Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Mars, 1960

Outer space and futurism go hand-in-hand. I mean, you never see astronauts land on a planet where aliens are driving something that looks like a ‘51 Nash.

The Hanna-Barbera studio visualised the ultimate in futurism in
The Jetsons, but it used futuristic designs in some of its earlier space cartoons. In fact, H-B’s first series, Ruff and Reddy began with a space adventure. Aliens invaded Jellystone Park in “Space Bear.” And Snooper and Blabber ended up on Mars in “Outer Space Case” (1960-61 season), a cartoon designed by Don Sheppard with scenes painted by Dick Thomas.

These buildings wouldn’t be too out of place in the Jetsons’ world. The grille on the oval speaker above the door isn’t in perspective but that’s not too big a deal.

Here are a couple of interiors. The kitchen isn’t as futuristic as Jane Jetson’s, but the floor’s nice and shiny. Unfortunately, I can’t get a clear shot of the hallway (the only two Mars interior backgrounds in the cartoon). But I like the painting of the King on the wall.

Here’s the planetary surface. Not terribly elaborate, but it doesn’t overpower the action.

The credits have been removed from all the old Jetsons episodes so I couldn’t tell you if Sheppard worked on the original series. He was a storyboard artist on the 1990 movie. Thomas eventually provided some backgrounds for the spacey-est of all ’60s TV cartoons: Spider Man’s “Revolt in the Fifth Dimension.”


  1. Growing up, when you thought of “Mars”, you thought of the typical “other world” landscape as shown here, with a dark, starry sky, and weirdly shaped rock formations, and whatever weird creatures and structures we imagined.
    All of this made those first surface pictures in 1976 look so surprising. It looked so earthly in comparison, like a desert you couldeasily find here.

    A few years after this cartoon, the Flintstones “It's a Long, Long, Long Weekend” (in which they end up vacationing in a Jetsons-like future on earth, and then go to Mars), the ground is now correctly shown as red, but it otherwise still looks the same as these other portrayals.
    In 1980's “Way Out Scooby”, it finally looked accurate, with the flat rocky surface and salmon colored sky.

  2. Not in the background, PG.