You’re The Inspiration Part 3 – “The Small Screen before Kindergarten”


            I know it’s been a little bit since I did an installment of this series of essays. All I can say is I’ve had other things on my mind and a lot of work to do in the real world and yes that is every bit as awful as it sounds. But now my freaks and freakettes things seem to have calmed down and I can continue my Peabody Award Winning series (No awards actually won) of essays.


            Some of my earliest memories involve the television. There are a lot of people who like to tell you that television stifles creativity, I like to think I am living breathing proof this claim is complete bullshit. That being said I am a parent of six now and like every parent I am kind of a hypocrite when it comes to things like television watching. I do my best to limit their time.

            Yeah I know… I’m the devil.

            Before my first year of school in 1981, I was the standard child television watcher in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. I was a Sesame Street kid from the very beginning. As a matter of fact I learned to pee in the potty watching Sesame Street with my best friend Jason. We’d drag our potty chairs out into the living room, my mom babysat Jason before we started kindergarten, and watch Burt and Ernie with our underwear around our ankles.

            I am sure there is a lesson in that but I can’t identify it.

            Along with the street I watched Mr. Rogers, The Great Space Coaster, The Electric Company, some oddball shows from Canada (The Big Friendly Giant & Mr. Dressup), and a distinctly Detroit based local show called Hot Fudge. If you have never seen that show you need to stop reading this essay, go to YouTube, search for the show, and watch it now!

            I’ll wait.

            Did you watch it?

            Was your fucking mind blown?

            Yeah my friends and enemies that was the kind of stuff young josh, who still wore an eye patch and goggles, ingested on a regular basis. Are you really still wondering why my views on the world are so twisted? But damn there was a long time between Hot Fudge and Adult Swim and that was not a good thing.

            Those shows are well and good for laying the foundations of inspiration but they are not the fare which eventually wound its way into my creative fabric. The show which did that first, and maybe the best, was Thundarr the Barbarian.

            Thundarr was the single entertainment venue which made me love the Post Apocalyptic genre. That’s not even accurate, Thundarr made me obsessed with the idea of life after the destruction and fall of our civilization. Add to that the boobs on Princess Ariel and there really is no doubting the effect this show had on me.

            If you don’t know the story of Thundarr let me give it to you in a fast handy dandy bulleted list (because I know how much you love those).

{C}·        In 1994 (The year I graduated High School) a runaway plant passes between the earth and the moon, disintegrating the moon and giving the makers of the Time Machine remake a cool visual to steal.

{C}·        The story takes place 2000 years in the future on a mutated earth filled with monsters, aliens, wizards, and super science. (Yes it does seem to be an influence on one of my favorite Role Playing Games of all time).

{C}·        The humans in the world are mostly pathetic survivors who are hopefully overmatched by the wizards and monsters.

{C}·        The setting is filled with the ruins of the past and the creations of the future. The one that really nailed me hard was when they went to the site of Mt. Rushmore and you realized the northern great plains were now an inland sea and Mt. Rushmore was now a cliff face overlooking the water.

{C}·        Unlike many kids show of the era it was the characters that were the heart of the show. Although there were a few arcing storylines it was the character driven aspect which made it unique. And who were the main characters?

{C}o   Thundarr – He is the hero and a barbarian. A former slave gladiator who escapes the arena and with his magical Sun Sword and the help of his two best friends travels the world helping the humans and good thinking nonhumans.

{C}o   Ooklah the Mok – Mok’s are a race of humanoid with a leonine bent to their physiology. They are very intelligent and get on well with humans. Ooklah was also a slave warrior and escaped with Thundarr. The two are the best of friends and would die for one another.

{C}o   Princess Ariel - Ariel was raised in a more civilized setting and is a historian along with being a sorceress.  Ariel was the first female character I remember thinking “She is a complete badass” she was more powerful than either of the warriors in the show and on several occasions the day would have been lost without her.

            I can point to this show as unequivocally being the first time programming weaved its way into my creative sphere. I can trace many of the tropes I incorporated into my game writing and then into my fiction writing to Thundarr.

            Now of course Thundarr was far from the only show that influenced me before I discovered girl, boys, boobies, and butts. But before the amazing arrival of a certain Real American Hero on the screen it was the one that stuck with me and caused me to create. I would imagine my own stories involving Thundarr and the characters the show introduced. I continued the storylines the show started and never finished. And always the “Swamp Urchin” returned to help them fight a returning King Kong over and over again.


            That’s it for this one. Next time we will delve into GI Joe, Transformers, Master of the Universe, Thundercats, and Voltron. I am a child of the 80’s and by the time cartoons of the 90’s were the rage I had other things on my mind… naughty things!

            Until next time boils and ghouls I leave you to find a pixie hand job and to continue the investigation into naked Mego Spiderman. We have to crack this case and I am considering asking Mathew McConaughey for help. Because if JKL can’t solve it nobody can, and remember if you are in a tight spot just yell…


“Ariel, Ooklah, RIDE!!!”





Josh Hilden

When I was born on August 3, 1976 in the great state of Michigan the hills shook and the sky was swept with fire. These were portents of the greatness for my future that was written in the stars ... I'm still waiting for that greatness. My name is Josh Hilden and I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a son, a friend. These are all important things but at my core I am an artist and the medium that I work in is words. I am a writer of Horror, Science Fiction, Drama, and Role Playing Games. I worked for Palladium Books ( and Third Eye Games ( before striking out on my own and founding a small press publishing company Gorillas with Scissors Press ( I also work for Fat Goblin Games ( In the everyday world I can be found spending time with my family and friends. I have been married to my lovely wife Karen since 1996 and we have six amazing children. We tend to be a family of unabashed geeks and gamers who were geek before geek was chic. If you are really interested in me I am very active online with a personal and a writing blog along with a plethora of social media outlets. If you have any questions or just want to chat hit me up!