clutch clutch

TV Guide on Clutch Cargo

I found this intriguing two page article on Clutch Cargo in that 1960 issue of TV Guide I mentioned yesterday.

I’m a big fan of the Syncho-Vox process. I regularly feature these cartoons at Cartoon Dump (speaking of which, there are still a few tickets left for our Saturday night show in San Francisco. End of Plug). I love how the article admits:

Clutch Cargo’s success is one of those things that defies all ordinary rational standards. Artistically speaking, it is hardly in a class with UPA’s Mr. Magoo, or Hanna Barbera’s Huckleberry Hound or with any of the creations of the master, Walt Disney…

The show’s creator claims they are creating “motorized movement” — to which the writer points out “is really no movement at all”.

Gotta love it. Read a Clark Haas’ Clutch Cargo comic strip here, and see a Clutch Cargo cartoon here.

  • Motorized movement is not a far stretch. Motors work but they not really move. Most are stationary and spin but do not move. So it’s not a lie. So only the mouths moved. I don’t know but I swear that if you colored Clutch’s hair darker and gave him a bit of a tan, he looks a bit like Obama. He has that Obama chin. Check it out.

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    I suppose it can be argued that Clutch Cargo’s influence, and that of the sequel series, “Scott McCloud, Space Angel,” carried over into the realm of anime, especially in “Neon Genesis Evangelion.” Watching Commander Ikari “speaking” with his hands strategically clasped in front of his mouth, I couldn’t help but remember McCloud with his space helmet’s microphone in his face. In both cases, the motive was the same: the producers of “Space Angel” were trying to cheap it out, while NGE’s creators had to cut corners somewhere after the EVA-Angel fight sequences devoured the production budget.

  • Andy Ice

    As a video comic book, it can’t really be called animation, I thought the art was interesting.
    What creeped me out most way back when, was how WET those mouths looked-especially on Spinner.

  • FP

    Some CLUTCH CARGO cartoons can be downloaded here:

    Episodes of related cartoon SPACE ANGEL are also available for free download:

  • Robert Barker

    Yuck. I think back to how cheated I felt when a ‘Clutch Cargo’ cartoon would eat up precious lunch time animation watching. The wet lips didn’t look as creepy on a black and white set, and thank god they stopped showing those ‘cartoons’ pretty quick. I don’t know who they thought was going to enjoy those. I think the only lesson they taught me when I was a kid was the consequences of going cheap. Spinner and Paddlefoot my butt.

  • Clutch Cargo’s success is one of those things that defies all ordinary rational standards.

    Completely rational by market starndards: they were cheap. Lower price = more sales.

  • I’ve heard of it for years but this is the first I’ve ever actually seen Clutch Cargo. hmmm… neither as bad nor as good as the legend.

    However, it’s almost a master class in how to use layout to reduce animation.

  • That show both suck and blows all at the same time !!!

  • Bugsmer

    This is only slightly better than the submarine cartoon you posted in Cartoon Dump. This one actually has a little animation.

  • Has anyone ever explained that strange animated character on the Captain Kangaroo? It was behind a cupboard door and it seemed to speak to the captain in real time.

  • marc thorner

    Tom, that was “Fred”. seek out “Aniforms”

  • Mike Tiefenbacher

    The beauty of Clutch Cargo lies not in its animation, or lack thereof, but in its storytelling and the character design, both hearkening back to the newspaper comic strips (no surprise, as Haas worked on both BUZ SAWYER: ROSCOE SWEENEY and TIM TYLER’S LUCK). Is the design of Clutch and friends all that divorced from what we’re now seeing in (a series I consider to be beautifully designed, as well as lots of fun) BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD? Unlike, say, any of the Iwao Takamoto-era Hanna-Barbera series or anything else from the ’70s and ’80s, the Clutch cartoons, because of the process used, “read” with an artful simplicity that even Disney sometimes lacked. And I will always be a great fan of the bold black outline–which, you’ll note, is one of the “classic” animation movements that has very little to do with theatrical cartoons, and everything to do with what ’50s designers felt was necessary to work on the grainy black and white TV sets of the era.

  • zavkram

    I’m waiting for someone to release a CGI “Clutch Cargo” movie sometime soon! :)

  • Jim Engel

    I echo Mike Tief’s comments above.

    I LOVE Clutch Cargo, without excuse. It’s got great art, character design, voices, music and story, just like the expensive cartoons I like.

    Rather than scorning the mouths, real smoke, balloons, movement (or lack thereof), as a working adult cartoonist, I truly admire the ingenuity/problem-solving skills of the Cambria folks.

    As a kid who grew up with it from earliest memory (and i’ll grant that buys Clutch some loyalty), I never felt anything LIKE cheated when it came on, and when I step back and look over the whole of TV animation from a historical standpoint, the Cambria stuff is just fascinating to me.

    I wish there were more examples (besides this, Col. Bleep, early Ward, H-B, Roger Ramjet) of animation studios with little resources & budget that ALSO succeeded in truly making actual entertaining chicken salad out of chicken shit. Most were perfectly happy making chicken shit out of chicken shit.

  • Late to the party…

    It pains me that it is so chic to hate the Synchro-Vox series. The art is outstanding-especially in Space Angel. I’ve always loved the cartoons (even appeared on one of the local kiddie shows that featured the ‘toons:”Spaceship”
    on WBTW 13. Fun times.)

  • It was such fun to read all the comments about Clutch. We had a budget of about $3,600 per 4 minute episode! Dick Brown truly worked on the story lines & some comedy stuff was thrown in by Hal Smith (Swampy et al) & me, Margaret Kerry (Spinner & Paddlefoot et al). Since Cambrria failed to make a sale to networks we syndicated which meant we were in a deficit position… no money up front. The first station contract was to Kallispell Montana. We LOVED Kallispell. I still have the list of stations we sold. One of the sales pluses of the series was that we had HUMAN characters instead of squashed cats, dogs & mice, it was an ‘adventure show’ & it was in color! Crusader Rabbit was being made nearly the same time with … you guessed it … a rabbit & it was in black & white. I’m told Clutch ran 26 years in Chicago area! Not too tacky, I’d say.