Welcome back to Rotten Ink! This update is all about that blue dog Foofur. Dogs are a man’s best friend, and they are loving as well as loyal. Growing up I have only had two dogs in my life but have been around many. From the chubby old dog Two who lived at my grandparents’ house all the way to Conan who is my cousin Stephen’s hyper little Chihuahua, I have always been around dogs. The first dog that we had was a mutt named Droopy, who from what I understand was a very fun loving little guy who loved my brother Bryan and I. The sad part is I was very young and don’t remember him all that well, and to add to his sad story while my family was away, my uncle was watching him and someone stole him from the backyard! I mean what kind of scumbag steals a family pet? The second dog we got was Stella, a German Shepard, when I was around 16 years old. She was a sweet dog who was my best pal when I first moved back to Kettering. She used to follow me around the yard, and we would have all kinds of adventures walking around the neighborhood. Stella was a scaredy cat for the most part, but if she thought I was in trouble, she would spring into protective mode. Stella lived to an old age and I find myself missing that goofy knucklehead. If you’re a dog owner, cherish the time you have with your furry buddy and give them an extra treat after dinner. Below is a picture of Bryan and I with Droopy, and I have to make a note that for some reason I can’t find my pictures of Stella I took when I was a teenager.
Back in the day, many of the top watched cartoons were made by Hanna-Barbera who was the company who brought us such great characters as Yogi Bear, Scooby-Doo, Jabber Jaw and Huckleberry Hound, all popular and beloved cartoon characters. Hanna-Barbera were at the top of what they did, but by the late 80’s while their classic work was still popular, many of the newer stuff was not as iconic as the past work. Shows like Yo! Yogi, Flintstone Kids and A Pup Named Scooby-Doo were all great shows and all ones I watched when they aired in the 80’s and early 90’s, but most of those shows didn’t have the life and staying power as their classic toons did. In 1986, they made a character that was pretty well liked by the kids of Wayensville but now in 2015 is pretty much forgotten, and that’s the loveable blue dog Foofur. In 1986, on NBC during the station’s Saturday Morning Cartoons, a cartoon made by Hanna-Barbera called Foofur started airing and is about a skinny dog named Foofur who finds a mansion to live in that’s abandoned! But living in the big house by himself is lonely so Foofur, along with his niece Rocki, free fellow dogs from the kennel, and they all now live with him and dodge the dog catcher and a realtor who wants to sell the house from under Foofur’s paws. Foofur lasted for two seasons and a total of 46 episodes and was canceled in 1988, but for those of us like myself who watched Foofur when it aired those two seasons were very entertaining and had that Hanna-Barbera charm. It’s odd, with WB putting out their Warner Brothers Archive Discs for many Hanna-Barbera shows, that this series has never made it to DVD on demand. While his run was short, Foofur still made his mark on Saturday Morning Cartoons and remains a cult favorite among the fans that remember his adventures.
While characters like Scooby-Doo had tons of merchandise from toys to keychains, poor Foofur had very little merch. So if you were a fan, it was pretty slim pickings to get collectibles of your blue furred pal. So let’s take a quick second to talk about some of the things that were made that included VHS tapes of some of his episodes that quickly came and went at retail stores. I can remember finding some of these tapes in the cheap bin at Hearts and Gold Circle. Sticker story books of FooFur also came out and were geared toward young readers that helped kids not only to read but also survived as a way for kids to get more FooFur hijinks. The last thing I can remember is the stuffed doll of Foofur made by R.Dakin Co./ Phil Mandez productions that was very long and looked as lazy as possible and captured the goofball loving nature of the character. I never had any of these items, and I can remember that someone I knew had the doll and it was either my friend Joanna or my cousin Nick…but I am not 100% sure on that one.
So we just learned a little about the show as well as the merchandise so now I figure we should take a quick crash course on the side characters that made up the show. Let’s start with Fencer; he is a black and white furred cat who loves karate and thinks he can fight. Louis is a strong as an ox bulldog who can fight as well as be a loyal friend to all his fellow housemates. Annabel is a sweet female dog with long bangs that cover her eyes and is the girl of Louis. Fritz Carlos is a proper dog with a sweet mustache and has total manners as well as tall tales. Hazel is a curly eared female dog who is a clean freak and is buddies with Fritz. Dolly is Foofur’s girlfriend who is owned by a well to do woman and her best friend is Burt a snob dog. The show had many “bad guys,” but we will get to them when we cover the comics. I should thank Lone Star Comics and Bell Book And Comic for having these issues in stock and should as always remind you that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on entertainment value, quality of the story, the art and how true it stays to the source martial. So with that let’s head to the old mansion and see what Foofur and the gang are up to, shall we?
Foofur # 1 **1/2
Released in 1987 Cover Price $1.00 Star Comics #1 of 6
“Curly Tale” has Foofur and the gang almost being found in the mansion when it was being looked at for purchase. Once they are safe, Dolly stops by and invites Foofur to her tea party that will be attended by many of the town’s top dogs! Foofur gets the help of Hazel to look nice for the party but uses too much conditioner and ends up putting a curl to all his fur! When he gets there, at first he’s looked at as a joke, but when the smart fashion dog likes the look, he becomes a trendsetter. “Alone Again” has that Kung-Fu cat Fencer doing his moves in the house and annoying Foofur and Annabell, who are cleaning the attic of the mansion. When he goes outside and thinks that his pals are captured by the catchers, who he actually frees is the Ma Baker gang who kidnap Fencer and hide in Foofur’s mansion. Once inside, they beat up Fencer and Foofur, but the gang of bad animals meet their match when the raging bulldog Louis shows up and beats them up and makes them run to the dogcatchers to be captured and safe away from him! “Trial And Error” has a group of rats living in the mansion who want to throw out Foofur and the gang and get the help of a lawyer rat who banishes Rocki from the house. When the young dog is sad and is crying over being kicked out, Louis shows up and beats up the rats and throws them out of the mansion!
This is another kids comic that takes the route of doing multiple stories in a issue instead of one solid onem and while in the days of Goldkey and Whitman, that style worked for the likes of Bugs Bunny and Pink Panther, in my opinion it does not work for Foofur in 1987 as it clearly should have been one continuous story that helped add to the world that the cartoon was building on Saturday mornings. Each of these stories, while cheesy, packs a fun feel, and I must say I really like the abandoned mansion backdrop. Thus far only three of the characters shine and that’s Foofur, Louis and Fencer so I will give you a little of my first comic book impression of these three characters. First up is Foofur; while he is very laid back, he clearly cares about his friends and is trying his best to keep the mansion theirs. The one negative thing I noticed is when is niece Rocki is crying, he pays no attention and keeps playing cards, and it’s Louis who checks on her and takes care of the issue. Speaking of Louis, he is one tough bulldog who whoops butt not once but twice in this issue and is clearly the muscle of the group. But while he might be the meathead, it’s clear that he cares about his friends and will protect them at all cost. When I was younger and watching the cartoon, this next character was my favorite and it’s the cat who knows karate named Fencer who while noble at heart is really just a goofball who tries more then he knows, and means well when trying to stick up for his pals. Now I should also pick the best story out of the three, and I would say Alone Again not only because it shares the name of a power ballad sung by Dokken but because I love the idea of a gang of rough and ready animals taking orders from an old dog named Ma Baker who is straight out of Batman 66 if that show was played by animals. The art is pretty solid and is done by Ben Brown who captured the look and mood of the cartoon, really good stuff and reminds me of Archie and Harvey comic art. So far I would say that this Star Comic series based on the cartoon Foofur is pretty entertaining and I can’t wait to see how the rest of this series goes, so let’s move onto issue # 2!
Foofur # 2 **1/2
Released in 1987 Cover Price $1.00 Star Comics #2 of 6
The first story is called “Unreal Estate.” In it relator Mrs. Escrow is trying to sell the mansion and fills it with furniture to give it a more homey feel. So Foofur takes an idea from Fritz Carlos, and they put the furniture in crazy places! As the open house starts all the people are mad at Mrs. Escrow and think she pulled a joke on them because of this, but it backfires as one strange man loves the mansion and the way it’s set up and agrees to buy it the next day! Foofur and the gang spend the night making the mansion look normal again and stops the buy when the man gets mad about how normal the house looks and Mrs. Escrow in the end thinks the mansion is haunted. The second story is called “Costume Canine Caper.” Those rats are at it again and use a dog costume to try and sneak into Foofur’s group to gain secrets on how to get rid of them, but the plan is cut short when the rats are captured by the dogcatchers and must ditch the suit. Fencer witnesses it with his own eyes, and Foofur in the end scares off the rats by wearing a giant rat costume! “User Unfriendly” has the Mayor firing Mel and Harvey from being the city’s dog catchers and replaces them with a robot named 4-D who can capture dogs super fast! 4-D goes on a capturing rampage and even gets Louis, but all things backfire on the robot when Foofur over loads its circuits by using a ton of wind up dog toys! At the end Louis breaks free from the pound and 4-D ends up in a trash can.
This second issue is just like the first issue with three stories and a one-page joke, and like before, each of the stories have a charm and each are well done and silly. Much like before, most of the time the plots are set in and around the mansion making the old structure almost feel like a character on its own. Foofur in this issue is much like the first and does show he has a prankster side as he helps move around couches and place beds in the kitchen not to mention wears a costume to scare off those pesky rats. Fritz Carlos is a proper little dog who is very British and very much a supporter of the abstract. So we should also take a look at the “bad guys” of this series. Let’s start with the three rats who are named Sam, Chucky and Baby. They want the mansion all to themselves and are trying to do whatever it takes to run the dogs off. Sam is the brains of the rats and bullies the other two. Mrs. Escrow is not fully bad in the comic and is only doing her job of trying to sell the mansion, but her little dog Pepe is a jerk and hates Foofur and the gang. The last two are the dogcatchers named Mel and Harvey who once more are just doing their job but do seem to target Foofur and the gang and patrol that area a lot. Out of all these “bad guys” I would say the biggest threat to them has to be the Rats as I feel they would murder Foofur in his sleep if they could figure out a way to do so! The best story out of the three this issue has to be Unreal Estate as I like the fact Foofur and the gang are running around changing things to save their home from being sold, and I could see the Three Stooges doing something like this. The art is once more all done by Ben Brown and is fantastic for this kids’ style of comic. I must also point out for some reason I really like this cover with the rain and Foofur being so tall he is blocking his friends from getting wet. This is another good issue, and this makes me hopeful that this whole series will stay entertaining and steady with the two and a half star ratings.
Foofur # 3 **1/2
Released in 1987 Cover Price $1.00 Star Comics #3 of 6
Foofur and the gang’s first adventure is called “History Defeats Itself!” and has Mrs. Escrow selling the mansion to land developer Cashman who wants to build a condo in the spot where the mansion sits! Foofur, along with Dolly and the gang, try to figure out how to stop the buy and most importantly stop the mansion from being torn down. They try to use some of Fritz’s old arrowheads to get the historical society to step in but that turns into a bust. Finally Louis has an idea just as things look bad and gets a giant bone from the butcher shop and the demolition stops. Cashman rips up the contract after what he thinks is all a waste of his time, and the mansion is saved and once more put up for sale. The second adventure is called “A Close Encounter” has an alien landing on earth and meeting the rats who he thinks are the kings of the planet. They tell him that they are indeed and are under attack by the K-9s! The Alien takes Foofur and his friends off the planet and is about to leave them when he finds out he has been played by the Rats! And with the help of Foofur, the Alien is able to scare the Rats away from the mansion. The last story is called “Plant You Know, Dig You Later.” Annabel has her sister and her kids over at the mansion, and her sister brings her a plant as a gift and they leave it on the porch. During the visit the plant grows and grows and covers the mansion! Louis uses his brain and grabs the plant’s root and places it in the freezer causing the plant to die and detach from the mansion.
Issue three is another solid Foofur adventure packed from page to page with cartoon inspired goodness. Much like all the issues before, all three stories are well done and each hold their own charm. If I had to pick one as my favorite, I would say History Defeats Itself would take the spot, not just cause it’s a good story but it also makes me think of the big mansion and woods in Sugarcreek that was torn down so they could build a soulless Coastco…but let’s not harp on that. But A Close Encounter comes in close second and that’s because I love the whole alien comes to Earth story that reminds me of so many classic Sci-Fi films I watched when I was a kid. Foofur remains the same in this issue, and it’s really clear he loves to play cards, cares about his pals and his girlfriend Dolly. Annabel is a sweet dog that has bangs that block her vision as this is said many times o far in the series. We also get the fact she has a sister and is the aunt to many puppies, and she is married to Louis. Ben Brown is still doing the art, and it’s fantastic and really does make it feel like the cartoon. One other thing I should note is that the inking in this series so far is very bright and this helps add to the over all fun feel of the comics. Not much more to say besides another good issue that brings all the Foofur action to comic readers.
Foofur # 4 **1/2
Released in 1988 Cover Price $1.00 Star Comics #4 of 6
“Fernando’s Hideaway” has Foofur and his pals finding hiding spots for when Mrs. Escrow comes to the mansion to show it to a buyer. After they master the art of hiding, they all go to take a nap when crooks break in and are hiding from the police. Foofur and the gang use their new hiding spots to act as if the mansion is haunted, and the crooks run back into the arms of the police. In the end, all ends well besides the fact The Rats are mad about them being around the inside of the walls for the hiding spots claim that’s their territory! In “Show Business” Fritz Carlos is on a date with Hazel, and they see a hypnotist that by accident hypnotizes Hazel and turns her into a slob when she is the clean freak of the gang! When home she trashes the place, and worse the house is about to be shown, so Fritz and Foofur rush back to the hypnotist and have the spell broken get he back to the mansion just in time to clean it up and all ends well. The final story is called “The Buddy Guard” and is about Louis and Annabel wandering the streets looking for food when a gang of dogs led by a pitbull shows up and start calling Louis a chicken, and instead of fighting, the bulldog leaves! Foofur tells Annabel, who is worried about her man, that the dogs they ran into was once lead by Louis and he left them to become friends with Foofur. The Rats hear this and bring in the gang who attack the house, but the bad dogs soon learn Louis is no chicken as he wipes the floor with them and proves he is a smart fighter.
Louis once more shows that he is the biggest and baddest bulldog in the comic world as he beats down a pitbull and a pack of other dogs by himself! Plus I like the backstory given to him that he once was a bad dog who ran the streets and would beat up other dogs just because he could, but once he met Foofur he changed his way and became a dog who only fights when it’s called for like to protect his friends. But to play What If like The Watcher does for Marvel, imagine a world were Louis beat up Foofur instead of friending him, would Louis go on to beat up the likes of Snoopy, Odie, Scooby-Doo and so many more K-9’s in comic and cartoons…makes one wonder. My favorite story has to be The Buddy Guard just for the backstory of Louis and the fact it has Foofur being put in some major danger as a pitbull wants to rip his head off. The other two stories are well done, and I love the fact they have taken them out of the mansion and into the world a few times in this issue. One thing that I also think this series is doing right is while Foofur is the clear star of the comic, he is not over used and each character has their time to shine even if it’s only for a panel or two. The Rats are back also in this issue and once more try so hard to chase off the dogs, but as always fail at their plan. The art is done by Ben Brown again and as always looks like a classic 80’s kid comic. I should also note that this is the final issue of Foofur to come out under Star as the next in the series has the Marvel logo. So let’s see of Marvel put the care into Foofur like their kids branch did.
Foofur # 5 **1/2
Released in 1988 Cover Price $1.00 Marvel Comics #5 of 6
“The Bear Facts” is the opening story and is about Mrs. Escrow having the mansion treated for termites that has Foofur and the gang going camping, but before they leave they also warn the rats who think the dogs are up to something! Rocki can use the trip to get a badge in the scouts, and while out in nature, a nearsighted mama bear takes Rocki by accident as she thinks she is one of her cubs. In the end Foofur uses cola bottles and makes the bear glasses, and she and her cubs hang out with them and get food as a way of saying thanks. The second story is a continuation of the first story and is called “Fur Better Fur Worse” and has the Rats taking fur from Fencer and pull mean pranks on the fellow house dogs trying to get the K-9s to turn on the cat. In the end Louis and Foofur are the voice of reason as all the others in the house are ready to beat up the karate cat. In the end Louis finds out the Rats are the ones causing the issues, and he gets even by placing them on a log in the harbor! The final story is called “Pipe Down” and has those two numbskull dogcatchers Mel and Harvey get a magic flute that attracts dogs, and it’s up to Fencer and his trusty baseball to save his friends from being captured.
Marvel took over Foofur after closing Star and was smart enough to keep all those working on it intact. Foofur as a character in this issues shows compassion and that he really wants to make the world he lives in a better place as he helps a bear to see and even warns the Rats that they could be caught or killed when a exterminator comes. Say what you will, but Foofur, while a silly comic based on a cartoon ,does have some positive messages and teaches readers to honor friendship, keep positive as well as try not to hold grudges. Louis in the issue goes 1-1 as he is able to beat up Mel and Harvey in an ally but gets knocked out when he tries to tackle the nearsighted bear. My favorite story has to be Pipe Down because who doesn’t like a silly take on the Pied Piper legend? Ben Brown takes the duty of art again as like the others it’s solid and shows I think he enjoyed doing this series. So are our next issue is the last issue of Foofur so let’s see if it can end as a solid cartoon adaptation comic.
Foofur # 6 **1/2
Released in 1988 Cover Price $1.00 Marvel Comics #6 of 6
“Raising Spirits” opens our last issue and has the mansion being the subject of being called a haunted house and brings an oddball to try and find if the legends are true. Of course the oddball sets up the house to appear haunted so he could buy it dirt cheap,and when Foofur finds this out, he turns the fraud haunt back on them and scares them away. “Smitten Kitten” has Fencer falling for a cute grey cat named Miss Mitzi and asks her out on a date. To get ready for the date, Fritz tries to help him get manners and ditches the karate look for a more preppy look. During the date, a group of cats start trouble and Fencer kicks into action and finds that Mitzi likes him for him and that’s the karate cat. The final story for the issue and the series is called “The Outcast” has Dolly’s snob friend Burt, a purebred dog, thinking he is a mutt and running away from home to stay at the mansion and after getting himself caught by Mel and Harvey. Foofur and the group go to save him and in turn get caught! In the end Burt saves Foofur and finds out he is indeed no mutt!
So much like the cartoon, the comic series of Foofur comes to an end way to fast! This final issue is well done and doesn’t lose a step from the rest of the series and is a good kids comic based on a cartoon that was only mildly popular. Foofur is a cool dog who has a kind heart and a sharp mind and always thinks about the well being of his friends…for the most part because if he’s playing cards he shuts down on caring. I am a cat person, and I have to say Fencer in this issue gets to shine as he goes on a date, learns manners and even whoops some butt on cats who are hassling his girl. Burt, who is a friend of Dolly’s, is also a snob and stuck on himself and treats Foofur like a fleabag. It’s only after he thinks he’s a mutt that he shows Foofur and the gang respect. Marv and Harvey almost, and I mean almost, have Foofur in this issue but are once more outsmarted by a pack of dogs. These two guys are as goofy as they come and are great “bad guys” in a comic series like this. What made Foofur work as a comic is the over all good nature of the stories and characters. I mean most kids love talking animals, and Foofur is a perfect fit for those type of readers. Hanna-Barbera and Star made a perfect team on this, and I wish the team up would have continued with other properties they made like The New Yogi Bear Show, The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley or even Paddington Bear! Imagine a Star Comic based on Ed Grimley. I know that I as well as many others including Jason Young would have read it. Ben Brown did the art for the whole run, and his style is the kind of art I love for kids comics based on toys and cartoons, I would like to see Ben make more comics of this nature. With Disney owning Marvel Comics, I am not sure why they have not reopened Star Comics and make retro style kids comics based on old Disney Shows like Ducktakes, Goof Troop, Darkwing Duck and Gummi Bears, all that wonderful stuff that was played after school in the late 80’s and 90’s. But to wrap up the look at Star’s Foofur I will say it’s a series that stayed true to its quality and stayed steady on entertainment and held true to it’s source material so I would give this series a must check out for fans of the cartoon. Below is some of Ben Brown’s artwork for the series, and it showcases the main cast to the series.
Now I am sure many of you readers don’t remember Foofur and those who do probably only slightly do so I hope that this update helped inform you about his existence in the world of comics and cartoon. One thing I should also point out is the fact that much like many classic kid comics of the 70’s and 80’s, the cover to most the issues has nothing to do with the stories inside. Not once did they go skiing nor did Foofur and Rocki race a kangaroo and joey! And while the rats and dogcatchers were a threat to them somewhat, the main drama comes from them always living in fear that the house they live in will be sold from under their feet and they will all be homeless. Our next update will have us leaving the mansion of Foofur behind as I once more will turn Rotten Ink over to Juliet and she will take a walk on the dark side with The Witching Hour! So until next time make sure to pet your pet, read a comic or three and support your local comic shop.