Even H.E.R.B.I.E. Somehow Made It Into the Comics!

In "Follow the Path," I spotlight changes made to comic book characters that are based on outside media, as well as characters who entirely came from outside media. I’m sure you can think of other examples, so feel free to e-mail me at brianc@cbr.com if you want to suggest some other examples for future installments.

Today, we look at how even H.E.R.B.I.E. got adapted into the comics!

Obviously, Marvel broke into other media in a big way in the mid-to-late 1960s when they launched a bunch of cartoon series based on their characters. However, those cartoons did not last that long outside of Spider-Man. It was not until a decade later, then, that Marvel began to get back on top of things as far as their licensing was concerned for television. Marvel cut a few more deals for cartoons as well as a promising deal with Universal where the company would adapt a number of Marvel characters for possible television series and/or TV movies. The deal with Universal led to the release of the Incredible Hulk TV series. However, that same deal also led to a bizarre Fantastic Four cartoon series. You see, one of the other characters that was licensed to Universal for television was the Human Torch. Thus, when Marvel made a deal to also make a Fantastic Four cartoon (which Marvel actually co-produced with DePatie–Freleng Enterprises), Marvel had to hold the Human Torch out of the series.

Thus, the New Fantastic Four (which is what the series was titled) now became Mister Fantastic, Invisible Girl, the Thing and....H.E.R.B.I.E. the robot?!?

In one of his earliest experiences working in animation, Jack Kirby designed H.E.R.B.I.E. the robot. Animation later became good enough to Kirby that he was able to leave Marvel again.

Frank Welker (Shaggy from Scooby Doo and Megatron on the Transformers) did the voice for H.E.R.B.I.E.

H.E.R.B.I.E. basically took the role of the Human Torch in the team in the sense that the robot and Ben would often argue with each other.

Here's a snippet of an episode just so you can hear H.E.R.B.I.E.'s voice...

The New Fantastic Four failed to do all that well with viewers and so it only lasted one season. However, Marvel had proven that it could do a decent job in animation and so Marvel did more and more animation work in the 1980s. The hilarious thing, though, is that Marvel then went to adapt the newest addition to the Fantastic Four comic book, but the show was finished before H.E.R.B.I.E. finally made it into the comic!

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