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Stuff about early Hanna-Barbera cartoons

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  • 10/06/18--07:08: Aloha Huck
  • Here’s today’s early Hanna-Barbera quiz—in which state was Huckleberry Hound the most popular? Perhaps it’s impossible to answer that question, but you probably couldn’t go wrong if you guessed Hawaii. It was the scene of a huge mob of fans not long as it became the 50th state.

    The Huckleberry Hound Show made its first appearance in Hawaii’s territorial days on Thursday, October 2, 1958 on KULA-TV. The show, as we all know, appealed to adults as well as kids, and by 1959, the Isle Huckleberry Hound club numbering about 100 would gather in M’s Cheerio Room (a cocktail bar) every week to tune in the show. Someone at Hanna-Barbera took notice. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported on January 24, 1960 that Howard Pecquet, the club president, accepted a painting and ceramic statues of the show’s characters from someone representing Hanna-Barbera.

    Pandemonium struck later that year. Screen Gems had a promotional department led by Ed Justin that not only came up with the idea of having people dress up as Huck, Yogi Bear, etc. for plugging purposes, he decided to launch a mock Huck-for-President campaign. One of the campaign stops—Honolulu. A bunch of tie-ins were worked out for Huck and his coterie—with Bill Hanna tagging along—to make a few days of appearances at the GEM store. An ad in the Star-Bulletin told kids that 800 free Huck T-Shirts would be given away at the Honolulu Airport a half-hour before a meet-and-greet with the newly-arrived gang.


    Guess how many people showed up?

    The Star-Advertiser’s reporter made a guess after getting caught in the crowd. Here’s the paper’s story of July 23, 1960.
    10,000 at Airport See Huckleberry Hound, Pals

    Honest, Huck, I was there. It's just that you didn't see me in the mob.
    Some folks say there were 10,000 people at Honolulu Airport when your Pan American "Huckle-jet" landed yesterday afternoon. It would seem so, for the traffic was backed up bumper to bumper about two miles from the airport parking lot just before you Landed. Parking attendants said they handled about 1,000 cars while you were there and that doesn't count the hundreds parked outside the lot.
    Huck, that's more people than President Eisenhower had at the airport to greet him last month. Airport police told me you also attracted more people than the Shah of Iran, the President of Indonesia, the Kings and Queens of Thailand and Nepal and the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan. Or even Jack Benny.
    Did you see all the kids holding "Huck for President" signs? And the "Huckelberry [sic] Hound for President" badges on the coats of greeters like Lieutenant Governor James Kealoha and Mayor Neal S. Blaisdell?
    Was that really Yogi Bear and Quick Draw McGraw following you down the plane's ramp? I laughed when the wind nearly blew McGraw's big head off. It looked almost like it was made of paper mache and cloth. I thought about all those rumors that local people had gone aboard the plane and donned costumes. But I knew better.
    While you were busy with that big troupe of little hula and knife dancers, I chatted with one of your creators, William Hanna. He told me he had dreamed you up about three years ago and first put you in television cartoons last year. "I had no conception it would ever be this big," he said. "I'm delighted, of course. Now they have Huck watches and tee-shirts and . . . everything."
    Say, Huck, how come Joseph Barbera, Hanna's partner didn't make the trip? Did those two really once draw the "Tom and Jerry" cartoons? And are you really going to Alaska next?
    You know, Huck, some of those kids who met you did not use much sense. They crawled all over everything. And some of them even ran way out across those busy runways. Airport manager Gilbert Livingston said he had to send a radio car to clear them so planes could land.
    But I hope you enjoyed the reception, Huck. It's just about the biggest in airport history. And I'll be looking forward to your three days of personal appearances at GEM.
    By the way, Huck, I'm sorry traffic was so heavy that you and the Mayor and the Lieutenant Governor could not leave the airport for so long. Honest, Huck the terminal building had wall-to-wall children.
    Actually, it was advertised that Joe Barbera that he was going to be there. Either the reporter didn’t spot him, or maybe Joe was busy checking out the hula dancers.

    Justin told Broadcasting magazine that a throng of 25,000 swarmed on GEM to meet Huck and the department store was forced to lock its doors.

    Huck got a chance to appear on the big screen during his trip. GEM sponsored a screening of Huckleberry Hound cartoons—in colour—at the Waialae Drive-In Theatre three days after the arrival, with the costumed Huck making another public appearance.

    There’s a post-script to Huck’s appearance. A reference was made to it in the Star-Bulletin of March 26, 1961:

    More than 3,000 screaming fans gave Elvis Presley a tumultuous welcome yesterday as the guitar-strumming singer stepped off a Pan American Airways plane at Honolulu Airport at 12:15 p.m. But the welcome did not equal in size or chaos the hullabaloo caused by the arrival here last year of Huckleberry Hound.
    Huck never broadcast a concert by satellite from Hawaii, but one of his cartoons in the second season was set there. “Wiki Waki Huck” would have aired on channel 4 in Honolulu on February 18, 1960. We wonder if the Cheerio Room was overflowing that night.

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    Huckleberry Hound and the rest of his gang made references on screen that they were in a cartoon show, at least during the portions between the main cartoons. It would appear at least one character in the Yogi Bear newspaper comics knew he was in a comic.

    It happened 48 years ago this month. We’ll post all the comics for the month below, but we’ll start with one from 50 years ago this month. The colour comics come from Richard Holliss’ collection. It seems the newspaper in England that he read eventually cheaped out and the only colour it used was red.

    The comic below from October 20, 1968 is in full colour. The silhouettes in the column on the left side, third row are very nice. I thought national parks were in the middle of nowhere. How much would it cost to get a cab there?

    Now to 1970. Boo Boo takes the month off but we get two appearances by the park “general.” I like the designs of the aliens in the October 25th comic as well as the opening panel with the huge stone in the middle. Because this version of October 25th comic is in four rows, it’s missing one small panel where the general says “The park buffoon has gone completely loon.” Yogi’s rhyming disease is infectious. Ranger Smith is “Bill” again in the October 18th comic.

    October 4, 1970.

    October 11, 1970.

    October 18, 1970.

    October 25, 1970. Sorry for the out-of-register colour.

    Click on any of the comics to enlarge them.

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  • 10/13/18--07:08: Huck and the Critics
  • Critics not only liked Huck because of what was on it, but what was not on it. Nanny groups hated westerns and all those guns (they even complained about white-hatted Roy Rogers), and Popeye cartoons with all those fists. And don’t get them started on the Three Stooges! The Huckleberry Hound Show had little of that, and Hanna-Barbera soon won praise because of it (ten years later, the studio was under attack by these same kinds of groups for “violent Saturday morning cartoons”).

    Here’s a syndicated column from June 21, 1960 when the Huck show was into its second season and after it won an Emmy. Besides the good words for the early Hanna-Barbera series about half-way through, the point is raised early that the people all aghast about “violence” grew up on radio shows disapproved by some of an older generation. The columnist rightly notes that a little bit of Popeye pounding on Bluto to the strains of John Philip Sousa isn’t going to turn kids into violent psychopaths.

    Parents Should Guide Children's TV

    Educators, psychiatrists and do-gooders have been shouting louder than usual for the past year about bow the younger generation is being breast fed by TV rather than books. The optimists among us, however, are aware that the learned gentlemen assembling all these frightening statistics received their own primary education over the radio perils of Buck Rogers, Tom Mix, Flash Gordon, Omar the Mystic and well-informed criticism from another generation of analysts.
    The simple truth is that TV, properly used by a parent, can offer child some delightful entertainment. If the set's prime function, however, is to get the youngster out of the way, the parents never should have had children in the first place. A preschool child would never be sent out on a busy city street alone, and there is no reason why they should be expected to function in the channel-jungle without guidance.
    Thanks to an easy-going, heavy-set young man named Bob Keeshan, the young mother's first experience with television is generally quite encouraging. Mr. Keeshan. along with his friends Mr. Green Jeans, and Mr. Moose, conducts the "Captain Kangaroo" show via CBS six mornings a week. At one time the network gave up on "Captain Kangaroo," but a storm of protest, plus the fact that the show was outdrawing Garry Moore's expensive morning variety show, bought Keeshan a new lease on life. Today the Captain is SRO with sponsors and mother knows she has at least 45 minutes every morning when the little one is in good hands.
    Bob Keeshan is not a great educator or a child psychologist, but he understands his audience. He appreciates their short attention span and never keeps any. game, song or cartoon running too long, At no time does the Captain talk down to his tittle viewers or does he patronize them. He stimulates their imagination without frighten ing them, and good taste guides his every move. He closes each show by reminding the kids that it's another be-good-to-mother day," and nobody is "gooder" to mom than Captain Kangaroo.
    Once the Captain closes up his weekday Treasure House, the television industry chooses to ignore children until around five o'clock. This is a sad mistake, because mother needs more than 45 minutes to finish her chores. In some cases poor, innocent, unsuspecting little ones in the 2-5 age group are left to the mercy of reruns of "The People's Choice,""My Gun" and "The Millionare."
    In some communities sandwiched in between the reruns, a channel shows "Ding Dong School" or "The Romper Room." Both of these are a form of nursery school and the former, conducted by Dr. Frances Horvich, is easily the better one. New York City's educational TV service has a kindergarten called "Fun At One," which is so amazingly good that it virtually defies description. This particular show is not presently available for syndication around the country, but any P-T-A anxious to further the cause of children's programing should contact WPIX, New York, for information, and, if possible, exert pressure to obtain tapes of "Fun At One" for your local station.
    From 5 to 7:30 in the evening and on Saturday mornings TV caters to kids. Some of the successful shows are little more than old movies shorts which were condemned as harmful to children a generation ago. Among these are "Our Gang,""The Three Stooges," and "Popeye." Actually they are as harmful as they ever were, but kids adore this type of comic violence and, provided they're not permitted to watch it as a steady diet, it's a good bet they'll survive.
    But TV has developed its own cartoon empire and can point to the product with pride. Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, who created "Tom and Jerry," have come up with three of the most delightful and entertaining cartoon shows imaginable. They are such superb shows that the parents can laugh hysterically at the antics of the characters while the little ones are spellbound by the adventure.
    Many a big city office is deserted early so pop can run home and enjoy "Ruff and Reddy,""Huckleberry Hound," and "Quick Draw McGraw" with his kids. In fact, very little prime evening adult programing matches the Hanna-Barbera shows as entertainment. (Fortunately for all of Hanna-Barbera have agreed to do an adult cartoon show in prime evening time for ABC next season.)
    Perhaps "Huckleberry Hound" and his associates are the answer to many of TV's critics. Because they are fun the parents are able to share them with the kids, and the shows are mature and intelligent, thus easing parental con sciences. If pop will learn to turn off the set after "Huck" and spend the balance of the evening being an old-fashioned father, TV will have served a very useful purpose.
    Much of the TV fare offered for children is mediocre, but who can say anything better for the evening programs? The fact that mediocrity dominates the scene does not necessarily mean that TV should be forbidden to children and all sets sold to the junk man. Captain Kangaroo,""Ding Dong School" and the Hanna-Barbera snows more than justify TV as an entertainment medium for children. If a parent is selective, there are often special snows and documentaries which may seem a bit advanced for a child, but with a parent to guide him it can be a stimulating and provocative experience: for example, Leonard Bernstein's Young People's concerts.
    This has been primarily a comment on TV for children in the 2-7 age group. A youngster in the third grade or higher may want to stay up late and watch many of the so-called adult westerns and detective shows. Of course, this is a problem parents must handle themselves, but with the exception of a superb program like "Leave It to Beaver," or an occasional "Walt Disney Presents," there’s little to recommend.
    Try to remember that in moderation TV can help both you and your children. If, however, you're looking for a full time all-purpose electronic baby-sitter, any child of yours if going to have a rough time in this world, with or without television.

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  • 10/17/18--07:11: The City of Snooper
  • Anyone who has ever seen a Hanna-Barbera cartoon should have noticed that characters walk, run or drive past the same things (a house, a grove of trees, an electrical socket, etc.) in the background over and over and over again.

    Artists would paint long backgrounds that would be moved incrementally when shot behind the animation on camera so it looked like the characters were moving (left to right or right to left). The background was designed in such a way that the two ends of it would be painted with the same object. When the end of the background was reached, the cameraman would move it back to the other end so it looked continuous. Sometimes the two ends didn’t quite match up but it wasn’t very noticeable on the screen, if at all.

    Here’s an example by (according to the credits) Fernando Montealegre from the Snooper and Blabber cartoon “Desperate Diamond Dimwits” (1959). Notice the identical pink building at both ends.

    Hanna-Barbera rarely used the same backgrounds in different cartoons, but this is one of a pair of streetscapes seen in several Snooper and Blabber cartoons. Besides “Desperate Diamond Dimwits,” you’ll see it in “The Flea and Me, “Not So Dummy,” and “Fee-Fi-Fo Fumble.”

    Not a lot was written about poor old Snooper and Blabber, since they were merely one component of the Quick Draw McGraw Show. TV columnists, though, were enthusiastic about the arrival of Quick Draw in 1959; by then, they had watched the Huckleberry Hound Show and enjoyed its gentle send-ups. Quick Draw was the ultimate send up. Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera had decided to spoof the major types of programmes on TV at the time.

    Here’s Kristine Dunn’s column in the Miami Herald of August 24, 1959.

    Now Hear This, Huckleberry Fans
    Good news—wonderful news, in fact for those who stampede to the TV every Thursday night at 7 p.m. to chortle at Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear.
    The insurgent "adult cartoon" is about to make another attack on the era of the adult western.
    Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, who dreamed up Tom and Jerry for the movie screen and Huckleberry and Yogi for TV, are busy sketching a new trilogy.
    Quick-Draw McGraw la the name of it.
    Quick-Draw is a big, dumb dog. He couldn't outdraw the slowest hand-cuffed coward alive. Satirical? You bet!
    The 10-minute Quick-Draw segment ridicules Westerns, in case you didn't guess.
    Snooper and Blabber star in the second segment. Snooper and Blabber are a cat and a mouse. Private detection is their business.
    The third segment hits the family situation. It's a dog's life. Quick-Draw and his friends, like Huckleberry, will appear on Channel 7. They'll take the place of Woody Woodpecker at 7 p.m. Tuesday nights.
    Just what date Quick-Draw will launch his attack on the heroes of the Wild and Woolly West has yet to be announced.
    A dog?!? Someone wasn’t doin’ some thinnin’ around there.

    We should point out that Snooper and Blabber did star in their own show. In a way. In 1966, Screen Gems offered the 135 Quick Draw McGraw Show cartoons in full colour to any station that wanted to buy them, with or without the old connecting material (stripped of any reference to Kellogg’s). WNEW-TV in New York was one of the stations that picked them up, and starting in mid-September, launched a show on Thursdays at 5 p.m. and named it Snooper and Blabber. What other cartoons the station included in the half-hour, I don’t know.

    A hunt of a few newspapers has revealed Snoop and Blab were also columnists. They were the pen names of someone at student papers at two high schools in the U.S., one in Sumner, Iowa, the other in Mapletown, Pennsylvania. The pair also got a few spotlights on disc. Hanna-Barbera Records came out with the LP “Monster Shindig” in 1965. Here’s their “theme.”

    The two also “sang” on a Golden Record in 1961 backed by Jimmy Carroll’s Orchestra. It is evident Daws Butler was not employed to voice either character (he couldn’t contractually). Blab sounds more like a lame impression of Lou Costello. I admit I would have liked to have heard Snooper and Blabber do Gilbert and Sullivan as written by Mike Maltese.

    Daws once said that his Snooper voice owed a lot to actor Tom D’Andrea and you can hear the similarities. But writer Maltese must have had Archie of the radio show “Duffy’s Tavern” in mind when crafting the dialogue. And Snoop mangles words just as well as Ed Gardner’s Archie ever did; in “Desperate Diamond Dimwits,” he calls the disguised jewel thief a “FACK-sim-mile” of a watchdog. (When our heroes discover there’s a crook in the pooch outfit, Snooper says “There’s skul-doggery afoot.”)

    Radio disc jockey Elliot Field voices Blab in “Desperate Diamond Dimwits” and three other cartoons. Daws then took over the role; Elliot told me he needed to be hospitalised for an operation and didn’t get the part back when he came out. Elliot had done various characters on his show during his radio career and could have been a versatile player for the studio.

    There appears to be fewer than ten backgrounds in this cartoon, the streetscape opened the cartoon and seems to have been used in more of a third of it. The final scene includes a pan shot but, to my eye, the background looks like it was by Bob Gentle. It’s unfortunate that these cartoons are not restored on home video; the versions uploaded on the internet are low resolution captures from a cable TV video feed and the picture gets very pixilated during a quick pan. It’d be nice to see a pristine version without all the digital fuzz.

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    Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera had a problem in 1962. The problem was 1961.

    Their studio had a prime-time success with The Flintstones. Animation suddenly became the latest TV copycat fad. Networks bought cartoon comedies for prime time in 1961—and they all fizzled. The fad quickly died. The networks wanted to try something else.

    What were Bill and Joe to do? If they wanted to rack up another sale for a lucrative network prime time period, they needed something sure-fire, a guaranteed hit. What they did was invert a guaranteed hit—The Flintstones. Putting suburbia in the past worked. Why not put it in the future?

    Thus, The Jetsons was born.

    Hanna and Barbera sold the show the same way as they sold the modern Stone Age family—with gadgets. Here’s an example from the New York Daily News of September 5, 1962 (the show first aired on the 23rd). There’s a reference to the Jet Screamer episode without mentioning Jet Screamer.

    'Solar Swivel' Sends 'Em In ABC-TV's 'The Jetsons'

    After doing the Twist over the holiday weekend with my teen-age nieces and antagonizing an army of revengeful muscles I never knew I had, I can safely predict that will not be around when "solar swivel" keeps our next generation of teen-agers in orbit. It's also a foregone conclusion that when the day arrives every American home is equipped with wall-to-wall TV, somebody else will be writing this column—not I.
    There are days, especially during the summer months, when even 21 inches of TV are more that this keeper of the home screen can stand up under. Wall-to-wall TV and the "solar swivel," which will be done on an anti-gravity dance floor, are a glimpse into the futuristic life of "The Jetsons," an average American family living 100 years from today.
    Despite the time span, George Jetson, his wife, Jane, teen-age daughter Judy and their 9-year-old son, Elroy, will be visiting us regularly on ABC-TV this fall. They'll be around in the form of an animated cartoon series this-year's one and only new-comer produced by the Hanna-Barbera Studios in Hollywood. According to Joe Barbera, one of the partners in the production outfit: "This has been the toughest selling season for animation. We're lucky to be rolling with 'The Jetsons.' People just weren't interested in buying them."
    Good Record
    Barbera was speaking generally, as a look at the record will attest. In the five years since Hanna-Barbera Productions was formed, these leading cartoon creators have been responsible for the majority of cartoon shows on TV. Among them: "Rough and Reddy," [sic] "Huckleberry Hound,""Quick Draw McGraw,""Yogi Bear,""Top Cat" and "The Flintstones," TV's popular Stone Age family.
    The producer concedes a science-fiction series will keep his artists' and writers' imaginations working overtime today. It's not like the old radio days when a writer could put Buck Rogers in a space ship and keep him flying from planet to planet for several successful and profit able years.
    "No siree," says Barbera. "As fast as we think up an idea which by all calculations should not become a scientific reality for another hundred years, we learn of some new scientific development just like it. Keeping one step ahead of the lab boys is rough."
    Listening to the producer, one could envision the headache writer Jules Verne would have if he were alive today. A book like "Around the World in 80 Days," for instance, would probably undergo five title changes before it got off the presses.
    Three-Hour Day
    The 21st Century family you'll soon be meeting live in the Sky Pads Apartments. George Jetson, who works an average three-hour day, is employed by Spacely Sprockets Co., a completely automatic factory. As described by Barbera, it will be plush living, all right, but the family problems will be the same. The problems all know about.
    But some of those "easy living" devices are enough to make "The Flintstones" turn green with envy. There's the Foodarackacycle. It stores, processes, prepares and serves the food to the Jetson household. Food cards are fed into the machine and the designated meals is served up instantly.
    Sneaky Machine
    As a woman, we found the most interesting gadget described by Barbera to be a seeing-eye vacuum cleaner. It's a machine with two electronic eyes which seeks out dust, dirt and debris and consumes it. It even has a sense of humor. When the mistress of the household isn't watching it lifts up the rug and sweeps the dirt under it.
    Ben Casey and Dr. Kildaire [sic] better be on guard, too. There is a prober pill used in diagnosis. It has minute antennae that send back messages to the doctor as it makes its rounds inside the patient.
    If you peel back the layers, there isn’t an awful lot that’s original to The Jetsons. Elvis-like teen idols and dance crazes had been made fun of before. The family lives in a building that looks like Seattle’s Space Needle. Push-button living had been touted in “home of the future” industrial films. Development of flying cars had been tracked in science and mechanical magazines. The thing about The Jetsons was it put all of these futurism ideas together in one place and made them funny.

    The one thing it didn’t duplicate was the prime-time success of The Flintstones. The show was banished in 1963 to Network Cartoon Rerun Land—Saturday mornings, where it found a loyal audience. “Say,” Joe and Bill must have thought, “if kids will watch old cartoons on Saturday mornings, what if we make NEW ones for Saturday mornings?” But that’s another story.

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    Mice and multiple heads. That’s what we get in the Flintstones Sunday comics 48 years ago this month.
    Better still, we finally get a comic that focuses on Baby Puss. You remember her being that cat that doesn’t stay out for the night in the closing animation of the series, but rarely appears in the cartoons themselves. (There was some Baby Puss merchandise during the run of the series).

    The red-shaded comics come from the collection of Richard Holliss, as usual. Click on them to make them bigger.

    October 4, 1970. We learn Baby Puss is female. Don’t you like the curly mouse tail in the opening panel?

    October 11, 1970. Readers who didn’t see the top row in their paper (I suspect a majority didn’t use it so they could fit three comics on one page) didn’t miss much. It has nothing to do with the rest of the comic. Fred’s not only a letch, he doesn’t like ‘60s style protesters.

    October 18, 1970. More mice. I like the one sticking out his tongue at a quizzical Pebbles.

    October 25, 1970.

    No Rubbles this month and the comics-only Pops character has been given the month off as well.

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    Today is the 60th birthday of one of Hanna-Barbera’s most underrated cartoon characters.


    Yes, it was on this date 60 years ago that the first Yowp cartoon, “Foxy Hound Dog,” appeared on TV screens. At least in some cities, like Battle Creek, Michigan (via WOOD-TV).

    How can the world dislike a dog that says nothing but the word “yowp”?

    Yeah, it is kind of limiting, story-wise, isn’t it? There were two Yowp cartoons in the first season of the Huckleberry Hound Show in 1958-59 and then another in the second. By that time, Warren Foster had been hired to write for Yogi Bear and decided what would work best would be to give Yogi a regular ranger adversary in Jellystone Park. There was, sniff, no need for Yowp any longer. Consigned to cartoon retirement, I was, along with Iggy and Ziggy, Li’l Tom Tom, Cousin Tex and a few others who enjoyed a brief period of marketing by H-B Enterprises until new characters came along.

    Yours truly was written up in only one wire service story that I have reprinted on this blog and, even then, the writer called my name “yelp” (and Dangerfield thought he got no respect). However, the article below, in the November 16, 1960 edition of the Tampa Times included Yowp publicity art taken from one of Bick Bickenbach’s model sheets. The unidentified rabbit next to the unidentified Yowp is from the first season Yogi cartoon “The Brave Little Brave.”

    This article takes some of the usual publicity information at the time (“planned animation,” fired by MGM, seven Oscars, Flintstones gadgets) and turns it into a cute dialogue involving the major Hanna-Barbera characters. You’ll notice no mention of Ruff and Reddy, but Hanna sings some of the Yogi Bear Show theme song lyrics more than two months before they were first heard on TV. And the story plays up how studios and sponsors instantly snapped up their cartoons, a far cry from the underdog tale of woe involving snow, mixed-up reels, months of waiting and such that Joe and Bill poured out in interviews several decades later.

    Interestingly, the story states there was no Flintstones “pilot film.” I honestly find it difficult to believe the short reel that everyone calls a “pilot film” (without any proof it was used as such) with its markings visible on screen was ever shown to a potential network or agency. (I also dispute that Daws Butler is the voice of Barney on it; it sounds nothing like Daws and it’s questionable whether the voice is done by a professional actor).

    Anyway, enjoy this story with art and photos that accompanied it. Reader Lance Smith has identified the Ed Benedict-looking Stone Agers as incidental characters from “The Monster From the Tar Pits.”

    Huckleberry Hound blinked.
    “So what if I wasn’t elected president! I put up a dog-dandy fight, you can bet! I just might’uve made it, ‘cept for one thing.
    The droopy-eyed hillbilly dog, star of his cartoon series, “Huckleberry Hound,” gave a sigh. “There’s always somethin’ to be thankful for. Like Bill and Joe. Their real names are William and Joseph, but we’re sort of hound-dog informal ‘round here.
    “They call me Huck, an’ I don’t mind a bit.”
    Huck was referring to his creators, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, who have practically revolutionized the cartoon world in recent years. Three years ago the two men were fired from their jobs. At that time, they looked upon their situation with a dim view, but today they are thankful that it happened, because it lead to their present amazing success.
    Today, Hanna-Barbera Productions is one of the largest cartoon companies in the world. $5,000,000 is invested in their cartoon shows, which include “Huckleberry Hound,” “Quick Draw McGraw” and their latest, ABC-TV’s “The Flintstones.”
    How did they do it?
    “Shucks,” said Huck, looking around the new offices, “they did it like I do things—ter-nac-ity! But you take those two fellows.
    “I mean, don’t go and really take ‘em, ‘cause then they couldn’t cartoon me, and where’d I be? In the hound soup! And that’s where they were—in the soup.”
    Huck was speaking of the dismal day in 1957 when Hanna and Barbera, and the entire cartooning staff, were suddenly let go by MGM. Bill and Joe had been with MGM studios for twenty years, during which time they drew the “Tom and Jerry” cartoons and won seven Academy Awards.
    But because of an economic cutback, the studio decided to liquidate its cartoon department, and that was that.
    Dark-haired Joe Barbera sat at his desk and smiled.
    “We’re both in our ‘40s, and out of work. We went around to all the other studios, trying to sell the idea of cartoons produced only for TV. They said sorry, no thanks.”
    “They said it couldn’t be done,” chortled Huck. “Well, here I am—livin’, animated proof that it could be done!”
    “We had a new process,” explained Joe, “that we called ‘planned animation,’ Cartoon[s] used to look too much like life. That’s what killed them.
    “Where the old process used as many as 17,000 cartoon drawings for a seven-minute cartoon, the new technique uses only about 1,000 to 2,000 drawings for the same length production.”
    Barbera explained that if the TV viewer will notice, when a cartoon character such as Huckleberry walks across the screen, his entire body doesn’t necessarily move. Maybe just his legs, with the rest of the body motionless. But the final effect is still one of full movement.
    “Then finally,” said Joe, “Screen Gems bought our idea. In fact, they took one look at our presentation and said they’d make a deal. Just like that. It was all settled in fifteen minutes.”
    Huck first appeared in 1958, and in1959 an obtuse horse came along to star in “Quick Draw McGraw.”
    Quick Draw is not the brightest of cowboys, and seldom gets his man. However, he stopped trying to get his gun out of his holster, and looked down at his side-kick, Baba Looey.
    Baba Looey who is a Mexican burro with a Cuban accent, shrugged.
    “A horse like you, Queeksdraw, I theenk.”
    Quick Draw nodded. “That sounds okay to me. Kind of looks good on me, this obtuse.”
    “Olay!” said Baba.
    It was mentioned to Barbera that his office and studios didn’t seem to have the tension and hard-core pace that would seemingly be expected in such a large operation.
    “Oh,” he said, “the pressure is here. But we have no time clock, no memos. If a cartoonist feels he can work better at home, he works at home. We even have whole families working for us. A great many of our people work at home. Doesn’t matter, so long as the work gets done.”
    At this point his partner, Bill Hanna, walked in with some sketches on their way to the layout department.
    “Bill,” said Joe, “worked this up for a 45-second opening. Now a musician comes in and we get the full musical arrangement. Bill does all the original music.” Bill grinned, and sang a couple of lines. “Yogi Bear is smarter than the average bear. Yogi Bear is always in the ranger’s hair.”
    A voice demanded: “Did I hear my name in the-mention of things?”
    This was Yogi, the bear with the devil-may-care innocence and sloppy pride. Yogi reminds many TV viewers of a certain sewer-cleaner friend of a certain stout bus-driver hero of a certain situation comedy of recent vintage.
    “Hey, hey!” said Yogi. “If that guy can sing, I’m a big boo boo of a bear!”
    “Watch yourself!” said Bill.
    “Olay!” said Baba.
    “Me,” said Quick Draw, “I’m obtuse.”
    And what of “The Flintstones”?
    “Well,” said Joe, “we hope it’s cartooning that adults, as well as children, will enjoy. It’s suburbia in the stone age. Freddie Flintstone reads the newspaper, the Daily Slate, that has the latest dinosaur race results.
    “And the garbage disposal unit is a ravenous old bird in the sink closet.”
    Hanna and Barbera explained that it takes over seven months to produce a half-hour of animation such as “The Flintstones.” The reason is simple—every inch of animation is done by hand.
    Each half-hour segment consists of over 12,000 individual drawings and requires the labor of 150 skilled artists, layout men, editors, inkers and printers.
    The story behind the sale of “The Flintstones” involved a transaction that was contrary to the standard procedures of the industry.
    “I did the presenting of the idea,” said Joe. “This was kind of unusual because producers never go out and sell shows. But I did, I flew to New York, carrying my storyboards. No film, just storyboards telling the story of one of the episodes.”
    In New York, Joe placed the storyboards all around the conference room, and proceeded to race around, enacting the roles of each character in the series. In no time, the Madison Avenue executives were laughing, and the series was sold immediately.
    “Speaking of New York,” said Huck, “did you say you were from Florida?”
    I said yes.
    “Well,” he said “if you’ll pardon the expression—I’ll be doggoned!”
    “Why, do you have friends in Florida?”
    “I hope so! I like to have friends everywhere. I get ‘thusiastic about friends. Even the Flintstones. They got rocks in their heads and all that, but let’s face it. They’re cartooned.
    “I’m cartooned. All of us right here—cartooned!”
    What about Hanna and Barbera?
    Huckle chuckled.
    “You kiddin’? They’re not for real. Gawrsh, no. Ever watch the way they move their legs? One—two—three. Three little old motions, jus’ like us.
    “Don’t let ‘em fool you. They’re just tryin’ to star in a cartoon series, but they’ll never make it. No talent.
    “Like I said, us cartooned guys got to stick together. Just not anybody is cartooned!”
    There was a silence. Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera slinked off into a corner and started chewing on their drawing boards.
    I went out into the hall.
    But behind me, there echoed sounds.
    Huck: “I’ll make it yet. Jus’ wait ‘till 1964!”
    Quick Draw: “I dunno about this obtuse stuff. I don’t feel good.
    Yogi Bear: “Hey, hey, hey! Sometimes I think you guys better get back in your ink bottles!”
    An argument started. Just as I was closing the door, a small burro face appeared around the corner.
    “Olay?” said Baba Looey.
    I theenk.

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  • 10/31/18--07:05: Hanna-Ween
  • When I was kid, you could dress up as Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear or Quick Draw McGraw and go out on Hallowe’en in hopes of getting free candy in a door-to-door windfall. Actually, mooching food would be expected of Yogi Bear, wouldn’t it?

    While All Hallow’s Eve didn’t form the basis of stories in the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons, they did include antagonists or adversaries you’d find on suburban streets in the 1960s on an average October 31st. Here’s a random sampling of ten cartoons that come to mind.

    Mike Maltese came up with Harum and Scarum, two goofy ghosts, whom he planted in a pair of cartoons. The first one was with Snooper and Blabber in “Real Gone Ghosts” (1959), the second in “Be My Ghost” with Snagglepuss (1961). They were silly and, the best thing, rolled up like window shades before disappearing. Harum was played by Daws Butler. Scarum was originally voiced by Elliot Field; Don Messick took over for the second cartoon.

    Quasi Ghosts
    Fibber Fox pretends to be a ghost by covering himself with flour in “The Most Ghost.” The only thing that’s scary is Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera’s obsession with an annoying duck character. I like Fibber, but this is a weak cartoon.

    Pixie and Dixie, then Mr. Jinks, pretend to be ghosts in “The Ghost With the Most” (1958). There’s a great Mike Lah shock take on Jinksie but there are several egregious errors. Whoever worked the camera on this one wasn’t keeping track of the exposure sheets as Jinks’ mouth appears in front of his hand and then disappears for a brief time.

    Where else would a witch go to relax than Jellystone Park? Yogi steals her broom to filch pic-a-nic baskets in “Bewitched Bear” (1960). Ranger Smith is great in this one. He’s still in his “I’m bored just doing my job” stage of his character, which is better than the petulant, annoyed ranger he quickly became. I’m pretty sure Bob Gentle is responsible for an excellent opening shot of the witch’s house. Jean Vander Pyl is the witch.

    A whole pile of old Warner Bros. cartoon ideas are mashed together by ex-Warners writer Mike Maltese in “Switch Witch” (1959). There’s a bit of “The Trial of Mr. Wolf,” where the Big Bad Wolf defends himself in court against the Three Little Bigs, and “Bewitched Bunny,” where Witch Hazel wants to eat Hansel and Gretel. Monty’s backgrounds are really great in this. Elliot Field voices the witch and Blab in this early Snooper and Blabber cartoon.

    Yakky Doodle and Chopper meet up with a witch who needs one small talking duck for her birthday stew in “Witch Duck-Ter” (1961). The cartoon ends with the two of them giving the touched witch a birthday cake. Jean Vander Pyl is called into service again as the witch.

    Maltese or Joe Barbera or someone else at Hanna-Barbera must have loved the Addams Family panel cartoons in the New Yorker as characters reminiscent of what were eventually named Gomez and Morticia Addams were plunked in several Snooper and Blabber cartoons, the first being “The Big Diaper Caper” (1959). Maltese also put them in a Snagglepuss cartoon and they were even featured in a Dell comic book. The characters aren’t as dark as Addams’ wonderful creations and the tameness turns them into one-note characters. Jean Vander Pyl uses her Tallulah Bankhead voice for Mrs. Scientist and once said it was her first role at Hanna-Barbera.

    Huckleberry Hound battled a crazed monster wiener schnitzel in “Science Friction” (1961). Need I say anything more about this cartoon?

    In “Piccadilly Dilly” (1960), Huck is sent to arrest the crazed title character, who is really Dr. Jikkle after drinking a potion. Joe Montell has a very nice setting at the start of the cartoon and writer Warren Foster makes fun of English accents. Huck is with Scotland Back-yard but still sounds straight out of Raleigh, North Carolina.

    There are other cartoons where characters are put in horror or nightmare situations, but these ten are what comes to mind right away. They’re a mixed bag when it comes to humour, but if you’re looking for Hanna-Barbera cartoons to watch on Hallowe’en, these are as good as any.

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  • 11/03/18--07:22: Daws Talks About Talking
  • What about the Yogi Bear-Art Carney connection?

    Who better to tell you than Daws Butler, the man who voiced Yogi?

    Cartoon voice actors who weren’t named Mel Blanc didn’t get a lot of press ink for about the first 35-or-so years of sound cartoons (and it was fairly rare for Blanc, except when he starred on his own radio show, until he almost died in a car crash in 1961). That makes it all the more pleasing to stumble across stories about Daws Butler from the early Hanna-Barbera days.

    Here’s one from February 1, 1961 which, coincidentally, wasn’t too many days after Blanc’s horrendous accident. Hanna-Barbera had added to his workload; the article coincides with the start of the Yogi Bear Show on which Daws starred in two of the three segments.

    Not only does he talk about Yogi, he mentions the origin of the Huck voice, too. Unfortunately, the columnist ends the story without Daws going into details about his kids and cartoons.

    Fans Hound Yogi; He Becomes Star

    Minneapolis Star Staff Writer
    Yogi Bear, as most any adult can tell you, is one of the favorite characters on "Huckleberry Hound," a children's television series.
    Unfortunately for Huck, Yogi's fan mail grew to such proportions that the creators of the animated cartoon program decided to star Yogi in a series of his own.
    Patterned after the Hound format, Yogi's 30-minute series consists of three 10-minute stories. It debuts at 5 p.m. Thursday on channel four. Huckleberry Hound will continue as a Tuesday afternoon feature of the station.
    Yogi and Huck were created by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, a couple of animation artists who will gross over 40 million dollars this year. Their company also produces "Quick Draw McGraw" and "The Flintstones" for television.
    The voices of Yogi, Huck and Quick Draw are done by a short (5 feet, 4 inches), dark-haired, frustrated cartoonist named Daws Butler. He began his entertainment career as a member of "The Three Short Waves," a trio which specialized in impersonations.
    "We stayed together for three years until the war divorced me from show business," Butler said in a phone interview. "When I got out of the navy, I went to California because everything seemed to be centered there.
    "I intended to go to an art school on the GI bill, but the schools were loaded. I went to radio school instead." After appearing in character parts on several radio programs, he auditioned for Hanna and Barbera, who were working for MGM at the time. He was hired to do the voices of Spike and Tyke in the movie cartoons. Later he teamed with Stan Freberg on "Time for Beany," a children's program, and on the record, "St. George and the Dragonet."
    "When the Huckleberry Hound" television series was in the talking stage, they asked me to come up with a voice for Huck," Butler said. "They wanted an easy-going, sincere, Tennessee Ernie-type character to host the show. "I picked up Huck's dialect from my wife, who came from North Carolina, and Huck became the leading character.
    The voice of Yogi Bear, on the other hand, bears a strong resemblance to that of Art Carney. "We wanted to come up with a voice that the public recognized," Butler said. "During our experiments, I did a take-off on Carney, and the producers went for it. The Carney quality is still basic to the voice, but as it developed, I added articulation, spread the vowels and gave it strong exaggeration."
    Although Yogi will continue to appear on the next few episodes of "Huckleberry Hound," he will gradually drift out of the picture. His place will be taken by two new characters, a smart-aleck wolf named Hokey and a little fall-guy wolf named Ding-a-ling. Butler will do these voices as well as those of Huck, Mr. Jinks and Dixie. Don Messick, another voice specialist, does the talking for Pixie and Boo Boo Bear.
    Butler will do Yogi and Snagglepuss, a mountain lion, on the new Yogi Bear program.
    Born in Toledo, Ohio, Butler grew up in the Chicago area. He now lives in Los Angeles with his wife and four sons, David, 16, Donald, 14, Paul, 10, and Charles, 7.
    "The older boys already have gotten their feet wet in the cartoon voice business," the father said proudly in a voice all his own.

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    A native American, a Chinese guy, a kid, Ranger Smith, a wise talking owl and the return of Boo Boo are amongst the highlights of the Yogi Bear newspaper comics from 48 years ago this month.

    Gene Hazelton and his people have lots of scenic stuff in the backgrounds of these five Yogi comics, far more than what they were doing on the simultaneously-seen Flintstones comics.

    You’ll notice for three comics in a row, the “Yogi” sign is nailed to a post made from a tree. In another comic, it’s hanging from a branch and in the other, it’s nailed to a tree.

    November 1, 1970: Here’s one where the top row omitted by many newspapers has nothing to do with the other two rows. Yogi is a little rhyme crazy here.

    November 8, 1970: Sardonic Smith in the last panel. The first row is only tenuously related to the rest of the comic.

    November 15, 1970: Injun no talk-um like this in 1970. But that’s what the people expect-um to hear after years of B Westerns, so that’s what we get in one sentence. The last sentence could easily be read in a Yiddish accent.

    November 22, 1970: Jellystone has its own Protestant church. I like the overhead view in the last panel.

    November 29, 1970: I like the rendering of the Chinese restaurant in the final panel. Is there anything Jellystone doesn’t have? This comic has the only silhouette panel of the month.

    The colour comics are again courtesy of Richard Holliss. Click on any of them to enlarge them.

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  • 11/10/18--07:38: The Collegiate Hound
  • “I never went to no school,” admits Huckleberry Hound in “Hookey Daze” (1958) before the teacher grabs him and shoves him in a classroom seat.

    Well, that was in the cartoon series. The fact is Huck was in a number of schools. When the Huckleberry Hound Show began appearing on TV sets in September 1958, it soon became a craze at colleges. Here’s a short tale from the Detroit Free Press of February 10, 1960. Though they aren’t mentioned by name, Daws Butler and Don Messick get justifiable praise for their work.

    Adults Steal Kids' TV Show Fraternities Start 'Hound' Fan Clubs

    Free Press Columnist
    We are sort of proud we steered you adults on to the TV antics of Huckleberry Hound and friends, supposedly just fare for small fry.
    We have received a lot of "whispering" letters from adults telling us we are not alone. In fact, Mrs. Elwood Kureth, of Taylor, tips us off that the creators of Huckleberry Hound, have another good one going—with the same wonderful voices—in "Quick Draw McGraw" on Channel 9 at 6:30 on Tuesday. (Also on Channel 13 Monday at 6:30 and Channel 6 on Friday at 6.)
    But the most fascinating report on this comes from Bob Reeves, of the Trigon Fraternity House at Ann Arbor.
    "You're right that 'Huckleberry Hound' is interesting to a more mature audience than the toddler set of grandchildren," Bob tells us.
    "It seems that in most fraternities at the University of Michigan studies are laid aside at 7 p.m. each Thursday to lock the doors, shutter the windows and sneak into the TV room for a half-hour of Yogi Bear and friends.
    "This has been a weekly ritual for over a year now.
    "We feel the program has been purposely geared for adults—the often sly satire. Rumor has it that other Big Ten schools have Yogi Bear Fan Clubs and Yogi Bear dolls are being sold at the novelty and gift shops in college towns.
    "I only wish the sponsors would gear their commercials to the intellectual heights they have in their cartoons."
    So now breathe easier when you slip in to watch "them meeces" and other things. We can't wait to try out "Quick Draw McGraw" who, we understand, is the slowest gun in the West. He sounds like our kind of hero.
    We’ve posted other stories on the blog about the Huck Fad That Gripped America in the late ’50s. Here’s one that we haven’t passed along before, from the Akron Beacon Journal of September 2, 1959. The Huck show was about to embark on its second season within a couple of weeks. We learn of more institutes of higher learning where TV’s newest star became the Big Man on Campus. I must admit I’ve never heard Mr. Jinks compared to Dick Shawn before but I can understand why he might be.
    This Dog Man's Best
    Huck Hound Friend To All Ages

    Beacon Journal Radio-TV Writer
    Once in a while the viewing public pets together on things. The Dick Clark fans and the Lawrence Welk fans, the Wagon Train partisans and the Omnibus partisans strike a common denominator.
    It takes a pretty delightful television personality to kindle enthusiasm in both camps. I think you'll agree good ol' Huckleberry Hound fulfills this qualification.
    HE SOUNDS suspiciously like Andy Griffith. He has a couple of colorful sidekicks, one of whom sounds a little like Ed Norton, the Va-Va-Voom Man. The other bears a striking resemblance to a Dick Shawn vocal impression of black leather jackets and motorcycle boots.
    Students at a western university tried to promote an honorary degree for Huck... 11,000 students at the University of Washington joined his fan club and he was initiated into Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at UCLA.
    It has already been noted that Huck will be honored at Ohio State's Homecoming game against Purdue. Similar recognition is forthcoming on campuses at Southern Methodist and Texas Christian.
    YOU MAY NOT consider this college-boy adoration as cementing the case for Huck since this automatically puts him in the same category as panty-raids and phone-booth packing.
    Consider this then: A bill was introduced in a western state legislature to re name a 50-acre expanse of woodland "Huckleberry Hound State Park." Ahhh, those first-term legislators, you say, they'll do anything to get their name on a bill.
    ALL RIGHT. But how about this: A bar and grill in Seattle is named after him... and in Gardenia, Cal., a poker parlor broke up its pot-limit game for Huck's TV capers. Greater love hath no man.
    Huckleberry Hound is a member of the same family as "Tom and Jerry." All of them are the creation of animators Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    What's the formula for Huck's success. One professor attempted to analyze it: "Huck represents something that appeals to the basic needs of most people. He's like a good tonic..." Are we in agreement?
    We mentioned Huck’s school cartoon “Hookey Daze.” It’s got the best Huck fear take ever put on film, a great sloping walk by our truant officer hero (it owes something to the slow, slide-step Huckleberry Hound-ish sounding wolf in Tex Avery’s “Billy Boy,” released by MGM in 1954), and not a bad story by Charlie Shows, Joe Barbera and Dan Gordon. It also has another one of those cycles where juvenile delinquents Mickey and Icky Vanderblip run past the same window over and over (well, it’s a mansion, so it’s supposed to be big). Carlo Vinci’s the animator, so we get four drawings of the twins, animated one per frame, and the cycle lasts 24 frames (one second). The version below is a little slower than what’s in the actual cartoon. You won’t be surprised to learn the music behind this is Jack Shaindlin’s “Toboggan Run.”

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  • 11/14/18--07:02: Count the Light Sockets
  • Yes, it’s true. Pixie and Dixie did run in front of the same light socket over and over again to some chase music. They certainly did in the first season of The Huckleberry Hound Show, anyway. All that was required: a held cel of the meeces bodies, a few drawings of arms and legs, and a background that was designed to be panned for use several times. Voila! Cycle animation which, as you might have guessed, involved less work (except by the cameraman) and therefore less cost to H-B Enterprises.

    The first Pixie and Dixie cartoon put into production was “Pistol Packin’ Pirate” (E-4). It was set on a pirate ship so there are no light sockets, but there is a run cycle involving Pixie and Dixie. It’s by Mike Lah, and he draws with the mice with their arms extended, the same as he did with a Yogi Bear run cycle in the first Yogi cartoon, “Pie-Pirates” (E-1). What’s interesting about this cycle is, unlike others, the cels of Pixie and Dixie are moved slowly from the centre toward the left of the frame; they don’t stay in the middle of the picture. (See the barrel? They run past it four times).

    The next Pixie and Dixie on the production line was “Judo Jack” (E-5). This is the first time the meeces are chased by Mr. Jinks in front of a baseboard. This is Ken Muse’s work. All that’s animated is the swirl of legs; he uses one drawing for two frames. There are three drawings so six drawings complete the cycle of animation. It takes 24 frames (6 x 4) for Pixie and Dixie to pass the same part of the baseboard. You can see the animation slowed down and then at about the speed it is in the cartoon.

    The third Pixie and Dixie cartoon in the system was “Kit Kat Kit” (E-10). It was kind of a chase cartoon (interrupted for a photo gag about a third of the way through) but no baseboards were involved; Pixie and Dixie get chased around what I guess are pillars (on overlays) in a living room. By the way, all three of these cartoons give a designer credit to Frank Tipper. Whether Tipper was hired for the Huck show, or he freelanced, or he worked for Hanna-Barbera on the earlier Ruff and Reddy series, I don’t know, but he disappeared after these three cartoons. Tipper was best known as an animator, mainly for Walter Lantz in the ‘40s, though he was employed in the previous decade at Warner Bros. (Schlesinger) and Harman-Ising.

    Finally we get to a light socket in the fourth Pixie and Dixie cartoon, “Cousin Tex” (E-14), though it was the first that actually aired. The chase animation below is by Carlo Vinci. Unlike Muse, Carlo has the meeces’ whole body move in each drawing. There are four drawings in the cycle, one per frame, and it takes 24 frames to get back to the light socket (4 x 6). Again, I’ve slowed down the animation and then you can watch it at about normal speed. Note how Pixie and Dixie don’t run with identical leg positions.

    By the way, Pixie and Dixie ran past the same light socket four times before director Bill Hanna cut to an exterior shot of their mouse hole.

    The music that accompanies the chases in the last three cartoons mentioned above is “Toboggan Run,” credited to composer Jack Shaindlin. We have a capsule biography of him in a really old post of the blog. Suffice it to say, by 1944, he was supplying a lot of music for short films, including The March of Time, Paramount News and Soundies. The same year, Shaindlin was employed by Lang-Worth, Inc., a radio transcription service, to compose music. The company put out trade ads for a production music library of 163 compositions, including openings, neutrals, bridges and such. In 1954, Shaindlin and Lang-Worth combined on a music library known as Langlois Filmusic (Filmusic was a library developed by Shaindlin in the late ‘40s). When “Toboggan Run” was composed for one of Shaindlin’s libraries is unknown; I can’t find a copyright date.

    I should point out for those who go off and put misinformation on web databases and pedias and the like that Langlois Filmusic has nothing to do with the Capitol Hi-Q library. It was made by an entirely different company (on a different coast, even). Both were among a number of music services available that TV or movie producers could contact to lease or purchase cues.

    Regardless, you can hear my favourite Shaindlin cue below (if your computer’s music player is configured to do so).


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  • 11/17/18--07:12: Tiffany Tiff
  • There was a time at Hanna-Barbera, writer Tony Benedict says, when all you had to do was please Joe Barbera—and then the company was sold and became corporate. And corporations make decisions based on, well, not based on Joe Barbera. Or common sense.

    What was supposed to be the last work on the voice track for The Jetsons: The Movie was apparently done in February 1989; that’s when George O’Hanlon suffered a stroke in the studio after finishing his lines and died in hospital.

    But that wasn’t the end of it, as fans discovered starting around May 9th when Daily Variety revealed that singer Tiffany had re-done all of Janet Waldo’s dialogue as Judy Jetson.

    Common sense tells you it was a stupid idea. Janet’s voice was recognised by everyone as Judy Jetson’s. And this wasn’t a case of an actress getting older and not being able to do the part. When Janet was hovering around 90, she could still sound pretty much like she did as suburban teenager Corliss Archer on radio in the mid 1940s (which, basically, was Judy’s voice).

    The decision, though, made corporate sense. Universal-International put up money for the Jetsons movie. Univeral-International had a sister record company, MCA. Tiffany was one of its big recording stars. Put some Tiffany songs in the Jetsons movie—cartoons are aimed at kids anyway—release them on MCA and you have instant free advertising via the movie. And, hey, since she’s doing the singing, she might as well do the dialogue, too. In fact, the suits wanted to ditch the Jetsons’ theme and have Tiffany sing something over the titles and credits but were talked out of it by composer/conductor John Debney.

    That’s how corporations think.

    How and when Miss Waldo was informed about all this, I don’t know. But the decision was crappy for fans and a real insult to her.

    Here’s a version of events from the May 23, 1989 edition of the Austin American-Statesman. Joe Barbera sticks to the corporate line.

    OUT OF THIS WORLD: Pop music teenybopper Tiffany will be heard as the voice of Judy Jetson in the new Jetsons: The Movie due at Christmastime, according to the Pasadena Star-News.
    Meanwhile, Janet Waldo, the original voice of Judy, is on the outs but bears no hard feelings, People magazine reports. Waldo recorded the original voice tracks but says Hanna-Barbera apologetically indicated that Tiffany's label, MCA, which is also producing the movie, wanted the singer to take the role.
    "Her voice is so prominent in the musical segments that we decided to feature her in the spoken part as well," said Joseph Barbera, president of Hanna-Barbera Productions. Tiffany will sing three new songs on the sound track of the full-length animated feature.
    Waldo, who claims to bear no ill will over the switch, said Tiffany "sings through her nose."
    Janet expressed her disappointment in other interviews. This unbylined piece showed up in the St Louis Post-Dispatch on July 26, 1989.
    MOST PEOPLE don't recognize her name or her face, but when she spouts words ala Judy Jetson—her animated counterpart—ears perk up.
    "That was the first animated voice I did," says actress Janet Waldo. "My kids grew up with 'The Jetsons' at the same time I was doing the voices for the show. And now, my friends always introduce me as Judy Jetson—everywhere I go." Later this year, Hanna-Barbera animation studios will release the first theatrical motion picture about the space-age family titled "Jetsons: The Movie!"
    Jumping Jupiter! This time, however, it is minus the vocal talents of Waldo, whose Judy Jetson was forever the hip teen-ager of the 21st century. Instead, funders of the film decided to use the vocals of rock singer Tiffany to supply the dialogue and vocals.
    "I was terribly upset. I was crushed," says Waldo. "This was a part I had created and performed. It's kind of like I've been robbed. And yet, it was the last time the cast was together to record the voices as a family again, ya know?"
    Since final recording sessions, George O'Hanlon, the voice of George Jetson, died. Months later Daws Butler, the voice of little Elroy died, and recently Mel Blanc, the man of a thousand voices (including Mr. Spacely), died. Reportedly, Hanna-Barbera has been deluged with negative mail about their "meddling" with a cult hit, which originally aired in 1962 on prime time television.
    "The studio told me they want to continue with some more episodes replacing the cast where they need to," says Waldo. "It wasn't necessary to replace me completely. They just wanted to.
    "I don't know Tiffany at all, but I don't think of her singing as the Judy Jetson style. She may bring in a new element to the movie, but the film may lose the old element."
    Waldo is known to baby boomer cartoon watchers as the voice of Josie from "Josie and the Pussycats," as well as the sexy race car driver Penelope Pitstop. She also supplied the vocals for Wilma Flintstone's rotund mother, a heavy-voiced overbearing mother-in-law to Fred.
    Today, Waldo and her husband Robert E. Lee, the playwright known for "Inherit the Wind" live in the Los Angeles area, "around the corner from Steve Allen and Richard Crenna," she adds.
    She is supplying voices for TV's "Smurfs" and she recently worked for Disney Studios, for the first time giving life to the wicked Maleficent in some coming cartoon recreations of "Sleeping Beauty."
    I’m not a fan of ‘80s pop music (though at least it wasn’t autotuned) so I haven’t much good to say about Tiffany’s singing, but she was unfortunately put in an awkward situation. Here’s a teenager with no acting experience who had to re-record the work of a veteran who was loved and respected by fans. Here’s what she told USA Today’s Steve Jones in a piece published July 6, 1990.
    Tiffany Finds New Voice as a 'Toon Teen
    When Tiffany started work on Jetsons: The Movie, she wasn't sure how her Judy Jetson voice should sound.
    Veteran cartoon actor Janet Waldo had spoken the spacey teen's lines for 28 years, but producers wanted Tiffany for the movie because they planned several musical numbers around Judy.
    “I didn't know if I should try to imitate how I thought Judy always sounded or if I should make it `Tiffany does Judy,'” says the 18-year-old singer. “They decided they wanted her to sound a little older, and now she has a more breathy voice.”
    Tiffany, who topped Billboard's pop album chart at 16 and had two No. 1 singles, is a longtime Jetsons fan. She had planned to be on just the soundtrack, but the producers let her do the dialogue, too, so that the voices would match.
    A novice actress, she was daunted by the studio work, but Gordon Hunt, the film's recording director, helped her grow into the part.
    “It was nice having patient people working with me,” she says. “It was hard doing the lines with the right expressions, but slowly but surely they brought it out of me.”
    She said the movie will introduce her music both to parents and to kids who were too young to know her when her previous albums came out. None of the three songs she does for the movie will appear on her yet-untitled album set for September release.
    Tiffany says that the album is a departure from her previous work, and that she's been working out with weights and aerobics to give herself a new look. She expects to begin touring in January.
    “I'm doing R & B now and it is something I've wanted to do for a long time,” she says. “It's going to shock a lot of people.”
    Janet Waldo was interviewed after the movie came out. She didn’t bother to see it. Critics gave it mixed to lukewarm reviews. Tiffany’s star had some of the shine off it by that point, so I suspect the throngs of her fans that MCA expected at theatres never materialised. I imagine the film mostly attracted nostalgic Gen Xers who kinda, sorta, remembered the show from their childhood and took their kids in an obligatory hunt for “family” entertainment.

    Producer Mark Evanier says that Joe Barbera, in a very classy move, apologised to Janet in front of the who’s-who of the voice acting world who gathered at Don Messick’s retirement party in 1997. He has postulated, and I hope I’m not misinterpreting his comments, that the movie quite possibly wouldn’t have been made had the Tiffster not been involved. Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were caught in the corporate maelstrom as much as Miss Waldo.

    The good thing to me, speaking as a fan, is the large outpouring of support and affection that Janet Waldo received during this whole escapade. As you know, she passed away over two years ago, but people still love her and the original Jetsons TV show. The Tiffany tiff has turned out to be a mere footnote in the show’s history.

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    Rubbles? What Rubbles?

    For a second month in a row, the Flintstones newspaper comics found in weekend newspapers were centered around Fred, Wilma, Pebbles and Dino. Fred’s “bosom buddy” Barney is nowhere to be found in the five comics published in November 48 years ago. Neither is Betty. And, for that matter, the comics-only character Pops isn’t around either.

    We’ll get to 1970 in a moment. We do have two comics from 50 years ago this month, courtesy of the Richard Holliss archive in England (unfortunately, he doesn’t have the remainder for that month). Barney and Fred’s fellow water buffalos make an appearance in that month. As a side note, there is a fraternal group in England known as the Royal Antediluvian Order of Water Buffalos. One wonders what they thought, if anything, of the Flintstones’ frat.

    November 17, 1968: Minimal backgrounds. A comparatively small opening panel.

    November 24, 1968: Good old Fred! His ego is out of check just like it was in the first cartoons of the TV series (note his expressions). And Wilma punctures it, just like in those first cartoons.

    Now on to 1970.

    November 1, 1970: More minimal backgrounds. The idea of Pebbles playing charades is a good one.

    November 8, 1970: I always like Gene Hazelton’s animal designs and his crocosaurus (well, what else would it be called in the Flintstones?) in the final panel is really good. There’s a nice use of foreground and background in the panel, too.

    November 15, 1970: Dino doesn’t think to himself very often but he does in this comic. The clichés of the wife going home to mother and the wife who’s a lousy cook get plopped into this story.

    November 22, 1970: Wife inept at hammering and other “men’s” work around the house? Yup, another dated cliché.

    November 29, 1970: The opening panel makes this one. Look at those dinosaur expressions in the opening panel. The half-silhouette panel is nicely composed and we have a volcano pumping out smoke like you’d see in the comics when Harvey Eisenberg was drawing them.

    As usual, click on any of the comics for a better view

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  • 11/24/18--06:47: The Quest For Publicity
  • Jonny Quest was an amazing series for its time in so many ways, from Hoyt Curtin’s score (and the work of the sound cutters to pick the cues to fit the action), to the background art, to the suspenseful stories to angles picked by the layout men. It’s unfortunate the show never got the ratings necessary to be able to continue for a second season.

    Hanna-Barbera was coming off a string of losses. Top Cat failed in prime time in 1961. The Jetsons did the same the following year. The failures made the networks shy from buying animated series for evening hours, but Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera convinced ABC to make one more try in 1964.

    To push Jonny Quest in the press prior to its debut, Hanna-Barbera trotted out its super salesman—Joe Barbera. Among his many talents, Barbera adeptly knew how to plug his cartoons. He was also very good at selling the story of Hanna-Barbera, the little underdog operation, run by two ordinary guys (and Oscar-winners, make sure you mention that), that became a monster success.

    Here’s a nice feature story that appeared in a couple of papers on October 24, 1964; it appears the writer was a scribe for several newspapers in Pennsylvania. If you’ve checked out other Quest newspaper stories on this blog, some of Barbera’s talking points will be familiar. Joe mentions “units.” I suspect he’s referring to something Jerry Eisenberg mentioned, that he and Lew Ott teamed up to work on Jonny Quest. I haven’t checked the credits to see if the same sets of animators worked together but as reader Howard Fein has pointed out, Carlo Vinci and Hugh Fraser worked together on a number of half-hour shows.

    One other note: Chris Webber’s blog has some frame grabs from the Quest DVD (I’ve grabbed some of his grabs). It’s a shame he didn’t blog for long but you can check out some artwork there.

    Animators Using New Technique In 'Quest'
    "In 'Jonny Quest' we have design planes that are possible, but slightly ahead of what's really available because equipment evolves so fast. And you can't tell children that last year's jet is next year's. They won't believe it."
    They also won't buy it . . . and it was the licensing and franchising of "Jonny Quest" products that had brought soft-spoken, Brooklyn-born Joseph Barbera back East for a quickie New York visit.
    And you don't need more proof that that that "Jonny" which bowed in color in September on ABC (Fridays, 7:30 p.m.) is a sure success. But as Barbera spread a circle of prints from "Jonny Quest" around him you felt that that wasn't what mattered so much. He kept talking, thinking in terms of series' values and audience acceptance.
    "We're using, a whole new technique in Quest. It's illustration, not cartooned. We brought some of the best illustrators from around the country for this one. "Of course the others are doing fine, too. Oh you like 'The Flintstones?' So do I."
    "But the story in 'Quest' did seem to cry for something new. We have a leading scientist much sought after for consultation and sought out, naturally by enemies. That's why the government assigns Race (isn't he handsome) as permanent bodyguard.
    "Then there's the doctor's 12-year-old Jonny and his adopted Jaji [sic], who's from India.
    "We went one-third over our expected budget researching, enough to make sure our background are authentic. Now we can travel around as no live company could possibly afford to do . . . and with the good art work you should feel you're there."
    20 Nice Years, 7 Mercurial Ones
    Barbera is one-half of the seven-year corporate miracle that is Hanna-Barbera Productions.
    In 1937 Bill Hanna chucked the engineering and journalism he'd studied for, to do something more creative, being idea man and director for animated cartoons. Joe Barbera chucked the banking and accounting for which he'd studied, to draw magazine cartoons. MGM saw him, as a animator-writer teamed with Hanna and together they created "Tom and Jerry," turned off some 125 episodes and won seven Oscars by 1957 when—after two decades in the same shop and with growing families—they got their pink slips. MGM was getting out of the animated field.
    On went the Bill and Joe thinking caps. What came out as a goal was television. Back to MGM they went with "the big idea." Wouldn't MGM like to consider the medium? MGM would not.
    "So we decided to go into business for ourselves." The Screen Gems TV subsidiary of Columbia Pictures sensed a hot idea and went along with financing and distribution phase.
    The work space was nil, the staff numbered three, but the enthusiasm was boundless, and in a short time out came a 15-minute show "Ruff and Reddy," still seen in many parts of the world.
    "Well, you see, there really was a need for something new, fresh animations especially for television. Re-runs of old—usually very old—theatre cartoons was pretty much it when we got in," Barbara explains. "And the more we got into it, the more we found innovations to simplify production and add interest.
    Barbara reached for another photo.
    "This is the new building. Isn't it a honey?
    "We turn off as much production here in a week as we did at MGM in a year . . . and with no time clocks, no memos and a minimum of supervision. Our units work out the details themselves.
    "Do I draw any more?" He smiled. "Well, only to the extent that I'll show an artist what I might have in mind, rather than try to tell him . . . but otherwise it's up to a unit to do its own work."
    "Unit," that seems to be the Hanna-Barbera modern invention to outstrip anything that's being designed in "Quest."
    "You see we feel it's up to creative people to determine their own best working hours. Each unit determines its own deadlines, by what time one phase of a job has to be finished so another can proceed. Everybody works hard, but at times of personal choosing, and it proves to be the times when they produce fastest and best."
    And the "fastest and best" dossier now totals—with this season's "Jonny Quest"—13 series in seven years! ("The Flintstones,""Huckleberry Hound,""Yogi Bear,""Quick Draw McGraw,""Touche Turtle," among others).
    And as for Barbera, "Well, I never sleep anyway, but it's worse right now on a trip." There's one irony, though. Barbera, who turned his back on banking for the creative life, has to pay more and more attention to finance.

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  • 11/28/18--07:05: High Wire Huck Part 2
  • The high wire breaks that Yogi Bear, Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks are on high above the circus crowd. Huckleberry Hound’s top hat twirls before he jumps to the rescue.

    I like the Huck head multiples. If you look closely, you’ll see the drawing of Huck with Jinks riding over him isn’t quite identical with the one of Yogi riding over him.

    Huck swoops to safety. Almost.

    Once again, these are really attractive drawings. More effort and expense was put into the intro bumpers than the cartoons themselves. How nice they (or some of them) got preserved on home video.

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  • 12/01/18--07:13: What's in a Name-Rock?
  • The writers of the The Flintstones could come up with clever puns on names. Eventually, they got lame, just arbitrarily adding “stone” or “rock” to a name. I mean, “Jimmy O’Neillstone?” “Shinrock”? I was nine at the time and could do better than that.

    Here are a couple of stories about Flintstone names. They’re not bylined, so my guess is they came right from the office of publicity mogul Arnie Carr at Hanna-Barbera. They use some of the same wording. That line about “butcher, baker and pizza-pie maker” shows up yet again. The first story was printed in the Montgomery Alabama Journal of July 14, 1961 and the second in the Boston Globe of the following October 22nd.

    Funny Names Dreamed Up For Flintstone People
    Whoever dreams up the names on "The Flintstones," the animated cartoon series on ABC-TV Friday nights, has a delightful sense of whimsy. Various characters bear the tags of familiar people and places with just enough of a twist to make it amusing.
    For instance, what better name for a movie actor from the community of Hollyrock than Gary Granite. Or a dance instructor who answers to Arthur Quarry. Both of those citizens are as solid as a rock.
    In various "Flintstone" episodes viewers also get to meet such people (?) as Pebble Bleach, an attractive blonde; Rock Pile, a way-out actor on thespian if you prefer. Then there's Boulder Dan, who owns a poolroom, and Perry Masontry, an attorney.
    Still others include Professor Rockymoto, a judo instructor; Perry Gunnite, a private eye; Rocky Gibralter, a prizefighter; Morris Mortar, an insurance agent; Malcolm Quartz, a grocer and Benjamin Boulder, a business executive.
    Principal writers of "The Flintstones" are Warren Foster and Mike Maltese. They work very closely with producers Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna and presumably all four fertile minds get the credit for dreaming up the funny names.
    When you remember that "The Flintstones" are set in the Stone Age the names take on even more laughable impact.
    These characters along with the principals, Fred and Wilma Flintstone and Barney and Betty Rubble have made the series one of the most successful on the television scene. Recently, it was selected by TV editors across the country in Fame's annual poll as "the most unique new program."

    Birth of “The Flintstones”
    Last year at this time about the biggest hit among the new entries on TV was “The Flintstones,” animated cartoon series seen on Ch 7 Friday nights at 8:30. Its immediate success prompted a rash of similar cartoon programs to be put on the market for this Fall season. And now we have them by the score.
    “The Flintstones” give a satirical picture of family life in suburbia as it might have been in prehistoric times. Fred and Wilma Flintstone live at Bedrock in Cobblestone County. Their newspaper is the Daily Slate. They take their laundry to the Rock-O-Mat. They play Stoneway pianos. They live in split-level caves.
    Bedrock has its butcher, baker and pizza-pie maker and drive-in restaurant. It has its funny names, too. Various characters bear the tags of familiar people with just enough of a twist to be amusing.
    There’s Gary Granite, actor; Perry Masontry, attorney; Rocky Gilbralter, prizefighter; Perry Gunnite, private eye and Professor Rockymoto, a judo instructor, to name a few.
    Creators of the series are Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. They were pleasantly surprised to learn that their characters “Huckleberry Hound” and “Quick Draw McGraw,” primarily children’s shows, had a large adult following.
    “We decided to try a cartoon series geared to adult viewers,” said Joe, a youngish man in his 40’s who could easily be taken for a film star. “We started thinking about a family situation comedy cartoon series.
    “Bill and I tried out something like six different families, in modern contemporary times and settings, but they somehow didn’t fit the bill. Then one day, sitting around the shop with a group of our animators, we hit on the idea of taking an average, everyday couple, happily married, with the normal trials and tribulations of everyday living, and setting them in a Stone Age era and background.
    “We drew our couple in a modern car. No laugh. But when we set the couple in a caveman car (thatched-top convertible with stone wheels and tree branch fins) we all laughed at the drawing.
    “Then we tried a regular guy at the piano. No laughs. But when we put the same guy in caveman attire, in a cave dwelling, plunking away at a stone piano, again the whole group roared.
    “Before long, we were playing a game with everybody tossing in suggestions. Another example—give a man a telephone to answer. No laugh. But give a caveman in the form of a ram’s horn, and again there’s laughter.”
    Joe and Bill approached Screen Gems with the idea and it clicked with them. Joe had to interest advertising agencies in the cartoon, speaking something like five to six times a day. Needless to say, he sold the series.

    I always thought the name was “Perry Masonary.” “Cobblestone County” seems to have been mentioned more in publicity than on the show. And was there a “Rock-o-mat”? Or “split-level caves” (all of them seem to be on one level, with the same picture appearing on the wall five or six times, depending on how long Fred is running).

    I don’t know if I can pick a favourite pun name; a lot of them make me wince. But perhaps one comes to your mind.

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    No Christmas comic for Yogi Bear in December 1970. Gene Hazelton and his crew could probably have tossed in a whole pile of cutesy animals into it if they had wanted to draw one. We find them in other comics this month. Boo Boo makes a very brief appearance.

    December 6:Women in comics and cartoons are fickle. Ask Olive Oyl. In this case, ask Cindy Bear. You’ll recall in “A Wooin’ Bruin” (1962) how Cindy couldn’t make up her mind between Yogi and Bruno. Well, here we have the same thing. Look at the weary look the Wise Owl gives the reader in the second panel. Note Yogi in silhouette in the third row.

    December 13: Does anyone use the word “ecology” any more? This is as about as message-y a comic you’ll get out of Yogi Bear, showing people humans can be unthinking lemmings when it comes to hot-button issues and sloganism. Hey, fish in the third panel, it’s been almost 40 years. Nothing’s changed. The final panel has an observational bird.

    December 20: Ecology returns, taking a back-seat to a pun as the punch-line. A few hyper open-mouths in this comic.

    December 27: We get an observational squirrel in the final panel, and a number of other talking animals. Apparently a bunch of stuff happened before the comic started, as Yogi was rough-housing with the kid. Yeah, there were helicopter parents back then. This colour comic comes from the collection of Richard Holliss in the U.K.

    Click on any comic to make it bigger.

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  • 12/08/18--07:09: Bankrolling an Emmy
  • Syndicated television in the 1950s had some fairly popular shows. Highway Patrol and Sea Hunt come to mind. But the first syndicated show to win an Emmy was the Huckleberry Hound Show in 1960. It was the first time a cartoon show had won. Mind you, it was nominated in a category that didn’t before then—“Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Children's Programming.”

    What was even better for the people behind Huck is the other Hanna-Barbera syndicated half-hour show, Quick Draw McGraw, was nominated as well. (Huck was also nominated but lost in 1961).

    Both shows were sponsored by Kellogg’s of Battle Creek, Michigan. If you were around back then, you can probably still sing the Kellogg’s jingle. The Battle Creek Enquirer had an interesting take on the Emmy win. Here’s the paper’s story from June 22, 1960, two days after the award was handed out.

    Huck, Yogi Share Emmy
    Kellogg Co. Picked a Winner

    A television cartoon show, bought sight unseen by the Kellogg Co. two years ago on the basis of an idea, came through Monday night to win TVs highest award in its field the most outstanding children's show of the past season.
    An Emmy was presented "To Huckleberry Hound Outstanding achievement in the field of children's programming."
    HUCK IS SEEN on 207 television stations across the country, which covers more than 90 per cent of the U.S. population. It was the first show of its type to win the award, with time purchased on individual stations rather than transmitted by a network.
    Huck also was the first cartoon show created especially for television, rather than being adapted from motion picture cartoons, newspaper comic strips, or other media. It has been on the air since September, 1958.
    KELLOGG EXECUTIVES had never seen a Huckleberry Hound cartoon show when they signed a contract in 1958 to sponsor the series. No one had seen one—none of the animated cartoons had been drawn.
    Huck's creators, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, brought their idea for the show to Kellogg's advertising agency, Leo Burnett Co., Inc. The agency in turn interested company officials.
    The Kellogg men looked over proposed scripts and drawings of the characters, then decided to buy the idea. That was early in 1958.
    A considerable investment—no amount has been revealed—was needed to build up a backlog of shows in advance of the first release. A Kellogg official said the cost of a half-hour Huck show is about the same as the cost of obtaining talent for a top-flight half-hour evening TV show.
    THERE ARE no live characters on the show, usually including the commercials, which are presented by the animated stars. Each half-hour-show consists of three segments, starring separate characters. The stars are Huck, the hound with the southern drawl; Yogi Bear, a park dweller with a penchant for speaking in rhyme; and Jinks the Cat, who "hates you meeses—Pixie and Dixie—to pieces."
    Huck and Yogi, particularly, have become popular personalities across the country. Last fall, they were the theme of homecomings at Ohio State University and Washington State University, and made "personal" appearances men dressed in $700 costumes depicting the characters. Both also appeared last year in Battle Creek's Centennial Parade.
    TWO OTHER HONORS fell to Kellogg TV personalities Monday night. Quick Draw McGraw, another Kellogg show produced by Hanna and Barbera, was a runner-up for the "best children's show Emmy." And Jim Conway, who does the cereal firm's live commercials, was voted "Best of all the salesmen" by his fellow TV workers in Chicago. Conway was in Battle Creek last fall to emcee the United Fund's campaign kickoff.
    Unless you want to count Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, it wasn’t until 1966 when a cartoon won an Emmy again; it went to A Charlie Brown Christmas. Of course, by then, Hanna-Barbera had built a lucrative empire on Saturday mornings. It wasn’t until Daytime Emmys were given out in 1983 that Hanna-Barbera got its second “Outstanding Children’s Entertainment Series” Emmy for The Smurfs. And by a nice coincidence, named with Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera was Gerard Baldwin, who had animated Yowp (okay, and Yogi Bear) 26 years earlier on the Huck series that gave the studio its first Emmy award.

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  • 12/12/18--08:02: Scary Prairie Town
  • How’s this for work? There were 78 cartoons in the first season of the Quick Draw McGraw Show in 1959-60. That’s in addition to the (I think) 39 cartoons that had to be made the same year for the Huckleberry Hound Show. And Hanna-Barbera was still working on Ruff and Reddy for Saturday mornings.

    The studio had three main background artists the year before—Bob Gentle, Fernando Montealegre and Art Lozzi. Gentle was the veteran; he had been with Harman-Ising before there was an MGM cartoon studio in 1937, having studied at the Otis Art Institute in the early '30s. Dick Thomas and Joe Montell joined the three in 1959 but even with five artists, Hanna-Barbera had plenty of work for all of them.

    The studio generally didn’t re-use backgrounds in different cartoons (there’s one streetscape that appears in several early Snooper and Blabber cartoons) but it had to make shortcuts to meet deadlines. Here’s an example from the first Quick Draw McGraw cartoon put into production, Scary Prairie (J-1).

    The cartoon opens with a not-so-scary prairie as narrator Elliot Field sets up the story.

    Like probably all cartoon studios, Hanna-Barbera used cels as overlays on a background painting. In the shot above, the pinkish-white part of the desert is on an overlay. This allows something to be animated between it and the background painting. It also allows the background painting to be used elsewhere in the cartoon, not only saving work, but the artwork won’t look as repetitious.

    Here’s a recreation of the second scene. You can see the same long background painting with the mountains is used, but there are overlays with buildings, a thirsty horse (whose tail is animated), and animated Westerners on the right (only the heads move). My guess is the layout artist was Dick Bickenbach, who would have created the characters.

    To save work (ie. time and money), the streetscape background returns at the end of the cartoon as Quick Draw McGraw, in a gag that writer Mike Maltese borrowed from Drip-Along Daffy he wrote at Warner Bros., cleans up the one-horse town. You’ll note the thirsty horse overlay has been removed.

    Credit title cards were shot (by Norm Stainback, I suspect) for the individual cartoons at the time they were made, but I don’t believe they were used until the cartoons went into syndication. Even then, many of the Quick Draws exist without credits, so it’s only my wild guess that Bob Gentle was the background artist in this cartoon. I’d have to study the backgrounds a little more.

    Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, or perhaps someone at Kellogg’s ad agency, Leo Burnett, didn’t feel this was a strong enough cartoon to kick off the series, though Maltese makes fun of almost every Western movie cliché. Instead, Lamb Chopped (J-11), the sixth or seventh Quick Draw in the production line, was the debut cartoon. It featured the bad-guy orange version of Snagglepuss and is a pretty funny cartoon.

    Once again, I make my plaintive sigh that the Quick Draw series won’t be released on home video. The late Earl Kress said production elements (bumpers and such things) were missing or in poor condition when he went looking for them years ago and, then, a deal couldn’t be reached with the rights-holders of some of the background music, which had reverted from Capitol Records to the composers or their estates. I suppose I should never say “never,” but...

    P.S.: When the blog started, I used other websites to supply the dates the early H-B cartoons first aired. A few years later, after doing my own research through newspapers, I discovered the other sites (which never gave sources) were not always correct. This blog had the wrong air date for this cartoon and has been fixed. Other early blog entries will have to be fixed when I find the time.

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