There’s a story that the Saturday Morning Cartoons of the 60s were created as a vehicle for networks to serve up cereal and toy commercials to kids, who would then, in turn, nag their parents to buy stuff for them. I think the real reason about why Saturday Morning Cartoons started is more mundane and has to do more with networks complying with certain standards for a broad range of programing for various segments of the population. But I like that urban legend so much better.
For those of us of a certain age, Saturday Morning Cartoons and comics go hand-in-hand. The Adam West Batman TV show may have sparked an interest in superheroes for us, but it was reinforced for five glorious hours every Saturday morning back then. We’d thrill to the adventures of authentic comic characters like Superman, Aquaman, the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Archie, and Casper, and kind-of-comics characters like Space Ghost, Jonny Quest, Birdman, and so many others. Of course, all those characters would have their own comics at one point or another too.
Some concepts, like Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp, were so nuts (I almost typed “bananas”) that you needed an extra bowl of cereal just to get through it.
**Shameless self-promoting plug alert: Look for my upcoming article on Lancelot Link in an upcoming issue of Back Issue Magazine, btw.**
This past Saturday, Pop Roc, an innovative comic shop in Rochester, NY found an interesting way to bring crowds in the door: they celebrated the grand tradition of eating sugary cereal on a Saturday Morning.
Pop Roc is a fascinating, interesting store. Their everyday business plan is to be a mash-up of a comic shop and a cereal bar. And, yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like. They have a bar, but instead of serving alcoholic beverages, they serve Cap’n Crunch, Cocoa Pebbles and a bunch of other cereals. And they also serve combos, mix-ins and their “cereal cocktails”.
I used to moderate panels at comic cons like San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic Con (and more) on the 7 Comic Archetypes. The next time I host that panel, I think I’ll have to add a new category just for Pop Roc!
This past Saturday was actually “National Cereal Day”; so, Pop Roc stepped up their efforts. In fact, owner Jason Hilton was even in the kitchen making waffles (many of which have cereal mix-ins, of course). There was a giant table full of free comics to either read while you’re there or to take home. I think the official policy was “one to a customer”, but the store seemed to be pretty liberal and relaxed about it all, especially for the National Cereal Day crowd.
I attended this event with Professor Peter Walsh (also founder of HeroChef) and his son Jack. We all were overwhelmed but completely comfortable. The place was full of smiles (and teeth that needed brushing). Batman was on hand to help reinforce the comics and vintage TV cereal commercials were on the big screens – a great touch!
What a memorable way to join a fun, whimsical experience with comics. I can’t wait to go back again soon, once I can muster up the sufficient willpower to enforce a personal level of portion control. For the cereal, not the comics, I mean.