The Animated word of God

In the past, I’ve referenced several popular and classic Saturday morning cartoon shows.  They’ve made for a great recap in this blog.

This time, however, I want to share with you some cartoons that aired on Sunday morning.  There were usually two types of Sunday morning cartoons – the shows that used to air on Saturday morning and were used as filler inbetween religious broadcasts … and the cartoons that WERE religious broadcasts.

The most famous of these was the stop-motion animated series Davey and Goliath, a show about a young boy, his talking dog, and the word of Scripture.  The series was produced by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and was essentially given away to any station that chose to air it – in fact, I do recall watching the show on one station, and then seeing another episode 30 minutes  later on a different channel.  Many years ago, I wrote a history of the series for the animation magazine Animato!, here’s a reprint of the story, as archived by the ELCA.

Here’s an episode of the show, complete with the “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” intro music.

Another popular Sunday morning animated sermon series was Jot.  Jot, an anthromorphic child-like dot, was produced by the Southern Baptist Radio and Television Commission, and featured dozens of four-minute homilies and sermons.  The limited animation was supplemented by wild, surreal artistic design, almost forcing the story to be told in a dreamlike state.

Here’s an episode of Jot, entitled “No Ma’am.”  And yes, after you’ve gotten that Davey and Goliath theme song out of your head, the minimalist Jot theme will get stuck in your ears for a few hours.  You’re welcome.

Next I will introduce you to Superbook.  Follow me on this.  Once upon a time, there was a television network called the Christian Broadcasting Network (later known as the Family Channel, then Fox Family, then ABC Family, now FreeForm).  They commissioned Tatsunoko Productions in Japan to create an animated series, which was broadcast in the United States as Superbook.  Superbook told the story of two kids and their clockwork robot (yes, because every kid should have a robot), as they were sent back in time to the days of the Old Testament.  There isn’t much online in terms of video clips, but I did find the intro – complete with power ballad-meets-Stryper intro music.

There was a second anime series that CBN commissioned, this one was called The Flying House.  Now we have three kids (and a robot) who travel through time in a flying house.  No, it’s not a small-screen adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle, but you get the idea.

Here’s a two-part clip of one of the episodes of The Flying House, entitled “What…”

One more Japanese anime Biblical cartoon.  This one, called In The Beginning, was a more reverent portrayal of Biblical stories.  The creator of this anime, Osamu Tezuka, was better known for the secular cartoons Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion.  I think the first time this series appeared in America, it was broadcast on Mother Mary Angelica’s Eternal Word Television network.

So I hope you had a good time going back to childhood days, watching these classic evangelical cartoons and animations.  Or at least enjoying them before mom and dad told you to turn off the TV, get your Sunday School clothes on, and get ready for church.

 

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