Classic Cartoons

Introduction to Jabberjaw

cartoon version of a shark

Jabberjaw is a cartoon show produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and ran from September 11 to December 18, 1976. The show is arguably famous for having an anthropomorphic white shark that bears the same name as the title of the cartoon. Because of Jabberjaw’s popularity, he has appeared in numerous forms of entertainment outside his own show. To get to know more about the interesting shark character, here is an introduction to Jabberjaw.

Conceptualization and Production

The show is created by Ken Spears and Joe Ruby, who are mainstays for Hanna-Barbera during the time of Jabberjaw’s conception. Both Spears and Ruby collaborated on various Hanna-Barbera shows, including Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, and Scooby-Doo. Years after creating Jabberjaw, they were contracted by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, another big animation production company in the 1970s, to create more cartoon shows, and they came out with The Houndcats and The Barkleys. By 1977, they started their own company called Ruby-Spears Production, wherein they produce some of the best cartoon shows in the 1980s, such as Alvin and the Chipmunks, Thundarr the Barbarian, and the 1988 Superman animated series. The company has since been dissolved when it was acquired by Taft Entertainment, the parent company of Hanna-Barbera. Taft Entertainment and its intellectual properties were then sold to Turner Broadcasting in 1991.

cartoon shark that looks like Jabberjaw

Spears and Ruby consider Jabberjaw as one of their best works, mainly because they were able to create a truly unique main character. It is also important to discuss that in the mid-70s, there was an on-going “shark mania” that was brought by “Jaws,” a film released in 1975 and is directed by Steven Spielberg. After the said movie’s release, people are clamoring for more shark movies or TV shows, and this prompted Spears and Ruby to create a friendly version of a shark to make it stand out among the crowd of sharks in the entertainment industry.

The format of each episode’s story is similar to Scooby-Doo and Josie and the Pussycats, wherein a group of weird characters must solve the mystery behind the misfortunes happening to the location that they have visited. However, what sets Jabberjaw apart from the other shows is that the areas they visit are mostly found underwater to emphasize the aquatic nature of the cartoon and its characters.

Characters

There are a total of five odd characters who appear in all 16 episodes of Jabberjaw. The main protagonist of the show is Jabberjaw, an anthropomorphic great white shark that has the ability to talk and breathe air. In addition to the said abilities, Jabberjaw can also change his shape and turn into objects like a parachute or trampoline, which he can use whenever his friends are in danger. Jabberjaw is living in a world where there are robots known as “shark ejectors” who ban sharks from entering certain cities or buildings. Because of the hatred towards sharks, Jabberjaw often feels suppressed, and he would usually voice this out by saying his catchphrase, “I don’t get no respect!”

The other characters are Biff, a brown-haired young lad that serves as the leader of the gang; Shelly, a long black-haired girl that is intelligent and savage at the same time; Bubbles, a girl with curly blonde hair that is not as intelligent as Shelly but has a pure heart; and Clamhead, a young man with red hair and is Jabberjaw’s best friend.

All of these characters play for a band called The Neptunes. As for the roles of each member, Jabberjaw plays the drums, Biff plays the guitar, Shelly plays the Tambourine, Bubbles plays the Keyboard, and Clamhead plays the bass. The band would usually play music at the end of the show, although the songs would be at the background of a scene where they would run from the villain of each episode.

Broadcast and Other Appearances

Jabberjaw premiered at ABC on September 11, 1976, and each episode of the show is 30 minutes long. After the 16th episode aired on December 18, 1976, Jabberjaw was rebroadcast on the same network until September 3, 1977. Reruns of the show would then be aired in the 1980s on the USA Network’s USA Cartoon Express segment. Interestingly, Jabberjaw has its own laugh track, as Hanna-Barbera wanted to create unique laugh tracks for each of their cartoons during the 1970s.

The Jabberjaw character has appeared in numerous shows, movies, and comics years after the Jabberjaw show finished production. Regarding Hanna-Barbera shows, Jabberjaw was a guest in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated in an episode titled “Mystery Solvers Club State Finals” that aired in 2011. He has appeared on Laff-A-Lympics, a humor-centered comic book series published by Marvel from 1978 to 1979. Jabberjaw has also been incorporated as a character in the DC universe when he appeared alongside Aquaman in Aquaman/Jabberjaw Special #1, published in 2018. In his DC universe iteration, he looks like a real great white shark but still has anthropomorphic features.

Despite not having any sequels or remakes, Jabberjaw remained as a popular Hanna-Barbera character because of his interesting personality and appearance. Animation fans are sure that Jabberjaw will continue to appear as a guest character for various shows in the future.

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