"We crammed more cartoons into a half hour than anyone else."
"That was our promise, right?"
– KaBlam! co-creators Chris Viscardi and Will McRobb interviewed in Not Just Cartoons: Nicktoons!
Each episode of the show takes place inside a comic book, featuring a showcase of alternative forms of animation that were more common in independent films and commercials, co-hosted by two animated characters named Henry and June.
- 1 Production
- 2 Segments
- 3 Episodes
- 4 Syndication, Home Media and Streaming in the USA
- 5 Syndication, Home Media and Streaming in other Territories
Herb Scannell, who oversaw programming at Nickelodeon in the early 1990s, was interested in the creation of live-action cartoons. Several short film ideas that had a cartoon sensibility were then pitched to the network, one of those ideas being Action League Now!, where toy dolls/figures come to life (the kind of thing children would imagine on their own while playing). It was featured in the teen-comedy sitcom All That as a recurring segment, but co-creator Robert Mittenthal wanted to do more with it, so KaBlam! came to be. Pitched by Mittenthal, Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi with a rough title of "KaBlam Theater," they would work with production companies all over the world to present short films with alternative forms of animation, unlike traditional cel animation seen on most Nicktoons at the time. As the short film parts were put together, the show was in search of an anchor segment, which liked the idea of going inside a comic book that comes to life. Mittenthal, McRobb and Viscardi all came out of creating live-action television programming for Nickelodeon (Mittenthal had co-created the network's versions of Double Dare as well as Think Fast, and was creator of Welcome Freshmen, while McRobb and Viscardi were well known for The Adventures of Pete & Pete) so their unfamiliarity with animation led to them bringing in Mark Marek, at the time working independently, to create the hosts Henry and June. In the comic book, the two characters would turn the pages to the short films, but also have subplots of their own in between.
KaBlam! premiered on October 11, 1996, and ended on May 27, 2000, running for 48 episodes over four seasons. Besides that, four specials involving segments from the show were aired on Nickelodeon (some of the segments' short films were later presented as interstitials on Nicktoons under the label "KaBlam! Presents"). Henry and June were also used as hosts of programming blocks or in promotions on the network during commercial breaks.
The theme song and background music on KaBlam! was provided by the Moon Ska Stompers, a supergroup of King Django, Victor Rice, members of The Toasters and the New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble. The opening theme song is a differently-recorded version of The Toasters' song "2-Tone Army" that can be found on the album Rare as Toast, while the bulk of the soundtrack was 30-second instrumental clips of songs from The Toasters' album D.L.T.B.G.Y.D. Tracks from the Associated Production Music library notably heard before in The Ren and Stimpy Show as well as later in SpongeBob SquarePants were also utilized.
Each episode of KaBlam! was made of many segments with different animation styles, lengths and story-telling techniques. This way, the show creators could fit all the pieces under a comprehensive, comic book-like setting. The following categories of segments are:
The Main Story
This is the main part of the show, from where the other segments could be launched during a episode.
Henry, voiced by Noah Segan, and June, voiced by Julia McIlvaine, are the animated co-hosts of KaBlam! who turn the pages of a comic book — with the theme changing in each episode — to reveal the next segment, as well as being involved in subplots of their own. Occasionally, other characters in these subplots appear, such as Mr. Foot (a giant Sasquatch working as the show's stagehand), Hector (co-host of the show with June after Henry had temporarily quit), Lois and Phil (overcautious parents of Henry and June), Lyle Baxter (an intern on the show), Jimmy McGee (parody of late night television comedians), Fred Stockdale (network executive), Dawn (Fred Stockdale's granddaughter on break from boarding school in Switzerland) and Ryan Malloy (an obsessed, number-one fan of Henry and June that goes to their middle school).
These were segments seen most of the time on the show.
Created by Robert Mittenthal, Albie Hecht and Will McRobb, this segment was originally featured on the Nickelodeon sketch comedy series All That in 1995 before it then ran for all four seasons of KaBlam!, airing on all 48 episodes. It was filmed in "chuckimation," where characters/props are moved by unseen hands — wiggled around to simulate talking — or thrown from off-camera (interspersed with occasional stop motion animation). Action League Now! features four superheroes played by custom-made action figures — The Flesh, Thundergirl, Stinky Diver and Meltman — who fight crime in suburbia. After KaBlam! ended in 2000, Action League Now! became a spin-off series in 2001, where short films of it were combined to fill a half-hour time slot, but the series was canceled the following year.
Ran on the first three seasons of KaBlam!. A traditional animation segment, created by Mike R. Brandon, where a pair of ferret roommates often get on each other's nerves. 12-year-old Sniz Bronkowski is the shorter ferret with green hair that is very hyperactive, and quite a troublemaker of the two, while 13-year-old Squeaky Fondue is the taller ferret with a blue chef hat, who is the nervous, yet intelligent one. Snuppa Doojers and Bianca Lo Bianca, Sniz and Fondue's housemates, are also seen at times. Sniz and Fondue was the second of the regular shorts to end, as Brandon admitted later he was burnt out from doing all of the segment's work (leaving before the third season of KaBlam! premiered and having nothing to do with the short films in that season) and Funbag Animation Studios, Sniz and Fondue's production company during the second and third seasons, began shifting its focus to a television adaptation of Watership Down.
Ran for all four seasons of KaBlam!. A stop motion animation segment/half-cartoon created by Stephen Holman, 12-year-old Larry Cooper narrates his experiences with his imaginative and adventurous younger (7-year-old) sister, Lupicia "Loopy" Cooper. The characters were animated with stop-motion puppet bodies, but their heads were created with cardboard, while the facial expressions were controlled with magnets. When a character has to grab and/or manipulate an object, live-action hands were used (a technique first applied by Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation shows in the 1960s). Live-action characters and puppets were also seen.
Ran for all four seasons of KaBlam!. A stop motion animation segment created by Cote Zellers features the camera-recorded mission logs of Prometheus, an alien who comes to Earth attempting to teach a caveman, Bob, modern-life things such as playing music to watching television or even celebrating a birthday. The result is usually a failure by either Bob himself, or the mischievous third cast member, who was a simple Monkey. The introduction, done in a mock government file format, describes the events as having occurred "900,000 years ago."
Ran for the first two seasons of KaBlam!. A traditional animation segment created by Mo Willems where a group of friends deal with constant problems, many of them caused by their main rivals, a clique known as the Populars. The Off-Beats was the first of the regular segments to end after the Season 2 finale, "KaBlam! James KaBlam!" due to Willems going to Cartoon Network to create Sheep in the Big City and write episodes for Tom Warburton's Codename: Kids Next Door.
These segments had between four to five appearances on KaBlam!, thus having aired longer than the short stories.
A traditional animation segment by French writer and director Federico Vitali, seen on Season 1 episodes "Comics for Tomorrow Today!", "Not Just for People Anymore!", "All Purpose KaBlam!", "KaBlam! Gets Results" and Season 2 episode "Better Than A Poke In The Eye!". Under its original title Guano!, the series started in 1990 with a total of 50 short films (it was later broadcast for syndication in other European countries under the same name). Each one features animals in a distinctive, hand-drawn style.
A traditional animation segment created by Canadian cartoonist Jay Stephens, and produced by PorchLight Entertainment. It is featured four times on the last two seasons — two episodes in Season 3 ("More Happiness than Allowed By Law!" and "Holdeth The Pickle, Holdeth The Lettuce") and two episodes in Season 4 ("Timeless!" and "The KaBlair! Witch Project"). It is based off the comic book series. A girl named Melanie McCay has an identity as the superhero JetCat, where she "flies like a jet and fights like a cat." The music was composed by Pat Irwin — a former member of The B-52s — who also worked on scores for Rocko's Modern Life and Pepper Ann.
A live-action segment by television producer, writer and director Scott Fellows, who later created the Nickelodeon show Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide. It was featured five times on the last two seasons — two episodes in Season 3 ("Great for Paper Training!" and "You'll Love Our Selection!") and three episodes in Season 4 ("A Nut in Every Bite!", "Now With More Flava'!" and "Just Chillin'"). A rabbit with an English accent named Race competes in races, but there is usually trouble caused by his human enemies, the Boolies (Zit and Winston). Other times, there are distress calls to deliver a new jar of food prior to a baby's feeding or rescuing the Royal Prince from a kidnapping. However, Race always wins despite these obstacles.
Pilots, which aired twice on KaBlam! to see how the episodic or serialized structure of a show would work out.
A cutout-photo animation segment co-created by Joanna Ferrone and Sue Rose, featured in the Season 1 episodes "Untitled" and "Comics of Champions," and then spun off into a Canadian series on the Fox Family Channel. A girl named Angela Anaconda, who is a social outcast, finds herself unpopular in school and always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. During each episode, a poem-like story is narrated by Angela. She often gets her revenge on the antagonist of that particular episode, but more often imagines her revenge on the antagonist in a highly exaggerated manner.
A segment combining live-puppetry and acting, stop motion animation and computer-based 2D and 3D animations, created by Gordon Clark and produced by Wild Brain. It is seen on the Season 2 episodes "Get Sam Donaldson's Mystery Bag" and "Cramming Cartoons Since 1627." Two tiki astronaut siblings ("tikinauts") from outer space crash-land on Earth after responding to a distress call, and they now try their best to escape the planet while keeping their cover from a girl who thinks they're puppets. Their spaceship looks like a grill and they can stack each other — while looking like a Tiki statue, hence the show's name — to become stronger.
A live-action/green screen segment created by director/designer Gregory Harrison. It appears on the episodes "KaBlam! James KaBlam!" (in Season 2) and "The New Class" (in Season 3). The plot revolves around the adventures of a young boy named Patch Head, who wears a watermelon shell on his head. He lives in a southern community with many zany inhabitants.
Pilots, which were pitched from independent creators to Nickelodeon so that they could be realized as a full series.
A traditional animation segment created by Gary Baseman (who later created the Disney series Teacher's Pet) and directed by American voice actor, animator, screenwriter and film director Tom McGrath. It only appeared in the Season 1 episode "Built for Speed!." A chameleon and hamster, both named Louie, try to get their owners' attention back from the newest pet, a dog.
A traditional animation segment created by Canadian animator and illustrator Graham Falk, appearing on the Season 3 episode "KaFun!". Eventually becoming a series on Teletoon, a yellow rabbit named Bunny deals with problems of modern life in the big city (closely based on Ottawa, Ontario, Canada). The show is full of modern life elements, including diets, vegetarianism, racism and environmentalism.
A traditional animation segment created by illustrator Dennis Messner, seen in the Season 4 episode "Under New Management." A dog named Stewy wishes to go to school by dressing up as a boy and treated like a human to fit in. Although a series was planned, it was later scrapped because of having a storyline similar to the Disney series Teacher's Pet.
Animated short stories, which aired once on KaBlam!. Many of them were made by artists working for Nickelodeon, MTV Networks, Viacom or were independent.
A traditional animation segment created by alternative comics artist, painter, writer and performer Krystine Kryttre, and directed by Robert Scull (a former crew member on Rocko's Modern Life). It was seen in the Season 1 episode "What the Astronauts Drink!". Anemia, a teenage goth, and her hyperactive tomboy friend, Iodine, venture to a haunted house in hopes of finding a ghost cat. Anemia's noisy brother, Dropsy, tags along.
- The Girl With Her Head Coming Off
A traditional animation segment by filmmaker Emily Hubley, which first appeared in the Snick Snack interstitials and was later shown on the Season 2 episode "Hand Cranked For Your Enjoyment!". A girl, Alice, has a crush on a boy named Elvin, but he prefers hanging around with another girl, Sedona Haze, thus making Alice envy. Like other animations by Hubley, it was drawn with a minimalistic, yet colorful style.
- Randall Flan's Incredible Big Top
A traditional animation segment co-created by writers/directors Mike de Seve and Brian Mulroney, featured on the Season 2 episode "Art + Science = Fun!". A circus led by ringmaster Randall Flea comes to the town of Trouble, but they protest the performance of Bravado, a boastful blue lion. However, as Bravado performs unintentionally, the crowd loves him after all.
A stop motion animation segment created by independent filmmaker Tom Megalis, seen on the Season 4 episode "Sasquatch-ercise!". Emmett gets a piece of cereal on his head and everyone thinks he has lice, leading to the entire city demanding his quarantine out of panic. Megalis had previously worked on segments in stop motion style during Season 1 episodes of The Amanda Show.
A traditional animation segment created by cartoonist Kevin Dougherty, featured on the Season 4 episode "Takes a Knockin' and Keeps Tick-Tockin'". A tomboyish girl, who goes by the name Fuzzball, lives in the mythical West Valley, Pennsylvania. She accidentally breaks her father's bowling trophy, and now has to win another one for him in a tournament, despite not knowing how to bowl very well.
- Garbage Boy
A 2.5D-animation segment created by illustrator Stephen Kroninger, seen on the Season 4 episode "In It To Win It!". A boy named Danny makes a pet dog with the garbage that he collects in an attempt to fight back against a bully whose pet snake is known for eating up other pets. This was loosely based on Kroninger's experiences with his father's trash-hauling business.
A computer-generated imagery (CGI) segment that is shown on the Season 4 episode "The Best of Both Worlds." A boy named Brutus McFrugus and his shizzagee, named Shiz, head to the Amazon to see another shizzagee, to prove that they aren't all extinct. While on their way, they are ambushed by the biologist Clive Khaki and have to escape him. This was the only CGI-rendered segment to be presented on KaBlam!.
A traditional animation segment co-created by Aaron White and Joe Rossu, where it appears in the Season 4 episode "Going the Extra Mile!". Three mutated, teen-aged superheroes try to stop a fashion villain from making everyone wear jumpsuits, which control their minds.
- Dave, Son of Hercules
A traditional animation segment created by Mark Marek and his animation studio Crank! It! Out!, Inc., where it appears on the Season 4 episode/series finale "Just Chillin'". It is the sequel of Marek's comic book "Hercules: Amongst the North Americans." A preteen-aged boy, Dave, is embarrassed by the destructive antics of his father, the legendary Hercules (the Roman equivalent of the Greek divine hero Heracles).
During the third and fourth seasons of KaBlam!, music videos with different animation styles were featured.
"Hockey Monkey" is a song co-authored by James Kochalka (under his stage name Jimminy Kroekel) and indie rock band The Zambonis. It can be found on The Zambonis' 1999 album More Songs About Hockey...and Buildings and Food and James Kochalka Superstar's 1997 album Monkey vs. Robot. A music video was produced by animation studio The Ink Tank, and featured in the Season 3 episode "You May Already Be a...KaBlammer!." Scientists, mothers, the National Guard and teachers are all searching for children, who are playing hockey with a monkey. The song later became the theme song for the short-lived FOX sitcom The Loop.
- Pizza Rocket
"Pizza Rocket" is a song by James Kochalka (under his stage name Jimminy Kroekel). It appears on James Kochalka Superstar's 1997 album Monkey vs. Robot. A music video was produced by animator Mark Marek and Crank! It! Out! Inc., seen in the Season 3 episode "KaFun!" (in the credits of the episode, it incorrectly identifies The Zambonis as being involved in the song). An astronaut in space tries to reach a large pizza with the help of a rocket.
- Doctor Worm
"Doctor Worm" is a song by alternative rock band They Might Be Giants. It first appeared on the 1998 primarily live album Severe Tire Damage, one of only three studio-recorded songs on it. Even though a music video had already been created for the song (directed by TMBG co-founder John Flansburgh, shot in black and white, featuring the band performing the song in an apartment office surrounded by medical paraphernalia), a new music video produced by The Ink Tank was featured in the Season 4 episode "Going the Extra Mile!" where an actual worm in medical attire seeks the respect of a musical group who is searching for a percussionist.
- Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun Is A Mass Of Incandescent Gas)
"Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun Is A Mass Of Incandescent Gas)" is a song co-written by Hy Zaret and Lou Singer, first performed by folk singer-songwriter Tom Glazer on his 1959 album Space Songs. It was then covered by alternative rock band They Might Be Giants, appearing on their 1993 EP of the same name. A music video (that uses TMBG's version from their 1998 primarily live album Severe Tire Damage) produced by animation studio The Ink Tank was featured in the Season 4 episode "Under New Management" where a group of students learn about the sun from a scientist.
List of all KaBlam! episodes, including the specials: List of KaBlam! episodes
Season 1 started off with mostly regular segments on its episodes, which were Sniz and Fondue, Action League Now!, Prometheus and Bob, and Life with Loopy. The Off-Beats was also another regular segment that was shown (it filled in for Sniz and Fondue, Prometheus and Bob or Life with Loopy). Other cartoon segments, such as Surprising Shorts, Angela Anaconda, and The Louie and Louie Show were featured.
At the beginning of the intro, a voice-over of a man shouts "Wake up the masses!" and the opening starts out with a hawk crashing into the camera while the camera pans through a forest and goes underwater (during this, announcer Bert Pence says "Assume the crash position. Hold on tight, take a deep breath, for a new kind of cartoon show.") Then the camera travels to Egypt where Egyptians dance and the Great Sphinx swipes at the camera. The camera then heads up to space where two kids in a rocket, the planets, stars, asteroids, and UFOs are seen. After the U.S. Capitol gets destroyed by two UFOs, it then pans to Godzilla destroying a city. It then pans to an open street comic book store and lands on the KaBlam! comic book, featuring the Flesh, Stinky Diver, Sniz, Fondue, and Loopy on it (Pence then says "It's KaBlam!, where cartoons and comics collide. Now to take you inside and turn the pages, here are your hosts, Henry and June."). The book is then opened by Henry and June, in hand-drawn animation. After they do a bunch of random dances, they flip into the comic book and the episode starts. The ending theme to the show in the majority of the episodes is a quirky, upbeat tune similar to The Toasters' song "Skaternity," otherwise on episodes "Not Just For People Anymore!" and "All Purpose KaBlam!," it is an extended version of the intro theme song, similar to The Toasters' song "2-Tone Army."
After seven more episodes of The Off-Beats, it was taken off KaBlam!, the first of the regular segments to end. One-time segments were brought in such as Randall Flan's Incredible Big Top, and The Girl with Her Head Coming Off. The Adventures of Patchhead, a live-action/green screen segment, appears once, as well. The Brothers Tiki, a segment combining live-puppetry and acting, stop motion animation and computer-based 2D and 3D animations, appears twice. Henry and June are now drawn differently (cel-shaded/computer-generated imagery) and their voices are deeper.
The opening to the show is not changed, however, when the camera pans on the KaBlam! comic book, the cover is different from Season 1 (Thundergirl, Stinky Diver, Prometheus, Bob, Loopy, Sniz, and Fondue are seen). Henry and June dance the macarena and then arm-in-arm. The ending theme to the show is changed (it is similar to The Toasters' song "Everything You Said Has Been A Lie") and is used for every episode from now on, with the exception of Season 2 episode "Tastes Like Paper!" and Season 4 episode "Sasquatch-ercise!."
After four more appearances of Sniz and Fondue, it is the second of the regular segments to end its run on KaBlam!. JetCat and Race Rabbit are introduced and appear infrequently. The Adventures of Patchhead makes its second and final appearance. Songs by comic book artist, writer and rock musician James Kochalka called "Hockey Monkey" and "Pizza Rocket" also appear. Henry and June are drawn a little differently and their voices are slightly deeper.
The opening intro has a number of changes. After the camera comes up out of the water, it goes directly to the White House scene. After the Godzilla scene, the camera pans toward a school instead of the comic book stand. The camera scares a bird off that is perched on a window as it enters a classroom. It pans by a frightened teacher and through a number of students. It stops as it hits a student reading a KaBlam! comic book. On the cover of the comic book, it shows a child who is ecstatic. Henry and June then open the comic book, dance, and the episode starts. Announcer Bert Pence's line, as he introduces the show, is slightly changed, saying "Hold on tight, take a deep breath, for a cartoon cramaganza!". The ending theme is not changed from Season 2.
Regular segments Life with Loopy and Prometheus and Bob, as well as minor segments JetCat and Race Rabbit all air their last episodes. Action League Now! ends too, but is spun off into a standalone series in 2001 (it would be canceled the following year). One-off segments frequently appeared such as Emmett Freedy, Fuzzball, Garbage Boy, The Shizzagee, The Little Freaks, Stewy the Dog Boy and Dave, Son of Hercules. Music videos appear twice in two separate episodes; they were "Doctor Worm" and "Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun Is A Mass Of Incandescent Gas)," songs performed by They Might Be Giants.
The opening intro is not changed, along with the ending theme.
Four television specials were featured during KaBlam!'s run, but these did not count as actual episodes. Each of them were only broadcast once, with the exception of "An Off-Beats Valentine's."
All times below are in Eastern.
- "A Very Special Action League Now! Special" aired during a SNICK block on March 28, 1998 at 8:30 p.m. This featured a brand new Action League Now! short film, "In the Whine of Fire" (The first two-part episode in Action League Now! history to air on a single block as it had not been seen before on either All That or KaBlam!) and a rerun of a previous short, "The Wrath of Spotzilla," the latter had appeared before on the KaBlam! Season 1 episode "Not Just for People Anymore!".
- "Life with Loopy Birthday Gala-Bration" aired at 8 p.m. on September 25, 1998. In the style of a ceremony, the stop motion animated segment Life with Loopy was featured with a half-hour block of previously-aired short films.
- "An Off-Beats Valentine's" aired during the Nickel-O-Zone block on February 12, 1999 at 8 p.m. It was shown again at 1 p.m. on February 14 of the same year, and once more at 2:30 p.m. on February 13, 2000. The half-hour episode features all of The Off-Beats characters getting ready, in one way or another, for Valentine's Day.
- The Henry and June Show was aired during the Nickel-O-Zone block on June 25, 1999 at 8 p.m., in an attempt to get KaBlam! hosts Henry and June out of the comic book world and into their own stand-up comedy show with a studio audience, a live band and special guests. They also go to school to tackle hard subjects.
Syndication, Home Media and Streaming in the USA
Reruns of KaBlam! continued to show on Nickelodeon until December 7, 2001 as a part of the "Totally Twisted Telly" block. On May 1, 2002, the channel Nicktoons was launched, and the channel began airing reruns, though not all episodes were aired due to copyrights with certain segments or new standards and practices that had gone into effect on the network.
During commercial breaks on Nicktoons, various segments from the show would play under the "KaBlam! Presents" label, not including anything of Henry and June or some of the music videos. In August 2005, Nicktoons changed its appearance and schedule, by removing many shows in the process including KaBlam!, although the interstitials remained until late 2007. The show made an appearance in November 24, 2007 on The 100 Greatest Nicktoons Episodes, a countdown voted on by viewers on Nick.com, featuring "Your Real Best Friend!."
In an August 2016 promo for The Splat, snippets of Action League Now! as well as Henry and June were seen, which gave the viewer the idea the show could possibly air again. The show then aired on television for the first time in almost 10 years on The Splat during the week of Oct. 3, 2016 (Oct. 8 and Oct. 9). Later reruns appeared on TeenNick from October 8, 2016, to August 19, 2017.
In August 2018, KaBlam! could be streamed on NickSplat via VRV, with 37 episodes made available until August 29, 2020, when Nick discontinued the service to prepare for CBS All Access (later called Paramount+). Since March 24, 2021, KaBlam! is available for streaming on Paramount+, an American subscription video on-demand over-the-top service, although not every episode is available.
Syndication, Home Media and Streaming in other Territories
Main Article: KaBlam! in other countries
A French-dubbed version was broadcast in France on television channel GameOne (Télévision Par Satellite), and other versions of the show were on other Nickelodeon channels around Europe. It also was shown in the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2000, and in Poland from 1999 to 2002. The show played on YTV in Canada.