web stats

CSBG Archive

R.I.P. Lou Scheimer

I’m sorry to report that Lou Scheimer, co-founder and president of Filmation Studios, has passed away. He was 84.

You can trace a pretty direct line from Lou Scheimer’s work animating DC’s superheroes to my sitting here typing these words to you. It was the Filmation cartoons that were my original gateway drug to DC Comics, and that’s what led to, well, everything else. First The New Adventures of Superman, and then The Superman/Aquaman Hour.

Those were the ones that really imprinted on me, when I was seven years old. And today, over forty years later, I can still pull those DVDs off the shelf and feel something of the same visceral thrill I used to feel watching the opening credits of the Superman cartoon. Aquaman, too.

Sure, looking at those old cartoons today, all the seams show. They re-used shots, they had two or three actors doing a multitude of voices (sometimes it felt like the entire Filmation voice pool was Ted Knight and Melendy Britt) and the animation was so limited it was barely a half-step up from a slide show.

But I didn’t care about that when I was seven. Because for me it was all about story and imagination and those cartoons had it in spades. Alien invasions and otherdimensional travel and secret conspiracies reaching back hundreds of years. Filmation didn’t just introduce me to DC superheroes. It was also my road to Jules Verne, though their version of Journey to the Center of the Earth.


And to Isaac Asimov by way of their adaptation of Fantastic Voyage.

On a lighter note, Filmation’s also how I found out about Archie, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Josie and the Pussycats.

This indirectly led to my Cartooning class corresponding with Dan and Josie DeCarlo, decades later. (Some day I really am going to write up that story, it’s a good one.)

And of course there’s the Filmation version of Star Trek, which had some of the very best Trek stories ever done… I’m thinking in particular of “Yesteryear,” “Mudd’s Passion,” and “The Magicks of Megas-Tu,” though you might have other favorites.

Speaking of science fiction, I have very fond memories of the Filmation forays into live-action SF on Saturday morning. Jason of Star Command…

Along with Space Academy and Ark II.

I didn’t love them as much as I wanted to– but I did like them, and they hold up pretty well today considering they were shot on a budget of about eleven dollars an episode, Ark II in particular.

Filmation was responsible for the single most faithful adaptations of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan and the Alex Raymond Flash Gordon ever done in either live-action or animation, too.

Filmation also gave us the live-action Shazam and The Mighty Isis, two shows that apparently imprinted on the generation after mine as hard as their versions of Superman and Aquaman did on me.

And the generation after THAT had He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, along with She-Ra, Princess of Power.

Filmation Studios showed up in my life over and over again one way or another. Years after I had become a professional writer and artist myself (in large part because of what Lou Scheimer and his crew triggered in my childhood) I moved to Seattle and got a job teaching at the Alki Art Studio. It turned out that one of my studio colleagues was Barbara Benedetto, who had spent years as a background painter for Filmation.

She was largely retired by then, happy to spend her days painting landscapes and occasionally exhibiting at local galleries. I tried several times to persuade her to come and talk to my Cartooning kids, but she was horrified at the idea of getting up in front of a crowd– even a crowd of twelve-year-olds that would have thought she was a goddess. But she did give me a bunch of old cels and background paintings that I still use in class today.

When Filmation director Hal Sutherland was in town for Emerald City a few years back I told him that he and his colleagues were responsible for a huge part of my life. He laughed and said, “God, I hope you don’t regret it.” I assured him I didn’t and thanked him profusely for his part in shaping what ended up being a life spent around comics and cartoons. He signed a print of the animated Enterprise for us that we had framed. It’s hanging just in front of me in the office as I type this.

I knew Lou Scheimer was doing conventions too, and I had nursed the hope that maybe someday I’d be able to get him to sign our Trek print as well, and to thank HIM for what Filmation Studios did for me and mine. Sadly, that’s not going to happen now.

I do regret that…. but at least I got to thank him here, sort of. Rest in peace, Mr. Scheimer.

*

There’s lots more about Scheimer and Filmation in the wonderful book he did with Andy Mangels from TwoMorrows, Lou Scheimer: Creating The Filmation Generation.

Very much recommended.

See you next week.

34 Comments

R.I.P. Lou and thanks for all the great childhood memories.

Great tribute here, Greg. I’ve never really admired the Filmation output, but to say that they weren’t important in the history of animation is nonsense. Fun fact: their Emmy win for Star Trek: The Animated Series is the only time a Trek production ever won a Best Series Emmy…but you probably knew that already.

Ray from Manila

October 18, 2013 at 8:33 pm

I never realized his output was that vast, being more familiar with his run from Archie through Tarzan to He-Man and She-Ra. R.I.P.

Gosh. I liked Filmation’s output.

I am of the He-Man generation, so I guess I have Mr Scheimer (in part) to thank. RIP

That Star Trek cel, with the satyr facing the crew…wow. The mind goes to some weird places, that’s all I’ll say.

No love for ‘Bravestarr?’

Damn. :( I grew up on Filmation, and liked ISIS and Captain Marvel when we caught the odd rerun.

“On a lighter note, Filmation’s also how I found out about Archie, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Josie and the Pussycats.”

Was Josie and the Pussycats Filmation? Because Wikipedia says it was HB.

Sorry about the nitpick; great piece. (And I found Lookee in that group shot!)

It’s genius that Lookee was put there =)

Was Josie and the Pussycats Filmation? Because Wikipedia says it was HB.

Serves me right for doing this from memory. Technically, though, it was still Filmation’s Sabrina and Archie cartoons that led me there, so I’ll leave it be.

RIP Mr. Scheimer.
I really had no idea how much of Filmation’s output I enjoyed back then until I saw it all put together here – I was a part of the ’70s generation, and I totally agree with you about the Tarzan and esp. Flash Gordon cartoons. The Filmation Batman cartoon was quite good as well. Anyway, Greg, thanks for the nice tribute.

I spent many hours watching Superman, Superboy, Josie and the Pussycats, The live action Isis, Shazam, Fat ALbert and some of the HE-MAN and SHE-RA.
There were so many to watch. Lou Scheimer left us with some great shows that we loved as a kids and adults.There should be a tribute to Lou Scheimer for 2 or 3 months on Cartoon network or however long it takes to run them Show that were great then and now, not like the crappy cartoons that are on now.

Sad news! Like a lot of others, I am very familiar with the cartoon programs from Filmation. I’m a child of the ’80s and HE-MAN and SHE-RA are the ones that stand out for me. I also like his studio’s take on the comic heroes, too. I have the DVD “Adventures of Superman” as well as DVD’s of HE-MAN and SHE-RA. As a little kid I was enthralled with HE-MAN. I also liked FAT ALBERT, too. One of the things that’s not to be over-looked is Lou’s major contribution to the voices, which seldom goes unacknowledged. In HE-MAN, Lou provided the voices of Orko, King Randor, Tri-Klops, Fisto, Man-E-Faces, Trap Jaw, and others. In SHE-RA, we can hear Lou as Light Hope, Swift wind, Kowl, Mantenna, Grizzlor, and Horde Prime…as well as various robotic Horde Troopers and Twiggets. His voice is all over those cartoons.

Brian from Canada

October 19, 2013 at 7:56 am

How tragic is it that mainstream Hollywood press ignores the passing of such an important figure in children’s entertainment? Filmation may be gone but, as this article proves, it is far from forgotten.

Lou Scheimer gave birth to the superhero cartoon. Long before the Superfriends, he gave us Superman, Aquaman, Superboy, The Atom, Green Lantern, Hawkman, The Flash, Justice League, Teen Titans and the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin. That’s an incredible legacy on its own.

But then he also presented us with some of the most incredible adaptations as well. Star Trek, The Lone Ranger, Tarzan, Zorro… each of these stands as equal components to the live action series on television as well. Fans of those franchises will never forget them.

Throw in live action series when few did them, He-Man, other fantastic adventures… Lou Scheimer Productions may have promised a simplicity in animation that wasn’t theatrical Disney quality but it was a sign of quality entertainment that was light fun and never really talked down to children.

I’m sorry he was never able to return after Filmation’s loss. But thanks to DVD, iTunes and more, we can relive the enjoyment of the series he gave us time and time again. Thank you, Mr. Scheimer. On behalf of the young at heart around the world, I say there must be a special place in Heaven for you.

I was definitely a Filmation kid growing up by way of He-Man. Sad day for those of us who used to hold aloft our magic curtain rod and shout “I have the power!” and then try to whack our siblings with it.

Y’know it’s funny, that animated Kirk on the book cover actually looks more like Chris Pine than William Shatner.

Those early Aquamans were a big deal to me, too. You just can’t ever forget those seahorses; I liked the hat-tip to them on The Big Bang Theory (yes, I guess I’m the only comics fan who actually enjoys that show).

Although it’s fashionable to downplay the limited animation, I am quite fascinated by it, especially in Star Trek TAS (my favorite Filmation cartoon). Like Greg said, “it was so limited it was barely a half-step up from a slide show”… and to me, that’s the best part. With even their film-strip style, these were really interesting shows. I’m amazed that they could accomplish so much with so little. It’s almost like a punk rock approach to cartooning–it’s within reach of anybody. It was minimalism in the best sense of the word.

I really like the use and reuse of stock shots, like the one of the crew running in silhouette. I got so obsessed that I spent a few hours morphing shots of Uhura sitting at her console, while only her arm moves or other characters pop in and out of existence all around her. They must have used that same shot of her in every episode!

I always wondered how the same studio that did as fun stuff as the Tarzan (using the Joe Kubert designs it looks like), Lone Ranger, and Zorro cartoons, was also responsible for the pure, undiluted atrocity that was Bat-Mite.

No one’s perfect, and at least there was so much other stuff that I fondly remember.

Nice tribute to Lou’s work here. He will be missed.

However, I should point out in your photos here while Josie & The Pussycats were a part of the Archie & Sabrina comics, Filmation did not do the Josie cartoon. Hanna-Barbera did the Josie cartoons.

nice tribute greg. since like you all the filmation stuff i actully had as part of my child hood too. and thanks for finaly revealing that one live action show as jason of star command could never remember the name of it. lou really was a giant and left a legacy with his work.

RIP Lou. One of the great highlights of my youth was seeing Lou’s name in the Bozo credits as he did Layout for Bozo cartoons. We’ve lost a great man and a lifelong friend. One of the great ones of all time.

I was of the generation that mostly knew Filmation from the live-action Isis and Shazam shows, but I later totally fell in love with The Animated Series of Star Trek. It was like we’d been given the gift of a whole extra season of The Original Series, only even weirder than before.

Somewhere out there there’s a 25-foot Spock clone waving Lou a fond farewell.

BeccaBlast

October 19, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I always wondered how the same studio that did as fun stuff as the Tarzan (using the Joe Kubert designs it looks like), Lone Ranger, and Zorro cartoons, was also responsible for the pure, undiluted atrocity that was Bat-Mite.

==================================================================================

They did not come up with Bat-Mite.

http://hocof.blogspot.com/search/label/Bat-Mite

http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Bat-Mite

Bat-Mite was created by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff, first appearing in Detective Comics #267. (1959)

Count Karnstein, a Yuku member, pointed out, those comic books: “had
giant pennies and stuffed dinosaurs, was wearing caveman, zebra, and rainbow
costumes, teamed up with Bat-Mite, split in two, melded with Superman, fought a
living #2 pencil, drowned in giant gravy boats and menaced by giant sized water
pistols, tennis rackets, and all sorts of insane absurdities long before the
Batman movie or tv show were released….Dozier was bringing the characters to the
screen in the manner in which they had been portrayed in the comics. Was there
ever a silly, absurd, ridiculous Green Hornet comic book? If so, it’s escaped my
attention for the better part of 40 years. Did we ever see a Caveman Green
Hornet or a Green Hornet in a rainbox/zebra/dayglo red suit? Did we ever see
Green Hornet being drowned in a giant gravy boat or being chased by aliens and
dinosaurs? Was there ever an Ace the Green Hornet Dog? How about a
Hornet-Mite?

No? I didn’t think so. There’s your answer. It’s literally that simple. Dozier was taking characters and putting them on the screen. Green Hornet was always played straight and serious in the comics/strips/radio, so he was done that way for tv. Batman was as absurd, silly, goofy, and ridiculous as anything else that has ever appeared in comics, and so that’s how he appeared on-screen”.

Filmation was great! I was born in 75 but thanks to syndication (or growing up in Canada), I think I watched almost all the Filmation series from the 60′s to the late 80′s growing up and have several fond memories…don’t forget about The New Adventures of Gilligan and Gilligan’s Planet (where they first used Lou’s signature instead of the rotating wheel)….great memories!

Excellent tribute, Greg. I straddled the 2nd and 3rd generations which grew up on Lou and Norm’s work, so Filmation productions were a staple of my TV viewing from the 70′s through late 80′s.

Those glorious Saturday mornings of yore consisted of a steady fare of Filmation cartoons along with those of Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears Enterprises, not to mention the Warner Brothers material which had been nicely repackaged for kids of my era. So there was a lot of stuff to choose from, but shows like Star Trek, Tarzan, the Super 7, Batman, the Lone Ranger, Zorro, and Fat Albert all left their mark over those magical years of long ago. During my early teens, I also watched a lot of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and in recent years, I even discovered overlooked gems such as Bravestarr.

Lou Scheimer was truly one of the greats. It’s sad to realize that characters such as Orko, who annoyed me at first but eventually won me over thanks to Lou’s talent, has now been silenced forever. I will miss the little guy, as I will equally mourn the wonderful man who brought him and so many other legends to life.

Thanks for the memories, Lou. Rest easy.

Obscure Lou moment #1:

In the live action Ghost Busters show Lou was the voice of the never-seen Mr. Zero who gave the Busters their mission brief in a hilarious pardy of Mission Impossible.

Say what you will about Filmation’s foreground animation, but their background paintings are beyond beautiful! I have a few of Barbara’s paintings that are panoramic (a number of scenes would be composed on different parts of the painting or used in long pans) and in close up the level of detail is astounding.

I saw all the shows listed above. He will be missed.

@PB210 –

I am well aware the Bat-Mite existed in the comics before the New Adventures of Batman cartoon; but that character in the comics bore little resemblance to what the series did with him. There’s a reason that when Timm & Co. got the opportunity, they turned Scheimer’s Mite into a joke:

Rossum’s Bat-Mite robot announces that he’s “their biggest fan”, then breaks apart, spluttering, “All I want to do.. is… help…”

Robin: “What… IS THAT.”

Rossum: “Poor little guy — I never could get him to work right.”

It took the Brave & the Bold series to redeem the character.

Young Sentinels!

Damn if it is sad. Filmation, while had its share of flaws, helped form the fantasy landscap of many many kids. for nme other than He Man was Flash Gordon animated series(was awesome), as well as the few Star Trek toon episode i was able to watch(in italy it was hard to come by those). And many many others. Its a shame that this legacy is strongly underappreciated IMO.

Thank you for the great Saturday morning entertainment. We will always remember you and your characters. :( Rest in peace. Please feel free to leave your condolences: http://www.eternal-contact.com/lou-scheimer/

very sad,i loved & still continue to love his animated & live-action shows especially shazam & isis as well as ark ii.i hope that all of the filmation shows will be re-realesed on dvd.

Nice to see this getting its due finally. I saw all the Archies, Goolies, Tarzan etc 70s stuff they did, Fat Albert was great, Ghostbusters fun, Isis and Shazam awful, My Favorite Martians ditto, Mighty Mouse ok. These guys were all over the place for 25 years, their hearts in the right place as well. They don’t make them like this anymore, its our collective loss. Nice writeup and Rip Lou.

His productions made Saturday mornings what they should and always be, 5 to 7 hours of adventure and fun.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives