Welcome back to Rotten Ink! Are you as shocked as I am that we are already in November 2022? This year has flown by and crazy to think Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away! The 10 Year Anniversary for this blog has been in full effect and we have looked at many classic things that I am sure brought back memories for many of you readers as well as maybe even acted as you first introduction to some of the update topics, and todays update is one that many of you might have grown up watching while others of you reading have no idea about and that is Diver Dan a very cool and yet also cheesy kids show from the 1960’s and when chosen topics for this year I just knew he had to be one of them. As I did not grow up watching Diver Dan but once I was introduced to the show I quickly became a fan and knew we had to go on a deep-sea dive adventure with him! So lets get our deep dive suits on and check our oxygen tanks as its time to enter the water and see what we can find.
Diver Dan was created by cartoonist J. Anthony Ferlaine in 1960 as a spin off of his comic strip “Fish Tales” and was the show was made by Brian Cartoons, and distributed by ITC Entertainment and was aired mostly on NBC stations during its original run. And each episode ran around seven minutes long and it would normally be paired with other cartoons like Felix The Cat and be apart of children shows that were hosted. The show would have 104 episodes and would last until 1970 given it a good ten year run. The under water scenes were shot through an aquarium with the fish on the showing being a mix of real ones as well as puppets that was mostly voiced by Allen Swift who also played the voices of the Narrator and the off screen character Captain Murphy. The lovely Suzanne Turner played the mermaid Miss Minerva. Diver Dan was very well loved by young viewers and would even have many years life after it ended thanks to reruns. And while Diver Dan was not for everyone as lots of kids wanted animated shows and not live action ones, it’s legacy of being a beloved 1960’s kids show is still strong and was one of the favorites shows of my Ex-Girlfriends dad who is the one that introduced me to the show. The show can be found originally on grey market VHS tapes and now can be found on DVD via Alpha Video as well as other budget labels and can also be watched on YouTube. I also have to point out that the shows theme is very cool and catchy, look it up and give it a listen and see what you think.
Diver Dan is a deep-sea diver who is studying fish and is a good guy and a hero to the aquatic life that makes up the waters he is in. A true good guy character who is likeable and noble and is truly that classic kid show standard of who you should grow up to be like. Diver Dan was played by actor Frank D Freda who was known for being a writer for the animated show “The Smokey Bear Show” as well was Ronald McDonald in some early McDonalds commercials. He was also a Broadway actor and was a sales person for HBO and Cellphones and is the first person to cell a car cell phone in New York. But back to Diver Dan who 100% is a true iconic character in the world of kid shows and has inspired many people over the decades to be a good person, to want to study bodies of water and fish and even helped fuel creative minds. On a side note I would love to see Diver Dan return to TV and do it as the next generation and the show could follow his Grandson who has followed in his grandfathers footsteps and is going on adventures in the same sea. Also if he was in public domain I would totally write a comic mini series based on Diver Dan for Sparkle Comics!
Ok lets take a moment to chat about Miss Minerva the blonde mermaid who was friends to the fishes and would keep her distant from Dan who she just would call The Diver. She as I said was played by actress Suzanne Turner who was a very good stage actress as she was featured in the play “Auntie Mame” and as for other TV or Movie roles she had no other as Diver Dan was he only work in that field. Miss Minerva had long blonde hair and would wear a crown and speak to the fish who would warn her of the dangers coming or tell what they have seen. She was a kind mermaid who would watch after her friends as well was the target sometimes of the fish of the ocean that are not so kind. After he work on Diver Dan not much else is known about Suzanne Turner as she seemed to drop off from acting, and during her time on the show she was the crush of many young viewers. And when trying to look up information on her it looks like she might have passed away, but sadly not much is out there about her after the show ended.
The shows two main baddies was the fishes Baron Barracuda and Trigger Fish who acted as stooges and help set up the dastardly plots the plans they had cooked up in their cave hideout by Teetering Rock. You see even in the deep ocean we have gangsters that want to cause harm to the people or should I say ocean dwellers. They are your typical kid show baddies as they have silly plans to just ruin peoples fun and to cause just annoyance to all around them. And to be honest the show really needed Baron Barracuda and Trigger Fish to add that villain element to the show and they both are the spice needed to make the show more enjoyable.
Diver Dan like all good kids shows of the time had lots of amazing merchandise for fans to collect and own! Besides the comic books they made a board game, vinyl record, coloring book, fanzines and later episodes was released on DVD and before that on VHS with many of those being from the grey market. I think the odd thing about all this is that Diver Dan never got an action figure and I for one think he should have. And thinking about it Super7 should do a Diver Dan ReAction figure and Funko should do a Pop! of Diver Dan as well as Clutch Cargo. But if you are a fan of Diver Dan there is some cool stuff for you to collect and I myself besides the comics own the DVD sets from Alpha Video.
So now that we have chatted about Diver Dan and the characters that made up his show as well as the merchandise he spawned I think we should now move onto his comic adventures and see what Dell Comics has in store for him. I also want to remind you that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So if you are ready like I am lets go on a deep dive adventure with the one and only Diver Dan!
Diver Dan # 1 **1/2
Released in 1962 Cover Price .15 Dell Comics # 1254 of 1354
Diver Dan is helping Miss Minerva and the fish to set up and have a Masquerade Ball, and as they all go to get ready Baron and Trigger as well as Rocky who is the nephew of Trigger go to the party and break everything down and destroy things as they have a plan to finally take down Diver Dan. When Minerva, Diver Dan and the fish return to find the party ruined they are sad as the ball seems like it will not be taking place, but our dastardly fish baddies show back up dressed up pretending to be party goers and acted shocked that the party has been attacked, and suggests a new location that they have a trap set at via a octopus. When Diver Dan and the party guests get there they set back up as Baron and Trigger even try to get Dan in trouble with his Captain when they snap a picture of Diver Dan and Minerva with the party lights behind them and deliver it above to the Captain who is mad as Dan is supposed to be looking for hidden treasure. But when Baron and Trigger’s plan goes wrong and the octopus gets trapped they decided to try and kidnap a young female fish and get ransom for her safe return, but that backfires when Rocky returns her to her friends and the baddies are chased off by Rocky’s angry mother. And the Ball happens and all are happy as Diver Dan wonders off to find the treasure.
This first issue of Diver Dan is really a kid friendly fun read that has Diver Dan in trouble with his boss as well as trying to help his fish friends to get a Masquerade Ball to happen after it was sabotaged. Diver Dan is a good spirited human who does what he can to bring joy to all his friends that live in the waters and is helping set up a party when he is being paid to find a treasure, and this fact also gets him in trouble with his boss and Dan still just continues to help his fish friends and even gets his boss on the boat to send down a camera! The one flaw of Diver Dan in this issue is that he is way to trusting as he does not see that Baron and Trigger are right in front of him luring them all to a trap and dismisses the concerns of fellow fish who alert him that they think the two are at the Ball! Baron and Trigger are such fishy little jerks as they get joy of breaking and ripping down the Ball decorations all because they want to lure everyone into a trap, and for what reason…cause they dislike Diver Dan and want to ruin his day. Sadly mermaid Miss Minerva really does not do much in this issue and that stinks, but the one thing they do show is that almost all the fish respect and love her. The story is as basic as can be and is very much kid friendly and the message is being mean, a trickster and bad never pays out and that good will always find a way and that friendship and community is important. And with a few odd elements like Dan and Minerva being around each other when in the show that was not the case for the most part, I do feel that it captures the mood and feeling of the show. The cover is great and features Diver Dan, Baron and Trigger and is eye catching for fans of the show, and the interior art is done by an Unknown Artist and is really good and has that classic Dell look but I think this is even slightly better art then the average Dell Comic. Over all I would say this is a super fun and silly Kid Comic read that does Diver Dan justice, and I am very much looking forward to reading the next issue.
Diver Dan # 2 ***
Released in 1962 Cover Price .15 Dell Comics # 2 of 1
Carolos is leading a band of gypsy fish to find a new queen as his daughter the current one has been kidnapped and Baron and Trigger send them the way of Minerva and the gypsies have chosen her to be the new Queen, and without telling her this news they set up a show for the area to enjoy first, and with tea they knock out Minerva by acting as if they are reading her fortune and flee fast from the area. But not before Carlos also hypnotizes Baron into being a nicer fish to others after he and Trigger tried to rob his wagon. The fish go and get Diver Dan in order to save Minerva and he along the way runs into Baron who goes along to help. But before Minerva can be made Queen the old one shows up as she has escaped and her captor a fellow bands Prince who is after her as he wants to marry her! The gypsies would rather have Minerva as the Queen but after some arguments she is able to kind of get away and to Diver Dan. In the end Baron gets punched by accident when Carlos and the Prince get into a fight and this snaps him out of his trance, and as Diver Dan and Minerva get away the Queen and Prince ride off and Trigger is almost forced into marriage before Baron saves him.
This second issue of Diver Dan is one great read as it has a fun kid friendly story, the artwork is fantastic and I feel that it did a great job of capturing the feel of the show its based on. This one has a band of gypsy fish kidnapping Minerva to make her their Queen, only for Diver Dan and the unlikely ally of Baron coming to her rescue. This issue also is mostly about the mermaid Minerva as she is the target of the gypsy and is the one who has to try and tell them she does not want to be anyone’s Queen and that her home is were she is at in the ocean, I also like that even with her kidnappers she tries to be kind and not hurt their feelings as while they did something bad they are more misguided then evil. Baron and Trigger as well have bigger parts as the Baron is under the trance he turns into a good guy and forces his goofy henchman to go along with him. The Gypsies are cool characters who have Queens and Kings and will do sneaky things in order to honor their culture, but as I have stated I do not feel its to be mean. Diver Dan kind of takes a backseat in this issue as he does not come around until the end of the comic and even then he does very little and I like that as this gave other characters from the show a little time to shine and be the focus of a story that was really entertaining. I also have to say that the cover for this issue is great and features both Diver Dan and Minerva and is super eye catching for fans of the show. The interior art is done by Sal Trapani and is 100% fantastic and he captures the characters likeness so well. Over all a great series Diver Dan was and it’s a shame that the comic series only lasted two issues as it should have lasted way longer on the comic racks as well as on TV. Check out the artwork bellow as I think it showcases the work that went into this series.
Diver Dan is one of those classic 1960’s kids shows that I feel just never gets the respect in these modern times like it should as it was a simple concept that made oceans, fish and a deep sea diver cool! And sadly in 2022 I am sure many of you younger readers have never heard of Diver Dan and his show and I hope this update has at least sparked your interest in getting the Alpha Video or Digiview releases or even look them up on YouTube. That is one thing that I hope that Rotten Ink is able to do and that’s help keep vintage and old school stuff like this alive and not only bring joy to fans who remember but also I hope bring new fans into the topic. And with that said I would like to let you know that Rotten Ink’s 10 Year Celebration continues as we head back to the Rotten Ink Theater to chat about Silent Cinema and it will be 1921’s one time lost German classic “The Island Of Lost”! So until next time read a indie comic or three, watch a Diver Dan episode or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you soon and make sure to be ready to travel to an island filled with mystery and horror!