomb, and your afternoon play couldn’t officially start until you’d caught up on what Speed Racer was up to that day, so that way you’d have something to talk about while throwing rocks at each other.

The only peril to Saturday mornings was when you work up too early, because then your parents would make you watch Davey and Goliath until the real cartoons came on. And the last thing you wanted to start a Saturday with was something wholesome (yuck!) with a message (blech!). It was better to just stay in bed and dream about setting your model airplanes on fire.

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