The Complete Harveytoons Collection
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The Complete Harveytoons Collection

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Most children of the fifties like me remember the after school and Saturday morning cartoons. Many had ties to various comic books and while most parents opened showed distain for comics they also knew that they would keep us kids quite. Back then there was a definite hierarchy in the world of comics and cartoons. The older boys were into such faire as Batman and Superman. Girls tended to migrate towards Archie and Jughead. The younger kids where more prone to the Harveytoon animation. Almost everyone remembers the characters that Harveytoons presented. They included such memorable characters as Casper the Friendly Ghost, Wendy the Littlest Witch, Baby Huey and Richie Rich. The definitive collection of all the Harveytoons is now on DVD, all 312 shorts. For over sixty years kids have been watching them on television and now we get the ultimate trip down memory lane.

It is easy from the perspective of an adult looking back to say that these where less than the best cartoons around. What has to be remembered while viewing this collection is from a child’s point of view they were fun. Back then we didn’t care that many of the characters where low cost versions of popular cartoon characters presented by other studio like Warner Brother. All we knew is after a rough day in first grade they where enjoyable to watch while mom got dinner ready. Any negative feeling a person may have of these cartoons is most like due to comparing them to the comics that would come into our lives later. This set helps us recall a simpler time in life when the standards were set by what made us laugh. Sure, many local stations opted to show these cartoons because they couldn’t afford or obtain the bigger name studios work but growing up this was what we say on a daily basis. Some films are best with beer and pizza but to review this box set I got a package of Chips Ahoy cookies and a cold glass of Ovaltine. More decades than I care to admit faded away as I returned to those less complicated days.

Casper the Friendly Ghost

Perhaps one of the best known of the Harveytoons characters this little dead guy has been entertaining children for as long as I can remember. Decades later most adults will give up a smile when they here the song:

Casper, the friendly ghost
The friendliest ghost you know!
The grownups might look at him with fright,
But the children all love him so.

Unlike many of the Harveytoon characters Casper was completely original with no counterpart with the other animation studios. He was always upbeat and willing to help others so there was no problems with parents letting their kids watch Casper. Although his mean uncles, the Ghostly trio appeared in a few episodes Casper was usually a solo act. Like several of the Harveytoon characters Casper found himself along side living actors for a number of films.

Wendy the Good Little Witch

Although she was shown more in the comics Wendy and her trademark red cloak did make it on screen as a guest start in Casper cartoons. A little note here; Hillary Duff got her start on television portraying Wendy in a live action family film.

Little Audrey

Basically Little Audrey was Harveytoons’ answer to Little Lulu. She was a high spirited and often mischievous little girl who could fill every girl’s fantasies. She could ride clouds, attend magical events and generally get in trouble.

Baby Huey

Baby Huey was a gigantic baby duckling who was naïve and unaware of his own strength. Sought after by the up to no good fox, Huey always managed to get away without really knowing how. He wanted little more than to fit in with the other ducklings but his clumsiness usually made him an outcast. This was actually a great little cartoon for little children teaching them the important lesson of fitting in and acceptance.

Richie Rich

Richie Rich was the richest kid in the world. He lived in an expansive mansion, had servants and owned the latest and greatest of every toy imaginable. His trademark was his waist coat and over sized red bow tie. Despite his excessive access to money he was kind of heart and always willing to help others. This character also made it to live action film with Macaulay Culkin in the lead role.

Tommy Tortoise and Moe Hare

This cartoon basically retold the Aesop fable with some variations on the theme. The fundamental story lines were always about how being consistent and methodical always wins out over rushing to the finish.

Herman and Katnip

Herman the mouse and Katnip the cat were Harveytoons’ answer to the better known Tom and Jerry. In almost every episode Katnip had some plot to capture Herman but is outwitted in the end.

While there was a certain amount of cartoon violence in these shorts it was generally less intense then the other studios. Mostly these cartoons tried to teach a gentle lesson to the children watching. Over all the characters are good and exhibit traits that any parents would want their kids exposed to. With current animation so violent this set does represent a good alternative for parents that want their kids to watch something they can be sure won’t turn their kids into psycho rebels.

There are over 19 hours of material here. Out of the 312 items on the four double sided discs there are 52 full cartoons. The rest are the theatrical shorts. Back in the day going to the movies was a whole experience with a feature film, a ‘B’ flick, newsreel and cartoon. These shorts were typical of the cartoon short we all enjoyed.

Sony has completely re-mastered this trip down memory lane. The video is brighter and cleaner than it has been in decades. For those of us that remember watching on an old black and white television this is a real treat. The mono audio is also crisp and without distortion of any sort. We may have all out grown Harveytoons but this is a chance to go back to a simpler time in our lives. Parents can get this set for their kids and have a little smile as you sit and watch them with the kids.

Posted 10/27/06

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