Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cartoon Horse and rider - Wander Over Yonder

I've become a big fan of Wander Over Yonder. and noticed over the years how the cowboy, or adventurer theme comes back to TV animation every now and then.

Wander Over Yonder seems to have some roots in these old shows.
Wander is the hippie-cowboy who rides his alien "Zbornak" named Sylvia.
Sylvia serves as his horse.
In most of these shows, the horse is very often the reluctant companion,
or, after a misadventure, is the one who usually says "I told you so."

(copyrights clockwise from upper left: Terrytoons, Filmation, Jay Ward Productions, & Disney)

Starting in the upper left, we have The Adventures of Lariat Sam from Terrytoons in the early 1960's. Lariat Sam was produced by Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo). Lariat Sam's horse was Tippy Toes, a fussy horse who wore a bowler hat with a white dickie and bow-tie. While Lariat Sam relied on his lasso instead of a gun, Tippy Toes often took the brunt of the jokes in the show's physical humor.

Then in the 1980's, there was BraveStarr with his cyberhorse 30-30 by Filmation. 30-30 could use his bionic limbs to transform from a four legged horse to a person that stood upright. 30-30 was large, strong, had a short temper, liked a good scrap, and seemed to be a weapons expert. (He even talked to his gun "Mary Jane" in one episode.) But it was BraveStarr who saved the day in overcoming the villians with the right amount of reasoning, insight and directed power. 30-30's direct confrontations with opponents never seemed to end well.

Going back to the 60's, there was Dudley Do-Right. As a Mountie in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Dudley was far from being the sharpest knife in the drawer. His horse, simply called "Horse", was the only one to notice when things were going wrong. Horse was also the only cartoon horse that I know of who could not speak.

Which brings us back to Wander Over Yonder. Wander is a good-natured alien meddler who travels from planet to planet with his best friend Sylvia, who also happens to be his "Sapient Steed".

Sylvia is the more grounded "straight man" to Wander, and the voice of reason in contrast to his impulsive need to bring help and fun across the entire galaxy. She also gets more than her fair share of physical punishment from their enemies, and just by trying to keep Wander out of trouble. It's amazing she still stays with Wander with all the abuse she has to put up with.

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Another show that was kind of obscure was Luno the White Stallion: I actually only saw one episode while on a car trip to Florida while passing through Atlanta. From then, I was hooked. It took me years to find some episodes on VHS. Luno was another version of Pegasus that symbolized travel, adventure, and magic. Luno and Tim could fly back in time to classic storybook adventures.

(original copyright Terrytoons)

Hey, the Aquabats liked him enough to put him in a song:

While not a TV show,  I have to bring up the Magic Pony by Soyuzmultfilm. CFPL TV 10 in London, Canada would drift over Lake Erie to northeast Ohio. The CBC brought me an extra range of children's shows in addition to the U.S. networks in the 1960's.

 (copyright Soyuzmultfilm)

To my knowledge, the Magic Pony was never shown, but I loved the full animation Soyuzmultfilm put out. The boy in this story learns the dangers in telling tall stories, and gets more than he bargained for when he accidentally captures the queen of the magic horses.

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