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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Superboy - His debut to Television, but as a cartoon (1966-1969).

Article by Rennie Cowan

Superboy the TV Series was the first live-action television series to bring Superboy to color TV, but two decades before John Haymes Newton and Gerard Christopher wore the tights Superboy actually made his debut as a cartoon. The Superboy cartoon series was aired on CBS and consisted of 34, 6 minute episodes and it was called The Adventures of Superboy. You might ask, why 6 minutes long? Well the cartoon was an added addition to other 6 minute segments like The New Adventures of Superman cartoon (1966-1970) (which eventually accumulated 68 episodes along side the Superboy run). It was featured as part of DC Comics Superheroes; we also got the opportunity to see Aquaman and Batman.

The Adventures of Superboy would appear with The New Adventures of Superman and would display the life of Superman as Superboy. This marked Superboy's debut (or I should say, animation debut) to the TV world, and in full color. Though the black and white TV pilot with John Rockwell was the first depiction of Superboy on TV, it never actually aired on televion. The Adventures of Superboy cartoon also marked the debut of Lana Lang to the small screen (the animated Lana Lang) as well as Krypto, the superdog.


Seasons one and two of Superboy the TV series with John Haymes Newton and Gerard Christopher was very similar to these classic cartoons. In the cartoon, we got to see for the first time Superboy's young alter-ego Clark Kent wearing glasses (unlike in Smallville) and dodging Lana lang in High School to save the day. Ma and Pa Kent often made appearances as Clark's parents because Clark was still living at home in Smallville.The production itself had a very low-budget, so it often made use of stock animation which by today's standards may appear to be a bit cheesy. We'd see familiar flying segments, or other pieces from previous 6 minute episodes again and again and again.

Despite the low budget, the cartoon remained consistent and very faithful to the DC comics "Superboy" title which was being published every month by DC comics. The cartoon was also very much science-fiction oriented and plots and characters were classic sci-fi tales that contained robots and alien menaces. Most of the stories were written by DC comic book writers like Bob Haney and George Kashdan (comic book writers also worked on The New Adventures of Superman cartoon as well as Superboy the TV Series (like Cary Bates).

Warner Home Video released 8 selected episodes of the Superboy cartoon for release on VHS as a part of the "Super Powers Collection" in 1985. It is out of print today but it can usually be found for sale on, either new or used from various vendors.

All 68 episodes of The New Adventures of Superman were released by Warners as a two-disc DVD set but because of the legal problems between Warner Brothers and the Jerry Siegel Estate, the Superboy segments were not included. There is still a legal regarding who really owns the rights to the Superoby "name" (please read The Death of Superboy section on this site for more information about the lien on Superboy).

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