On Clutch Cargo

I admit not watching Clutch Cargo, but this cartoon is part of cartoon’s golden age. Then again, somebody out there requested it, and I am quite the gracious type.

Clutch, a writer and pilot, goes across the world on dangerous assignments

Other characters: Spinner (young kid), Paddlefoot (kid’s dog), and Swampy (Clutch’s bearded friend)

Each adventure was segmented into 5, five-minute chapters, with the first four ending in cliffhangers

Created by Clark Haas

First aired March 9, 1959

Forerunner to Jonny Quest (past post here)

52 adventures; first, The Friendly Head Hunters; last, Big “X”

Music by Paul Horn, who only used bongos, a vibraphone, and a flute

Clutch voiced by Richard Cotting

Swampy voiced by Hal Smith, who played Otis Campbell on The Andy Griffith Show

Production had a limited budget (including the music), thus used other methods to produce episodes at about 20% of Hanna-Barbera costs; less than 10% of Disney’s cost. This 4 ½-minute video explains Cambria Productions’ animation technique.


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Here’s a chapter of an adventure

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60 thoughts on “On Clutch Cargo

    • Archon,
      Glad you re-emphasized the point about the Clutch’s low-cost approach. Actually, I thought the video about the animation was interesting … but does that mean we have to thank Erickson for that? 😉 Thanks for commenting.

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  1. Something new for me again – learn something new everyday here .. *smile – amazing job that went into animated films before – now is it all computers, but still amazing what they can do.

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    • Debra,
      You just made my day about not only remembering Clutch Cargo, but also watching him. I thought that the reason it went off the air was that John was the only one watching! Thanks for commenting.

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    • Bulldog,
      OK for not knowing this one, and awesome question about cost … but I wouldn’t have any idea on where to start on that one – especially given the numerous ways to animate today! Thanks for stopping by.

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    • Mobius,
      For whatever reason, Clutch wasn’t on my radar way back when, but the long-time visitor here that I mentioned in the post has been boasting about him for some time – and without him knowing, I decided to go with it. Interesting story about the animation. Thanks for commenting.

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  2. Synch-vox is still present in the industry, even after the wide acceptance of CGI. I love the use of paneling in these. It was in its infancy when these were being made. I especially like the incorporation of live action in the middle ground. The backdrops they are using are very good paint over photograph. While expensive, even at the time, it is apparent their largest expense was the synch-vox.

    You got a new audience member. Little V started animating before she could speak. We go through a lot of animation history here.

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    • Red,
      Many thanks for your sharing your animation knowledge – especially because I don’t know squat about it! I must say that the video explaining this cartoon’s animation was interesting. BTW – with my Saturday Morning Cartoon posts, I most commonly feature a cartoon character from my youth – after all, cartoons is how many of us spent Saturday morning. Thanks for sharing!

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      • I have had the lifelong fascination with it. I grew up on the WWII staples, which were more about social commentary than truly about entertaining children. When the revival of the dramatic cartoon arrived with the Simpsons, I was amazed how many thought it was a revolutionary idea. It was merely one which fell out of practice during Disney’s golden age and reign over the industry.

        I could do posts on this. It is all very fascinating.

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  3. I’ve never even heard of Clutch Cargo. But you know, when I heard that 11 seconds, I just think ‘howzabout that voice over’. It was so animated, “In another EXciting episode…..” Loved that.

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    • Eyes,
      Although I didn’t know Clutch either, I found it interesting that he was the forerunner for Jonny Quest – which I regularly watched! Thanks for stopping by … and I hope all is well.

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  4. 😀 Frank, I got nuthin’ except to say, on a day when I’m feeling truly rotten, you made it a whole lot brighter – and it’s after sunset! Thank you, sir, you are truly one of the noblest people on the Net, if not on the face of the planet! 😀

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    • John,
      Not only am I glad that you enjoyed this, but it obviously caught you by surprise. After all, if you would have known it was on the way, you may have not slept for days. Glad this post also caught you at a good time.

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  5. I think that it’s fitting that while I’m sipping a glass of super lousy Tempranillo I’m watching super lousy animation. If Clutch Cargo had a taste, Frank, it would be this super lousy Tempranillo. Since I both like and respect you, no way will I stain your lovely site with the name of this “bodily fluid” disguised as wine that I’m quaffing, but I am sure Listerine mixed with cola would taste far better. I don’t think the greatest French or Californian red could do anything to make that abomination, Clutch Cargo, look good. It’s possible that I did catch a few seconds of him in my long lost youth, but even as kid, I had standards whenever it came to cartoon watching or comic book reading. Clutch was far beneath mine. That said, I always appreciate your Saturday morning cartoon posts and they even rock later on Saturday evening.

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    • Lame,
      Ouch … bad wine and a bad cartoon is not a good combination. At least a bad cartoon one can turn off, but a bad wine is another story – so, I hope the wine was good enough to at least finish. Never to be bought again, but finished! Meanwhile, I did have a feeling you may pan this one … which is still OK because I value your take! Better luck next time on the Tempranillo, which I normally enjoy. Name of the bad one please? Thanks for sharing your thoughts, but not your wine. 😉

      Like

    • Elyse,
      That’s ok … maybe he was on an opposite channel of something you did watch – or on a cable station that didn’t exist. Keep in mind, Erickson loves this one! Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. What a flash-back. Thanks. You know, i never liked Clutch when I was a kid; too cheesy and “fake”. Now I know why..low budget cartooning. I can appreciate that. The characters however, where well drawn.

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