Prior to the animated series, but concurrent with the puppet show, Clampett created a comic-book series of Beany and Cecil adventures for Dell comics. These remain one of a few rare instances of a classic animator's drawings in the context of sequential comic art.
Beany and Cecil, the animated version, ran in prime time during the 1962 TV season, and the 26 shows (including 78 cartoons) were then repeated on Saturday mornings for the next five years. The cartoon featured Beany, a boy, and Cecil the Sea-Sick Sea Serpent embarking on a series of adventures, often to discover ancient civilizations and artifacts. These escapades were rife with cartoon slapstick and countless puns.
The show was revived in 1988 by DiC. Only eight episodes were ever made, and only five episodes ever aired. This incarnation of the show was produced and directed by John Kricfalusi, who would later create Ren and Stimpy.
Beany, a young, cherub-faced boy with a propeller beanie that allows him to fly (the "Beanycopter", complete with helmet and propeller, became a popularly marketed novelty). Beany is a good-hearted, upbeat lad, and is somewhat obnoxious at the same time. In most episodes, Beany would be kidnapped by the villain, crying "Help, Cecil! Help!" to which Cecil would reply "I'm comin', Beany-boy!" as he raced to the rescue. This has become something of a catchphrase. Beany was voiced by Jim MacGeorge in the original animated series, and by Mark Hildreth in the 1988 revival.
Cecil, (or "Cecil the seasick sea-serpent") a large green sea serpent with a slight lisp, is fiercely loyal to Beany but not terribly bright. Cecil's trusting good nature invariably winds up with him being taken advantage of by the bad people, and he often ends up absorbing a great amount of physical abuse (getting smashed flat, losing his head, having his skin burned off, being shattered to pieces), all within the laws of cartoon physics. The end of Cecil's tail was never seen; it always extended off-screen, or was hidden behind an obstacle. This is likely a joking reference to the original Cecil, a hand puppet whose tail was likewise hidden (because it didn't exist). Cecil was voiced by Irv Shoemaker in the original series, and by Billy West in the revival.
Cecil also has a superhero alter-ego known as Super-Cecil. In this guise, he wears a modified Superman shirt (complete with cape).
Captain Horatio Huffenpuff, also called "Uncle Captain", is Beany's kindly uncle and the Captain of the Leakin' Lena, which takes the pals from one destination to the other. The Captain is always willing to instruct Beany and Cecil on their latest assignment, but refuses to put himself in any personal jeopardy, locking himself below deck for most of the episodes. Uncle Captain was voiced by Jim MacGeorge in both series.
Crowy, the navigator of the Leakin' Lena. He is a crow, and unsurprisingly spends most of his time in the crow's nest. He speaks in a squawky voice and has a tendency to faint dead away whenever the ship encounters some sort of hazard.
Dishonest John, the villain of the piece. He is dressed like a Simon Legree character, and he is constantly scheming to foil Beany and Cecil's adventures. His catch phrase is a sinister "Nya ha ha!". Whenever Dishonest John's schemes are revealed to the heroes, Cecil tends to respond with an aghast "What the heck! D.J., you dirty guy!". When Dishonest John receives his inevitable come-uppance, it is usually just as painful as the abuse Cecil has endured in the rest of the episode. Dishonest John also has a supervillain alter-ego known as The Bilious Beetle. In this guise, he can fly under his own power and sports a painful stinger. "D.J." also appeared disguised on occasion as the mechanical robotic octopus "Billy The Squid" usually in haphazard attempts to simulate seastorms to scare away the crew of the Leakin' Lena when on a treasure hunt. He was voiced by Irv Shoemaker in the original series, and by Maurice LaMarche in the revival.
Go Man Van Gogh, a stereotypical cartoon beatnik whom lives in the jungle and often paints various things with his paintbrush, including paintings, vines to swing on, and fake backdrops to fool enemies (ala Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner). He also often plays a set of bongo drums, and scat-sings and speaks with various beatnik stereotype slang. Though he did not appear in many episodes, he was somewhat of a recurring character. He was originally voiced by Lord Buckley, but was replaced with Scatman Crothers (famous for voicing Hong Kong Phooey) following Buckley's passing.