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Stuff about early Hanna-Barbera cartoons

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    What’s with that Ranger Smith? He’s happy one week and angry the next. Maybe it’s from being cooped up in the woods for so long. Oh, well. We get the two sides of Mr. Ranger in the Sunday Yogi Bear newspaper comics from 50 years ago this month. He appears in three out of four of them. Yogi also shows why he’s “smarter than the average bear” with some ingenuity.

    As usual, I urge you to go to Mark Kausler’s web site where he’ll have two-row versions (and maybe three) in full colour from his personal collection.


    Guest appearances are always fun, and the writer works them into the November 7th comic, where Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw and Baba Looey show up for a game of baseball. The artist gives us various depth levels in a number of the panels and solid poses on Yogi. The effect lettering in the last row is nice, too.


    Yeah, Yogi, if I were you, I’d get fed up with Ranger Smith’s foul moods, too. He’s so angry he doesn’t even rhyme in the November 14th comic (see the burn drawing, last panel, second row). A Yogi heel click again this month. Notice how the artist has some white space in the final panel to make the rope attached to the water tower more visible.


    Mr. Ranger’s in a good mood in the top row of the November 21st comic. Observe the squirrel in the upper left corner of the first row and the rabbit next to Yogi. The rabbit has a more modern, stylised design, kind of like the White Rabbit in the 1966 Alice Hanna-Barbera special. Our favourite bear uses his inventiveness to save the dance for Peg, Mrs. Vicki Ranger and another young lady.


    While the “reveal” gag at the end of the November 28th comic is good, my favourite is the throwaway in the first panel where the rabbit feeds Yogi’s worm bait to a bird. It’s a good thing the letters on that sign are made of something that floats. Boo Boo’s in all four comics this month. Where’s the grouchy Ranger Smith when the canoeist’s life needs saving? I don’t get the line in the middle row, second panel. Why is the canoeist in “double trouble”? Or is the writer stretching for a rhyme?

    Next month, Yogi meets up with a crook, modern art, beavers, a rhyming “general” and snow (Shouldn’t he be hibernating? Oh. There’d be no comics if he were).

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  • 11/07/15--06:51: Yakky Doodle in 'Oh Duckter'
  • You’ve seen it in cartoons before. The plot quickly veers or builds and it’s funny because it doesn’t make sense, but there’s still a thread of logic to it. There’s a great example of that in the Yakky Doodle cartoon Oh Duckter.

    Chopper is chasing Fibber Fox on foot through a hospital ward. They exit from the scene and re-emerge 12 frames (half a second) later chasing each other in wheel chairs. A few seconds later, there’s a siren sound. “Uh, oh,” says Chopper. “A cop.”

    It all seems logical. It makes sense for someone zipping along in a wheeled vehicle to get pulled over for speeding. But in this context it makes absolutely no sense. And that’s what makes it funny. Add to it Maltese’s dialogue after Fibber Fox, disguised as a traffic cop (with a police motorcycle helmet), “pulls over” Chopper.



    Chopper: Aw, what’s wrong, officer?
    Fibber: Doing 90 in a hospital zone, that’s what.
    Chopper: Gosh, I didn’t mean any harm. I was chasin’ a fox.
    Fibber: Well, we can just add that to your criminal record. Fox hunting is out of season. Let’s see your driver’s license.
    Chopper: Well, uh, I haven’t got one.
    Fibber: Shame, shame. Aren’t you the one. You’re going to have the book thrown at you.
    Chopper: I am?
    Fibber: Oh, yes.
    (book hits Chopper in the face).
    Of course, there are such things as hospital zones and fox hunting, but not in the context that Maltese uses them. That’s where the comedy comes in. No time is wasted between lines. The sequence’s pace is quick, making it funnier.

    And instead of the thrown book being figurative, as it’s usually used, it’s literal in this case. The old switch is a guaranteed laugh if it’s done fast enough and you don’t have time to think about it.

    (A side note: as this is a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, I should point out Chopper and Fibber run past the same door in the background seven times, Chopper rolls past the same table and flower pot 14 times, then Fibber zooms past the same door eight times. Why the door is replaced by a table in Chopper’s scene, since they’re supposedly chasing each other, must be for esthetic reasons and not those of logic).

    Fibber Fox gets some of his humour from dialogue extensions. He’ll take a line a character has just spoken and use it for his next line. An example in this cartoon: after Yakky hands Chopper a bone and says “Bone appetite,” the observing Fibber adds “It’ll be duck appetite as soon as I get that mutt out of the way.” And later, when Chopper growls out his stock-in-trade suggestion to Yakky to close his itsy-bitsy eyes so he won’t see the pounding the fox will get, Fibber tells the audience, “I think I’d better leave before Chopper closes mine.

    Other bits of dialogue:

    Fibber (diagnosing Chopper, disguised as a nurse): Well, it’s a clear case of Relapso Escondido.
    (Yowp note: Escondido is a town in California).

    Chopper: Hello, nurse. Remember me?
    Fibber: Well, let me see. Did we meet in Paris? Or Yaphank? Or was it in the Casbah?
    (Yowp note: Only New Yorker Maltese would include the name of a little town on Long Island in his dialogue, especially one that likely has extremely little in common with Paris or the Casbah).

    Fibber (after getting bopped by Chopper’s arm cast): As Quick Draw McGraw would say, “Ooooh. That smarts.”
    The plot revolves around Chopper being in hospital after coming out on the losing end of a fight with a cat. Yakky is bringing him a bone as a present. Fibber’s foiled in his attempt to capture Yakky for lunch, despite a couple of disguises to fool the protective Chopper. Finally, Fibber’s done in by running into an elevator which, conveniently for the plot, turns out not to be there and dropping an unspecified number of floors.

    The final scene features Chopper and Yakky visiting the injured Fibber in the same hospital. Yakky’s brought a present—a bone. Chopper puts up a fist to emphasize that Fibber had better enjoy it—or else.

    Fibber: Ah, yes. I see what you mean. (Gnaws on bone). A bone is just what I’ve always wanted. (turns to audience) But not very much. (resumes gnawing, stops and turns to audience). Yechhh.


    With Fibber chomping on the bone, the cartoon fades out.

    Allen Wilzbach is the animator. Some of his violence drawings...



    Here’s how Wilzbach handles Fibber zipping out of a scene. Consecutive frames.



    Fernando Montealegre painted the backgrounds from Dick Bickenbach’s layouts. Here’s Yakky strolling in Monty’s lone outdoor settings.



    Only four characters take part in this one: a doctor is played by Daws Butler; Fibber, Chopper and Yakky are voiced by their usual actors. The sound cutter picks Flintstones music for some of the accompanying score.

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  • 11/11/15--07:00: Collecting the Flintstones
  • Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera needed more cash to finance their growing cartoon studio than the money they were getting for the cartoons themselves. The solution? Merchandising. Soon, Hanna-Barbera started licensing all kinds of comic and colouring books, games and puzzles, toys and dolls. Fans of 1960 seemingly couldn’t get enough. There was so much produced, a book documenting it has been written by Tim Hollis. Read about it HERE.

    That merchandise has become memorabilia and fans still can’t get enough. Hanna-Barbera collectors proudly share pictures of their prize possessions, and chat about them, on social media. How different were things way back in those pre-internet days (some of our younger readers may not be able to fathom such a time). One collector who looked to share his love of his collection with someone other than his wife told his story to the Alleghany Times on June 19, 1994.


    He’s a FLINTCLONE
    Hopewell Township collector leaves no stone unturned in quest for Bedrock souvenirs

    By Debra Utterback
    Times Staff
    Either you yabba-dabba-doo or you yabba-dabba-don’t.
    Pete Pesut, Jr. yabba-dabba-does.
    Loves the Flintstones, that is.
    The Hopewell Township man goes pre-historic ape over the modern, Stone Age family. He collects just about anything related to Fred Flintstones and friends.
    “I’m like a little kid back in my childhood,” says Pete, a 34-year-old postal carrier for the Aliquippa post office. “It’s a fun collection.”
    Stuffed Fred dolls rest on the back of an easy chair in the corner of the basement of his Spring Street home. Ceramic Fred and Barney Rubble banks keep guard under the TV. Dozens of drinking glasses and juice jars bearing Flintstones faces clutter a table.
    “This is my Bedrock basement,” says Pesut, who began his stash of Flintstones knickknacks about 10 years ago—long before the hype of the live-action movie with John Goodman thrust the cartoon family into the spotlight again.
    The small basement is swarming with color. Hundreds of Freds, dressed in traditional orange-spotted tunics with bluish-green tied, take the form of dolls, banks, keychains and other toys in the room.
    Likenesses of Wilma, Pebbles and the Rubbles—Barney, Betty and Bamm-Bamm—appear on beach towels, lunch boxes, and alarm clock and on the faces of more than a half dozen watches.
    Pete also treasures his Flintstones dominoes, a Fred bowling game and blow-up punching bags. An inch-high Dino toy that rolls across the floor is the smallest souvenir. A 3-foot cardboard cutout of Fred is the largest.
    Pete proudly shows off a smiling Dino Halloween costume made by his mother-in-law. To Pete, Dino is hot, Barney is not.
    “I tell everyone there’s only one original purple dinosaur—that’s Dino,” he says.
    The Flintstones fan credits his own Wilma—blond-haired Tricia—with helping him start his collection. He winces at the memory.
    “I’ll show you the piece that started it all,” Pete says, lifting a small clothing hook bearing Fred’s picture. His wife gave him the hook, which sits in its original plastic wrap, as a joke because he always said Fred Flintstone was a favorite.
    Tricia, a secretary at St. Titus School in Aliquippa, never realized the token would lead to a cartoon compulsion.
    She never dreamed they would be dining repeatedly at Denny’s restaurant, Wendy’s and Pizza Hut, week after week when free Flintstoens toys were given away with meal purchases.
    She never thought his obsession would almost cause them to miss a flight when he “just had to stop” in an airport shop before board a plane when he saw Flintstones squeeze bottles.
    “Sometimes I think he’s 4 instead of 34,” Tricia says, smiling as she teases her husband. “He talks to me like Fred was a real person.”
    To Pete, Fred is like part of the family. The Beaver County resident has been tuning into the syndicated Hanna-Barbera cartoon since shortly after it debuted in 1960.
    “When I came home from school, I always watched ‘The Flintstones,’” says Pete, who attended Aliquippa grade school and later graduated in 1977 from Quigley Catholic High School in Economy.
    He preferred “The Flintstones” over “The Jetsons” as a child. He, like hard-working Fred who toiled daily at the quarry, comes from a strong, blue-collar community. Fred is like Everyman.
    “I’m a lot like Fred. I’m klutzy and lazy.”
    But with good intentions, chimes in Tricia.
    Unlike Fred, Pete is tall and slender. He doesn’t share Fred’s 5 o’clock shadow—he sports a mustache. The only resemblance to the Flintstones shows up on his clothes. Today he wears a white T-shirt with a happy Fred emblem and brightly colored sweat pants dotted with Flintstones characters.
    “I constantly get kidded down at the post office about my Flintstone boxer shorts,” says Pete.
    He also owns 50 Flintstones T-shirts, 15 neckties and numerous baseball caps. Add to that a Flintstones shaving kit. Plastic Flintstones dolls from Argentina. A 1962 Flintstones Viewnmaster disc. A Flintstones rock guitar. Even a Flintstones gelatin mold.
    Pete has mixed feelings about the attention the new Flintstones movie is stirring. He and his wife haven’t seen the flick yet, but they are planning to go soon.
    On the one hand, Pete is excited about the attention the Flintstones are getting. And he gives his nod to Goodman to play Fred. On the other hand, Pete isn’t interested in all the movie-related merchandise flooding stores.
    “He was afraid it would devalue his collection,” Tricia says.
    He usually collects only cartoon-related keepsakes he finds in magazines, stores, at toy conventions and flea markets. Friends and family contribute to the lot.
    “I have things from the ’60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. I look for older stuff. I try to find unique things,” says Pete. “I’m always looking. Betty is the hardest one to find. So when I see a Betty, I have to have it.”
    Since he considers his Flintstones collection just a fun hobby, he refuses to spend much money to purchase pieces.
    Two things remain on his wish list: two Flintstones snow domes made in the ‘60s and ‘70s and a metal toy which features Fred operating a dinosaur crane.
    Tricia insists on just one thing regarding her husband’s Flintstones mania: Bedrock stays in the basement. She’s made an exception for the small wooden cutout of Fred that waves “hi” and “bye” in the couple’s front yard.
    She doesn’t want the Flintstones to overtake their lives. Like Wilma, she tries to keep her own Fred in line.
    “I will draw the line. I will not name our firstborn Fred,” Tricia says.
    Pete has met just a few folks like himself who love the ‘Stones. “I’ve been trying to find a Flintstones Fan Club,” he says.
    His wife suggests a better organization.
    “Flintstones Anonymous,” she says.


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  • 11/15/15--13:02: The Jetsons: TV or Not TV
  • “I’ll get right to the point, lady,” growls the mysterious stranger, as ominous music plays in the background. “We traced the guy in this picture to this address...Well, ya see, we did a little shootin’ today...and this guy accidentally got into the picture...We wanna give him what’s comin’ to him. We’ve got ways of takin’ care of these things...The big boss wants me to take care of him, so I’ll be back. Get it?”

    Six-year-old me heard those words on “The Jetsons” episode “TV or Not TV” and wondered “Why doesn’t he just tell Jane he wants George to sign something so he can be on TV?” Well, non-six-year-old me knows the answer. The cartoon would end right then and there with about 15 minutes to go. That wouldn’t work too well. So writer Tony Benedict had to use some contrived dialogue to keep the misunderstanding going for the appropriate length.

    Misunderstandings have been a comedy staple for who knows how many centuries and, in this cartoon, George Jetson mistakes a TV shoot for an actual robbery and the above-mentioned TV production flunkey Nimbley (played wonderfully by guest voice Herschel Bernardi) as a representative of the underworld. After a failed attempt to hiding in Cosmo Spacely’s old fishing cabin (would Mr. Spacely really give George a key to it?), George and Astro disguise themselves to return home, where they run into the flunkey, who sorts everything out while a newly-installed anti-burglar system pounds them (with lots of swirl animation).

    One thing I like about “The Jetsons” is the variation in plots. “The Jetsons,” for the most part, revolved about the tribulations of George Jetson, similar to George O’Hanlon’s “Behind the Eight Ball” series of short films at Warner Bros. This one doesn’t include Spacely firing George or doing anything else to him. There’s no workplace element in this cartoon. It’s strictly the family and the “crooks” (and a couple of characters to service the plot). And Janet Waldo got to rest her voice through the whole first half as Judy doesn’t appear until late in the story.

    The first few minutes of the cartoon have nothing to do with the plot. It’s an extended sequence solely designed to wring comedy out of Astro, who’s forced to have a bath, followed by Elroy. I love Astro. He reacts emotionally in different ways and he’s not too over-the-top. Don Messick always puts in a great performance as his voice.

    Here’s the Dog Bath-a-Mat.



    Let’s go through some of the other Conveniences of the Future™.



    E-mail doesn’t exist in the future. There’ll be hand-written mail delivered by a stylised drone (left). Something similar to the picture on the right pretty much exists today, except without the paper (that Astro swallowed). A friend of mine has something in his SUV where he dictates text into a computer on his dashboard, it reads back the message and asks if he wants to send it.



    Flat screen TVs, big and small (note the tanning beds in the scene to the right).



    Two different Foodarackacycles. The one on the right dispenses one of my favourite puns in any Jetsons episode: Venus-schnitzel.



    The Magno-Manicure (designed for three fingers and a thumb).



    A visi-phone (it doesn’t have a name in this episode) to the left and part of the anti-burglar device on the right. Nimbley looks to be a not-too-distant relative of Cogswell.

    Ken Muse animates a good portion of this cartoon. I always enjoy looking at dry brushwork and outline multiples. Here are a couple.



    Bick Bickenbach is responsible for some of the layouts and Art Lozzi did at least some of the backgrounds (at least, those are educated guesses on my part judging by incidental character design and the blue hues and humps in the backgrounds). Here are some exteriors. Screen Gems distributed Hanna-Barbera cartoons to television; the company making the TV show in the plot of this cartoon is a pun.



    And some interiors. I wish I had a full version of the last one from the Spacely cabin.



    Jane spends a lot of time with her hands on her hips. And look! Married people sleeping in one bed!!



    More of Tony Benedict’s puns: the armoured car company is “Blinks,” the heroic TV dog Jane and the kids are watching is “Rinky Tink Tink,” the TV producers are responsible for “The Naked Planet” (“The Naked City” was co-produced by Screen Gems). And best of all is the appearance at the end of Soapy Sam.



    This may have been television’s first Soupy Sales parody. Like Soupy, Soapy has a huge bow tie and throws pies. Soupy, like The Jetsons, was on ABC, but walked out on the network in late 1962 because, according to Variety, it wouldn’t syndicate his reruns. Just imagine the ratings they could have brought if the network had moved them to Saturday mornings with The Jetsons the following year.

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    These are from Sunday newspapers of November 7, 4, 21 and 28, 1965. As I’ve been saying for months, I don’t have time to blog any more, so I haven’t had time to hunt down and snip the daily strips.

    “Kerrunch!” “Splat!” I think both were used on the Batman TV show which debuted the following January.

    In this day and age, Pebbles’ observation “Give me two mommies any ol’ day” would certainly rile up some group willing to take it out of context.


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    Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    Credits: Animation – Ken Southworth, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – John Freeman, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Snagglepuss – Daws Butler; Lila – Jean Vander Pyl.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.

    This blog has been percolating along in a happy way for almost seven years and, in that span, I have managed to avoid a long-standing question about one particular Hanna-Barbera character that has riveted some people for years.

    Is Snagglepuss gay?

    The assumption by the people who care about this, or have a casual interest even, is the answer is “yes,” because Snagglepuss fits several stereotypes (he’s pink, has a high, breathy voice, and likes the legitimate theatre far too much). However no less of an authority than Joe Barbera weighed on the matter when someone casually brought it up during a story meeting on Johnny Bravo many years after the creation of the Snagglepuss cartoons. Johnny’s creator Van Partible was a witness to the conversation. “Mr. B bluntly said, ‘Snagglepuss wasn’t gay! He was modeled after Bert Lahr who was anything but gay. He beat his wife!’”

    Now, Joe Barbera tended to veer a little from the facts in the interests of a good story, but if you want some proof that Mr. B. was correct, you don’t have to look much further than the cartoon “Spring Hits a Snag.”

    Mike Maltese came up with a female counterpart for Snagglepuss and put her in three cartoons. “Spring Hits a Snag” was the first. Lila was no Cindy Bear who induced hearts to float out of Yogi Bear. She was a sociopath. And while Snagglepuss didn’t have his eyes bug out of his body or overreact with wild abandon like a Tex Avery character upon seeing a female character (Snagglepuss was too gentlemanly for that, even if Hanna-Barbera favoured that kind of animation, which it didn’t), he obviously had an interest in her. Witness this dialogue, to wit, to woo:

    Ah, ‘tis spring again. And the bird is on the wing. Or is it ‘the wing is on the bird?’ No matter. In the spring, a young man’s fancy (rushes away to pick and smell flower) lightly turns to this and that. And those even.
    What is “this and that and those”? Well, at this point, Lila runs into the cartoon, avoiding bullets from hunters all the way, stage left.
    Lila: Oh, won’t you please save me from the hunter, lest I perish, mortally wounded?
    Snag: Fear not, O damsel in distress. For I, Snagglepuss, the chivalrous, shall save you. (looks at audience) It ain’t spring for nothin,’ you know.
    Yes, in spring, a young man’s fancy turns to love and, in this case, Snagglepuss’ interest turns to Lila. Considering what happens in the cartoon, he would have been better off if his interest involved listening to Judy Garland show-tune soundtrack records with Lyle Lion instead. If Snagglepuss weren’t so refined, he might have emulated Joe Barbera’s story about Bert Lahr.

    But he doesn’t. He puts up with Lila’s never-ending stream of verbal abuse once he invites her into his humble home. “Hmm. It is humble, isn’t it? Like early primitive,” remarks the unimpressed Lila, already not appreciating the fact Snagglepuss has given her sanctuary from hunters. She puts down his ratty furniture, then his poetry reading:

    Snag: I shall smooth thy pretty brow of care with readin’s from the classics. (opens book) “Ah, ‘tis spring! And I can hear the soft chirpin’ of the crimson-tufted tattersill. To wit, to woo. To woo, to wit.”
    Lila: Aw, knock it off.
    Snag (surprised): What was that?! Sounded like an angry wildcat, wounded in the clavicle.
    Lila: That was me. Shall I say it again with witnesses?
    Yeah, you get the idea pretty fast what she’s really like. Even in limited animation, you can tell her opinion of Snagglepuss’ response to her demand for food by cooking an old gnu stew “and casserole, even...sprinkled liberally with chutney chives.”


    She pushes him around the whole cartoon, sending him out to get wild berries (“Big deal,” she snarks, obviously not even wanting the berries), then complaining about the noise as he’s getting shot at while picking them off-camera. Later he gets “One berries, wild. Or terribly annoyed” but she gripes she wants new ones, not the ones he picked moments ago. Whenever Snagglepuss finally gets fed up enough to stand up to her, she cries and he slinks back into his polite meekness. Finally, the cartoon ends with Snag braving the hunter’s bullets than the shrewish witch he’s left behind in his cave. And, no, his fancy doesn’t turn to a male mountain lion. So let’s put any more rumours to rest.

    The animation’s by Ken Southworth. There’s really jerky walk from the cave in long-ish shot at the start of the cartoon. These are consecutive frames. What’s happened to Snagglepuss’ collar?



    Story editor John Freeman or Joe Barbera or someone found an ingenious way to save a bit of time. See how Lila is covering her face when she cries? No need to animate dialogue. Just a few drawings of Lila are used and re-used to have her body jerk around. The second time the same animation is used again, the cels are turned over and painted on the other side. And there’s another scene where Snag just stands there blinking for eight seconds with Jean Vander Pyl’s dialogue off camera.

    Catchphrases: “Exit, berry-pickin’ all the way, stage right.” “Exit, ‘til after huntin’ season, stage right.” And, yes, we get a “Heavens to Murgatroyd!”



    There aren’t too many Hanna-Barbera cartoons from this era featuring only two characters, but this one of them. Daws Butler and Vander Pyl work well together in this, with Jean digging up a low-class New Yorkish voice that’s different than the one she’d use later for Rosey on The Jetsons.

    Cues from The Flintstones and Loopy De Loop find their way into the background and are well selected. The scene where Snagglepuss is henpecked into doing all those chores (with some mouth movements that don’t match the dialogue) is accompanied by music from Top Cat.

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    A note came in from Jerry Eisenberg the other day letting me know about the short reminiscence on video he and Tony Benedict did some time ago in the Eisenberg studio room several years ago.

    Tony linked to it on his site but we’ll link to it here. Blogger won’t let you play it here; I think it takes you to another site.

    Jerry, for those of you just joining us, was a layout artist on The Jetsons and Jonny Quest (the original series in both cases), designed a bunch of Wacky Races racers and did a pile of other things not only at Hanna-Barbera, but at other studios. Tony was the first cartoon writer at Hanna-Barbera to get a screen credit whose name was name Charlie Shows, Dan Gordon, Mike Maltese or Warren Foster.

    Jerry’s dad worked with Joe Barbera at Terrytoons in New York in 1936 and was later induced by Mr. B. to come to Culver City and work on Tom and Jerry cartoons at MGM. Jerry talks about him to open the video.



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    When you think of a Hanna-Barbera mystery involving some creature scaring people away only to be revealed to be a disguise perpetrated by a bad guy who wants something, what show do you think of?

    Right. Ruff and Reddy.

    That’s what’s driving the story in Ruff and Reddy No. 6, a Dell comic cover dated July 1960. Unlike a Certain Great Dane We Don’t Talk About On This Blog™, the bad guy is portrayed as more misguided than evil, certainly not in the John Stephenson “And I would have gotten away with it, too...” manner from the aforementioned Great Dane cartoon series.

    The lack of a narrator and Charlie Shows’ rhyming couplets gives this more of a feel of a standard comic book adventure as opposed to something distinct to Ruff and Reddy.

    You can click on the pictures below to make them a little larger.



    You can read a bunch of Ruff and Reddy comics at Comics Books Plus.Com. It’s too bad there are no Huckleberry Hound or Quick Draw McGraw comics posted, but you can’t argue with a site generously posting a lot of stuff for free.

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    Cartoon spoofs always have an origin and, occasionally, they can have several inspirations mashed together. In the very early ‘50s, KTTV in Los Angeles broadcast a show called “Mystery is My Hobby.” In 1955, shooting began on a syndicated TV show “Adventure is My Business.” About the same time, John Stephenson hosted “Bold Adventure,” where ordinary people would come on and narrate over home movies of various adventures. These all may have inspired Mike Maltese to come up with the Snooper and Blabber cartoon “Adventure is My Hobby.”

    (Some of you may be asking why the plural of “spoof” isn’t “spooves.” I am a cartoon dog, not an English professor).

    That cat-loving friend of all cartoon dogs (and cartoon fans), Mark Kausler, has sent me scans of the storyboard drawings from “Adventure is My Hobby.” Other than Daws Butler playing around with a few words, the dialogue is the same as in the finished cartoon. Most of the drawings are, too, though some of the camera instructions aren’t followed. Mark’s note to me:


    The drawings of the sea monster are really funny and full of personality. This board is probably Warren Foster's drawings, the last few pages are the Colerase red pencil lines, maybe he didn't have time to graphite over them.

    The board doesn’t really need much of an explanation from me. You can read the review of the cartoon in this post.

    Here’s a little comparison to show you how well animator Gerard Baldwin stuck to the story drawings. Compare what you see at the left to drawing 3 below.


    The director doesn’t cut to a tight shot as per panel 10. Saves a bit of work for the cameraman. And background artist Joe Montell adds a picture to Snoop’s office in panel 12. He changed the light, too. Montell doesn’t seem to have been beholden to the story panels in concocting his backgrounds. He and animator Baldwin ended up in Mexico later that year working on Jay Ward cartoons.


    Evergreen trees? That’s for Yogi Bear. Montell goes with a styled elm (panels 20 and 21). Or is it a birch? No matter. The car has become a four-door with those tail lights like a ’54 Cadillac. The instructions “open on small field” and “truck back to l.s.” (long shot) are ignored. A little less camera work gets the cartoon produced faster though, aesthetically, it was probably the right decision. And what was that old saying at Terrytoons? If one mouse is funny, five are funnier? Panel 22 has Montell adding extra milk bottles and newspapers.




    Check out panels 31 and 35 and see how they matched the finished cartoon. 31 implies the monster slides in from left of the frame but he pops up instead. And since he’s animated over top of Snooper, the fishing rod is behind him.




    Panel 44: the take. Baldwin adds a head shake take, uses the first frame below in the dialogue, and then does the oval mouth/wide eyes take.


    Panel 68 is a little different. “Rep. 19” seems to mean to use the background from Scene 19 as that’s what we see. The dots on the trees in the background are a tell-tale sign of Montell’s work; you can see it in his MGM cartoons, too.


    Panel 80 has an instruction to, I presume, rotate the camera or whatever is holding the cels and background to a 90 degree angle. In the actual cartoon, the sky/cloud background is panned up instead of across.


    The instruction between panels 97 and 98 reads “Fade off Burgess Cel.” Can anyone fill me in on what that means?


    There is no camera shake as indicated on panel 110. There is a whip sound effect when Snooper hits the tree, a crash when he hits the branch and a kettle drum when he lands; effects familiar to many H-B cartoons.


    Panel 126: Perspective animation? In a Hanna-Barbera cartoon? Nope. I don’t know if there’s a two field pan like the instructions say, but the boat passes the same humpy hill four times.


    The chopper in panel 128 inherits the name “J-19” (not the production number of the cartoon) and is on an angle. Note how Baldwin renders 134. He stuck to the panel.




    Panel 143: in the cartoon, the monster doesn’t flip over his head like the panel instructs. Got to save on animation, you know.


    Panel 150 has Blab talking to the camera. In the cartoon, he’s in profile and turns his head after he’s finished. Not only do no fish food flakes shake from the box during the cycle animation, the sea monster (played by Hal Smith) makes his “bllloooop” sound without any mouth movement. “A penny saved...” says Bill Hanna Ben Franklin.


    Mark Kausler is bound and determined to keep me blogging as he has more storyboard goodness from his collection for you. We’ll try to post a Huckleberry Hound board next month.

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    Yogi shows more ingenuity, but no hibernation, in the comics found in newspapers 50 years ago this month. Of course, four months worth of hibernating comics would get awfully boring.


    Nicely rendered bears in the opening long panel in the December 5th comic. Isn’t this kind of like Huckleberry Hound as a dog catcher where you have dogs that are dogs, and a dog that’s humanesque? The writer went into overdrive on the rhymes in the first panel, middle row. The robber shows the evolving designs at Hanna-Barbera; he looks like someone in an Atom Ant cartoon made at this time. Look at Boo Boo’s reactions. Even though he’s not the centre of attention, he’s very much involved in the story.


    Not quite winter yet in the December 12th comic as there’s no ice on the water impeding Yogi’s fishing. The art store owner closes his eyes with pride (left panel, last row) over his mobile. Yes, kids, people had them in their homes and banged their heads on them. A dumb invention.


    Yogi used little animals for various things in some of the newspaper cartoons and he is at it again in the December 19th comic. In the opening panel, I suspect Yogi is reading Playbear for the articles.


    Remember those good old days when you could say “holiday party” and it didn’t turn into a whine-fest? That’s at the centre of the December 26th comic. I don’t know why the “general” (why does a park have a general with a command post?) is crying. Yogi’s right. He got 12 pieces of cake, didn’t he? Cake that makes a FOING! noise, I hasten to add.

    Mark Kausler should have full-colour versions of these on his blog. He’s mentioned his personal collection has run out so he won’t be posting more Yogis. It was nice of him to take the time and scan them for everyone. It’s great he saved them for all these years; I had a collection of daily and Sunday Peanuts comics that I put in scrapbooks but threw out years ago once they began to be published in books. Yogi hasn’t been so fortunate.

    Next month, Quick Draw and Huckleberry Hound make a guest appearance, there’s more fishing, another FOINGG! and another clumsy Yogi.

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  • 12/05/15--07:08: Yakky Doodle in Hasty Tasty
  • Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
    Credits: Animation – Clarke Mallery, Layout – Noel Tucker, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Tony Benedict, Story Director – Lew Marshall, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon; Fibber Fox, Alfie Gator – Daws Butler.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.

    Simple tastes in cartoons, have I. I like settings to be nice and traditional: Fred Flintstone living in the Stone Age, 1960s style, Yogi Bear hanging out with Boo Boo, that sort of thing. I’m afraid I’m not much on the “universe” concept where Hanna-Barbera characters are poured into cartoons together merely because they’re Hanna-Barbera characters. I have no desire or curiosity to see the Herculoids and Scooby Doo in the same cartoon. I realise there are fans who love these kinds of combinations. Good for them. They can have them. I had enough problems with those ‘70s series that shoved together Yogi Bear and all kinds of funny animals and/or humans for the sake of shoving them together. Too many characters who should have been starring got watered down through sheer volume. Again, some fans like those shows, in some cases because of the Saturday Morning Bowl of Cereal Syndrome (nostalgia for an idealised childhood). To each their own.

    I don’t mind guest or cameo appearances of characters where they have a real reason to be together. The Flintstones’ mini-cartoon that appeared on the episode of the Jetsons was great. All the characters on the Huckleberry Hound Show appearing in bumpers made sense because they were kind of treated like actors on the same programme who just happened to be around, with Huck decidedly in charge during the segments. And the idea of putting comic villains Fibber Fox and Alfie Gator in the same Yakky Doodle cartoon, Hasty Tasty, worked, too.

    There was the danger of Fibber and Alfie cancelling other out, but writer Tony Benedict makes sure each keeps his own well-defined personality and builds a nice little story where the two compete (for a good portion of the cartoon) to capture the duck. There’s the added bonus of Chopper not making an appearance which keeps the plot nice and clean. Instead of the dog battering the stuffing out of the two bad guys, they do themselves in thanks to their own greed and incompetence. And for those of you who dislike or detest the duck, Tony has come to your rescue by not making him win this cartoon; Yakky is still running for his life when seven minutes are up and it’s time for a Kelloggs commercial.

    Presumably, the title Hasty Tasty comes from all the run cycles in the cartoon. I didn’t bother to count them. The cycles may have given animator Clarke Mallery extra time for come up with some nice expressions. Mallery was an ex-Disney artist who also was hired to direct part of the Magoo Arabian Nights feature at UPA. The internet says he did a lot of freelance work and as this is his only credit in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon (that I know of), I suspect his work was freelance on this. Up and to the left you see Yakky screeching out the public-domain-so-we-don’t-have-to-pay-to-use-it song Camptown Races. The scene cuts to Fibber’s reaction, first to seeing a potential dinner on a tree branch, and then to the singing. These are consecutive frames.



    A couple of exits. First, Alfie drops Fibber out of the frame. The drawing appears on screen for three frames.



    Fibber and Alfie zip out of the scene. This one is also on threes.



    We had a run cycle of Fibber and Yakky from this cartoon in this post. Here’s a three-drawing run-in-mid-air cycle, one drawing per frame. It seems to me most run cycles are even-numbered.



    Random bits of dialogue:


    Fibber: Hey, come back little duck! Don’t be chicken. I hate chicken.
    Alfie: Good afternoon. As an ardent bird fancier, I have been observing that duck with the abominable voice (breathes). However, my intentions of purely abdominal.
    Alfie (chasing Yakky): Consider, for one moment, the contribution you could make to gourmet history.

    Among the gags:

    ● Alfie stops Fibber from chasing the duck with a well-placed frying pan.
    ● Fibber gets shot by Alfie after putting his mouth at the end of a metal pipe to swallow Yakky (who escapes through a hole).
    ● Alfie lays on the ground and swallows Yakky running into him. Fibber swats Alfie on the butt to get the duck out.
    ● Alfie puts his mouth at a drain-pipe exit on the roof of a house but Fibber grabs the pipe and runs into a cave with it, Alfie still attached.




    Finally, the two villains agree to work together but start fighting (egged on by Yakky) when they disagree over who is going to eat the duck. The animation’s a little stiff because drawings are re-used but much of the scene is on ones. Occasionally, Alfie will be held in position for two frames while Fibber has a different position in each frame. Note how Alfie maintains his noble bearing except when he’s punched.



    “Guess I should go south. I’ll never get a chance to grow up around here. Help! Heeeeeeelp!” screeches Yakky in close-up, as the cartoon fades out.

    It’s nice to know several of the people who worked on this 54-year-old cartoon are around. Yakky’s voice, Jimmy Weldon, is still working in his 90s and writer Benedict is blogging about random cartoon things. Animator Mallery died in Los Angeles on July 12, 1993, age 74.

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    1961 may have been the high point in the life of the Hanna-Barbera studio. Its syndicated half-hours were tremendously popular; a third was added in late January. The Flintstones overcame initial grumbles by critics to find an audience and spark a demand by the networks for more animated prime time shows.

    Hanna-Barbera now had competitors eager to get a lucrative toe-hold in prime time though, in reality, competition was needed. The studio never could have filled all the time slots that had opened up for animation even if it wanted to. It didn’t have the time and staff. But that didn’t stop it from expanding its production schedule. And the studio had the money to do it, thanks to merchandising.

    Here’s a story from Weekly Variety of July 19, 1961 taking stock of the studio’s situation up to that point.

    How Hanna-Barbera Copes With 50 Hours of Animated TV Film In a Hot Upcoming Cartoon Season
    The cartoon series is primetime video's hot half-hour for the coming season. There will be seven animated shows this fall against two last season, but future expansion is iffy. Notwithstanding good old American knowhow (Hollywood and New York), the total resource may have been tapped.
    Take the case of Hanna-Barbera, Screen Gem's [sic] subsidiary that's out front in production. Cartoonery will be called on for more than 50 hours of animated film through the season. There will be 30 "Flintstones;" 30 "Top Cats" (new primetime half-hour); and 153 seven-minute shorts for the syndicated "Huckleberry Hound,""Quick Draw McGraw" and "Yogi Bear" (who won his own series last January after a long run as second banana to Huck).
    Animated production is measured in footage, and when Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were turning out theatrical "Tom & Jerry's" for MGM, they averaged about 4,000 feet a year with a staff of 90. With a staff of 165, Hanna-Barbera last week turned out 6,250 feet. It will average close to that through the season. So far, H-B has been able to meet the terrific creative and technical production problems with a lot of ingenuity. A void of talent was created by the sharp sluff of animation in 1957. Technical and writing talents have not come up in the business. H-B, however managed to scare up 40 inkers and painters (mostly women and mostly married) to work part time at home along with a permanent staff of 40.
    Cartoon scripting was once a specialty of writers who sketched storyboards with the dialog. To solve the dearth, Hanna-Barbera has contracted with a flock of video's top comedy writers — "typewriter writers"—including Harvey Bullock, Art Phillips, Larry Markes, Syd Zelinka, Kin Piatt, Barry Blitzer, Jack Raymond — all with a string of credits on the top live comics. They continue to write with the rattler, then their stuff is converted to storyboard by the specialists. Voicing is still another problem. A year's search was made for "Top Cat's" mouthpiece. Among hundreds who auditioned were Andy Devine, Mickey Rooney, Jerry Lester, Larry Storch, Mike O'Shay, Max Rosenbloom. Arnold Stang was finally tapped.
    Production detail makes the original-for-tv cartoon series the most expensive program. "Flintstones" cost $67,000 a stanza, and the high tab sustains for this season.
    There are ways around the big tab. The four to six hours Disney will produce for NBC Sunday night schedule will reportedly be old theatrical film except for six minutes of fresh stuff per show. "Bugs Bunny" is theatrical except for bridges. Scott Ward's "Bullwinkle," slated for NBC Sunday, will be farmed out to Mexico City for production, as is the same shop's "Rocky & His Friends." Merchandising, however, can offset costs. Screen Gems did $40,000,000 gross on Hanna-Barbera character products in fiscal May-to-May, and that was sans "Flintstones." This year for the Christmas trade, there will be "Flintstone" merchandise as well as "Top Cat,""Yogi,""Huck" and "Quick Draw," and SG expects a retail sales total of $80,000,000. Foreign take also is enticing. Hanna-Barbera cartoons are now playing in 37 countries.
    Hanna-Barbera seemed to have difficulties with voice casting for prime time. Bill Thompson had been hired as Fred Flintstone but his throat couldn’t handle the voice. Mike O’Shea was given the job as Top Cat before being dumped. And George and Jane Jetson were originally Morey Amsterdam and Pat Carroll, who sued after they were replaced. (One might add John Stephenson to the list, as he lasted only a few episodes as Dr. Benton Quest). T.C. would have been a very different character if Andy Devine or Slapsie Maxie had won the audition.

    The reason I say 1961 may have been the studio’s high point is it had received nothing but plaudits up until then (initial grousing in some quarters of the press about The Flintstones notwithstanding). The studio could do no wrong. That changed. Top Cat was only lukewarmly received by critics and audiences. Co-sponsor Bristol-Myers wanted out five weeks into the season. It was Hanna-Barbera’s first prime-time failure. The following year, The Jetsons failed in prime-time. Two years later, Jonny Quest was suddenly shuffled out of its time slot as ABC sacrificed it to save The Flintstones from a butt-kicking opposite The Munsters (and Jonny’s new slot apparently didn’t allow high enough ad billings to make continuing production worthwhile).

    Prime time failures claimed Snowball Productions (Beany and Cecil) and Creston Studios (Calvin and the Colonel) and knocked Format Films (The Alvin Show) back into commercial production. But not hardy Hanna-Barbera. It continued making series for syndication (two backed by Ideal Toys) and then pushed open the door on Saturday mornings, changing it from a dumping ground for old theatrical cartoons, reruns of filmed TV shows (eg. Fury) and puppet shows into a haven for first-run, made-for-TV animation that baby boomers still dote about, spurring the growth of Filmation and other studios in the process. Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera moved on rather nicely after being booted from MGM in 1957, and the same from prime-time TV a few years later. At the risk of sounding trite, they weren’t just survivors. They were thrivers.

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    The Jetsons’ version of the future mainly focused on technology—flying cars, robots, push-button food dispensers, that sort of thing—ideas that could be found in science publications around the time the show first aired (1962). It didn’t look at an aspect of futurism that is still the subject of research and news reports today: developments in the medical field that lengthen our life span.

    Evidently such things never came to pass in the minds of the Jetsons’ writers. Witness the appearance in “A Visit From Grandpa” of 110-year-old Montague Jetson. He isn’t treated as the average senior citizen of the future. Walter Black’s story makes him to be some kind of freak of nature. The whole first half of the cartoon is a series of gags emphasizing that he’s not bound by grandson George’s stereotype of the old man in a rocking chair, but out-energises everyone in the family. In the end, Montague hints he’s going to slow down, but in the final scene, he’s joy-riding in his compact space mobile, just as he was at the outset of the show.

    The second half of the cartoon is the old sitcom staple, a misunderstanding based on people jumping to conclusions which is happily straightened out in the end. The cartoon employs a favourite narrative device of the Flintstones, where Fred tells Wilma “Here’s the whole story,” the scene fades out and fades back in with Fred saying “and that’s what happened.” In fact, this cartoon even uses the same Hoyt Curtin bridge music as when Fred gets set to go into an off-camera confession.

    There’s not a lot of slapstick in this cartoon and there are no big punch-lines. It’s an atmospheric piece (pun not intended) with pleasant people in pleasant surroundings and not a lot of depth.

    Ken Muse is the only animator I can pick out in this cartoon. There’s plenty of typical Muse teeth and tongue in dialogue scenes.



    I suspect Dick Bickenbach laid out at least part of the cartoon. Here are the incidental characters. Celeste Skylar (played by Janet Waldo) seems to be a futuristic relation to Betty Rubble.



    Emily Scopes (Janet Waldo) and nameless baby.



    My guess is Fernando Montealegre was the background artist, though Hanna-Barbera was now employing background people who didn’t work on the 1950s cartoons so I can’t identify them. Here’s the Skypad Apartments.



    Montague zooms past the same set of buildings over and over. There’s a cel under the animation repeated every once in a while of, well, some kind of control tower.



    I love the roulette-wheel bowling alley. What is it with bowling and Hanna-Barbera characters, anyway?



    I can only imagine what George’s phone bill is like. He has two phones, one where you only hear the person (who sounds like John Stephenson) and where you can see and hear them.



    Other inventions: a talking watch (voiced by Penny Singleton anticipating Siri) and a self-milking baby carriage. Three stars on the bottle is your sign of quality.



    Women of the early ’60s loved their hats, so we get futuristic hat gags. “Moonscape,” “The Cosmo-nautrus,” “Venus Off the Face” and “The Nuclear Look.” The little satellites on the latter whirr in a cycle of three drawings, each on two frames.



    More exteriors. Sorry Montague is the way of the background in the first drawing. And you’ll note there’s modern art outside apartment rooms, too.



    Two more shots. I like how bubbles float out of the soft drink billboard. And note the sparkles that accompany Elroy after he zips off screen.


    Howard Morris supplies the voice of Montague Jetson. I don’t know if Howie ever did a bad voice at Hanna-Barbera. Don Messick’s the other guest voice as Astro and the frustrated motorcycle cop. I don’t think they brought in Jean Vander Pyl to do the baby so I’m not going to venture a guess of who’s providing the voice.

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  • 12/14/15--06:45: Ruff and Reddy Are 58
  • Die-hard Hanna-Barbera fans who are today celebrating the 58th anniversary of the debut of the studio’s first cartoon series are probably sad to learn the arrival of Ruff and Reddy on the small tube was, more or less, ignored. Columnists didn’t have anything against the animated cat and dog, per se. The show aired on Saturday mornings. In those days, that was a dumping ground for used theatrical cartoons, used filmed half-hour westerns, puppets with live-action hosts, and test patterns. It was mostly low-cost, throw-away kid time, and what newspaperman was going to write about that?

    It turns out some did. We’ve posted a Steven H. Scheuer column from May 10, 1958. It’s the earliest one we’ve discovered about Ruff and Reddy in the popular press. Today, let’s mark the TV birth of the dog and cat duo with another column from June 21-22, 1958. We’ve found this in at least three newspapers in three different states so it may be safe to presume the columnist was syndicated and seems to have been based out of New York City.

    There’s no “fired-by-MGM” tale of underdogged adversity and determination in this column (nor in the Scheuer one) that soon became a standard line in any interview about the rise of the Hanna-Barbera studio. But, once again, Joe Barbera tries to sell readers that the quality of his made-for-TV cartoons is no worse than the fluid and expert theatricals he and Bill Hanna put on the big screen for MGM. And the last line was published just days before UPI and Weekly Variety both reported that Kellogg’s (through its agency, Leo Burnett) had signed a contract to sponsor The Huckleberry Hound Show to possibly air on ABC.


    Ruff and Reddy and The Laws of Nature
    By DON VAN LENTEN

    At one time, it was considered impossible to make good cartoons for television. Too costly and time-consuming, agreed the experts.
    That was before Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna embarked on a project for Screen Gems of New York City, called “Ruff and Reddy.” Now, “Ruff and Reddy” is a Saturday morning staple on NBC-TV. Its cartoon stars, a scrubby cat (Ruff) and a large, lazy hound (Reddy), get almost as much fan mail from the small fry as some flesh-and-blood favorites.
    SLEW OF AWARDS
    In case the names Hanna and Barbera have a familiar ring, here's why. The cartooning team was responsible for turning “Tom and Jerry” into a national institution, garnering a slew of Academy Awards along the way.
    When they decided to take a stab at television, Hanna and Barbera were warned that they were laying their reputations on the line. The first task was to create characters for the proposed show.
    LAWS OF NATURE
    “Originally we conceived Ruff, the cat, and Reddy, the dog, as a pair of friendly enemies like ‘Tom and Jerry,’ explained Barbera.
    But while chases and squabbles were fine for a single cartoon, it seemed that constant scrapping would become tiresome on a series.
    “So we violated the laws of nature and cartooning which say that cats hate dogs and vice-versa,” continued Barbera. “Ruff and Reddy came to television as staunch pals.”
    ENTER THE VILLAINS
    Next task was to dream up some villains for the new-found friends to tangle with.
    This was the most fun, admitted Barbera.
    Included in the collection of cartoon cut-throats were such deep-dyed villains as Harry Safari, a conniving wild game hunter; the Terrible Twins from Texas; a pair of rustlers (also from Texas, a state teeming with villains); and a grinning, Peter Lorre-ish skin-diver known as Salt Water Daffy, presumably from California.
    WELL-TRAVELED
    Thus far, Ruff and Reddy have appeared in four serials—thirteen chapters in each. Their travels have taken them to outer space, to deepest Africa, out west, and under the tropic seas.
    At last report, 52 cartoons in all had been produced. This is a lot of cartooning, especially since Hanna and Barbera used to limit themselves to eight “Tom and Jerry” stanzas a year.
    “Despite the larger output and a lower budget,” insisted Barbera, “we haven't sacrificed quality. We've learned to stream line our operation for TV.”
    “A cartoon,” he explained, “is a series of individual pictures pieced together to tell a story. We've learned how to get the most out of each drawing. Where we once used ten pictures, we now use one. But thanks to camera work and a certain amount of planning on our part, the result is the same.
    WHAT THE KIDS LIKE
    A departure for Hanna and Barbera was the use of dialogue in their “Ruff and Reddy” cartoons. “Tom and Jerry,” you “kids” will recall, never spoke a line.
    “We discovered that kids love clever phrases and cute little rhymes,” said Barbera. “Ruff and Reddy are pretty gabby representatives of the animal kingdom.”
    The voices on Ruff and Reddy are supplied by actors Daws Butlers [sic] and Don Messick. Don claims, wearily picking up a peanut with his trunk, that his toughest chore was simulating the dulcet tones of a “mother elephant.”
    RESPONSIBILITY
    Both Hanna and Barbera have strong ideas on children's entertainment.
    “A kids’ program is a tremendous responsibility,” said Barbera. “To show anything which might frighten or repel an impressionable youngster is just plain bad taste.”
    With zooming ratings and a lively new of mail from their moppet viewers, Hanna and Barbera have proven the experts wrong. There is an important place for original cartoons on TV. Proof of the pudding is that Hanna and Barbera are now huddling over the possibility of adding another animated adventure show to the network roster next season.

    Now a few birthday presents. Here are model sheets dated three months after the show debuted.



    And here’s a terrific drawing, perhaps by Dick Bickenbach, of Ruff, Reddy and Professor Gizmo. I believe this came from the collection of William Wray.



    The great Daws Butler, the voice of Reddy, defended the series after criticism of Saturday morning cartoons in general in the Los Angeles Times in 1977. His letter published on October 9th read, in part:

    Charlie Shows wrote all of the episodes, funny concepts with comedy rhythms which today seem to be supplanted by a humorless quest of “continuity” and the dry pithiness of a mundane “story-line.”
    I’m afraid Ruff and Reddy falls short for me, despite the fine voice work, character design and Capitol Hi-Q ‘D’ series library, but the series turned out to be—although columnists didn’t recognise it in 1957—an historical milestone in television animation.

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    It’s that time of year again. Time for the War on Stone Age Christmas. Time when literalists grumble on the internet that the Flintstones are celebrating Christmas before Christmas was invented. They don’t have a problem with television signals being transmitted before there was television or cavemen (and animal appliances) speaking American English before America was invented, but they have a problem with Christmas.

    Evidently the idea the series is about the early 1960s being transposed into prehistoric times is a bit much to comprehend. Or they just like complaining.

    A number of the Flintstones daily newspaper comics 50 years ago this month dealt with Christmas—Fred chiselling away at a large stone Christmas card, Pebbles complaining Dino got better presents, and so on. Unfortunately, I can’t find decent versions of the strips to post, so you’re stuck with the weekend versions only. The final two deal with the holiday season.

    As usual, they’re very well laid out. It’s a shame Baby Puss didn’t make an appearance. You’ll note Santa Claus ringing with his kettle in the December 19th comic and the frozen volcano smoke in the final panel of December 26th. And check out Dino’s great expression in the opening panel of the December 26th comic. I’ll spare you any further observations and hope you enjoy them.

    December 5, 1965.

    December 12, 1965.

    December 19, 1965.

    December 26, 1965.


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    Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
    Credits: Animation – Art Davis, Layout – Walt Clinton, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voices: Snagglepuss, Butler (Hives) – Daws Butler; Baby (Clyde) – Jean Vander Pyl; Rabbit, Radio Newscaster, Major – Don Messick.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.

    Don’t expect to find Christmas cartoons among the shorts in the half-hour shows Hanna-Barbera produced in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. The attitude in Television Land back then was Christmas shows were to be avoided because they couldn’t be re-run in syndication during any time but Christmas, therefore it was best to produce shows that could be shown at any time. If we stretch things, the closest we get is Snagglepuss in “Having a Bowl” where he dresses up as Jolly Old St. Nick.

    Of course, this is just a disguise Snagglepuss uses to put one over on Major Minor. The cartoon isn’t set during Christmas, or even winter. In brain-dead, auto-word-association fashion, the major sees Santa come out of the chimney, therefore it must be Christmas. That makes it funnier than if it were the Yuletide season. It’s a gag used in a few old theatrical cartoons which usually ends with a character checking out a calendar and realising he’s been fooled. In this case, the major gets his hand snapped by a mouse trap in Santa Snag’s bag.

    Come to think of it, writer Mike Maltese gives us a few other gags familiar from theatricals. One is when the baby Clyde points out Snagglepuss’ hiding spots, a la Buccaneer Bunny (1948), co-written by Maltese at Warner Bros. (a pirate’s parrot gets blown up for his snitching). And Major Minor running outside to yell in pain is a favourite of Tex Avery and his writers; Deputy Droopy (1955) and Rock-a-Bye Bear (1952) come to mind, as well as Maltese borrowing it for the Chilly Willy cartoon The Legend of Rock-a-Bye Point (1955).



    Art Davis is the animator in this cartoon and Walt Clinton handled the layouts (and designed incidental characters and props). At Hanna-Barbera, Artie drew characters with mouths going way up toward the snout with teeth showing. Clinton was known for having ears around a character’s collar. You can see that here. Also, Clinton’s Major Minor dyed his hair in this cartoon. It’s dark.



    Hanna-Barbera’s animation got really tame in the early ‘60s; it was like the big eye-takes and jagged bodies in shock had become clichés to be avoided. But Artie comes through in this cartoon. I love his effect when the baby bites Snagglepuss’ snout, and the take when the Major Minor reaches into the bag and gets his hand caught in a mouse trap. The timing on the latter is excellent. The major is still into his dialogue and the take comes a half second (12 frames) after he reaches into the bag.



    The baby changes size through the cartoon depending on the plot. Jean Vander Pyl lends the infant her standard-issue Pebbles voice with standard-issue Pebbles baby-talk.



    This may be the only cartoon that anyone appreciates Snagglepuss’ theatrical performances. The baby loves them. The cartoon ends with Snagglepuss, rather reluctantly, performing for the child to keep him laughing lest he be shot by Major Minor. Snagglepuss is positively poetic to open the cartoon:

    Oh! What a joyful day to frolic and play. But first I’ll see what the mailman bringeth. Or is it “brungeth”? Mayhap a note or two. Perhaps a billet doux.
    And then cometh the phoney Shakespeare.
    ● Romans, countrymen and babies! Lend me your ears. Lend me your ears. I’ll give ‘em back to you next Saturday. February 29th, even.
    ● Baby-o, baby-o. Wherefore art thou, baby-o? Thou art here. So exit, for the big reward, stage right.
    ● Romans, countrymen and baby-criers! All the world’s a stage. With matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays. He who steals my purse steals cash. About a buck-25. What light through yonder window breaks! Who threw that stove? Who threw that stove?? (to audience) This might very well be the longest readin’ of Shakespeare in history. So, good night! (turns to baby) Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow. (turns to audience) Looks like I’ll be ad-libbin’ until tomorrow.
    In case you’re wondering, “cash” is a pun on the line from Othello Act 3, scene 3: “He who steals my purse steals trash.” Maltese has lost me on the “stove” reference. If it were “stone,” it would make sense, as a stone would break a window. But the word, as enunciated by Daws Butler, definitely is “stove.”

    And then there’s this odd retort thrown at the major, who has his gun at the ready:

    Pause a moment. Pause a moment. Let’s considerate this thing. You’re over 21. You’re old enough to vote. Shave, even. So whaddya tryin’ ta do, throw the old ball game in favour of this diaper desperado just because he wants to go lion huntin’? The question is—do you want to go huntin’? (looks at camera) Heaves to Nimrod! That was a silly question.
    Catchphrases:
    ● Heavens to Murgatroyd! I’m a mail order parent! (After pulling baby from mailbox)
    ● Heavens to mint sauce! He’s famished. Hungry, even. (After being bitten on the nose)
    ● Exit, empty pocketed, stage right. (After the major pulls a rifle on him)
    ● Exit, beard, jolly belly and all, stage left. (After the major pulls a rifle on him again)
    And we get a standard Snagglepuss-Major exchange:
    Major: By thunder! Didn’t I shoot you in the mouth of the Zambezi? Or was it at the foot of Mount Shasta?
    Snag: Neether, neither, major. You grazed me where the ripplin’ Susquehanna bends.
    A couple of Dick Thomas interiors. The stylised window reflection against the wall works well in the close-up scenes.



    And now for today’s endless run cycle. The cartoon starts with the baby crawling down a rabbit’s hole. The rabbit runs in mid-air and then zooms off. The run is on five drawings, one per frame. The scene has absolutely nothing to with the plot. Either Maltese was amused by it or he was padding for time.



    Finally, you might be wondering what the title Having a Bowl has to do with this cartoon. I haven’t the foggiest idea. Pea-soup foggiest from London, even. There’s no bowl in it. No one is bowling. However, I’ve learned over the years here that you readers are smarter than I am and may have caught something obvious that I’ve missed. Leave a comment if you can solve this one.

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  • 12/22/15--07:07: Bill Hanna's Christmas Mouse
  • You’re familiar with the animation career of Bill Hanna, I’m sure. You can see him in the centre of this photo of the management and some of the staff at the Harman-Ising studio published in the Motion Picture Herald on July 27, 1935; Rudy Ising is on the left and Hugh Harman on the right (photo courtesy of Devon Baxter). Hanna bolted from Harman-Ising for MGM in 1937 (for reasons he didn’t wish to discuss with animation historian Mike Barrier) and then opened his own studio with Joe Barbera and backing from director George Sidney and Columbia Pictures’ Screen Gems division 20 years later.

    While Barbera had at least one side project while at MGM—he and Harvey Eisenberg worked on comic books in the late ‘40s—Hanna did something outside the studio as well. He worked on a Christmas film-strip for a religious company.

    Cathedral Films was set up in Los Angeles in 1938 by the Rev. James K. Friedrich, creating religious films of varying lengths. It was also in the film-strip business, with drawings on individual frames rolled through a projector. The company sold Christian-based stories on strips accompanied by a record with narration and other sounds. Stan Freberg even supplied animal voices for a series of Cathedral film-strips in 1955. These films and film-strips were designed for use by churches and Sunday schools, though the company sold its library of around 40 films to television in 1952.

    Hanna was employed on only one of the strips that I can discover, a Christmas story called “Christopher Mouse.” Assisting him with the drawings was MGM layout artist Gene Hazelton, who later was in charge of the Yogi Bear and Flintstones comic strips which Hanna-Barbera had syndicated in newspapers.



    The strip with 75 frames by Hazelton was apparently copyrighted in 1950 but several newspapers from 1949 reported churches showing it. The soundtrack, such as it was, ran 14 minutes and was available on two 78s or one 33 1/3 album. The film was printed on Eastman stock so it would likely have turned beet red over time. One catalogue on the internet sums up Hanna’s storyline:

    CHRISTOPHER MOUSE is the story of a little mouse who goes with his grandfather to a nearby town where a Carnival was being held. He enjoys everything in the Carnival a ride on a merry-go-round, on the train, etc. In fact, he and his grandfather enjoy themselves so much they forget it is getting late and when they start to look for a place to sleep they can find none. Eventually the grandfather remembers Farmer Brown's barn and they trudge out to the barn and get ready to go to sleep in the hay loft. Christopher doesn't like the rough straw as it irritates him when he lies on it. His grandfather, seeing his plight, begins to tell him the story of a little mouse many, many years ago who used to live in the hay loft of a barn and had a wonderful straw bed. One night some strangers came to the barn, a little baby was born, and there was no clean straw on the ground. The mouse's mother gathered all the straw she could to keep the ground dry and in order to get enough the little mouse had to give his own bed of straw. Then a little baby was born who was the Christ Child. The Wise Men came from the East to see the babe and after the telling of the story to Christopher, he went sound to sleep without another murmur.
    How Hanna hooked up with Cathedral is a little mystery. It could have been through his reputation winning Oscars with Tom and Jerry. There was a tenuous connection with MGM; in 1940, Cathedral Films moved into the old Metro building at 6260 Romaine Street.

    In the mid-1980s, Hanna-Barbera jumped into the religious film business with a series of home videos of stories based on Biblical events. One of the cartoons was entitled “The Nativity.” Joe Barbera was particularly enthusiastic about the series. But it was Bill Hanna who, almost 40 years earlier, explored the subject through charming little characters using technology that’s pretty quaint today.

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  • 12/24/15--06:25: O Christmas Tree of H and B
  • Al Knudsen of Paducah, Kentucky is celebrating the holiday season with this Christmas tree decorated with Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. cartoon characters. Sorry it’s so small, but you can click on it and see if that will enlarge it any.

    He says Frankenstein, Jr. is a piggy bank he returned into a tree topper. Almost all your favourite early Hanna-Barbera characters are here—Bamm Bamm is to the right of Frankie’s feet and Wilma Flintstone is just below. There are a couple of different Yogis and Boo Boos, Mr. Jinks, Rosey, Huckleberry Hound, Space Ghost, Quick Draw McGraw, the Jetsons in their car, Sangglepuss, the Flintstones in their car (with Pebbles on top), Top Cat (bottom left of tree) and some Great Dane. At the bottom right is Tom in his outfit from the MGM short The Two Musketeers. Fans of Doggie Daddy, Ruff and Reddy and a yellow duck are out of luck.

    This is such a neat idea for a Christmas tree, I thought I’d pass it on.

    Cats are known to attack Christmas tree ornaments. Whether Al’s will be spared from that fate remains to be seen, but it seems that kitties do love Hanna-Barbera figures. Especially soap dishes. The proof is in the photo below. (At least I think it’s a soap dish).


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  • 12/25/15--07:01: It's Curtins


  • Have you been good little girls and boys this year? You have! Then Santa Yowp has something for you for Christmas. And not just the beautiful Dick Bickenbach drawing from 1958 you see above (courtesy of the Bill Wray collection).

    It seems to have become a tradition around here to post Hanna-Barbera underscore music on the 25th of December. Unfortunately, Krampus Yowp has been at work on this one. I ran out of Capitol Hi-Q stock music from the cartoons a long time ago; whatever I can find is on posts for the individual cartoons, though there are some missing cues. About the best I can do is post this old picture of the Capitol Records building where Bill Loose and John Seely had their offices.



    The next best thing to the Capitol headquarters on the picture above is near the light pole. You’ll notice that right behind it is the ugliest car ever made, the 1951 Nash. Neighbours of ours had a dark green one. As Astro would say, “Blecchh!” (The ad on the right is from the late ‘60s after Loose and Seely left and electronic music was added to the library).

    Another year has gone without being able to identify about a dozen of the Jack Shaindlin stock cues in the cartoons that came from the Langlois Filmusic library. I must confess that I have copies of several of them given to me by Earl Kress, who asked me not to put them on the blog. Earl’s gone but I’m respecting his wishes. Earl said he should have acquired cue sheets for all the cartoons when he had the chance, but didn’t think he needed to because he saw the same cues over and over on the sheets he did acquire. He didn’t realise how many others there were (ones that are now unidentified). So, in lieu of no Shaindlin cues, let’s post a couple of pictures of the fine composer and conductor from old trade magazines.



    However, the blog does have some music for you from the best composer to work in TV cartoons, Hoyt Curtin. These cues are actually a gift from reader J.J. Pidgeon. You should recognise most of them from Top Cat or The Flintstones. My favourites, though, are the ones that underscored commercials for Kellogg. T-98 is terrific. It’s a reworking of the Snagglepuss Main Title theme incorporating the Kellogg’s “Best To You Each Morning” jingle. I’m pretty sure Q-6 was from a Cocoa Krispies spot. Click the arrow to play.

    Q-6








    Q-31








    Q-32








    T-49








    T-50








    T-97








    T-97B








    T-98








    T-99C








    T-100








    T-103








    T-109








    T-201








    T-202








    T-203








    T-205








    T-212








    T-212A








    T-214








    T-215









    You can check out some old Christmas posts by clicking on the links for 2014 and 2013.

    I’ll leave you wish a non-seasonal drawing that came up recently on one of the internet auction sites. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the finished drawing somewhere. All the Hanna-Barbera TV stars have gathered to help promote the studio’s newest show—Top Cat. This may be our final Yuletide post so I’d like to thank you for reading over the years. There’s one more post to go before the end of the year.


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  • 12/30/15--06:40: They Loved Us In Buffalo
  • Public appearances aren’t really difficult if you’re a cartoon character. You just get into a costume and meet the people.

    In the early 60s, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear and Quick Draw McGraw showed up at stores and shopping centres. They appeared at fairs. A small show was developed with Eddie Alberian as emcee; Eddie had been part of Howdy Doody’s Roadshow Pals, which was making the rounds in 1960.

    Buffalo seems to have been a favourite stop for Huck. Below are some clippings from the Courier-Express about several shows (there are other clippings that aren’t very readable). The Hanna-Barbera characters sometimes appeared as part of some larger for charity.


    August 22, 1961


    August 27, 1961


    December 25, 1961 (note the misspelling of “Barbera”).


    January 1, 1962


    January 26, 1962


    April 26, 1962


    June 21, 1962 (top of layout modified)


    June 13, 1963



    Huck equals Luck in Buffalo. WGR-TV ran the Huckleberry Hound Show starting on Thursday, October 3, 1958. Kids in Buffalo could also watch Huck on Fridays at 6 p.m. on WTEN in Albany and pick up the show on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. from CBLT in Toronto. WGR-TV plugged Huck in box ads on occasion. The one you see above is from September 15, 1960.

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