BevBB, on 15 September 2009 - 06:26 PM, said:
Wow. Okay, how did she get exported outside the US so successfully and not extolled here? Or maybe she has been and I've just never heard of her? She was a tad before my time in some ways. Okay, maybe not looking at that website about her books
again. If the last one of the Famous Five was published in 1963, I would've been about six. Still trying to figure out how I missed them.
It seems to me that until very recently, i.e. the past fifteen years or so, children's literature was very much segregated by country and language, probably because it was assumed that children could not relate to cultural differences. Which could not be more wrong.
Hence, Enid Blyton whose works were very British in many respects either did not make it to the US at all or was overshadowed by local works such as Nancy Drew
or The Hardy Boys
, neither of which I've ever read because they did not make it to Germany. In fact, I'm amazed that Enid Blyton was translated into German, though we still only got some of her works, mainly the adventure oriented series such as the Famous Five
, Secret Six
, XXX of Adventure
. We did not get Noddy or her stories for younger children, though I still have four books of her stories for younger kids in English. I have used them in the classroom on occasion, because it's not easy to find suitably short and easy reading material for fifth and sixth graders. They still appeal, too, some forty to fifty years after they were written.
The roles of each character are strongly defined in the series: Fred is the leader and the determined detective, Velma is the intelligent analyst, Daphne is danger-prone, and Shaggy and Scooby-Doo are cowardly types more motivated by hunger than any desire to solve mysteries. Later versions of the show would make slight changes to the characters' established roles, most notably in the character of Daphne, shown in 1990s and 2000s Scooby-Doo productions as knowing many forms of karate and being able to defend herself.
I haven't watched Scooby-Doo in ages and even as a child, I only watched it when I was abroad (which was often, since my Dad traveled a lot for his job), because German TV did not deem it wholesome enough for youngsters. The definition of Fred as the leader of the group is interesting, as he always struck me as the blandest character and the one whose name I have always problems recalling. Shaggy, Daphne, Velma and of course Scooby-Doo were so much more notable. I also recall watching a version of the show which added an Asian boy to the cast.
One thing I might add for the uninformed is that Scooby-Doo is technically Shaggy's dog but the entire gang claims him. Would that make Shaggy into George?
Actually, Velma strikes me as more George-like than Shaggy. Daphne is obviously Anne. Scooby-Doo is Timmy. I'd peg Shaggy as Dick and Fred as a the other boy from the Famous Five
whose name I can never recall either.
One thing that was notable about Hanna-Barbera's cartoon output of the 1960s and 1970s is that most of their cartoons were inspired by some other pop cultural phenomenon. The Flintstones
was inspired by The Honeymooners
, as was The Jetsons
and the Flintstone-like show about ancient Romans. Scooby-Doo apparently was a blend of I love a Mystery
, Dobby Gilles
and The Famous Five
with a bit of Halloween atmosphere added for good measure. There was one Hanna-Barbera cartoon which more or less took the Dead End Kids, who went from supporting characters in Warner Bros melodramas of the 1930s to the stars of comedy vehicles, added a gorilla and made them have adventures. I never knew about the parallels until I saw a Dead End Kids film and thought, "Wow, those actors remind me of that cartoon I watched ages ago."
The amazing Jonny Quest
cartoon was inspired by James Bond
, adventure comic strips of the 1930s such as Terry and the Pirates
and perhaps also by Enid Blyton's XXX of Adventure
books. Come to think of it, I find the parallels between Blyton's Adventure
series and Jonny Quest more notable then between Scooby-Doo and the Famous Five
. Race Bannon is basically Bill from the Adventure
books, hotshot American spy and everything, though Jonny Quest
turns the widowed mother of Philip and Dinah from the Adventure
books (who ends up marrying the Bill character) into the widowed Doctor Benton Quest (whose relationship with Race has been the stuff of speculation for forty years). Jonny is apparently Philip and Hadji is Jack, the orphaned boy whom Bill and the mother character eventually adopt, though the Jack from the book reminds me more of Jonny than Hadji. Latter versions of Jonny Quest added Race Bannon's daughter Jessie, who would probably equal Lucy, Jack's twin sister from the Adventure
books. The parrot from the Adventure books become Bandit the bulldog from Jonny Quest
. Poor Dinah does not exist in Jonny Quest
Total aside: I loved the Adventure books so much that I named two of my dolls Lucy and Dinah.
The great thing about the Hanna-Barbera cartoons is that you could still enjoy them even if you have never seen/read whatever inspired them. And then, as an adult, you can go back to them, spot the inspirations and be amazed.