Snorks, from a lunch box.


Original Medium: Comic books
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1974
Creator: Freddy Monnickendam
If this site is enjoyable or useful to you,
Please contribute to its necessary financial support. or PayPal

Of all the many sources the Hanna-Barbera studio (which was famous for swiping ideas and situations) used as "inspiration" for its TV cartoons, the very favorite was itself. Whenever it …

continued below

… fielded a hit (such as Yogi Bear or Scooby Doo), the in-house knock-offs (such as Wally Gator and Funky Phantom, respectively) would start flowing. So nobody was surprised when, in the wake of Smurfs, Hanna-Barbera not only produced, but also heavily promoted, The Snorks.

That the Snorks' cartoon, which debuted in syndication on September 15, 1984, was a response to that of the Smurfs (1981) is obvious. What isn't obvious is that the connection goes back farther than the animated career of either. Both started in Belgian comic books, Smurfs (as supporting characters) in 1958 and Snorks (in their own comic) in 1974. There, too, the latter was a response to the immense popularity of the former — cartoonist Freddy Monnickendam (Foofur), who had worked on various comics projects involving Smurfs, created them as an attempt to tap into the same audience.

Snorks differ from Smurfs in living underwater, having breathing tubes (snorkels, hence the name) coming out the tops of their heads, being multi-colored instead of just blue, and replacing words they speak with "snork" instead of "smurf". In being appealing little guys whom kids love, they're pretty much the same. Monnickendam's comic book Snorks had two major characters, Allstar Seaworthy and his girlfriend, Casey Kelp; plus Allstar's pet octopus, Occy. In the animated version less prominent Snorkland residents assumed larger roles, including Governor Wetworth (the local bigwig, who often provided obstacles for the good guys to overcome), his son Junior (the rich, snooty one you often see in kid comics), Tooter (a cute mute who toots), Dimmy (not very bright, eats a lot), Daffney (Dimmy's girlfriend) and more.

According to the Snork back-story, a few ventured to the surface in 1643, and watched a ship being attacked by pirates. The captain wound up in the water, and that was the first contact between the species. Since then, Snorks have adopted several human habits, such as wearing clothes. In contrast, Smurfs were just blue elves that lived in the woods. The greater detail is a reflection of a general tendency toward more realism and less cuteness — not that Snorks were realistic or non-cute, but they went less overboard in those areas. This may have contributed to the fact that they lasted longer than most obvious imitators. The show ran four seasons, a total of 55 half-hours (which contained two Snork segments each).

Allstar's voice was done by Michael Bell (Mark in Speed Buggy), Casey's by B.J. Ward (Jayna in a late incarnation of Super Friends), Occy's by Frank Welker (Waffles and Chainsaw in Goof Troop), Dimmy's by Brian Cummings (Papa Q. Bear) and Daffney's by Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson). Other voices include Frank Nelson (a couple of voices in Monchichis, which were also Smurf-like and from Hanna-Barbera), Rob Paulsen (Yakko Warner), Peter Cullen (Murky in Rainbow Brite) and Bob Holt (Hoot Kloot).

The Snorks were quite popular in their day, and generated a lot of merchandise. But they haven't been seen on a regular basis in quite a while.


BACK to Don Markstein's Toonopedia™ Home Page
Today in Toons: Every day's an anniversary!


Purchase Hanna-Barbera Merchandise Online

Text ©2005 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Hanna-Barbera.