When I was a kid in Iowa in the 1960’s Saturday morning television was the singular source of fuel for the imagination. I loved the various adventure cartoons. Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, Thundarr the Barbarian, and the Herculoids were the source of endless lets-pretend games in Granpa’s grove and in the old barn.
I suppose the characters I envisioned myself being the most often were Zandor and his son Dorno. These two practically naked people lived on a primitive planet that had to constantly be defended from space-faring invaders and free-booters that had ray-gun technology on their side. The only weapons that the practically naked barbarians were able to use against the villains were exploding rocks that were shot out of a slingshot by Zandor and Dorno and Tara, or out of the horn-gun on the head of Tundro the living tank-beast with too many legs. Of course, Igoo the giant rock ape could bop ’em with his big stone fists, or Zok the lightning dragon, could zap them with tail and eye lasers. And Gloop and Gleep, the living Play-Doh blobs, could also always shape themselves into flyswatters or springs or wet blankets, or… well, you have to see it to really get it.
I learned valuable lessons from watching the Herculoids and then pretending to be them. First of all, I learned that back-to-nature, practically-naked barbarians were morally superior to those who solve their problems with technology. I also learned that you can win fights with exploding rocks and yelling, “Zandor! Look out!” at the right time over computerized flying robots with lasers and disintegration rays. There was also the thing about never knowing when an old Space Ghost villain like Brakk or Moltarr was going to show up, and you needed to be ready to defeat them by doing the same things to them that Space Ghost had done to them in previous episodes. And for some reason, bad guys come with a psychological need to capture Tara or Dorno or both Tara and Dorno and put them in cages.
I hope there was nothing psycho-sexual embedded in those old episodes. That would be a terrible thing to do to an impressionable young boy who loved to watch the cartoons. Explain to me again, Alex Toth and Hanna Barbera, why are Zandor, Dorno, and Tara practically naked all the time? Oh, yes, it was a tropical planet. It must have been hot there.
Anyway, I must end this homage now, before I start analyzing how this somewhat bizarre cartoon actually affected me as a child. I loved the Herculoids. I still love them… no matter how goofy and weird they are.
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