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Western Animation / The Comic Strip

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The Comic Strip was a 1987 Rankin/Bass Productions Animated Series which ran for one season, 65 episodes in all. This was Rankin/Bass's last television series before it went into dormancy.

The premise: four different cartoons (with different animation styles) were shown in rotation sequence, with two of the four appearing in roughly 12-minute slots per 30-minute episode. An animated variant of the live-action Wheel Program, essentially.

The four cartoons were:

  • Mini Monsters, which chronicled the adventures of two normal children at a summer camp also attended by the children of some of fiction's most famous monsters (including the children of Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolf Man);
  • Karate Kat, about an anthropomorphic cat detective who fought crime using karate skills;
  • Street Frogs, showing the escapades of a Five Frog Band of aspiring musicians and street dancers, most episodes covering their (doomed) efforts to raise money for the group;
  • TigerSharks, showing a team of human/marine hybrids and their underwater adventures. Of the four, this was the only cartoon to be consistently shown in two-part episodes. This series had an animation style similar to the earlier-produced ThunderCats and SilverHawks that distinguished it from the other three shows in the line-up.

The series as a whole shared many of the same cast and crew with the ThunderCats and SilverHawks series, being the second series to be made in the wake of ThunderCats's popularity, after SilverHawks.

Not related to, or to be confused with The Comic Strip Presents.

A clip of the show's intro can be seen here.

Tropes present in The Comic Strip:

  • Action Girl: Octavia and Angel of the Tiger Sharks.
  • Adults Are Useless: Camp counselor Gary from Mini-Monsters, and also Sherman and Melissa's parents in that show's first episode.
  • All for Nothing: Most Street Frogs episodes, as their comedic antics somehow always ruin their chances to make money.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Camp Mini-Mon, which Sherman and Melissa's mother says sounds Indian.
  • The Bet: The Mini-Monsters episode "Wolfie's Bet" has Wolfie taking up a bet by the other campers that he won't tell a joke for 24 hours; if he wins, he gets Sherman's cassette player, but if he loses, he can never tell another joke at Camp Mini-Mon again. He loses, but gets to continue telling jokes anyway because his bet violation was done to save Klutz's life.
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  • Big Bad: Big Papa on Karate Kat. T-Ray and Captain Bizzarly split this role between them on Tiger Sharks.
  • Big Good: Big Mama for Karate Kat.
  • Butt-Monkey: Big Max and Snappy Sam on Street Frogs.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: Karate Kat's mantra before changing out of his jacket suit into his karate gi by spinning.
    I'm lean, I'm mean, a karate machine! Keeeeee-YA!
  • Card-Carrying Villain: As with most 80's cartoons, the villains were clear and proud of their intentions.
    Captain Bizarrly: What cause do you serve?
    T-Ray: Evil! What other cause is there?
  • Cats Are Mean: Big Papa and his gang.
  • Catchphrase: Karate Kat's By the Power of Grayskull! mantra described above, and also "Kee-ya, baby," at the end of a segment.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The Tiger Sharks all have names referencing the animal they turn into before the element that does that's even introduced.
  • Cool Shades: Dr. Slick on Street Frogs wears square-rimmed sunglasses.
  • Cool Ship: The Tiger Sharks' SARK could act as both a spaceship and a submarine.
  • Dancing Is Serious Business: For the Street Frogs, alongside rapping.
  • Dating Catwoman: Big Mama and Big Papa used to be married.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dr. Katmandu in Karate Kat.
  • Distressed Dude: Lorca of the Tiger Sharks is already on Water-O when the show begins, but that also means he gets captured by the villains and takes two episodes to get rescued and get his own mutant form.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Karate Kat, though he's far from the only one in his universe. Also Wolfie of the Mini-Monsters, though in his case it's justified as he's a werewolf.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Broadcasting episodes of the same show five days a week is known as 'stripping' the show.
  • The Dragon: On Tiger Sharks, Dragonstein to Captain Bizzarly. Bonus points for being an actual dragon.
  • Episode Title Card
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Karate Kat is only known as "Karate Kat" no matter by who or the circumstances.
  • Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: Subverted by the Tiger Sharks' Mako, who transforms into a humanoid mako shark but is the titular good guys' leader. Their space ship is even shaped like a shark, which generally bad news for the bad guys.
  • Evil Twin: Karate Kat had an evil twin brother named Karate Krud, who first turned evil after getting a bump to the head. When the two confront each other, they're so identical in appearance that it's near-impossible to tell them apart; Krud uses this to his advantage when Dr. Katmandu tries to whack him on the head with a specially-made mallet that'll force him to undergo a Heel–Face Turn. Dr. Katmandu hits the correct twin, then explains that he expected Krud to be better than Kat at everything, so he simply aimed for the twin who was winning the fight.
  • Expository Theme Tune: Besides the one for the overall show itself, the four cartoons had their own individual theme tunes.
  • The Faceless: Sherman and Melissa's parents in Mini-Monsters.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The Street Frogs' efforts to make a decent buck were generally hampered by their own weird antics.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Dracky in Mini-Monsters.
  • Funny Animal: In Karate Kat, the general cast consists mostly of anthropomorphic cats. In Street Frogs, there's a wide cross-section of anthropomorphic animals besides the Street Frogs themselves (reccuring examples include Snappy Sam, who is a snapping turtle, and the local radio disc jockey Typhoon Toad, who is a toad).
  • Gadgeteer Genius: The Tiger Sharks' Walro and Lorca.
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: On Street Frogs, every time a money-making opportunity was announced over the radio, the gang would be quick to jump on it. However, for them, success was never an option.
  • Grumpy Old Turtle: In Street Frogs, diner owner Snappy Sam (an anthropomorphic snapping turtle) loathes the titular group immensely because of all the hi-jinks they get up to (often at his expense); also, they owe him a big tab for past meals.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Almost every Karate Kat episode title has the word "Kaper" in it.
  • Idiot Hero: Karate Kat.
  • If It Swims, It Flies: The Tiger Sharks spaceship the SARK which can be a submarine and travel in space.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: On Mini-Monsters, Wolfie's jokes are filled with these to the point of being utterly groan-worthy to the other campers. Klutz the monster lizard is the only one who finds them funny. To the point that Wolfie trying to go a whole day without telling a joke to win a bet almost kills Klutz.
  • Invisible Streaker: Blanko from Mini-Monsters is usually visible as a floating tee-shirt, a hat and a pair of Cool Shades, as well as white gloves and a pair of shoes — but oddly, no pants. Occasionally, if he needs to be completely invisible, he'll take off his clothes.
  • Jerkass: Sherman and Melissa of Mini-Monsters, at least in the first episode. It results in them both being sent to Camp Mini-Mon just to get them out of their parents' hair.
  • Kill It with Fire: On Tiger Sharks, Dragonstein's primary mode of attack is to breathe fire.
  • Land Downunder: Lorca's speech patterns on Tiger Sharks.
  • Lethal Chef: Winifred the witch on Mini-Monsters, as her concoctions caused severe bellyaches to her fellow campers in one episode. Also the Street Frogs in an episode of their show are catering to a wedding, but the sandwiches and drinks they prepare cause the consumers to change color and collapse.
  • Mobile Fishbowl: In Tiger Sharks T-Ray and his mooks are water-breathing creatures from a planet that dried up. They are now trying to conquer a watery planet; the one upon which the series take place. Since the other group of villains (and their occasional allies) cannot breathe water, they have used water filled suits at least once.
  • Monster Mash: The non-human campers at Camp Mini-Mon.
  • Ocean Punk: The Tiger Sharks segments take place in the ocean planet Water-O, and as a result most of the cast is capable of breathing underwater (although the protagonists had to undergo a transformation to do so) and most of the vehicles are capable of underwater travel.
  • Oddly Small Organization: Big Papa only has Sumo Sy and Boom-Boom Burmese working for him.
  • Oh, Crap!: In the Karate Kat intro sequence, Big Papa would open a safe with the intention of robbing it...only to find Karate waiting for him. Cue this expression on Big Papa's face.
  • Oireland: Dolph's speech patterns on Tiger Sharks.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Wolfie, the resident werewolf in Mini-Monsters, tells jokes with Incredibly Lame Puns to the other campers.
  • Punny Name: The Tigersharks "villain", you might generously call him, Carper. He constantly complains. That is, he constantly carps.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: Tiger Sharks was essentially Thundercats underwater.
  • The Resenter: In Karate Kat, resident scientist and inventor Dr. Katmandu feels this way toward the main character because he sees Karate as just a stupid muscle-head. Which is not an indefensible conclusion.
  • Saturday Morning Cartoon
  • Shout-Out: One Karate Kat episode, "The Twin Brother Kaper," has Karate Krud telling Big Papa's gang that the real Karate Kat (who he's impersonating) stands for "justice, truth, honor and loyalty"; this prompts one of Big Papa's goons to describe the hero as "a thunder-cat."
  • 65-Episode Cartoon
  • The Smurfette Principle: Honey Love for the Street Frogs.
    • Jynx is the only female monster camper.
  • Spelling Song: The intro theme song for the overall show. Also, the intro sequence for Mini-Monsters has this in the form of a cheer-leading sequence.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: Street Frogs, frequently.
  • Stranger in a Strange School: Sherman and Emily are the only two "normal" kids among the Camp Mini-Mon campers, while camp counselor Gary is the only "normal" adult (Dr. Jekyll doesn't count for obvious reasons).
  • Summer Campy: Camp Mini-Mon.
  • Sumo Wrestling: The schtick of one of the evil henchmen from Karate Kat, Sumo Siamese.
  • Swiss Army Weapon: Walro's cane.
  • Team Dad: Walro on Tiger Sharks.
  • Team Mom: Big Mama on Karate Kat.
  • Totally Radical: Street Frogs
  • Transformation Sequence: Karate Kat, combined with By the Power of Grayskull!. The Tiger Sharks also had a transformation sequence wherein they used a special device called the "Fish Tank" to transform into their marine forms and back again.
    • Karate Kat's "transformation" was little more than a costume change (he used the same name in both outfits and gained no new abilities) with a touch of Let's Get Dangerous!.
  • Very Special Episode: One Street Frogs episode featured Big Max tempted to do illegal things just to earn some seed (the Streetfrogverse's currency). The song used on that episode, "Don't Say Yes (When You Mean No)" echoes one of the official songs of Nancy Reagan's War on Drugs, while the episode ends with an ominous male voice saying the words "Crime does not pay!"
  • Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: T-Ray on Tigersharks is played as a pretty serious threat. He has two minions named Carper and Weakfish who don't do anything but complain and run away at the first sight of the heroes.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The Tiger Sharks use Applied Phlebotinum to transform back and forth from humans to Fish People.
  • Why Did It Have To Be Water?: Captain Bizzarly on Tiger Sharks hates water, despite being a pirate on a planet that is almost completely covered in it.
  • Wicked Witch: Averted by Winifred of the Mini-Monsters.