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Official Article

SUNDAY Morning Cartoons

The 30 year period from the 1970s to the early 2000's where kids woke up early to watch hours of Saturday Morning Cartoons on their local network affiliates was a magical time that bonds many nostalgic hearts together. But what many grown up kids forget is that there was a whole weekend of kids programming available in those years and though Saturdays were definitely prime time, Sunday Morning Cartoons will always have a special place in my heart.


On Sundays from 6-9AM, I would cram in as many of these syndicated, b-level cartoon shows as I could before I was stuffed into a button down shirt and a pair of penny loafers for church. It's a weekly tradition I took part in through the latter half of the 80s and I'm excited to find out if you remember these shows as well.

Casper and Friends


While this friendly little ghost would eventually have an attempt at relevance with a couple of 90's live action films, Casper never had the same old timey cartoon star power as a Popeye or Woody Woodpecker in my mind. It's fitting then that he would be in the graveyard timeslot of my TV watching on Sunday mornings. 


The short animated adventures of Casper unintentionally scaring the living were always accompanied by other C-grade Harvey Comics characters like Baby Huey or Little Audrey. The problem was that they all lacked the madcap laughs of Looney Tunes that could have made them memorable. I did always wonder why Richie Rich never had his own cartoon segment as part of this series, it would have really given Casper a popularity boost.

Spider-Woman


Everybody remembers the 60's Spider-Man cartoon and its iconic theme, but I never hear anybody talk about Spider-Woman from 1979. The character was introduced in Marvel Comics to secure the copyright for the name before someone else did, but aside from wall crawling, Jessica Drew (her alter ego) had a power set that was totally different than Peter Parker's. 


Spider-Woman could fly, shoot energy laced Venom Blasts and communicate with spiders when she needed to. Of course she could also shoot webs from her finger tips, though they seemed to be more energy based. I especially remember the episode where Spider-Woman and Spider-Man teamed up to fight off a hoard of invading alien mummies as being a highlight of the series. 

Fantastic Max


This clever animated adventure series about an infant with a wild imagination was worthy of Saturday mornings, so I don't know why the big networks never picked it up. It was one part Muppet Babies and one part Rugrats with a dash of Flash Gordon in the mix. It's the rare case of a main character doing a baby talk voice that I don't find insanely annoying.


Max had a robot babysitter made of blocks named A.B. and an alien doll named FX who could create magical objects by twirling his antennae. In fact FX was voiced by Nancy Cartwright, who would go on to legendary status as the voice of Bart Simpson for nearly 30 years at this point. If you've never seen it, you really should check out a few episodes.

Marvel Action Universe: Dino Riders/Robocop


Marvel Productions produced a few animated tie-in series for action figure lines and in this case combined them into a syndicated cartoon block called the Marvel Action Universe. This is where I first saw the Pryde of the X-Men animated pilot, but normally it was a double shot of Robocop and Dino-Riders.


Robocop was understandably toned down from the R-rated action of the 1987 film, but it still maintained the same setting of Old Detroit and futuristic bad guys. Even Murphy's partner Anne Lewis made the jump to this animated universe. The Robocop and the Ultra Police toys by Kenner were a pretty fun way to continue the action after that week's adventure was wrapped up. These Robocop figures featured cap firing sound effects and even glow in the dark armor, which was totally rad for 80s kids.


Dino-Riders was a toy line concept developed by Tyco where 2 warring groups of space people were transported back to prehistoric times and outfitted dinosaurs with futuristic battle tech. The characters on the show were unfortunately pretty generic and never quite caught my interest, but I played with the toys at my friend's house all the time. Episodes of this series were readily available at toy stores on VHS to enhance your play experience.

The Comic Strip


This block of cartoons produced by Rankin-Bass (best known for those old stop-motion Christmas specials) was thematically appropriate for Sundays, since that's when the "Funny Pages" showed up in the newspaper. Surprisingly though, none of these animated segments were based on existing comic strip properties.


TigerSharks is probably the best remembered of the 4 shows, since it had a similar look to Silverhawks (also produced by Rankin-Bass). It wasn't a total rip-off though, after all, the Silverhawks didn't have an awesome pool of water that transformed them into shark, dolphin or walrus people. It was a really neat concept, I just don't think the character designs looked cool enough to grab kids attention, especially that Octopus head girl, weird.


Karate Kat was actually a rip-off of Hanna-Barbera's old Hong Kong Phooey cartoon. All they did was swap out a Kung Fu janitor dog voiced by Scatman Carothers for a martial arts loving private detective cat voiced by an actor doing a poor Rodney Dangerfield impression. His catch phrase of, "I'm lean, I'm mean, a karate machine" was said so slowly, it always undercut the action. This was the weakest of the Comic Strip characters.


Street Frogs was a really hip (for the time) and entertaining little show which in retrospect plays like an animated version of Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing without the racial tension. It even had a female character named "Honey Love" who sounded like Rosie Perez. The stories centered around a crew of a hip-hop frogs who rapped, beat-boxed and break danced their way through wild adventures in their urban neighborhood.


Mini Monsters was basically Camp Candy mixed with fellow SCTV alumni, Rick Moranis' Gravedale High (if you remember that obscure animated show). Each episode featured a problem at Camp MiniMon where the campers were all children of the classic Universal movie monsters or mythical figures.The strength of this show was that all of the characters were distinct, especially the Mummy kid with a single boxing glove, I Ioved that guy. There was also a normal kid named Sherman, who was voiced by a young Seth Green.


The one glaring omission on this list are the religious kids shows like SuperBook or Davey and Goliath, which were in actuality the most appropriate for Sunday viewing. That being said, they were booooring. By the time these shows came on I was begging to go to church, so my exposure was limited to a single episode of each that somehow survived on an old VHS tape and were promptly fast forwarded through.

So which of these cartoons do you remember from Sunday mornings? What did I miss?

Follow me on Twitter @hojukoolander for more reminiscing about old cartoons.


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mickyarber Posted on Dec 06, 2017 at 06:04 PM

It's weird that I don't remember ANY of these cartoons. Before I got cable, we would watch reruns of The Three Stooges and the Little Rascals on a local channel before church.

Once I got cable, it USA's Cartoon Express on Sunday mornings. With cartoons like Dyno Mutt, Space Ghost, Honk Kong Phooey and more, it was a fun lineup.

In 2000 when I got married, we got DirecTV and Boomerang, and I absolutely loved Boomer Action on SUndays. All morning long was just back to back shorts mixed up from the Superfriends, Aquaman, Sealab 2020, Thundarr, Herculoids, and more.

Superman Posted on Dec 04, 2017 at 05:42 PM

If watched any cartoons on Sunday at all, it was usually whatever was airing on Cartoon Network at the time. My biggest cartoon viewing time tended to be weekday afternoons, though.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Nov 29, 2017 at 09:08 PM

@jkatz Yeah, Dude! I still have a VCR (multiple actually) and love the VHS experience. Thanks! I'll PM you my info.

jkatz Posted on Nov 29, 2017 at 06:30 PM

@Hoju: Of course I did, how could I not? As cool as it is, I don't really have a need for it, since I don't have a VCR anymore and I was never going to bust open the packaging anyway. You want it?

comic_book_fan Posted on Nov 29, 2017 at 06:44 AM

Hoju Koolander yeah i remember the ultraforce cartoon it was cool

Hoju Koolander Posted on Nov 29, 2017 at 04:57 AM

Correction: I mention in the article that Silverhawks was a Rankin-Bass production, but I meant Thundercats. Silverhawks was produced by Lorimar.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Nov 29, 2017 at 04:54 AM

@jkatz I personally mention it way too much along with the Rambo cartoon, but you're right, it was nobody's favorite. Did you buy that sealed tape? Forgotten or not, that's awesome!

@comic_book_fan Yeah, that whole 90s period of watered down violent video game cartoons was crazy. Those 2 you mentioned, plus Double Dragon were memorable and do you remember Ultraforce with Prime and company?

jkatz Posted on Nov 29, 2017 at 12:51 AM

I found an unopened VHS tape of the Robocop cartoon at a thrift store once (in fact, it's the same one you used a picture of). It's interesting because until now, I've never heard anybody mention it, even in passing.
In this nostalgic period where even the most obscure 80s cartoon gets its time in the sun, I'm going to guess this one was forgotten for a reason.

You gotta love the tagline on the Dino-Riders toys, too. Why can't scientists forget about global warming and focus on discovering the important issues...like how to harness the power of dinosaurs!?

comic_book_fan Posted on Nov 28, 2017 at 07:56 PM

i liked ironman and fantastic four cartoons and i was a big fan of usa's sunday morning lineup that had the mortal kombat street fighter and savage dragon cartoons.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Nov 28, 2017 at 02:14 PM

@pikachulover I knew you'd have my back on this one. Yep, KCOP Channel 13 was where I watched almost all of these cartoons, with the exception of the Marvel Action Universe, which played on KTLA Channel 5. Although I think the later version in the 90s called the Marvel Action Hour with Iron Man and Fantastic Four eventually played on KCOP.

I'm blanking on Paw Paw Bears though. They look vaguely familiar, but I don't think I watched it.

pikachulover Posted on Nov 28, 2017 at 04:47 AM

KCOP used to show the most random Sunday morning cartoons. As a kid I liked the Paw Paw Bears. Fantastic Max was very popular with the kids in my kindergarten class in 1989/1990. Anything by Hanna Barbera or Harvey Toons on Sundays was ok with me. Adding Tom and Jerry to their Sunday morning lineup was always a treat. I used to watch Blinky Bill I think that was on KCOP.

I love the Comic Strip. I used to be an editor for the TV.com page until somebody overtook my position.

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