Plump, glossy red lips and bright, shiny white teeth against a black background has become a recognizable icon for the camp SF musical The Rocky Horror Picture show (audience participants at midnight viewings frequently yell “Lips!” at their appearance at the opening of the film); a promotional poster for the film featured the lips and the tagline “A Different Set of Jaws”. Rocky sure may have become synonymous with those disembodied lips, but where did they come from?
There’s a good chance they may have been inspired by early animated cartoons created by Cambria Productions that used the “Syncro-Vox” technique that superimposed human lips (speaking dialogue) over still frame images. This and other “trick” techniques (moving the cell itself, moving the camera, cutting in live action shots) were used to produce very inexpensive animation.
The first of these was Clutch Cargo (a show I was privileged to watch growing up and now cringe at the thought of….it was VERY steeped in WASPy American views of the world). The second show produced using these techniques was Space Angel.
The show was created by the same person who created the live action show Space Patrol (not to be confused with the other “Space Patrol” shows, lol), and featured a crew of three aboard the Starduster ship, the titular Space Angel Scott McCloud, his (naturally) Scottish engineer pal Taurus and his communications expert Crystal Mace (Uhura before Uhura).
The show was produced in the same five minute segments as Clutch Cargo had been, with the concept being a station could show one episode every day of the week, combine them for a recap and play the conclusion on Saturday, all in a half-hour time frame.
The theme music comes from Roger Corman’s War of the Satellites film; one episode features a space-docking sequence that would pre-figure the Pan Am liner docking with the wheeled space station in 2001: A Space Odyssey.