Saturday, November 28, 2015

Rare Treats: King Arthur (1967-74)

Several months back, we served up a rarely seen Filmation pilot, Dick Digit, and perhaps the only reason he never made it to air might've been because the titular hero, being small in size, was too close to DC's Atom, who'd been licensed to Filmation as part of a rotating series of backup features behind Aquaman.

Roughly around the same time, Filmation tried an adaptation of the legend of King Arthur, which would've been the first series to adapt the Knights of the Round Table in an adventure series. Ken Sobol, principal writer for Journey to the Center of the Earth, which premiered in 1967, and Fantastic Voyage (1968), wrote this pilot, in which Arthur (Marvin Miller, the voice of Aquaman) must rescue Princess Guenivere (Jane Webb) from the Black Knight. Webb would also voice Morgaine Le Fey, and subsequently recycle the Le Fey voice for Catwoman (The Batman-Superman Hour).

Most scholars claim this was made in 1967. However, there are a few clues that suggest that this was later, even though the copyright date looks like it was made around 1964 or '65. I'm guessing that the cartoon was actually made well before the studio signed the contract to adapt the DC heroes (Superman, Batman, etc.), but it remained in the vaults until Filmation established itself on the air. Additionally, this would be the first instance where director Hal Sutherland's signature appeared on screen, as well as the circular credit of producers Norm Prescott & Lou Scheimer. These particular items didn't begin to appear on Filmation programs until 1969 (i.e. Hardy Boys). Finally, Webb didn't make her official debut with Filmation until 1967 (Journey to the Center of the Earth), and remained with the studio until 1977.

Edit, 12/1/15: I've since been apprised that the copyright date is 1974, which meant this project took 7 years to complete. Many thanks to Doz Hewson for providing some assistance.

Now, let's scope out King Arthur:

While the artists weren't credited, the linework seems to be an attempt to emulate the work of Hal Foster of Prince Valiant fame. One wonders if Foster wasn't somehow involved in the production of this piece.

Rating: A.


Austin Schivera said...
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hobbyfan said...

You may be right about Black Knight in this case. The copyright reads 1964 or '65, as I had noted, but I think we can agree there was a lag before it was finished. As we both know the "circle" and the Sutherland signature didn't appear on finished product until later (1969).

Doz Hewson said...

Making sure to pay attention to the © date, I paused this video several times before I
could be sure. The © info really/truly reads:


In other words, the © reads 1974, not 1964 or '65. The outro's main typeface was first utilized in 1971 on "Archie's TV Funnies". IMHO, this was first in prod. between 1967 and '71, and completed in '74.

hobbyfan said...

Ok, as grainy as it was, I thought there was just 1 "X" in the copyright date. Thanks, Doz. I will amend the date.