Lost in Time at WHAMMY! Analog Media

Hammerman cartoon starring MC Hammer from 1991 on VHS at Whammy! Analog Media in Echo Park. (Photo: Liz Ohanesian)
At Whammy! Analog Media, I learned that there was an M.C. Hammer cartoon. (Photo: Liz O.)

On a drizzly, Sunday afternoon, I half-forgot about what I was looking for inside WHAMMY! I was semi-crouched in a small aisle, scooting out of the way of passersby while scanning the spines of VHS releases of old cartoons. There was the Charlotte’s Web movie that I still vividly recall seeing multiple times on TV as a kid. (Was it one of the Family Film Festival movies? Do anyone else who spent ‘80s weekends watching KTLA remember?) Two Care Bears cassettes were filed next to something called Buttons & Rusty, which I don’t remember at all. 

Charlotte's Web (1973) and Care Bears on VHS at Whammy! Analog Media in Echo Park. (Photo: Liz Ohanesian)
Charlotte’s Web and Care Bears! (Photo: Liz O.)

I also did not recall that there was an M.C. Hammer cartoon at some point, but there it was on a shelf between G.I. Joe and The Incredible Hulk. There was a treasure trove of kids TV here that spanned decades. The Snow Queen, which perhaps I should have picked up, is a lovely Soviet animated feature from 1957 that was released in the U.S., dubbed into English and with an intro from Art Linkletter. I caught it streaming somewhere during the lockdown Christmas and was enchanted by the design of the Snow Queen herself. The Fabulous Funnies, with newspaper comic character Broom Hilda, was from the late 1970s and featured the voice of June Foray, one of the voice acting greats who was also in The Snow Queen, as well Rocky and Bullwinkle and loads of other films and shows that are likely tucked into these stacks. 

Snow Queen (1957) on VHS at Whammy Analog Media in Echo Park (Photo: Liz Ohanesian)
I love this Snow Queen film from 1957, but didn’t get it. 100% recommend that someone else picks it up. (Photo: Liz O.)

I’m not a VHS collector, but I do have a VCR and a small assortment of tapes that I’ve amassed since my ‘90s teenage years, if not earlier. I’ve long been a believer in hanging onto physical media. For me, this goes back to the 1997 20th anniversary re-release of the first Star Wars trilogy, which is perhaps only a minor travesty now considering some of the shit that franchise has dropped in the decades since. Because one of my parents had the good sense to pick up the VHS box set of the trilogy that came out two years prior, Han would always shoot first in my universe. I still have the box set. 

Well before streaming was a thing, I had an understanding that media can be altered after the fact and the version you love can disappear. That’s become a big talking point in the past year, when people realized that, for the past 20+ years, they’ve been duped into believing that everything is online (ha!) and that the internet is forever (haha!).  So, for Southern California News Group, I wrote about why you should bust out your old media players. 

Click here to read “Sick of Streaming? Maybe It’s Time to Pull Out Your CD, DVD and VHS Players” (gift link)

Fabulous Funnies (1978) with Broom Hilda on VHS at Whammy! Analog Media in Echo Park (Photo: Liz Ohanesian)
Broom Hilda on VHS at Whammy Analog Media (Photo: Liz O.)

WHAMMY! was part of that story, which is why I mention it here. Located in Echo Park, WHAMMY! Analog Media is a shop dedicated to physical media, primarily VHS tapes and a microcinema with eclectic programming. (Check out Museum of Home Video‘s screening of Sparks rarities there in April.) They also host VCR Maintenance workshops and are releasing their first VHS tape, an experimental animation compilation called Red Giants, in April. I like to stop by WHAMMY! when they hold their VHS Swap events, which bring together different vendors with a wild assortment of tapes. 

It was during the VHS Swap last Sunday that I stopped by looking for a couple specific movies. The shop was full of people scanning the shelves. On the microcinema screen, an Everything Is Terrible! mix played with songs/videos warning kids of “stranger danger” and reminding them to take naps. I got distracted and ended up buying what wasn’t on my list instead of the two movies that brought me there in the first place. It happens. 

George of the Jungle on VHS at Whammy! Analog Media in Echo Park (Photo: Liz Ohanesian)
Could not resist getting a George of the Jungle tape and Whammy! (Photo: Liz O.)

I got distracted at the rack of old cartoons more than once. Sealed copies of George of the Jungle tapes! I don’t think I’ve seen that show since elementary school. Rocky and Bullwinkle too! There were so many to choose from that it was overwhelming. I picked up one with Boris and Natasha, who were always my favorite characters. Heckle and Jeckle?! I was looking at the tape when someone browsing next to me mentioned that it looked cool. I said that I hadn’t seen it since I was a kid, but remembered it as funny. “Do you want it?” I asked. When the response was, “Sure,” I was relieved. I had to exhibit some restraint.

MGM Cartoon Magic with Tex Avery cartoons on VHS at Whammy! Analog Media in Echo Park (Photo: Liz Ohanesian)
Tex Avery cartoons on VHS at Whammy! Analog Media in Echo Park. (Pic: Liz O.)

Or not. I also found a compilation cassette, MGM Cartoon Magic. Just the other day, my husband and I were talking about Tex Avery cartoons. He wondered if there were any compilations of his cartoons that aren’t Looney Tunes streaming. I hadn’t seen any, I responded. “They used to release compilations of his stuff when we were kids,” I added. And this comp happened to have three Avery cartoons on it. 

I made my purchases and headed out onto the gloomy streets of Echo Park before I could end up with a massive stack of tapes, but I think I’m going head back soon and see if I can find those two movies that I was searching for in the first place. 

Liz O. is an L.A.-based writer and DJ. Read her recently published work and check out her upcoming gigs.