Starting at 10:30 Saturday morning on NBC in 1981, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends debuted. It followed the adventures of Spider-Man, Iceman and Firestar as they fought crime in New York while also occasionally I don't think I've ever met a person over the age of 30 who hasn't seen this show and has at least one favorite episode :) What most people *don't* know is that it was the animated world's first (and possibly only?) *sequel*.
It all started in 1978, with the DePatie-Freleng Studios (founded by two Warner Bros. Cartoons alumni, director/producer Friz Freleng and executive David H. DePatie) producing a few higher-quality Marvel Comics cartoons such as The New Fantastic Four and Spider-Woman (previous incarnations of Marvel characters in cartoon form had been somewhat pathetic in their animation). In 1980 they made a single season of a new Spider-Man cartoon for syndication that was VERY well received. SO WELL RECEIVED, in fact, that it inspired the buy-out of the animation department of DePatie-Freleng and renaming it to MARVEL PRODUCTIONS (the folks who were behind dang near every beloved cartoon of the 80's.
Recognize any of these?
- Muppet Babies
- GI Joe
- My Little Pony
- Fraggle Rock (animated)
- Dungeons & Dragons
- RoboCop: The Animated Series
- Dino Riders
- Defenders Of The Earth
It all started right here, with Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends :) Often teaming with Sunbow Entertainment, these guys pretty much defined 1980's action/adventure animation!
So anywho, about it being a sequel. Unlike other cartoons that change the model sheets from season to season or from series to series in order to keep things unique (see the artistic and design evolution through animated Batman, Justice League, modern Spider-Man shows, etc) and copy-rightable as distinctly different properties, Marvel Productions used the existing model sheets and backgrounds from their syndicated Spider-Man cartoon and added just a few new characters.
This paid off BIG for Marvel Productions in 1984 when they decided to repackage the previous three seasons with the syndicated Spider-Man episodes, instead of making new episodes.
This show had many different incarnations over the course of the 80's, and each on will get their own entry in this community because they had a distinctly different opening title sequence for each one. In one way or another, Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends was on Saturday Morning TV all the way through 1986.