Growing up, I was a big fan of The Addams Family and The Munsters television programs. It mixed horror with humor, a safe place for kids to venture. I was a fan of The Milton the Monster Show, too, which was in production before either of the live-action shows appeared on TV.
Hal Seeger Productions, the studio that brought Milton to life, was a blip on the radar in animation history.
After producing Batfink, created shortly after Milton, Seeger threw in the towel concerning the production of animated television series. Seeger said it was a rat race, and too expensive, noting he lost $125,000-$130,000. Over the following decades, he made that loss back many times over, but he didn’t step back into it.
The Milton the Monster Show was not the original intention for the series. Seeger and crew produced three Fearless Fly adventures to pitch The Fearless Fly Show to network television. In the third episode, a recurring nemesis named Professor Weirdo creates a monster named George. Everyone at the studio flipped over the concept and overnight it developed into The Milton the Monster Show.
Fearless Fly now would appear as one of several short cartoon series appear in the 30-minute show, along with Flukey Luke, Stuffy Durma, Muggy-Doo and Penny Penguin.
The original three Fearless Fly cartoon shorts were added midway into the series to appear as crossovers. But they are in fact a display of the genesis of Milton. Professor Weirdo alone appears in the first, he and Count Kook in the second, and the pair with pre-Milton character George, and early likenesses of Heebie and Jeebie.
Created before Political Correctness came to modern culture, “The Milton the Monster Show” and all its secondary cartoons presented stereotypes lampooning various cultures and delved into séances, curses, suicide, and gunplay.
In one Fearless Fly cartoon, Dr. Goo Fee makes a statement that all flies “look alike to me.” Flukey Luke’s faithful Native-American companion is called a “Red Skin.”
Hal Seeger’s animated creations featured real stories and surprises. You could say many of them were quite clever and had the feel of a situation comedy. Seeger also presented characters that were likable, not just in temperament, but in design and color. You wouldn’t want to meet Heebie and Jeebie in an alley, but they were pretty cool.
Often at war with each other, Seeger also presented an environment where everyone could co-exist, even if they didn’t always agree. At the end of the day, everyone still played and stayed together.
I was the age of 8 when Milton first appeared on TV, and became a fan instantly. I even learned to draw Milton, and Heebie and Jeebie, giving illustrations to my classmates at school.
Presently the complete series on DVD is out of print. Hopefully, it will be reissued soon. There’s a cemetery atop Horror Hill, and it’s time to exhume the old gang and bring them all back to life for a new generation to enjoy. For now, I hope you’ll enjoy my latest Cartoon Research mini-book.