Sinbad Jr. confronts the evil Rotcoddam.


Medium: TV animation
Produced by: Sam Singer
First appeared: 1965
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Space Ghost was the superhero who initiated the wholesale conversion of Hanna-Barbera from funny animals to that genre — but he was far from the first superhero to originate in that …

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… medium. Tom Terrrific, Atom Ant and others preceded him. One of his more obscure predecessors was a guy named Sinbad Jr.

As the name implies, the young protagonist was the son of the famous sailor of The Arabian Nights (no relation). Aside from being an accomplished seafarer in his own right, Junior had a magic belt which, when tightened, gave him the build of a Greek statue and the strength of 50 men. The only other crew member on his ship was his first mate, Salty, a parrot. Together, they plied the seven seas, fighting villains such as Captain Sly, Blubbo and Rotcoddam. Viewers were at a disadvantage in trying to figure out the derivation of the latter's name, since they didn't see it in print and thus had no opportunity to spell it backward.

Like Clutch Cargo, Col. Bleep and other early TV cartoon stars, Sinbad Jr. had adventures brief enough to be syndicated and shown on kids' shows that also aired theatrical cartoons about Porky Pig, Popeye, Woody Woodpecker and the like. The producer was Sam Singer, whose earlier productions include Bucky & Pepito, Courageous Cat and Pow Wow the Indian Boy. In fact, a developmental version of Sinbad Jr. first appeared in one of Pow Wow's 1957 episodes.

Junior's own cartoons were made with the voice of Dal McKennon (Inspector Willoughby, Paw of Maw & Paw) in the title role, for broadcast in 1960. But American International Pictures, which had released The Magic Voyages of Sinbad a few years earlier, claimed rights to the Sinbad name. An agreement was eventually reached, and the series finally debuted on Sept. 11, 1965. The extremely limited animation used in it was no longer very salable, so new episodes were made by Hanna-Barbera. In these, the title character's voice was done by Tim Mathieson (Jonny Quest, Young Samson), and Salty was played by Mel Blanc (whose lesser credits include Pepe LePew and The Frito Bandito).

The 81 five-minute episodes were packaged into half-hour shows and syndicated to local stations in that form. Obscure as the show was, it actually had a media spin-off. Dell Comics published two issues of a Sinbad Jr. comic book in 1965. The art was by Tony Tallarico, whose less-than-popular work includes Jigsaw for Harvey Comics and Son of Vulcan for Charlton.

Both the TV show and its even less prominent comic book offshoot quickly ran their course and disappeared.


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Text ©2006 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Sam Singer