Cult Cartoon Essentials

Batfink

Originally running from April 21st 1966 – October 4th 1967 (A total of 100 6 minute episodes were made), Batfink was created by Hal Seeger as a parody of Batman and The Green Hornet.

Batfink (voiced by Frank Buxton) was a superpowered anthropomorphic grey bat in a yellow costume that had a massive red B on the its chest. These were  accessorised with red gauntlets and boots. He uses his super-sonic sonar radar and metallic black wings to fight crime. In the last episode of the series (“Batfink: This Is Your Life”), it is revealed that he obtained his powers when he was born in an abandoned plutonium mine and that he lost his natural wings as a child while saving his mother’s life, after escaped convicts blew up their mountain-top cave. This incident is what motivated him to become a crime-fighter.

Batfink lives in a split-level cave with Karate (voiced by Len Maxwell). Karate is a martial arts expert and driver of the Battillac. He is slightly dim but is strong enough to help Batfink out of any situation. He carries a wide variety of objects and gadgets in his “utility sleeve” (a parody of Batman’s utility belt), but he often has trouble finding what he needs in it. Karate tends to succeed by dumb luck rather than by skill or ingenuity, and often Karate’s involvement will make a bad situation worse. In early episodes, his voice is a stereotypical Asian accent, but in later episodes, Len Maxwell adopts a clipped and nasal speech pattern which was inspired by Don Adams, whose Get Smart character, Maxwell Smart, was popular at the time. Karate on occasion even utters the Maxwell-inspired catchphrase, “Sorry about that, Batfink.”

 

It is later revealed that Karate’s father was the blacksmith who made Batfink’s “wings of steel”.

Whilst many cartoons at the time cut costs by reusing footage, Batfink was more than happy to reuse almost everything! Commonly repeated scenes include the intro to the initial briefings by the Chief, Batfink and Karate getting into the Battillac, the Battillac going round mountain bends, the Battillac going over a bridge, Batfink’s radar.

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