Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Mr. and Mrs. J. Evil Scientist

During the height of the '60's monster craze, a comic book featuring this freaky family appeared every Hallowe'en for four years (1963-1966), making it one of the only Hanna-Barbera comic features never to have it's own cartoon show (the other being 'Cave Kids'... which happened to feature backup stories with the Gruesomes). The title characters are of the typical H-B husband/wife variety, with gags in the vein of early sitcoms such as I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners, but with monsters, bats, ghosts, witches and the like filling out the scenery. Sounds an awful lot like the popular Addams Family and Munsters shows that were on at the time, but, as the indespensable D. D. Markstein points out, Mr. and Mrs. J. Evil Scientist actually made their debut in the Snagglepuss cartoon short Fraidy-Cat Lion in February 1961... 3 years before those other shows. Since the Scientists and their baby 'Junior' appear again as supporting cast in a Snooper And Blabber episode, it looks like Mr. and Mrs. J. Evil Scientist are the very first recurring 'creepy and kooky' monster family to appear on television! Hanna-Barbera often tried out new characters and ideas as supporting cast before committing them to a series of their own, and it's likely that was the case for the Scientists. Why it never happened-- especially considering the fad for freaks at the time-- is a mystery. In any event, they stayed out of the grave for a little longer in comic books, making their print debut in Hanna-Barbera Bandwagon #3 in 1963 before being eclipsed by the more famous Hanna-Barbera monster family, The Gruesomes, who also never had a show of their own. Just what was Hanna-Barberra afraid of, Hmmn?