Saturday, November 14, 2009

Space Ghost And Dino Boy Together Inexplicably

My son's obsession with strange and disturbing cartoons continues, this time with the discovery of the 1966 insanity that is Space Ghost and Dino Boy. They aren't together in the show, just paired together in separate shorts for no discernible reason. They have nothing in common: Space Ghost is a superhero who turns invisible and wastes everyone's time until a monkey can save him or get saved, and Dino Boy is a virulently racist kid who travels around with a caveman and dinosaur and runs from things.

Space Ghost is a pretty good time in some ways. The voices are over the top. (Jace is voiced by Tim Matheson, Vice President Hoynes in the West Wing!) The animation is horrible, but colorful. Space Ghost has a fun array of powers from his wrist bands, although the turning invisible seems the least effective of them. When you can make giant pile-drivers appear and smash your enemies, is there a need for subterfuge? But despite some of these silly problems, and the attempt of the writers to shoehorn the whole "invisible space ghost" theme into a science fiction show, Space Ghost is pretty good. The real problem with this show is Dino Boy.

First of all, the boy is voiced by Johnny Carson, and that made me waste time discovering that it isn't THAT Johnny Carson. I bet he got really sick of that. Second, the premise is one of those half baked ideas that drive me nuts. The boy crashes in South America, and finds a lost kingdom of cavemen and dinosaurs. Now I recognize that these writers didn't have Wikipedia to look up La Paz, but come on, writers. You know South America is not Pangaea. Is it that hard to just make the kid fly through a time warp? I'll forgive the caveman/dinosaurs living at the same time thing. It's a cartoon. But I won't forgive lazy storytelling.

The second, larger problem, is that the show is oddly racist. The bad guys are weird caricatures of Africans, or sometimes Native Americans. One strange villain is a short dark skinned guy with a bald head, straight out of a racist political cartoon of the 19th century. I understand that 1966 is not 2009, but come on, guys. It isn't 1830 either. At one point Viri just turned to me and frowned. They don't use any bad terms, so I didn't want to turn it off; but the creepy image was a bit much. I would definitely avoid it for my kids, if these strange and disturbing cartoons weren't so captivating to Viri.

The Dino Boy doesn't do anything either. The two episodes I watched involved him running from bad guys he found. He just wanders around and finds trouble? Then runs away? Solid storytelling there! At least Space Ghost had fun monsters that chased him and developed ridiculous plots to capture him. (My favorite: Metallus invites him to his ship, shows him his plan, then lets him go. Later, Space Ghost just comes back and beats him up. Can you explain your thinking on this, Metallus?)

I've got to continue to find some of these for him, and for my own twisted curiosity. I'm especially curious about the Alex Toth cartoons, like Space Ghost and Herculoids. He also wrote early Green Lantern comics, which I would love to expose Viri to when he gets old enough. If he likes the style of the cartoons, he'll really like the Golden Age comic style, once he's able to appreciate it. For now, it's crazy animation and invisible monkeys! And Dino Boy wandering around Copacabana being racist!

1 comment:

Herc said...

Dino Boy was the Al Jolson of his time.