Spider-man (1967) Spider-man (1967)

Spider-man (1967)

Love it or hate it – the theme song has become a classic.

Marvel.com is posting the entire series of the 1967 ABC Spider-man Saturday morning cartoon show, one episode per week (each Thursday) on their site. It’s amazing that talents like John Dunn and Herman Cohen worked on this stuff. I don’t know if I can watch more than one – however the Bakshi ones come later in the run and they may be worthwhile. Here’s the first episode…

  • Angry Anim

    I don’t know where “I don’t know if I can watch more than one” comes from… this is absolutely amazing stuff, especially when taken in context for the era in which it was made. By far, the best adaption of Spider-man for animation that’s ever been done… and fairly faithful to the comics. The Ray Ellis background jazz is also brilliant in it’s own right.

    I might be in the minority, but I’ve always felt that the Bakshi ones are the weaker and least watchable of the bunch. I remember thinking that they were creepy when I was a kid, and my little boy won’t give them the time of day. Just a weird vibe.

  • uncle wayne

    in my world of Sat. morn toons (which was predominantly comedies), only 3 was my religious “serious” ones….”Fant. 4,” “Space Ghost,” and,—of course, THIS! I was so elated to see that this [exact] music was the ending to the first feature film. Thanx, Jerry, for the re-visit!!

  • Cameron

    The Bakshi episodes are hilariously weird and incomprehensible. I’m not sure I would call them an improvement, but they’re definitely more entertaining.

  • Siamang

    Check out They Might Be Giants’ cover of the themesong to know how awesome it is.

  • Brian D. Scott

    Until I bought the 6 DVD box set, I never knew that the Bakshi episodes were the later ones! In NYC, in 1977, when they aired on channel 5, the Bakshi ones were shown first, so it looked like they were older and then the “newer” ones were shown. Ralph’s stuff was bizarre – some of the scenes and cels were lifted from Rocket Robin Hood that he did back then. Don’t even get me started on the acid trip skies!

  • I love the “In Color” notice in the beginning.

    I wonder if the future generation will have a similar reaction when viewing the current shows and sees a “In HD” note in the beginning.

  • Steve K.

    I watch these constantly with my little nephew on DVD. Most are enjoyable. Used used to watch them all the time back in the day. The Bakshi ones are a bit “trippy” that’s for sure.

    I prefer the Ramones cover of the theme Siamang.

  • Christopher Cook

    What I found wrong with the Bakshi episodes is that it relied way too much on stock animation, especially of Spidey. Loved Spidey’s voice, though (“I gotta be the answer to Ed Sullivan’s dreams”).

  • Chuck R.

    They Might Be Giants recorded the Spiderman theme?
    Are you sure you’re not thinking of the Moxy Fruvous version? That one gets my vote. The rewritten lyrics are hilarious.
    Spider Nick’s ska version is a runner-up.

    I’ll side with those who felt that Bakshi’s version was just a bit too over-the-top. Can’t wait to see them tho.

  • Steve Gattuso

    If I remember correctly, one of the Bakshi episodes was a direct copy of an episode of “Rocket Robin Hood.” And considering that you’ve shown the latter as part of “Worst Cartoons Ever,” I’d say that pretty much sums up my opinion of them…

  • This is still, far and away, my favorite Spider-Man cartoon ever. I got the DVD set for my birthday back in 2004, and treasure it. So I’m glad to see it online.

    The Bakshi episodes were trippy and, yes, even creepy, but still manages to capture that stark feel from the later Spidey comics from the same period.

    I wish Buena Vista would get to releasing the 60s MARVEL SUPER-HEROES series as well (I remember those fondly as a kid, especially the HULK cartoon)!

  • joecab

    I’m with Anim: the early ones were more moody with the darker colors and the rougher drawing was more … I dunno … earthy.

  • Zeke

    Ray Ellis did the title song? He wrote a ton of music under different names for Filmation, but none of that junk can touch “Spiderman” as aural legend.

  • William

    Nice to see these, but a question: how exactly does Marvel (or any company) profit when they do things like this?

  • Beez

    I Agree with “Angry Anim” my little boy loves these as well ! Its awesome he can see them online.

  • The thing about these cartoons and others, like Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends (with Ice Man and Firestar), is that, as a child, I thought they were absolutely fantastic. Like, stunning. Somehow, I think my imagination filled in all the gaps in the animation and made it a thing of beauty.

    What does that say?

    That it doesn’t matter a damn about visual quality when it comes to children’s shows? I don’t know. It can’t be good though. Or maybe it’s a testament to the imaginations of children everywhere. Perhaps the better the quality gets, the less work a child’s imagination has to do and by delivering quality we are inhibiting children’s development? Maybe cack cartoons did us a favour.

    No idea.

    But am I the only one with recurring nightmares about Spider-Woman? I haven’t seen any of her cartoons since back in the day but they scared the bejaysus out of me for some reason.

  • I used to catch Teletoon re-runs of the show, they started running them a year before the first of the Sam Rami movies arrived. They eventually stopped putting running them on that channel, but it is running on it’s secondary “retro-programming” channel (kind of like “Boomerang”) allongside the Hanna-Barbera stuff and the television versions of the Looney Tunes. (One of three that are shown, “The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show”, actually does run on Teletoon on weekday and saturday mornings)

    It’s great to see that the original Spider-Man show can be viewed for free, but a downside is that the music is over towering the voices and sounds at times, especially during the theme song.

  • Paul N

    Wait… what? These are on DVD? Sorry, can’t talk; gotta get to Best Buy…

  • Rose

    In comparison to the contemporary Marvel Super heroes shorts, this was a masterpiece.

    As a child I didn’t like this series. (Although I loved superheroes, and action oriented cartoons. I was a huge fan of the HB superhero oriented cartoons-and did watch the Filmation shows as well.) The stories just didn’t hook me, and the over use of backgrounds and animation annoyed me.

    …but as an adult I find some virtue in the series The stock action shots are done much better than most were at the time, (especially when one considers many action stock shots in other shorts were simply a static figure “flying”) and are still more fluid than some of done well after. The characterizations are true to the comic book of the time.

    …and again in retrospect to some cartoons of the day; the voice acting is good.

    It’s all mostly fun.

    I may also be in the minority but I liked, and like, the Bakshi episodes far less than the earlier ones. As someone else has pointed out they seemed incomprehensible and yes, creepy to me back in the day.

    …and again yes, very trippy.

    The theme is great, as the original and as the Ramone version (I haven’t heard the cover by they might be giants and can not comment on that.).

    I’ll be re watching these and I think mostly enjoying the experience.

  • the worst of these is still alot better than “Spiderman 3”

  • Degeaffusunuman

    Did they use DVNR on this? I don’t think I’ve ever seen an old show like this looking so clean.

  • EHH

    This is in surprisingly excellent quality.

  • Bugsmer

    So why are these in widescreen?

  • Rick

    The early episodes at least used Spider-man villians. I think Bakshi only used them once. Even though I was only 10-11 years old at the time I really noticed that the last episodes had Spider-Man basiclally swinging around CONSTANTLY!, like 95% of each cartoon.

  • Geoff

    In the late 90s I actually bought a VHS tape Marvel put out with two episodes, because at that point, for the first time in my life, the show was not airing in Canada, and I was afraid I might never see it again. Then Teletoon came along and put that fear to rest.

  • Angry Anim

    After watching this, it sure sounds like they “sweetened” the soundtrack… unless there’s something wrong with the compression. That’s why the music seems overwhelming. It’s not like that on the DVD.

  • Brad

    And let us not forget…

    “Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig. Does whatever a Spider-Pig… does”

  • drmedula

    It was the best superhero cartoon of the 1960’s. The early ones were often faithful adaptations of the Ditko era stories, and the Bakshi ones were intoxicatingly spooky. The voice work was above average for the era, too. And as an adult, I can still watch these and have fun- unlike anything from Hanna-Barbara’s 1960’s output (there’s a reason the “parody” versions of SPACE GHOST and BIRDMAN ran longer than the originals, you know…)

  • Rodrigo

    Hell yeah! I remember watching these. Even as a child of the 80s!

  • WmWallace

    Ditko vs Romita…………………………………………………who cares?

  • Shawn Jackson

    These came out around ten years before I was born, but I love them. They are wonderful comfort food. I hope I can still find the DVD box set somewhere…..

  • Steve

    Spidey has his moves, avoiding the Ice Man at 12:26 … but not quite as flamboyant as Ace and Gary here at 4:40


  • Keith Paynter

    Yes, Grantray-Lawrence gave us the first Spidermans, as well as “The Marvel Superheroes”, Hulk, Thor, Sub-mariner, Captain America and Iron-Man. Limited-limited-limited animation, to be sure. The ‘Harvey Birdman’ episode “Turner Classic Birdman” features footage that could easily been mistake for their efforts, as bad as the H-B show it mocks.

    But, damn! The first seaon music is the best part, and sadly, the master tapes are no more.

  • Another vote for the early episodes of 1967 Spidey, because they told the stories like the comics did. I knew they were limited when I first saw them age 12, but they were still exciting. I lost interest when the show degenerated into psychedelia and stock shots. Fantastic Four was good for the same reason– the Marvel plots were meaty and interesting. Even the Gantray Lawrence films animations were good, because they used inked, Kirby-style drawings and plots that came from the source.

  • Brian D. Scott

    My favorite Spidey line comes from one of my favorite (yes, Bakshi) episodes called Swing City (how 60s is that?!?). The Master Technician (?!?) takes over the new power plant and after making his demands, Spidey says while looking at the audience, “Why do they always ask for things they know they won’t get?” Classic!

  • Cameron

    Gray Morrow did layout on this. Too bad the animators struggled to even make the eyes look right.

  • Cyber Fox

    Am i the only one that noticed that the 1960s Spider Man cartoons on Marvel’s site are poorly remastered?

    I mean the theme song’s audio didn’t sound well as it should
    and they used pointless sound effects like various Public Domain Cartoon DVDs and VHS tapes

  • JanniR

    Maybe if I saw this as a kid I would appreciate it more, dunno. All I can see now is that maddening limited animation from the ’60s that I’m glad I missed, and characters whose faces change with every new scene and angle.

    And what on God’s green earth is happening at 13:01-13:03 or so? I didn’t watch the whole episode, but I had to watch that part multiple times and still can’t believe my eyes.

  • Tim Hodge

    William asked: “how exactly does Marvel (or any company) profit when they do things like this?”

    Like most Saturday morning cartoons, the money comes from licensing the character for merchandise. Very few kids’ TV shows make a profit on the broadcast alone. Marvel got cash up front when they licensed the character to whomever animated this. From there, the show acted like a half hour commercial for comic book, pajamas, birthday cakes, shampoo and lunch boxes.