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Stuff about early Hanna-Barbera cartoons

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  • 01/27/18--06:59: Fast Gun Yogi
  • “The fastest draw since Quick Draw McGraw,” is how Yogi Bear labels himself in one of those little cartoons between the cartoons of his own show. He turns his head and his body during dialogue. There’s more animation in most of these bumpers than you find in the actual cartoons.



    He displays some fancy shootin’, closing his eyes and gritting his teeth during the gunfire. We get squash and stretch, too.



    Yogi looks up. There’s no real reason, other than it makes the scene less static.



    A little curly tongue during dialogue.



    “That’s a mighty fast draw, but I’ve got to work on my aim,” says Yogi, who apparently ran out of rhymes.

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  • 01/28/18--19:42: Farewell to Doggie Daddy
  • There are fewer and fewer people left who were associated with the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons before the Flintstones came along in 1960.

    We’ve lost another one. Doug Young has passed away at the age of 98, according to cartoon producer Mark Evanier. You can click here to read his obituary in the Seattle Times.

    Doug was a native of Helena, Arkansas. His mother re-married and he and his family were living in San Antonio in 1930. It’s unclear when he arrived in California, but he was a radio announcer/actor before and getting out of the service (he enlisted two days before Pearl Harbor). Mr. Young was good at voice impersonations; he was fired from one station for doing an impression of the station manager. As the 1950s rolled on, he found himself, like so many others, with less radio work because television was taking over. To pay the bills, he drove a truck while making the rounds looking for on-air employment. Another of the many people knocking on doors was Daws Butler. Doug explained to interviewer Stu Shostak that he ran into Daws in a book store one day.

    He said “What are you doing?” I told him. He says “Forget it.” Come to my place. We’re going to make a tape, take you out to H-B and that’s it ... he went out and we did an audition and Joe Barbera liked it.
    The studio was launching the Quick Draw McGraw Show in 1959 and Barbera told the press he was looking for new voices. He hired several. Hal Smith and Jean Vander Pyl were called in to do incidental characters. Elliot Field got the job voicing Blabber, but bowed out after only a handful of cartoons because he ended up in hospital. And someone was needed to do a Jimmy Durante voice for Doggie Daddy. Barbera wasn’t just borrowing from the Durante-Moore radio show, he was borrowing from himself, as he had Daws Butler pull off a Durante impression as Spike in the Spike and Tyke cartoons at MGM.

    Young recalled that he and Peter Leeds were auditioned for Doggie Daddy. Leeds had worked with Daws on various projects for Stan Freberg. Daws had apparently recommended Mr. Young for the role because he didn’t want to take it on the role due to the strain it would put on his voice. Doug said he tried to get Durante’s warmth and openness into the Doggie Daddy character, and I think anyone who has seen the cartoons will believe he succeeded. It’s one thing to belt out a line like “Everybody wants ta get inta de act!” but it’s quite another to use the same voice over 6½ minutes and create a character like Young had to do.

    I won’t go into a full list of series Doug Young worked on; you can find it on line. His work was always first-rate. Suffice it to say he ran into personal problems in the mid-‘60s and felt the solution was to leave Hollywood. He moved to Oregon and thence to Washington State where he remarried in 1969, and was involved with a group that re-created old radio shows and brought old radio stars up to meet with fans.

    From what I understand, he was still living in his home (at least he was until recently).

    It may not be much, but my condolences to his family on their loss. I’m sure others here agree.

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  • 01/31/18--07:00: Too Good For the Brats
  • It is a little hard for us, sitting here almost 60 years after the fact, to comprehend how easy-going, calm Huckleberry Hound was a huge fad at one time. He was pleasant. He was droll. He was involved in familiar situations (rescuing a cat from a tree, fending off a barbecue from a dog, trying to get rid of pesky mosquitos, crows or termites), in gentle satires (as a western good guy out to bring in the bad guy) or genial silliness (trying to capture a Frank Fontaine-ish lion). No wonder he won an Emmy in 1960, the first given to a syndicated programme and the first given to a cartoon (and up against parent-group favourites Mr. Wizard and Captain Kangaroo, not to mention Quick Draw McGraw).

    As Huck’s popularity increased, the press took notice (thanks partly to plants from Arnie Carr’s PR department). Even Newsweek magazine wrote about the blue dog. I don’t have the Newsweek, but the Philadelphia Inquirer of July 18, 1960 wrote about it in its “TV Digest” column.

    Huck probably peaked about the time this article was written. Soon, Hanna-Barbera’s PR push centred on its new gimmick—a prime-time cartoon that wasn’t for children. And gentle Huck was overshadowed by a louder, brasher character on his own show—Yogi Bear. Within months, Hanna-Barbera would announce its first feature film based on one of its characters. And it wasn’t Huck.


    Island Named ‘Huckleberry Hound’
    HERE's what one of the Nation's magazines is saying this week about television:
    NEWSWEEK: Tucked away in the Antarctic's Bellingshausen Sea sits a fleabite-size island that bears the euphonious, if somewhat curious appellation, "Huckleberry Hound."
    It was so named by the crew of the Coast Guard icebreaker U.S. Glacier, in a gesture of fealty that may mystify future naval historians but will puzzle not at all the salaaming devotees of one of TV's most popular characters—a cartoon dog.
    Huckleberry, a noblehearted canine with the look of a bloodhound recently roused from an esthesia and a voice not unlike that of drawling comic Andy Griffith, is currently wowing the customers on a half-hour show in 180 U. S. cities plus such remote spots as New Zealand, Australia and Japan.
    Designed for the post-Pablum set, Huck, together with his animated sidekicks — Mr. Jinks, a Method-acting cat, and Yogi Bear, a porkpie-hatted bumble head who bears a startling resemblance to comic Art Carney's sewer-working "Ed Norton"—now captures 13,000,000 viewers a week, almost as many of them adults as tots.
    * * *
    AS PROOF of this, the show can list such recent distinctions as: A proposal from the student body of the University of Washington that Huck be given an honorary degree; the renaming of the traditional Jazz and Cycling Society of Hull, England, to the Yogi Bear Club; a petition submitted by seven Ph.D.'s from Los Alamos asking if Huck could be shifted to a later time so they wouldn't miss it.
    The enterprise which whelped all this puppy love is Hanna-Barbera Prods., a three-year-old Hollywood cartoon factory that now ranks as the world's largest. Run by square-faced William Hanna, a former construction engineer, and dark-haired, effusive Joseph Barbera, an ex-accountant, the firm was formed after the pair were fired from M-G-M, where both had worked on the cat and-mouse "Tom and Jerry" series — Hanna as idea man, Barbera as a cartoonist.
    "We've tried to get back to the primary objective of cartooning — to caricature and satirize," explained the enthusiastic Barbera.
    "What makes the show so merry is that they don't labor the satire" is the way one egghead fan put it. "You can almost hate children for liking Huckleberry so much—he's too good for the brats."

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    Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    Credits: Animation – Ralph Somerville, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon; Chopper – Vance Colvig; Fibber Fox – Daws Butler.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    Episode: Production R-13 (sixth Yakky in production).
    Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
    Plot: Cold-ridden Chopper tries to stop Fibber Fox from eating Yakky. Instead, everyone ends up with a cold.

    Fairy tales have always been fodder for animated cartoon writers. In Ha-Choo to You!, Mike Maltese doesn’t actually do a straight parody of any fairy tales but he incorporates aspects of them into his story. We don’t get a farce on “Little Red Riding Hood” or “The Three Little Pigs,” but elements from them are woven in as characters, wittingly or unwittingly take on fable roles.

    The thing binding this all together is the fact that Chopper has a cold (he chased a cat into a refrigerator before the cartoon began). He’s comforted in the fact that Yakky is bringing him a basket of hot bone soup. Don’t ask why the soup doesn’t leak through the basket. Just accept it and move on.

    After Yakky burns our ears singing special soupy lyrics to “Camptown Races,” Fibber Fox enters the picture. “Well, for heaven’s sake, it’s Little Red Riding Duck taking hot soup to his grandmama,” says the fox, regardless of the fact Yakky isn’t wear a red hood. Fibber goes through the Red story to himself, including the shortcut to grandma’s. “I know a shortcut for that duck. (Points) Right into my stomach.” Fibber gives an evil grin, then frowns to the camera. “For Pete’s sake, stop wincing,” he says to the audience. “Foxes have to eat, too, you know.” While characters in Hanna-Barbera cartoons talk to the viewers all the time, this is a rare occasion when one directly chastises the people watching at home.

    After burning his hand in the soup (Yakky invites him to try it as an appetiser and, yes, he did know there soup was in there) , Fibber carries on with the Red Riding Hood analogy, dumping Chopper from his dog house over a cliff and then taking his place as Yakky arrives. Now the duck gets in on the routine. “My, what a big nose you have, Chopper.” Yes, he cannot tell he is addressing Fibber who doesn’t even look like Chopper; Yakky is not terribly bright in this one. Chopper arrives to punch out Fibber but sneezes him and the duck through the back of the dog house. “Oh! You’re Fibber Fox. You’re not Chopper,” says Yakky. Hey, MENSA! Sign up that duck.



    After being sneezed out of some hiding spots, the Yakky-clutching Fibber runs into a house. Chopper switches fairy tales. “You better open up or I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll sneeze your door down!” That’s exactly what he does. “Well! If I had known you were coming, I would have baked a cake. With a bomb in it, of course,” says Fibber. Before the dog can clobber Fibber, he gives the fox his cold. The last sequence has Yakky bringing them both hot bone soup, but then he gets a cold and the cartoon ends with the lot of them in bed.



    The credits say the backgrounds were painted by Monte.



    Some dry brushwork from members of Roberta Greutert’s ink and paint department.



    There’s nothing spectacular about the music. All the cues are familiar and fit the action.

    Finally, an endless cycle. There are eight drawings of Fibber Fox, one to a frame. The background takes up 24 frames before repeating. Alas, Fibber is doomed to run forever without eating that duck.



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    You can get a chance to see and hear early Hanna-Barbera history tomorrow. And I don’t mean here on this blog.

    There aren’t too many of the people left who worked at the studio in its early days in the late ‘50s or came on board when the studio was making history with the first animated prime time situation comedy in 1960. One of them is Tony Benedict.



    Tony is the last of the early writers for the studio. Charlie Shows was there at the beginning in July 1957. Mike Maltese was hired in November 1958 as the studio’s head writer from Warner Bros. His old Warners (and Fleischer’s) comrade Warren Foster was hired the next year. H-B kept expanding. It needed writers. In 1960, the studio hired Tony. He worked on cartoons starring Huckleberry Hound and Yakky Doodle (inventing Alfie Gator) before turning his attention to the Flintstones. A bunch of sitcom writers had been contracted to supply Flintstones’ stories. They couldn’t draw. Tony could. He turned their written words into storyboards and added sight gags.

    Anyway, why should I tell Tony’s story when you can hear and see him tell it himself. He’ll be on Stu’s Show tomorrow (Wednesday the 7th) at 4 p.m. Pacific time for a good couple of hours to talk about his career at Hanna-Barbera and how he left when fantasy/super heroes took over Saturday morning cartoons and new owners took over the studio. And there’s a bonus. Tony still has story art from his career 55-plus years ago that he’ll be showing off.

    Tony worked with almost every big name in animation who passed through Hanna-Barbera in the early going, Mike Lah being a notable exception. Dan Gordon. Mike Maltese. Warren Foster. Carlo Vinci. Monty. Dick Bickenbach. Ed Benedict. Hoyt Curtin. The list goes on and on. With any luck, Tony will talk about these fine people and, of course, Mssrs. Hanna and Barbera. And this doesn’t include his earlier career at Disney and UPA. Oh, did we mention he invented Astro (né Tralfaz)?

    You can watch the broadcast right here. If you miss it, it’ll be in Stu’s archive for a nominal charge.

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    Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw dropped into Jellystone Park 50 years ago this month in the Sunday comics. Ah, Jellystone! The only national park with a mad scientist’s castle in it. Well, maybe we can safely assume he’s not in Jellystone in that particular comic.

    What sound do you make when you fall? Apparently, it’s “FAM!” and “THONK!” Yogi proves he is smarter than the average bear in the final panel of the February 4th comic. But “scholar” and “hauler”? Yipe. (The log hawler, by the way, is from the Acme company whose devices worked).



    The layout of the February 11th comic is just great. Huck, Quick Draw, a brown Snagglepuss and Baba Looey all make a guest appearance. Look in the first two panels how they’re in the foreground and an angry mob is in shadow (one blue, one white) behind them. In the second row, Quick Draw and the rest are in silhouette in the background while the mob is in a different colour even further back. Excellent design in the final panel. One thing we don’t have to worry about today is a TV antenna picking up interference.



    The laughing fish and the steaming Yogi in the final panel on February 18th are good. Cindy makes a cameo appearance. There’s a bird sitting on the snowy title in the opening panel, probably sticking around from last month’s comics.



    “Stop that pigeon! Stop that pigeon!” Okay, the pilot isn’t exactly Dick Dastardly in the February 25th comic (he hadn’t been invented yet anyway) but he looks like a distant relative. Yogi stops the plane instead of a pigeon in the ironic final panel.



    Richard Holliss supplied the colour comics; click on each to make it bigger. We’ll have all colour next month.

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  • 02/10/18--07:13: High Wire Huck
  • The best animation in the Huckleberry Hound Show can be found in the little cartoons between the main cartoons in the first season. They involve a circus setting, and start with the Kellogg’s rooster dropping down from above and knocking on a door.

    Here are some expressive drawings from one of them. Have you ever seen Dixie so excited?



    Jinksie, of course.



    Pixie is excited, too. The meeces were never this emotional in their own cartoons.



    And here are a few frames of Yogi, slightly raising his head. I didn’t count the number of head positions but there must be at least a dozen. Here are a few. I wish Yogi looked this good in his own cartoons, but I suspect money was pumped into these bumpers to make them as attractive as possible. Even his hat moves a bit.



    This is a recreated pan shot, left to right. Sorry for the mismatched colours.


    The animation of the rooster is really good. There’s actually follow-through on Cornelius’ comb as he looks around wondering where Huck is after knocking on his door. Not all of the action is animated on twos, meaning the rooster darts around peering around for Huck. It’s unfortunate I can’t show the animation here, but it’s great that the bumper survived in the Hanna-Barbera archives when others did not and is available on DVD.

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  • 02/14/18--12:00: Bill and Joe and Yogi
  • Huckleberry Hound may have been the star of the The Huckleberry Hound Show but after two years on the air, it became apparent to Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera that Yogi Bear was a stronger character. In 1960, even before Yogi was given his own TV show, Hanna-Barbera announced Yogi would star in the studio’s first feature film, Whistle Your Way Back Home. The title was changed in December 1963 to Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear and the movie was finally released on June 1, 1964.

    (Yes, there was a long gestation period for the feature film, which was originally planned to be released in 1961. I don’t know the reason why there was a delay. It could have simply been a lack of available cash. Or artists; the studio was busy with two prime time shows in 1961 and 1962).

    We don’t know what Huck felt about the film, but the National League of Decency gave it an A-1 rating, its best. Film Daily gave it two pluses, its highest. Young me, however, was a wet blanket. I liked the fuller animation (yes, I did notice) but wasn’t interested in a love interest story line and wanted some of the songs to hurry up and end. If the plot had involved, say, Yogi being chased around the world by Ranger Smith because of a misunderstanding and some villain character getting in the way, I might have been more interested.

    Amidst all the drum beating for the movie came this story offered to members of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. It was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on June 14, 1964 and bears Hanna and Barbera’s byline. I doubt they actually wrote it but a number of the thoughts contained in it were certainly given in interviews by the pair. There’s a put-down of the cutie-pie kind of Disney and Harman-Ising type shorts that hadn’t been made in several decades. There’s more talk about sophistication of the kid audience. The comment about the lack of satire in cartoons is a little amusing. Had Joe Barbera not heard of Jay Ward? And wasn’t TV in 1964 drowning in old Warner Bros. cartoons that made fun of all kinds of things—some of which were written by the same people now employed at Hanna-Barbera?

    The story reminds me that in the 1960s, the word “holocaust” generally referred to a fire. The meaning’s been forever changed.

    Oh, you are not seeing things. Yogi has no feet in the publicity photo below that accompanied the story.
    Jellystone's Yogi Finds Bear Market in Movie Debut
    By WILLIAM HANNA and JOSEPH BARBERA

    Special to The Inquirer
    HOLLYWOOD, June 13.
    Following in the footsteps of James Garner and Steve McQueen, yet another star is making the transition from TV to motion pictures. His name—Yogi Bear, first and foremost citizen of Jellystone National Park.
    In our first full-length motion picture, "Hey There, It's Yogi Bear," Yogi demonstrates the qualities which make him so rare a bear. He successfully pits his wits against his friendly adversary, Ranger Smith; makes daring raids on Jellystone National Park's picnic areas; and shows tender feelings toward his ever lovin' friend, Cindy Bear.
    LIKES HIS ROLE
    Yogi likes the role very much. As he puts it, "it's a great part with lots of heart. I play myself—brave, darling and smart!"
    During the five years he has starred on television, Yogi, we gratefully and amazingly have observed, has become the darling of nearly everyone. His antics have attracted a large and loyal audience from a variety of professions and intellectual levels. He appeals to students and scientists alike.
    Watching the adventures of Yogi and his sidekick, Boo Boo, adults and children find they can identify with positive or negative qualities, if they so desire. Yogi, like most humans, is a study in grays. He's alternately lazy and industrious, brave, and cowardly, brash and lovable.
    GOOD-FEELIN' IDEA
    If there is an underlying philosophy about our cartoon, it is to project warmth and good feeling. We satirize lots of things Hollywood, cars, television and even our own animated commercials but we don't see anything funny in violence and sin. Even our villains are nice guys.
    We've never tried to educate or preach to children. We've just tried to entertain them. To accomplish that, we feel you need all the talent and instinct you can find. You have to forget a child's audience and think of them as small adults.
    Today's children don't go for the too-sweet, soft approach. That's yesterday. If you try a cartoon story today with tiny elves dancing and singing in child-like voices while leaves float into the water and bunnies hop about with twitchy noses—you're lost. It's too soft. Children will tolerate but they won't accept it They've seen too many pointless, aimless pretties that have insulted their intelligence. In the area of comedy, today's child has a taste as sharp as his parents.
    From the day a youngster can turn a TV dial, he takes on a wide area of information, something inconceivable to an earlier generation. He's exposed to so much satire. Today's children grow up viewing Hope and Benny, Caesar, Silvers, Lucy, Berle, Skelton and Lewis. A child's taste in drama differs from an adult's but his taste in humor and certainly in cartoons parallels adults. And in cartoons, satire is exactly what's been lacking.
    Love for fantasy has no age limit. We'd all like to fly, to travel back in time or defeat a bully twice our size. Cartoons should provide humor and fantasy for the audience and still retain a believability.
    We feel that Yogi best exemplifies the contemporary cartoon here. He is a far cry from the sweet teddy bear of the nursery years and his vocabulary matches his "smarter than the bear" personality.
    Yogi doesn't talk down to his audience. He just talks, using big words and small words to describe or define. It's not uncommon for Yogi to describe a fire as a "veritable holocaust" or use such words as churlish, reverberate or exorbitant. Contrasted with his sing-song voice and uncultured way of speaking, Yogi's speech has become an identifiable trait.
    The evolution of Yogi from TV to motion pictures has come about through the efforts of our staff of artists, writers, animators, and film editors.
    When asked by an advertising man where the new Yogi bear is now living, one of our writers recently quipped, "talent scouts may search the forests primeval high and low for Yogi, but they won't succeed. The inimitable, irrepressible Yogi now resides at Schwab's drugstore."
    Here are some nice cards publicising the movie spotted on e-Bay.



    There was a Gold Key comic book by the great Harvey Eisenberg in conjunction with the film, the Sunday Yogi newspaper comic made reference to it over the course of several weeks and there was a Golden Book with attractive illustrations by Mel Crawford. A soundtrack of the Ray Gilbert and Doug Goodwin songs was released as well. (I’m happy to report Mr. Goodwin is still around and apparently still writing music).

    And to the right you can see a picture of the Oz Theatre, in Fremont, Michigan, I believe, showing the film in August 1964 as a float passes by the local Moose Hall. The theatre, like many others, no longer exists. The film was rated G. How things have changed. Last year, a theatre in Roanoke, Virginia showed the movie and rated it PG. “May contain some material parents might not like for their young children.” Either we children in 1964 were a hardier lot or something’s really messed up with the world today.

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  • 02/17/18--07:00: Buckswashling Bear
  • “Do not fear! It is I, Yogi Beer, er Bear!” our hero declares in one of those mini-cartoons at the start of an episode of The Yogi Bear Show. He tells us he’s “in search of some swashbucklin’ good deeds to do.”

    The first one is to rescue Yakky Doodle who is stuck at the top of a castle. Yakky, in this case, is not played by Jimmy Weldon. It’s Red Coffey who voiced the pre-Yakky ducks, first at MGM, then at Hanna-Barbera. I don’t know the circumstances behind Weldon’s hiring so I can’t tell you if Coffey originally played Yakky and then couldn’t carry on or if Weldon was away and Coffey was brought in for a voice session (he recorded several bumpers).



    Anyway, Yogi lassoes one of the merlons on top of the castle to scale himself up and make the rescue. The stone comes off and bounces off his head.



    Cut to the next scene with an unmatching shot of Snagglepuss bouncing on a trampoline. He manages to grab Yakky but crashes through the trampoline. No, I don’t know why Yakky can’t just fly down from the castle. He’s not the brightest duck sometimes.



    The rescuing done, Yogi engages in swordplay with a suit of armour, which falls apart. The mace the armour was holding conks Yogi on the head. “Next time, I shall try a more human-type guy.” Yogi now urges us to watch a cartoon.



    Art Lozzi appears to have painted the backgrounds on this mini-cartoon.

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    It’s Wilma 2 Fred 0 in the Sunday newspaper comics 50 years ago this month, though Fred actually suffers three defeats. The fourth comic features Fred’s niece. Barney makes a brief appearance this month, Betty and Dino are nowhere to be found.


    My sources for these comics has almost dried up, so I can not find a full version of the February 4th comic. Why Wilma is being snarky in absentia, I haven’t the faintest idea. I suppose we’re supposed to think of Fred as a demanding, thoughtless husband, which he certainly could be in the first season of the cartoon series. By this time, the series had been off prime time for more than a season and Fred had become a little calmer.


    Wilma’s playing semantics in the February 11th comic. “I didn’t say a word,” my butt. She was just tapping her foot in time to some music. Yeah, that’s it. The snowfall we saw in the previous week’s comic is still here; check out the little shrub in the penultimate panel.


    Richard Holliss has, thankfully, the last two comics of the month in his collection and passed them along. February 18th has Wilma being sarcastic when all poor Fred is doing is trying to save money after hearing from other people (“they say” in the opening dialogue) about how little this place charges. If he was forcing Wilma to eat a tough steak, I could see where he’d deserve abuse. We still have snowy climes in Bedrock in this comic.


    The February 25th comic ends with a commentary on the shallowness of teenagers. A guy’s unfit because he can’t dance. Even though he’s trying hard by bringing a dance chart with him. For a change, Fred isn’t grumping about the music teenagers are listening to. I love the question mark over the head of the record needle bird when Wilma talks about “be-rock.” Wilma’s subtly funny in this. Her Swingsville/Daddy-O vocabulary is at least ten years out of date, showing how out-of-touch adults are in the teenaged world. It’s that Generation Gap we used to talk about way back then (in the ‘60s, not the Stone Age).

    Next month, Pebbles is a jerk, and Dino makes a return appearance in a funny comic.

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  • 02/22/18--06:53: Pebbly Poo, Age 55
  • Today marks the day, 55 years ago, The Flintstones changed. What had been a situation comedy revolving around grumpy Fred Flintstone and his relationship with his wife and neighbours suddenly veered in a different direction. A baby was added to the permanent cast. Fred’s character, in my estimation, softened in many of the episodes.

    The birth wasn’t altogether a case of the show imitating I Love Lucy in an effort to garner a ratings boost. The impetus came, not for entertainment value, but from a company looking to sell girl dolls. Ideal Toys basically told Hanna-Barbera to throw out any idea of having a Fred, Jr. (something that was part of the series’ original Flagstones concept, with the boy designed by Ed Benedict) and have a girl instead (designed by the great Gene Hazelton). There’s a cut in it for you, of course, Joe and Bill. Money was talking. Hanna-Barbera didn’t need to listen long.

    I’ve talked before about how I’m not a big fan of Pebbles, so there’s no point in treading that ground. Instead, cast your eyes upon this story from the King Features Syndicate from the day of Pebbles’ birth, February 22, 1963. Yes, the columnist gets her name wrong throughout. Maybe the most interesting thing in the story is that the studio, not willing to waste any creative idea, considered dredging up the “Flagstones” name. As a side note, Joe Barbera mentions that business for the studio has dropped off. No doubt that was due to the failure of Top Cat and The Jetsons in prime time. After three consecutive seasons (1960, 1961 and 1962) managing to make a sale to the networks, no one was biting in 1963. And, as it turned out, Pebbles didn’t help declining ratings for The Flintstones in 1964.


    ‘Pebble’ Arrives to Keep Flintstones Off the Rocks
    By CHARLES WITBECK

    HOLLYWOOD — Television is truly a wonder. Wilma Flintstone has been pregnant only five weeks, yet tonight, Washington's Birthday, Wilma is going to give birth to a child in color, on ABC's "The Flintstones."
    The kid has been planned for almost 10 months, and Joe Barbera, co-creator, wonders if it's been worth all the trouble, because he and Bill Hanna are bushed. Artists went to work first, and most had boys in mind, because boy's names like Rock would fit better with Flintstone.
    However, girl babies looked cuter, and cuteness is the key, so boys were out. After 500 sketches or so, one stood out, a cute little girl with a bow in her hair.
    "Then we had to name her," said Joe, "and we came up with handles like Flagstone Flintstone."
    Flagstone didn't have quite the right ring to it, but the direction seemed right.
    A Name Develops
    In dialogue Hanna and Barbera had Barney Rubble saying to Fred: "Boy, she's a chip off the old block." Fred tops it with, "It's more like a pebble off the old Flintstone," and there was the name — Pebble Flintstone.
    As soon as Pebble had been labeled the toy world went into orbit. Sketches of the girl were sent to a certain toy manufacturer, and officers hopped a plane west to tie up this merchandising item.
    Pebble Flintstone is going to give the Friday night cartoon series a shot in the arm, and it expects to do the same in the toy world. You'll soon see turtle strollers, rock cradles, dinosaur high chairs, turtle shell basinettes and leopard skin diapers.
    There will be Pebble baby dolls of all sizes, the cuddly type to hold and bigger stand-up dolls. And you can't leave out coloring books!
    Hanna and Barbera have all sorts of exploitation stunts going too. All women who have babies during the half-hour Flintstones tonight, and the estimate runs around 216 babies, will receive a $25 government bond and a Pebble Flintstone doll. The big, big contest "involves guessing the weight of Pebble at birth. The weight guessing contest closed Feb. 15th and the winner, the first one who guesses correctly, as pulled out of a bin, wins a round-the-world trip for two. As of two weeks ago H & B had not decided Pebble's initial weigh-in, so hot tips were phonies.
    Staff Clobbered
    Neither have the two men overlooked any publicity gimmick for spreading the news about Pebble. Both are family men, and both look worn. "Having real kids of your own is easier." they say. The Pebble birth has clobbered the whole H & B staff.
    Joe Barbera was particularly impressed with the efficiency of the toy manufacturers. First came wax models from the cartoon sketches, then arms, head and eyes were interchanged among the models to narrow it down to the right look for the doll.
    "It works." says Joe. "The best doll was made. She's so cute and cuddly I think even teen-agers will want her."
    The TV animated cartoons
    Business has dropped off a good deal of late because of its initial high cost plus the deluge of cartoons on the market at one time, but H & B are waging a fight to survive and Pebble is just one weapon. Joe says the company has a new way of cutting costs to stay in the market, by cutting down" on the number of drawings, standardizing a closeup, a medium shot and a faraway shot.
    "We're reorganizing our thinking cost-wise," he says. "We moved so fast we forgot about watching costs in some areas."
    With the squeeze on, Joe and Bill are going to fight. "We've learned lessons — like an 8:30 spot is just too late for animated cartoons," says Joe. "If we can get a show on at 7 p.m. we get the kids and hold the set. The grownups have to join in. I don't think the animated cartoon business is through. Kids will always want to see new cartoons. They won't live on reruns alone."

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  • 02/24/18--06:57: Dukes Up Daddy
  • Here’s a gag you can see several miles away. I’m afraid the little cartoons preceding the Augie Doggie cartoons on the Quick Draw McGraw Show weren’t terribly strong when it came to humour. Doggie Daddy tells Quick Draw he’s teaching Augie “the manly art of self defence.”

    Daddy tells Augie to let him have it. Ken Muse holds Augie in position while we get some effect animation.



    “Dat’s my boy, dere. Knockin’ a chip off the old block.” Fade out.

    It’s hard to tell from this beet-red Eastmancolor print but the backgrounds are by Dick Thomas.

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  • 02/27/18--07:00: Huckleberry Vinci
  • It’s tough to pick a favourite animator who worked at Hanna-Barbera in the 1950s. I can think of several. But only one of them would be celebrating a birthday were he with us today, and that’s Carlo Vinci. He would be 111.

    Carlo spent years in the B cartoon studios of New York, Van Beuren and Terrytoons. He worked with Joe Barbera at both of them and in 1956, Barbera offered him a job animating at the MGM cartoon studio. When it folded a year later, Barbera promised him work when the new Hanna-Barbera operation got off the ground. Barbera was true to his old paisano and Carlo stayed at H & B for more than 20 years. Before that he also worked briefly at Disney and for Paul Fennell’s studio on the side.

    Carlo plunked out 50 feet a day and wondered why he couldn’t do as well as Ken Muse who churned out twice as much footage, according to layout man Bob Givens. The answer is simple. Carlo used more drawings, and more complete drawings.

    Here are some drawings from a scene from Skeeter Trouble (1959). Notice in the sixth frame how Carlo plants the heel with the leg at an angle, and draws Huck with his knee up and leg stretched. You can see the same thing in a bunch of his early H-B cartoons.



    My favourite Huck take is in Hookey Days (1959) when the little brats tie him to railway tracks. He thinks it’s all pretend until he realises a train is actually coming toward him. The studio really didn’t go for this kind of animation but I wish it had.



    Carlo died on September 30, 1993.

    Here’s Harvey Deneroff chatting all too briefly with Carlo at the Animation Guild’s Golden Awards Banquet in 1984.


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  • 02/28/18--07:01: Invading the TV Schedule
  • Huckleberry Hound may have given the first real boost to the Hanna-Barbera empire but, by 1961, he wasn’t number one in the kingdom. Monarchs Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were putting more of their efforts (and treasury) into their prime-time success, The Flintstones. And not only had Yogi Bear been pulled away from the Huck show into his own, he had been tapped to star in the studio first full-length animated movie. At the end of the 1961-62 season, Huck went into permanent reruns.

    We’ve spent pretty close to nine years on the blog passing along ancient articles on the studio in its growing years. Here’s an interesting one from the Philadelphia Inquirer of November 28, 1961. It was a gold strike for Hanna-Barbera. Not only did it give the studio publicity, it was a free plug for a feature story on the Flintstones, Yogi, Joe, Bill, and all in the December 2, 1961 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, which gave H-B even more publicity.

    Ingeniously, the Inquirer played Reader’s Digest, boiling down magazine articles for a column as an easy way to fill space on its entertainment pages. All it took was a rewrite. You can read the Post article on Joe Bevilacqua’s web site devoted to Daws Butler, but you can see the “TV Digest” column from the Inquirer below.


    Pair of Cartoonists Surprise Themselves With Sudden Riches
    HERE'S what one of the Nation's magazines is saying this week about television:
    SATURDAY EVENING POST: The most surprised men in Hollywood these days are a pair of middle-aged cartoonists named William Hanna and Joseph Barbera.
    Four years ago they were has-beens, bounced out of the movie business with no prospect of future employment. This year, as owners of four fantastically successful television shows plus a major contender, they will gross an estimated $9,000,000.
    Leading the list in order of importance on this two-man hit parade is "The Flintstones"—the first cartoon show to make a successful invasion of television's supposedly adult hours.
    If it all sounds and looks like a prehistoric version of "The Honeymooners," nobody seems to care. "The Flintstones" finished the 1960-11 season with an audience of 13,882,000 homes, according to Nielsen figures.
    The rest of the Hanna Barbera cavalcade is both a cast of characters and a menagerie. The Barrymore of the bunch is three-year-old "Huckleberry Hound," star of a half-hour show which appears weekly on some 180 independent stations.
    On another midweek evening, same time, same station, Quick Draw McGraw stalks his man. . .on still a third evening during TV's kiddie hour, Yogi Bear cavorts around Jellystone Park.
    • • •
    LAST, but by no means least is Hanna and Barbera's economic expectations, is a new half hour, "Top Cat," featuring a band of Dead End cats led by a Bilko-type hustler.
    Desperation, plus their own artistic instincts, inspired the partners to create a process which they called "Planned Animation."
    Realism was junked for drawings that were broadly comic and basically simple. They worked out short eats. When a character spoke, only his mouth moved. When he walked, only his legs moved.
    The result was a seven-minute cartoon which needed only 2000 drawings but still resembled full animation so closely that only a professional could tell the difference.
    “The Flints,” as everyone at Hanna-Barbara Productions calls it, cost $65,000 per half hour, making the program one of the most expensive half hours on television. (In full animation it would cost $200,000.)
    This year the company will gross around $1,000,000 from television, but the partners swear that profits are low. "We plow every cent we get back into better quality production," Bill Hanna says.
    This may well be true of the cash they receive from advertising sponsors. But their animal cartoons are earning them at least $1,000,000 more is other markets, Last year sales of games, soaps, stuffed animals and other toys based on Huckleberry Hound and his entourage totalled $40,000,000.
    Their success has inevitably inspired the most sincere form of television flattery—imitation.
    There are a swarm of rival cartoon characters on the evening air this evening, ranging from a moose that talks like a man to a trio of chipmunks who cut up like small boys.

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  • 03/03/18--07:00: Take Me To Your Leader
  • Were the 1950s the Golden Age of Outer Space? People sure seem preoccupied with it back then, judging by all the movies and TV shows made about it. Even cartoons. Warner Bros., Paramount (Famous) and Walter Lantz all had cartoons about space exploration or aliens. Gerald McBoing Boing ended up on the Planet Moo. And the very first Ruff and Reddy adventure involved robots from the planet Muni-Mula (“That’s aluminum spelled backwards,” Don Messick would remind you).

    So it was that space craft and such found their way into a couple of the bumpers on the Huckleberry Hound Show.

    Watching this opening mini-cartoon frame-by-frame, you can see how a character will move one body part in the next frame, and then hold it while one or two other parts move in the following frame. Heads are moving in all kinds of directions, too. I admire Frank Paiker or whoever it was working the camera trying to keep all those cel instructions in order.

    If you’ve seen some of these great first-season circus setting bumpers, you’ll have noticed Huck stretching his head and rounding his lips to make an “Oooo” sound (as in “cartoon”). Even Yogi does it in this mini-cartoon.



    I love Mr. Jinks. Here are some good expressions. Not a lot of animation, but you know what the cat is thinking when he says “Featuring yours truly, Jinks the Vill-i-an.”



    Yogi wags his head. Five positions from almost head-on to profile.



    Yogi dips his head, looks at his knuckles and scratches them against his body. This is one of those bits of business that add to a character.



    The premise behind this cartoon-between-the-cartoons is Huck descends to the ground from his saucer and acts like an alien. “Take me to your leader, Earth folks,” he says to the rest of the cast. Pixie and Dixie beg off. They’re getting ready to show some Pixie and Dixie cartoons. Yogi puts in a word for his cartoons. Huck reveals that he’s the leader, as we’ll see in the next Huck cartoon. The cast, in the saucer, flies left to right across a repeating background. Fade out.

    And here’s the evil Jinks, slowed down.


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    Climate change affects the Yogi Bear newspaper comics 50 years ago this month—where the chill of winter is in the air with one exception, where it’s suddenly the middle of a hot summer.

    Children appear in three of the five stories. There’s no room for Boo Boo this month.

    Richard Holliss supplied these comics from his collection.



    In the March 3rd comic, there’s a crook in Jellystone Park who’s so dumb, he thinks a bear carries a wallet. Mind you, he’s sitting in the middle of the forest in several inches of snow waiting for someone to rob. We learn Jellystone has an outdoor hockey rink with stands. I don’t know why Yogi just doesn’t dump the guy over the fence in the last panel.



    Hockey was on Gene Hazleton’s mind (or whoever else may have written this), as it drives the story in the March 10th comic. We have cutsy animals in the top row and cutsy tykes in the rest of the comic. “Keen-o-neet-o” and “parra-keet-o” has to be the worst.



    I like the perspective drawing in the last row of the March 17th comic with Yogi in the foreground and Freddie in the background. The first row is just a bit of filler for newspapers that didn’t run the complete comic.



    Would Yogi Bear really whip Ranger Smith? Really? That’s what we get in the March 24th comic.



    Maybe that whipping did some good. On March 31st we get the passive version of passive/aggressive Smith. The writer revisits the idea of Yogi Bear telling tall tales about his ancestors. The one kid in the final comic appears to have been reading Peanuts too much.

    You can expand each comic by clicking on it.

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  • 03/10/18--07:08: Yakky Doodle in Easter Duck
  • Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
    Credits: Animation – Don Patterson, Layout – Paul Sommer, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon; Cat – Daws Butler; Woman, boy – Jean Vander Pyl; Pet Store owner, Green Cat – Don Messick.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    Episode: Production R-17.
    Copyright 1961 Hanna-Barbera Productions.
    Plot: Yakky is an Easter present that its owner’s cat wants to eat.

    You know the song:

    “We’ve got a Yakky for sale!
    A Yakky Doodle for sale!
    Won’t you buy him, take him home and try him?
    A Yakky for sale!”

    Oh, wait. That’s Magilla Gorilla, isn’t it? Pardon my confusion. In this cartoon, Yakky is in the front window of a pet store and no one wants to buy him. In fact, there are a number of familiar routines in this cartoon that pre-date its first appearance on TV (Magilla came a few years later). It seems to me a pet store birdie was part of the plot of Ain’t She Tweet?, a Sylvester-Tweety pairing. The “kiss the little birdie” bit in this cartoon can be found in both Gift Wrapped and Catty Cornered, another couple of Warners cartoons. And two cats struggling over a bird can be found in Truck or Tweet. All of those cartoons were written by Warren Foster, who came up with the story for this one.



    Ah, but Warners Bros. isn’t the only studio from where ideas were borrowed. The whole concept of a duck gift for Easter was used in Happy Go Ducky, an MGM cartoon directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera and featuring the duckling that became Yakky Doodle.

    Oh, and while we’re talking about borrowing...



    The cat appears to be closely related to Mr. Jinks. The Hanna-Barbera house design is pretty obvious.

    Instead of a Tweety sandwich, we get a “duck burger.” And the granny in this one clocks the cat with a broom instead of an umbrella, as does the Warners’ Granny. And there’s the “follow that cab” joke where one character is induced to get into a cab. The second character tells the driver to drive off and then the camera moves to show the first character is right behind the second one.



    Anyway, it’s all familiar territory for Foster, who I believe only wrote this one cartoon for Yakky. He manages to resist having Yakky call the cat a “bad old puddy tat.”

    Should I run down the story? Yakky holds up signs to try to get bought from a store. Finally, a woman comes in to take the duck home as an Easter present for her granddaughter. The woman’s cat (Daws in a watered down version of his Jerry Lewis voice) likes the idea of a duck breakfast. Granny doesn’t. Broom. Yakky feels rejected by the cat and walks out of the house. Granny meanwhile threatens the cat if anything happens to Yakky while she’s gone (no phoney cat-gut violin-string playing like at Warners). Now the cat has to find Yakky. “Quack, quack,” the cat says over and over, looking around the neighbourhood. Cut to a boy. Boy turns to camera. “Poor mixed-up pussy cat.” Nice interruption gag.



    A green cat in a garbage can has decided to claim Yakky. The two cats fight over the duck, clobbering each other with something before running away. The cab gag is tossed in. The cuts are pretty quick for a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. The running is accompanied part of the time by the chase variation of “Meet the Flintstones.” Some of the fight is a simple shot of Yakky with the camera shaking; we don’t get to see it.

    Fade to Yakky pulling the roughed up Jinks stand-in home. Granny decides because the two get along so well, she’s going to give Yakky to the cat as an Easter present. The cat repeats some earlier dialogue from the green cat—“Ya should’na taken my duck”—to end the cartoon.




    Don Patterson handled the animation. There are a lot of swirls to indicate a character zipping off scene, and only one drawing of multiples when the cat rushes around to make the duck burger.

    We’ve now reviewed all the cartoons in the Yakky Doodle series. Maltese wrote the majority, with Tony Benedict spelling him off. What did Maltese think of Yakky? I can’t say for sure, but perhaps it’s telling that in a 1977 interview, when Maltese read a list of series he wrote at Hanna-Barbera, toward the bottom he said “Chopper Dog and Canary.” Canary! Yakky and his predecessor ducks in the MGM theatrical cartoons were doted on by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera but Maltese didn’t quite recall him. Still, the series has its moments and some praise should go to Jimmy Weldon for his fine voice work. His Yakky is expressive with diction clear enough to comprehend him.

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    Art Lozzi is responsible for one of my favourite background paintings in one of my favourite Huckleberry Hound cartoons. Joe Barbera and Charlie Shows plopped Huck in the story of Little Red Riding Hood in a cartoon called Little Red Riding Huck. Huck tries to be helpful in his usual way but ends up getting arrested, while Red, the wolf and grandma just want to act out the story in the book as they have for generations.

    Because it’s a fairy-tale setting, Lozzi paints some large, colourful mushrooms in the woods. I’ve snipped this together the best I can.



    The backgrounds in this cartoon are decorative, yet fairly simple looking. Here’s a clearing in the woods. Lozzi decided to go in for flowers in this cartoon.



    Two different yard exteriors. The fence on the left is on an overlay. That means Huck can walk from behind the overlay and look like he’s coming through the entrance in the fence. I like how the tree in the first background has various colours.



    Here are two house exteriors. Again, the portion of the house on the right is on an overlay so Huck can walk through the entrance. The welcome mat is on a cel as it lifts up later in the cartoon as the wolf tries to get rid of Huck.



    And two interiors. Not as flat as a UPA design might have been. Note the glazing effect on the window.



    There are lots of great elements in this cartoon—the annoyed wolf talking to the audience; Huck in a lame disguise as an ice-cream man, the college geek that somehow finds his way into the story. Lozzi’s backgrounds enhance the storyline very nicely, just another reason for the sudden popularity of the Huck show and its 1960 Emmy win.

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  • 03/17/18--07:00: Robin Hood Bear
  • One of the first Yogi Bear cartoons was called Robin Hood Yogi, where Yogi decides to assume the guise of Robin Hood and rob goodies from tourists so he can eat them. The Robin Hood idea was revisited when Yogi got his own show as a way to introduce all the characters before the first cartoon.

    “Scalin’ a castle with me is no hassle,” he says, before he crashes into it. He must have learned this from El Kabong.



    Next, his butt is punctured by an arrow. “This guy’s in a rut. He’s some kind of a nut.” For some reason Snagglepuss is firing at him. “You were expecting maybe the Sheriff of Nottingham,” Yogi asks. “I don’t know about the naughty part, but you are kind of a ham.”



    Quarterstaff jousting sets up the next gag with Yakky Doodle. Yakky is played by Red Coffey in this bumper, not Jimmy Weldon. “Use your noodle, Yakky Doodle. Don’t be scared, Yogi’s prepared.” Yakky gets past Yogi on a log over a stream easily. He conks the bear on the head and Yogi lands in the water. That still doesn’t end the rhymes. “Nice try, little guy,” says Yogi, now in the stream.



    Next, Yogi reaches into Ye Royal Kitchen to grab something to eat. He catches a bear-stopping mouse trap instead. “Old Robin Hood’s caught with the goods.”



    In the final scene, they’re no longer in castle-dotted Sherwood Forest. They’re in front of a TV set, awaiting the Yogi Show, which makes his “merry men merry.”



    Ken Muse is the animator of the bumper. Dick Thomas backgrounds, I think.

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    My favourite Flintstones episode is centred around Dino and his love for TV character Sassy. I wish the series would have used Dino more to drive the main plot. Well, the writer of one of the Flintstones weekend comics 50 years ago this month did. And it’s an amusing one.

    There were five Sundays in March 1968 and Richard Holliss has colour comics from four of them. We can’t find a full version of the fifth, so you’ll have to cope with a two-row version.


    Wilma gets even with the slobby Fred in the March 3rd comic. Why Fred is fishing in the living room, I’m not sure. Gene Hazelton and his artist avoid backgrounds in a number of the panels, including the second one where there’s no grass or sky, just the Rubbles’ house almost floating in space.


    Pebbles is sadistic in the March 10th comic. She knows full-well she’s hurting people (and dinosaurs) by hammering them on the foot. We again have panels with no backgrounds. Note how Dino’s hiding behind the sign in the opening panel.


    That poor bird with the record player beak. Every time niece Annie came over, all she did was listen to music. Oh, well. “It’s a living,” I guess. Some good poses on dancing Fred in the March 17th comic. It would have blown Bill Hanna’s budget to have done that scene in animation.


    Gleef! Here’s Dino in the spotlight in the March 24th comic. Richard’s colour versions come from England; whether the North American comic had Dino all in purple, I don’t know, but it looks odd that his snout isn’t white. We get a silhouette panel in the top row and a good use of perspective in the first panel, second row. See the crushed Viking under car in the last panel.


    See the grinning Fred in the middle row of the March 31st comic. Snow golf? In bare feet? A hardy breed, those cave men (who don’t actually live in caves in Bedrock). Hey, Barney, if Fred has “mastered old number seven hole,” how come he hasn’t sunk anything? I suppose the “green” should be renamed the “white.” The silhouette panel in the first row includes the words “Yabba Dabba Doo.” I don’t believe Fred actually used the correct phrase in the Sunday comics until this one.

    Click on each for a bigger view.

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