I have to say that 1966 may have been the greatest year in history of TV for genre fans. That was the year that saw the debut of Star Trek, Dark Shadows, The Adventures Of Superman Animated Series, color broadcasts of the George Reeves Adventures Of Superman and of course
The Marvel Super Heroes
Most of us remember the series as “The Merry Marching Society” but that was actually the name of the marvel Comics Fan Club at the time. We remember the series under that name because of the catchy MMMS theme song that was played at the end of each half hour show.
The Marvel Super Heroes was a limited animation anthology show that stared five different Marvel characters and ran in syndication all across the country (WOR Channel 9 in NYC).
Monday – Captain America
Tuesday – The Hulk
Wednesday – Iron Man
Thursday – Thor
Friday – The Submariner
When I say that these cartoons were limited animation, I am talking EXTREMELY limited! The series was produced by xerography which consisted of scanning and manipulating actual comic book pages. Elements from a panel would be removed and moved whole across the screen. About the only things that were animated were lips. On occasion you might see a limb move but that was about it.
Each half hour show consisted of three 7 minute segments. Sixty- fi half hour shows were produced for a total of 195 segments. They were produced by Gantray –Lawrence Animation based in Canada, who actually subcontracted the Mighty Thor to Paramount Pictures Animation Division.
By any standards, even the animations standards of the time, this was crude work. What made the Marvel Super Heroes …well…MARVelous was the source material. We were actually seeing the 1960’s version of a digital comic book. The stories were lifted from the comics almost word for word. The art was the same as in the comics. Jack Kirby, Don Heck, Gene Colan, and even Steve Ditko art were featured on the show.
And then there were the wonderful and clever theme songs!
Who can forget such immortal lyrics as “Doc Bruce Banner belted by gamma rays turns into the Hulk…ain’t he unglamorous!” . IF only Sinatra had recorded THAT one!
The cast was largely unknown although those of us growing up in the 1960’s will surely remember Sandy Becker who voiced Captain America. Becker was a well known children’s show host in New York who had his own show (The Sandy Becker Show) and also hosted “Wonderama”. He is especially well remembered for how on November 22, 1963 he explained in a compassionate way to his audience of very young children what had happened in Dallas to President Kennedy.
Certainly the hardest working cast member of the cast was Peg Dixon who voiced ALL the female characters! The Wasp, Jane Foster, Pepper Potts, and Lady Dorma among others were all voiced by Dixon. I sure hope she got overtime pay!
Today you can find many of the episodes on DVD, VHS or even You Tube. The Marvel Super Heroes may not be Disney but for those of us who saw the cartoons when they were first made, they remain something wonderful and quirky. Just another reason why 1966 was a milestone year in comics history!