Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: Thundarr the Barbarian

Last week's TT, about the Saturday Morning theme songs, got me to thinking a great deal about some of the old cartoons that made my Saturday mornings so exciting. I've been reliving some of those days in my mind, days when sticks were swords and the patch of woods a couple of blocks from my house was an enchanted (often haunted) forest.

Of course, from the beginning, there was Scooby-Doo. There was Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. Hong Kong Phooey. Wheelie and the Chopper Gang (I seem to be one of the few that remembers this late 70's treat, but remember it I do). The Tarzan/Lone Ranger Hour. If the phrase "Meanwhile...back at the Hall of Justice" means anything to you, you know there were the SuperFriends.

And from 1980 to 1982, there was Thundarr the Barbarian.

The 80's weren't all bad

Thundarr was a--well, a barbarian--living on the post-apocalyptic Earth of the year 3994. With his companions, the sorceress Princess Ariel and the savage, Wookie-like lion-man, Ookla the Mok, he traveled the world over, facing evil sorcerers and strange mutant monsters.

Actually, the intro to the show sums it all up:

I fell in love with this show immediately. I loved the premise, I loved the characters, and I loved that super-cool, lightsaber-like Sunsword.

I've always been a huge comic book fan, and one of the reasons that this show resonated with me so strongly is that its creators are a veritable who's who of comic book talent: Alex Toth (who also designed Space Ghost, another childhood hero), Jack Kirby (just about everything in the world of comics owes its existence to the King), Steve Gerber (creator of, among other things, Howard the Duck--forget the movie, the comics were great); many other comic book writers, folks responsible for some of the best stories of my youth, contributed to the twenty-one episodes eventually produced. This show felt like a comic book, and I loved it.

Of course, at the time, I didn't know any of the comic book creators involved; it was just a good cartoon that fired my imagination.

This was the first "post-apocalyptic" story that I was exposed to--I didn't discover Mad Max until a few years later when we got cable--and it created a love of the sub-genre that still carries strong.

The series is available on dvd, but I haven't watched it since I was 11 years old, and I really can't say whether it holds up or not.

But that doesn't matter. What matters are my memories of it; the memories of a nine-year-old boy who couldn't get enough of these kinds of stories, who dreamed of adventure.

A boy who has become a 39-year-old man who still dreams of adventure.

It's a part of my childhood, thus it's a part of me.

And "Ookla the Mok" would be a great name for a band.
Thanks for reading my ranting,


  1. I didn't watch any of those shows except Scooby Doo. I went for things like Gummy Bears, My Little Ponies, Rainbow Brite, and Moondreamers. Yea I was a girly girl. Except I didn't like pink.

  2. Ok, I wasn't much on the other ones you mentioned, but Gummi Bears was a great Disney cartoon.
    Good, solid story-telling.

  3. Totally a He-Man fan myself. :) Though, like Jaleh, I liked My Little Ponies and Rainbow Brite and dressed like Punky Brewster. Good times.