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August 13, 2010

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma-Rays: Spider-Ham and Scooby-Doo!

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Written by: Drew
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I’ve been thinking a lot about talking dogs lately. Here I am in Buffalo, NY, working on a stage adaptation of graphic-novel Cheapjack Shakespeare (as reviewed here) for the start of Buffalo’s theater season, and I cannot stop thinking about animals with the ability to talk. No, it isn’t that writer Shaun McLaughlin, who wrote the stage adaptation as well as the original comic, reminds me of Magilla Gorilla, or any of the young attractive actors remind me of such characters as Underdog or Superchicken, it’s just the fact that a wave of nostalgia for talking animals has been on my mind lately. When I was in L.A. a few weeks back, I noticed Marvel had a new one-shot for one of my favorite titles of all time, Spider-Ham, out! I then got back to New York and went to Shaun’s house for a production meeting. Shaun has all these cool busts and art work and Emmy awards on his wall from his time at Warner Brothers Animation, and it suddenly got me thinking of Krypto (Shaun didn’t work on Krypto while at Warner, but other shows like Batman Beyond and Justice League: Unlimited, as you can read about here), and how in college one of the secret-guilty pleasure shows to watch between classes was the current Krypto, The Superdog running on Cartoon Network (apparently there were also toys from that Krypto show which I never got; anyone want to e-mail a link where I can find these?). It then struck me in the middle of watching Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? the other night with my girlfriend, that talking animal characters/heroes are an essential part of American comic book/cartoon culture, and every time we move away from these characters we always swing back to them.

In my opinion the reason is simple: if I was a child and could have a pet dog that would actually talk to me too, it would be the coolest thing on Earth, no question. Characters like this bring out imagination in youth and nostalgic joy from those punching 9-5 in their forties. I know my column is only highlighting two things I really love this week, but seriously, this weekend take a double thought and dig up some old animal characters and rock them out. Maybe it’s some old Looney Tunes cartoons, maybe it is our misunderstood Peter Porker who secretly is Spider-Ham; for an anime fan, maybe you like to rock out to the Noozles. So many options folks. As for us this week, let me tell what I’ve been rocking out:

Collection of Awesomeness: Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham Vol.1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
This collection is a fantastic joy to me, collecting Marvel Tails Starring Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham issues #1, and Peter Porker, The Specular Spider-Ham issues #1-5. As I’ve mentioned before in my column, the issue of Marvel Tails was always magical to me after I was bought it as a kid in my Spider-Man phase, and to see it here nicely color remastered with other Spider-Ham comics was really a no-brainer for me to pick up and buy. For those of you unfamiliar, Spider-Ham weaves the tale of Peter Porker who secretly is Spider-Ham, fighting off villains while struggling through a day job at the Daily Beagle. All the characters are animals in this animal-verse of Marvel, and Spider-Ham fights off such baddies as Ducktor Doom, with special guest appearances  by Goose Rider, Captain Americat, and more. The combination of art and humor that the team behind Spider-Ham brought to these issues was undeniably cool, hip, and you can understand why it was a hit in the 80s. Amazingly, it has aged well and is still extremely amusing. The concept just works, and I know Marvel has been playing around it appears with the idea of figuring out how to re-launch the character over the past few years, with an Ultimate Spider-Ham Civil War special a few years ago, and the one-shot last month for the anniversary, so here is hoping they get off their tails and relaunch Spider-Ham in an ongoing soon (seriously, I don’t know how Marvel Apes was pushed before a Spider-Ham relaunch, sigh).

Something To Watch: Scooby-Doo and The Reluctant Werewolf
Scooby-Doo has become a staple of American culture, between the numerous cartoons (can I get a woot-woot for the Scooby-Doo Richie-Rich Hour anyone), the never ending comic book series from DC, even those live-action movies some love and some hate. So when it comes to wacky monsters and talking dogs, Scooby-Doo stands heads above everyone else. My favorite Scooby-Doo of all time was Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf, which was a 1988 TV-animated film, which rocked hard (and I watched over and over on video as a kid, and then over and over on DVD as a teenager/now adult), and was a total fusion of good-old Scooby-Doo with a Wacky Races/Speed Racer vibe! The plot is simple: Dracula has a monster road race every year in Transylvania, but this year his Wolfman peaces out. Needing a new Werewolf, an ancient book leads them to America, where it just so happens Shaggy is the key! Seems there is some history where through the power of an amulet, Shaggy can be turned into a Werewolf! After the monsters succeed in turning him, it’s off to the races for Shaggy, Scooby, Scrappy, and Shaggy’s hot cheerleader girlfriend Googie (betcha didn’t know Shaggy had a cheerleader girlfriend named Googie, or that his full name is Shaggy Rogers, did you? The things this movie teaches you.), but luckily Shaggy has been spending his time lately not solving mysteries, but as a race driver in a crazy American race league (very much Wacky Races right here). So the heat is on, if Shaggy can beat the other monsters (which include Frankenstein, a Swamp Creature, and more classics) in the Transylvania race, he will be turned back into a  human, but if not…Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf just rocks, and is way too much fun. Pick it up this weekend!

Well, that’s it for this time! See you in two weeks! I’m off to rock out to some Godzilla: The Animated Series so I can laugh at Godzukie. Speaking of Godzilla (my favorite hero), here is an amusing parody of the classic Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla for you to rock out here!

Drew McCabe



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Comicthon, Comic Attack. Comic Attack said: From Friendly Ghosts to Gamma Rays: Spider-Ham and Scooby-Doo! https://comicattack.net/2010/08/aug132010/ #comics #scoobydoo #marvel […]

  2. Billy

    Peter Porker/Spider-Ham always made me laugh when I would see it on the shelves. I’ve seen that Scooby flick several times, and think that all of the Scooby movies are highly underrated.

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