[It was a tradition Friday nights at San Diego Comic Con to visit Jerry Beck’s long-running panel, Worst Cartoons Ever!, which delivered on its title. Beck would provide background on the poorly created, oddly compelling, laughter-inducing shorts. Because of the pandemic, the convention has gone virtual but not Beck’s panel. To give readers a taste, we are posting this 2007 review of the DVD, previously published at Blogcritics, because it contains some example. They are terrible so consider yourself warned.]
Comic-Con International is the event of the year for social misfits and entertainment purveyors of the science fiction and fantasy persuasion. There’s something for everyone as fans can see sneak peeks of Hollywood’s upcoming films, get autographs from their favorite artists and vaguely familiar actors who appeared in one episode of a cult show, and pathetically attempt to finagle their way into parties they weren’t cool enough to be invited to in the first place.
Amid all the glitz, glamour, and marketing there is one highlight of Comic-Con weekend that stands above the rest in the sheer pleasure it delivers: Jerry Beck’s “Worst Cartoons Ever!” In this hour-long program, Beck presents amazingly terrible and unintentionally hilarious cartoons to a standing-room-only audience.
Made during the early days of television by the cartoon equivalents of Ed Wood, it is immediately apparent from the terrible writing and animation why these characters have been forgotten by the ages. However, due to Beck’s diligent work they arise once a year from the mists of time in a darkened convention hall, and now thanks to Rembrandt Films, no longer must one make the trek to San Diego as these terrible shorts are now available to view with friends and loved ones in the comfort of your own home.
The disc opens just like Beck’s program does with Mighty Mister Titan, a physical fitness cartoon that teaches children how to exercise. The animation is limited so M.M.T. looks rather stiff performing the routine and the count goes on longer than it should.
Mighty Mister Titan:
Westerns used to be popular with young American boys. Two cartoons that take part in the genre are Bucky and Pepito and Pow Wow the Indian Boy. The former are two young boys in Texas, an American and a Mexican, who have adventures with animals. The voices don’t match the movement of the character’s lips. Pow Wow gets around that by having a narrator do all the talking.
Bucky and Pepito in The Coyote Catcher:
The Adventures of Sir Gee Whiz is a pilot about a small creature from the other side of the moon. His race inhabits our planet as elves, fairies, and leprechauns. Sir Gee Whiz takes a young girl named Lindy to a Moon, which is a long trip. So long in fact that by the time they get there, there’s only enough time for a preview of the next episode.
Some of the Worst Cartoons Ever! make very interesting artistic choices, usually motivated by budget. Captain Fathom presented the adventures of a submarine commander. The animation was very static and the characters spoke using Synrco-Vox, a technique that showed human mouths speaking the lines on cartoon heads. This same production company had more success with the format on Clutch Cargo. Late Night with Conan O’Brien uses Synrco-Vox during comedy bits that purport to be famous celebrities talking by way of satellite.
The Adventures of Paddy the Pelican is very odd. The animation is pencil tests and the voices aren’t even close to matching. Paddy is joined by two other animals, Amos and Buster Bear, who speak as if they are in a minstrel show.
Paddy the Pelican in Two Wet Bears:
The Mummynappers is the strangest cartoon as human silhouettes act out in front of animated backgrounds. It had potential as it looks rather impressive and has a hip jazz score but the script is silly, the characters’ actions are overly dramatic, and the voices, all done by one man, are very corny.
The disc closes with “Really Bad Cartoons We Can’t Show,” a list of worthy entries from Beck’s Comic-Con presentation that aren’t available due to copyright issues. Big World Little Adam is created around stock science footage from NASA. The production is so cheap that the boys read a book that covers their mouths. Rocket Robin Hood updates the story in outer space with bad animation. Luno tells the adventures of a boy with a talking, flying horse. In 1966, well-known animator Friz Freleng, who worked on Looney Tunes and The Pink Panther, created Super President, a superhero whose secret identity is that he’s the President of the United States. Lastly, there’s The Adventures of Spunky and Tadpole, a terribly drawn adventure serial about a boy and his bear.
The Adventures of Spunky and Tadpole:
Anyone can own great cartoons, but it takes a true fan of the art form to own and appreciate the worst that animation has to offer. Worst Cartoons Ever! provides plenty of laughs and is great to watch in groups of like-minded, twisted individuals.
Worst Cartoons Ever! is available through the Rembrandt Films website.