Clutch Cargo: 'Syncro-Vox' Animation Was An Unlikely Hit

By Emily Morenz
Source: YouTube

Airing in 1959-60, Clutch Cargo was unlike any other cartoon, thanks to the miracle of "Syncro-Vox" animation. In Syncro-Vox, a human talking mouth is superimposed over a still of a cartoon character's face, so that the lips move and the character seems to be talking -- sort of. Syncro-Vox wasn't exactly convincing, even by the standards of cartoons; in truth, the technique looked like a cheap workaround, which it was. Fifty years later, the Clutch Cargo look is an anomaly, a footnote in the history of animation, a noble effort to make a cartoon on a budget. But many of the things we remember fondly aren't necessarily good -- in fact, it is their weirdness that makes them endearing. Way back in the late '50s, someone had the half-baked idea to layer a human mouth overtop a cartoon face, and Clutch Cargo was born.