Yellow Submarine was not the first time the Beatles hit the cartoon world. The Fab Four’s original ‘toon incarnation was the Saturday morning show The Beatles, which ran from ’65-’69 on ABC. Mitchell Axlerod, author of the new book Beatletoons, will be appearing at Borders Syosset on Thursday to talk about his obsession. He recently spoke to Ian D’Giff:
The Beatles didn’t do the voices on Yellow Submarine. Did they do their own voices on the TV series?
No, it’s a big fallacy. Everybody always thought it was them, but it wasn’t. As a matter of fact, the Beatles hated the cartoon because of the voices. It was a big controversy. The voices were done to be Americanized because the producers didn’t think kids in America would understand the British accent. It didn’t air in the UK until later on in the ’70s because the Beatles really hated it so much.
Is it true that superheroes like Space Ghost were created to beat The Beatles?
The Beatles was the first cartoon series in history to be based on real live people. It was pretty pioneer. The other networks took notice and figured they had to do something. So CBS did this whole new thing, The New Adventures of Superman, just to go against The Beatles. Then, shows like Space Ghost and Mighty Mouse and The Impossibles, who were actually a trio of musicians, came on. That’s what really took over, and The Beatles’ ratings started going down. I guess it’s funny to think of, but superheroes bested the Beatles.
The series ran smack in the middle of the Beatles’ major changes. Did drugs and psychedelia play out in the cartoons?
They definitely did, but only at the very end, in the final episode, which contained the “Strawberry Fields” and “Penny Lane” cartoons. If you look at “Strawberry Fields,” it’s really a trippy sort of animation and the Beatles now have glasses. In that episode, John says, “It’s all in the mind, y’know.” It definitely was a bit more heavy for the kids.
Mitchell Axlerod 7pm, October 21 at Borders, 425 Jericho Tpke, Syosset, 516-496-3934. Free.