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5 Cartoon Characters That Would Make Great Comic Books

Cartoons and comic books have long had an interesting relationship. Whether they are inspiring each other, feeding off each other, or just plain ripping each other off, there is no denying that animation and comics are forever linked. Over the years, a number of cartoons stars have also been featured in comic books. Today fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and The Powerpuff Girls can find their favorite cartoon characters, and others, on the racks at the comic shop. There are, however, a lot of other great cartoons absent from the printed page. Here we will talk about 5 such cartoon characters that really should be starring in their comic books.

1. Mighty Mouse

Almost as soon as Superman first appeared back in 1938, Superman knock-offs began appearing. While so many of them are easily dismissed, some have become great characters in their own right. One of the most memorable of these is Mighty Mouse. Created by Paul Terry of Terrytoons studios for theatrical shorts in 1942, the super powered mouse began starring in comic books only a few years afterward and continued to do so through different publishers for decades. In 1990, Marvel Comics began its own Mighty Mouse series, based in part on animation director Ralph Bakshi’s TV revival of the character. Though the Marvel series made use of characters Bakshi introduced, like the Cow and Bat-Bat, the tone of the comic was slightly less over-the-top than the TV show. Marvel used Mighty Mouse to make fun of superhero comics. Highlights of the series include “The Dark Might Returns” and “Mices on Infinite Earths.” Lest you think Marvel was only poking fun at its Distinguished Competition, the series also introduced the character Samor the Sub-Plotter and issue #6’s “Ferment” story had big laughs at the expense of then Spider-Man writer/artist Todd McFarlane.

So, if Mighty Mouse has already had some great runs in comics, why are we talking about him here? It has been nearly 3 decades since Marvel’s comic series and, but for a “Power of Cheese” commercial, the Mouse of Tomorrow has been sadly absent from all media in that time. There has been talk for years of a computer animated movie, but we cannot be sure how long that will be in development. So much has happened in superhero comics since 1990 that is ripe for spoofing, and a new Mighty Mouse series would be the perfect vehicle for that.

2. Dynomutt

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Created by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears for Hanna-Barbera, this clumsy canine cyborg first appeared on TV on The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour in 1976. Eventually Dynomutt’s adventures were syndicated and shown on their own. Besides stealing the title of the show from his superhero owner, the Blue Falcon, Dynomutt was great at frustrating him and nearly bungling all of his crime fighting efforts. In 1977, as part of a short-lived line of Hanna-Barbera comics, Marvel produced a Dynomutt series that lasted 6 issues, with the character turning up in other related titles. Dynomutt and Blue Falcon would appear years later on television with unexpected guest appearances on Dexter’s Laboratory and Johnny Bravo, and again later on Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. In comics, the duo appeared in Cartoon Network Presents #21. Clearly, comic book and cartoon creators like Dynomutt.

Some years ago, DC gave us a slightly revamped Space Ghost mini-series, proving that Hanna-Barbera’s cartoon adventure characters can still work in modern comics. The success of the recent Batman ’66 series proves that audiences can still enjoy plenty of camp with their superheroes. Dynomutt could be just the perfect mesh of the two.

3. SheZow

Source: Shezow.Wikia

Source: Shezow.Wikia

Superhero fan Obie Scott Wade’s creation first appeared on Disney Channel’s Shorty McShorts’ Shorts in 2007 and became a series on The Hub network years later. Inheriting a power ring from his late aunt, young Guy Hamdon would say the word “She-Zam!” and become SheZow. Intentionally derivative of a number of different superheroes from comics and TV, SheZow had one big twist. Everything about the SheZow mantle was meant for a female ring bearer. As SheZow, Guy would be dressed in a bright pink dress, high heels, and full makeup. After the initial shock, he was surprisingly comfortable with this.

Though only one season of the show was produced, SheZow maintains an online presence on Facebook and YouTube, with fans calling for more stories featuring the cross-dressing crime fighter. A comic book series would be the perfect venue for SheZow to once again don her “beautility” belt.

4. Betty Boop

Comics books can bring us a lot more than superheroes, so let us step away from our caped friends. Plus, we do not want this list to be a total boys’ club. What greater starlet should we look for in cartoons other than Betty Boop? Beginning her cartoon life as a dog in 1915, thanks to animators Max and Dave Fleischer, Betty soon became human and quickly became the biggest female cartoon star in the world. Even today, she is easily recognized   by adoring fans who can find her on practically any merchandise they want.

Despite her fame, she has never had a big presence in comic books. There are a few collections out there of her newspaper strips from the 1930s, but the only original comic book starring her was 1990’s Betty Boop’s Big Break one-shot from First Publishing. In her cartoons, this sweet talking showgirl proved a versatile character as she starred in slapstick comedies, fairytale settings, and ghost stories, just to name a few. She even ran for president, more than once! There are literally no constraints on the types of stories she can do. With more fans calling for greater representation of women in comics, and Boop fans wanting more stories featuring the character, a new Betty Boop comic book series would make a lot of people happy.

5. Penelope Pitstop

Source: WackyRaces.Wikia

Source: WackyRaces.Wikia

One great female lead deserves another. Penelope Pitstop made her debut in 1968 on Hanna-Barbera’s TV series Wacky Races. The following year, she got her own series, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop. Set vaguely in the 1910s or 1920s, and modeled directly after early Hollywood cliffhanger serials, the series followed Penelope on her travels as she was constantly captured by and rescued from the villainous Hooded Claw. Her presence in comics has been small, featuring in Gold Key’s Wacky Races series, backup stories in the same publisher’s Hanna-Barbera Fun-In, and a few appearances with her Wacky Races co-stars in DC’s Cartoon Network Presents. Over the years, she has also turned up in small roles in other Hanna-Barbera animated projects, with one starring role in the internet short Penelope Pitstop GT.

There is one aspect of the character that can pose a problem for most modern readers. As said above, Penelope was always being captured by an arch-villain and having to be rescued, usually by the Ant Hill Mob, a team of motorists that also debuted on Wacky Races. Her catch phrase was “Hay-alp! Hay-alp!” cried out in Hollywood’s version of a Southern accent. Obviously, fans who call for more female characters in comics are not asking for more damsels in distress. Talented writers, however, could pick up on those times the character actually did show resourcefulness and expand upon the idea, easily turning Penelope Pitstop into a smart heroine who would not even need the Ant Hill Mob’s help.

The 5 cartoon characters here are but a few of those who could make great comics. Animation studios over the years have created a wealth of characters, so many of which are not being used in any way today. If animated productions do not seem feasible, well done comic book series might be the way to go to breathe new life into so many cartoons.

 

Cover image via

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Categories: Comics, Lists and Editorials

Author:Jean-Pierre Vidrine

Jean-Pierre Vidrine is a Chicago transplant whose interests include comic books, nostalgia, tattoos, drag, just plain being allowed to be himself. He does his best to be a thoughtful writer.

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2 Comments on “5 Cartoon Characters That Would Make Great Comic Books”

  1. 12/09/2016 at 5:38 AM #

    I like to watch Betty Boop. She is adorable indeed, though she is not some sort of superhero.Sometimes,it is good to watch a cartoon character with no special power.

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