Don Bauder 4:37 p.m., Dec. 27
The limited stylings of Clutch Cargo
If you don't know a Clutch Cargo from a manual transmission, please watch a minute or two of the following to bring you up to speed.
Atrocious, isn't it? This isn't limited animation, it's dead! Compared to Gumby, Clutch and company look pokey.
Bugs and Clutch, the first cartoon hosts to infect me with terminal anthropomorphosis. Nowadays, when animated characters stand frozen in mid-frame, only their lips moving, they call it anime and festivals wheel out the awards cart. Funny how quality used to have a way of standing out from the pack. Back then, every 3-year-old knew to expect more movement from a broken clothes dryer than a Clutch Cargo cartoon.
Bugs made me laugh, but no so Clutch. At least not initially. Before I was able to grasp the awe inspiring awfulness of producer Clark Haas's movement-atrophying Synchro-Vox technique, the lantern-jawed giant, who shared the same taste in lipstick as my Aunt Fay, scared the bejesus out of me. Where did I come off identifying with a rugged, Aryan adventurer/tranny who spoke in disembodied tones and enjoyed the company of an underage boy and his wiener dog?
Clark Haas, as in Clark Haas no budget, had to work fast and cheap in order to survive on television. Borrowing his cameraman Edwin Gillette's concept of superimposing human lips over motionless cels, Haas came up with Synchro-Vox. Each cliff-hanging episode was broken into five four-minute installments to run daily on locally produced children's programs.
I have often wondered what became of Clutch in the years since the show left the air. Cargo's agent tried to arrange a cameo in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but Zemeckis' agent wouldn't return his calls. There was talk of a big screen 3D reboot with Lisa Rinna acting as Clutch's mouthpiece, but there isn't a lens wide enough to make that happen.
What follows are my findings and a few Photoshopped items from the archives.
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