Little is known about the pilot Planet Patrol, except that it was produced by Grantray-Lawrence sometime in the late 50s or early 60s. The commercial studio – formed by animators Grant Simmons, Ray Patterson with producer Robert Lawrence – made several attempts at series TV, ultimately succeeding with the ultra-cheap Marvel Super Heroes cartoons in 1966, and the original animated Spider-man in 1967.
Here, Captain Rocky and Wilbur pursue a space pirate named Hooken-Crook (a sci-fi version of Dishonest John). The story is rudimentary, the music is stock library tracks – but the production is quite slick and beautifully designed. But who actually worked on it?
Animator Mike Kazaleh has some theories:
I can tell you for sure that Grant Simmons is the director. The look of his animation is all over the cartoon. Dal McKennon is voicing the little dog, the professor (sounding like an imitation Benny Rubin), and the villain. I’m not certain of the big dog’s voice. It’s possible that Grant-Ray regular Gene Hazelton did the character models but I wouldn’t swear by it. If the little dog looks like Droopy it’s because Simmons animated on most of Tex’s Droopy cartoon.
As for the date, I can only guess. Simmons often picked up work from H&B (mainly on the commercials and bumpers, but both Simmons and Ray Patterson, along with Irv Spence animated The Jetson’s pilot) and Simmons may have tried to emulate them. So for when it was made, my guess would be 1960.
I found a 35mm print of Planet Patrol a few years ago, and recently dug it out of storage to loan to Steve Stanchfield for inclusion on his excellent (and highly recommended) DVD collection, Mid Century Modern. This is his transfer and restoration – and I thank him for allowing me to share it here: