Friday, April 18, 2008


What were the formative influences on John Kricfalusi? Clampett, Jones, Avery, Yogi and Quickdraw, right? Well, not exactly; there's one name missing from that list, and that name is...."Rocket Robin Hood!"

John's mentioned this show in the past, but I'll bet a lot of readers still haven't seen it. I just spent an hour looking at YouTube clips of it, and found myself laughing out loud the whole time. The limited animation cheats are hilarious, and some of the poses are to die for! How do you like the one above? The show is full of gems like that!

Rocket Robin Hood was a funky Canadian TV show made in the late 60s. It looks a little like a Filmation product, which is not surprising since Filmation's top layout supervisor, Alberto DiMello, worked on it. Shamus Culhane is credited as executive producer, but I don't see much of his influence on the art. Maybe he supervised the scripts.

Wikipedia credits "Fritz the Cat" producer Steve Krantz as executive producer and Ralph Bakshi as director. Holy Cow! Ralph really had to pay his dues! Anyway, there's a cartload of clips from this show on YouTube. The clip I was dying to use was the one showing the end titles, but YouTube wouldn't allow it to be embedded.

Here's a clip that john K recommends, also not embeddable :

And be sure to read John's comment on the comments page!


Ben Jones said...

This show was a masterpiece of reuse. They would run the first part of the story, then run a little clip with trivia about Robin's crew of merry Men. No matter how many episodes I saw, though, there only seemed to be two trivia clips, and one was about the fat Friar, and consisted mostly of a cycle of him picking up pieces of food, taking one bite, and then tossing it over his shoulder as he reached for the next bite, Anyhow, after the commercial break, they'd finish the story - but first they'd burn up at least a minute recapping the story from the beginning of the show.

If there was ever more than 30 % unique footage in any episode, I'd be surprised.

Rocket Robin Hood trivia - all their animation discs ended up being used by the Animation students at Sheridan College. At least that's what they told us.

Nico said...

good lord.

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

You know, the Avery, Clampett, Benedict and Gross influences I can see in John. But this?

I'm really gonna have to study those YouTube clips to catch any influence that JK might have picked up.

Never woulda thought something from the likes of Filmmation could influence someone ( despite influencing them to NOT make cartoons like that ).

Who knew?

- trevor.

JohnK said...

It has the greatest theme song of any cartoon.It's like 12 songs in one. And it actually works, unlike Tiny Toons and Animaniacs.

How do you like that rocket on Little John's belt?

There were 2 seasons. the first season was by Shamus and that's the one I like.

The characters are cornier looking, like Clutch Cargo- sort of half cartoon-half realistically but drawn by people who couldn't draw realistically or cartoony.

Ralph (my hero) ruined the show when he took over for the 2nd season, because he made the mistake of adding quality to it.

He brought in serious talented comic artists like Gray Morrow to redesign it, lay it out and make it not look so campy. His heart was in the right place, but it was just much funnier when it was corny.

I was working on the Harlem Shuffle one day and Ralph called me into his office to shoot the crap (a daily ritual).

He had his huge fist wrapped around a bottle of whiskey or something and I could tell he was a bit stewed and in one of his mellow sentimental moods.

He wanted to talk about his adventures in the cartoon world. He talked about his Terrytoons days with much nostalgia, Fritz the Cat, Mighty Heroes and then I innocently asked, "Yeah, all that's great Ralph, but what about 'Rocket Robin Hood?'"

Holy crap. Ralph spat his whiskey all over me.

"What the F@*#$&?!!!" He flew out of his desk and looked out the door into the hallway to see who was listening. Then he slammed it and pulled his chair up close to me, sitting backwards in it.

His gargantuan head was an inch from mine and his eyes squinted. I could feel his hot whiskey breath melting my eyelashes. Dust mites leapt to their death.

He grabbed me by the shirt and said "What the f**k do you know about Goddamn Wocket Wobin Hood, asthhole?"

"What else do you know about me, you little punk? You follow me awound everywhere don't you?"

Then I told him all the reasons I thought it was a great show and how proud he should be to have his named on such a classic of Canadian culture.

It never dawned on him that it was funny. When he realized that, he tossed his head back and started guffawing at the top of his lungs until I thought he was gonna choke to death.

After he settled, he loaned close again and said "You kill me, Belushi. What the f**k else do you know about me thmart guy?

Do you know the story about me being chased across the Canadian border by mounted police?"

The story has to do with Rocket Robin Hood and is worthy of being added to our great animation legend. Maybe I'll tell the story on my blog sometime.

I also met the "creator" of Rocket Robin Hood - Al Guest, who is another real character. So many stories.

Dave Hvizdos said...

That is amazing. You went from Jane Eyre to Rocket Robin Hood in a matter of hours, not to mention that you brought up the subject of weird syntheses in the Jane Eyre post.

Anonymous said...

I think Ralph was only involved in part of "Rocket Robin Hood"; his recent book states that Shamus Culhane was fired off the production just prior to Ralph coming onboard. Some of the series was animated by Grantray Lawrence, a company involving Tom Ray somehow. If Filmation had allowed this degree of self parody in its product, it might still be around today rather than a fart in the bubbles of time.

Weirdo said...

Interesting stuff. I can see that this probably was an influence for "The Ripping Friends". Just seeing the opening for it just screams "The Ripping Friends" at me.

"It has the greatest theme song of any cartoon... and it actually works, unlike Tiny Toons or Animaniacs"

I would like to know what John K, or you for that matter Uncle Eddie, think makes a great theme song for cartoons. That would be an interesting post.

David Germain said...

Yeah, Jerry Beck doesn't have episodes of this in his Worst Cartoons Ever show for nothing. I never even found it funny for camp reasons or anything. I was just plain old bored with it. One of the only positive aspects of that show was that when it went belly up, the equipment was used at a new fledgling animation school known as Sheridan.

Did Ralph Bakshi really refer to John K. as "Belushi"? That, I found hilarious.

Anonymous said...

This show is on everyday right before Family Guy on Teletoon. I can't decide which show is sincerely worse... just kidding, Family Guy is much, much, worse.

Alex Whitington said...

I really like the way the theme tune changes halfwy through, it's like Bohemian Rhapsody.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Dave: Thanks!

John: Haw! That's hilarious!!!!

Charlie J. said...

I met Ralph last night, but I didn't have the heart to ask him about RRH.

By the way Eddie, have you ever seen Monkey Doodle? It's kind of like the 30s Rocket Robin Hood, but really trippy.

solid jackson said...

Wow! This was on the reel that I got with my 16mm projector! I had no idea that Shamus Culhane had anything to do with this!

I wonder if Rocket Robin Hood would have anything to say about getting tax credits from the Canadian government (ala Ed Hunt)?

John A said...

Rocket Robin Hood played briefly during the seventies in the Detroit area on channel 20. Amazingly bad. Shamus Culhane was also partly responcible for The Mighty Marvel Heroes (or whatever it was called) another '60s show that took limited animation all the way to absolute zero. I'm guessing Culhane must have been drinking pretty heavily himself at this point in his career.

I think the most succesful theme songs are the ones that work almost on the level of hypnotic mind control and cause children to spontaniously burst in song aqfter being exposed to the first few bars or the intro music. H and B were masters of this in the early sixties. Spider-Man is another great example- terrible show elevated by an inspired theme song. John K did an excellent parody of this with The Muddy Mudskipper Theme song, capturing both the classic catchy theme song vibe as well as Stimpy's near euphoric reation to it.

Sean Worsham said...

I remember one time at Comic-con they were showing clips of this as a marathon of the worst cartoons EVER!!! I couldn't stop laughing period! XD BEST CARTOON EVER!!! (hahaha)

Steve Schnier said...

I don't know about the animation discs ending up at Sheridan College, but when Guest Animation went belly up, Vlad Goetzelman bought most of the gear - camera, stand, editing equipment, desks, etc. for Cinera Productions.

We had a ton of green cel paint left over from Rocket Robinhood. The green stuff goes especially moldy after a while...

Anonymous said...

I've seen it a few times! It's hilariously terrible. Holy crap!

Mattieshoe said...
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Mattieshoe said...
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Mitch K said...

Oh man! Teletoon was playing this show at like, 4am or something, a few years back. I used to come home late, and then watch it before I fell asleep. I don't know why, but I kept watching the show. The show is pretty lame, except for one episode which was actually hilarious.

That show is Sheridan's heritage. After the show ended, Sheridan bought all of the studio's equipment.

lucas accardo said...

Yet this is like Winsor McCay animation quality when compared to Johnny Cypher in Dimension Zero.

Anonymous said...

Hey - who ended up with th Rights to this Gem?

Percy Pernell said...

I have proof that Sheridan college bought the equipment.
There was a box of animation cels and drawings from Rocket Robin Hood that came over with all the discs and desks. The camera man at the school was the same guy that shot stuff for Al Guest (including RRH and Spider-man).
I can't remember if he said the shitty bolex cameras were part of the Guest studios, one of the larger animation stands was.
Anyone remember the Oxberry pegs?

vg said...

I could tell you the real story of RR.but i wont.Nobody remembers that RR played off CanadianContent for a number of TV stations for nearly 20 Years