Sunday, July 25, 2010

Andy Panda - Unsung Character From the Golden Age of Cartoons and Comics

When you mention Andy Panda, many people respond, "Who?" However, there was a time when the bear was a major player in the world of cartoons. He is a character from the Golden Age of animation, and a great one, too.

Andy was created by the legendary Walter Lantz, the same creator of the famous Woody Woodpecker. In fact, Woody first appeared in an Andy Panda cartoon. But, let's get back to the little-known Panda.

Andy was actually quite popular in the 1940s. His first cartoon was Life Begins for Andy Panda in 1939. He starred in multiple cartoons in the 1940s and had his own comic strip in New Funnies comics from the 1940s to the 1960s. He even had his own comic book series as recently as the 1970s. One thing I loved about the comics is he had a sidekick named Charlie Chicken. They were a little like Abbott and Costello to me.

I always liked Andy and Woody cartoons as a child, and they were rerun continuously in the 1970s and '80s. I have fond memories of watching 1940s' Andy Panda cartoons before and after school. My favorite cartoon is Apple Andy. In the cartoon, Andy fights with the good and bad side of himself. The good side is a panda that looks like an angel. The bad side is--you guessed it--a panda that looks like the devil.

In the cartoon, the bad side convinces Andy to skip school and steal a farmer's apples. He eats so many apples that he passes out and dreams he goes to Hell. In the end he wakes up, defeats his bad side and goes back to school. Yes, some early cartoons were eerie and amusing at the same time. I am glad they were still shown on television in the 1980s.

Andy is not completely lost to limbo, though. Recently, DVD sets of old Woody Woodpecker and Andy Panda cartoons were released for sale. You can't keep a good character down forever!

If you remember Andy, feel free to comment! I would like to hear your memories.

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