FANTASTIC FOUR ’67: A Brief Salute to Hanna-Barbera’s Groovy Cartoon

Change the channel! It’s clobberin’ time!

Of all of TwoMorrows’ terrific magazines, I find it the toughest to select EXCLUSIVE EXCERPTS from RetroFan. Michael Eury’s pop-culture potpourri is typically so eclectic, and filled with so many groovy features, that’s it’s hard to highlight just one.

I mean, just check out what’s coming in RetroFan #18, due Dec. 15:


There’s so much to choose from: a great Barbara Eden interview, a round-up of classic Super 8 flicks, a focus on animation-house Christmas cards, to name just a few features.

But I’ve decided to go short and sweet with a piece from Scott Shaw!’s retrospective on Hanna-Barbera’s superhero cartoons of the ’60s — a brief but informative overview of 1967’s The Fantastic Four.

Flame on!


I think that Hanna-Barbera’s adaptation of The Fantastic Four is one of the two best-animated iterations of the property (the other being the 1995 season of New World’s Fantastic Four). Unfortunately, its production values can’t match that of The Herculoids on CBS, aired at the same time.

The show’s strengths include Gerald Mohr—a film, television, and radio actor—as the voice of Reed “Mr. Fantastic” Richards, exactly as you “heard” him in your head while reading
the comic.

And speaking of comic books, other than the 12-foot-tall Galactus, who was smaller and less intimidating than his comics counterpart, H-B’s FF cartoon often looked very close to Marvel’s FF comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, especially the backgrounds. The show’s director, Lew Marshall, would clip panels from Fantastic Four stories that H-B was adapting to hand out to layout artists and background painters to use as reference.

The show’s instrumental theme music was cool jazz, kinda adult for a Saturday morning cartoon, but appropriate for Fantastic Four. Most episodes are full-length stories, but a few have two shorter segments. My favorite is “The Way It All Began,” a Doctor Doom story that combines Fantastic Four #1 and Fantastic Four Annual #2.

When H-B adapted a story featuring Sub-Mariner, they created a completely new character, “Triton,” unrelated to the Inhuman of the same name, since Subby was already appearing as a segment of the syndicated Marvel Super Heroes series. (Editor’s note: See RetroFan #16 for Will Murray’s Marvel Super Heroes history.)

RetroFan #18 is due Dec. 15. It’s available through comics shops and magazine sellers but you can also order it directly from TwoMorrows. Click here.


— THE MARVEL SUPER HEROES: The Origin of the ’60s Cartoon Series. Click here.

— 13 GREAT THINGS About the 1967 SPIDER-MAN Cartoon. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. This was way before my time, but I discovered this cartoon in the early 90s when Cartoon Network (which was a premium cable option at the time) would give free preview weekends and sometimes weeks. I vividly remember one December they gave a couple week free preview of the network and played plenty of awesome holiday cartoons. But they also would wedge in some of these old Fantastic Four cartoons. As a lover of old Alex Toth type material and a big FF fan, this was such a fun feast for the senses. It was simple, crude at times, but also very much encapsulated what I wanted out of this. Fun stuff and forever associated with this time of year for me.

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  2. I would be first in line if the H-B FF show was ever released on DVD.

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    • This seriously needs to happen. It’s my favorite animated version of the FF.

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    • I actually have a 2 DVD set but it mostly freezes on my DVD player 🙁

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  3. I’ve watched the Hanna-Barbera “Fantastic Four” series several times on Catoon Network, and I really appreciate the creative talents behind it.

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  4. Gerald Mohr was a great radio actor, and did some fantastic work in the movies and on TV, but let’s not forget that Bashful Benjy was voiced on this show by the greatest voice actor of all time – Paul Frees!

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  5. Vic Perrin as several characters including the Silver Surfer and Ted Cassidy as Galactus. It was a great lineup of voice talent.

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  6. I love Hanna-Barbera’s Fantastic Four series. I think the series is terribly underrated. I interviewed Ted Nichols about his background score for the Fantastic Four in my book, The Best Saturdays of our Lives. I thought Ted’s scoring on the FF series was impeccable. There are also some great animated moments in series when Reed Richards stretches outside a window to tackle Blastarr on the roof of the Baxter building. The animation just pops in that scene thanks to some great animation direction. Warner Media owns the series and Disney would have to negotiate to Warner Media to get the H-B’s FF released on DVD. A similar deal had to made with Archie comics and Warner Media to release Josie and the Pussycats.

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