Super Friends- the influential cartoon of a generation

It’s easy to forget the roots of the modern cartoons such as the upcoming Batman animated movie, Under the Red Hood and the Brave and the Bold TV series.  As it happens, many of the creators behind these projects were heavily influenced by the same Saturday Morning cartoon, Super Friends. It may seem corny and dated (because it is), but at the time many young boys had their minds blown by this cartoon simply because it featured superheroes ripped directly from the pages of their favorite comic books.

Superfriends (circa 1973)

Filmation had certainly paved the way with their Superman, Batman, Aquaman and other Justice League cartoons years before, but it has to be said that many of us are familiar with these characters today because of the Super Friends. Warner Home Video has been steadily releasing the Super Friends on DVD for some time now, with the initial 1973 season the latest addition. If you have a taste for nostalgia, these discs are a lot of fun, and if you have never seen the Justice League of America battling an army of Bizarros and Cheetahs or trying to stop Gorilla Grodd from turning the world’s population to simians or better still, if you have never heard of ‘Warpland,’ you need to check these toons out.

Official release below:

The Joker pushes Batman to the brink of unrestrained violence in “Batman: Under the Red Hood”

Brandon Vietti is just two weeks away from his solo directorial film debut with Warner Home Video’s looming release of Batman: Under the Red Hood, a dark, emotionally wrenching journey as Batman’s past and present collide.

James Tucker is enjoying another successful season producing the Warner Bros. Animation/Cartoon Network hit series, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, a much lighter take on the Caped Crusader’s adventures

Ironically, the super hero roots of both contemporary animators can be found in the same content – Super Friends, the one-hour ABC series that began in 1973, inspiring generations of young imaginations and spawning numerous cartoon series sequels.

Warner Home Video and DC Entertainment will release Super Friends! Season 1 Volume 2 on DVD on July 20, 2010. Available for the first time since its debut in 1973, this highly-anticipated deluxe two-disc collector’s set features eight exciting one-hour episodes starring the most recognizable DC Comics super heroes and villains of all time.

Classic Super Friends opening

Super Friends! Season 1 Volume 2 follows the adventures of Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman as they join forces to save the world from unthinkable disasters. This crime-stopping squad, along with heroes in training Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog, combine their special superhuman skills to defeat the evil villains at hand. The collection also features DC Comics favorites Plastic Man, The Flash and Green Arrow. Each hour is packed with timeless adventures of the universe’s greatest heroes as they pave the way for a brighter future.

Both Vietti and Tucker fondly recall the wide-reaching impact Super Friends had on their young lives.

“The Super Friends show was my first exposure to the world of DC super heroes,” says Vietti, who also co-directed Superman Doomsday and was the director for much of the first season of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. “The show was on TV during the first 12 years of my life so I was the prime audience. From the first episode I ever watched, I was hooked! My parents bought me the DC action figures, the Super Friends bed sheets, and, of course, the Underoos. I guess the Super Friends show was a rather formative influence on me as a kid since I now have career making cartoons about DC super heroes.”

“To me, Super Friends really represented what Saturday morning cartoons were all about,” remembers Tucker. “When I think of Super Friends, I’m really reminded of waking up at 6 a.m., getting my bowl of cereal, and camping in front of the TV for about four or five hours of cartoons.

“It was probably the first show I saw that featured DC Comics characters that wasn’t in reruns. It was just cool seeing heroes in animation that I was reading in the comics at the time. And even though I knew the cartoon wasn’t at the same intensity level as the comics, it was still cool. The novelty of watching animated super heroes was enough to make up for the goofy stories and non-violence.”

The series also placed some important design and character seeds in minds of two of the leading super hero animation veterans in the industry today.

“I loved the scale of the adventures in Super Friends,” Vietti adds. “Episodes would often take place in fantastic locations under ground, under the sea, or in deep space. There was no end of aliens, monsters and evil scientists that had to be stopped before executing some evil plan. The Super Friends show was my first exposure to stories and characters like that, so that kept me tuning in again and again.”

“I thought the designs were appealing at the time – I didn’t know Alex Toth had done them, but they felt like the comic book designs,” Tucker says. “They had the anatomy that the comics had, and there was a simplicity to them that I can appreciate now but I probably wasn’t aware of back then.

“Super Friends was a consistent version of the DC characters when you just didn’t get that in another cartoon show. It kept those characters alive in my imagination, and I know it has had a direct effect on the way I work in animation today. I always say that Batman: The Brave and the Bold is the show I was watching when I watched Super Friends. The spirit, the fun, the excitement and the innocence of that series is what I wanted to capture with Batman: The Brave and the Bold.”

Buy Super Friends Season 1 Vol. 2 on DVD

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