I was the age of 10 when DePatie-Freleng’s Super President cartoon made its debut in NBC’s Saturday morning cartoon line-up. I wasn’t a huge fan, but any cartoon featuring a costumed superhero was on my watch list.
I found the program to be amusing, but confusing at the same time. If President James Norcross is secretly a superhero, why call him “Super President”? But then, only his assistant calls him that. That being so, what does the rest of the world call him?
If James Norcross is the President of the United States of America, where is his cabinet? Why does it appear only one person interacts with him is a pudgy little fellow named Jerry Sales? Norcross has entrusted his super secrets to Sales, who doesn’t appear to be the sharpest tool in the shed. In fact, most of their adventures involve Sales being captured by a villain and held hostage. If most of your super-time is spent rescuing this nerd, is he an asset or a liability?
Norcross, riding the wave of Kennedy’s Camelot, had the most secretive presidency in history. His super headquarters was deep below the White House, where he parked his futuristic Omnicar, a vehicle of land, air and sea. Military brass have classified it as a U. F. O., and Norcross isn’t about to inform them it’s his transport. In fact, Norcross often places his secrets before national security, and gambles he can remedy a crisis before the military is summoned.
Super President has had over 50 years to resonate with animation fans. While the quality standards or the cartoon, and its content for that matter, remain substandard, it has become an object of nostalgia. And nostalgia has a way of fostering forgiveness. Thus, “Super President” has developed a small, but growing cult following, in recent times.
The series, outlined in our latest Cartoon Research mini-book, The Animated Administration of James Norcross, a.k.a. Super President, features commentary from Art Leonardi, the series character designer. He doesn’t think highly of the series, admitting it “wasn’t a gem.” But he recognizes the absurdity that causes something as strange as “Super President” to become nostalgia. Jerry Beck also weighs in adding his super commentary to the book, as well.
Super President does resurrect some things that in recent times seem to be fading, such as patriotism, and leading as a duty and the sacrifice that accompanies it. It addresses social issues on a global scale, not within nationalistic borders. It puts a lot of stock in trust, too.
Super President has yet to make it onto DVD. With DePatie-Freleng’s recent release of Super 6, it is hoped a Super President DVD isn’t too far off from release. It’s one thing I’m sure many would vote for, regardless of their political affiliation.