Cartoon nostalgia: “Fangface”

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Flickr photo by Alejandro Pinto (CC BY)

With Halloween approaching, and all manner of Halloween-themed programming on TV (including holiday classic “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown“), I thought this’d make a plausible excuse to write another blog post about old cartoons. Thus, here’s a late 70s cartoon involving werewolves: “Fangface.”

“Fangface” debuted on ABC in 1978, and ran for two seasons. The show was the first one produced by Ruby-Spears, a studio founded by two people, Ruby and Spears, who worked for Hanna-Barbera in the 60s and 70s, including having helped create Scooby-Doo. Ruby-Spears in the early 80s eventually merged with Hanna-Barbera and became a sister studio.

Much like most of Hanna-Barbera’s output in this decade being knockoffs of Scooby or “Josie and the Pussycats”, Fangface was about a group of teenagers and their wacky companion solving mysteries and/or fighting villains. In this case, the teenagers were Biff (the team’s leader, a la Fred on Scooby-Doo), Kim (in the role of Daphne), and Puggsy (no real Scooby-Doo counterpart, but was fairly cranky/rude toward the wacky-sidekick of the team, a la Shelly in Jabberjaw/Alexandra in “Josie”).

The wacky sidekick in this series was another teenager named Sherman Fangsworth (or “Fangs” as he was nicknamed). According to the show’s opening, his family had a werewolf born into it every 400 years, and thus, when exposed to the full moon (or, oddly enough, a picture of the full moon), he’d transform into Fangface, a goofy-acting werewolf. The gang would usually make use of Fangface (by carrying around pictures of the full moon to show Fangs to get him to transform) to help deal with some threat. Never mind that Fangface, after transforming, would usually try to eat or attack Puggsy for unexplained reasons (my guess why: see the aforementioned “Puggsy rude toward Fangs” remark above). Upon being exposed to the sun (or a picture of the sun—the gang carried pictures of the sun, too), Fangface would turn back into Fangs. Fangs (who also acted in a somewhat goofy manner) had no memory of his experiences as Fangface, or apparently even knew he was a werewolf.

The show’s second season featured the addition of a baby cousin of Fangs, who like Fangs turn into a pint-sized werewolf named Fangpuss (despite the “only one werewolf every 400 years” opening in the first season).

“Fangface”‘s competition in the 1978-79 season:

CBS: The second half of “The All-New Popeye Hour”, the late 70s Hanna-Barbera series of the spinach-eating sailor.

NBC: Part of “Yogi’s Space Race.”

In the 1979-80 season, “Fangface and Fangpuss” (as the series was renamed with the addition of Fangs’ cousin) was part of the late 70s Ruby-Spears produced Plastic Man series, as a backup segment (among other segments of the show, including one called “Rickety Rocket” about a group of Black teenagers who solved mysteries in a futuristic world with their wacky talking spaceship, a la “Speed Buggy”). Its competition:

CBS: “The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show.” The classic run of Saturday morning Looney Tunes.

NBC: “Fred and Barney Meet the Thing” and “The Super Globetrotters”/”Fred and Barney Meet the Shmoo.”

Guessing the competition of the Flintstones and Looney Tunes spelled doom for Plastic Man (and Fangface), as the 1980-81 season replaced Plas’ show with (far as I can tell from online sources) “The Richie Rich/Scooby Doo Show.”

After this, both seasons of “Fangface” would be seen off and on over the years in reruns, either as a stand-alone show or as part of Plastic Man’s reruns. The recent “Scooby Doo and the Goblin King” direct-to-video movie has a villain, while going through a book about various mystical creatures, find an entry for Fangface (in one of the film’s amusing moments, as well as probably a way of keeping Fangface’s trademark current…).

And finally, thanks to YouTube, here’s the opening sequence for the show; note how the part with Kim pulled into some moving wall by a pair of hands seems highly reminiscent of a few similar scenes in the opening for “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?”

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