October 04, 2014



(ABC, September 9, 1978-January 5, 1980)

Ruby-Spears Productions

Frank Welker – Sherman “Fangs” Fangworth/Fangface, Baby Fangs/Fangpuss, various
Susan Blu – Kim
Bart Braverman – Puggsy
Jerry Dexter – Biff
John Stephenson - Narrator

The Ruby-Spears logo that followed some of their shows.

In 1977, ABC executive Fred Silverman felt that Hanna-Barbera Productions’ quality was starting to slip due to their overextending themselves on a multitude of projects. Feeling they needed a little competition to not only lighten the load but keep their quality high, Silverman set up former Hanna-Barbera employees Joe Ruby and Ken Spears with their own studio: Ruby-Spears Productions. Silverman had recruited Ruby and Spears to oversee the development of Saturday mornings over at CBS, and then took them with him to ABC to continue that job.

The kids and their Wolf-Buggy.

For their very first production, they revisited the formula for their greatest creation, Scooby-Doo, with a dash of inspiration from I Was a Teenage Werewolfand created Fangface. The series focused on a group of teenagers who, traveling around in a dune buggy dubbed “The Wolf-Buggy”, solved mysteries and foiled crimes perpetrated by monsters and evil masterminds. Comprising this group was the handsome Biff (Jerry Dexter); his smart girlfriend, Kim (Susan Blu); the stocky Puggsy (Bart Braverman), who tended to make up words constantly; and tall, lanky simpleton Sherman “Fangs” Fangsworth (Frank Welker, patterned after Joe E. Ross). Puggsy and Sherman were heavily based on Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall from The Bowery Boys series.


Monster vs. Monster.

This group had a bit of a twist: one of them was a werewolf. Indeed, the Fangsworth family had a curse placed upon it where once every 400 years a member of that family would be born a werewolf; as explained in the opening narration by John Stephenson. Whenever Sherman was exposed to the full moon—be it real or merely an image when the kids needed to call upon their “secret weapon”—he transformed into Fangface: a furry werewolf with a single giant fang. Conversely, whenever Fangface saw the sun or its image, he’d revert back (usually at the most inopportune times).

Spider-wolf, spider-wolf...

Upon transformation, Fangface would always ingest Puggsy whole, holding him in his mouth until Biff or Kim rubbed his foot to calm him down (this also happened whenever Fangface saw or heard anything remotely related to food). This was a subconscious reaction to Puggsy’s constant taunting and teasing of Sherman’s cowardice while in his human form. You see, they were essentially two separate people with contrasting personalities as Fangface was much braver than Sherman and neither knew of the other’s existence. Despite always being almost eaten, Puggsy was constantly teamed up with Fangface whenever the kids would split up. Fangface also somehow retained his trademarked baseball cap despite losing the rest of his clothing (which reappeared whenever he changed back to human form--hey, this IS a kid’s show!) from which he could pull a variety of items out of in various situations.

Werewolf love.

Sherman’s sole role was comic relief, but whenever he became supremely scared, he came up with a brilliant idea to save himself. Fangface didn’t take away from that role. He had the propensity to howl whenever he saw his own reflection and enter into a feral state whereby he ran only on instinct, often leading him to attack Puggsy. The kids did manage to turn this state to their advantage in a case most of the time by letting him loose on the bad guys. Despite being a werewolf, the public at large didn’t seem to acknowledge that fact, treating meeting Fangface as an everyday normal occurrence.

Sherman, Baby Fangs, and their alter-egos.

Fangface ran on ABC beginning on September 9, 1978. The series was written by Mark Jones, Elana Lesser, Norman Maurer and Cliff Ruby, with music composed by Dean Elliott. The show failed to gain the ratings or notability of the Scooby franchise and was cancelled after a single season. For the following season, Ruby-Spears tried to give their creation a second life by including Fangface as a segment of The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show. Stories were shortened to 11 minutes and it was renamed Fangface and Fangpuss to include the new character Baby Fangs (also Welker); Sherman’s infant cousin who, despite the contradiction of the original opening narration, also inherited the ability to transform into a werewolf. Sherman was unaware that Baby Fangs was Fangpuss, becoming scared whenever encountering him in wolf form. However, unlike Sherman, Baby Fangs remembered his time as a wolf. Fangpuss also seemed to share his cousin’s affinity for inflicting pain on Puggsy. Unlike the previous season, the werewolves’ sun weakness was never exploited. 

The Fangface vinyl album.

In 1981, Fangface and Fangpuss was broken off into its own series of reruns that lasted only a single season like its parent program. Despite the short run of the overall show, it did spawn the typical gamut of tie-in merchandise including a board game from Parker Brothers; jigsaw puzzles; books published by Ace Books; a vinyl album from Peter Pan Records; and even a Viewfinder set. The entire series has yet to see a physical home media release, but Worldvision Enterprises released three episodes on VHS in 1983, with two more episodes following in 1986. It became available to purchase for streaming on Prime Video, Vudu, and iTunes.

Season 1:
“A Heap of Trouble” (9/9/78) – Professor Arnos uses his invention to change into a monster, and plans to do the same to everyone at his university.

“A Creep From the Deep” (9/16/78) – Grueller steals a tablet that will lead him to an ancient cursed treasure.

“The Shocking Creature Feature” (9/23/78) – Dr. Cybron creates a legion of energy creatures to help him take over the world.

“Westward Ho to the UFO” (9/30/78) – Alien spider creatures attempt to take over the world by covering it in their webs.

“The Great Ape Escape” (10/7/78) – The kids must rescue Professor Ling from ape creatures on the Misty Islands.

“Dinosaur Daze” (10/14/78) – Fangface encounters a tyrannosaurus freed by an earthquake and under someone’s control.

“Don’t Abra When You say Cadabra” (10/21/78) – Mysto the magician plans to rule the world with his super wand that can bend buildings.

“Space Monster Mishap” (10/28/78) – A space monster drains the knowledge from the scientists stationed on the space station.

“The Invisible Menace Mix-Up” (11/4/78) – Sky Ghost needs a black pearl to power his invisibility machine and kidnaps daredevil Su Chang to learn where her uncle’s is.

“The Cuckoo Carnival Calamity” (11/11/78) – Harold “Hal” Hercules, the world’s strongest teen, is changed into a monster with telekinetic eye beams.
“Begone you Amazon (11/18/78) – A storm forces the kids to land in the Amazon where they rescue Sheba, an Amazon queen.

“Snow Job Jitters” (11/25/78) – The kids try to get a cat with a secret scientific formula to the lab where he belongs and out of the hands of the villainous Scorpion.

“The Goofy Gargoyle Goof-Up” (12/2/78) – The kids attend a Hollywood costume party where Crula plans to turn starlet Raquel Taylor into a bride for her gargoyle.

“A Toothy Shark is No Lark” (12/9/78) – A creature from Atlantis uses a shark to enslave humanity.

“Where’s the Wolf that’s the Werewolf?” (12/16/78) – A werewolf is stealing animals in the Jungleland Animal Safar and the blame lands on Fangface.

“Don’t Get Mean With the Cobra Queen” (12/23/78) – Cobra Queen uses a giant cobra in order to get Gloria Vanderfeller’s massive fortune.

Season 2:
“There is Nothing Worse than a Stony Curse” (9/22/79) – Evil Medulla uses the power of Medusa to turn scientists to stone to auction off to the highest bidder.

“Evil Guider of the Giant Spider” (9/29/79) – The kids crash onto the island of Dr. Lazarus, who plans to enlarge insects and use them to take over the world.

“Dr. Lupiter and the Thing from Jupiter” (10/6/79) – Dr. Lupiter uses the gases of Jupiter to change astronaut Steve West into a monster to steal Earth’s energy supply.

“Who Do the Voodoo” (10/13/79) – Nigel Winslow turns Count Drako into a mist monster in order to help him escape from prison.

“The Creepy Goon from the Spooky Lagoon” (10/20/79) – Dr. Vincent Blackmire uses his brain-switching device to swap brains with Fangface and a lagoon monster.

“A Scary Affair in the Skullman’s Lair” (10/27/79) – Skullmen kidnap Ortega and Carmen and shrink them down in order to retrieve the powerful Skull Coin from a crack in the Earth.

“A Time-Machine Trip to the Pirate’s Ship” (11/3/79) – The kids are sent back in time where they encounter pirates led by Ironmask.

“The Ill-Will of Dr. Chill” (11/10/79) – Dr. Chill plans to melt the polar ice caps and flood the Earth unless he gets what he wants.

“The Romantic Plot of the She-Wolf Robot” (11/17/79) – Countess Zarla uses a female werewolf robot to seduce Fangface in helping her steal the Maltese Diamond Cat.

“The Sinister Plan of Lizard Man” (11/24/79) – Lizard Man uses his lizard-ray to steal a meteor that will give him super strength.

“Royal Trouble with the King’s Double” (12/1/79) – Puggsy is used to replace a kidnapped king while the others try to rescue him.

“The Stone-Cold Dragon of Gold” (12/8/79) – There’s a golden dragon statue in Hong Kong.

“The Evil Design of Vulture-Man’s Mind” (12/15/79) – Vulture Man enslaves Peruvian natives in order to work his mine.

“The Defiant Casablanca Giant” (12/22/79) – A giant plans to sell a physicist to aliens for diamonds.

“The Film Fiasco of Director Disastro” (12/29/79) – Alien director Disastro plans to make The Day the Earth Exploded with very-real special effects.

“A Goofy Bungle in the Filipino Jungle” (1/5/80) – Zeno uses his hypnotic ring on Filipino cavemen to steal Professor Batack’s strength-enhancing invention.

Originally posted in 2014. Updated in 2023.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Loved this cartoon as a child!!