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Joe Ruby, co-creater of “Scooby-Doo,” died Wednesday aged 87

In an era dominated by truly horrible Hannah-Barbera animation, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! stood out as something uniquely bizarre and ugly.

Who permitted four underage mixed-sex teenagers to spend their days travelling around in a van unchaperoned? Why was shaggy a Maynard G. Krebs beatnik, a character from the previous decade? Why the heck did “Where Are You!” end with an exclamation point and not a question mark??

Mostly, why did this program have staying power when others with a very similar formula (The Funky Phantom and Speed Buggy both featured a cast of teenagers with one novelty talking character) did not?

Look at the list and feel the memories flooding back, like PTSD flashbacks.

I make an exception for their adventure cartoons like Space Ghost and The Herculoids, which had character designs by the brilliant comics illustrator Alex Toth. A good man working in a severely limiting medium.

I had a boss who was a great admirer of Hannah-Barbera and their ability to cut corners and still get the job done. Cheap tricks like when Fred is talking they show Barney standing there blinking, and when Barney is talking they show Fred, to avoid having to animate lips. Says a lot about the man and how much fun he was to work for.

A final note: that thing Fred is wearing is an Apache scarf – a fashion item that exactly matches the show’s release date and vanished fairly quickly thereafter. They were usually gaudy scarves held together with a tacky bit of paste jewelelry called an Apache scarf ring. They were a dollar at JC Penney and I loved them.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

August 28, 2020 — 7:45 pm
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