December 05, 2015


(CBS, September 10, 1966-September 16, 1967)

Hanna-Barbera Productions

Gary Owens – Space Ghost, Dino Boy opening narration
Ginny Tyler – Jan, Black Widow (aka Spider Woman)
Tim Matheson – Jace
Don Messick – Blip, Zorak, Sisto, Moltar, Bronty
John David Carson (as Johnny Carson) – Todd/Dino Boy
Mike Road – Ugh

Hanna-Barbera’s first straightforward superhero project came at the behest of Fred Silverman, head of daytime programming at CBS. In order to combat NBC’s strong comedy line-up on Saturday morning, Silverman decided they needed to go in the opposite direction and entered the realm of action-adventure. William Hanna and Joseph Barbera handed the project over to Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, as well as designer Alex Toth, which led to the creation of Space Ghost.

Rapid fire!

Space Ghost (Gary Owens) was a space-faring superhero whose costume gave him super strength, stamina, viso penetron eye-beams and the ability to fly and exist in space without a ship. His primary weapons were two Power Bands that could perform a variety of energy-based functions by pressing any of the three buttons located on them. Space Ghost’s belt also allowed him to become invisible (which in the Hanna-Barbera world was represented by his turning into a white outline without any color filling) or created a force field. His chest emblem served as a communicator. Early concept designs by Toth featured Space Ghost both without his mask, which he never took off on the show, and a gun before he was given the Power Bands. He also sported red gloves, black boots and black trunks like a traditional super hero.

Jace, Blip and Jan.

Joining Space Ghost on his missions were his teenaged sidekicks, twins Jan (Ginny Tyler) and Jace (Tim Matheson). They also had a pet monkey, Blip (which was also all he said, voiced by Don Messick). They had their own invisibility belts and jet packs that allowed them to travel through space. When not flying about, they rode in comfort in their ship, The Phantom Cruiser. However, the twins weren’t much help to Space Ghost as episode plots usually revolved around their being put into some kind of peril that Space Ghost had to rescue them from. Amongst Space Ghost’s most repeated threats were the praying mantis-like Zorak (originally to be named Torak, voiced by Messick), the cat-creature Brak (Keye Luke), the sinister Black Widow aka Spider-Woman (Tyler), robot master Mettalus (Ted Cassidy), the heat suit-wearing Moltar (Messick), and the animal-controlling Creature King (Vic Perrin).

Like many Hanna-Barbera programs, Space Ghost was broken up into short story segments rather than a full half-hour episode. For his first outing, he was paired up with another new creation: Dino Boy in the Lost Valley. That series followed young boy Todd (Johnny Carson) who escaped a crashing plane only to land in a perfectly preserved prehistoric valley. There, he befriended caveman Ugh (Mike Road) and a Brontosaurus named Bronty (Messick), whom Todd would ride. Dino Boy segments were sandwiched between two Space Ghost segments and typically featured one of the characters put in danger by any of the primitive creatures in the valley—Rock Pygmies, Worm People, Vampire Men, Moss Men, various dinosaurs—and the others having to save them. The only time the two shows ever met was in a quick bumper segment where Space Ghost would save Dino Boy from danger.

Ugh, Todd and Bronty.

Space Ghost and Dino Boy debuted on September 10, 1966 with music composed by Ted Nichols. Despite only running a single season of 20 episodes, it became a massive hit. It helped lead to the popularity and explosion of superhero cartoons throughout the 60s with its imaginative writing by Ruby, Spears, Walter Black and William Hamilton, as well as its inspired designs. The final two episodes, which aired in 1967, were comprised solely of Space Ghost segments that spanned a single storyline; where Space Ghost’s foes banded together and formed the Council of Doom. To showcase Hanna-Barbera’s upcoming new action shows, Shazzan and The Herculoids, those characters appeared in the finale.

Cartoon Network presents Space Ghost #1.

In 1966, Gold Key released a single issue adapting the show with three separate stories, similar to the format of the episodes, as well as had him be a feature in their Hanna-Barbera Super TV Heroes series and an issue of Golden Comics Digest. Space Ghost was also featured in Marvel ComicsTV Stars #3 in 1978. Some of those stories had art by Toth. In 1987, Comico released their own issue by Mark Evanier and Steve Rude, which also featured a bit of background into Space Ghost’s creation by Evanier. In 1997, Archie Comics published the special Cartoon Network Presents Space Ghost #1. Space Ghost’s origin was revealed for the first time ever by Joe Kelly and Ariel Olivetti in a mini-series for DC Comics in 2004. Space Ghost would return to DC in 2016 as part of the Future Quest franchise which saw updated and reimagined versions of Hanna-Barbera’s action shows. Space Ghost was also given an animated story in a Big Little Book by Western Publishing in 1968. . In 1990, Ansunaru released a series of figurines in Japan in 1990 based on Hanna-Barbera characters; with Space Ghost being one. Jazwares released an action figure with a smaller Blip figure in 2012, while Funko released Space Ghost, Brak and Zorak as part of their POP! toy line in 2016.
The DVD promo image.

Although Dino Boy never saw life beyond the initial show and merchandising push, Space Ghost’s characters continued on in the 1981 series Space Stars on NBC. However, reruns of the original series returned to television in 1976 alongside reruns of Frankenstein, Jr. and the Impossibles as Space Ghost and Frankenstein, Jr., and in 1978 as part of Hanna-Barbera’s World of Super Adventure packaged show. When Cartoon Network acquired the package in 1992 it was renamed Super Adventures and continued to show Space Ghost and Dino Boy. Worldvision Home Video released a single episode on VHS with several others by Kids Klassics. Two separate episode releases were available in the UK; one by First Independent. The UK also received a seven-episode VHS collection by The Video Collection. In 2007 Warner Home Video released the complete series to DVD with the episodes out of airdate order.

Character footage from the series was used and re-used by Mike Lazzo to create the spoof talk show series Space Ghost Coast to Coast on Cartoon Network. Space Ghost (George Lowe) served as the host of the show who would interview actual celebrities with awkward and hostile questions. Zorak served as his bandleader with Moltar serving as producer (both C. Martin Croker). They would continually disrupt the show and openly displayed their hatred of Space Ghost. Brak (Andy Merrill, Croker initially) also appeared, just being random and generally a moron. The series proved popular, airing from 1994-2008 and spawning several spin-offs. As most episodes were only 15 minutes, Cartoon Network would often fill up the remaining half-hour with segments from Space Ghost.  

“The Heat Thing / The Worm People / Zorak” (9/10/66) – Space Ghost must save Jace from a lava monster on Jupiter. / Ugh must save Dino Boy from worm creatures. / Zorak escapes from prison and kidnaps the twins.

“The Lizard Slavers / The Moss Men / The Web” (9/17/66) – Lizard-men enslave the twins. / Moss Men capture Dino Boy and plan to sacrifice him. / Black Widow lures Space Ghost into a death trap.

“Creature King / The Treeman / The Sandman” (9/24/66) – An emergency landing puts the twins on a planet of giant animals. / Ugh has to save Dino Boy from being sacrificed by the treemen. / The Sandman lures Space Ghost into a death trap.

“The Evil Collector / The Fire God / The Drone” (10/1/66) – The Evil Collector collects shrunken people for his amusement. / Ugh has to rescue Dino Boy from a Fire God. / A robot steals the Phantom Cruiser.

“Homing Device / The Mighty Snow Creature / The Robot Master” (10/8/66) – Metallus holds Earth hostage in exchange for Space Ghost. / Dino Boy and Ugh rescue a tribal girl from a snow monster. / Metallus conquers Space Ghost’s planet.

“The Iceman / The Wolf People / Hi-Jackers” (10/15/66) – Zeron uses an ice ray against Space Ghost. / Dino Boy has to rescue Ugh from the wolf people. / The twins are kidnapped after witnessing a hijacking.

“The Energy Monster / Valley of the Giants / The Lure” (10/22/66) – Dr. Soonev accidentally creates a monster in his lab. / Dino Boy and Ugh must save Bronty from a giant. / Brak holds Jan hostage to prevent interference against his plans.

“The Cyclopeds / The Ant Warriors / The Schemer” (10/29/66) – Cyclo and his robots kidnap the twins. / Dino Boy sets out to rescue Ugh from ant warriors, but ends up needing to save them as well. / Schemer plots to kill Space Ghost.

“Lokar – King of the Killer Locusts / The Bird Riders / Space Sargasso” (11/5/66) – Lokar lures the twins into a trap. / Dino Boy and Ugh protect a bird rider from rock pygmies. / The Lurker and One Eye attack the Phantom Cruiser.

“Brago / Giant Ants / Revenge of the Spider Woman” (11/12/66) – The twins hold off Brago’s attack until Space Ghost arrives. / Fleeing a volcano leaves Dino Boy stuck in a valley of giants. / Spider Woman returns to kill Space Ghost.

“Attack of the Saucer Crab / The Rock Pygmies / Space Birds” (11/19/66) – Space Ghost faces a UFO from another galaxy. / Dino Boy must save Bronty from rock pygmies. / An evil genius attacks satellites with metal birds.

“The Time Machine / Danger River / Nightmare Planet” (11/26/66) – Jace accidentally sends Jan back in time. / Dino Boy and Ugh try to return a boy they rescued home. / Dr. Nightmare wants Space Ghost’s brain.

“Space Armada / The Vampire Men / The Challenge” (12/3/66) – Space Ghost faces Metallus’ new missiles. / Dino Boy’s kite invention ends up getting him captured by vampire men. / Space Ghost’s power bands stop working when Zorak sends a metal monster after him.

“Jungle Planet / The Terrible Chase / Ruler of the Rock Robots” (12/10/66) – The Mind Taker steals people’s knowledge. / The Sun People hunt Ugh. / Space Ghost battles Zorket’s rock robots.

“Glasstor / The Sacrifice / The Space Ark” (12/17/66) – Glasstor enslaves the twins in his mines. / The Sun People plan to sacrifice Ugh. / Space Ghost must protect Jupiter from Creature King.

“The Sorcerer / The Marksman / The Space Piranhas” (12/24/66) – The Sorcerer challenges Space Ghost. / Ugh must save Dino Boy from a pteranodon. / Piranor plans his revenge on Space Ghost with space piranhas.

“The Ovens of Moltar / The Spear Warriors / Transor – The Matter Mover” (12/31/66) – Moltar plans to conquer the universe. / Dino Boy and Ugh are arrested for attacking a Spear Warrior. / Transor wants the twins for his zoo.

“The Gargoyloids / Marooned / The Looters” (1/7/67) – Space Ghost has to stop a rogue planet full of troublemakers. / Dino Boy has to gather the antidote to save Ugh from poison. / Brak steals gold using sleeping gas.

“The Meeting / Clutches of Creature King / The Deadly Trap” (9/9/67) – Space Ghost’s enemies team-up against him as the Council of Doom. / Space Ghost is forced onto Creature King’s world. / Zorak sicks monsters on Space Ghost.

“The Molten Monsters of Moltar / Two Faces of Doom / The Final Encounter” (9/16/67) – Space Ghost and the twins are captured by Moltar. / Brak and Spider Woman take turns against Space Ghost. / The heroes confront the Council of Doom.

Originally posted in 2015. Updated in 2019.

1 comment:

LTYSON said...

One of the coolest action cartoons with an iconic lead character. It was before my time but I loved watching the reruns in the 70's & 80's.