“The Sunday Comics” by Stan Freberg “The Sunday Comics” by Stan Freberg

“The Sunday Comics” by Stan Freberg

I received several personal emails today from friends who wondered what happened to our weekly Sunday Funnies post. For the benefit of others who are also wondering, as announced in last week’s post, the feature now appears once-a-month, the first Sunday of each. The next one is on February 6th.

Till then, enjoy this Stan Freberg commercial promoting newspaper comic strips from, I believe, the 1980s.

(Thanks, Kirk Taylor)

  • Mike Clark

    Freberg’s a national treasure.

    Dick Tracy’s walk is a little “funny” due to his big head!

    Glad Spider-Man doesn’t make that sucking sound when climbing walls these days.

    and Jerry…I miss the regular Sunday comics good or bad

  • Kyle Maloney

    That Spiderman animation is just hilarious.

  • Wasn’t this produced by Lee Mendelson and animated at Bill Melendez’ studio?

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Too bad they’ve just ended Brenda Starr recently. My local paper didn’t even have Little Orphan Annie. Oh well, it’s all in the past now.

  • Cartoon Brew is must now officially be part of the mainstream media -attributing authorship (“Stan Freberg commercial”) to voice talent over animators and directors.

    Nice spot, though!

    • Richard – I’d be happy to credit the director and animator if I knew who they were. Do you? Anyone? Knowing Stan, he probably wrote and may have directed it. Scott guessed the Melendez studio… regardless it’s a Freberg spot anyway you slice it.

      Oh, and Happy Birthday, man!

      • It’s definitely from Melendez’s studio.

  • Comic strips were promoted on television in a commercial?
    I wish we could get something like that today. Nice to see all these toons together, even if they were poorly animated.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I’m sure this was probably made as something local papers could use in advertising their Sunday editions or so-on. The blue background bit at the end probably lead to a local insertion of sorts in that respect.

  • Never seen this before. Very cool. Was this the only time Ms. Starr ever appeared in animation?

    Personally, I’m glad the Sunday Funnies feature is going to once a month instead of once a week. It’s fun to see how animated characters show up in this aspect of pop culture, but having a slightly more choice selection once a month should give just as good an indication of how the comics use toons.

  • Sibelius

    This has an old school NYC look.

  • Stephan

    “Do you sleep in that hat?”
    “You’ll never know!”


  • This looks like Bill Littlejohn’s animation to me. He could do full or limited and adjusted his stuff to the budget and schedule. This is “limited” looking, but the acting attitudes are Bill’s, especially the announcer at the beginning. I don’t know who directed, if this was through Melendez, then Bill Littlejohn probably free-lanced the animation. He did a nice job drawing Spiderman, Dick Tracy not so much. Thanks for posting this spot, I hadn’t seen it before.

  • Mike Kazaleh

    I’m not sure of the studio, but the animator is none other than Bill Littlejohn.

  • The spot is charming, but it’s amazing what passed for “animation” in the 80’s. I think it’s become true again nowadays. Lead animator doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve mastered Disney physics.

    • I’d guess more ’70s myself. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m wrong without more context.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Well the way they mention Annie getting a musical and a movie deal, I kinda assume early 80’s myself (the movie coming out in ’82).

  • This rocks. in a special way. This kind of character is what makes the comic fun. it seems most comics theses days go for jokes over character.

  • Waiiiit a minute…Spider-Man and Dick Tracy are already on the wall and they thought otherwise!

    Great find; Stan Freberg really knew how to make commercials but I was not aware of him making too many TV ads outside of those Encyclopedia ads with the guy who had that report due on space and scored an A on it.

  • dbenson

    Way, way back there was a one-hour network special (remember those?) titled “The Fabulous Funnies”, hosted by Carl Reiner. A quick search places it in 1968, produced by Lee Mendelson. There was a lot of animation, probably by Melendez.

    In one sequence Reiner has himself animated and confronts various characters, including Dick Tracy (Reiner touches his nose to see if it’s as sharp as it looks. Bad idea). Brenda Starr appears with showgirl costume and reporter’s notepad to interview Reiner. He tries to whisk her back to live action, but ends up with a cardboard cutout.

    Other animated bits included Alley Oop doing a walk-on as live singers did the old novelty number; Little Orphan Annie beating up thugs to her radio theme; and I think they animated the song Barney Google as well. A throwaway shot had Broom Hilda cozying up to a disinterested Michael Doonesbury.

    It was followed a year or so later by “The Fabulous Shorts” — which I remember being infuriated by as it was basically Jim Backus presented CLIPS from said shorts.

    • top cat james

      “Doonesbury” and “Broom Hilda” both debuted in 1970, so ’68 wouldn’t be the correct year of the special.

      I remember Loni Anderson hosting a similar Melendez-produced funnies tribute special in the late 70’s/early 80’s. She wasn’t as funny as Reiner, but she had much better breasts.

    • I remember that special too after this clip reminded me of it.

      This clip also reminded me of that mega crossover on The Saturday Super Star Movie, with Popeye and oodles of other King Features characters going up against the Man That Hated Laughter. That show had about the same level of animation of this spot with the more illustrative characters didn’t gel well with the more big foot characters. Plus the Brutus version of Popeye’s main foe….

  • THE FABULOUS FUNNIES is what led me to guess it was Lee and Bill’s baby. I’m certain it aired in the late 1960s because, to my thinking, its funniest moment — and to cartoonists who saw the special, it was REALLY funny — with a short sequence of Fred Lasswell chest-deep in his swimming pool, working on SNUFFY SMITH on the lip of the pool! He was wearing swimming trunks and playing things as straight as possible. Fred’s strip was good, but not even remotely as funny as Fred himself, one of the coolest classic cartoonists of all time.

  • It WAS Bill Littlejohn who animated this wonderful ad! I’d say he served as the go-to guy when it came to animating given comic strips. What I’d GIVE to see “The Fabulous Funnies” TV special again! Since the age of seven, it helped cement my lifelong interest/love regarding the very history of newspaper strips!

  • A few things of note on the Sunday Comics commercial: how hilarious Brenda Starr was as bitchy diva & Spider-Man’s ‘webbed’ feet! And to Scott Shaw!: Fred Laswell, believe it or not, was actually drawing Barney Google (who was phased out, more or less, by Snuffy & his brood)!

  • Gerard de Souza

    A doughnut commercial for local markets?

    • Gerard de Souza

      That looks funny when I read it. I mean a doughnut commercial, I think that’s what its called; when there’s a generic commercial and the client can put their titles or voice-overs or whatever at the begining and end.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        That’s what I thought it was too. I would picture my local paper perhaps inserting their logo there with a statement telling you to pick up their paper every Sunday for the funnies or something.

  • Gary Flinn

    Will the Spongebob Squarepants spoof I saw in today’s comics page be included? That’s the one in which the clerk selling medication for enlarged pores says “cha-ching!”

  • chopper

    Would using another comic style be of note? http://www.gocomics.com/lio/2010/12/26 this is sort of like the Little Audrey comics.