Cartoons

Cult Cartoon Essentials: Fangface

“Every 400 years, a baby werewolf is born into the Fangsworth family, and so when the moon shined on little Sherman Fangsworth, he changed into Fangface, a werewolf! Only the sun can change him back to normal. And so little Fangs grew up and teamed up with three daring teenagers: Kim, Biff and Puggsy, and together they find danger, excitement and adventure! Who can save the day? Who can wrong the rights and right the wrongs? None other than Fangface!

Fangface (think Scooby-Doo meets Taz) was a 30-minute Saturday morning cartoon produced by Ruby-Spears Productions for ABC which aired from September 9, 1978 to September 8, 1979. The executive producers were Joe Ruby and Ken Spears.

It featured four teenagers —Biff, his brainy and beautiful dusky-skinned girlfriend Kim, short, stocky and pugnacious Puggsy and tall, skinny simpleton Sherman “Fangs” Fangsworth (Puggsy and Fangs being based on Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall of The Bowery Boys fame, the latter of whom transforms into a wildly whirling werewolf named Fangface whenever he look at the full moon, a picture of the moon, or anything resembling the moon.

 

Fangface had  one large fang in the middle of his upper jaw which protrudes over his lower lip, and he has brown fur with tan paws, muzzle, and lupine tail tip. The four kids drive around in a sleek convertible dune buggy called the Wolf-Buggy and catch crooks and solve crimes involving monsters and evil masterminds. Fangs sits in the backseat next to Puggsy, while Fangface rides on Puggsy’s shoulders.

Despite the temporary difficulty of Fangface always attacking Puggsy after he first transforms, the gang never hesitates to initiate the transformation to take advantage of the werewolf’s power to cope with any danger. Indeed, they often refer to Fangface as their “secret weapon”, even though very few people are afraid of him. Fangface and Fangs are unaware of each other, but Fangface lives in the moment, so he never seems to question why he’s suddenly in a new place, whereas Fangs is always bewildered upon reversion.

Oddly if perhaps not surprisingly considering how much Puggsy bullies the cowardly Fangs in his weak-willed human form, whenever Fangface sees food or hears a food word like “turkey”, he eats Puggsy whole, although he doesn’t chew or swallow him and just contentedly leaves him trapped in his hugely bulging chipmunk-like cheeks. The only way to get Puggsy out of Fangface’s jaws is for either Biff or Kim to rub Fangface’s foot, thereby calming him down and releasing Puggsy.

Another bizarre personality trait is that whenever Fangface sees his reflection in a mirror, he goes completely wild and starts to howl uncontrollably. In this feral state he only relies on instinct, usually to the detriment of Puggsy or whoever else is with him, although even this can sometimes be used to the good guy’s advantage, sometimes with an addition of an order given to him, as demonstrated near the ending of A Heap of Trouble, as well as Dr. Lupiter and the Thing from Jupiter, A Creep from the Deep, and Westward Ho to the UFO.

Even though Fangs and Fangface are completely different in their personalities, they have similarities to one another. Fangs and Fangface both wear a backwards-facing orange cap, although the rest of Fangs’ clothes disappear when he transforms, and both are loyal friends of Kim, Biff, and Puggsy. Fangs and Fangface also say the phrase “Ooh! Ooh!” (the trademark exclamation of Joe E. Ross) before expressing an idea, as heard in the episode The Evil Design Of Vulture-Man’s Mind.

 

In the episode Don’t Abra When You Cadabra, it is revealed that Fangs has an uncle named Arnie (rumored to be possibly the baby werewolf Fangpuss’s father) and that he runs a video arcade in New York City called Arnie’s Arcade.

During Season 1, Fangface would see the sun, or a representation, and transform back to Fangs at inconvenient times (without remembering anything), as shown in the episode Space Monster Mishap, long before the gangs’ case would be over. As a result, the gang would have to transform him back into Fangface in order to complete their case.

In total Fangface ran for two seasons (16 episodes per season). The second season titled Fangface and Fangpuss aired as a segment on The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show and introduced a new character: Baby Fangs, Fangs’ infant cousin who turns into a baby werewolf called Fangpuss (which contradicts the opening narration stating that only one werewolf is born into the family every 400 years, but, of course, that werewolf could be born through another family which may be married to the Fangsworth family). The show remained in the same mystery-adventure style as the first season, but episodes were now shortened to 15-minute segments.

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