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Ruby-Spears on Stu’s Show

Thundarr, Fangface, Turbo Teen, Plastic Man, Rickety Rocket (above), Mighty Man and Yukk, Rubik The Amazing Cube, Mr. T… If these are the Saturday morning cartoons you grew up with, you’ll want to tune into Wednesday’s internet radio broadcast of Stu’s Show. TV animation producers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears will be giving a rare 2-hour interview, live on May 2nd at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific, with host Stuart Shostack and writer Mark Evanier.

Probably the most succesful suppliers of Saturday morning programming next to Hanna-Barbera, Joe and Ken actually began their careers working at H-B in 1959 in the film editing and sound tracking departments. They were quickly hired as writers and contributed so much to H-B that CBS network president Fred Silverman wanted them to supervise such H-B staples as “Wacky Races” and “Scooby Doo”. When Silverman left CBS for ABC, he gave the team an exclusive contract to produce ALL of the cartoons for the network, and that’s how “Fangface”, “Thundarr”, “Plastic Man”, and many other series were born.

Ruby-Spears (the company) still exists (check their website) and the two veteran producers will discuss what they’ve been up to, what they plan to do next and of course, answer questions about their classic shows from Stu and Mark – and from readers who submit their questions via email. Check the Stu’s Show website for details on how to submit questions and how to hear the the show free this Wednesday.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I’m going to have fun listening in!

  • Billy Batz

    Rickety Rocket—Blaaasst offff!

  • JM Walter

    I never in my life saw this until now.
    But what a RACIST deal, I mean the blackface space ship?? Lol.

    • I saw the the intro to that show on youtube and was like “What?”

    • How come the usual suspects scream “racism” when cartooning is applied to black people? Is Elmer Fudd a racist depiction of white people? Is Speed Buggy in whiteface?

      • The Gee

        Somewhere I heard that Elmer Fudd had a mansion and a yacht.

        For what it is worth, most TV cartoons, especially the Saturday morning ones, from around that period were just bland.

        So, they came across as stupid but they weren’t disturbingly stupid like early stereotypes. It was just a bad way of re-mixing the formula for Speed Buggy, Scooby Doo and other stuff that preceded this cartoon.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Oh, the 70’s! It was funny how far they could milk the same formula over and over back then.

      • KC

        Probably because you can apply cartooning to black people and not end up with *points up* that.

  • Gerry

    It may exist as an entity the way RKO Pictures does.

  • Toonio

    Rickety Rocket was a hoot. Although by today’s social standards, Ruby-Spears would have been burnt to the ground.

    Good times.

  • Inkan1969

    Ruby Spears had a show called “The Puppy’s New Adventures”, based on a kiddie book and weekend special. When I was a kid, that was my favorite show on Saturday Morning.

    • I avoided “The Puppy’s New Adventures” as a kid simply because the title sounded boring. I hope I didn’t miss much.

      I avoided “Rickety Rocket” simply because it was indescribably ugly. I was too young to fully understand racism.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      In the video tapes my mom had pretty much left me and the sibs over the years, there’s a single episode recorded back in ’82 or so, no commercials or end credits, just that!

    • Kade

      The Puppy’s series was great. I wish it would come out on DVD. Just found one of the Puppy’s Further Adventures episodes on 16mm. Great stuff.

  • Scarabim

    Ruby-Spears cartoons were second in craptitude only to Hanna-Barbera. Man, TV toons are so much better today…

    • Confusion

      Mmm, I was about to say the same thing. For all the stick modern TV animation tends to get on the net, it’s still much better than stuff like this.

      (Though for what it’s worth, H-B had at least had their fair share of fun and memorable characters. I can’t really say the same for Ruby Spears.)

      • Chris Sobieniak

        I still wouldn’t going going back to those days anyway.

  • Pedro Nakama

    I believe Ruby Spears animated this show when they were in North Hollywood at a small studio off Sherman Way.

  • The Gee


    I really hope the guy who played Live Action Plasticman found that his career bounced back after playing Live Action Plasticman.

    hmmmm…I guess the question could be asked, couldn’t it?

  • Hank

    Isn’t that butch hartman as the lI’ve action PlasticMan?

  • Gerry

    “Rickety Rocket” was done when the Ruby-Spears studio was owned by Filmways, a few years before they were purchased by Taft Broadcasting, which then also owned Hanna-Barbera Productions. Either Taft planned to have Joe Ruby and Ken Spears succeed the aging William Hanna and Joseph Barbera (rumored though it never happened) or Taft seriously wanted to corner the market on cartoon crap, which it just about did.

  • They did a few shows for DePatie-Freleng in the ’70s; if anyone remembers “The Houndcats”, “The Barkleys”, and “Bailey’s Comets”, they were were all developed by Joe and Ken.

    Hopefully there will be something about them on the show.

  • tim

    Ruby-Spears did more than work on Scooby-doo. They created Scooby as well.

  • Rickety Rocket….. one of the most blatantly racist cartoons against black Americans ever.

    According to that cartoon African Americans in the distant future will STILL be socially disenfranchised as they live in space shacks and fly around in talking sambo spaceships.

    If it wasn’t so disgusting I would laugh at Ruby Spears’ audacity.

  • Michael

    Enough, people!!! What’s wrong with Ruby-Spears appealing to its african-american audience? Very little, and now, some of you are going to call the Rickety Rocket cartoon stereotypical? Are you going to call Filmation’s Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids stereotypical? What about Rankin-Bass’ Kid Power? Quit wasting your time looking for conspiracy theories when none exist- it’s just a cartoon. Still, I’d like to see something new and forthcoming from Ruby-Spears Productions, whether it’s in animation or live-action. Lately, Ruby-Spears has been working with Canadian voice-over talent. I have no problem with it, but bring the talent back to the United States. I’d like to see Joe Ruby and Ken Spears develop an animated half-hour adventure program for Disney Channel that features anthropomorphic dogs in society and primarily focuses on a team of crime fighters that protect their city and county from its diabolical denizens. Maybe Ruby and Spears can call upon Christian Tremblay to design the characters and possibly bring in people like Maurice LaMarche, Dan Castellaneta and Melendy Britt to voice the main characters and have other voice-over talent portray other characters in the show. Those classic Hanna-Barbera sound effects that Ruby-Spears uses- why not digitally remaster them and use those same sound effects. I’m sure Disney Channel wouldn’t mind doing business with Ruby-Spears, especially when it comes to animated programming.