Rod at the controls of his space vehicle.


Original Medium: TV animation
Produced by: Filmation
First Appeared: 1963
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Filmation Associates became a minor powerhouse of the 1970s, controlling Batman, Archie and other lucrative licenses, as well as many home-grown properties of its own, like Groovy Goolies and The Original Ghostbusters. But its first production was a mere serialized story, syndicated in …

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… five-minute chapters, like Col. Bleep or Clutch Cargo, which it got from a faltering Japanese studio, back before it even called itself "Filmation".

Animation men Lou Scheimer and Hal Sutherland first got together at Larry Harmon's studio, working on Bozo the Clown and post-Famous Studios Popeye cartoons. When that work dried up, they continued working together, but now did it at a studio of their own, which they called True Line.

True Line subsisted on two early contracts: For Family Films, owned by The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, it produced a series of ten short made-for-TV animations about the life of Christ; while for SIB Productions, a Japanese outfit, it did Rod Rocket.

Rod was a kid who went adventuring with his partner, Joey, in his spaceship, The Little Argo. The vehicle was invented by Professor Argus, who sent Rod and Joey on their missions. Also involved in their adventures was the professor's granddaughter, Cassie. Rod's and Joey's voices were supplied by Sam Edwards (who played Thumper as an adult in Bambi), Cassie's by Pat Blake (who lacks other acting credits) and Argus's by Hal Smith (Gyro Gearloose in DuckTales).

Rod Rocket was a larger project than the church work. But SIB had financial troubles, so the studio was supported by Family Films — until Paramount Television (Duckman, The Busy World of Richard Scarry) came to the rescue and bought SIB. The resulting influx of cash enabled Scheimer and Sutherland to expand their studio. One of the new hires was Norm Prescott (Pinocchio in Outer Space, no relation), whom they eventually took on as a partner in their reorganized company. In 1963, about when Rod Rocket started actually being broadcast, they changed its name to Filmation Associates.


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Text ©2010 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Filmation.