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Stuff about early Hanna-Barbera cartoons

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    Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    Credits: Animation – Hicks Lokey; Layout – Paul Sommer; Backgrounds – Vera Hanson; Written By Warren Foster; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Huckleberry Hound, Zeke Doodleberry, Jurors – Daws Butler; Narrator, Lafe Doodleberry, Clem Doodleberry, Jurors – Don Messick.
    Music: Bill Loose-John Seely, Jack Shaindlin, George Hormel, Spencer Moore.
    First Aired: week of February 13, 1961 (rerun, week of July 10, 1961).
    Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-051.
    Plot: Huck gets involved in a mountain feud between his ancestors and the Doodleberrys.

    The most convoluted Huckleberry Hound logic of all time is in this cartoon. Huck justifies being shot at, and almost killed, by a hillbilly feuding with his family.

    Huck: These mountain folk are a bit edgy about strangers, and I don’t blame ‘em. First thing you know, your still is shot full of holes and the corn-squeezin’ is pouring down the creek. Makes the fish belligerent. They climb out of the creek and snap at the children’s legs. That feller’s just makin’ sure the fish don’t get all riled up.

    Pure Warren Foster, isn’t it?

    I suppose it was inevitable to plunk Huck in an ersatz version of the Hatfield/McCoy feud. Huck’s accent is slow and rural, and about the only thing more slow and rural than that are hayseeds in the hills. Most of the usual clichés are here—long beards, shootin’ irons (well, it is a feud), extreme poverty, everyone being related—though we’re missing a passel of farm animals because, well, you’d have to animate them and that costs money. Still it all works pretty well.

    Foster has set this cartoon is the non-existent Pennsyltucky Mountains, which are apparently standing in for the Ozarks. Nice rolling hills and, I guess, cottonwood trees. The backgrounds in this short are by the former Vera Ohman of the MGM cartoon studio, now married to Hanna-Barbera Production Supervisor Howard Hanson. Vera appears to have freelanced on this cartoon; in 1961, she worked on a Yogi, a Snagglepuss which aired when Yogi got his own show and a couple of Loopy De Loops. I wish I could snip the full background together without the tint changing.

    Here are Vera’s drawings of the cabins of the warring factions with lettering by Art Goble.

    And here are her interiors of the Huckleberry family mountain home.

    Huck: “Split-level floor, air conditioned roof. It’s just like I pictured. They shore know how to live down here. Everything is so functional. None of your modern gimmicks.”

    Huck: “When they hit the hay at night, they hit the honest-to-doo-dad hay.”

    John Kricfalusi says when Vera retired from animation, she opened a cuckoo clock store in Solvang, California. Vera Ohman Hanson died in 1993, two days shy of the New Year, at age 69.

    There’s a huge plot hole in the cartoon. Don Messick’s earnest narrator voice tells us the old feud between the Huckleberrys and the next-mountain-over Doodleberrys is over “because there is only one left of either family.” But that’s not true. There are seven Doodleberrys in this cartoon, three named and four on a jury, and all of them point their rifles at Huck at the end of the cartoon. Well, the “one” the narrator is referring to is Lafayette “Lafe” Doodleberry, who has that ornery country voice that Messick recycled a bunch of times, infamously for that skunk-hatted guy in that Yogi Christmas special. Anyway, Lafe tells us the feud’s still on.

    We cut to Huck walking along, singing “Clementine,” and paying his first visit to the “friendly” hills. Huck keeps emphasizing how friendly folks there are when, even after Lafe calls him a “lily-liver, dog-faced city dude.” “Now, you notice the quaint way they express theirselves down here. It’s just a pose, you know, to mask their big-heartedness.” Of course, the gunfire begins once Lafe learns who Huckleberry is. He even gets shot inside his home while strumming a banjo and singing off key (“That’s what started the feud in the first place,” complains Lafe). “I cain’t believe you’re carryin’ a grudge for som’pin what happened way back when great-great-great-great grandpappy’s time.” Blam! “Course, some people have right-good memories.”

    Huck goes to complain to the sheriff—Lafe’s look-alike cousin Zeke. Poor Zeke has “the miseries” so he assigns his deputy to bring in Lafe—naming Huck his deputy. We get old cartoon gags. Huck acts like a carnival target going back and forth every time Lafe hits him with a bullet (“Homesteader Droopy” has the gag, among other cartoons) and then when Huck claims he’s got the “po-liceman’s grip” on him, the two emerge from the Doodleberry cabin with Lafe carrying Huck.

    So Huck, Lafe and Zeke all mosey on down to the courthouse, where look-alike cousin Clem calls Huck a “varmint” and tells him shooting Huckleberrys isn’t a crime, it’s a sport. The look-alike cousins on the jury agree. Huck’s surrounded by rifles. “Even Perry Mason’d get beat here,” he says before beating a retreat out the door. “If anybody watchin’ is plannin’ on a trip to these friendly Pennsyltucky hills,” he advises as he runs away from bullets, “I suggest you change your name to Doodleberry. It’ll make for more togetherness.”

    Maybe the rural music in the Hi-Q library was too Western for the sound-cutter to use. Instead, he sticks with familiar cues, some of which don’t quite fit the scene, like Jack Shaindlin’s “Grotesque No. 2” during the struggle scene inside the Doodleberry cabin. Huck’s banjo can’t be from a library; it sounds like someone went onto the sound stage and strummed some notes, the same way the studio created sound effects.

    0:00 - Huckleberry Hound Sub Main Title Theme (Curtin).
    0:17 - ZR-50 UNDERWATER SCENIC (Hormel) – Narration, shot of Lafe.
    0:37 - LAF-4-6 PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Narrator talks to Lafe.
    1:07 - Clementine (Trad.) – Huck sings.
    1:14 - TC-436 SHINING DAY (Loose-Seely) – Huck talks to audience, knocks on door.
    1:41 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Lafe opens door, “One of your people.”
    2:00 - LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No. 2 (Shaindlin) – Lafe invites Huck inside, “I’m a Huckleberry.”
    2:18 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Lafe outraged, fires gun at Huck.
    2:25 - L-1154 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Huck in bush, walks.
    2:46 - C-3 DOMESTIC CHILDREN (Loose) – Huck outside cabin, inside cabin shots.
    3:08 - banjo strumming – Shot of Huckleberry cabin, Lafe gripes, shoots at Huck.
    3:42 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Huck with shot banjo, says he’ll see sheriff.
    4:29 - LAF-25-3 bassoon and zig zag strings (Shaindlin) – Huck talks to Zeke, appointed deputy, knocks at door.
    5:17 - ZR-47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Huck runs for door, punch, carnival target gag.
    5:52 - LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No. 2 (Shaindlin) – Out of ammunition, judge scene.
    6:42 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Perry Mason reference, Huck runs.
    6:57 - Huckleberry Hound Sub End Title theme (Curtin).

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  • 06/12/13--12:37: The Judy and Elroy Show
  • Class! Today’s lesson. This is “The Flintstones.”

    This is not “The Flintstones.”

    This, of course, is from “The Pebbles and Bamm Bamm Show,” which was one of the nails of the proverbial coffin for me when it came to Hanna-Barbera cartoons. As a viewer, I decided the studio had completely run out of ideas. It had already tried regurgitating “The Flintstones” as football players in the sorry “Where’s Huddles?” (1970). Now, it regurgitated “The Flintstones” again and added it to a regurgitation of the comedy teenager concept (“Archie” anyone?) and a funny animal sidekick (the original “Jetsons”, among others). On top of that, I wasn’t interested in Pebbles or Bamm Bamm as toddlers and was less interested them in klutzy high schoolers. And Ted Nichols or someone at the studio became enamoured with blowing a whistle in theme songs around this time, and it was enough to make you, well, regurgitate.

    How little did I realise then how much the studio into reusing ideas. Recently, my attention was brought to one of H-B’s numerous proposed series.

    This is “The Jetsons.”

    This is not “The Jetsons.”

    This is Hanna-Barbera out of ideas.

    Apparently, the studio decided if it could age Pebbles and Bamm Bamm and hand them their own show, it could do the same thing with Judy and Elroy Jetson. It seems in 1973, the studio came up with the concept but it didn’t sell. Writer-designer-director Scott Shaw comments about the above drawing thusly:

    Grown-up Judy here was intended to be working as a journalist; like Lois Lane, I guess that was to propel her into "adventures".
    Please read Scott’s insight in the comments section about the genesis and background of the idea. I appreciate his knowledge on this.

    One of the on-line animation auction has some sketches of the characters, including a kid version of Astro. About all I can say is it’s better than Orbitty from the later Jetsons incarnation.

    You’ll notice Willie Ito has signed one of the drawings. Willie had been Ken Harris’ assistant animator at Warner Bros., then headed to Bob Clampett’s Snowball studio to work on Beany and Cecil before winding up at Hanna-Barbera around 1961. He worked on layouts on the original Jetsons series. I don’t know whether this is one of his drawings but it’s pretty neat.

    It’s probably just as well that the Judy and Elroy show didn’t sell. The best thing about “The Jetsons” was the futuristic gadgets and I suspect they wouldn’t have been given a lot of priority on new show, just as the Stone Age gadgets took a back seat to contrived teenaged antics on “Pebbles and Bamm Bamm.” Judy’s character would have to have been changed; she was boy-crazy and not much more in the original show. Who knows what would have happened to Elroy’s persona, who inherited a bit of Augie Doggie’s boy genius personality on the original show. After all, the only distinguishing thing Bamm Bamm had as a little tyke was his strength, but it inexplicably evaporated when he morphed into a teen on his own show (as least on the shows I watched before I lost interest in the series). And because there were no takers on the show, we were likely spared theme song lyrics such as:

    You’ll see Jane and George, too.
    (O’Hanlon, speaking): Ooba-dooba-doo!
    On the Judy and Elroy Showwwww.

    (long, insufferable whistle screech).

    Still, it could have been worse. Let’s hope the old Hanna-Barbera files don’t have a proposal to make George, Jane, Spacely and Cogswell into seven-year-olds.

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    Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    Credits: Animation – Carlo Vinci; Layout – Paul Sommer; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber, J.B. Sportley – Daws Butler; Duck – Red Coffey.
    Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin.
    First Aired: 1961?
    Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-030, Production J-92.
    Plot: Snooper and Blabber hunt for a rare Tralfazian duck.

    Oh, no. Not that duck again!

    Well, not only is the future Yakky Doodle constantly bawling for his mama more than a Connie Francis song in this cartoon, he’s incredibly stupid as well. He can’t tell the difference between his own mother and a wooden decoy, or a mouse with a feather-duster for a tail spouting Al Jolson.

    So it is that Mike Maltese takes the endless parental caterwauling of the duck and turns it into a central point of a cartoon. And, as usual, a character who has a chance to put the feathery thing out of its misery doesn’t have the heart to do it. And, also as usual, Maltese embroiders the story with funny turns-of-phrase and gets bonus points for incorporating everyone’s favourite word “Tralfaz” into the cartoon.

    Oh, we get Carlo Vinci, too. Not the really quirky Carlo of 1958. But the studio’s workload hasn’t knocked all the distinctiveness out of him. Here’s one his famous big sideways mouths.

    And here’s a stretched-dive exit by the duck.

    You’ll notice the duck in this cartoon is green. Paul Sommer, the layout designer in this cartoon, also made him green in another cartoon that season, Augie Doggie’s “Let’s Duck Out” where, yet again, Little Biddy Buddy was whining for his mother.

    Maltese’s opening is pretty standard. There’s an opening shot of the private eyeball, this time on a window. Snoop answers the phone with a rhyme like Archie the Bartender on Duffy’s Tavern: “Snooper Detective Agency, forget your blues, we’ll find the clues.” As usual, Blab makes an aside to the audience about detective work while the phone call is in progress. This one is: “The mark of a good private eye is to make the most of an opportunity.” That’s because Snoop has been offered $30,000 for a duck. Snoop responds with “What’ll ya give me for two elephants?”

    The next scene is in the “featheralistic” trophy room of J.B. Sportley, who has the English hunter’s voice (and moustache) from the popular Yowp cartoons. Perhaps because Yowp failed to catch a duck two years earlier, Sportley had hired Snooper and Blabber to capture a rare Tralfazian duck, discernible by its distinctive quack. The name “Tralfaz” was later recycled on The Jetsons as Astro’s original name, but has a long animated history, going back to the Snafu cartoons made during the war at Warners.

    Snoop and Blab park themselves in a lake with a “genuine imitiation” decoy. Enter the little green duck, wailing for its mama. Snooper has to rescue his decoy after the stupid duck takes off with it, mistaking it for his mother (“I’m excruciated with joy,” Snooper facetiously says, after Proto-Yakky asks him if he’s happy to see the duck reunited with his mother). “Leave us retrench to our cabin,” Snoop says to Blab and that’s where the rest of the cartoon takes place.

    “We’ll try it again at the crackle of dawn,” says Snoop. There’s a knock at the door. “Be hasty pudding and see who it is,” he tells Blab. Guess who? The pathetic duck wants to say goodbye to his mama. Snooper kicks him out, but he comes back through the chimney and wants “mama” to tell him a bedtime story. “Leave me tell one,” says the annoyed Snoop. “Once-t upon a time there was a pesky duck who was put out of the house.” Snooper drops him out the door. “And Snoop lived happily ever after. Heh heh. Chuckle, chuckle.” Cut to the pissed off duck on the porch. “Aw, I don’t like that story at all, at all, at all.”

    The duck comes back in and steals the blanket from the bed where Snooper and Blabber are sleeping (still wearing their trench coats and hats) because “mama” is cold (the duck first stands on its head and wiggles its toes for the decoy). Snooper’s had enough. He clues in the clueless duck that his mama is made of wood. With the soothing strings of Phil Green’s “And They All Lived Happily Ever After” playing in the background, Hanna-Barbera’s King of Self-Pity starts crying. But wait! He’s crying like a rare Tralfazian duck, worth “30 thousand grand dollars” dead. To quote Mike Maltese’s dialogue from a famous Warners’ cartoon: Now’s your chance, Hawkeye—Shoot ‘im, shoot ‘im!! But no. Sentimental Snoop decides to forego the money and “give the broken-hearted little trike a live mother.” Cut to the final scene where Blab is poorly disguised as a duck. “Climb upon my knee, Sonny Boy,” says Blab. If the duck can be convinced a wooden figure is his mother, he can be convinced by Blabber’s disguise that even Mr. Magoo should be able to see through. Blab gets kissed by the duck and avoids the temptation of breaking into something the Al Jolson song book.

    “Sometimes, bein’ a private eye assistant has its compensations,” he tells us as the closing iris signals it’s time for the pre-Yakky to appear on another H-B episode before changing colour and getting his own series.

    The sound-cutter doesn’t generally change cues in mid-scene. However, he back-times the woodblock-and-flute music so it ends with the cartoon.

    A late Yowp note: Mark Evanier reports that “Daws told me that Snooper's voice was more inspired by character actor Tom D'Andrea...but a little by Ed Gardner.” Well, you can’t disagree with the guy who invented the voice. D’Andrea was on “The Life of Riley” TV show and if you have a chance to see any old episodes, you can hear he and Snooper have similar vocal qualities. But anyone familiar with Duffy and the show’s writing will notice the similarities there, too. I thank Mark again for his always helpful knowledge. There’s always something to learn.

    0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera).
    0:24 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Office scene, Sportly conversation scene.
    1:38 - GR-90 THE CHEEKY CHAPPIE (Green) – Snoop and Blab in boat, duck shows up, Snooper shoots rifle.
    2:56 - SIX DAY BICYCLE RACE (Shaindlin) – Decoy rescue scene.
    3:18 - GR-155 PARKS AND GARDENS (Green) – Snoop reads paper, kicks out duck twice.
    4:28 - GR-453 THE ARTFUL DODGER (Green) – Snoop in bed scene, “Check!”
    5:44 - GR-459 AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER (Green) – “That is a fake wooden duck,” Snoop promises duck will get a mother.
    6:32 - tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – Blab is mommy duck.
    7:09 - Snooper and Blabber End Title theme (Curtin).

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    You wouldn’t think there’d be a nice for the little uber-cute neighbour girl Amber to show up in the Flintstones comics once Pebbles came along, but that wasn’t the case. Amber appears again in one of the Sunday comics 50 years ago this month. And we get more of the “thinking” Dino this month as well. Baby Puss fans will be disappointed to see our favourite sabertoothed pet is absent again.

    About the only thing interesting is the June 2nd comic are the two non-square panels. The gag is set up pretty well. Curious Dino peers out in the top panel.

    Here’s the selfish, mooching Amber in the June 9th comic. The last panel is the best, as usual, with Fred and Amber turned away at different angles. No word whether Amber is related to Cary Granite. Once again, Pebbles is here for, well, no reason at all.

    June 16th features the innermost thoughts of Dino. The story’s cute but I don’t really see the Dino of the TV show being as bitter. Triceratops toy alert! (see first panel). Looks like it’s the same artist from the week before. Bick Bickenbach maybe?

    Dr Spock becomes Dr Sprockrock in the June 23rd comic. Did Pebbles spell her own name in blocks in the first panel? I like how the layouts are at a slight angle; notice the couch in the first panel in the middle row and the car two panels over (with the smoking volcano in the background).

    Pebbles doesn’t appear in the June 30th home movies comic. It’s odd considering there was a whole cartoon episode devoted to Fred annoying everyone with his home movies of Pebbles, but that show didn’t air until the following season. Herb and Laura? I wonder who they’re named after. Herb’s expressions are great.

    As usual, click on each cartoon to get a larger view.

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    Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    Credits: Animation – Bob Carr, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Vera Hanson, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Male Bear – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, Girl Bear – Don Messick.
    Music: Bill Loose-John Seely, Geordie Hormel, Jack Shaindlin.
    First Aired: week of February 13, 1961.
    Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-051.
    Plot: Yogi spends all his time trying to charm his new girl friend.

    Warren Foster’s philosophy on love:

    ● Women play abusive games with men and don’t care about it.
    ● Women are fickle and will run off with any guy.
    ● Men are stupid enough to put up with either one or both of the above.

    Well, that’s pretty much the impression you’re left with from this cartoon. Or from Popeye cartoons when it comes to the second item, for that matter. Come to think of it, Foster wrote gags for Popeye cartoons in the ‘30s, didn’t he?

    This is the kind of cartoon that drives continuity fanbois nuts. Yogi tells Boo Boo he doesn’t believe in love. But what about Cindy Bear, who Yogi had a crush on years earlier in Jellystone Park? Well, Cindy wasn’t invented until the following season and nobody cared if the backstory fit each and every cartoon that came before it. Obsessive fans only started getting worked up about even the most trivial inconsistencies a couple of decades later.

    Something else continuity freaks would probably find maddening is this is the fourth cartoon in the 1960-61 season that takes place at the opening of the park season (the others are “Booby Trapped Bear,” “Bearface Bear,” “Do or Diet” if you’re not keeping track). How many openings in a year are there anyway? And this is the second cartoon of the season where Yogi decides to explain the birds and bees to Boo Boo.

    This is also one of seemingly countless cartoons that opens with narration over a pan of the Jellystone Park scenery. There’s a shot of one of the many designs for the entrance gate to the park, followed by a slow pan to the right over a background by Vera Hanson, wife of Production Supervisor Howard Hanson, originally hired at MGM to work in the Tex Avery unit at the behest of Ed Benedict, according to John Kricfalusi.

    Yogi tells Boo Boo about the birds and the bees. “The birds have feathers and the bees make honey.” Boo Boo gives the audience a bit of an incredulous look. “And that’s it?” he asks. “Gee, I thought it had something to do with love. Where does Dan Cupid and his arrows fit in?” Yogi assures him there is no such thing. “Do you think for one moment they would let a curly-headed kid run around in three-cornered short-shorts and shoot people with arrows? They’d send a kid like that to bed without any TV.” Yogi explains his first love is tourist-type food and he has no interest in a nearby female bear. Of course, while this conversation’s going on, Cupid descends from somewhere and shoots Yogi in the butt with an arrow (with a suction cup on the end). So much for tourist-type food. The chase is on after the giggling female.

    Now the love-chase is on, with the unidentified female bear treating Yogi like crap just to be an itch. Or a similar word. She shoves the gentlemanly Yogi to the ground. She trips him, sending him flying. Yogi gets his rhymes in: “Hey, hey, hey! Don’t run away!” and “The feminine ruse but it’s no use.” He tries to impress her by walking on his hands (like Mr. Jinks did to try to win the female neighbour cat in “Woo For Two,” also written that season by Foster) and then one hand.

    Meanwhile, Ranger Smith is upset. Five hours have passed and Yogi hasn’t stolen one picnic basket. He thinks Yogi is sick, that the bear broke a leg—no, both legs—and he’s lying out in the damp forest, helpless and hungry. I like how Foster builds up Yogi’s “ailment.” Smith starts carrying Yogi to the Ranger Hospital for intravenous food. But Boo Boo tells him Yogi isn’t sick; he’s only lovesick. The Ranger tosses Yogi to the ground in disgust. But then he reminisces. “I remember when I was courtin’ Martha. I laid off sardine and onion sandwiches for weeks.” Hey, wait. In “Wound-Up Bear,” his wife’s name was Mabel. Continuity!!!!

    Back to the chase. “Little honey-bun likes her fun,” Yogi rhymes. “Fun” in this case is the fiendish female pushing a log connecting two cliffs while Yogi’s on it. He falls into a stream. The animation shows the girl chuckling but the sound-cutter left Don Messick’s feminine giggle off the sound track this time.

    Finally, Yogi wises up. He sees the girl with another bear. “Well, it’s better to have loved and lost than loved and won.” Yogi philosophises. “With her sense of humour, I hope he’s a got some kind of hospital plan.” So Yogi goes back to stealing picnic baskets. He didn’t lose a girl, he tells Boo Boo, he gained an appetite. Things are back to normal.

    Daws Butler uses his Gleason voice for the male bear. He’ll use it next season for Bruno, the burly bear who tries to win Cindy away from Yogi in “A Wooin’ Bruin.” The unnamed female bear clad only in pearls and a hair bow vanished after this cartoon.

    Most of the music cues are changed when a scene ends. The little tune that has muted trumpet stabs heard in several Pixie and Dixie cartoons during this season makes an appearance when Yogi walks on his hands. There’s no music when Cupid arrives, just the familiar Hanna-Barbera harp sound effect that was used for a number of years.

    0:00 - Yogi Bear Sub Main Title Theme (Curtin-Shows-Hanna-Barbera).
    0:26 - ZR-50 UNDERWATER SCENIC (Hormel) – Narration, pan over forest, shot of cave entrance.
    0:44 - C-3 DOMESTIC CHILDREN (Loose) – Yogi and Boo come out of cave, birds and bees talk.
    1:47 - harp effect – Cupid floats down.
    1:50 - zig-zag strings and bassoon (Shaindlin) – Cupid tip-toes, girl bear walks, Yogi shot with arrow, Boo Boo asks “What happened?”
    2:27 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Yogi looks at arrow, Yogi walks after girl, Boo Boo looks at arrow.
    3:00 - TC-204A WISTFUL COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi introduces himself to girl, she shoves Yogi.
    3:17 - ZR-47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Yogi on ground, tripping scene.
    3:45 - comedy flute and quack cue (Shaindlin) – Yogi hopping on hands scene.
    3:59 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Ranger solo scene.
    4:30 - TC-436 SHINING DAY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi picks flowers, Ranger tosses Yogi.
    5:15 - TC-42 HOLLY DAY (Loose-Seely) – “I might have known,” Ranger and Boo Boo talk.
    5:47 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Girl bear runs, Yogi in stream.
    6:10 - LAF 27-6 UNTITLED TUNE (Shaindlin) – Yogi in bush, girl with other bear.
    6:33 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Ranger in station.
    6:59 - LICKETY SPLIT (Shaindlin) – Yogi runs with picnic baskets.
    7:10 - Yogi Bear Sub End Title theme (Curtin).

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  • 06/26/13--12:57: Two Tales of Don Messick
  • When you think of TV producers, Don Messick’s name likely doesn’t come to mind. Sure, he must have played several over the course of his career at Hanna-Barbera, but he actually co-owned a production house at one time.

    The business was the brain-child of one Robert Emerson Clampett. Bob Clampett is, of course, known partly for directing some wild theatrical cartoons at Warners Bros. But he also got into the TV business as early as 1944, in a failed and premature venture with someone named Patrick Michael Cunning to develop cartoons for TV. He finally did it about 16 years later when he opened Snowball, Inc. and made Beany and Cecil cartoons. Snowball had a short life and Clampett had to bring in his brother-in-law (see
    Animation World Magazine, October 1999) to keep the studio afloat financially. Clampett’s biggest success in the ‘50s came with the Beany and Cecil puppet show. He developed a couple of other puppet shows for KTLA in Los Angeles that were syndicated in other U.S. cities. But he also tried another puppet venture and he convinced Don Messick to invest in it. Messick had been working for Clampett on a KTTV morning show in 1956; on one edition in February, Clampett introduced Messick as a hypnotist regressing a puppet to its former life in a spoof of the Bridey Murphy case. Broadcasting magazine announced in its issue of April 30, 1956.

    Clampett Starts New Firm To Produce Commercials BOB CLAMPETT, producer of Time for Beany and other shows starring puppet and cartoon characters including "Cecil, the Seasick Sea Serpent," has announced his entry into the field of radio and tv commercials. Following formation of his new producing and distributing organization, Clampet-toon Commercials, Inc., Mr. Clampett revealed he has developed a new process of producing puppet commercials for tv in a fraction of the time required by the various animated cartoon drawing systems. Mr. Clampett said he will utilize the new process in production of commercials for national advertisers, using a number of newly- created characters and voices in addition to those already developed. Three of his key "Beany" staff, Don Messick, Walker Edmiston and Bill Oberlin, are associated with him as stockholders and vice presidents of the new firm. John R. Jacobs, Hollywood attorney, will serve as business manager. A nationwide sales organization is being set up under the head of Chris Haywood, distributor of tv films.

    Whether the company ever produced anything or whether Messick got any return on his investment is a question lost to the ages. Suffice it to say, Messick never worked for Clampett again.

    No, Don Messick is best known as a voice actor, one who fortunately got a little bit of national press recognition during the later years of his career when, frankly, the cartoons he worked on didn’t measure up to Yogi Bear or Quick Draw McGraw (even the Yogi of the ‘80s didn’t measure up to the Yogi of the ‘50s).

    Here’s one of several feature newspaper stories I’ve found; this was published by the Utica Sunday Observer-Dispatch on June 30, 1985. If I had to pick a favourite voice of Messick’s (besides Yowp, of course), it wouldn’t be the ones he picked.

    His voice is very smurfy
    Gannett News Service
    Recognize these lines?
    “Yogi, Mister Ranger isn't going to like this!”
    “Let’s all have a Smurfy day.”
    The next question is harder. Who spoke those lines?
    Nearly everyone has seen his work, yet no one knows who he is.
    Don Messick, one of Hollywood’s leading voice characterization artists, has been creating the personalities of cartoon characters for more than 30 years. He has been the voice behind the role of Boo Boo Bear and Mister Ranger, Astro of the “Jetsons,” Scooby Doo and most recently the blue-skinned, pint-sized Aesop, Papa Smurf.
    Messick smurfed into Cincinnati recently as part of the 1985 Colonel Sanders Memorial March of Dimes Campaign. The fund drive is to help children with birth defects, and in support of clinical research. As part of a 10-city tour, he also will be entertaining hospital children. Theater and stage shows were the early training ground for Messick, whose cartoon career included one of the earliest Hanna-Barbera shows, "Ruff and Ready.” [sic] He was the voice of Ruff.
    He has appeared in more than 3,000 cartoon episodes but he admits he has a particular fondness for two of his characters.
    “For different reasons, I think Scooby Doo and Papa Smurf (are my favorites). I’ve gotten letters from youngsters who, when they have a personal problem that they can’t solve, will go up to their rooms, cry or whatever and ask themselves — ‘Now what would Papa Smurf do?’”
    After three decades in the industry, Messick’s voice still is in demand. He is the voice of Snap, in the Kellogg’s Snap, Crackle and Pop Rice Crispies commercials. He has noticed a change in cartoons: some he feels are too violent. But that, he said, is only a reflection of our society.
    “Children have been playing with toy soldiers and ray guns ever since I can remember ... It’s to be expected, it’s so popular in the movie theaters.”
    The golden age of radio was a strong influence for Messick; it is one of the tools he uses to create his voices. “Those radio stars were my idols; it was such a pleasure to sit back and imagine; the mind was such a screen for the imagination then.”
    His current role as the popular Papa Smurf will be joined next fall with the return of an old role, that of Astro. Messick said Hanna-Barbera has just finished the filming of 56 new episodes of “The Jetsons” featuring the original cast of 20 years ago. He will be part of the coming Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera.
    Married 32 years, Messick and his wife have a son, 29, and live on the California beach, 90 miles from Hollywood. They have a dog, Dina, and Merrick notes he has played a number of dog characters.
    “It’s so nice to have a dog to come home to,” he said. “You don’t have to put up any pretenses with a dog.”

    It’s nice to see Don M. doing something for young viewers off the screen as well as on.

    Actually, there’s one other thing that doesn’t come to mind when you think of Don Messick: the ballet. No, he didn’t dance. But we’ll have something on that in a future post.

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  • 06/27/13--06:01: Mike's Daughter
  • It’s been a pleasure and privilege to chat on-line with many people about cartoons, and it’s been a special joy to talk with those who worked in the animation industry or their families. Over the last couple of years, I’ve exchanged notes back and forth with family members of my favourite cartoon writer, Mike Maltese.

    So it’s with sadness I pass on word that Mike’s daughter Brenda passed away yesterday morning.

    Brenda grew up as an only child. Her brother Michael died a day after birth. After graduation, she worked in the ink and paint department at Disney before taking a secretarial job at Warner Bros. where, of course, her father worked for almost 20 years before going to work for Hanna-Barbera. She met her future husband there and they were married for 53 years. She later opened Maltese Management, a theatrical management agency. (No, I don’t believe a singing frog her father wrote was among the acts she booked.)

    Not too many days ago, she came down with an infection that spread to her brain. It was sudden and a shock.

    I never met Brenda but I’ve corresponded her daughter Lisa. From what I can tell the Malteses were a loving, caring family who touched many lives. They were rightfully very proud of Mike’s fine work in the cartoon industry.

    My condolences to the extended Maltese family on their loss.

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    Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    Credits: Animation – Bob Carr; Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Augie Doggie, Museum Guard – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy – Doug Young.
    Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin, Harry Bluestone-Emil Cadkin, unknown.
    First Aired: week of January 9, 1961 (rerun, week of June 19, 1961).
    Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-034, Production J-105.
    Plot: Daddy decides to raise Augie Doggie to be a genius.

    There are cartoons where Augie Doggie is a boy like any other (“Pint Giant”). There are cartoons where Augie Doggie is a boy genius (“It’s a Mice Day”). And then you have this cartoon where Doggie Daddy wants his boy to be a boy genius.

    This is an innocuous cartoon. There’s nothing spectacular in it but nothing terrible, either. Bob Carr’s the animator, which means you get the basics and not much more. Tony Rivera’s got a couple of layouts that are a welcome change from Paul Sommer’s audience-looking-at-a-stage perspective. And Monty’s backgrounds are tamer than they were a year earlier, though he still likes to put a transparent flower-patterned chair in the Daddy home.

    I like his pinkish clouds, too. I thought Art Lozzi used to go for the same kind of effect where the cloud becomes lighter and airier at the bottom. You can see how simple the buildings are. They have TV antennas. I presume the greenery in the background is on an overlay.

    Mike Maltese’s best dialogue in the cartoon comes in the scene where Daddy is trying to educate Augie at a natural museum. There’s a huge Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. The two pull off what could be an Abbott and Costello routine.

    Augie: How many bones does it got, Dad?
    Daddy: Oh, just oodles, Augie, oodles.
    Augie: How many is “oodles,” father of mine?
    Daddy: Oodles is da number of bones he’s got.

    So Daddy uses his “math-meh-matical prowess” and counts them.

    Daddy: Hey, Augie, dere are two thousand ten bones—give or take a few hundred.
    Augie: Gosh, that’s just oodles of bones, isn’t it, Dad?

    The cartoon’s premise is simple. Daddy reads a news story about Rodney Q. Brilliant, age 9, who has an I.Q. of 460. Is he harbouring a boy genius, too, Daddy wonders. That’s when Augie enters the picture, playing all the roles in a battle between cowboys and Indians, including an appearance by El Kabong, mask and all, flying on a rope. Never mind the childish game, Daddy says, how’s his I.Q.? Augie responds by naming a bunch of other letters of the alphabet.

    Daddy figures the boy’s I.Q. is only about 300, so he decides to increase it in the next scene by having Augie ask him questions about Mother Nature. Daddy can’t answer any of them. So Daddy takes him to the museum we mentioned earlier (nice angular layout by Tony Rivera) where a uniformed guard startles him into wrecking the “pre-hysterical monster” skeleton (also known as the “Tyranerdo-roarius Rex”). “If dere’s one ting I can’t stand,” says Daddy, “it’s a guard who won’t let you count bones.”

    Back home, Daddy tells Augie to “stop acting your age” (he is pretending to be a super-jet) and split an atom “scien-teh-tifcally.” He gives him a walnut to practice on first. After figuring out some math (Augie is wearing a green visor), he works out the distance where he can catapult a huge boulder from a tree onto the nut. Instead, it crashes into the Doggie home, destroying it. Augie cries about how he miscalculated the wind velocity, tells “disappointed dad,” whose head is sticking out of the wrecked chimney, he’s “just an average boy who’s got the best dad in the whole world.” Dad smiles and tells us how glad he is Augie doesn’t need a high I.Q. for that.

    Augie gets different music cues depending on the role he’s taking on when playing cowboys and Indians. The El Kabong part has the harmonica version of “La Cucaracha” heard on quite a few Quick Draw McGraw cartoons; I haven’t tracked its source. Same with the war dance cue when Augie’s playing a native. My guess is it’s by Geordie Hormel and contained somewhere in the Hi-Q ‘X’ series.

    0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
    0:25 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – Daddy reads paper.
    0:55 - Indian War Dance Music (?) – Augie pretends to be an Indian chief.
    1:01 - related to Excitement Under Dialogue (Shaindlin) – Augie pretends to be a cowboy.
    1:05 - La Cucaracha (Trad.) – Augie pretends to be El Kabong.
    1:12 - LFU-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – Augie pretends to be the cavalry, dying scene.
    1:34 - CB-86A HIDE AND SEEK (Cadkin-Bluestone) – IQ scene.
    2:00 - CB-89A ROMANTIC JAUNT (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Daddy and Augie in park.
    3:10 - GR-155 PARKS AND GARDENS (Green) – Daddy and Augie in museum.
    3:55 - GR-258 THE TIN DRAGOONS (Green) – Daddy counts bones, Daddy slips.
    4:29 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Daddy falls, Guard cries.
    5:07 - GR-248 STREETS OF THE CITY (Green) – Augie pretends to be super-jet, walnut calculations, catapults boulder.
    6:32 - ‘FIREMAN’ (Shaindlin) – Boulder takes off, house destroyed, Dad in chimney.
    7:10 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).

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  • 07/02/13--11:52: Jerry Dexter
  • One of Hanna-Barbera’s best-recognised voices of the late ‘60s has passed away. I’ve received a note from Jerry Dexter’s son Jay that Jerry died June 21st. He was 78.

    Jerry apparently hit his head after a fall in his home in early June.

    I first heard him on Hanna-Barbera’s “Shazzan” and he also appeared on one of the Superman/Aquaman shows at produced by Filmation at the same time. His voice suited the characters; he had a quality where he never really sounded like an adult trying to do the voice of a teenager.

    His most famous role is likely that as Alan on “Josey and the Pussycats;” at least, I’d argue that was his biggest cartoon hit. You can probably find a full list of his work on some web sites.

    Jerry was a disc jockey during a fine period in southern California radio. He had been the publicity director at KENO Las Vegas before heading to Seattle for a morning show job at KVI in October 1959. He lasted two months, during which time he asked his listeners to drop off a peanut butter sandwich to a guy who was trapped in an elevator in the Tower Building. Staff at the office building were left figuring out what to do with 700 sandwiches after the guy was freed. In December, Jerry left for a gig at KMPC Los Angeles, age 24, then was enticed to KLAC in October 1962 for a show sponsored by Pepsi-Cola. He was replaced by a chap named Gary Owens. He hosted a KABC-TV interview show called “Good Day L.A.” in 1968, not many months after he started doing cartoon voice work. This picture of Jerry is from Jay’s collection. He was also signed as a regular on “Happy Days.” No, not that“Happy Days.” This one was a summer replacement show for Jim Nabors in 1970, featuring an extremely funny cast of (among others) Chuck McCann, Jim McGeorge, Louis Nye, Bob and Ray, Bill Oberlin and Julie McWhirter, with music by guest stars Tex Beneke and others from the Big Band era.

    Jay explains his dad’s agent was Don Pitts, who represented all kinds of cartoon voice talent, including Mel Blanc and June Foray, and helped him land the job at Hanna-Barbera. Both Pitts and Jerry (and Lucille Bliss, another Pitts client) were from San Francisco.

    If you’re wondering what Jerry sounds like when he’s not a teenaged boy cartoon character, here’s a video from around 1968 that’s self-explanatory.

    I hadn’t read anything about his death anywhere, so I thought I would pass on word. My sympathies to Jerry’s family.

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    It must have been a hot July 50 years ago because two of the four Yogi Bear weekend comics that month use the heat as a starting point for the plot. I suppose I could look it up but I’m too lazy. Must be the heat.

    Anyway, it’s so hot that Boo Boo must be taking refuge in a cave as he’s not in two of the four comics. However, we do get freckled, puffy-cheeked kids again and one comic where Yogi spends all his time talking in rhyme. Hey, hey, hey! Sigh. Now he’s got
    me doing it.

    Yogi’s being a jerk in the July 7th comic. Ranger Smith takes care of that. I like the shocked fish and contented ranger in the middle row, first panel. “I think I orter go under water.” What?! Someone’s trying too hard with the dialogue.

    Why is there a general in Jellystone Park? Is there an air force base at the airport? Well, best not to ask questions like that. July 14th has Yogi and Boo Boo survive a looping helicopter crash. They’re not even scratched. Ranger Smith’s being the jerk in this one, revelling in the punishment he expects Yogi to get. I like the pleading panel with Yogi and Boo Boo in the bottom row. There’s a shadow background that reminds you of an interrogation. We get silhouettes in one panel in the middle row and a wavy-mouthed Yogi in another.

    The less said about the rhymes in the July 21st comic the better.

    Look at the detail in the last panel of the July 28th comic. And the perspective. It must be Harvey Eisenberg at work. And Gene Hazelton, or whoever did the story on this, tosses in a little song for atmosphere, because it doesn’t advance the plot.

    As usual, click each comic to enlarge it. Several people have commented to me that it’s a shame some company has never issued a book with all these old Sunday comics. I bet it would sell pretty well. Hey, hey, hey!

    Warnning: Do NOT Get Caught While Searching!!
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    Before you searching always remember to change your IP adress to not be followed!
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    Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera
    Credits: Animation – Ed de Mattia; Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – Art Lozzi; Written By Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Narrator, Rancher, Jeb, Store Owner – Doug Young; Quick Draw, Baba Looey, Maxie, Zeke, Masked Robber, Singing Cowboy, Chicken, Sniffing Bullet – Daws Butler.
    Music: Jack Shaindlin, Phil Green, Bill Loose, Harry Bluestone-Emil Cadkin, Hoyt Curtin, Roger Roger.
    Production: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-037, Production J-116 (or J-109).
    First Aired: week of February 26, 1961.
    Plot: Quick Draw is hired to rid a ranch of Maxie the chicken hawk.

    There’s a gag in the Bugs Bunny/Wile E. Coyote cartoon “Operation: Rabbit” (1952) where Bugs quickly puts on a rubber chicken head to fool a rabbit-hunting radarscope, which ends up blasting the coyote instead. In “Talky Hawky,” Maxie the chicken hawk puts on a rubber chicken head to fool a chicken hawk-hunting bullet, which ends up blasting Quick Draw instead.

    Both cartoons were written by Mike Maltese, and about half of this one bears a resemblance to the format of the coyote shorts at Warners, as there’s a series of gags where Quick Draw tries to catch the chicken hawk and fails miserably. And it’s a pretty good cartoon. Maltese tosses in some silly dialogue and a ridiculous ending.

    The chicken hawk isn’t named in the actual cartoon, but he is on the model sheet. And he is in the cartoon’s summary in the TV listings for the
    Los Angeles Times the day it was first broadcast. I’m presuming the summaries were provided by the studio to the paper or some kind of newspaper service. Daws Butler gives him the Maxie Rosenbloom voice he used on the “Fractured Fairy Tales” for Jay Ward. So which came first, the chicken or the egg voice?

    Maxie’s designed by layout artist Tony Rivera, who gave him huge eyes. There are a couple of odd layouts in the cartoon and I don’t know whether this originally came from Maltese’s storyboard. The chicken rancher and Quick Draw aren’t in perspective. If you could lower the camera on the characters below the bottom of the screen, the rancher would have to be standing on a box to be at the same level as Quick Draw.

    And some of the shots don’t match from medium to close up; I suspect that’s the way Rivera drew them in layout. These are consecutive drawings. When the scene cuts to the close-up, Quick Draw’s facing in a different direction.

    Ed De Mattia animated this one. He has distinctive two-drawing head shakes. See the extra lines on the face.

    And de Mattia liked two teeth in dialogue. His Baba looks a little off; I can’t really explain it.

    The rolling, rosy hills signify Art Lozzi. I like the shades of brown on the dirt. It seems most of the H-B background artists put liver spots on the ground.

    A little unusual in this cartoon is the inclusion of Hoyt Curtin’s Quick Draw McGraw theme that was used in the little cartoon vignettes between the cartoons. The following season, H-B would eliminate the use of library music altogether and go with cues by Curtin. There’s also a rare appearance of “Chopsticks” by Roger Roger from the Valentino library to open this cartoon.

    Maltese uses some old tricks at the start of the cartoon. There’s a narrator—it seems to me a majority of Quick Draws featured a narrator—and a repetitive/overly descriptive bit of dialogue. “When gold was in the Old West,” we’re informed, “the gold rush was on. In their hasty greed for gold, the miners overlooked many of life’s necessities.” That’s the cue for an exhausted miner to repeat “In our hasty greed for gold, we plumb forgot to bring something.”

    The premise is something that was a reality in the Klondike Gold Rush. Simple foodstuffs went for an exorbitant amount of money. In this cartoon, it’s eggs (‘Easy terms arranged”). And that’s prompted a cattle baron to turn into a chicken rancher. Only one problem. A chicken hawk starts stealing his chickens to get at the eggs (he doesn’t want to eat the chickens themselves, he assures the hens). What’s the rancher to do? He’s urged by a cowboy to call for—and then the cowboy sings the Quick Draw McGraw theme (out of his range).

    Allow me to pause for a moment and point out the difference between a Hanna-Barbera cartoon and a Jay Ward cartoon made at the same time using the same Daws Butler Maxie Rosenbloom voice. Maxie says “Like, I’m a natural-born chicken rustler on account of I’m a chicken hawk. There’s a connection there somewheres.” It’s not unlike a line in Ward cartoon. The difference is a Ward cartoon would immediately cut to another shot or another piece of dialogue. It would treat it as a punch line and move on. But in this cartoon, Maxie tip-toes off-stage, comes back, there’s more dialogue, then the camera fades. And in the background, the slow wa-wa trumpets of Harry Bluestone’s “CB-83A” are heard, which don’t fit snappy dialogue. One of the things that helped the Ward cartoons was they were half the length of an H-B short, so everything was faster. And, as Tex Avery learned directing at MGM, if you pick up the pace of your cartoon, the cartoon generally become funnier.

    I’ve mentioned before the huge workload—over 75 cartoons—that Maltese had to churn out in 1959, so he didn’t have time to polish dialogue like he would have writing fewer than ten a year at Warners. Sometimes, Maltese’s work at Hanna-Barbera is really inspired. And, sometimes, it sounds like he’s just moving the plot along or putting in something because he got to put something in there and get on to the next cartoon. The rancher offers Quick Draw $10,000 to catch the chicken rustler.

    Baba: Let’s face it, Quickstraw. It’s no chicken’s feed.
    Quick Draw: Then I’ll catch that chicken hawk, or my name ain’t Quick Draw “Chicken Rustler-Catchin’ McGraw.

    At Warners he would have had time to come up with a sillier (and, therefore, funnier) nickname. And he might have made fun of (or avoided) the tired “chicken feed” pun. Or Chuck Jones would have augmented the pun with a funny pose or bits of personality animation by Ken Harris or Benny Washam. But Maltese doesn’t have that luxury here. Still, he comes up with a funny cartoon. The gags:

    ● A radar-return shooter has a bullet that sniffs out chicken hawks. As mentioned above, Maxie uses a mash to fool it, then pulls a chicken hawk mask over Quick Draw. The bullet does its job. Quick Draw tosses in a “Hold on thar!” I like how Maxie shows up with a pillow case. “Ahem. Pardon the intrusion, gentlemen. But I’m in dire need of loose chicken feathers. My pillow is dreadful unlumpy without ‘em.” “Why, shore, li’l stranger,” replies the dopey Quick Draw, not even knowing he’s dealing with a chicken hawk.
    ● A TNT-loaded chicken dummy is left by Quick Draw as bait. Maxie’s clued in because he’s watching what’s happening (off-scene). He convinces the rancher it’s one of his chickens. “Thanks, honest chicken hawk,” says the rancher, who gets blasted by Quick Draw. The reward is down to $1.30.
    ● “I’ll do the thinnin’ around here,” cries our hero, who forces Baba to dress up as a hen. Baba replies with a stringer of Desi Arnaz-invoking faux Spanish. Maxie’s fooled (“enough left over for snicky-snacks”) until he sees Quick Draw’s rifle. Naturally, Quick Draw shoots Baba in the butt instead.
    ● “Quick Draw is, like, shootin’ up your chickens,” Maxie tells the rancher. The reward is down to nothing. Quick Draw’s dander is up (Maltese ran out of funny dialogue again).
    ● Finally, Quick Draw brings in a banty-fightin’ rooster to battle the chicken hawk. Baba tries to warn him it won’t happen. Cut to a shot of the chicken and an egg. Yes, it’s not a rooster at all. The wind-up gag has Baba and Quick Draw running, then the camera pulls back to show the two of them and the egg (with feet through the shell) doing roadwork as Quick Draw decides to start “trainin’ this little rooster early.” Cut to the egg panting. Cut to Baba’s tag line: “That Quickstraw’s pretty smart. He never winds up with egg on his face.” Iris out.

    There’s the usual insult/word turnaround gag. “I theen Quickstraw’s a bird-brain,” laughs Baba. “What did you say?” asks the annoyed Quick Draw. “I said ‘I thin it’s goin’ to rain’.”

    This was Maxie’s only cartoon. He joined Scooter Rabbit and Yippee Coyote in the Quick Draw retirement home.

    0:00 - Quick Draw McGraw Sub Main Title theme (Curtin).
    0:15 - CHOPSTICKS (Roger) – Gold miner scene, miners collapse.
    0:31 - C-71 ROMANTIC MAIN TITLE (Loose) – Miners on ground, shot of ‘Eats’ store.
    0:47 - CB-83A MR TIPPY TOES (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Eggs in window, robbery, rancher talks to camera, Maxie steals eggs, rancher talks to cowboy.
    1:48 - (THAT’S) QUICK DRAW McGRAW (Curtin) – Cowboy sings Quick Draw theme.
    1:53 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – Quick Draw and Baba walk, talk to rancher, bullet scene.
    3:59 - jaunty bassoon and skippy strings (Shaindlin) – “My radar chicken hawk gun works,” fake chicken blow-up scene.
    5:03 - GR-472 HICKSVILLE (Green) – Baba-hen scene, Quick Draw talks to rancher.
    5:52 - (THAT’S) QUICK DRAW McGRAW (Curtin) – Banty rooster scenes.
    6:43 - Quick Draw McGraw Sub End Title theme (Curtin).

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    Not every gag a writer comes with ends up in a finished cartoon. Some gags are weak so they never get on the storyboard. Others may not quite fit the flow of the story. And, at Hanna-Barbera in the ‘50s, there was always the chance they could be cut for time, as each cartoon had to be the exact same length so it could fit into any half-hour Huck or Quick Draw show.

    Some time ago, Frank Forte on his blog Cartoon Concept Design posted some of the panels from the fine Huckleberry Hound cartoon “A Bully Dog” (1959). The drawings are sketchy but lots of fun; they look like Warren Foster’s work though you shouldn’t take my word for it. It’s interesting comparing them with the finished cartoon because not only was some of Huck’s dialogue changed, some of the gags never made it onto the screen.

    The story is simple. Huck keeps getting thwarted by a crafty snickering watchdog as he tries to deliver a telegram to the house where a Mr. Muggins lives. Frank posted seven sets of panels—a shame the rest aren’t around—and they contain gags you won’t find in the cartoon.

    In the first two sets of panels, Huck hides in a garbage can to sneak toward the house’s front door. The hole-digging dog stops him and the two end up in a fountain. That’s not in the cartoon. The next gag on the second set, where Huck’s on a phone wire, made it into the short, but the dialogue in panels six and seven has been changed. The overhead angle of the dog next to the makeshift trampoline in the third set of panels is pretty much how it looks in the cartoon.

    The bedspring gag is next in the cartoon, but the whole sequence of the dog running into the cellar and grabbing a mallet was changed. Instead, the dog simply stands at the top of the brick wall and bashes Huck with a tennis racket. Huck then sproings down the street, through a manhole, bounces underground in the sewer (his head buckles the pavement when he hits it from underneath), then emerges from the other end and delivers a variation of the gag line on the story board.

    The dark glasses gag—and there are two sets of panels missing so we don’t know what Foster had in mind—is missing from the cartoon. Instead, Foster brings back the idea of Huck sneaking along inside a garbage can, except the gag ends with Huck being crushed by an anvil dropped by the dog.

    In the last set of panels, the dialogue’s been changed slightly. In the cartoon, the woman doesn’t order Huck to sing to the dog, it’s a request. And Huck’s final line is deleted altogether.

    Why were the gags cut or changed? Did Foster do it or was story director Alex Lovy or maybe Bill Hanna responsible? We’ll never know at this late date. But it’s nice to see they’ve been preserved and that someone at the studio liked them enough to copy them so, eventually, fans could see them, too.

    Frank’s got a nice little collection of early Flintstones model sheets and a great selection of sheets by Alex Toth for the fantasy/adventure cartoons the studio made in the mid-‘60s. You can see them by clicking HERE.

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    Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    Credits: Animation – Bob Carr; Layout – Paul Sommer; Background – Vera Hanson; Story – Warren Foster; Story Direction – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Dixie, Jinks – Daws Butler; Pixie – Don Messick; Duck – Red Coffey.
    Music: Bill Loose/John Seely, Jack Shaindlin, Geordie Hormel, Spencer Moore, Phil Green.
    Production: Huckleberry Hound Show K-46.
    First Aired: week of January 9, 1961.
    Plot: Pixie and Dixie unsuccessfully hide a duck from Mr. Jinks.

    There’s exactly one gag in this cartoon. At the very end. And even in the final scene it takes forever to get there because Mr. Jinks and the meeces talk about it first.

    This cartoon kind of sums up what went wrong at Hanna-Barbera. It’s virtually all dialogue and almost none of it is all that amusing. Of course, the proceedings aren’t helped by the whining, crying, self-pitying duck that drives the plot who, as we all know, got his own series of cartoons after a bit of a reworking the following season. I don’t know what Bill and Joe saw in him. Surely they couldn’t think all that “poor little me” wailing was funny. Or maybe they thought the audience was supposed to feel sorry for him, instead of getting fed up with all that bawling about himself, the reaction anyone would have in real life with someone like that.

    Warren Foster was capable of writing funny dialogue, as any Warner Bros. cartoon fan knows, but either the character or the workload (70-plus cartoons in one season) wore him down. The most amusing thing the Yakky-Doodle-to-be says, after bursting into tears (well, there would have been tears if the budget allowed for drawing them), is after Dixie tells him he’ll grow up to be a beautiful swan. “I don’t want to be a swan,” he howls. “I don’t even know what a swan is.” But Pixie and Dixie don’t top it with a reaction that would make it funny. Story director Alex Lovy simply cuts to a three-character shot and Dixie rolls on with the next line of dialogue while the innocuous music fades in the background.

    The best line, predictably, comes from Mr. Jinks. “Let ‘em cry me a river,” he says to the duck, “and swim downstream on it.” Jinks is evidently in a song-title quoting mood as he puts his arm to his head and sarcastically exclaims “I’m all shook up.” Daws Butler tries to help the cartoon a little more with one of his typical Jinks word-mangles: “I’m despicable-buh-bob-bob-buh-ble-like.”

    The story goes like this: the duck is swimming in Jinks’ water dish for some reason. The duck boo-hoos to Pixie and Dixie that everyone makes fun of him. Pixie and Dixie hide the duck in their hole from Jinks. The duck doesn’t help by constantly making noise. Pixie and Dixie pretend they’re quacking and playing “Duck.” Jinks tells them to duck from his broom. The duck comes out of the hole to demand Jinks stop. Jinks makes fun of the duck, who drags himself out of the house wallowing in self-pity. Gunfire is heard. It’s rabbit season duck season. Jinks feels no guilt about evicting the duck because he has no conscience. So Dixie pretends to be Jinks’ conscience by talking to him through a garden hose. Jinks falls for it. Cut to a marsh where Jinks calls for the duck by going “quack quack.” You can guess what happens next. Unseen stupid hunters mistake a cat for a duck. Blam!

    The final scene has more yap-yap-yap between the meeces and the duck. Jinks orders the duck from his water dish. Jinks needs it. He sticks his shot-up butt in the dish to cool it off. But Jinks can’t have been in pain because he manages to carry on as normal though all that yapping in the final scene. Jinks’ final line: “Conscience-like. Who needs it?” Yeah, it’s the best Foster could come up with.

    The Hanna-Barbera ‘B’ team worked on this. Bob Carr’s animation is basic with characters mainly standing and talking, Paul Sommer’s layouts are like looking straight ahead at a stage and Vera Ohman Hanson had only seven backgrounds to draw as most of the action takes place against a living room baseboard. Jinks looks like he has some kind of curved spine disease the way Carr draws him in the cartoon’s only chase sequence.

    There’s unintentional irony on the soundtrack. When the duck is mournfully elaborating how his mama and daddy and the pussycat don’t like him, the tune in the background is Phil Green’s “And They All Lived Happily Ever After.” The thing is, that’s the cue’s name in the EMI Photoplay series. The sound-cutter at Hanna-Barbera used the Capitol Hi-Q library, where it was given the name “Lullaby.” The first cue was also used to open the Pixie and Dixie cartoon “Light Headed Cat,” which has a number of pieces of music I can’t identify. The other cues should be pretty familiar.

    0:00 - Pixie and Dixie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin-Shows).
    0:11 - quizzical flute cue (Shaindlin) – Pixie and Dixie talk, Jinks in a mean mood.
    1:52 - COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Meeces in hole with duck, Jinks with feather, “Duck” game, broom comes down.
    2:58 - ZR-47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Jinks runs with broom, skids to stop, “Well…”
    3:13 - TC-201 PIXIE COMEDY (Loose-Seely) “That explanations…,” Jinks kicks duck out.
    4:09 - GR-259 AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER (Green) – Duck at door, gunshots, meeces decide to create conscience.
    4:57 - TC-204A WISTFUL COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Jinks sleeping, meeces chat.
    5:11 - TC-300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Dixie as conscience.
    5:57 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Jinks in bullrushes, explosion.
    6:11 - LICKETY SPLIT (Shaindlin) – Jinks runs.
    6:17 - LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – Duck in dish, Jinks cools butt.
    6:55 - Pixie and Dixie End Title theme (Curtin).

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    There’s something bothersome about characters suddenly taking on a new trait just for the sake of a gag before it disappears again. It’s no different than people taking cartoon characters they supposedly love and then “updating” them so they no longer behave like the same character.

    This isn’t anything new, I suppose. A good example is in one of the Flintstones comics from 50 years ago this month. Fred is suddenly chronically indecisive. He was never like that in the cartoon series. He was like that in one comic for convenience’s sake.

    Far more satisfying is the final cartoon that month where Fred behaves exactly as you expect Fred would behave. Some great poses add to the fun.

    The July 7th comic is a variation on an old gag that was used on the Jack Benny radio show. Jack didn’t go to a doctor. He went to a veterinarian (played by Frank Nelson) because it was cheaper. Note that Fred writes with a pencil in this comic; chiseling probably would have cluttered the frame.

    The first of two baseball-oriented comics appeared in newspapers on July 14th. I really like the baseball logo in the first frame. Interesting view of Wilma and Betty from the back in the bottom left-hand panel. Note the presence, again, of Pebbles who doesn’t have anything to with the plot. Triceratops toy alert! The set-up and gag are good, but Fred’s out of character.

    Great poses fill the July 21st comic. A shame I can’t find a better version of this on-line, especially the last panel. People watching baseball from atop dinosaurs in the parking lot? Well, I know people used to sit in their cars and watch the Dukes play inside the old Sports Stadium in Albuquerque some years ago.

    Some great drawings again in the July 28th comic. This is the best version I could find. Wavy-mouthed Fred and shocked Wilma (bottom row, far left panel). Clever switch gag.

    Alas, Baby Puss seems to have been replaced by Baby. Lots of Pebbles but no sabre-tooth tiger again this month.

    As usual, you can click on the cartoons to enlarge them.

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  • 07/18/13--12:38: Mike Lah’s Yogi Bear
  • The Huckleberry Hound Show was set to beam out from TV sets starting September 29, 1958 and that meant artists at Hanna-Barbera had to get busy. On June 24th, columnist William Ewald reported that the Huck show had been bought by Kellogg’s, so enough cartoons to fill 26 half-hours had to be ready fast (All must have been finished by December 1st. That’s when Broadcasting magazine announced H-B writer Charlie Shows had been signed by Larry Harmon Productions to write Bozo the Clown cartoons).

    Ken Muse, Lew Marshall and Carlo Vinci animated almost all of the entire first season (23 Hucks, 22 Yogis and 22 Pixie and Dixies) while working on a second season of “Ruff and Reddy.” So a fourth animator picked up some work. Mike Lah not only animated a few cartoons (including the first Yogi cartoon in production, “Pie Pirates”) but was called on to do uncredited scenes in others’ cartoons.

    Mike always found a way to inject neat looking extremes and expressions into his work; if only the studio had carried on the same way instead of making its animation smoother and blander. He also found a way to save money. A lot of the time, Mike’s characters never had jaws. He’d animate dialogue by having a black space for an open mouth and change the shape of the space for vowel and consonant movements, sometimes with a line to indicate the upper lip. To the right you see an example from his scene in “Big Bad Bully.” Notice the oval google eyes; you’ll see that in his animation of Yogi in other cartoons.

    Lah draws a really fun scene where Yogi ties the bull’s tail to a stake. Unknown to Yogi, the bull pulls it out. Yogi cracks a joke about a “tough steak” and yucks it up. Yogi develops teeth when needed in a Lah scene.

    The bull goes from angry to fed up as Yogi yucks away, jerking his head and moving his mouth in different positions. It’s limited animation but you can easily feel the expressions. Here are some of the drawings. Lah doesn’t use them in a cycle; he varies them so the action isn’t robotic.

    The bull clobbers Yogi with the stake. The bull’s expression changes to one of satisfaction. Lah employs what must be a visual trick. The stake doesn’t actually crown Yogi; it goes past him. But the effect on the screen is he’s smashed on the head. You see the same kind of thing by animators in other early H-B cartoons.

    Isn’t that last pose great? And look what Lah does with Yogi’s legs. If only Yogi were as expressive a few years later.

    Then Yogi vibrates. Again, Lah uses several different drawings and not in a cycle. Here are some of them.

    Readers here probably know Lah’s background. He had been directing the second unit at MGM when the studio’s cartoon division closed in 1957. Lah went into business with Bill Hanna making Crusader Rabbit cartoons before legal threats by Shull Bonsall, who claimed to own the character, stopped it. Lah seems to have worked at Hanna-Barbera through 1958, then eventually moved on to his own company, Cinema Ad. He joined Quartet Films, Inc. around March 1961 (along with Hanna Barbera’s Dan Gordon), rising to the company’s presidency. Among his clients was Kellogg’s. He died in Los Angeles on October 13, 1995, age 83.

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    Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
    Credits: Animation – Hicks Lokey; Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Written by Warren Foster; Story Direction – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Huckleberry Hound, Colonel Cornball, Lion, People in background – Daws Butler; TV Newscaster, Cicero, Gorilla, People in Background – Don Messick.
    Music: Jack Shaindlin, Bill Loose-John Seely, Spencer Moore, Hoyt Curtin.
    Production: Huckleberry Hound K-050.
    First Aired: week of March 6, 1961.
    Plot: Fireman Huck is hired to capture a circus gorilla.

    There’s a clever little con game going on at the beginning of “Huck and Ladder.” An escaped gorilla is scaring away customers from Colonel Cornball’s circus. If the fire department will capture cats stuck in trees, why not an escaped gorilla? So the Colonel calls fireman Huck on the phone.

    Huck: An animal in distress? Hmm. What kind? (pause) Well, I mean, let’s just call it my curiosity. (pause) No, sir, the fire department don’t make no extinctions. An animal is an animal, and if he’s in distress, we’ll help him.

    What’s fun is you can’t hear Colonel Cornball but you know what he’s thinking. He knows the fire department won’t capture a gorilla so he tries to avoid saying what kind of animal it is. Then when he’s forced to, he sets up Huck with a “you’ll rescue any animal” question. I like how writer Warren Foster lets the viewer fill in the blanks on the other end of the phone.

    There are a couple of neat dialogue bits in this cartoon. There’s a silly bit at the start when Cornball yells “Hey, Rube!” for his lackey. “Uh, comin’ Colonel,” shouts the slightly loopy assistant. Then he adds, “My name is Cicero, but the Colonel always calls me ‘Rube.’ I don’t know why.” It’s a shame Cicero keeps moving in a quick walk cycle and doesn’t look at the camera when he makes his aside, but it’s still a nice bit of dialogue out of nowhere. Then, when Huck questions Cornball, Foster’s cynicism comes through:

    Cornball: Well, a gorilla’s in the tent and he won’t come out—which is okay—except with him in, the customers stay out.
    Huck: I detect a slight hint of commercialism, Colonel.
    Cornball: That’s right, son. It ain’t laughs we’re working for.

    One might say that brief conversation sums up the difference between cartoonists and studio owners. Perhaps including owners who used to be creative people that animated cartoons.

    Foster wrote for Yosemite Sam for so long, he occasionally tossed in Sam-like dialogue when he got to Hanna-Barbera. Cornball is so angered by a TV news report on his patrons deserting his circus, he puts his fist through the set. “And there’s more show biz for ya, ya mealy-mouth video varmint Yankee!” Foster even borrows a gag from Tex Avery. Huck’s fire truck isn’t some rattle-trap. It’s eight miles long, like a limo in one of Avery’s cartoons.

    The human characters have pipe-stem legs. Not a surprise, considering Tony Rivera was the layout artist. Old Fleischer veteran Hicks Lokey animated the cartoon and is hamstrung a bit. H-B cartoons didn’t go in for really wild takes, so Huck’s wide eyes (for four frames) after he realises he’s been hired to corral a gorilla aren’t really too wide. And while Lokey scrunches the head and closes the eyes (on twos) in anticipation of the take, Huck is walking while it’s happening instead of coming to a stop, which would make the take register better. I like the look Lokey gives Huck while being shaken in the lion’s mouth.

    Lokey has an odd bit of animation at the start of the cartoon when the news announcer tells how the gorilla is terrifying people inside the tent. There’s animation of an overhead view of the tent with dots (representing the people) going away from the tent. But the cels are reused so it looks like the people are running in and out of the tent. Either the people are completely panicked and confused, or Hanna-Barbera wanted to save some drawings.

    Something else is really odd in the first shot. The background drawing appears to have part of the production number in the lower right hand corner. The Huck cartoons all had “E” production numbers.

    The cartoon takes the fireman job Huck had in the first season’s “Fireman Huck” (where he inevitably failed to rescue a cat) and mixes it with the idea of Huck bringing in an escaped gorilla (“Huckleberry Hound Meets Wee Willie”). The gorilla in this cartoon has no name. I haven’t seen the model sheets so I don’t know if Foster intended the gorilla to be Wee Willie. He doesn’t look like the Willie that Rivera designed for the Yogi Bear cartoon “Stranger Ranger,” but he has Willie’s voice and goes “Eek! Eek!” like Willie.

    Let’s go through Huck’s failures.

    ● Huck checks to see if Willie’s in the tent. A fist to the face answers that question.
    ● “Ol’ Pal Huckleberry” goes into the tent “to win his confidence.” Lokey saved money by not animating the Huck-Willie fight. There’s a ten-second shot of Dick Thomas’ drawing of the outside of the tent. It doesn’t even budge as the violence happens inside; it’s represented only by sound effects and Daws Butler yelling. Huck goes flying through the top of the tent and lands on the ground in front of Cornporn. “Imagine what would have happened if I wasn’t his ol’ pal Huckleberry,” he observes to the Colonel.

    ● Huck tries to douse the gorilla into submission with a fire hose. Again, we don’t actually see the fight inside the tent; we do get drawings of the hose moving around. The end result is the gorilla wraps Huck in the hose, which elevated him high in the air over the fire truck. Cartoon physics is at work here; there’s no logical reason Huck should be airborne because the water is shooting up, not down against the ground. The Colonel shuts off the hose and Huck thuds to earth. Tag line: “I should have said ‘Gradual-like’.”
    ● “Well, we’re makin’ progress, Colonel,” says Huck. “His thinkin’ process is emergin’. And his operational pattern is takin’ shape. In other words—that goriller smarter than us.” For about four seconds, all the Colonel does is blink. Add up the savings, Mr. Hanna! Huck’s solution is to act like a gorilla and lure the beast into his cage “K-A-J,” spells Huck. Lokey’s cycle animation of Huck walking on his feet and hands (eight drawings on twos) features one position where Huck is deformed and doesn’t have any hands. “Eek! Eek!” screeches Huck, adding a “y’all,” like Butler’s southern wolf in the Avery cartoons. The end result is Huck gets in the cage and the gorilla slams the gated door shut.

    ● The proceedings are interrupted by Cicero, who tells the Colonel the lion has escaped. Cicero has the same walk cycle he did earlier in the cartoon. You’d think Alex Lovy would have cut the cycle drawings from being exposed twice to once and have Cicero run but.. oh, well. “Well, if that ain’t a kick in the head,” says the Colonel, giving us our song title reference for the show. Cut to the lion roaring and running. The gorilla opens the cage door, shoves Huck out and closes it. Now Huck wants back in. After more lion-running cycle animation and Colonel-running cycle animation we cut to Huck in the lion’s mouth. Suddenly, there’s a fire bell off camera. Foster pulls a switch. Huck opens the lion’s mouth, apologises and says matter-of-factly he has to attend to a fire. It reminds me of the wolf and sheepdog cartoons at Warners where the violence suddenly stops because it’s time to stop and the wolf and sheepdog go their separate ways.

    The cartoon ends with Huck in his fire truck singing “Clementine,” tossing in some “eek, eek” lyrics and a weak “saved by the bell” gag line before the iris closes. What happened with the rampaging lion? We’ll never know.

    The sound-cutter wisely cuts the music when Huck is giving his two punch lines while on the ground. And he decided to use the tail end of the Huck main title theme as a stinger to end the cartoon.

    0:00 - Huckleberry Hound Sub Main Title Theme (Curtin).
    0:13 - rising scale music (Shaindlin) – newscaster on TV, fist through TV.
    0:44 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Cornball in office, Cicero runs, decides to call fire department.
    1:20 - LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – Huck in fire hall.
    2:09 - no music – Fire truck pulls out, skid sound.
    2:18 - LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – “Over here, sir,” Colonel and Huck talk, Huck punched, Huck talks to gorilla in tent.
    3:18 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Fight sounds, Huck lands on ground.
    3:28 - no music – Huck talks on ground.
    3:34 - L-75 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Huck with hose, “Eeek! Eeek!”
    3:53 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Fight sounds, Huck lands on ground.
    4:11 - no music – Huck talks on ground.
    4:15 - L-1154 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Huck says he’ll act and think like a gorilla.
    4:37 - TC-437 SHOPPING DAY (Loose-Seely) – Luring scene, Huck in cage.
    5:41 - TC-221A HEAVY AGITATO (Loose-Seely) – Cicero says lion is loose, Huck in lion’s mouth, fire bell rings.
    6:32 - LICKETY SPLIT (Shaindlin) – Huck opens fireman’s mouth, Huck in fire truck.
    6:51 - Clementine (Trad.) – Huck sings Clementine.
    6:56 - HUCKLEBERRY HOUND MAIN TITLE THEME (Curtin) – Iris out.

    P.S.: Before anyone comments, I realise “Hey Rube” comes from the circus. Read about it HERE. It was also a non-sequitur greeting Sam Hearn’s hayseed from Calabasas used on the Jack Benny radio show of the early 1950s.

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  • 07/24/13--06:51: Yowp Runs Wild
  • Those of you who have followed my career know that I, Yowp, co-starred in three Yogi cartoons, only to be banished to reruns starting in 1959 as new characters rose to fame at Hanna-Barbera. They wouldn’t even put me in “Yo, Yogi!” but I wouldn’t wish that on a dog.

    Oh. Right.

    Anyway, during the heyday of my career, I was drawn by some fine artists. Here I am by Mike Lah.

    This is me by Lew Marshall. Eyes are well below the top of the body.

    The great Carlo Vinci drew me, too.

    And Gerard Baldwin, who spent time working for the Jay Ward studio where they made some ridiculously funny TV cartoons (evidently I gained a lot of weight before shooting this cartoon).

    Now, you can add to the list: John K., the man you all know for “Ren and Stimpy.”

    Hmm. Kind of abstract, isn’t it?

    John has been enlarging and shrinking various body parts of old H-B characters in a bit of an exercise with the Toon Boom animation software. He’s testing out some walk cycles and dialogue movements and hopes to post some when he’s ready. You’ll recall John created a couple of shorts with Yogi and running-wild Boo Boo. Could John K. be bringing me out of retirement to star in a cartoon again? We’ll have to see.

    I’m using this post to not only thank John (who I’ve never met) for the doodling shout out, but to do the same to all readers and contributors. Last year, I mentioned the blog was going to come to an end due to a lack of time. Unexpected time off for surgery last December gave me a chance to bang off months of posts. They’re banked until Labour Day. We’ll see what happens after that.

    Oh, yes, I was also drawn by Dick Bickenbach. He came up with a model sheet which was sent to me by one of the most generous people you can meet, Mark Kausler. I’ve posted it before but I’ll post it again.

    I appreciate Mark’s willingness to share his time and knowledge about animation. And I appreciate those of you who pop by and read what’s here. Next week, we’ll post another interview with the Voice of Yowp, Don Messick.

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    Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
    Credits: none. Layout – Tony Rivera(?), Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre, Story – Mike Maltese, Story Direction – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber, Inspector O’Lenihan – Daws Butler; Hypno – Don Messick.
    Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin, Clarence Wheeler?
    First aired: week of March 20, 1961.
    Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-027, Production J-80.
    Plot: Snooper and Hypno the Magician battle for control of Blabber and the Royal Bujang Ruby.

    This cartoon may remind you a bit of “Transylvania 6-5000” when Bugs Bunny and Count Bloodcount use magic words to turn each other into different things. However, it was released a few years after this cartoon (actually, the Bugs-opponent-magic scenario was used by Tedd Pierce in the Warners cartoon “Knight-Mare Hare,” released in 1955).

    Mike Maltese’s story is a little different, where Snooper and jewel thief Hypno both use hypnotic words to put Blabber in a trance. Actually, Snoop just uses them to make Blabber normal. Hypno’s words only put Blab in a trance part of the time; he’s an aggressive villain the rest of the time.

    This was the first Snooper and Blabber cartoon put into production for the 1960-61 season. The takes drawn by Hanna-Barbera’s animators were rarely extreme to begin with. They were becoming positively tame by fall 1960. The versions of this cartoon I have seen have no credits so I can’t positively identify the animator. But here are the drawings used for the Blabber transformation. They’re not very outrageous. They’re accompanied by the Hanna-Barbera Rubber Band sound effects.

    There are only two incidental characters, both with pipe-stem legs that Tony Rivera loved—Hypno, and the Irish cop with the usual Daws Butler brogue.

    The simple backgrounds remind me of Monty’s later work (see the buildings in the Augie Doggie cartoon “Little Wonder”). There appear to be 12 backgrounds in this cartoon, including a long, repeating street that’s used for a good portion of the middle of the cartoon, though Rivera (if it’s him) breaks up the monotony a bit by cutting to a section of the street on an angle. The cartoon opens with 13 seconds of no animation. It’s merely a shot of the outside of Snooper’s office door. Unlike a number of openings, there’s no private eyeball on the door. Instead, it’s on the second background drawing on what I presume is a diploma.

    The phone rings. Snoop answers like Archie on “Duffy’s Tavern” as usual. “Snooper Detective Agency. When others don’t give a hoot, give ‘em the boot. We’ll find the loot. So shoot.” No loot in this case. An unheard woman offers Snooper $37,000 for the “recoverance” of the Royal Bujang Ruby. Bujang, as best as I can tell, is in Malaysia. Maltese sets up a surprise. There’s a knock at the door. Snooper thinks it’s Blabber. It’s Inspector O’Lenihan. He’s looking for the ruby, too.

    Inspector: You’re not foolin’ me a-tall, a-tall, a-tall.
    Snooper: Not a-tall?
    Inspector: Not a-tall.

    The inspector knows Blab has stolen the ruby and when the “worthless assistant” arrives, shakes it out of him. When Blab protests he doesn’t know how he got it, the scene cuts to Hypno at the door. Hypno puts into a trace. Maltese evidently thought it’d be funny not to have Blab in a dreamy voiced, arms-held-in-front cliché the whole time he’s under Hypno’s spell, so he turns him into a bad guy who shoots at Snoop, grabs the ruby and makes off behind Hypno.

    “Folly me. Just as I elementaried,” Snoop tells the inspector. “It’s all here in my Enemies Directory under ‘h’.” Snoop gives a succinct summary of the situation—that Hypno wants revenge on Snoop for sending him to jail and Hypno’s the only person who can hypnotise Blab with the word “Ala-Kazoop,” with Blab none the wiser that he’s under a spell.

    Snooper: Give me 24 hours and 15 minutes and I’ll get the ruby back.
    Inspector: What’s the 15 minutes for?
    Snooper: I gotta have lunch, don’t I?

    The next half of the cartoon starts with Snooper (in silhouette) in his car, a bullhorn on top. Snoop and Hypno spend the sequence battling for control of Blab’s mind (and the ruby), Snoop saying “A private eye is an honest guy” (The Private Eye Institute’s slogan) and Hypno countering with “Ala-kazoop!”

    Snoop wins the battle, thanks to headphones over Blab’s ears blocking out any sound. Well, temporarily. Hypno pulls a gun and Maltese pulls an old dialogue gag. “What did he say, Snoop?” asks Blabber. “He said ‘give ‘em the ruby’,” replies Blab. “Oh. If you say so, Snoop,” and, with that, Blab hands Hypno the gem. Hypno doesn’t get away with it. Turnabout works in this cartoon. When Blab says “Ala-kazoop,” it puts Hypno under his spell. The bad guy is caught. Alas, Snoop doesn’t get a chance to use his “Stop in the name of the Private Eye (fill in the blank)” catchphrase in this cartoon.

    The cartoon winds up with a variation on the “Big Shot Blab” premise. Blab tried ordering Snooper around, this time by trying to turn him into a slave by shouting “Ala-kazoop.” Snooper goes through the animated motions (the mouth reminds me of Don Patterson’s work) but then reveals he was only faking.

    Blab accepts his lot in life and cheerfully follows the order to get Snooper a hot dog. “Let’s face it. Super Snooper is a super-duper Ala-kazooper,” Blab tells us. I’m afraid that’s the best Maltese could come up with.

    The music cues should be familiar in this one. We get the full version of what I think is Clarence Wheeler’s “Woodwind Capers.”

    0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera).
    0:16 - PG-168J FAST MOVEMENT (Green) – Shot of office door, Snoop answers phone.
    0:24 - GR-76 POPCORN SHORT BRIDGE No 2 (Green) – “Give ‘em the boot…” Snoop on phone.
    0:33 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – “…reward for its recoverance?” O’Lenihan in office, shakes Blab, ruby falls to floor.
    1:45 - GR-255 PUPPETRY COMEDY (Green) – Hypno at door, Blab steals ruby, leaves with Hypno.
    2:35 - EXCITEMENT UNDER DIALOGUE (Shaindlin) – “Sure’n I’m hopin’…” Snoop and O’Lenihan look at book.
    3:15 - LFU-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – Snoop in car, Blab snaps out of trace.
    3:48 - C-C-F# Underscore (Wheeler?) – Snooper points, battle of the trances, “Blab can’t hear you.”
    5:34 - tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) “You mumbled something…” Hypno becomes slave, “Will do, Snoop.”
    6:17 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Snoop and Blab in office, Snoop fakes being hypnotised.
    6:47 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – Blab walks, cartoon fades out.
    7:00 - Snooper and Blabber End Title theme (Curtin).

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  • 07/30/13--16:34: Ron Dias
  • Word has come in from Mike Peraza at Disney that former Hanna-Barbera background artist Ron Dias died today. He had been living in Marina, California.

    Ron was born in Honolulu in 1937 to Lino and Eve Dias; his father was a meter reader for an electrical company. After studying art, he began his career in animation at Disney as an in-betweener and clean-up artist on “Sleeping Beauty.” Disney laid off a number of staffers once the feature was completed and a few ended up at Hanna-Barbera. Ron didn’t get to H-B until 1964, where he worked on “Jonny Quest” (his credits are not on the DVD of the series) and the feature “Hey, There, It’s Yogi Bear.” You’ll find Ron’s credits on “Space Ghost,” “Secret Squirrel,” “Atom Ant” and a number of other H-B series through the latter part of the ‘60s.

    Ron eventually returned to Disney to work on films and TV cartoons. A piece of his art that wasn’t in the final cut of “Beauty and the Beast” went for $44,000 at an auction in 1992.

    I’m not competent enough to point out any of his art from Hanna-Barbera but you can see a couple of pieces if you click on his web site.

    Our condolences to Ron’s family and his co-workers.

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    Don Messick entertained countless kids on screen for years so it’s pleasing to see he could entertain kids off-screen as well.

    Here’s a neat story from the
    Oxnard Press-Courier of January 7, 1993. It sounds like a fun show.

    Scooby’s voice takes stage
    Entertainment Editor

    SANTA BARBARA—The real Scooby Doo made kids laugh as “Peter and the Wolf” hit the Lobero Theatre stage Sunday.
    Don Messick of Montecito slipped effortlessly into his cartoon voices as he narrated the ballet Sunday with the Montecito School of Ballet and the West Coast Symphony, conducted by Christopher Story VI. The orchestra and dancers also performed “A Gypsy Fantasy” in the one-time only performance.
    On “Peter and the Wolf,” Messick used the voices of Boo Boo Bear for Peter, Ranger Smith for the Duck, Papa Smurf for Grandpa, Azrial the Smurf for the Cat, Pixie Mouse for the Bird and Scooby Doo for the Wolf. Messick created all these voices for Hanna-Barbera animation studios.
    The voices work well for “Peter and the Wolf,” although young children were asking parents where the cartoon characters were. They heard Scooby Doo but didn’t see him.
    Serge Prokofiev’s music and fairy tale tells about a young boy, Peter, who tries to save a bird, duck and cat from a wolf. Different instruments express themes for each character, and the ballet is often used to introduce children to orchestras. Cherie Moraga of Oxnard, the principal oboist, played the duck’s theme.
    Messick’s cartoon voices Sunday added wit to a fun, smooth performance.
    “Scooby, Scooby, Doo—er, I mean, Wolfy, Wolfy Wolf,” Messick said in his famous Scooby Doo voice as the wolf danced onto stage.
    The adults and kids roared.
    Messick, in his mid 50s, has created the voices for the West Coast Symphony production for six years.
    During an interview at intermission, Messick casually joked around in his Droopy Dog voice. His cheeks puffed up when he spoke backstage like Scooby Doo in front of a visitor, Sarah Sanchez. The young Ventura girl laughed.
    His career started early. At age 15 in 1941, he hosted the Don Messick Show on a local radio station in Maryland.
    “I gravitated to it (voices in animation) after starting out as a ventriloquist,” Messick said.
    “I could do a lot of different voices.”
    As television animation began in 1957, it was natural for him to do cartoon voices, Messick said.
    Animation has improved greatly since the 1960s, Messick said. “It’s got to be much, much better.”
    The 1960s showed a rough transition from the high-quality animation of movie studios to assembly-line, less fluid television animation. Messick first provided a voice for the Ruff ‘n’ Reddy Show.
    He went on to create voices such as Boo Boo Bear and Scooby Doo.
    Scooby Doo is the oldest animated character in continuous run on television, Messick said.
    More recently, Messick has performed the voice of Hamton Pig in Tiny Toon Adventures, a young generation version of classic Warner Brothers characters. He also has revived a classic character, Droopy Dog, in a new Droopy and Drippy series.
    Messick said he creates an original voice for each character after seeing several sketches. Animators then finish drawing the character to match Messick’s voice.
    Not everyone creates original voices from scratch like Messick. As the Genie in Walt Disney’s “Aladdin,” Robin Williams relied on impersonations. “I never try to do impersonations,” Messick said. “I always do original voices.”

    Don appeared in the very first Hanna-Barbera cartoon as Ruff and the narrator in “Planet Pirates.” There doesn’t appear to have been much written about his work there, but I found this squib in the March 15, 1958 edition Knickerbocker News of Albany, New York. “Ruff ‘n’ Ready” would have been on the air three months at that point. There’s no byline, so it may have come from a press handout from NBC or series bank-roller Screen Gems.

    2 Actors Provide Voices for Cartoons
    All the voices for the television cartoon series, Ruff and Reddy, are provided by talented actors Daws Butler and Don Messick. They record up to six cartoons at one session, playing a dozen characters each, moving quickly from one trick voice to another. Toughest voice, admits Messick, was that of a mother elephant.

    The elephant falsetto voice was first heard in “The Gloom of Doom,” the 25th instalment of the show. You might recognise it as the mother eagle in the Yogi Bear cartoon “High Fly Guy.”

    Don M.’s cartoon work wasn’t restricted to Hanna-Barbera. You may recall he provided dialogue for “Spunky and Tadpole” (1958). But what must be his most bizarre cartoon work was looping dialogue for “Ken the Wolf Boy.” It was produced around 1963 in Japan as “Okami Shonen Ken.” I have no idea if it ever aired in North America; I’ve found listings for it on Australian television in 1968. Watch a clip of it below. It almost defies description. I suspect Don prided himself on his performance as a wolf and tried to forget his performance as a wolf-boy.

    And, yes, that is Daws Butler, too.

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