Monday, September 24, 2012

The Jetsons Fiftieth Anniversary: “DC and FG”.

We wished a happy Fiftieth Anniversary to THE JETSONS (HERE), and discussed some JETSONS Gold Key Comics HERE.

We’ll wrap up by giving some props to DC Comics for their version – and note a “very special” recent animated appearance – the latter being an original addition to this series of posts, and not reproduced from my decade-old APA and fanzine writings.

As our own technology advanced to new heights, it may have become more and more challenging to create stories about The Jetsons. Here’s an example of how DC Comics rose to that challenge.


(November, 1998) Published by DC Comics.

Hey!  No Jetsons on the COVER?  What gives?
Cybersox” 8 pg. Writer: M. Kupperman. Artists: F. Yache and D. Davis.

Despite the unusually provocative title (…especially for a magazine ostensibly aimed at the “younger set”), this is simply a story about the travails George experiences in merely attempting to purchase a pair of socks online!

As many of us have become accustomed to “shopping over the Internet”, we find George Jetson doing the same in his time. There, however, it has taken on an added dimension… one of virtual reality.

And so it is that George dons a “VR” helmet, suit, and gloves, in an attempt to secure some socks by entering that limitless realm of retailing known as “The Virtual Mall”.

Intimidated by the many “shop-options” offered by the Virtual Mall’s vast Access Menu, the uneasy George presses the wrong buttons (…you’d THINK he’d be more computer literate by this time!) and finds himself in one erroneous situation after another.

George’s misdirected mall-surfing leads him to a music store (…where he is zapped into a “virtual demo” of a hard rock hologram), an art gallery (…featuring sculptures of socks), and the “Virtual Mall Chat Room”, occupied by his grumbling boss Mr. Spacely.
Virtual Mall... You're FIRED!

After a visit to the “Virtual Complaint Department”, George is finally digitally deposited at the V-Mall’s “Sockworld”, where he is techno-talked into buying a pair of “Voice Controlled Computerized Socks”. Once home, the “Cybersox” abruptly walk out of George’s life after he issues a series of invalid voice commands. Wiser for his experience, he resolves to leave all future “virtual shopping” to wife Jane – who’s probably STILL taking his whole wallet!

Quick digression: On the subject of Jane still taking George’s whole wallet, we flash forward from 1962 (…or, if you’re in The Jetsons’ time – flash backward) to 2007, and the FAMILY GUY episode “Meet the Quagmires”.

In one of FAMILY GUY’s trademark “cutaway” gags, we see the wallet bit play out – only with George finally deciding to do something about it!

Funny thing is, the Jetson characters are drawn and animated in their ORIGINAL style – and not in typical “Family Guy fashion”, as The Flintstones have been on several occasions.
The Jetsons - as seen on Family Guy!

…And, there’s an amazing “call-back” to this gag that factors into the episode later on!

Meet the Quagmires” can be found on the DVD set FAMILY GUY Volume Six.

But, back to “Cybersox”… Though clever and entertaining, this story just might reveal the inherent difficulties involved in coming up with new ideas for The Jestons from the perspective of the early 21st Century – vs. the early 1960s, when the characters were first imagined.

Humorous exaggeration aside, is the core concept of the “Virtual Mall” so vastly different from the online shopping capabilities we possess today? An incorrectly entered “Google Search” can take you to as many unintended destinations as George’s fumbling at the VM’s Access Menu Board.

(…And you DON’T WANNA SEE half the stuff that comes up under “The Jetsons” on a Google “Images” search! Trust me on that… )

Have we, as a society, moved close enough to The Jetsons as to render them irrelevant? Or, to paraphrase POGO creator Walt Kelly: Have we met ‘The Future’, only to find that it is US?”

…I hope not, and would like to see The Jetsons continue to push our imaginations further and further into the realm of the “someday possible”!

Happy fiftieth to THE JETSONS! And, thank you for all the futuristic fun!


joecab said...

That Family Guy gag KILLED me when I first saw it! Even though Seth makes a lot of fun of H-B cartoons (the Flintstones gets it more than anyone else) you can tell it's coming from a true childhood fan.* I wonder if his Flintstones remake is ever really going to go anywhere?

*Yes, even when Barney used that pelican as a toilet. :P

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to look back at older science fiction and see which predictions came true and which didn't. Sometimes writers were too conservative, sometimes they were just the opposite. The famous opening scene where Jane grabs George's wallet shows them using cash; apparently, no one back then realized how common credit/debit cards would become. And the original Star Trek sometimes had them looking up information recorded on tape. They did not foresee CD's and DVD's. On the other hand, I've heard more than one person say, "I thought by the 21st Century, we would all be flying around in those George Jetson cars."

Joe Torcivia said...


You’ll never convince me that Bill, Joe, and some of the writers like Warren Foster never thought of that “pelican gag” back in the day – but just knew they could never use it! It would certainly have occurred to me, if I’d spent too much time thinking up “animal as convenience” gags.

RE: The FAMILY GUY gag… I thought it was actual original Jetsons opening credits footage -- not unlike the way they also resorted to what appears to have been “Conway Twitty TV song performance” footage to cut away from an embarrassing moment for Peter.

Maybe I expected new audio over that footage to carry a gag, but not new animation so much in tune with the old! I think they said on the DVD commentary that it was ALL new footage in its entirety. And, the “call-back” to it later REALLY put it over the top. Oh, sorry everyone… I’ve spoiled what would be a huge laugh for those who have not seen it by mentioning that. I honestly regret having mentioned it in the post, because I try to be spoiler-free.

Please forgive me, but ya can’t un-ring the cat’s spilled-milk back into the bell’s bagged bottle – or sumpthin’ like that!

Seth is clearly a fan of H-B, Star Wars, and Star Trek TNG (as well as musicals)… and I do trust him to create a good contemporary version of The Flintstones! Surely, it can’t be worse than anything H. and B. inflicted upon us after the original series.

Joe T.

Joe Torcivia said...

It is indeed fun to consider such things, Anon! As Yowp pointed out, we now have those big screen TVs – and our SmartPhones combined with You Tube, Hulu, etc, have become the “wrist versions”.

I’ve always liked two out of Irwin Allen:

What is “The Celestial Department Store” from LOST IN SPACE, if not No matter WHERE you are, you order something after viewing it online, and they ship it to you! Even green-skinned android servants!

Though I hope they never send Fritz Feld and that huge wrestler after me, if we have a misunderstanding over the price.

And, in VOYAGE “Man of Many Faces” Admiral Nelson appeared to have an early means of “taping” a TV program… as he watched “himself” shoot down a rival on a live broadcast. He played and replayed it, in the comfort of his office at the Institute, in order to glean a clue to the assassin’s real identity.

Oddly, Nelson’s video contraption was of the large reel-to-reel variety – but it DID kinda presage videotape cassettes (now, themselves, relics!)

On STAR TREK TOS, I liked those “little colored rectangular shaped things” they would drop into slots on the various consoles, that seemed to function as “floppy discs” (also, now, relics!)

Who ever thought this type of fun would result from being upper middle age! :-)

Everyone, regardless of your age… Feel free to contribute one of these of your own!

Anonymous said...

Small world: Fritz Feld, who played the manager of the Celestial Department Store, was a semi-regular in the Joe McDoakes (aka "Behind the Eight Ball," aka "So You Want to...") shorts, starring George O' Hanlon, aka George Jetson.

Joe Torcivia said...

I’m guessing that Feld was once a contract player at Warners, considering that he appeared in at least two other unusual WB short subjects. One was included on this Warner set:

I can’t quite recall the other, but Feld was a somewhat frustrated film director (At Warner Bros.?) in both of them – and maybe that was a recurring character for him.

And, again, I can’t imagine where these things would have ever played on TV.And, as with any DVD Review I’ve done of a set that included the wonderful “Warner Night at the Movies”, I wonder if some of them have ever been seen outside of original theatrical runs – until their release on DVD!

scarecrow33 said...

Joe--thanks for posting all of this great stuff on The Jetsons!

I, too, grew up with The Jetsons, and was completely fascinated with their futuristic technology. You know what I loved best? Their door chimes! I thought those few bars of the Jetsons theme had real class. Nobody else could have had those chimes!

This summer I retrieved, after many long years, several boxes and bsgs' worth of my old comics that have been stored up in my mother's attic. Among the many treasures were several Gold Key Jetsons (a few Charlton ones, too, but that's OK) and a half-dozen March of Comics issues, one of which was a Jetsons book--not the one you described, but a treasure all the same.

The point is, this is really matching where my thoughts have been lately as I have eagerly been perusing these old Jetsons comics, and it's a thrill to read about them on your blog. I guess I'm not the only one who can still thrill to the Gold Key graphics look. I kinda thought Tony Stobl might have had a hand in some of the artwork, and your post confirms it.

I remember a sense of letdown when I realized that Charlton was publishing my favorite H-B characters. As I recall, it was only about a month or so between the last Gold Key and the first Charlton issues. The first one I saw was the Charlton Yogi Bear, and at first I wondered if it was a reprint of an older book, because it didn't look anything like the Yogi comics I had seen up till then. I didn't buy it at first, expecting and hoping that a "real" (i.e. Gold Key) issue would soon hit the stands. A few days later, I discovered that the Flintstones, the Jetsons, and practically the whole H-B stable had gone Charlton. I was willing to give them a chance, however, and I collected all of the early issues (most of which recently re-appeared in my attic adventure). It didn't take me long to feel that as a loyal reader, I'd been had. The stories just weren't the quality of the Gold Key stories...not even close. To make matters worse, as they continued year after year the Charlton H-B comics declined even further, until characters were so out of character that they didn't make any sense at all. Remember Sum Toi, Elroy's friend from Mars? George kept thinking he was a real toy and locked him in Elroy's toy chest. (Totally against character!) I found Sum Toi extremely annoying, and not just because of his name. (However, he might have the distinction of being the one recurring character that Charlton introduced into an H-B comic book.) But the Jetsons, Yogi, and the others just didn't act or speak like themselves at all. Granted, Gold Key had its lapses, too--sometimes Spacely didn't look much on-model, and occasionally Rosie or Judy (or anyone else) would act a little out of character--but there was an "authenticity" and a commitment to quality about the GK comics that made such lapses forgivable. The Charlton comics, on the other hand, just seemed to be saying to readers, "We don't care if these are good or not, as long as you buy them."

I'm glad you also touched upon the "Flintstones at the NY World's Fair"--an all-time favorite! It predates "The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones" by over 20 years, and may in fact be the first time the prehistoric and futuristic families met. I love the scene where the Flintstones' bird eats the Jetsons' space car for lunch (but how were they ever going to get back home?). The cameos of the other characters, sprinkled throughout the book, are priceless. I also love the authenticity of the backgrounds. I never saw the NY World's Fair, but my cousin went to it and brought back two copies of the Flintstones book for me and my brother.

Anyway, the Jetsons were and are a lot of fun, and it's great to know that there is someone else out there who finds them as engaging and inspiring as I do!

Joe Torcivia said...

Great comments as always, Scarecrow! Glad you’ve become a regular around here. I very much enjoy your contributions to our discussion, as they are clearly heartfelt! …And, YES (to any “civilians” reading this), you can have many “heartfelt” comments about comics! That’s what we’re all about here!

The “door chime” was indeed a signature touch to The Jetsons -- and one I never thought about until you mentioned it!

I still recall the H-B switchover from Gold Key to Charlton vividly – as it was the first “real” disappointment I’d ever experienced as a comics reader (…we weren’t “fans” or “collectors” then, just “readers”).

The last Gold Key issues of all the classic H-B titles (Flintstones, Jetsons, Huck Hound, Yogi Bear) were released in July, 1970 – with the last Top Cat released a month earlier in June. As it was (Flintstones and some of Yogi excepted) they were all reprints – and, of late, reprints of some issues I already had from earlier in the ‘60s!

But, once I saw the Charltons, that came along in August, 1970 boasting on their covers that they were full of “All New Stories and Art”, I knew two things: (1:) They were “full of SOMETHING”, all right! (2:) The reprints (even those I already owned) never looked so good!

The comparisons I posted between Gold Key and Charlton Jetsons cover art (in this series of posts) and Flintstones (in the Gold Key post) say it all! With The Jetsons, I even found two covers that almost match-up, element for element, exhibiting the differences in as stark a contrast as possible.

I had completely forgotten about “Sum Toi”, Elroy’s friend from Mars – and, with a little luck, I hope to forget about him again! Those who complain about “Orbitty” should meet “Sum Toi”!

Needless to say, “Sum Toi” wasn’t handled with nearly the finesse as the Michael Maltese creation “Ock Bock” Augie Doggie’s “friend from Mars”. (Is my H-B geekery on display here, or what?) Augie and Elroy did have the same basic “Daws Butler Kid Voice”, after all! Why not give both of them a Martian friend!

Though, to give Charlton some uncharacteristic credit (that they may or may not deserve), perhaps it WAS because George thought “Sum Toi” was just “some toy” that accounted for his name!

…Naaah! I’m just thinking too much! …Actually ascribing some remotely humorous word-play to Charlton’s wretched writing. Never mind!

As I will say to my dying day, the Gold Key Comics (particularly those of 1964-1966) continue to be many of my favorites of all time, and it’s always great to encounter someone else who feels similarly!

rodineisilveira said...

Seeing this cover from The Flintstones and The Jetsons # 15 (DC Comics, November 1998), it makes me reminding of an episode from the 5th season (1964-65) of The Flintstones (Hanna-Barbera/Columbia Pictures, 1960-66), titled Superstone (where Fred acts as Superman).
And the kid who appears on the cover from this same comic book, has a design à la Ed Benedict.

Joe Torcivia said...

The lead story of that comic is actually a sequel to the “Superstone” episode of The Flintstones.

This time, Fred is asked to play the role of Superstone at a comic book convention. He’s heckled by two snarky older kids, yet proves he is a hero in the true spirit of Superstone.

Another highlight: Barney’s comics wantlist, which includes several issues of “Tar Pit of Mystery”!

…And, anything that evokes Ed Benedict is tops in my book!