September 02, 2023



(ABC, September 14, 1968-January 4, 1969)
Hanna-Barbera Productions


Jerry Dexter – Gary Gulliver
John Stephenson – Captain John Leech, Thomas Gulliver, King Pomp, various
Ginny Tyler – Flirtacia
Allan Melvin – Bunko
Don Messick – Eager, Tagg, various
Herb Vigran – Glum


 Gulliver’s Travels, or Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships is a book written by Jonathan Swift and first published in 1726. It was meant to be a satire of human nature, English customs, politics of the day, and travelouges, and contributed to the rise of the novel as a literary form in English. 

A well-known image of Gulliver being tied down by the Lilliputians.

The book was told in four parts from the first-person from the perspective of Lemuel Gulliver, a surgeon and sea captain that travelled the world. The first part, probably the most well-known, had Gulliver as the sole survivor of a shipwreck that ended up in Lilliput, a land where the populace was only 6-inches tall. Parodying the English political parties, the Tories and Whigs, the Lilliputians engaged in ridiculous customs and petty debates while court positions were filled by those that were good at ridiculous feats of skill. Gulliver is asked to help in the conflict with the empire of Blefuscu over which end of an egg should be broken, their religious doctrine. After falling out of favor with the Lilliputians he found a human-sized boat in Blefuscu and escaped back to England.

Gulliver in the land of giants.

The second voyage took him to Brobdingnag, this time populated by giants. Captured by a farmer, Gulliver was put on exhibit and eventually purchased by their queen. Their king, however, wasn’t quite as taken by him over his stories of England and was horrified by Gulliver’s offer to make them projectile weapons. He was snatched up by an eagle and rescued by normal-sized people at sea.

Gulliver spying Laputa.

The third voyage saw him on the flying island of Laputa, whose populace were so lost in thought they needed to be reminded to pay attention, and who loved mathematics and music but had no practical applications for either. Visiting the continent of Balnibarbi, the land below the island, he found the fields in ruin and people living in squalor as the citizenry were governed by a learned academy that spent all their time on impractical experiments; such as extracting sunbeams from cucumbers. The island of sorcerers, Glubbdubdrib, yielded insights into the great lies of history. Finally, he went to the kingdom of Luggnagg, whose citizens were immortal but aged as if they were mortal, rendering them miserable. From there, Gulliver was able to get to Japan and back to England.

The Houyhnhnms herding their Yahoos during a harvest.

The last voyage took him to the land of the Houyhnhnms, intelligent horses who were superior to the brutish humanoid race of Yahoos; some of whom were tamed in a twist on the human-beast relationship. The Houyhnhnms were fascinated by Gulliver who seemed to them to be a better version of the Yahoos, but his stories of England led them to conclude they were just as bad as the Yahoos and that Gulliver must leave. Upon his return to England, Gulliver decided to spurn human connections and bought horses to converse with instead.

The first edition of the book.

The book was first published in England by Benjamin Motte, utilizing five printing houses for speedy production to avoid piracy. Fearing persecution due to the book being transparently anti-Whig, he made several edits to the manuscript without Swift’s input to soften the blow and added material defending Queen Anne before publication. The book proved popular with the populace, although Swift’s peers were often critical of its messages and depictions of humanity. Naturally, members of the Whig party were offended at the mocking of their politics. The book was reprinted in 1735 by Irish publisher George Faulkner with Motte’s edits removed. Swift composed a “letter” from Gulliver to his cousin Sympson complaining of Motte’s alterations to be included in the new edition, as was a set of five Verses on Gulliver’s Travels written by Swift’s friend, Alexander Pope. Both versions of the book would be reprinted over the years with additional material.

Gary with Tagg and the sinister Captain Leech.

As with many other great works of literature that have endured over centuries, Gulliver’s Travels has been adapted numerous times—although many put to film have tended to focus only on the first two adventures—and there have been a wide range of unofficial sequels and imitations.  One of these efforts was made by Hanna-Barbera, loosely borrowing the names and themes from the first adventure for an all-new animated series. The Adventures of Gulliver followed father and son Thomas (mistakenly called “Lemuel” by many sources, voiced by John Stephenson) and Gary Gulliver (Jerry Dexter) as they went on a treasure-hunting voyage with their dog, Tagg (which many sources mistakenly call “Bib”, voiced by Don Messick). However, the sinister Captain Leech (Stephenson) also wanted the treasure and tried to steal their map, resulting in their ship crashing on the rocks.

Our Lilliputian friends (clockwise from top): King Pomp, Flirtatica, Bunko, Eager and Glum.

Gary and Tagg found themselves on the very island they were looking for, which turned out to be the home of the Lilliputians—beings only 6-inches tall. After some initial mistrust of their giant visitors, Gary’s rescuing of King Pomp (Stephenson) put him in their good graces; particularly with Bunko (Allan Melvin), Eager (Messick), Glum (Herb Vigran), and Flirtacia (who was never indicated as being a princess despite many claims as such, voiced by Ginny Tyler). As he helped protect their kingdom from assorted threats like giant birds and other tiny people, they in turn helped him search for his father somewhere in the perilous wilds of the island. Of course, additional danger continued to lurk in the form of Captain Leech, pursuing Gary for the map he was initially unaware his father hid in Tagg’s collar.

If someone doesn't end up tied down by little people, is it even a Gulliver adaptation?

The Adventures of Gulliver debuted on ABC on September 14, 1968. The series was written by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, with character designs by Alex Toth and music by Ted Nichols. The biting satire found in Swift’s novel was greatly reduced, if at all present, to instead focus on fantastic adventure tales with the Lilliputians providing Hanna-Barbera’s trademark comic relief. Further differences involved neither Gulliver being noticeably British and being set in the present day. Although only 17 episodes were produced, the series ran through the summer of 1970 before being integrated into The Banana Splits and Friends Show syndicated package program. Reruns would eventually make their way to both Cartoon Network and its sister channel, Boomerang. A decade after the series’ production, Hanna-Barbera would return to Lilliput with a new adaptation of Gulliver’s Travels for their anthology television series Famous Classic Tales. This version would stick a bit closer to the book.

Model sheet by Alex Toth.

A line of figurines of the main characters were produced by Heimo in Germany, a Magic Slate by Western Publishing, and a frame tray puzzle by Whitman. An adaptation of the first episode was published by Gold Key Comics in the first issue of the short-lived Hanna-Barbera Hi-Adventure Heroes, which featured some noticeable visual inconsistencies with the show (Greg and Tagg’s coloring, Flirtacia missing her hat and leggings, etc.). A dedicated German Gulliver comic was published almost a decade later by Bastei Verlag (now Bastei Lübbe). The characters were also represented in the Spanish Hanna-Barbera trading card set and as Mexican puffy stickersAs part of ABC’s Super Saturday Club promotion, a booklet was sent out with club members that featured a Gulliver coloring page.


“Dangerous Journey” (9/14/68) – After being attacked on the sea, Gary and Tagg end up on the island of the Lilliputians where Gary rescues their king.
“The Valley of Time” (9/21/68) – Leech blackmails Gary for the map by trapping him and his friends in a cave, only for them to find another way out into a land stuck in prehistoric times.
“The Capture” (9/28/68) – Leech and Gary are conscripted by Captain Cutler to serve as members of his pirate crew.
“The Tiny Vikings” (10/5/68) – Leech partners with a band of tiny Vikings to help them on their raid on Lilliput if they help him get the map.
“The Forbidden Pool” (10/12/68) – Gary and Tagg drink from a pool that shrinks them down to Lilliputian size and must race to another to restore themselves before it disappears at sunrise.
“The Perils of the Lilliputs” (10/19/68) – Bunko, Eager and Glum are captured by a circus owner for his show when their ship stops on the island for water.
“Exit Leech” (10/26/68) – Leech declares he’s leaving the island, but returns disguised as a witch doctor to trick the Lilliputians into giving him the map.
“Hurricane Island” (11/2/68) – Gary sets out to get an egg his friends need for a festival while searching for his father, and Leech watches over him believing he’s after the treasure.
“Mysterious Forest” (11/9/68) – A group of treasure-seeking ghosts drags Gary off into the Mysterious Forest.
“Little Man of the Year” (11/16/68) – Gary offers to leave for the duration of a contest so Eager could win “Man of the Year”, but Eager causes a disaster that requires Gary’s help to fix.
“The Rescue” (11/23/68) – Leech captures Tagg and offers to exchange him for the map, but with Gary gone searching his friends are left to rescue Tagg on their own.
“The Dark Sleep” (11/30/68) – Leech attempts to slip Gary a sleeping potion but Flirtacia takes it instead, leading the others to find the antidote for her.
“The Runaway” (12/7/68) – When King Pomp comes across a photo of an attractive woman Gary has, Flirtacia decides to leave the village in a jealous rage.
“The Masquerade” (12/14/68) – Leech and an outlaw Lilliputian gang decide they’ll acquire the map by replace the king with a doppelganger.
“The Missing Crown” (12/21/68) – Bunko and Eager investigate the disappearance of various items around the village, leading to the discovery of clues that pit friend against friend.
“Gulliver’s Challenge” (12/28/68) – Gary challenges the Black Knight to a duel for the freedom of his friends.
“The Hero” (1/4/69) – Eager becomes dejected when the others reminisce about Gary’s heroic deeds and ends up eating a fruit that makes him hallucinate that he is a superhero.

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