A sad day for animation fans in general and for Scooby Doo aficionados in particular: A scant few months after this die-hard Mystery Gang fan reported on the passing of Scooby Doo co-creator Joe Ruby at the age of 87, news broke late yesterday that Scoob’s other father-creator extraordinaire Ken Spears- has passed away at the age of 82, per our fellow Scooby fans over at Bloody Disgusting.
Since the halcyon days of the late 1960s (1969 to be exact), Spears’ and Ruby’s simple yet very effective cartoon Great Dane and his stoner best pal Shaggy, along with their band of friends and allies – Velma, Daphne and Fred – have been relentlessly solving crime capers that range from the Miner 49er to the Ozark Witch. All of us as children (and many of us into adulthood) followed right along with the Mystery Gang as they bounced from one mystery to the next, teaching us important life lessons along the way. It’s a legacy that, in 2020, is still bearing fruit: Ongoing comic books and television shows along with feature films and enough bric-a-brac in the form of board games, clothing and commemorative collectables to sate even Shaggy and Scooby’s insurmountable appetites are still counted as a constant and present friend for many of us.
In a statement to Variety Magazine, Kevin Spears said the following about his father’s life and legacy: “Ken will forever be remembered for his wit, his story-telling, his loyalty to family, and his strong work ethic. Ken has not only made a lasting impression on his family, but he has touched the lives of many as co-creator of Scooby Doo. Ken has been a role model for us throughout his life and he will continue to live on in our hearts.”
The man who would bring laughter and love to a trillion television sets around the globe was born Charles Kenneth Spears back on March 12, 1938. Befriending the son of animation production legend William Hanna, Spears eventually landed a job with Hanna’s nigh popular animation house Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1959 as a sound editor. But Spears, along with his cohort and friend Joe Ruby, had aspirations that rose beyond sound editing. Ruby and Spears became a writing team with little equal, creating such kid favorite cartoons as Dynomutt, Jabberjaw and Dog Wonder. Of course it’s ultimately with the team’s creation of Scooby Doo where their legacy ultimately bloomed and flourished.
“Warner Bros. Animation is saddened to learn of the passing of Ken Spears and we send our warmest thoughts to his loved ones,” president of Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios Sam Register said in a statement. “He was a true innovator in the industry whose gifts of humor and storytelling continue to delight audiences. You cannot find a screen in the world that has not played a version of Scooby-Doo. We continue to be inspired by his work at Warner Bros. Animation and are honored to carry on the legacy of his beloved characters.”
Vents wishes to extend its sincerest condolences to Ken’s surviving family and friends.