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The New Adventures of Superman

The New Adventures of Superman is a series of six-minute animated Superman adventures produced by Filmation that were broadcast between 1966 and 1970. The 68 segments appeared as part of three different programs during that time, packaged with similar shorts featuring The Adventures of Superboy and other DC Comics superheroes.

These adventures were the first time that Superman (and his guise of Clark Kent), Lois Lane and Perry White had been seen in animated form since they were immortalized in the Superman short films of the 1940s.

The first TV series produced by Filmation Associates, The New Adventures of Superman was extremely popular in its Saturday morning time slot and, despite having obviously been developed for young children, employed the services of several DC comic book writers including George Kashdan. Many of the character designs (later based upon the artwork of Superman artist Curt Swan in the show’s third season) stayed true to their comic book counterparts; iconic shirt-rip shots and related transformations from Clark Kent into Superman were incorporated into almost every episode, and such lines as “Up, up, and away!” and “This is a job for Superman!” were also borrowed from comics and the original Superman radio show. In addition, this series marked the animation debut of Jimmy Olsen and classic Superman villains such as Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Toyman, Prankster, Titano, Mister Mxyzptlk as well as the inclusion of new villains like the Warlock and the Sorcerer. Due to a limited production budget, stock animation was often re-used for certain shots of Superman flying (or switching identities from Clark Kent into the Man of Steel), while character movement was often kept at a minimum; this would later become a trademark of Filmation’s animated productions.

Producer Lou Scheimer also recruited Bud Collyer and Joan Alexander, veterans from the Superman radio show and the Max Fleischer Superman cartoons, for the voices of Clark Kent/Superman and Lois Lane respectively. Jackson Beck, who had been the narrator and the voice of Perry White on the radio show, reprised those same roles for the cartoon version, while Jack Grimes, who had played Jimmy Olsen in its later years, took that part here as well. For this series, Collyer returned to the same vocal technique he’d perfected on the radio show to play the Man of Steel. While in the identity of Clark Kent, Collyer would keep his voice lighter while projecting a sense of weakness. But when the mild-mannered reporter would change into his true identity of Superman, Collyer’s voice would deepen dramatically into a heroic baritone. Alexander departed after the first season and was replaced by Julie Bennett in later seasons. The theme music for the show was composed by John Gart.

Despite its success, the series raised the ire of Action for Children’s Television, a grassroots organization formed in 1968 and dedicated to improving the quality of television programming offered to children, due to Superman throwing punches and other action-related violence which the group found objectionable. As a result, the series was soon cancelled, and future cartoons would not allow for such comic book violence.

Superman subsequently appeared in ABC’s long-running animated series Super Friends (1973), produced by Hanna-Barbera, whose rights to DC Comics characters were gradually transferred from Filmation.

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