Tuesday, March 31, 2009


SyncroVox! This incredible innovation in animation was a technique pioneered by the geniuses at Cambria Productions in the early Sixties. This amazing process involved superimposing the highly rouged lips of live actors over the faces of cartoon characters, for absolutely perfect, synchronized dialogue! Among Cambria’s other innovations was an extremely liberal interpretation of the word "animated," as they relied pretty heavily on utterly static drawings of their characters.

Cambria Productions was one of several outfits that supplied short, 5-minute serialized toons to independent television stations during the Golden Age of TV, shorts that were usually integrated into a local kid’s cartoon show, usually hosted by a cowboy, pirate or clown. (Ours was hosted by the station’s announcer and his dog puppet.)

Cambria’s most popular productions were an adventure show called CLUTCH CARGO and… 1962's SPACE ANGEL!

Now, thanks to the nostalgia merchants at VCI Home Video, you too can thrill to the interplanetary exploits of Scott McCloud, alias the heroic Space Angel, as fights to keep the spaceways safe from evil aliens and ruthless space pirates. Each story is made up of five five-minute segments, composed of mostly unmoving drawings used over and over. Also, the producers were apparently unwilling to go to the meager expense of actually superimposing those lips in all the time, so quite often the character’s mouths are obscured by microphones, or we’re given drawings of the back of their heads! The actual drawings are quite nice though, many of them the work of veteran comics and animation artists Alex Toth and Doug Wildley, so it’s not a total gyp.

VCI’s SPACE ANGEL COLLECTION #1 includes nine full, 5-part adventures on a single disc. The toons are presented full frame, with mono sound. Unfortunately, the source material isn’t in the greatest shape. There’s lots of damage, dirt and scratches, and the colors are pretty faded.

Still, if you’ve the patience for it, or are a lover of cartoon kitsch, they’re definitely worth watching. And if you happened to grow up with these cartoons, you may find the trip back to your unsophisticated childhood to be a fun one.

Me, I’m eagerly awaiting Collection #2!

BUY: Space Angel Collection 1 (Full Col Dol)