Monday, December 6, 2010

Tooniversary: Thundarr The Barbarian (1980)

In 1980, Ruby-Spears unveiled a futuristic science-fiction cartoon that combined elements of Robert E. Howard's "Conan the Barbarian" with "Star Wars", and maybe a little of Alex Raymond's "Flash Gordon". Thundarr The Barbarian was right in the heart of ABC's Saturday lineup. Set in the 40th century, it's hard to imagine how some of the "ruins" of a supposed cataclysm 2000 years earlier could still be preserved that much later, but, then, this is a cartoon, after all. Superherocartoonsite uploaded the open to YouTube:

Thundarr's creative personnel are better known for their work in comic books, including series creator Steve Gerber ("Howard the Duck", "Man-Thing") and the inestimable Jack Kirby, who created many of Marvel's cherished, iconic characters, as well as the 4th World for DC Comics, among others. Only 21 episodes, produced over 2 seasons, were made, a clear case of the network giving up too soon. After its ABC run ended, Thundarr resurfaced briefly on NBC (1983) before fading into the vaults. Since then, it has appeared periodically on Cartoon Network and its sister channel, Boomerang, and was recently released on DVD by Warner Home Video.

Rating: A.


magicdog said...

I remember enjoying this show as a kid (and I even admit to holding my breath as soon as 1994 passed by without the cataclysm!) but my adult self has some trouble enjoying it now.

Part of it is due not only to the ruins being so well preserved after 2000 years, but the fact of how evolutions/mutations could take place within that short of time frame. Not to mention, after having seen real life disasters (like the recent tsunamis in Asia), I can't help but wonder if things like what happened in Thundarr would exist as such. Sure, in some places various factions might take control of some areas, but I keep thinking that mankind would have eventually rebuilt and gone onward in a more civil way.

Plus... where did all these wizards come from anyway?? It's not like there are magical campuses for budding magicians before the disaster!!

Sweet One said...

Wasn't Thundarr based on th 7os comic books series Mighty Samson?

hobbyfan said...

Sweet One: No. Thundarr was an original creation, as I noted.

Magicdog: It's science-fiction and a cartoon. Lord only knows where those wizards came from.