L-r: Frankie, Drak, Howler.

THE DRAK PACK

Original Medium: TV animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1980
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The Hanna-Barbera studio, which launched Jabberjaw in the wake of Jaws and The Great Grape Ape while King Kong pre-publicity was at a fever pitch, is not known as an innovator. Even as off-the-wall a concept …

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… as The Drak Pack's, making superheroes of Hollywood's top monsters, was anticipated by more than a dozen years, by Dell Comics. Dell even used the same three monsters — Frankenstein, Dracula and Werewolf.

It's quite likely they aren't connected, but there's a more proximate predecessor in Monster Squad, which NBC aired in 1976-77, which was based on exactly that premise — Dracula, Frankenstein and a werewolf fighting menaces. It had only 15 episodes, but given Hanna-Barbera's track record, the possibility someone at the studio saw it and decided the idea had a better chance as a Saturday morning cartoon than live-action sitcom can't be ignored.

Drak Jr., the leader of the pack, was motivated by a desire to Balance the Cosmic Scales, or something like that — his great-uncle, Count Dracula (aka "Big D"), had been such a bad guy, Drak felt a need to compensate by doing good. He got together with a couple of other monster progeny, Frankie and Howler, to form a team for that purpose. By clasping their hands together and uttering the magic word "Wacko!" (no kidding!), they would transform into their super-powered monster forms, so as to do mighty battle with Doctor Dred (no relation) and his evil band (known as O.G.R.E., i.e., "Organization of Generally Rotten Endeavors"), which included a vampire, a mummy and similar horrors.

Drak's voice was done by Jerry Dexter, who played Harvey in the 1971 Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Aqualad in the 1967 Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. Both Frankie and Howler were William Callaway, who also did Country in Cattanooga Cats and Bizarro in Challenge of The Super Friends. Dr. Dred was played by Hans Conried, whose other villain voices include Snidely Whiplash in Jay Ward's Dudley Do-Right and Captain Hook in Walt Disney's Peter Pan. Dred's minions' voices included Chuck McCann (Number One in Cool McCool), Don Messick (Hamton Pig in Tiny Toon Adventures) and Julie McWhirter (Casper the Friendly Ghost in a couple of 1970s shows). Big D was Allen Oppenheimer (Mighty Mouse).

The Drak Pack's half-hour show debuted on CBS, on Saturday, September 6, 1980. Sixteen episodes were made (beating out Monster Squad), and they were run and re-run repeatedly over two seasons. There was very little penetration into other media, and not a notable amount of merchandising success. They haven't been seen much in the past couple of decades.

— DDM

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Text ©2004-07 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Hanna-Barbera.