Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Funky Phantom

"The Funky Phantom" was a Hanna Barbera cartoon that played off the success of Scooby Doo. Instead of mystery solving teens and their dog, you now get mystery solving teens and their dog teaming up with a ghost from the American Revolutionary War and his ghost cat! Ever since I saw it rerun on cable it's been one of my favorites! And what's better than to checking out a Funky Phantom comic for Halloween? One that includes another Halloween tradition...the Headless Horseman!

The story begins with April, Augie and Skip (the teens), along with their dog Elmo and the "Funky Phantom", Jonathan Wellington "Mudsy" Muddlemore and his ghost cat Boo, enjoying a fall picnic. While laughing at Elmo the dog chasing Boo the ghost cat, Mudsy comes down with a case of the hiccups. 

The gang tries having him breathe into a paper bag, and scaring him by popping a second bag, but no luck. They decide to hop in their dune buggy and head into town to find a cure. Along the way though, they blow a tire...right beside a sign pointing the way to Sleepy Hollow! Mudsy warns the gang that this is the territory of the Headless Horseman, but the teens figure any possible fright might be just what they need to scare the hiccups out of their ghostly friend. No sooner do they reach Sleepy Hollow than the specter gets spooked when the dune buggy's antenna begins swinging wildly as they pass a cemetery. 

Frightened, Mudsy flies off into the woods. Skip runs after him, but is knocked down by an unseen force. Augie charges in swinging a tire iron and gets bonked on the head by his own hand. Its then that they realize not all is what it seems...someone had strung a wire across the path! April urges the boys to find their ghostly friend, so following the sounds of his hiccups, they move deeper into the woods. They soon find Mudsy, and Boo, hiding in a tree, but the happy reunion is short lived as the Headless Horseman suddenly appears!

Tacks in the road take out the dune buggy's wheels, again, so the group hightails it through a pumpkin patch. When they stop to catch their breath, the boys realize April is missing! Lucky for them, she's the smart one of the group and has made her way to the nearby farm of Katy Van Castle. She fills them in on the Headless Horseman, how he's scared everyone else away but her, Brom Bones and Ichabod Crane (not the real deal...a descendant of the famous one). I'm guessing with the Horseman on the loose she doesn't scare easy, because she doesn't even question the fact that the teens are palling around with a ghost! As if on cue, Brom and "Icky" show up, and its very clear there is a love triangle at play. 

Ichabod's horse runs off and everyone splits up allowing Mudsy and Boo to find a secret tunnel leading to Ichabod's schoolhouse. They find Ichabod's horse hiding in a coat closet and things go from bad to worse when the Horseman comes galloping in! After Mudsy spooks the horse, it's revealed that Ichabod was the Horseman! And then, all the pieces come together. Brom laid the tacks and wire to catch the Horseman. Ichabod was trying to scare off Brom to protect Katy. He had found a letter to Brom's other girlfriend. Brom was just after Katy's money! With a little postmortem magic, Mudsy removes his own head scaring Brom and sending him running away for good!

So, I love the cartoon...the comic...well, it's fun, and I enjoyed it, but it doesn't quite convey the magic of the animation. The voices are missing, though I do hear them in my head, lol. Micky Dolenz, of the Monkees, provided the voice of Skip, while voice over legend Daws Butler voiced Mudsy the Funky Phantom! Butler's voice for this character is virtually identical to the pink mountain lion Snagglepuss (which is basically a Bert Lahr/Cowardly Lion) but instead of saying things like "Heavens to Murgatroyd!", Mudsy says "Heavens to Betsy Ross!" Hope you enjoyed this Halloween treat!

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