Cartoon Research Books
December 30, 2017 posted by Kevin Scott Collier

A Nonpartisan Leader For Our Times: “Super President”

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.

Art Leonardi

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.


  • A regular feature of Jerry’s worse cartoon program at Comic Con.

    I always have felt Jerry Sales sort of resembles Henry Kissinger sans the accent. Almost surely a coincidence.

    • Forgot to mention I added the book as further reading to the Wikipedia entry.

  • As a kid I loved this show. It was one of my favorites!

  • Don’t forget the middle cartoon, Spy Shadow (voiced by Ted Cassidy). I remember Spy Shadow wisecracking and his master or whatever occasionally having a sort of girlfriend.

    Main thing that sticks is that the music prominently featured a piano, which you rarely heard in TV toons unless somebody was going for old-timey or jazz, or if there was piano onscreen.

  • Actually, there is a “dark gray market” DVD of “Super President and Spy Shadow”, I bought mine at one of those “comic book conventions’ they hold every once in a while down at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Video quality ranges from acceptable to mediocre.

    This DVD may be the source of the YouTube appearances of the individual cartoons – but the DVD is by no means a complete rundown of the series. This book sounds like a real guide to the cartoons.

  • SP was criticized for bad taste for presenting a President who was invincible only 4 years after JFK was assassinated. For that reason, it may be doubtful that this series ever has an official DVD release. I do however have the DVD of Super 6 and cherish it, because I now live in an area whose former NBC affiliate NEVER ONCE carried it on Saturday mornings during the network run. (At the time, I lived elsewhere and did see it every week).

  • Never heard of this show until the 90s. Absolutely never remembered this show, as a kid. Don’t remember any print ads for it either. I thought I had heard of all the cartoons, even the ones we didn’t get. Must be what ever my affiliate did not show it….but even then many of the networks ads would show on an affiliate. I guess my Saturday Morning memories kick-in ’67-’68 :)) .

  • Clearly, Mike Pence modeled himself (physically at least) after James Norcross (and possibly paperback detective Shell Scott) and hopes he’ll someday get to become Super President.

  • Hi. .my Uncle, Jim Ryan, was one of the writers of Super President when he worked at DePatie Freleng. It was definitely NOT his favorite! This was early in Jim’s career.

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