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Stuff about early Hanna-Barbera cartoons

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    Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    Credits: Animation – Don Patterson, Layout – Jack Huber, Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Snagglepuss, Prof. Cageo – Daws Butler; Ringmaster, Ape, Ape Baby, Tarzanish guy – Don Messick.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    Copyright 1961 Hanna-Barbera Productions.
    Plot: Snagglepuss escapes from the circus to the jungle, where he realises that circus life wasn’t so bad.

    Before we get to old Snagglepuss, let’s show off some of Monty’s backgrounds. First, some circus drawings, including the shot to open the cartoon.

    Now, some jungle scenes.

    The premise that became Wally Gator is what drives this cartoon. Snagglepuss is a circus performer. He’s unhappy. All he does is take clichéd orders from a lion tamer. (“Hmmm. Changed his hair tonic again,” observes the unhappy Snagglepuss after Professor Cage-o puts his head in his mouth). So he quits and heads by ship to the ancestral home of lions—the jungle. Yes, I know Snagglepuss is amountain lion, thus not native to Africa, but why spoil the plot?

    Anyway, you know what’s going to happen. After all, the Snagglepuss series can’t just move to Africa. He finds the jungle is a worse experience than the circus. First, natives throw arrows at him (we don’t see the natives, thus eliminating pontification by cartoon fans about racism). He escapes by climbing a tree, which turns out to be a giraffe that slings him into a lake with floating suitcases. Only they turn out to be alligators (“Exit, not unpackin’, stage left!”). He escapes again by running off camera and into a large ape.

    Snag: I realise you don’t realise that with which to whom you are dealin’. To wit.
    Ape: Rumpff?
    Snag: I’ll give you a hint. Roooaaaar! Get it? King of the beasts. You may flee in sheer terror if you so desire.
    Ape: Raaarrr.
    Snag: Duke of the beasts. Count of the beasts? Beauty and the beasts, even.
    Ape: RaaAAArr!
    Snag: How’s about an ordinary, everyday type citizen? Can I take out my first citizenship papers?
    Ape: RaaAAArrrr!
    Snag: Would object to my getting’ a driver’s license? A library card, even.
    The large ape picks up Snagglepuss to give to his baby (wearing a bonnet, even in the jungle) as a toy. First, Snagglepuss is involuntarily turned into a doll that squeaks “Mama” when you poke its stomach, then a wind-up toy.

    The story takes a turn when a Tarzan-like guy swings into the scene, announces he is the king of beasts, and Snagglepuss is an “oomba-oomba,” in other words, a lion-skin rug (“Heavens to floormat!”) which Tarz is about to skin. “Exit, beatin’ a rug to safety, stage right! cries Snagglepuss. Back he goes to the comparative safety of the circus, content to be shot out of a cannon, to end the cartoon.

    Don Patterson animates this cartoon. He gives Snagglepuss expressions that aren’t wild, but effective such as the look of disgust when he’s forced to obey the lion tamer’s commands. His mid-air run cycle is used three times in the cartoon; Patterson has Snagglepuss facing one way while his arms are pointed in the other direction.

    Don Messick voices all but one of the incidental characters because he can.

    The opening circus scenes feature the Hoyt Curtin version of “Man on the Flying Trapeze” and during the Tarzan-guy swinging scene, he uses that short Flintstones cue that samples two bars of Fucik’s “Entry of the Gladiators.” (Look it up. You’ll go “Oh, that’s what that’s called.”).

    Maltese loads up on catch-phrases in this cartoon, though he eschews “Murgatroyd.” Cashews, even. How about almonds? Peanuts, popcorn, Cracker Jacks, even? Exit this post, nutty all the way, stage left.

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    Some good stories and nice layouts highlight the Flintstones comics from 50 years ago this month. The May 21st comic has good examples how to handle a lot of people without the panels being cluttered. We see on May 28th that Wilma used to be a cheerleader. Did she go to Geology High? Fred’s given up the Winstons for a pipe.

    Richard Holliss supplied all these from his collection. Click on each to make it bigger.

    May 7, 1967.

    May 14, 1967. Barney is looking toward heaven.

    May 21, 1967. What is that smiling guy holding (besides balloons) in the opening panel? Spop!

    May 28, 1967. Wilma’s cheer doesn’t rhyme, but it accomplishes its task.

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  • 05/20/17--09:57: Changing Yogi Bear
  • The original Yogi Bear wasn’t quite the Yogi Bear we all know today.

    After Warren Foster arrived at Hanna-Barbera in April 1959 and took over writing the Yogi cartoons, a decision was made to put Yogi in a consistent setting with a consistent cast. So the bear was given a home in Jellystone Park, Boo Boo was made a permanent sidekick and Ranger Smith was added to give Yogi someone to conflict with. This template made for stronger story potential and, evidently, resulted in the character becoming more popular, and certainly more memorable.

    But I still really like the pre-Foster Yogi that appeared on the first season of the Huckleberry Hound Show, and mourn his passing. Yogi was sometimes in Jellystone, other times in what appears to have been some generic woods. Several different rangers appeared on occasion. Boo Boo wasn’t always there. (As a side note, there was an awful lot less dialogue, even though Charlie Shows had been hired specifically to write words. I suppose it was natural, considering Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna had worked with silent characters for 17 years).

    The first-season Yogi also occasionally employed the spot-gag format, which I really liked. Many of the theatrical studios had tried it, both in live-action and animated shorts. A narrator gives a line of patter on a particular subject, setting up a sight-gag on the screen. Then it’s on to the next gag.

    There’s one problem with sight-gag cartoons—you have to rely on the artwork, and TV animation budgets are such that dialogue gags are wayyyy cheaper. Still, the Hanna-Barbera cartoons in that 1958-59 season carried it off.

    If I had to pick a favourite spot-gagger, at least right this moment, it would have to be The Stout Trout, where narrator Don Messick accompanied Yogi Bear’s continual failed attempts to catch a fish in a lake. Much of the cartoon is animated by Carlo Vinci. Below are some frames of Yogi swatting his arm into the lake, and then after the fish sprays his face with water. You can see Yogi’s expressions. They’re solidly drawn. Sure, they’re not over-the-top reactions like you’d see in a Tex Avery or Bob Clampett theatrical, but no one was animating like that by the late 1950s. Carlo had Yogi glance toward the TV viewers near the start of some pieces of the narration to include us, and to avoid the monotony of a long held drawing.

    Carlo also finds interesting things to do with hands, er, paws.

    And here’s something else Hanna-Barbera eventually avoided. Perspective animation.

    I realise Foster’s Jellystone structure propelled Yogi into greater success that lasts even to today and resulted in some funny cartoons, but, and I guess I’m in the minority, I miss the spot-gag format and wish Hanna-Barbera would have carried on using it with its syndicated characters.

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  • 05/24/17--21:58: Playing With Yogi
  • Remember that cartoon “Scooter Looter” (March 1959), when Yogi Bear stole a Jellystone Park scooter then couldn’t figure out how to control it?

    That apparently inspired Louis Marx and Co. (the makers of Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots, you’ll recall) to manufacture a Yogi Bear friction scooter toy. Reader Gordon Robson in the U.K. owns one of them and sent some pictures for you to see it. Yogi looks more in shock than anything else. It appears judging by the cover of the box that it may have been available in more than one colour.

    And, look, Boo Boo! No hands! (Insert you own Yogi Bear-type rhyme here).

    Somehow, Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy from the Quick Draw McGraw Show ended up on the box. It would appear Yogi’s run over one of the miserable meeces and is going for the other.

    This came out in 1963. The previous year, Marx started making a Jellystone Park playset (conveniently, it was just in time for Christmas). I gather it had a flat cardboard surface, like a board game, with a river and other things drawn on it where you could place the characters. You’ll notice Yakky Doodle, Fibber Fox and Alfie Gator, along with Cindy Bear and Ranger Smith, plus a beaver and a pile of other animals. Suggested retail price: $5.29 (according to the Los Angeles Times, Nov. 22, 1962).

    A few close-ups.

    The great thing about a toy like this is you could be pretend to be Warren Foster and Daws Butler, and create your own little live-action Yogi Bear “cartoon.” I suppose people today have fan fiction that kind of serves the same purpose, but this seems like a lot more fun.

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  • 05/27/17--11:55: Mousekeeping (Chuckle)
  • Maybe it’s my imagination or a faulty memory due to ancient brain cells, but it seems to me Mr. Jinks fared much better against Pixie and Dixie in those little cartoons-between-the-cartoons than in the actual cartoons.

    In one 20-second routine, genial Huckleberry Hound asks the vacuum-carrying Jinks if he’s housekeeping. No, says the cat. After sucking up the meeces, he tells us he’s “mouse-keeping” and chuckles at the camera.

    Jinks’ head looks odd in this shortie. I couldn’t tell you who did the layouts.

    Yes, the pun is pretty weak, but you can imagine Jinksie would think it’s funny, so it fits nicely. Mr. Jinks is a great character with loads of possibilities for stories (even beyond being paired with the meeces).

    I suspect the animation is by Ed Love and the flat backgrounds by Monty Montealegre.

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    Ruff and Reddy didn’t achieve the acclaim of Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear—their TV show was aimed strictly at children, for one thing—but they joined their fellow Hanna-Barbera characters on the drawing boards of Dell Comics.

    I don’t claim any knowledge (or interest, to be honest) of comics, so I can’t tell you how many issues they appeared in. Checking around on-line, it appears there was an issue number 12, so that would mean the comics lasted for a few years. I gather they were published four times a year.

    The comics are different from the TV show in that there’s no narrator, they’re not serialised, and they’re devoid of those Charlie Shows’ rhymes that drive me nuts on occasion. They’re not uproariously funny, either, but the stories were no doubt pleasant enough for youngsters.

    Here’s one from issue number 11, cover dated December 1961. It features talking crocodiles and a turtle in tartan shorts. I couldn’t tell you the artist. Click to enlarge.

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  • 06/03/17--07:22: Yakky Doodle in Foxy Proxy
  • Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    Credits: Animation – Dick Lundy, Layout – Dan Noonan, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon, Fibber Fox, Fuzzby, Psychiatrist – Daws Butler.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
    Plot: Fibber Fox tries to eat Yakky by pretending to be his mommy but starts acting like his real mommy.

    How many times did Sylvester try to lure Tweety into a pot or a pan by playing some kind of game? And wasn’t there a Warner Bros. cartoon where a dog was driven nuts by sadistic gophers and started flying like a bird?

    Well, these ideas found a home in the Yakky Doodle cartoon Foxy Proxy. Unlike Gopher Broke, this cartoon isn’t creepy. It’s just silly. Fibber Fox tells a psychiatrist at the start of the cartoon that he enjoys being a fox, we have a flashback where the charms (?) of Yakky turn him into a protective mother type, then return to the psychiatrist’s couch where he “has an irresistible urge to fly south for the winter,” starts quacking and flies south, joined by Yakky to end the cartoon.

    Writer Mike Maltese added an interference character about two-thirds of the way through, a green cat named Fuzzby who keeps waiting for the now-reluctant Fibber to eat Yakky, grabs the duck, swallows him, then is choked into spitting him out (off-camera) by the “mommy dear” fox. (Warners used this hungry third-character concept, too, with Sam the orange cat in the Tweety cartoons, as well as other animated shorts).

    Yakky’s a little more tolerable in this cartoon. His “I’m an orphan. I don’t have a momma” isn’t delivered tearfully or pathetically. And he’s pretty naïve. When he plays “cold snack” with Fibber (similar to the “sandwich” game Sylvester once played with Tweety), Yakky has no clue the fox really wants to eat him. “Oh, you’re the nicest, best-est momma I ever had,” says the duck. “I love you, momma.” Such dialogue could be wretch-inducing, but Jimmy Weldon says it with such sincerity, and Daws Butler puts just the right amount of emotion into Fibber’s response to the audience (“He loves me”) that it comes across well. Daws, of course, was a master at dialogue. Weldon did a fine job, too, though it’s no secret I dislike the Yakky character.

    Maltese didn’t supply much witty dialogue; he seemed to save that for Snagglepuss. However, he gave Fibber “You close your eyes and count to bordelaise. I mean, uh, that’s French for ‘100’,” and “I’ve done sneakier things in my day but, somehow, I just can’t remember what they were.” Fibber is, by far, my favourite character in the Yakky cartoons. Maltese also tossed in a standard pepper/sneeze gag.

    Dick Lundy’s animation is, sad to say, little more than serviceable. By 1961, even mildly-outrageous takes were out for the most part in cartoons, especially on television.

    Art Lozzi, as usually, provides some inspired backgrounds.

    And Lozzi seems to like green in this cartoon.

    The opening shot of the psychiatric hospital. See the stylised cars.

    There’s plenty of medium up-tempo music from Hoyt Curtin’s tracking library (Touché Turtle, Flintstones) to keep the atmosphere of the cartoon happy.

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    “How nice,” I thought. “This Yogi Bear comic has a tie-in with the 1966 Hanna-Barbera Alice special by featuring Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.” Then I thought some more. Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee weren’t in the Alice special, were they? I admit it’s been 51 years since I saw it but I don’t remember them.

    Oh, well. They appear in a Yogi comic that appeared in newspapers 50 years ago this month.

    This month also included Yogi being followed in two consecutive weekends.

    The Alice characters appear in the June 4th comic. For whatever reason, the date doesn’t appear on the colour version of the comic that’s been posted, but I have a black-and-white version with the date in the frame with the saluting psychiatrist. The full page versions of these comics were always missing a panel found in the half-pagers (three rows), so I’ve added the missing panel in black-and-white. The composition’s really well thought out in the final panel. I really like the stylised trees, too, which add a storybook touch. I still don’t understand why a national park is run by a general.

    Normally, the “Indians” are friendly toward Yogi in these newspaper comics (it is presumed there is a reservation at Jellystone Park with residents that dress and talk like movie clichés). But it seems they don’t like being shown up, even by accident. Or maybe they’re fed up with all those Yogi rhymes. Whatever the situation, they aren’t heap-big courteous to our hero at the end of the June 11th comic.

    Lots of nice-looking action in the June 18th comic. One again, the park ranger system is just like the military, in that rangers don’t get holidays—they get passes. I guess the blue tinting of the “photos” is more attractive than plain old black and white.

    Boo Boo has cheek ruffs that look like Mr. Jinks in the June 25th comic. I can hear Doug Young as the nasty ranger; probably a throw-back to Iron Hand Jones in the Yogi TV series. Apparently the jerk ranger has never heard of patching a tire. “Destruction” indeed. And do marlins live in fresh-water lakes?

    Richard Holliss has again supplied the colour comics from his archive. Click on any of them to make them bigger.

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    Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
    Credits: Animation - Hicks Lokey, Layout - Dan Noonan, Backgrounds - Neenah Maxwell, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director - Art Davis, Titles - Art Goble, Production Supervision - Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Snagglepuss, Pathos, Porthole, Guard - Daws Butler; King, Queen, Ye Mailman, Aromas - Don Messick.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
    Plot: Snagglepuss joins the Three Musketeers, who play a trick on him.

    Snagglepuss was a good, flexible character, one who could be appropriately dropped into a variety of situations. He appeared in several cartoons as a gallant protector of women (Lila). He and Major Minor made cartoons around hunting scenarios. There was one cartoon where he was deposited into the Wild West. And anything related to theatrics worked for Snagglepuss. You could plunk him into any plot that, conceivably, could be enacted on stage, especially if it could over-acted. So it is that Mike Maltese used the Three Musketeers in this cartoon as a starting point and then piled on the ridiculousness.

    Any resemblance between this cartoon and Dumas’ novel is purely non-existent. Maltese gives the musketeers the names “Pathos,” “Aromas” (as in “aroma”) and “Porthole.” And Snagglepuss wishes to join the bored trio after passing a musketeer correspondence course. Snagglepuss isn’t an altogether inept musketeer, though he misses two attempts to grab a chandelier to swing on (“Odds bodkins. It worked for every other hero,” he says after crashing to the ground). When the musketeers tell Snagglepuss the king is really a spy, the mountain lion does a pretty good job of dispatching him, jabbing him with a sword, tossing him in a lake, bouncing him on the carpet and crashing on top of him when His Majesty is on the throne. (Pun: “Next time, I'll make mince-spy out of ya.”)

    When Snagglepuss realises he’s been had, he exits (“with egg on my face, stage left”), with inappropriate sounds of rifles heard as cannon balls are fired at him, but returns in the final sequence to rejoin the surprised musketeers by hiding in a barrel. It’s all a matter of money. “After all, those musketeer lessons cost a buck and a half,” he tells us, ensuring his gets something for what he’s paid for.

    Incidentally, Don Messick plays both the king and queen. He gives the king his Professor Gizmo voice (based on Bill Thompson’s Wallace Wimple) and the queen his falsetto heard in a number of first season cartoons on the Huckleberry Hound Show (1958-59).

    Yes, Maltese puts “Heavens to Murgatroyd” onto the dialogue sheet. And we get other typical Snagglepuss lines and catchphrases:

    ● Hark! The mailman hath cometh! Oh, hearts of joy!
    ● (reading the correspondence course manual) “B. A musketeer is devil-may-care.” (to himself) I’m devil-may-care. Ha, ha! Ho, ho! ‘Tis I, Snagglepuss. Hot buttered sasparilla for everybody!
    ● (again reading the correspondence course manual) “Did you pass your final exam?” (to audience) With flyin’ colours. An ‘A’ student, even.
    ● Say, listen. That’s what a musketeer is for. Five, even.
    ● Yoicks! And yikes, even! It’s the spy!
    ● Exit, swashbucklin’ all the way. Or is it buckswashlin’? Oh, well.
    ● Exit, to get decorated, stage right.

    And this bit of Maltese-esque dialogue:

    Guard: Halt. Who goes there?
    Snag: A jolly musketeer. To see the king, even. Ha ha ha. Ho ho!
    Guard: Enter jolly musketeer. And wipe your feet.

    Veteran Hicks Lokey is the animator. I can’t think of anything remarkable he did in this short, although I’m a little amused by mismatched shots. Here are consecutive frames. The king is only in the window in the close-up.

    Ex Disney artist Dan Noonah handled the layouts. Either he or Maltese might have been responsible for this interesting framing of Snagglepuss.

    Backgrounds are by Neenah Maxwell. This one with the purple trees (actually, we’re only showing a portion of the background) got a lot of work. Snagglepuss passed by the trees four times in medium-long shot, then the coach passed by four times in a close shot, then Snagglepuss passed by again another four times in a close shot.

    Two similar backgrounds but in reverse.

    Other background art:

    The sound cutter didn’t pick anything out of the ordinary for music, despite the 18th century setting (the mailman is “ye mailman”). The cues are all fairly familiar.

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  • 06/14/17--07:20: Jinks in the Comics
  • It isn’t often you see Mr. Jinks interact with humans in animated cartoons—a couple with a butler, one with a warehouse manager, and one with an off-screen female owner come to mind—but comic books and strips went off in their own direction.

    Here are Mr. Jinks and the miserable meeces—and Professor McHerring—in a Dell Comic with a cover date of May-July 1962. Jinksy is drawn very attractively here.

    Here’s a pantomime single-pager from the same issue. This must be a different artist; Jinks is much more angular here (and why is he the wrong colour?). The meeces have huge pupils in this comic. The backgrounds are pretty sparse.

    Click on any of the pages to make them bigger.

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  • 06/17/17--07:43: It's Not About the Cartoons
  • Here I was, a kid bounding out of bed early Saturday morning to park myself in front of the TV to watch cartoons, thinking it was all about funny characters doing and saying things I could laugh at.

    How wrong I was.

    It was all about money.

    To the right you see an ad in Women’s Wear Daily telling you, Mr. and Mrs. American Clothing Manufacturer, that you can buy up the rights to make Winnie Witch pyjamas or Squiddly Diddley slippers and watch the profits roll in. Winnie who? Squiddly what? Yes, it’s true, the cartoons haven’t even debuted yet, but look at the Bill and Joe track record!

    My innocence and naivety wants to believe that when Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were stupidly punted from MGM amidst financial and corporate turmoil in 1957, their sole reason to create cartoons was to create entertainment. But by 1965, Barbera himself admitted that wasn’t case. “We ask ourselves, would you want to take this character-to-be as a stuffed toy? If not, out it goes.” (It begs the question, who would want a stuffed ant? But let us move on).

    1965 also marked a change at Hanna-Barbera. Previously, it had made cartoons for family viewing in the early evening hours, and then in prime time. Now, it was concentrating strictly on children’s programming by providing new product (dare I call it that?) for Saturday mornings. It was a natural and logic extension of the studio’s reason for existing. Originally, it provided new, made-for-TV cartoons in an era where stations showed old theatricals. Before 1965, almost all cartoons on Saturday mornings were old theatricals or reruns (Linus the Lionhearted from Ed Graham being a notable exception). Now Hanna-Barbera would make new, made-for-TV cartoons for that time period. Hanna-Barbera was wildly successful in the early evening hours. It became, arguably, even more wildly successful in Saturday mornings, bouncing old filmed shows like Fury and puppet programmes off the air.

    When Magilla Gorilla was about to air, H-B had teased kids with an almost prime-time special which, in essence, was a half-hour ad for the show (as the show was syndicated, stations picking it up aired the special whenever convenient). In 1965, the studio did it again to push its coming Secret Squirrel and Atom Ant shows. The special was quickly sold to Kellogg and Mattel, then plunked into a Sunday 6:30 p.m. time slot on NBC. Alas, kids in the Eastern time zone missed the first 25 minutes because a golf match ran long. Nonetheless, they dutifully parked themselves in front of their TVs on Saturday, October 2nd at 9:30 a.m. (8:30, Central time) to watch the debut of Hanna-Barbera’s latest starring characters.

    H-B was still fine in 1965 as far as critics were concerned, thanks to the fun Huck Hound, Quick Draw and Yogi Bear shows, and the popularity of the Flintstones. No less a critic than Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times heaped praise on the studio in this piece the paper’s syndicate disseminated on its wire. A version of it originally appeared in the Times on May 5th that year.

    A Factory of Geniuses
    Flicker Cartoons Improve With Age

    By Charles Champlin.
    LOS ANGELES—Some scholar probably will drive up in a buggy and tell me that the animated cartoon was invented in Mesopotamia in the year 7 B.C. and that there are cave drawings of a cartoon character named Hippy Hamster with big ears and pie-slice eyes, from whom the whole genre descended. Nevertheless, the animated cartoon seems to me to be the equivalent in the visual arts of jazz in the music field as a distinctive and indigenous American contribution to the world scene.
    Unlike many youthful enthusiasms which have had to be left behind in Nostagliaville, like Buck Jones serials, Ralston straight-shooter pins and penny candy you don’t have to pick up with tweezers, the animated cartoon continues to flourish.
    In fact, the argument here is that, nostalgia be damned, the cartoon is one of those rare beasts that has improved with age. It has lost its saccharine, hearts-and-flowers quality and become so hip and switched-on that it has all the characteristics of an electric train set—ostensibly for the kiddies, but it’s the grown-ups who are rolling on the floor.
    Television inaugurated the golden age, and for one TV season it looked as if the cartoons would drown in their own success. Operating on the familiar adage that “if it works, copy it,” the networks in 1961 went so cartoon-happy that there was talk of animating the Huntley-Brinkley report. there was, as you’ll remember, the Alvin Show, and there was Calvin and the Colonel, and there were Bullwinkle and Top Cat and the Flintstones and the whole Hanna-Barbera menagerie that really unleashed it all in 1957.
    It was too good to last, or rather it was not quite good enough to last as a prime-time caper, and some of the cells went dead. Bullwinkle, which I think history will regard as the Krazy Kat of televised cartoons, survives in re-run but no new ones are being made although the Jay Ward-Bill Scott team has other shows in preparation.
    The winners and still champs, survivors of the debacle that threatened to over-compensate and (a favorite showbiz habit) wipe out the good along with the bad, are Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna. And what winners.
    Somebody has called them “baby sitters to the world,” and it’s got to be true. Something like 335 million people in 55 countries watch the HB product every week.
    There’s a Yogi Bear feature film in the works and an hour-long “Alice in Wonderland” special for ABC-TV. There’ll shortly be a slew of Hanna-Barbera label records featuring the various characters. Plans are afoot to make Yogi Bear a disc jockey.
    Next fall, by present plan, there’ll be not less than 18 Hanna-Barbera half-hours a week on television, and it is very possible that Hanna-Barbera will be competing with itself on all three networks on Saturday mornings.
    Their moated and be-fountained fun factory in Hollywood keeps 250 geniuses off the streets, and there Atom Ant and Secret Squirrel are taking shape for NBC for the fall.
    One sizable room at the factory is crammed floor to ceiling with samples of tie-in merchandise, and at that, this trove represents only 5 per cent of the available itemage. It ranges from the usual books and toys to sheets, window shades and a Japanese Yogi Bear lunch bucket which is about the size of a paperback edition of “The Good Earth” and is segmented for fish and rice.
    When I stopped in at the factory, Joe Barbera was talking to one of the writers who works at home (Seattle, as it happens) but was in for the day . . . “Flies across the field and knocks down the trees, chonk, chonk, chonk!” the writer was saying. “Right, right, right,” said Joe.
    “We figure our audience starts at 4,” he was saying later. “By then the kids have the strength to turn on the set and change channels. And they’re so smart then, so discriminating. You can’t fool around with them or give them the fairy tale stuff.
    “Here you see two guys running like mad to keep abreast of their interests. You never get old in our business. You can’t. You’ve got to be on top of the times. And not just for kids, either. I’m on a screaming campaign to make the point that cartoons are not just for kids. They’re for everybody.”
    Bill Hanna and Joe have their own research and development staff, dreaming up characters and premises for two and three seasons hence. The basic test is simple.
    Says Barbera, “We ask ourselves, would you want to take this character-to-be as a stuffed toy? If not, out it goes. Even our villains have to be friendly.”
    The boys have had some clangers. Tests showed that “the Jetsons” should’ve been bigger than the Flintstones, but it sank in the wrong time-slots. And their beautifully drawn, carefully researched cartoon venture “Johnny Quest” [sic] has lost them more than $500,000. On the other hand, every cartoon they’ve made is still showing somewhere, and they’ll likely go on forever.
    At their best, the cartoons of this golden age have fled the never-never world and settled in at right now—a thinly disguises right now with paws instead of hands and with whisker, antlers or tails. They’ve substituted the wisecracker for the nutcracker and they make a running, jumping commentary on all us comic citizens of right now.
    I liked Secret Squirrel. Some of the gadgets were contrived, but Paul Frees’ voice work was terrific. And six minutes, once a week was just the right amount of time to be able to stomach Precious Pupp. The rest of the cartoons? Yawn to blecch, even when viewed with the maudlin mask of nostalgia. Sorry, I’ll take Huck and Quick Draw. They’re still entertaining. And what’s that, Joe? You’re green-lighting Space Ghost because he’ll make a great action figure? That’s the cartoon biz, I guess.

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    Fred’s dad Pops (who still looks like a leprechaun to me, even though he says “thutty” like a Scotsman) makes two appearances in the Flintstones’ comics from 50 years ago this month.

    The June 11th comic has a self-contained gag in the first row. I’m not really sure what Dino finds so funny in it. Barney’s got a change in clothes and attitude in the June 18th comic.

    Betty is nowhere to be found.

    June 4, 1967

    June 11, 1967

    June 18, 1967

    June 25, 1967

    Our best wishes and thanks to Richard Holliss for supplying the colour versions from his collection. You can enlarge each comic with a click.

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  • 06/24/17--07:32: Fishing For Bear
  • A friend posted a note the other day about the late Emmy-winning cartoon writer Earl Kress, and how Earl is missed every day. As much as a tired pun that it is, I second the emotion.

    Earl’s been gone for six years. Whenever I watch one of the DVDs of the early Hanna-Barbera cartoon series, or listen to those Rhino CDs of Hanna-Barbera theme songs and background music, I think of Earl’s untiring efforts to find the cartoons and tunes he loved that he wanted others who loved them to see and hear.

    It wasn’t an easy task. It wasn’t like Earl could walk into a vault and view pristine 16 millimetre films of complete, half-hour Huckleberry Hound shows. He soon learned a lot of the bumpers—the little cartoons between the cartoons—couldn’t be found. No one seemed to know where they were (the Quick Draw bumpers were particularly difficult to try to locate). Although I never asked him, I assumed Earl then went to collector friends of his to see if they had anything. That’s why, at least it’s my guess, if you watch some of the bumpers on the Huck DVD some of them will have come from murky video tapes of black-and-white dubs.

    Here are frames from one example. It’s a stay-tuned-for-the-next-cartoon teaser. It’s not really laugh-out-loud funny, but is gently humorous. Huck is fishing. I think the frames are self-explanatory.

    Note Yogi’s fingers. Ah, those classic, old-time animators.

    You think Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera liked Jackie Gleason, or what? Look at Yogi in Gleason’s “And Away we go!” position.

    There are two places in this bumper where Huck quickly turns his head to the sides when talking, then jerks it back to face the camera. He never did this in the full cartoons on his show, just in these brief ones. Same with Yogi’s head being in profile as you see above. Mike Kazaleh, unless I misinterpreted what he told me, says that Phil Duncan was responsible for these. Mike knows Duncan’s work about as well as anyone. Unless he was hired briefly by Hanna-Barbera in 1958, Duncan would have had to animated this on a freelance basis. He never received credit on a cartoon that season.

    These little cast get-together cartoons were always a fun part of the Huck, Quick Draw and Yogi shows, and really helped enhance the characters, as far as I’m concerned. I’m so pleased collectors hung onto copies of them and Earl was able to track them down for fans to enjoy. I’m personally humbled that someone of Earl’s calibre and reputation in the industry took the time to chat with a complete stranger like me about the cartoons he loved.

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  • 06/29/17--07:26: But It Looks Like Snuffles
  • Imagine your disappointment when your dad goes to the trouble and expense of buying a record featuring your favourite Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters only to discover it tries to pawn off a fake as the real thing.

    That’s what would have happened to kids some 55-or-so years ago.

    Hanna-Barbera or Columbia’s Screen Gems worked out a deal with New York City-based Golden Records to release discs featuring the studio’s theme songs, sung by the characters themselves. The only problem was, someone else was voicing the characters. You see, H-B had a deal with a Columbia record subsidiary and it released albums with Daws Butler, Don Messick, et al. Golden had to settle for New York-based imitators—and some of the impressions were not all that good. (I still like the arrangement of the little combo doing the Wally Gator theme, though).

    However, one thing that was good about these Golden efforts was the sleeve the 45s (and 78s!) came in. Whether they were designed at H-B, I don’t, but the characters look pretty good. Reader Rick Greene sent scans of his collection and we’re pleased to pass them along.

    Long-time readers will know we’ve found and posted dubs of some of the themes and filler songs from the people at Golden. You can hear them HERE, HERE, and the Yogi Christmas ones HERE.

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    Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
    No credits.
    Voice Cast: Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon; Chopper – Vance Colvig; Finnigan the Guard, Butcher, Bone Carriers – Daws Butler; Museum Boss – Herb Vigran.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
    Plot: Yakky “buys” a dinosaur bone from a museum for Chopper’s birthday and the museum’s security guard tries to get it back.

    You know by now that I’m not a fan of Yakky Doodle, but I have some sympathy for the little duck in this cartoon. He paid 27 cents for a bone. Why should he think it wasn’t a legal transaction? And he wanted to give Chopper a present. So his intentions were good and his actions are quite logical. I think the characterisation is a good one in this short.

    That doesn’t mean this is a great cartoon. It’s actually really lacklustre. There’s a lot chasing but not a lot of witty dialogue to punctuate the stops and starts of the chase. And the writer (my guess is this is Tony Benedict’s story) is marking time in spots. “It’s not real money, Chopper,” Yakky says. “It’s candy money. Yum, yum!” What’s Chopper’s brilliant response? “It’s candy money. Ha, ha, ha, ha. Yum, yum. Now ain’t that cute? Ha, ha, ha, haw, haw.”

    It’s accompanied by a rigid Yakky (who blinks his eyes), and a rigid-except-for-head Chopper. The animation’s really limited in parts of this short, but the characters are well drawn. There’s lots of dry brushwork, too.

    The story is simple. Yakky raids his piggy bank to buy Chopper a birthday present. He has 27 cents. He goes to a meat store. The largest bone there isn’t big enough as far as Yakky’s concerned. “What is your pal, Chopper, a rhino-saucer-us-sus-sus?” says the butcher (Daws adds extra syllables in a German accent).

    Yakky sees a dinosaur bone being carried into a museum, which didn’t pay anything for it. Yakky takes it and leaves his 27 cents. A security guard is dispatched to bring it back. Chopper gets into the fray until the guard explains it was from a museum. Chopper tells Yakky it’s against the law. But, no, the guard doesn’t send Yakky to jail for theft. Instead, there’s a happy ending with the duck and the Irish stereotype singing “Happy Birthday” to Chopper to the theme of “Clementine” (I still can’t decipher all the lyrics). Naturally, the cartoon ends with another “Now, ain’t that cute?”

    Mismatched shots. These are consecutive frames.

    Dick Thomas, the workhorse of the Hanna-Barbera background department, was assigned this cartoon.

    Oddly, Herb Vigran supplies a voice in this cartoon. My guess is he was recording something on The Flintstones and Joe Barbera had him cut a couple of lines for this one while he was there. (I can’t help but wonder if Vigran was one of the people who auditioned for Fred when Barbera was looking for voices at the start of the series).

    Hoyt Curtin’s version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” opens the cartoon. In fact, the sound cutter used only two cues from the start to the scene when the guards walk into the museum with the bone, which takes up a minute and 36 seconds. The bulk of the music can be heard in a typical Touché Turtle cartoon.

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  • 07/04/17--07:19: They Made The Flintstones?
  • Were you one of those kids who read the credits at the end of Hanna-Barbera cartoons to learn who made them? I did, particularly on the Flintstones, so I could see and guess who the guest voices were. I learned fairly quickly that a bunch of the cartoons were incorrect. They listed “Additional Voices: Hal Smith, John Stephenson”, and I could tell what both sounded like. It wasn’t until the series DVDs came out years later did I learn that the show originally aired in the first two seasons with different opening and closing animation, and it had been replaced with for syndication in the ‘60s (with one episode’s closing credits edited onto two full seasons’ worth of cartoons).

    So here’s something for you credits fans spotted by reader Kerry Cisneroz on eBay. They’re file cards listing who worked on three different productions of The Flintstones in Season 3. The cartoons exist with credits but they don’t match what’s on these cards.

    “Flash Gun Freddie” (evidently originally titled “Flash Gun Fred”) aired December 21, 1962. Unfortunately, the bottom is cut off, but it gives the time line of when each aspect of the cartoon was completed, although there are discrepancies in the recording dates. It came out of story on June 29, 1962. The other elements are RECORDING, TRACK READING, DETAIL, LAYOUT, ANIMATION, ASSISTANT ANIMATION, a step that’s unviewable, BACKGROUND, INK, PAINT, CAMERA, LAB., CUTTING, DUBBING, CUT NEGATIVE, VIEW, COMPLETION DATE. Where the end-title cards with the credits fit into this, I don’t know.

    The card reveals some interesting information. First, in story, Tony Benedict’s name is written in. Tony recalls how he had to punch up scripts with visual gags because the sitcom writers hired by Hanna-Barbera didn’t think in those terms.

    Evidently the cartoon needed extra artwork. You’ll see Dan Noonan and Lance Nolley’s names written next to “Inserts.” Both were layout artists. Neither were credited on screen.

    If you look at the layout line, you’ll see “McCabe” crossed out. That can’t be anyone else but Norm McCabe, the veteran Warner Bros. animator and director. He never received any screen credit at Hanna-Barbera around this time and the following year begun working on Pink Panther shorts at DePatie-Freleng. Dick Bickenbach isn’t on the card, but he received screen credit with Willie Ito and Irv Spector.

    The animators listed are Carlo Vinci, Hugh Fraser, with Chuck Harriton typed in later, Ed Love written in and Ed Parks in brackets. Harriton didn’t receive screen credit. The animation took 13 working days.

    Listed in brackets below is what I believe are the assistant animators on this cartoon. Bill Hutten was an animator for many years and was employed by Fred Crippen on Roger Ramjet. Bill Hajee spent part of his career at Filmation. I couldn’t tell you who McCormick is.

    Neenah Maxwell and Fernando Montealegre both get screen credit for backgrounds. The camera operators listed are Ted Bemiller, Hal Shiffman, Roy Wade and Charles Flekal. The first two never got screen credit; Frank Paiker and Norm Stainbeck did. And the credits add Greg Watson’s name as a Film Editor next to Don Douglas’. And the checker is Natalie Yates, though I believe Janet Gusdavidson’s name is written in.

    There was a problem with “The Birthday Party” (previously titled “Fred’s Birthday Party”). The studio got it out of story on July 13, 1962, recorded the voice track on August 10th, got it through animation and then realised the cartoon was 500 feet short (by my calculation, that’s almost six minutes of animation). So Jean Vander Pyl, Bea Benadaret and Doug Young (who hadn’t been in the first voice session) came in October 2nd and recorded dialogue for an insert. It would appear the insert is the sequence involving the construction worker, the car salesman on the air, and the little old ladies. In fact, there’s a written note that says “Insert A – Walt” and if you look at the design of the construction worker, it has the lower ear that Walt Clinton liked in his designs.

    Ed Love began animating this on August 15 and finished all but the insert in nine days.

    Vic Shank gets the sole camera mention but the screen credits add Wayne Smith, Jerry Smith and Joe Nasta. Larry Cowan, Don Douglas and Warner Leighton are written in as the film editors but Cowan and Greg Watson got the screen credit. The animation checker is Merle Welton. She had been employed at Disney.

    Note that Paul Sommer received the story director credit, not Alex Lovy as per the card.

    It aired April 5, 1963.

    Tony Benedict added gags to Joanna Lee’s teleplay for “The Big Move,” which came out of the story department on September 21, 1962. It aired March 22, 1963.

    The card gives Walt Clinton sole layout responsibility but he and Bick appear on screen.

    The animators are even more interesting. Ed Aardal, Ralph Somerville and Allen Wilzbach’s names are typed with Chuck Harriton added. But Wilzbach’s name has been rubbed off and Ed Love’s written in. Wilzbach has been pencilled in with the assistant animators who consist of Jack Parr, Bob Carr and someone named Howard (Howard Baldwin?). But on screen, Wilzbach gets a credit. So do Love, Aardal and Harriton. Regardless, the animators began work on October 21st and were done in 12 days.

    Charles Flekal and Frank Parrish were the assigned cameramen with Ted Bemiller, Frank Paiker and Hal Shiffman pencilled in. Flekal, Paiker, Roy Wade and Norm Stainback got the credits, as did Don Douglas and Greg Watson for film editing (sorry Larry Cowan). Among the checkers are Natalie Yates, Evelyn Sherwood and Maggi Raymond.

    So which credits are accurate, the ones on the card or the ones on the actual cartoon? Well, when they both match up, I don’t think there’s any dispute. For what it’s worth background artist Art Lozzi once said that he saw his name on screen for cartoons he didn’t work on, so we may never know the answer.

    One thing is certain—all the voice credits are accurate. We can only hope more of these cards come to light.

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  • 07/07/17--00:00: H-B Number 60 to H-B
  • The New York Times published a column of short blurbs from Hollywood on July 6, 1957. One of them read:
    George Sidney, director-producer, will serve as the president of H.B. Enterprises, a cartoon film producing company formed in association with William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. The company will open offices next week at the Kling Studios to make cartoon movies for theatres, television and commercial purposes.
    The Mssrs. Hanna and Barbera were responsible for the “Tom and Jerry” cartoons at Metro-Goldwyn Mayer.
    Mr. Sidney currently is associated with Columbia Pictures in theatrical film production through his company, George Sidney Productions.
    Similar stories appeared in the trade press at the same time. H.B. Enterprises was incorporated on July 7, 1957. From this modest, inauspicious beginning sprung a multi-billion-dollar TV cartoon empire. So it is we wish a Happy 60th Birthday to Hanna-Barbera.

    While even non-cartoon fans know who Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera are, they weren’t the big names when their studio was formed, despite all the Oscars and their surnames on the company entrance. George Sidney was the big player. At the time, he was president of the Directors Guild of America. He had a lot of weight in Hollywood. And, more importantly, he had access to cash, because Hanna and Barbera didn’t have quite enough, even after home mortgages, to set up their own company. Sidney was a silent investor. And, more importantly, he set up the deal with his contacts at Columbia that got Hanna-Barbera’s first series, Ruff and Reddy, made. Dick Bickenbach recalled to historian Mike Barrier that the series was already being worked on during the last week the Hanna-Barbera unit was still employed at MGM, though the characters had been copyright the previous year through a company called Shield Productions, co-owned by Hanna, his brother-in-law Mike Lah, and Dan Driscoll, who redrew backgrounds so old Tex Avery cartoons could be released in CinemaScope.

    The blog has published almost every story we’ve been able to find about the studio from the pre-Flintstones days; Charles Witbeck wrote what was likely the first piece, an excellent one, in early 1958. But to celebrate the anniversary, let’s post another from the early years to give you an idea of the studio creation and expansion. This is from Newsday of March 4, 1960. By this time, Hanna-Barbera had achieved incredible success with The Huckleberry Hound Show, thanks to ex-MGM artists like Fernando Montealegre (left). It had a huge impact. Critics and parents loved it because it subtly funny and not old and “violent” like theatrical cartoons dominating television at the time. It won an Emmy. And it made money, money, money. Pretty soon, other studios started hawking TV cartoons. Hanna-Barbera was the foundation behind television animation today.

    TV Cartoons Animate Business
    By Ben Kubasik

    Newsday Entertainment Editor
    Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck had better watch out. For they are getting more than their share of competition from animated cartoon figures such as “Huckleberry Hound” and “Quick Draw McGraw.”
    The latter two Johnnies-come-lately are animated cartoon commodities made especially for television. And already they are big business in the toy and novelty fields as well as in comic books. Perhaps the most surprising quality about “Huckleberry Hound” and “Quick Draw McGraw” is that necessity—combined with imagination, of course—was the source of their invention.
    The birth of the two TV cartoon figures began less than five years ago when two of Hollywood’s top animated cartoon producers found themselves without jobs. The two men—William Hanna and Joseph Barbera—had won seven Oscars during 20 years at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer where they produced that studio’s successful “Tom and Jerry” cartoons.
    “The studio went on an economy drive,” recalled Barbera, “and since our old ‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoons were doing well at theaters, they decided they did not need any new ones. So one little call from some faceless executive put Bill and me out of work. Producing cartoons is a rather specialized business so we had no idea what we were going to do after the studio laid us off.”
    Hanna and Barbera investigated the possibility of doing cartoons for television but were discouraged by everyone in the industry. “Everybody told us television would be impossible because it eats up more material than could possibly be created in the field of animation,” he said. “We had a huge staff at MGM for our ‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoons, but all we ever turned out there was 50 minutes of cartoons a year, which is not even the equivalent of two half-hour television shows.”
    Even so, the animated cartoon business was all Hanna and Barbera really knew about. And they were convinced that television, despite what they were told about its hazards, offered the most promises. They were the only two men in their company (Hanna-Barbera Productions) when they first started knocking on studio doors. Screen Gems, a TV film producing organization, was first to welcome their ideas and sold one series, “Ruff and Reddy,” to NBC starting in December, 1957. That show still is on the air (Saturdays, 10:30 AM).
    As a result of that success, Hanna and Barbera were able to expand their staff and concentrate on still more ideas. That’s when they came up with “Huckleberry Hound: and then “Quick Draw McGraw,” seen locally over WPIX (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:30 PM).
    To turn out their animated cartoons for TV, Hanna and Barbera today have over 200 technicians and cartoonists. And they are hiring even more people for a new prime time animated series, “The Flagstones,” which will deal with how a modern family might have lived during pre-historic times. The series is due on ABC in the fall.
    “Before we started doing animated cartoons especially for television,” said Barbera, “a major cartoon-producing firm was asked to survey the idea of doing series such as ours for television and flatly said it would be impossible. I sometimes wonder how we’re able to do it ourselves. At the most, we used to turn out eight ‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoons as year while we were with M-G-M. Now, we’re turning out up to 200 cartoons a year for television.”
    There are no short cuts in animation, said Barbera. “But ‘Tom and Jerry’ never achieved fame as fast as our television cartoon characters. Television exposure is fantastic—because of the millions upon millions of people who see our shows week in and week out. People saw our occasional ‘Tom and Jerry’ shorts only when they went to movies. They can see ‘Huckleberry Hound’ and ‘Quick Draw McGraw’ regularly—which accounts for their phenomenal success on the air and in toys and comic books.”
    As you can see above, Hanna-Barbera took the next step in its growth in 1960 with a move into prime time. Despite some initial pans, The Flintstones became a hit. Copycats followed. The 1961 prime-time schedule saw a number of other brand-new animated series. They failed. So did H-B’s efforts to duplicate the success of The Flintstones; Top Cat, The Jetsons and Jonny Quest were all cancelled after one season. Hanna-Barbera had to turn away from prime time and look elsewhere.

    That elsewhere was Saturday mornings.

    In the 1950s, Saturday mornings on the networks were the province of test patterns, puppet shows and a few filmed shows. Cartoon reruns began taking up more and more of the time. Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera asked themselves “Why not new cartoon shows for Saturday morning?” They weren’t the first to do it—much like their Ruff and Reddy wasn’t the first serialised, narrated TV cartoon show—but the great success in 1965 of the spoofing Secret Squirrel and Atom Ant shows begat more copycats and kickstarted the hugely profitable Saturday morning cartoon industry.

    Those profits created a time bomb.

    The TV cartoon creators began to turn away from comedy and move into action-adventure. Space Ghost and The Herculoids are fondly remembered by many who were kids back them. Their parents were horrified. Such violence! Nanny groups had been around with their noses in the air chiding networks since the radio days. They moved into television; one group in the mid-‘50s even criticised clean-living Roy Rogers because—gasp!—he carried a gun. The groups were given ink in newspapers and media trade publications and forgotten. The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 resulted in a quick federal task force which concluded that kids imitate the violence they see on TV. That gave the nanny groups a huge amount of fuel to pressure the networks to get rid of “violent” cartoons, demanding children be educated on Saturday mornings instead.

    For the first time, people in large numbers were criticising the Hanna-Barbera shows.

    Everyone got into the Saturday morning bashing game. “Kidvid trash” is what Variety called the programming. The networks and sponsors were worried about those huge profits vanishing. They gave in.

    Hanna-Barbera reacted as well. By now it had new owners, and Taft Enterprises wasn’t about to jeopardise what it hoped would be a cash cow. A call was placed to writer Mike Maltese to come back and write funny cartoons again. For fall of 1968, the studio produced Wacky Races (and The Banana Splits Adventure Hour). The following year, it added Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop and The Cattanooga Cats. Oh, and another show about a scared Great Dane and some meddling kids. Can’t recall the name of it. But it arguably became Hanna-Barbera’s biggest success.

    No matter. “Drivel Replaces Sat. AM Mayhem,” sniffed Barbare Delatiner (or her headline writer) of Newsday. “TV: More of the Same,” yawned “J.G.” of the New York Times. The latter particularly went overboard in the rhetoric department, suggesting children were so stupid, they couldn’t tell the difference between the war in Vietnam and “make-believe cartoon mayhem.”

    Let’s catch up again with Joe Barbera in this feature story from the Scripps-Howard News Service of November 5, 1972. Hanna-Barbera had tried prime-time again, this time ripping off The Flintstones and putting the characters in football drag in Where’s Huddles?. Now the studio wanted to get a foot in the door using the new prime-time access rules. Despite Barbera’s claims, their newest cartoon used the conservative/liberal, father/son-in-law dynamic of All in the Family as the basis. Barbera was a great salesman and he sells his studio nicely in this story, raising good points in the process.

    Entertain vs. Teach
    Bill, Joe and the Saturday Morning Furor

    “When kids go to school all week, on Saturday they shouldn’t have to go to school again on TV...learning to count or to roll a ball of string,” Joe Barbera said. “I know when I was a kid, I never missed a Saturday serial at the theater.”
    Barbera, whose name usually is seen hyphenated behind the name of his partner of 35 years, Bill Hanna, understandably gets upset these days with the continuing furor over the state of children’s programs on TV.
    Hanna-Barbera Studios is the single largest supplier of those Saturday and Sunday morning shows on the commercial networks. The H-B cartoon characters are tied in with cereals, and the H-B “Flintstones” characters also pitch a line of kiddie vitamins—“Abba dabba doo, they’re good for you.”
    So when the Boston moms, officially known as Action for Children’s Television (ACT), launched an attack on that noisome, hard-sell segment of the TV dial known as children’s programming, it came as a dagger aimed at the vitals of the Hanna-Barbera empire.
    Barbera is neither embarrassed nor ashamed of which his cartoon shop has created. And Lord knows, he has ample evidence of his own good instincts—he’s president of the Huntingdon and Greek Theaters in Los Angeles and plays a key role in the prestigious programs presented there.
    He has shows to which he points with pride. For instance, the recent “Last of the Curlews” special on ABC, a beautifully-animated ecology feature for children. Or the soon-to-be released theatrical animated feature version of the children’s classic, “Charlotte’s Web.”
    Even in the Saturday morning idiom, he’s been responsible for long-playing characters such as Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound. And currently on BC, the “Sealab 2020” cartoon series is a scientifically factual series based on an underwater city 50 years from now.
    On the negative side, H-B has had its share of the superviolent cartoons with superheroes tangling with superinsidious villains. And there’s the matter of the Flintstones vitamins, which he tends to pass off quickly. “I took horrible-tasting stuff by the teaspoon when I was a kid. Are pills shaped like familiar characters so bad?”
    Barbera said he has been invited to participate in many of the profusion of panels and seminars on children’s programming in recent months, but has categorically declined.
    “Nothing I say could change their minds,” he said. “They’d destroy me, if I said what I believe; that I don’t want to educate, I want to entertain.
    “Last year George Heinneman (NBC’s vice president for children’s programming) gave them what they wanted and it was a disaster for NBC. Millions went down the drain last year in educational shows on Saturday morning.
    “I had a Bible story project and luckily it didn’t sell. I’d have lost. And I couldn’t do it according to the Bible and stay within TV’s rules.”
    “He went on to say, “I agree. Take the violence out of the kid shows. But the shows have to be funny if you want anyone to watch.”
    “We watch it very carefully, but in attempting to please everyone, we may wind up with no individual expression.”
    This season, Hanna-Barbera branch into another division of TV with their “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home,” a show designed for syndication in prime time under the FCC “access rule.”
    The show was instantly labelled by many who saw it as a cartoon version of “All in the Family.” It drew some howls of protest when its premiere episode centered on a misunderstanding in which the family thought the father character had spent the night in a motel with a female client.
    Barbera insists that episode wasn’t typical, nor does his cartoon center on any Archie Bunker type. “He’s an old-fashioned father image who says things all parents should be saying to their kids. Our father loves the mother. And the mother is not a kook. And the father is not a screaming stoop,” he said. “We’re handling a lot of subject matter in the show. Watch. You’ll see,” he added.
    Barbera’s Bible idea waited until the home video market was invented. He pushed it along—apparently against the instincts of Bill Hanna—and it proved to be a success.

    Meanwhile, back on Saturday mornings, Hanna-Barbera followed the trends. There were propaganda shows where Yogi Bear told kids not to pollute. There were cartoons based on toys. There was a kiddie version of the Flintstones. There were teenaged mall-rat versions of the funny animals of the original H-B successes. Unlike the originals, these were kids-only shows. I suppose they all came into being because they tested well.

    By the 1980s, there was a huge boon to cartoons in general with the creation of cable television channels in the United States which showed nothing but animation. That’s part of the reason Hanna-Barbera remained a very valuable property, even though its new owner in 1987, Great American Communication Co., was having money troubles. On August 29, 1991, Turner Broadcasting System signed a letter of intent to purchase the “animation entertainment assets and businesses” of Hanna-Barbera Productions. The deal was finalised in December. One day later, Turner axed 115 Hanna-Barbera employees, 92 of them in North America. By now, the studio employed dedicated artists and other staff members who had grown up with and loved the early Hanna-Barbera characters.

    Merry Christmas from Ted Turner.

    Bill Hanna died in 2001. Joe Barbera followed five years later. But their characters carry on. Your family can still pull in to a Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park. There’s talk of a live-action Jetsons movie. And the folks at Warner continue to release DVDs of the studio’s cartoon series although, sigh, we will never see a Quick Draw McGraw Show on home video.

    In other words, people still enjoy and laugh at the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons. You do, too, or you wouldn’t be here. And I’m sure you’re wishing a happy birthday to the great studio built by Joe and Bill, their employees, and those fine cartoon characters.

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    Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    Credits: Animation – Bill Keil, Layout – Walt Clinton, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Snagglepuss, Dinner Emcee, Turner Backwards – Daws Butler; Major Minor, Win a Million announcer – Don Messick.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
    Plot: Snagglepuss tries to escape from the Major in a TV station.

    This cartoon’s got a lot going for it—Snagglepuss in disguise (including in drag), cameo appearances by Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, and a pile of 1950s TV spoofs. It could very well be a Warner Bros. cartoon. In fact, it was. The story is similar to the 1956 Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd short Wideo Wabbit, right down to the hero disguised as Groucho Marx and voiced by Daws Butler. It was written by Tedd Pierce, Mike Maltese’s former writing partner.

    Regardless, this cartoon is still a lot of fun. It starts out as a parody of Ralph Edwards’ weepy reunion show “This is Your Life,” right down to Edwards making an unexpected appearance at a phoney dinner set up for Major Minor (host Turner Backwards is hiding under a food platter dome lid). Like the Edwards show, the honouree is taken to a couch in a TV studio, where the host is carrying a book (labelled “This is Your Strife”) and asks the victim if he recognises an off-stage voice from the past before the person (Snagglepuss, in this case), comes out on set to reminisce. I particularly like how the dinner’s main course is roast aardvark that the Major shot in the Mato Grosso.

    Maltese comes up with some great nonsense dialogue. “Heavens to Murgatroyd, Major. Remember the jolly times we had together? Separate, even,” says the off-stage Snagglepuss. There’s also the usual vaudevillian tete-a-tete between the two.

    Major: I thought I bagged you in the Bongo. Or did I boomerang you in Bolivia?
    Snag: Au contraire, Major. You buckshotted me in the La Banza.
    When Backwards points out the Major has never been able to catch Snagglepuss, the mountain lion “interjects an interjection” and points out he’s smarter than the Major. That sets off a chase through the television station that takes up most of the rest of the cartoon. “By Gadfrey,” cries the Major. “I’ll teach you to embarrass me before my millions of TV fans!”

    Bill Keil is the credited animator. He worked on shorts at Disney in the 1940s and ’50s, and stopped at Jack Kinney’s studio before moving on to Hanna-Barbera in 1961 (he retired from the studio in 1982). He uses a lot of dry brush and ghosting effects when characters zip off stage.

    First off, Snagglepuss appears as a surprise guest as “Nanny,” the Major’s “old nursemaid. Governess, even. Come all the way from Plum-Puddin-on-the-Thames...Coo! You were just a mere crumpet.” Snagglepuss plunks a baby bottle into the Major’s mouth and rocks him to “London Bridge.” “Sleepin’ like a bloomin’ daffodil, he is,” Nanny Snagglepuss tells us. “Sleep tight, ducks.” The Major realises he’s been had and stars firing his rifle at Snagglepuss (“You bounder!” “Exit, boundin’ all the way, stage right.”). The Major then confides in us, “Besides, my nursemaid’s name was Lady Ashtabula. By Gadfrey! She was a smasher.”

    The chase is on. First, Snagglepuss disguises himself as an usher (as Bugs did in Wideo Wabbit) directing the Major to the filming of the Wagons West Show. Cut to the Major having been shot in the butt by arrows. I love how the scenery has folds so you know it’s a backdrop.

    Next, a You Bet Your Life parody. Snagglepuss is disguised as Groucho welcoming the Major to What’s the Secret Word?.

    Snagglepuss: Guess the secret woid and get yourself a new hat.
    Major: Huh?
    Snag: That’s the secret woid.
    (gun on string drops from above and fires at the Major’s pith helmet)
    Snag: Get yourself a new hat. You need one. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must be shoving off. Or is it shovelling snow? Exit, stage right. Or is it stage fright?

    Daws sounds closer to Fibber Fox than Groucho during much of the dialogue. The Major’s hat remains shot-up for the rest of the cartoon.

    Cut to the next scene. It’s the filming of The Yogi Bear Show, complete with camera and obvious sets. Yogi and Boo Boo engage in some dialogue (as the Yogi show’s main theme plays in the background). When Yogi opens the lid of a pic-a-nic basket, Snagglepuss’ head pops up. “There’s no one here but us chicken sandwiches,” he remarks before more gunfire and the chase resumes. “It could be a major disaster, Yogi” puns Boo Boo. “Don’t worry, Boo Boo,” replies Yogi. “Ol’ Snagglepuss is on his way. Hey, hey, hey!”

    Next, to the set of The Horror Show (“Come back here, by toffet!”) .The Major isn’t fooled by Snagglepuss in a Frankenstein’s monster costume. Thence to the set of The Win a Million Show. (“That’s for I’m,” remarks Snagglepuss). It turns out the winner is “that gentleman with the new hat in the first row”—the Major. He wins a million peanuts. Finally, Snagglepuss directs the Major into the Man Into Space Show, where he sets off a rocket and sends the Major into orbit.

    The cartoon ends some time in the future with Snagglepuss walking to his mailbox, where he admits he misses the Major. “What doth the mail bringeth? Mayhap a letter from the old potato,” he says to himself. Nope. Turner Backwards pokes his head out of the mailbox, proclaiming “This is your strife!” “Exit, not on your life, stage right,” shouts Snagglepuss, and the cartoon ends with a run cycle. Backwards’ eyes go from little dots at the beginning to flesh-coloured little ovals at the end.

    Dick Thomas is the background artist. Here’s his establishing shot from a layout by Walt Clinton, who I believe was spending more time in 1961 on The Flintstones and Top Cat than on the short cartoons.

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    Funny animal cartoonists had to know how to draw more than funny animals. Yes, there were trees, mountains, lakes and other settings. But there were other things. Cars, trucks, trains, airplanes, equipment. There are some fine examples in the Yogi Bear Sunday newspaper comics 50 years ago this month.

    I don’t know if Gene Hazelton was responsible for the layouts, but they really are great this month.

    Check out the perspective in the comic from July 2nd. Some of the panels are looking from the ground up. Ranger Smith has some interesting fingers; see the first panel in the second row and the final panel.

    Cindy Bear is on a pic-a-nic two comics in a row. The dancing, waving Boo Boo in the final panel of the July 9th comic is a nice addition.

    The artwork is really nice in this July 16th comic; too bad the scan isn’t the best. The screeching train is beautifully drawn. And what a nice perspective on the tracks in that first drawing of the middle row. The opening panel is, again, well laid out, with a good use of foreground, background and detail. Top work.

    Again, a fine job of perspective in the first panel of the second row of the July 23rd comic with Yogi swooshing around the airport control tower. Interesting to see Jellystone Park has not only an airport but a zoo.

    By contrast, the backgrounds are much more sparse in the July 30th comic. And now you know how to make a shadow elephant.

    Click on any of the cartoons for a bigger view. My thanks again to Richard Holliss for sharing the colour comics from his archive.

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  • 07/15/17--07:25: The Jetsons – Dude Planet
  • Can someone explain this to me? Why is Jane Jetson, who’s been married to her husband for years, misses and loves him terribly but, at the same time, is so completely untrusting of him that she’s certain he’s fooling around on her?

    Doesn’t she know him better than that after all those years?

    What a tired old sitcom staple the “jealous wife” is. But writer Walter Black drags it out to put a wrinkle in the plot of “Dude Planet,” the second-last Jetsons episode to air in first-run.

    Black, however, anticipates carpal tunnel syndrome caused by too much keyboard bashing in the first part of the cartoon when the snarky Jane is forced by George to visit Dr. McGravity. The difference is Jane’s fingers are tied up in knots from all that button-pressing that’ll happen in homes of the future. Black also anticipates computerised doctor’s exams, though McGravity’s equipment looks a little cumbersome.

    There’s now a flashback as Jane relates her woes. Either technology in the future doesn’t work or the Jetsons live in the worst-managed apartment of all time. The retracto bed runs amok and the food machine uncontrollable spits out Venusian toast. Dr. McGravity recommends rest at a getaway dude planet.

    Doctor: You like horses?
    Jane: I don’t know any.
    Jane takes a Bubble cab to a travel agent, who recommends the Beta Bar Ranch on Beta 3. Naturally, everything there is robotic. She invites a hitherto never seen friend of hers named Helen, who is all worn out because her husband commutes from Tahiti to New York every day. Jean Vander Pyl would have been ideal for the role but someone else was cast. The original credits have been chopped off the version of the cartoon in circulation, but Mike Kazaleh says Helen is played by Joan Gardner, whose voice appeared in Gay Purree and Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol around this time (she also worked opposite Don Messick in her husband’s animated TV opus, Spunky and Tadpole).

    On to Act Two, where George, Judy and Elroy are home alone not sure how to work any of the household gadgets, which don’t work properly anyway. The robo-vacuum cleaner sucks up the Jetsons’ cat in its only appearance in the series (a small, kittenish version appears in the closing animation, as you likely know). The cat emerges around a white cloud and sneezes the dust away (Mike points out George Goepper is the animator). The food-omat captures George and the only way he can get out is being run through the wash cycle and the ironer (food of the future is ironed?), the window washer and, finally, the burnt toast ejector.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch (Black resisted the chance to use that cliché), Jane and Helen ride some mechanical horses before being told of the wonders of the Beta Bar (the best gag is the cowpokes coughing while a smokey barbecue sizzles). The stagecoach is, naturally, pulled by a robotic longhorn. And Don Messick breaks into a yodelling falsetto as the Singing Vagabond Cowboy, crooning futuristic lyrics to “Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie” (rockets, comets and jets are included). Despite all this, Jane misses George. And George misses Jane.

    Jane and Helen take in a bucking bronco event before ordering drinks from a drone (talking in Messick’s Uniblab voice) and taking in the Venus Kid failing in an attempt at bulldogging. Jane still pines for George and calls him. I like how the Visiphone taps him to wake him up. George Nicholas animates this part of the cartoon; the beady, pop-out eyes give that away. Helen may have the best line of the cartoon during a John-and-Marsha parody.

    George: Jane.
    Jane: George.
    George: Jane.
    Jane: George.
    George: Jane.
    Jane: George.
    Helen (turning to camera): Now that’s what I call racy dialogue.
    George doesn’t want Jane to worry, so he pretends he’s partying. That brings about the aforementioned tired story line where Jane works herself to think George is screwing around “with some slinky siren...and I’ll bet she’s a blonde”—even imagining the scene as she cuts short her vacation.
    Blonde: My! What fascinating eyes you have, George.
    George: Ha. Ha, ha. Well, I just use them for lookin’.
    Blonde: Mmmm. Lovely hair.
    George: It keeps my head from slipping off the pillow at night.
    Jane goes to punch the siren but smashes the Beta 3 car driver on top of the head instead.

    Anyway, to wrap up the story, Jane gets home and won’t talk to George, but Henry gets them wrapped up tightly in the now-repaired retracto bed and all is forgiven.

    I don’t know who the background artist is. Here are some captured drawings. Interestingly, there’s no shot of the Skypad Apartments in this cartoon, even though much of the action is set there.

    Besides Messick and Gardner, Hal Smith adds some voices as well.

    Mike Kazaleh points out Bill Keil also animated parts of this episode. I sure wish the original credits had been restored to the cartoons when they were put on DVD.

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