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Stuff about early Hanna-Barbera cartoons

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  • 07/09/16--07:27: The Jetsons – Test Pilot
  • George Jetson wore the same clothes almost all the time, so it would seem odd that two episodes of The Jetsons are based around clothing, specifically, technologically-advanced clothing. In one cartoon, we had a flying suit. In this one, we have a suit that’s indestructible (except when it’s placed in the washer).

    The comedy in this cartoon comes mainly from three sources—wisecracks after each check of Jetson’s innards, wisecracks by Jetson after each test of the suit, and the bidding war between Spacely and Cogswell over Jetson’s employment. Naturally, the corporate status symbols of the 1960s are included in the latter—a vice presidency and a key to the executive washroom. Cosmo Spacely’s cheapness and shallowness are shown up nicely during the sequence. Spacely opens up a safe that obviously hasn’t been touched in years and pulls out a wad of bills. “That money hasn’t seen the light of day in ages,” says Cogswell. “Look!” The camera cuts to a scene of George Washington (on the $100 bill!?) rubbing his eyes because he’s seeing light.

    Harvey Bullock and Ray Allen’s story also incorporates that grand old sitcom staple—the misunderstanding. In this case, you have to get caught up in their plot and not question its holes. George Jetson goes through with life-threatening tests on the suit because he’s been told by a doctor he’s going to die. He’s told he’s going to die because an electronic medical probe that had been swirling around Jetson’s body pops out his ear and embeds itself in a mummy. Even if you accept a medical doctor would be conducting research with a mummy, Jetson felt the probe leave his head. Why didn’t he say something? And wouldn’t the doctor wonder where his probe is after the exam is over and then realise his misdiagnosis? He’d want it back, wouldn’t he? Or maybe the probe is supposed to work its way through the digestive system and...well, let’s move on to something else.

    In 1962, the futuristic gizmos themselves were gags. In this day and age, we have the added interest of seeing if the writers accurately predicted stuff we have today. The cartoon starts off with an extension of the early ‘60s concept of dehydrated food for astronauts—a machine that comes up with a food pill, created after you dial the ingredients. Yes, it has a rotary dial, just like a ‘60s telephone. Jane then talks about a big sale at “Steers Roebuck”—and she’s reading about it on a piece of paper. Maybe her tablet is broken. And we learn that Judy wants some “stereophonic music tapes.” Tapes? Perhaps it’s like vinyl is today and it’s some kind of retro thing of the future.

    In the next sequence, we see that Spacely has a robot secretary to do his typing. Apparently the auto correct function doesn’t exist in the future (too many mistakenly-changed words put it out of consumer favour?) as there’s a funny gag about an eraser that pops out of the computer and rubs out the mistake on the screen.

    Spacely also has a shaving contraption (with a striped barber pole) that comes out of his ceiling.

    The story goes that lone scientists at both Spacely Sprockets and Cogswell Cogs, in what appears to be an attempt at corporate diversification, have both invented indestructible jacket. They both need someone to test the suit. Meanwhile, George Jetson has gone to Doctor Radius who tells him “it’s just a matter of time...then...poof! Pift!” Jetson’s going to die thanks to the probe we mentioned earlier. There are medical probes today that televise what’s happening inside someone’s body but none of them have Mel Blanc’s voice nor make jokes as they circle various organs (one involves a groaner of an Adam’s Apple pun). It might be more fun if they did.

    Since Jetson thinks he’s going to die, he accepts Spacely’s proposal to go through tests that could kill him. “What’s mine is yours. I’ll give you everything you need. Help yourself. Anything in the place” says Spacely. Jetson puts Spacely’s pen in his pocket. Spacely grabs it back. The first act of the cartoon is over.

    The bulk of the second half is taken up with the tests, which are televised live. There’s a fun bit of dialogue to start the sequence:

    Announcer: Oh, Mr. Jetson, I guess you’re quite concerned about these tests.
    Jetson: Well, I...
    Spacely (walks toward the TV camera and fills the frame) I certainly am. Sure hope nothing happens to that life jacket.
    Announcer: Oh, uh, Mr. Spacely, um, your every thought must be with the courageous man who’s risking his life for you.
    Spacely: Huh? Who’s that?
    There’s a “hydro-resistance” test, a “force-factor” test (involving a huge rock), the “Verticle-horizontal wearage test” (Jetson is crushed into a little square), a buzz-saw test, a “thermo-electric resistance test” (Jetson roasts a hot dog while he’s zapped) and finally, a test where two rockets are fired at him in mid-air. Some frames...

    Meanwhile, word of Jetson’s (and the jacket’s) feats have made news around the world. I don’t know who handled layouts and backgrounds in this cartoon, but I like the scene of London to the right. It’s so rare anything on ground-level was portrayed on the show. And the layout man came up with an interesting futuristic ship plying the waters of the Thames. This portion of the cartoon gives us stereotypes. There’s the Frenchman who woos women, as demonstrated by the news announcer kissing some woman on his lap. And there’s the stereotypic Soviet newsman (with a big, bald head like Krushchev) who claims “we invented it first.” At least, we’re left to assume it’s the Soviet Union by the background drawing feature Kremlin-esque cupola towered buildings.

    Before the final test, Doctor Radium rushes to Jetson and tells him he’s not going to “pift.” Not even “poof.” He’ll live to be 150. Suddenly, George cares that the test could kill him. The best part of this portion of the cartoon when Jetson turns his parachute into a cape and the rocket pretends to be a bull, pawing on the “ground.”

    Naturally, Jetson isn’t killed. The final sequence has the plot twist. Jane has washed the jacket. It’s ruined. It can’t be washed. This, somehow has ruined Spacely Sprockets (we have to presume Spacely has manufactured millions of these things now that he has the Good Spacekeeping Seal of Approval) and the cartoon ends with Jetson and Spacely dashing off to seek employment with Cogswell.

    Ken Muse animates the majority of the cartoon. You can easily tell by the way George moves his slitted tongue in the very first line of dialogue. Muse takes it at least through to the scene where Cogswell disappears through the floor of Spacely’s office. He picks up the animation against from the BBC announcer through to the end. If I’m wrong, Howard Fein will likely leave a correction in the comment section. I don’t know who the other animator is, but it looks like there are only two on this one (Grrr to the syndicated gang credits glued on these cartoons in the ‘80s). I don’t know how many animators did this, but Muse has characters leave little trails of stars as they rush away.

    There’s no shot of the Skypad Apartments in this cartoon. We get the same painting of the Spacely Sprockets building as in “Astro’s Top Secret.” In two scenes, there are overlays of silhouettes of people, anxious to see if Jetson survives the tests. It seems Hanna-Barbera predicted Reality TV as well.

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  • 07/13/16--07:02: Jonny Quest Cuts Suspenders
  • Many TV columnists were pretty kind to Jonny Quest after it debuted in 1964—even the guy at the New York Times who called The Flintstones“an inked disaster” described the show as “a welcome addition”—but that didn’t make a lot of difference. The Flintstones were getting kicked in the ratings by The Munsters, so to save the show, ABC moved it to the Quest time slot. Fred, Barney and Dino did well enough in the ratings to get renewed, but Jonny, Race and Bandit got cancelled.

    Quest was ground-breaking. It was the first real action-adventure cartoon show on television. It was well-written; there was enough suspense, mystery and even comic relief for any young viewer. And it has stood the test of time. Cancellation didn’t kill Jonny Quest. After years of reruns, the show spawned reboots and off-and-on talk of a live-action movie version.

    Here’s a story from the Syracuse Post-Standard of June 21, 1964, just part of a barrage of advance publicity for the show. Joe Barbera was interviewed by what was likely a freelance reporter but there are no direct quotes about the show by him. However, salesman Joe does a fine job of promoting the success of his company, which takes up about as much as the feature story as the Quest preview does. The comment about the kind of justice meted out to the bad guys on the show is interesting. My recollection is a number of them met their deaths, something a little different than the “cut suspenders” justice referred to in the story.

    Animated TV Adventure
    Hanna-Barbera Plans New Show
    Staff Correspondent
    HOLLYWOOD — Joseph Barbera "set the government back 20 years" when he worked for the Internal Revenue Service because he couldn't add. But add or not, Barbera, along with partner Bill Hanna, heads a multi-million dollar organization—Hanna-Barbera Productions Inc.
    Hanna-Barbera will have 14 animated shows on television this coming season, including "The Flintstones,""Magilla Gorilla" and an all new high adventure series titled “Jonny Quest.”
    We met with Barbera at his office here last Monday at the new $1,250,000 Hanna-Barbera Studios. He explained to us the “Jonny Quest” series, which premieres at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, on WNYS-TV, and the many-faceted production departments of the company.
    Much Research
    "Jonny Quest" will be the product of more than two years of research by Hanna-Barbera artists. The series will bring animated, up-to-date adventure to television for the first time and will feature an art style never seen before in animation.
    The style will be illustrative rather than cartoon art and every attempt will be made to make the series visually attractive and exciting.
    Jonny Quest, 11 year old, is the son of Dr. Benton Quest, one of the three top scientists in the world. Because of the nature of Dr. Quest's work and his importance to the scientific world, Roger (Race) Bannon has been assigned by Intelligence I as permanent bodyguard for the Quests, as well as, tutor and friend to Johnny who travels with his father at all times. Haki [sic], an Indian boy, adopted by the doctor and Jonny’s dog Bandit complete the family album.
    Viewers will join Jonny as he travels to the North Pole, Tibet, the Sargasso Sea area, and wherever else adventure leads him
    The new series will be designed to reach adults as well as children, but due justice will come to each culprit in the "cut suspenders-fallen pants" style, sticking with the Hanna-Barbera tradition of no violence.
    The company is far-reaching. More than 500 licensed manufacturers of some 2,500 products, ranging from "Yogi Bear" widdow [sic] shades to “Huckleberry Hound” bubble bath, have grossed more than $120 million so far this year.
    The cartoons are not just for television, as a syndicated cartoon strip of "Yogi Bear" is a Sunday comic feature of The Post-Standard.
    First Feature Film
    Hanna-Barbera's first feature film was released this month—"Hey There, It's Yogi Bear." The company also does commercials and industrial films, both animated and live-action.
    Although mainly company artists come up with the ideas for the plots of the animated shows, Hanna-Barbera does accept ideas from outside many times in peculiar ways. One of the company's mail boys made $450 in three days for submitting ideas and the maid of a close friend of Barbera's promptly received a check for an idea she submitted.
    The Bill Hanna-Joe Barbera success dates back 25 years when they created the seven-time Oscar winning cartoon short "Tom & Jerry" at MGM Studios. But the partnership was really formed in 1957 when the two left MGM to do their own cartoons.
    Their first television offering was in 1957 when they made "Ruff and Reddy." Today their production budget will hit approximately $12 million. They employ some 250 artists, technicians, writers and directors in their new studios, which have already become so packed they are forced to rent buildings across the street. Hanna-Barbera better be prepared. The way people are laughing at their cartoons, they're going to need a lot more room.

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    Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
    Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Bob Gentle, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    Voice Cast: Tall Construction Worker, Snagglepuss, Sucker Kid, Irish Cop, Newsboy, Cheerleaders, Circus Truant Officer – Daws Butler; Mike, Dean, Housewife, Construction Worker, Cheerleader, Cheerleaders – Don Messick.
    Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
    Plot: Hungry Snagglepuss goes to university to get food but ends up in a football game.

    Sorry, Snagglepuss, this cartoon doesn’t do too much for me. Maybe I’m not suspending my disbelief enough. But if you’re really and truly hungry and you think a football is a meatball, why aren’t you trying to eat it? Then again, maybe writer Mike Maltese had a chewing-attempt gag in the cartoon that got cut out.

    Or maybe I’m just “meh” over Lew Marshall’s work. Here’s what I mean. These two drawings are the beginning and end of a surprise take (there are a couple of scrunched-eyes in-betweens in the scene as well). It isn’t really much of a take, is it?

    And to your right, you see the dean of POW University suddenly panicked after seeing his star football player is a mountain lion. Panic? All he does is stand there, then twirl around and leave. I don’t wish to denigrate Lew Marshall’s talent. He was a capable animator. But the studio’s short cartoons developed a churn-‘em-out quality in the early ‘60s with animation that could have been more interesting. (As a side note, all but the first few scenes are told in flashback. The Dean looks no younger in the flashback than he does at the start, even though it took place over 30 years earlier. He even has the same hat and shirt). And aren’t the Dean’s teeny legs a little too far back on his body?

    The best part of the cartoon comes in the first half. I guess I should go through the storyline. Things start with a crew tearing down the university (one of the explosion crew workers is named Mike). The retired Dean looks on and reminisces about the time when the graduating class didn’t get their diplomas. Fade to a circus train pulling out of town. “Oh, would that I were free, unfettered and uncaged! ” declaims the caged Snagglepuss. “But hark! Or is it “herc”? The cage door is open. Ajar, even. What a chintzy outfit. Can’t even afford a lock.” So Snagglepuss escapes and eventually hears a newspaper boy’s cry about sheepskins at the university, whereat, and to wit, he shows up looking for a mutton dinner. Before that, Maltese engages in a series of gags where Snagglepuss unsuccessfully attempts to score anything resembling a meal. His sense of ridiculous dialogue carries things. The scene cuts to a shot of a pie cooling on a window ledge.

    Snagglepuss: Heavens to Betsy! It’s a succulent melonberry pie. Or is it a razzen-huckle pie?
    (Snagglepuss is hit by a broom from inside the home as he tries to grab the pie)
    Woman: Keep your grimy paws off’n that cherry chitlin pie.
    Why use the names of real fruit when you can use silly, made-up names?

    Snagglepuss exits, hungry as ever, stage left. He spots a chubby kid noisily slurping on a sucker. “Heavens to Murgatroyd,” he says. “Let’s hope that urchin’s heart is as big as his mouth.” Daws Butler’s standard Irish cop shows up to stop Snagglepuss from trying to get one measly slurp of the kid’s sucker, but before that, I like how the kid is lifted up in mid-air, still sucking away. That’s one strong lollypop stick.

    The latter routine ends with a fade-out of the cop-bashed Snagglepuss. Both scenes would have been better if Snagglepuss made some kind of crack at the end (eg. about getting the type of pie wrong), like Huckleberry Hound did so well, but Maltese moves on.

    The second half begins with Snagglepuss disguised as a vo-de-oh-doe-ing college boy (with a raccoon coat) mistaken for the new football team halfback, with the story built on misunderstanding after misunderstanding. Snagglepuss doesn’t comprehend the sports of football. He thinks the football itself is an overripe meatball. He thinks the opponent Bayshore Rams are the “sheepses.” He thinks the college mascot goat is “a sheepses, with handles to hold like a lollypop.” The Rams keep running toward Snagglepuss, the goat butts the football-holding mountain lion over the goalposts for a touchdown, and the Don Messick cheerleader jumps, all in cycle animation used over and over.

    Anyway, Snagglepuss wins the game, the Dean runs away (as mentioned above) and the scene cuts to Mr. Murgatroyd casually walking out of the university (see background drawing above) with stacks of diplomas; presumably he scared everyone off campus and just helped himself. He’s recaptured and put back on the train. “These sheepskins don’t taste like such a much,” he tells us. “But at least I’ll be the only lion in captivity with a PhD stomach.” He chomps away to Hoyt Curtin’s faux Dixieland music as the iris closes.

    If the credits are correct, Bob Gentle is the background artist. The sketchy grass looks more like Dick Thomas’ work to me, to be honest, but I’ll accept the credits (Art Lozzi once mentioned the credits weren’t altogether accurate and he was credited on HB cartoons he didn’t work on).

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    I’m sorry. I simply can’t find decent, full versions of these comics. One source has double-exposures so it’s useless. Another has now put its archive behind a pay firewall (it is not the first). A third has the skunk stripe along the comics because of poor scanning and doesn’t even have full editions because it sold Sunday comic space for advertising.

    So, without any commentary, here are the five Flintstones comics from this month 50 years ago. If someone can direct me to a decent on-line source for them, the readers here, I’m sure, would be grateful.

    July 3, 1966

    July 10, 1966

    July 17, 1966

    July 24, 1966

    July 31, 1966

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  • 07/23/16--07:22: They Threw Yogi a Party
  • There’s one Yogi Bear cartoon we haven’t reviewed on the blog, and that’s the half-hour birthday party episode that capped the first season of Yogi’s show on TV. It aired during the week of October 1, 1961 (internet sources that say January 1962 are flat-out wrong), the time slot depending on when Leo Burnett was able to buy time on a particular station.

    The birthday party was part of a huge Yogi publicity campaign. TV stations were encouraged to have kids come down and have a real birthday party, with the cartoon being only part of the proceedings. There was a free Dell Comic book, tied in boxes of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. You can read about the promotional blitz and the party in this post and this post.

    One of the disappointments of the Yogi Bear show DVD which came out a few years ago is the lack of credits at the end of the cartoon. I don’t like to rely on web sites where anonymous people can fill in their own educated or uneducated guesses about movies or TV shows as if it were indisputable, well-sourced fact. So I’ve never really been sure who worked on the birthday show—other than Jerry Eisenberg told me his dad drew the storyboard for it. But reader Mike Rossi has come up with the credits from a VHS tape of the episode. The credits fade in and out over top of each other as a Dixieland version of the Yogi Bear theme plays in the background.

    A few things stand out. One is the copyright date is 1960. This half-hour must have been in the planning stages for an awful lot time. Another is the mention of Duke Mitchell. He does the swingin’ singing instructor in the show. Duke’s the crazy cat who sang for Fred in the first season of The Flintstones. Actually, Duke was supposed to be a crazy cat. The trades announced he was going to be a voice on Top Cat (as Spook maybe?). But it never happened. Read a bit more about Duke in this post.

    Dick Lundy gets an “animation supervision” credit, but no animators are credited. The reason is simple. I’ve been told that Hanna-Barbera farmed out the work on the half-hour to one of the local commercial houses. It might have been Quartet; it might have been Playhouse. I don’t recall and I have no notes about where I got the information. So you’ll have to treat this as hearsay unless Mike Kazaleh or someone who’s an expert on this sort of thing posts a comment.

    Since we’re talking Yogi and birthdays, here’s a real kid having a real birthday party with real Hanna-Barbera stuff. The picture was purloined off the internet a few years ago so I have no idea who the youngster is or when this took place.

    You can click on the picture to get a better look. You’ll notice Li’l Tom Tom and Iddy Biddy Buddy (Yakky Doodle in his pre-Yakky days) as well as Huck, Yogi, Boo Boo and Mr. Jinks. I believe the kangaroo is Ka-pow who was in the Pixie and Dixie cartoon “Boxing Buddy.” Where’s Yowp, you ask? After all, a party isn’t a party without Yowp. We can only hope mom picked up the matching paper plates you see below to ensure everyone’s favourite cartoon dog that says “Yowp!” was invited.

    Warnning: Do NOT Get Caught While Searching!!
    Your IP : - Country : - City:
    Your ISP TRACKS Your Online Activity! Hide your IP ADDRESS with a VPN!
    Before you searching always remember to change your IP adress to not be followed!
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    Those wonderful TV producers you see to your right brought us hours upon hours of enjoyment—and still do through reruns and home video. And with it came an endless array of this-and-that for parents to buy for kids, campgrounds, contests, and all kinds of other things. People have sent me pictures of stuff involving Hanna-Barbera and we periodically get around to posting them. So here’s a hodge-podge of Hanna-Barberiana. One or two may have been posted before.

    Is this a Yogi Bear sundial? Does anyone know where this is? The World’s Largest Yogi Bear is in Cook Forest, Pennsylvania, but I don’t believe that looks like Pennsylvania. I thought it might be in Larkspur, Colorado, but I can’t find this picture there.

    If you grew up in the ‘60s like I did, you can probably sing the Kellogg’s jingle. Kellogg’s headquarters was in Battle Creek, Michigan. Here is the Kellogg’s plant (circa 1960) in all its glory, surrounded by its cereal box mascots. Coco the elephant’s banner waving didn’t save his job. He was replaced on packages of Cocoa Krispies by Snagglepuss (if I had to pick a favourite Kellogg’s cereal, that would be it. I’ll bet it tastes different now).

    Here’s Bill Hanna surrounded by storyboards, a box of Man Size Kleenex and someone who remains unidentified. My suspicious is he worked with Hanna at the MGM cartoon studio. Nobody I’ve asked knows who it is, including people at the studio when this was likely taken (mid-to-late ‘60s).

    A publicity drawing for that new TV series, The Jetsons. I’ve seen it in several newspapers of 1962 but not in colour. Artist unknown.

    I’m presuming this is a record sleeve. We posted some, er, questionable country music stylings involving Yogi on the blog a few years ago. If you really want to search for them, go ahead. I’ll pass.

    Magic Slate was released in 1959 by Watkins-Strathmore Company and cost mom or dad 29 cents. The only problem with these is the grey film on top would get wrinkled if it was used too much and that would cause a broken line with whatever you were drawing. But for 29 cents, you can’t go wrong.

    Aladdin Industries of Nashville made lunch kits. The company is still around (under new management) but it’s apparently out of the carry-your-sandwich-to-school business. Mind you, a lot of moms are out of the making-your-lunch-for-school business, too, what with elementary school cafeterias and such today. I’m pulling for Quick Draw in this contest.

    And now, the Yowp Fashion Section. Below is an example of good fashion.

    And below is an example of bad fashion.

    It’s cool to think that someone is making Huckleberry Hound T-shirts, especially since Huck isn’t exactly a very high-profile character these days (though he might be if Hanna-Barbera’s owners released the final season of the Huckleberry Hound Show on DVD; music rights are not a problem with it). And, having lived through the ‘80s, I can confirm guys wore mesh half-shirts. Have they made a comeback yet?

    Ah!! Headless Snagglepuss!!! This sticker book was published by Whitman in 1963. Now, if they chopped off Yakky’s head...

    T.C. was long into reruns when this colour version of the studio’s 1961 publicity art was made. That pose of Top Cat got an awful lot of use.

    If Yogi Bear were a Japanese stop-motion production, would he look like this? And why is Yogi carrying Easter Eggs? Perhaps we have some readers who are able to solve these puzzles.

    My thanks to Billie Towzer and others who sent these pictures to the blog.

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  • 07/30/16--07:05: Matador Huck
  • I love the little cartoons between the cartoons on the Huck, Yogi and Quick Draw shows. It’s neat seeing the characters interact with each other as actors on a TV cartoon show but still in character. And, at least in the early Huck series, the little cartoons are very attractive. In fact, if you look frame-to-frame, you’ll see parts of them are in full animation. Scenes are drawn on ones in some spots and you’ll find full body movement from frame to frame, not just the eyes or mouth sliding around on top of a cel of a character’s body.

    Here are a couple of neat scenes from one where Huck plays a matador. Joe Barbera, or Dan Gordon, or Charlie Shows, or whoever, used the gag where the “bull” (in this case, Mr. Jinks), disappears in the matador’s cape. Huck flaps the cape and Jinks emerges in a little rolling ball before opening up and landing on the ground. The drawings are really nice. These are some of them.

    “I’ll grab them mouses yet,” says Jinks, before dashing out of the scene. Check the mouth shapes. And note how Jinks’ body moves. Full animation.

    The backgrounds in this mini-cartoon are great, too.

    I thought the animator was Ed Love because it kind of resembles his work, but Mike Kazaleh tells me Phil Duncan worked on these. He knows Duncan’s work better than anybody. I presume Duncan wasn’t on the Hanna-Barbera staff, that these were farmed out to wherever Duncan was at the time (Playhouse Pictures?) or he was freelancing.

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    Military tests in a protected national park? I doubt it would happen in real life, but we saw it twice in the Yogi Bear TV series in the early ‘60s and we see it again in the Yogi newspaper comics. Something we don’t see in the Sunday comics 50 years ago this month is Boo Boo. Yogi could carry a cartoon on his own—and did in the first season of the Huckleberry Hound Show when Joe Barbera, Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon worked on stories—so the little bear-type buddy’s absence really isn’t noticed.

    A kind reader named Richard Holliss has sent me his large collection of coloured Yogi Bear and Flintstones Sunday comics. It’s not a complete run but covers parts of about 4 ½ years. The full broadsheet versions of the comics take up three rows. The tabloid versions of Richard’s comics are four rows, but in order to fit them on the page, one small panel in the top row (usually the second panel) had to be deleted. I’ll have to describe the missing panel in each comic. My great thanks to Richard for volunteering to help.

    If you can follow all that, let’s carry on.

    Yes, there’s a leprechaun family living in a tree in Jellystone. And in the August 7th comic, the plot is one of those “be careful what you wish for” routines like the cartoon where Yogi got the golden touch from a genie and turned everything into pic-a-nic baskets. Neither Yogi nor the fish seem impressed with the pond of pink goop in the final panel. It’s not exactly magically delicious. Gene Hazelton’s layouts always have intelligent use of space. He needed something to take up the space over the pond so he invented a tree with a branch and birds sitting on it. The leprechaun spell-casting within an “O” is pretty creative, too. The missing panel has Yogi with a wide, crooked, close-mouthed smile and saying “Hmmm!”

    Yogi is, indeed, smarter-than-the-average bear in the August 14th comic. He comes up with an instant messaging system, at least. I like the attention to detail on the pipeline. The missing (third) panel has Ranger Smith half-way through the doorstep of the ranger station, running out, his left hand holding down the brim of his hat (he must be going fast), saying “I wonder what the trouble is.” Yogi is in the background with two curved lines next to his head like he’s shaking it a bit in surprise (Peanuts comics did this frequently).

    How about this comic from August 21st? Yogi’s not only expressive, but care is given to how he’s holding his rifle as he goes through his test. I’d never think of drawing it above the head and held upside down like in the ravine jump panel, but it seems accurate to me. The design of the drill sergeant has that mid-‘60s Hanna-Barbera look. Iwao Takamoto’s influence, perhaps? I like the sign on the tree in the opening panel and the little birdies sitting on top. The missing panel has a silhouette of Yogi, with two fir trees in the distance, saying “Hmmm...What’s that up ahead?”

    Well, you smug Mr. Ranger, Yogi tried to warn you. You wouldn’t listen. In the August 28th comic, Ranger Smith’s son is once again named Kevin. Isn’t that a lovely framing in the top panel of the centre action? The same with Smith hogging the kid’s pool in the second row. The missing panel has a head shot of the Ranger in quarter view, drumming his fingers against his face, saying “Hmmm...I wonder?!?” There are drops of sweat drawn is the air around his face.

    Next month, Boo Boo returns, Cindy shows up and Yogi uses his ingenuity. We have full-colour versions of all four September 1966 comics to post.

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  • 08/06/16--07:07: Yakky Doodle – School Fool
  • Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
    Credits: Animation – Bill Keil, Layout – Walt Clinton, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon; Chopper, Kid – Vance Colvig; Pugsy, Teacher – Daws Butler.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions
    Plot: Chopper protects Yakky from a bully in class.

    There are two things that we learn from this cartoon: twelve divided by three is 129, and Yakky Doodle cartoons are sure weak without Fibber Fox or some other wisecracking antagonist.

    The bad guy in this cartoon is a puppy who can dish it out but can’t take it. Mike Maltese builds up some sympathy for the naïve Yakky who’s picked on by the little canine jerk, but the story isn’t laden with gags or much silliness. Maltese, to reiterate a point I’ve made before, just doesn’t seem inspired by the Yakky series and had, I suspect, much more fun writing for Snagglepuss (eventually, Yakky was given to Tony Benedict).

    Yakky’s pretty ignorant in this one, too. Yakky is in a classroom. Chopper makes an entrance, announces himself to the teacher, and even talks to Yakky. But after school, Yakky says to himself “Boy, Chopper’s going to be so proud of me when he hears how I can do my divided-bys.” Uh, Yakky, he already KNOWS. He was in the class with you. He saw it. Maybe that puppy was onto something when he had Yakky wear a dunce cap. Yeah, I know Chopper was wearing a wig, but still...

    (As an aside, when did dunce caps become obsolete? Can you imagine the lawsuit if a kid were forced to wear one today?)

    This is a rare cartoon in that Vance Colvig gets to do a voice other than Chopper’s. He plays a kid in school who sits behind the bully Pugsy. But wait. The teacher tells Chopper to sit behind Pugsy. Where’d the kid go? He vanishes for the rest of the cartoon.

    Interestingly, there isn’t a lot of violence in the cartoon. At the end, when Pugsy challenges Yakky to a fight, Chopper gets involved but doesn’t directly retaliate against the kid. Instead, he uses a slingshot to cause an apple to fall off a tree and onto Pugsy’s head. This lack of direct violence seems to have pretty much become mandated in cartoons by the networks a few years later when they started bending over for do-gooder groups. The only other things that happen are Chopper flicking Pugsy’s head to make him swallow the peas he’s going to shoot at Yakky (not very hurtful) and sitting on a tack (butt violation jokes were pretty standard at Hanna-Barbera). Here’s Bill Keil’s expression on Chopper, who sits on a tack by mistake. He’s doing a good impression of Lucy Ricardo.

    Keil’s animation is workmanlike, Dick Thomas’ backgrounds are functional (Yakky and Chopper seem to live in the countryside) and the sound cutter fills the score with familiar background tunes from “The Flintstones” and “Loopy de Loop.” If you’ve seen this cartoon and can pick out some moments you liked, post what it was in the comment section. But if I never saw this cartoon again, I wouldn’t be disappointed.

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    There was a time, and maybe it hasn’t gone away, when dad would hook up the trailer to the back of the car, stuff the kids in the backseat and head out on the open road for days on end for adventures in trailer parks, campsites and tourist traps.

    It was a time when a monstrously high wooden Fred or Dino would beckon you to drive on in and buy all kinds of knick-knacks and visit a representation of the very town of Bedrock you see on TV.

    Yes, we’re talking about Flintstones tourist sites.

    One was north of Rutland, B.C. on the main highway. It was torn down to make room for a shopping centre. Freddy’s Brew Pub is on the site; need we tell you who Freddy was? Another was east of Chilliwack, B.C. on the Trans-Canada Highway and was turned into a generic Stone Age park due to some trademark issues.

    Two others were in the U.S., one in South Dakota and another in the middle of nowhere in Arizona. A reader asked me three years ago about the last mentioned one. I wrote a post and didn’t have an answer, so the post went on hold. Well, I still don’t have an answer, but I’ll up the post anyway.

    Bedrock City has a website that looks like it was designed to run on Netscape 3.0. Appropriate for the Stone Age, I guess. You can go to it here. Someone pointed me in the direction of an internet post of November 2012 where the resort was looking pretty run down. You can see the full set of photos here.

    The real Bedrock never looked so barren, did it? The houses have helpful signs to let you know which characters lived there. This one belonged to “the policeman.” Maybe that’s the traffic cop from the opening animation during the first two seasons that almost nobody remembered or saw for years. There is a mailbox out front.

    The Rubble abode. Betty has eyes from “Cow and Chicken.” Maybe that series couldn’t get its own fun park.

    The Flintstones’ house. It appears the record-playing needle-bird has flown away.

    Bedrock transportation. The onion-shaped thing with a doughnut on top is a school. Something tells me it wasn’t designed by Ed Benedict. Note the school bell behind the school bus.

    Here’s a theatre where, apparently, Flintstones cartoons were shown in an endless cycle. We can only presume they were on VHS. It is the Stone Age, after all. Nice buckets outside the door.

    A year ago, news reports had the 30-acre chunk of land for sale at $2 million. Lots of stories were written about it but there doesn’t appear to have been a follow-up piece about whether anyone bought it. You can read more about it here.

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    TV is a vast wasteland, Newton Minow said. TV is too violent and tasteless, said numerous bluenose special interest groups. Well, in the future, that’s all changed.

    Warren Foster’s story for Elroy’s TV Show is highlighted by a wonderful satire of what things would be like if Minow and the other do-gooders got their way, and television broadcast nothing but classical music concerts, live drama and nature documentaries.

    Mr Transistor: I’ve just read these scripts you guys turned in as ideas for a new show. There’s not one of them worth doing. TV Geometry lessons! Chemistry course! Animals of the World! What are you trying to do to me?
    Writer 2: Ah, but chief, those shows are all educational.
    Transistor: Educational! Whatever happened to entertainment?
    Writer 2: Well, we’ve been writing educational programmes for so long...
    Writer 3: We’ve forgotten entertainment.
    Writer 1: Our mission has been to educate people.
    Transistor: You’ve educated them so much, they’re too smart to watch TV.
    Writer 2: How about a cowboy series?
    Writer 1: Or a doctor programme?
    Transistor: Hmmm. It’s tempting, but we don’t dare start that stuff again. That’s what brought on educational programmes.
    Later, at the Jetsons’ apartment:
    Transistor: I’m Mr Transistor, president of Asteroid TV Productions.
    Jane: Oh, I don’t watch TV any more. It’s over my head. Why don’t you bring back doctor and cowboy shows?
    The plot’s easy to sum up. Transistor and his lazy writers see Elroy and Astro and picture a Lassie-type show. (“But, boss, it’s got to be educational.” “It is, it is! It teaches a lesson—be nice to your dog and he won’t bite you.”) Astro’s non-plussed about the whole idea but signs anyway. George decides to become Elroy’s manager and is such a pest, Transitor puts him in Elroy’s show, where he’s attacked by a robot. George quits and Elroy decides he’d rather go home and watch TV. Meanwhile, Spacely’s wife (Jean Vander Pyl does a great job with her snooty voice) demands that he get a TV show for their son, Arthur (Dick Beals in a very good outing). Arthur ends up taking over the show, pest Spacely gets put in the show and attacked by the robot. But he won’t quit. (“What? And give up show biz? Never.”). The robot attack continues off camera to end the cartoon.

    Besides Foster’s great satire, I really enjoy the artwork in this cartoon. Art Lozzi painted some of the backgrounds from Dick Bickenbach’s layouts. The blue trees are pretty much a Lozzi trademark. And, yes, they showed the ground in part of the cartoon.

    These two frames are the beginning and ending of a long background pan. Notice how the road is empty. Why is a road there anyway? In all the Jetsons cartoons, people drive in the atmosphere.

    The same here. Lozzi uses a bit of yellow to break up the monotony of the blue colours.

    More exteriors.

    The last third of the cartoon takes place on Jupiter. I don’t know who did the backgrounds here but they’re great. Wonderfully bleak. Browns and purples. Here’s the start of another pan.

    And here’s part of the rest of the pan snipped together. I couldn’t do all of it and make the colours match.

    And more of Jupiter. Elroy’s dressing room is on an overlay, as is the slab of stone on the right side of the cave, as well as the big rock in the foreground of the last painting.

    Inventions. There’s the televisor system to spy on workers, a nuclear-powered drone that carries drinks to your table, a radio communicator to speak to your child away from home (no need to dial a cell phone number), a masking film across a door that allows you to see the silhouette of a person to help you decide whether you want to let them in.

    An electric train set is, naturally, in the air. Secretaries are robots (but still take coffee breaks). People travel from office to office in a pneumatic tube. And windows are automatically washed and squeegeed clean by pushing a button.

    Some character designs. Arthur Spacely and his dog Zero.

    The evil robot.

    And Mrs. Spacely. Her diamond ring appears only when needed for a scene; it disappears the rest of the time.

    I couldn’t tell you who animated this cartoon. My wild guess is whoever it was, they did the whole show. I didn’t see any variation in character drawings.

    George doesn’t meet up with a traffic cop in this cartoon, but he does have trouble getting onto the freeway. I like how pieces of his car break off as he tries to shove his way into traffic.

    George O’Hanlon, Penny Singleton, Daws Butler and Janet Waldo are here, along with Don Messick in a pile of roles, the forementioned Vander Pyl and, of course, Mel Blanc as Spacely. There’s a screw-up in one scene where the wrong writer’s voice comes out of the wrong mouth.

    Hoyt Curtin’s score perks along in the usual fashion.

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  • 08/17/16--07:02: Cartoon Voice Acting Changed
  • Daws Butler never really stopped working until he died in 1988. If he wasn’t providing voiceovers, he was providing help and encouragement to the generation of voice actors that would follow him.

    Daws’ heyday was the 1950s. The decade was bookended with A Time For Beany on one end and Rocky and his Friends on the other. In between were comedy records and radio shows with Stan Freberg, cartoon commercial work and, as we know, starring roles in just about every Hanna-Barbera series. Daws didn’t get a lot of starring work after 1960; Joe Barbera wanted to expand the studio’s voice repertory company and not rely on a handful of actors, so others were brought in. But he did his old characters when they were needed and originated a few new voices (some of which sounded similar to his old ones).

    Best of all, Daws lived to see some recognition in the popular press for the great entertainment he provided. Here’s a feature story from the Associated Press that appeared in newspapers starting November 20, 1978. TV cartoons simply weren’t as good as they had been for a variety of reasons, and Daws reflects a bit on that.

    Huckleberry Voice Stays In Hiding
    AP Television Writer
    LOS ANGELES (AP)—Daws Butler has been on TV 30 years. But viewers never see him acting in a show. Then who is he? Try Huckleberry Hound. And Yogi Bear. And Quick-Draw McGraw. And Capt. Crunch.
    He's the voice of those cartoon stars of Saturday kid shows. Old kids now posing as adults heard him in the great Jay Ward cartoon era, in "Fractured Fairy Tales,""Aesop's Fables" and "Superchicken."
    This man of several hundred voices currently has 15 playing in four Hanna-Barbera cartoon shows Saturday on all three networks. And he has another one coming at night to CBS on Thursday, Nov. 30.
    It's for Andy in a holiday special, "Raggedy Ann and Andy in the Great Santa Claus Caper."
    Butler, 62, a small, merry-faced man born in Toledo, Ohio and raised in Oak Park, Ill., doesn't regret he's never seen on his shows.
    "I think maybe I was smart," he laughs." You're not typed this way. My whole bit is multi-voice. Of course, I tend to get confused by my own voice."
    Daws never set out to speak funny. He wanted to write funny, inspired by such masters as Robert Benchley, H. Allen Smith, Frank Sullivan and Fred Allen, whose works fill his library today.
    He's authored funny commercials, dialogue for a voice workshop he runs and, in the 1950s, co-wrote one of the first comedy record hits, "St. George and the Dragonet," with satirist Stan Freburg [sic].
    But his voice, in that "Dragnet" spoof, remains his chief asset, though when at mikeside he also tries to do what he calls "writing on your feet." No, it doesn't mean his scripts have laces. It means he improvises, ad-libs and generally tries to make the character he's doing sound unique and spontaneous.
    Butler, who began his career as an impressionist, was in radio after World War II with serious roles on such shows as "The Whistler" and "Dr. Christian." He started cartoon voicing at MGM later on.
    He began in TV with Freburg in 1948 at KTLA here, in an Emmy-winning local puppet program "Time for Beany," which in its five years gained a show-biz reputation as a very hip kind of Punch and Judy show.
    "It was full of Hollywood in-jokes," he recalled with a grin, full of sophisticated craziness that also marked "Fractured Fairy Tales" and the early Hanna-Barbera shows he did 10 years later.
    There was a lot of freedom then to improvise, to experiment, he said, "because television was new and we were the people who had the answers. And they came to us and we gave the answers."
    In effect, the inmates ran the asylum. Now, he said, a bit sadly, the advertising agencies and networks seem to want things tidy, carefully controlled and pasteurized. The unpredictable is a no-no.
    Talent still abounds, he said, "but they're not allowed to do as much as they're capable of doing. It's the straightening out of the (cartoon) characters, of everything being so planned now.
    "The excitement to me was having it happen in the studios. You were adding something to the product, putting something in the stew, and made it better." He seemed momentarily gloomy. His face brightened when it was suggested humor and satire seem to flourish when they seem most endangered. "Come to think of it, I'm doing dialect in a new show," he said. Although ethnic groups in the past have griped about the use of various dialects, he said he never uses dialect to make fun of anyone. "I always do it with love, but dialect has been taboo for about five years. So maybe we are getting our sense of humor back." He beamed. "Who knows, we could be in for a Renaissance."

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  • 08/20/16--07:00: Snagglepuss – Royal Rodent
  • Writer Mike Maltese found a way to populate the Snagglepuss series—by borrowing characters he had used in other series. Thus is it that Snagglepuss met up with the future Yakky Doodle; Snuffles, from the Quick Draw McGraw cartoons; the J. Evil Scientist family from the Snooper and Blabber cartoons and Bigelow the mouse from the Augie Doggie series.

    Bigelow may be the least remembered of the lot. Basically, it was Doug Young doing a Jimmy Cagney impression. The tough guy mouse appeared with Snagglepuss twice, Yakky Doodle once and in three Loopy De Loop cartoons.

    In Royal Rodent, the King (Daws Butler) loves cheese. So does Bigelow, who keeps stealing it. So the King hires Snagglepuss to get rid of him. Next follows some gags that seem like watered-down Warner Bros. material, followed by Snagglepuss scaring Bigelow out of the castle by telling corny jokes that would have had him booed off a small-time vaudeville stage. The cartoon ends with Snagglepuss hired as the court jester, whose jokes the King never hears after making sure he’s wearing ear muffs to block out the sound.

    Snagglepuss is home writing the King when his servant comes to retrieve him for employment:

    Snagglepuss: Dear Kingy, it doth behoove me—or is it “beehive me?” No matter—I’m writin’ you for the tenth time offerin’ my services in whatever capacity you deem my talents fit.

    The gags:
    ● Snagglepuss puts out a piece of cheese outside Bigelow’s hole as bait, ready to bash him with a fly swatter when he emerges. “I’ll give him swat for! Who knows? I may even be knightied for this. Or pyjamaed even!” Instead, Bigelow saws the floor under Snagglepuss. Down goes our hero. Bigelow laughs and grabs the cheese. Reponsds Snagglepuss: “He who laughs last laughs who. Or he who laughs who he. Best laughs he who who he. Be who....aw, skip it.”
    ● Snagglepuss rolls a bowling ball toward Bigelow’s hole. The mouse pushes out a spring which sproings the bowling ball back and knocks down the King.
    ● “Come and get it! Free cheese for everybody!” shouts Snagglepuss, who then boards up Bigelow’s hole when the mouse runs to get it. Snagglepuss then slaps down on him with the fly swatter. Bigelow ends up in the King’s crown. You know what happens next. Like in an old Tweety cartoon, Snagglepuss tries bashing the mouse but clobbers the King instead.

    ● Bigelow challenges Snagglepuss to a duel (Bigelow with a sword, Snagglepuss with the fly swatter). Snagglepuss decides “to appeal to his sense of humour” and lets out with some groaners while they’re dueling. “Say, didja heard the one about the janitor’s son, didja? His father left home so the elevator man brought him up. Then there was the horse who ate the bail or wire by mistake. You know what happened to him? He went haywire!” That’s enough to scare Bigelow away. A couple of reaction drawings.

    Also included in the dialogue:

    Exit, anticipatin’ all the way, stage left.
    Exit, do-it-yourselfing all the way, stage right.
    Heavens to pincushion! (and there’s a murgatroyd in there as well)
    What shall it be, a buckswashlin’ musketeer?

    There seems to have been a real problem matching colours. Look at Snagglepuss’ head and arm (which move). They’re darker than his body (which doesn’t move).

    There are no credits on the cartoon. Bigelow has at least five head positions during dialogue. The characters roll their heads while talking on occasion, so Dick Lundy may be the animator. I like the design on the King’s attendant (played by Doug Young).

    Hoyt Curtin’s music includes a few short pieces heard on The Flintstones. It sounds like there’s a lot of a bass clarinet in the underscore.

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    The Flintstones newspaper comic gave Hanna-Barbera the perfect chance to give the movie The Man Called Flintstone some free publicity.

    Variety announced on January 26, 1966 the film was going into production. It must have been rushed; it was revealed by the trade paper at the end of March that Paul Frees had been signed to do voice work, and the voice track is usually done even before any animation is started. The movie was released in August.

    The August 14, 1966 Sunday comic was based on the movie. I like how the director is called “J.B.” Where have I seen those initials before?

    The colour versions for this month 50 years ago were supplied by Richard Holliss. Dino is absent in all four comics and Pebbles isn’t central to the plot in any of them for a change.

    August 7, 1966.

    August 14, 1966. Fred shoots a hole in someone? Such violence! What about the children?!

    August 21, 1966.

    August 28, 1966.

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    How does one become a Choo Choo? Here’s how Marvin Kaplan put it to fellow comedian Gilbert Gottfried during a podcast about two months ago. He called getting the job “another fluke.”
    In order to work for Hanna-Barbera, you had to audition. And the first one they auditioned for Top Cat was Michael O’Shea. Well, he’s a good man and a nice actor but he was not very funny. You gotta realise they were trying to do Bilko. They wouldn’t get Phil [Silvers] but they got Maurice Gosfield. Remember Moe?
    Moe played Doberman [on Bilko]. He was the funniest man I ever worked with. I absolutely worshipped Maurice Gosfield. First of all, when he ate dinner, you knew exactly what he ate. When they were doing Bilko, they would go to an Italian restaurant beforehand and the guest actress was Kay Kendall. And Maurice ordered meatballs. And Phil, watching Maurice balance these meatballs, he said “He’s doing it without a net.”
    Joe Barbera, in order to get a job for Joe, you had to audition. Now he had three guys under personal contract—a man named Daws Butler, a man named Don Messick, wonderful, and a man named Len Weinrib. If they couldn’t do your voice, you got the job. None of them could do my voice.
    By now, you know that Marvin has passed away at the age of 89.

    We have some clippings about Marvin’s early career on the Tralfaz blog. To sum up, in the late ‘40s, he was acting in a play in Los Angeles where he spotted by Katharine Hepburn, who got him a job at her studio, M-G-M, in her movie, Adam’s Rib. In 1951, he appeared with Sheldon Leonard in the movie Behave Yourself. Cy Howard saw a preview of the movie and teamed the two for a radio comedy with Sandra Gould. Leonard dropped out of the project and Eddie Max was brought in. The show was called The Three of Us. What happened next is explained in this story in the Baltimore Sun, October 31, 1954:

    Comic Flunked His English
    IF Marvin Kaplan could speak, he wouldn’t be the terrific success he is on CBS Television’s “Meet Millie.”
    This paradox developed when Kaplan was teaching school at Brooklyn’s Midwood High School in 1946. He was a substitute teacher, and he was doing right well. For one term the students of his English class were able to hold their own with the children in similar English classes throughout the city.
    “Then the bubble busted,” Kaplan says with a certain amount of chagrin.
    “I had to take a speech test in order to attain the exalted rank of permanent teacher. I flunked.
    Anything For A Buck
    Rather than stay on as substitute Kaplan set his sights on the theater, playwriting, radio—anything that would make a dollar.
    His flair for writing landed Kaplan one of his first wage-earning jobs. He became a reader for a motion-picture company.
    “All I had to do,” he explains, “was read a book, write a 25-30 page synopsis and include my opinion as to whether it might make a good movie. I read ‘til I was blind and wrote until my fingers ached.”
    Despite the fact that he is one of the “hottest” actors in Hollywood at the moment, Marvin still wants to be a playwright. He feels that an actor is good for a limited time while writers go on and on like old man river.
    Credits Cy Howard
    But how did this speech—flunking teacher become the reputable actor. In a two-word explanation, Kaplan says “Cy Howard.”
    Cy Howard is a CBS writer-producer. At one time he was contemplating a domestic radio comedy show, and for the audition record, hired our hero. During a break in rehearsals, Howard was contemplating the type of character that Kaplan would play on the show. When Marvin told the producer that he wrote poetry, Howard gulped twice and said that he could be himself on the show.
    Unfortunately the audition record never got past the recording stage. However, there was a bit of indecision on the “Meet Millie” show in the characterization department, and it was finally decided that the poet Alfred role Kaplan had created on the Howard show would be perfect for “Meet Millie.”
    Kaplan then explains, “I was tried out for one week,” the character hit and Alfred Prinzmetal was born.
    Does he enjoy doing silly-guy roles like Alfred? The question draws a dirty look from Kaplan.
    Alfred to my mind is not a complete idiot,” he said. “He is typical of thousands of kids who are struggling for success but just lack the necessary talent to make the grade.
    On he went to Top Cat, which lasted one season in prime time and forever in reruns. Arnold Stang, Allen Jenkins and the producers did publicity interviews for the show; Marvin seems to have been left out. Here’s a piece in the Chicago Tribune of October 14, 1961:
    Hollywood's red-hot Hanna-Barbera studios have come up with another animated cartoon series, Top Cat, seen on channel 7 Wednesdays at 7:30 p. m.
    A number of voices familiar to TV fans are heard as they supply the speaking parts for Top Cat and his friends. The star of the show, a nimble witted alley cat who lives in a roomy ash can with all the comforts of home, speaks with the voice of Arnold Stang. Allen Jenkins speaks for Officer Dibble, the only character in the show.
    Maurice Gossfield, Pvt. Doberman of the Sgt. Bilko shows, will be heard as Benny the Ball, Top Cat's chubby pal.
    Others in the cast are John Stephenson, Leo De Lyon, and Marvin Kaplan.
    "We chose alley cats as our heroes for a very simple reason," said Bill Hanna who, with Joe Barbera produced the series. "Cats are appealing and full of personality. Cats have real living problems — problems that people can easily identify themselves with. T. C. and his friends have a constant struggle to survive, but they also have a lot of fun with their freedom."
    Hanna and Barbera are the fabulous partners who have come up with Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Huckleberry Hound, and The Flintstones in the space of three years.
    The voice cast of Top Cat was just terrific. The music was great. The opening and closing animation was clever. The series itself didn’t, and doesn’t, do a lot for me, but it has a lot of fans. You can read more about Marvin Kaplan in the 2009 post. Better still, go to Mark Evanier’s blog. Read this remembrance of Mr. Kaplan. And be sure to go to this post, which also links to Kliph Nesteroff’s transcribed interviews with Marvin about his career. And you should be able to hear him with Gilbert Gottfried by clicking the arrow below.

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    Yogi Bear wasn’t a satiric show like Rocky and Bullwinkle, but it got in a few nudges every once in a while.

    Insatiable nanny groups got plenty of ink in newspapers for years, “approving” television programming for somebody else’s children. And Yogi, likely through writer Warren Foster, got a chance to make his own little commentary on it in one of those short cartoons-between-the-cartoons.

    Yogi tells us he’s about to investigate violence on TV, then turns on his set. Suddenly, the programming comes out of the set to attack him.

    “Hey, hey, hey,” he moans in pain. “It’s there, all right.”

    The irony is, within ten years, a cartoon like this would not be allowed to appear on network television. The Huckleberry Hound Show was praised initially for not being “violent” like Tom and Jerry, or Popeye. But organised do-gooders never stop once their goal is met. They just expand their targets. Hanna-Barbera became a target. Wave bye-bye to The Herculoids and Space Ghost, kids. Someone thinks they’re not suitable for you.

    Joe Barbera complained in 1978: “Some of these groups don't know when to quit. If Chaplin or Abbott and Costello or Laurel and Hardy were trying to do TV comedy today, they couldn't make it." And when he and Bill Hanna tried to revive Tom and Jerry in 1975 for television, Barbera told the Associated Press’ Lee Margulies “We ran into a stone wall, because some citizens for the protection of the children of the world have decided cartoons are evil, that they’re violent and full of mayhem. We showed (the network folks) five of the old Tom and Jerrys and they laughed so hard they had tears in their eyes. Then they said, ‘We can’t use them. If we put those on we’ll get killed.’”

    So Tom and Jerry got emasculated for TV animation.

    In 1968, Hanna and Barbera came up with a combination animated-live action The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at $100,000 per half hour. Syndicated newspaper writer Mel Heimer noted “There will be action, Bill and Joe promise, but not great violence.”

    Emboldened special interests that knocked Frankenstein, Jr. off the air didn’t see it that way. Here’s a story that from the Chicago Daily News Service that appeared in newspapers on October 3, 1969. Ignore a few things, such as “we can’t give them the cartoons we gave them ten years ago” line. Ten years earlier, Hanna-Barbera produced Huck, Yogi, Jinks and Quick Draw. And ten years earlier, either Bill or Joe said the same thing about “sharper” kids; the earlier quote mentioned shows that were contemporary to the time. The New York Times, not Variety was the source of the “inked disaster” opinion. And while lauding Dick Dastardly and the Cattanooga Cats (neither was an original concept), there’s no mention of the one new character in 1969 that became one of the studio’s top money-makers of all time: Scooby-Doo.

    (As an aside, did Bill Hanna really mean to say “Erotic things are permissible”?)

    Young Television Viewers Tough, Demanding Critics

    LOS ANGELES — To most people, a 7-year-old may be a runny-nosed kid, something people wash, clothe and get off to school on time, But to two of the nation's biggest cartoon makers, he's a sophisticate, a tough, demanding critic, a hip character, completely "with" today's music, and quick to be turned off by anything phony or treacly.
    "We can't give them the cartoons we gave them ten years ago. The kids now are so much sharper. They've been exposed to the Beatles, Rowan and Martin, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason. They don't dig Snow White and Heidi. That older stuff is only okay today for a younger crowd — say the 3-year-olds."
    The man talking is William Denby Hanna, 53, half of the team of Hanna-Barbera Productions, which this year will turn but six hours of network TV series weekly for CBS, NBC and ABC. That's exactly half the total Saturday morning programming of the three networks.
    "Joe Barbera and I worked for MGM for 20 years, and we turned out 125 'Tom and Jerry' animated shorts — that's the equivalent of 48 minutes of cartoon time a year. A year. Less than one-sixth of our production now in a week."
    MGM fired them both when people stopped going to movies and watched TV instead. They decided to concentrate on the medium that cost them their jobs. They came up with much less complicated techniques, particularly far fewer drawings, so they could cut a movie budget of $50,000 for a five-minute film down to $3,100 for television.
    But having a technique didn't assure them of a product. So, backed by Screen Gems, they came out with the cartoon package, "Rough and Ready." [sic] It came out in 1957 and was snapped up by NBC. Then, came "Quick Draw McGraw and a big leap forward, "Huckleberry Hound," in 1959, quickly followed by "The Flintstones" in 1960 and "Yogi Bear" in 1961.
    The prime-time "Flintstones" series was rapped by Variety as "a pen and ink disaster." It lasted six years at night, however, and then went right onto Saturday morning network showing and simultaneous around-the-world syndication.
    "We put a big ad in Variety 'The sun never sets on "The Flintstones!" I think we're in 80 countries now," Hanna says.
    But it probably was "Yogi Bear" that set Hanna-Barbera apart. It was immensely popular, particularly with the college crowd.
    "I'll tell you why. Say the forest ranger would bawl Yogi out for doing something he shouldn't and. demand to know why he did it. Yogi answers, 'I'm a nonconformist bear.' And he was, and the young people were beginning to dig being nonconformists themselves."
    Three years, ago Hanna-Barbera sold their ten-year-old firm to Taft Broadcasting for $10,248,567 cash and 60,000 of Taft's common shares. Hanna-Barbera became a division of Taft, retaining Hanna as president president and Barbera as executive vice president. (They shift the title of president back and forth). While the sale brought security, the team felt it also brought broadened perspectives.
    "I don't feel I want to sit back and watch the butterflies," says Joseph Roland Barbera, also 53.
    (The two-man team has been together 30 years. A top aide says the reason they get along so well together professionally is that they, don't see each other socially. "Joe is president of the Greek Theater. His idea of a good time is to go to New York and catch all the shows. Bill is much more informal. He'd rather sail to Catalina on his boat.")
    The biggest problem the newly shaped company ran into was the sudden upsurge in anti-violence protests, not that Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, Huck Hound or Yogi loved blood and gore — but the protests hit everybody.
    Hanna-Barbera's "The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" was given prime-time presentation by NBC last season only to suffer quick cancellation. It was H-B's first live action animated evening series.
    "It was the reaction to the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and some of that reaction was understandable. But it became a little incredible. Our Huck Finn series wasn't like those plotless Japanese cartoons — unremitting violence, bea[s]ts, mechanical monsters destroying people and cities.
    "We had completed 14 half hours of Huck Finn. I remember sitting in the projection room with top network people. 'The kids would love it,' they said. 'But you can't show it. The pirates are chasing those kids with cutlasses. You just can't do that anymore.' What else would a pirate chase them with? A stick of marshmallow or what? But you could see that was that. We had to throw the whole show out the window."
    The flat anti-violence edict practically wipes out any serious effort at adventure series, Hanna says.
    "You can't do adventure any other way. I read all the Tarzan books, all the Mars books, H. G. Wells, Zane Grey. Well, you can't do without weapons, guns, violence problems, I realize that some of the violence was unnecessary and uncalled for. I remember to my surprise seeing a cartoon where a bunch of people got killed. And it wasn't one of those Japanese things, either.
    But the proscription against violence hasn't been all bad.
    "Far from it. It forces us to be more imaginative. We can't use violence as a crutch, as a way of solving a plot problem. Our writing is becoming better. Take one of our new cartoons, "Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines." They operate a very wacky World War I squadron. That sounds like violence sure enough, doesn't it?
    "But there's no shooting. No guns at all. Dastardly and Muttley have a job of stopping an indestructible carrier pigeon from delivering messages across the lines. They never succeed.
    "But what are their weapons? Well, we create an airplane with a huge vacuum cleaner in front of it, another with giant mallet, maybe another with a huge flyswatter. But they always miss. And the thing to remember is that none of these things is something a child can pick up. Erotic things are permissible because children can't find them.
    "A writer had a gag where a machine gun spun around and cut off the tail or the wings. We eliminated the gun but not the gag. We had the propeller spin off and slice the plane up like a bologna slicing machine. It was very funny."
    Hanna argues that slapstick-knockabout is perfectly okay and is not violence.
    "When you have a cartoon character and two funny cars come together and they crash and all fall apart, boom, and in the next scene they're all back together again, nobody ever yells or gets hurt.
    "That's pretty normal slapstick humor. And in doing it with cartoons it makes sense. Think of Laurel and Hardy, they did it and you never saw them with a gun or a knife. The same with Charlie Chaplin."
    Nonviolence and humor can sell, too, and well.
    "We introduced 'The Banana Splits' last year. Four rock musicians — Fleegle, Drooper, Bing and Snorky [sic] — in crazy costumes. They acted as hosts for a cartoon hour on NBC. This year they went to Hawaii for the state fair. And we just got a note from the fair boss saying they pulled in 100,000 kids and parents in just two days. Now you may never have heard of them. But the kids know them.
    "This year we're introducing 'The Cattanooga Cats' on ABC. We got a young songwriter — Mike Curb — he's done more than 40 soundtracks, including pictures like 'Wild Angels,''Wild in the Streets,''The Trip,''Three in the Attic.' He's doing two new tunes. for each of 17 episodes.
    "Too sophisticated, for a 7-year-old kid? Not a bit of it. They know every sharp music group. You can't play down to them. The cartooning we do with this fits the music. Short quips. Mod art. Fast moving patterns. Kind of an animated light show."
    Hanna says the only sure way is to give kids what they like.
    Remember, this story is from 1969. Things only got worse. Activists demanded cartoons be filled with ham-fisted propaganda, so they were. I suspect their intentions were good. They thought the world would be a better place if the television set taught the lessons that parents should have been teaching about social behaviour. Considering the state of the world today, the idea was a failure. Instead, they should have let cartoons on entertainment shows entertain.

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    TV cartoons characters don’t make too many guest appearances on other television shows. It isn’t like you can call up Hokey Wolf and say “Can you be a guest on Jimmy Kimmel tomorrow night?” After all, someone has to draw Hokey (and, somehow, I don’t think the Kimmel audience even knows who Hokey Wolf is anyway).

    But it did happen on a rare occasion. Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear appeared on the 1961 Emmy telecast. And Fred Flintstone showed up on the season opener of Jimmy Dean’s variety show in 1963.

    That friend of lovers of old animation, Mark Kausler, came across someone selling a print of the show and sent along these three screen grabs.

    Mark points out the animation is by Ken Muse.

    Here’s an animation drawing from the cartoon. It looks pretty snazzy.

    Variety reviewed the show (broadcast September 19, 1963). It wasn’t impressed with what it saw.

    Another bit of teaming the cartoon character of Fred Flintstone with Dean was sloppily handled with two separate introes and ran off as a familiar piece of trick photography.
    Rick Du Brow of UPI wasn’t impressed, and said why:
    A trick scene in which Dean dueted with the cartoon character Fred Flintstone was only fair, with the sound not perfectly pitched.
    And Alan Patereau of Newsday snorted:
    But technical achievement or no, who needs Freddy Flintstone, the cartoon neanderthal, paired with Dean in a song and dance of “Yabba-Dabba-Do”? I say pooh.
    Frank Peppiatt’s book When Variety Was King talks a little about the origin of the sketch:
    The Flintsones [sic] was also a big hit ABC show that year, so John [Aylesworth, a writer] came up with the idea of featuring Fred Flintstone as the guest on our first show. We wrote a sketch and a duet for Jimmy and Fred. The song was “Yabba Dabba Doo,” the catchphrase on The Flintstones. We sent the sketch and the music to Hollywood so they could get to work on the animation, which took care of at least six or seven minutes.
    The Flintstones’ season premiere was 90 minutes before the Dean show aired. It featured a musical guest as well—Ann-Margrock.

    My thanks to Mark for sending the frames for this post.

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  • 09/03/16--07:22: Yakky Doodle – Dog Flight
  • Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre, Written by Mike Maltese; Story Direction – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Yakky – Jimmy Weldon; Chopper – Vance Colvig; Kid, Father – Daws Butler.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
    Plot: Yakky tries to teach Chopper to fly.

    Mike Maltese isn’t even trying here.

    You’ve seen it in countless cartoons. Wile E. Coyote drops from a great height because a plan gets botched up. He may hold out a sign. Or he may do some bit of business when he splats on the ground. In this cartoon, Chopper falls through the chimney of a house. A kid says, “Daddy, is that Santa Claus?” “No, son,” replies the father. “It’s just a dog.” “Oh,” adds the kid.

    That’s a punch line? It’s a dog, all right.

    The difficulty with this cartoon is there are no antagonists. So we’re supposed to laugh at Chopper’s misfortune. But Chopper isn’t funny. And he doesn’t say or do anything funny. He just drops after one of Yakky’s failed schemes to launch him into the air. He quotes Quick Draw McGraw once and that’s about the funniest it gets.

    And the dialogue...

    Yakky: Gee, you don’t have much fun, do you, Chopper?
    Chopper: Oh, well, I don’t mind so much. Although I did always kinda have a secret ambition.
    Yakky: What is it, Chopper, huh? What is it?
    Chopper: Aw, I don’t want to tell ya. It’s kinda silly.
    Yakky: Now, if you don’t tell me, I won’t [something] we’re pals any more.
    Chopper: Aw, now you shouldn’t oughta say things like that. It hurts ma feelin’s.
    Yakky: Well, tell me then.

    Yeah, tell him. Stop padding the cartoon with dialogue drivel.

    Yakky ends the cartoon with Chopper’s “Ain’t that cute” catchphrase. Animation Lew Marshall pulls Yakky’s neck up during the final laugh.

    Tony Rivera handles layouts. Here’s a silhouette shot of Yakky looping-the-loop in mid-air. Hoyt Curtin’s version of Man on the Flying Trapeze is played behind some of Yakky’s airborne action.

    The less said about this cartoon, the better. So we won’t say anything more.

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    It’s a shame we don’t know exactly who wrote the stories for the Hanna-Barbera cartoons that appeared in newspapers. They deserve some credit. Well, so does Gene Hazelton for all of his layouts and/or other artwork, but that didn’t happen until years after the comics were published.

    There’s an interesting mix of stories in the Yogi Bear comics that appeared in the Sunday papers (Saturdays in Canada) 50 years ago this month. We have a prank, a ditzy female, a case of mistaken identity combined with a prank and some ingenuity. As you might expect from Hazelton, the layouts are varied and uncluttered. Yogi’s given good expressions.

    Richard Holliss supplied these from his collection. Because they’re in tabloid format, they’re each missing one small panel from the top row so they can fit on the page.

    It’s one thing to draw funny animals but it’s another to draw realistic-looking machinery from more than one angle. That’s what you see with the motorcycle in the September 4th comic. Not all papers ran the first row of panels which, in this case, was too bad. It sets up the gag a lot better than starting with the second row because the bow and arrows aren’t as prominent. I don’t think many comics were set at nighttime. This is Boo Boo’s only appearance of the month. The missing panel is the second one of a head shot of Yogi looking behind him and saying to the ranger “I didn’t realize it was so late!”

    The gag in the September 11th comic seems to be “dumb girl.” But Yogi isn’t very bright, either. Can’t he see the hooks in the fish in her basket? He’s never caught on to this? The mistakenly-read sign/smoking gag goes back to Yogi’s first TV cartoon, “Pie Pirates.” The missing panel has Yogi looking at a NO FISHING sign. Note the woodland creatures adorning the first panel.

    Another uber-cute Hazelton kid makes an appearance in Jellystone Park. Note how the boy is in a little circle in the bottom row of the September 18th comic. Yogi’s writer tries to rhyme “best” and “impress”? Yikes. I like how the home is down the hill in the middle panel of the second row. It’s more attractive than a view like watching a stage (ie. what you see in the TV cartoons, with action moving left-to-right or right-to-left). The missing third panel has Yogi saluting and saying “Right, sir!”

    A little birdie perched atop Yogi’s name stares at the crying papoose in the September 25th comic. I like the curved stylised trees in the bottom panel. The endless rhyming I can do without.

    Click on the comics for a little better look.

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  • 09/10/16--07:16: Jane’s Driving Lesson
  • Writer Joanna Lee tries to have it both ways in her story for Jane’s Driving Lesson. On one hand, she’s tearing apart the chauvinism of the immediate post-war era that men are better drivers than women. But to get there, she gets her laughs by showing what a menace on the roads a woman is (two of them, if you want to consider an incidental character holding up George Jetson in traffic). “Har, har, look at the lousy woman driver” is the punch-line over and over. True, Lee ends the cartoon with a woman driving a bus that George is forced to take, but the woman isn’t exactly an example of femininity.

    What’s bothersome about this cartoon is how Jane Jetson’s character is bent for the sake of a plot. Jane has always struck me as the most level-headed of the adults on The Jetsons (tired comedy clichés of shopping and jealousy notwithstanding). But in this cartoon she’s completely oblivious to the fact she’s doing anything wrong by bashing into cars and signs. However it suits the story as we’re all supposed to laugh at the stereotype of the inept woman behind the wheel.

    Jane’s incompetency proves to be a boon, as it helps capture that hold-up man of the future, Knuckles Nuclear (who is out of prison since his last appearance in The Space Car episode). Yes, that means there are cops in this cartoon. The story even re-uses the gag of a traffic cop turning on a TV set, where a live judge passes sentence on George, who rants about women drivers but is a careless one himself. I haven’t stopped to count them, but there seem to have been an awful lot of Jetsons cartoons featuring police of some kind.

    Lee takes a little while to get to the plot. The first few minutes are taken up with a sequence in a barber shop. There was a Jetsons episode where Jane tried out a number of hairstyles concocted by a dome over her head. In this cartoon, it’s George’s turn.

    Let’s turn our attentions to some of the background art. Sorry, I don’t know who the artist is.

    Some inventions of the future:

    George anticipates googling for answers to crossword puzzles by using his computer. No one in the ‘60s realised tape machines would become obsolete.

    Shaving machines.

    Computer selector for various barbering functions. Considering how it worked, would a real barber have done any better?

    A fire hose that zones in on a fire. Almost.

    The Menulator. Very handy.

    The good old Visiphone.

    Generic drugs. Did Big Pharma die in the future?

    This is yet another Hanna-Barbera cartoon with Disappearing Watch Syndrome. A character wears a watch for the part of the scene where it’s needed, and it disappears forever. You saw it on The Flintstones; it happened in the old Warner Bros. cartoons, too.

    Ken Muse animates a good portion of the cartoon. I won’t attempt any guesses beyond that.

    Howie Morris supplies a few voices in this one, including the nervous Mr. Tweeter and the non-barber. Janet Waldo gets a chance to try out a couple of voices. She’s the ditzy driver, with a voice in the style of Barbara Jo Allen’s Vera Vague (whether the two worked together in radio, I don’t know). She’s also the butch bus driver.

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