Sharks in Animation
by Brant W. Fowler
So as Shark Week roles on, so does the Comic Related Shark Week in Comics, and I thought it would be fun to explore sharks in another comic related medium. After all, animation and comics are like cousins. Animation kind of bridges the gap between comics and film, so the two mediums are certainly tied together.
Now of course sharks are an interesting species to explore in any media, so they have certainly popped up in cartoons and animated films for many years. But some hold fond memories for me, and that's what I'm focusing on for the purposes of this article. So let's get started.
"They call him Jab-Jab-Jab-Jab-Jab-Jab-Jabberjaw..." Those are lyrics that echo in my head from time to time. I fondly remember watching Jabberjaw and Snorks back to back when I was a kid. There used to be a block of cartooning in the evening on the USA channel called the Cartoon Express. The title anmiation for the block had a train with all these Hanna-Barbera characters aboard as all the cartoons were made by them. It had stuff like Yogi Bear, Laff-A-Lympics and all those other classic Hanna-Barbera toons and others as well. Sometimes we'd order pizza and I'd lay in the floor eating pizza and watching the toons.
Jabberjaw was made in the 70s, but reaired on Cartoon Express and featured the titular character as a member of a band in an underwater society in the year 2076. He was kind of a mash-up of Curly of the Three Stooges and Rodney Dangerfield. He and his bandmates would encounter villains and other hazards each episode, and it was just a lot of fun. It's one of the shows that immediately comes to mind when thinking of that block. I loved Scooby Doo and Speed Buggy, and Jabberjaw was a similar format.
I was never really a fan of this show, but it was big when my little brother was a kid. I think he still has one or two of the figures somewhere. It came out when he was around 2 or 3, but of course aried in reruns. To me, it was a very obvious attempt to cash in with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles knock-off. The Street Sharks, though, were actually half-men/half-shark as opposed to fully mutated animals like the TMNT, and they made no attempts to hide from the public. In fact, their enemy, Dr. Paradigm convinced the public they were evil. So it had a bit of a Spider-Man motif to it in that regard. That made the show the same, but different than TMNT. Well that and the Street Sharks going around eating everything in site, which was obviously the appeal to kids - the reckless abandon in which they lived.
It certainly deserves a mention though as it does have a cult following, and like I said, my brother dug it when he was a kid. And being very close to my brother (and taking care of him) I tried to be interested and informed in what he liked (and I had to listen to it anyway, so why not try enjoying it?). There were actually Street Sharks comics too, published by Archie Comics, much like TMNT was at one point. And I have to admit their catchphrase was kind of, well, JAWSOME.
Speaking of teams of sharks, this was a cartoon from the '80s that I actually have no recollection of whatsoever. I found it online while trying to jog my memory and find images for the ones I did remember. I was actually shocked to learn of this show, which was apparently very much like many other shows at the time as tends to happen when Hollywood finds something that works. In this case, as I understand it, the model was ThunderCats.
In the 1987 series, which lasted one season, a team of heroes could transform into sharks and other marine animals through a device called the Fish Tank. The team were astronauts who landed and became stranted on the world of Water-O (pronounced Wah-tear-oh), a planet populated by humanoid fish people, and they became the planet's protectors. Interesting concept and cool logo.
No, Nemo wasn't a shark, but there were three very memorable sharks in that animated feature in Bruce, Anchor and Chum. The three were on a fish-free diet, though they may have eaten dolphins. Bruce, the leader, was a Great White, Anchor a Hammerhead and Chum a Mako. In the movie, Dory has a nosebleed, and upon smelling the blood, Bruce loses control and tries to eat her and Marlin. What can I say, I liked that part. :)
And finally, the Will Smith starring Shark Tale about an underachieving shark, Oscar, daydreaming of fortune and fame. I know this movie did poorly, but I actually really enjoyed it. Oscar finds himself mixed up with the wrong "people" and kind of makes mistake after mistake trying to find his way in life, and ultimately learns what's truly important. It was a feel-good film that was well-(voice)acted and had a fun and interesting plot. The animation was good, but could have been better. Still, I thought it was fun.
Those are just a few instances of sharks in animation that stuck out to me. If you remember some others I haven't mentioned post them below, I'd love to hear them. I'm sure I've forgotten some too!
Brant W. Fowler / Writer, Letterer, Reviewer, Columnist, Podcaster, Co-Owner/COO/Site Manager of Comic Related
Brant W. Fowler has been a professional comic book writer, editor, flatter, letterer and logo designer for several years, and has been a freelance editor for the past five years or so. He is one of the cast members and host of the Zone 4 podcast here at Comic Related, and he letters some of the webcomics on the site. You can see samples of his works and how to hire him at Gonzogoose Design and Just-Flats.net. And catch up with him on his forums right here at CR. Brant is also a member of the core operations team at Comic Related.
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