Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The Loopy De Loop Cartoon You Will Never See

The internet can be a blessing and a curse. It’s full of wonderful information on obscure things that’s easily accessible. And some of that information is completely inaccurate.

We’ve talked before about how some on-line Pedias and Databases are flat out wrong in entries to do with cartoons. And so they are with Loopy De Loop.

I’ve never really liked Loopy. He epitomises the blandness that starting worming its way into Hanna-Barbera cartoons. There’s not a lot that’s distinctive about the animation. The stories have a few clever lines but, basically, tread old ground (that was done better by Huck or Yogi). Hoyt Curtin’s music is just sort of there, with stock beds assigned to stock situations. And, probably more annoying, is each cartoon found it necessary to go into detail about how Loopy is a “good wolf” and “not like the other wolves” and blah-blah-blah. If you have to explain a character every time he comes on the screen, it’s not a strong character.

However, people have differing tastes from each other. There are people out there who can’t do without reality TV. There are people who wax nostalgic for disco music. And there are people who like Loopy De Loop.

Your friendly Yowp gets e-mail about things related somewhat to what you see on this blog. I get questions about horror movie stock music and about Dell Comic books. And I got a question from someone who collects Loopy De Loop cartoons.

He has a complete collection of all the Loopys but one and wanted to know where to find it. The cartoon is called Habit Troubles and is listed in Wikipedia and the Big Cartoon Database as having been released on November 19, 1964. There’s no other specific information anywhere about it.

And it turns out there’s a reason for that.

I always like going back to contemporary sources for information, and checked the release schedule of shorts in Boxoffice magazine (now, unfortunately, off-line). Here’s what various editions in 1964 and 1965 reveal:


Rls. No.Cartoon NameReleased
5701Trouble BruinSep. 1964
5702Bear KnucklesOct. 1964
5703Rabbit HabitNov. 1964
5704Horse ShooJan. 1965
5705Pork Chop Phooey March 1965 
5706Crow’s FeteApril 1965
5707Big Mouse TakeJune 1965
*6701Wolf HoundedJuly 1965
* Columbia began re-releasing cartoons in consecutive order

There’s no listing for Habit Troubles.

Next was a check of the copyright catalogue at faqs.org and cocatalog.loc.gov. Nope, no cartoon with that name was ever copyrighted.

So it seems the reason no one has a copy of Habit Troubles is because it never existed.

Where did the misinformation come from? Who knows. But this certainly isn’t an isolated instance. Bob Jaques, on his fine Popeye Animators blog, recently bemoaned the same thing about Paramount “credits” that were either concocted through well-meaning assumption, guesswork or perhaps through revelation by staring at an empty beer bottle. Even worse, the “facts” are presumed to be correct by others and spread.

This is a good time for me to express my appreciation of the many animation historians out there who pride themselves on doing meticulous research to ensure their revelations are factual. Their time-consuming, unimpeachable work is of benefit to anyone who wants to know more about cartoons.

23 comments:

  1. The (presumably) nonexistent HABIT TROUBLES actually predates online "resources"; it is spotted as early as 1983 in Lenburg's Encylopedia of Animated Cartoon Series. (Where'd he get it?...)

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  2. Thanks for the info, R. I didn't think to check. I went through my copy of "Of Mice and Magic" and it doesn't have a Loopy filmography.
    The title is repeated in "The Magic Behind the Voices" (2004) in the listing of Daws Butler's cartoons.

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  3. Loopy De Loop has to explain his motives at the start of each cartoon, because theatre audiences probably aren't as consistent as the TV groups, and they won't follow a series too closley.

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  4. I believe the title "Habit Troubles" was changed the "Rabbit Habit" during production of the short for Columbia. Lists like the one Lenberg uses sometimes (but not always) came from listings provided by the studios. So there's a good chance the title was changed and the old one not removed from the list. I have every single Loopy cartoon on video from when they were aired as part of USA's Cartoon Express in the 80s and "Habit Troubles" was never aired even back than.

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  5. Certainly older theatrical characters like Bugs, Daffy, Woody or Popeye never had to stop the cartoon and explain directly to the audience why they were who they were. The situation simply unfolded and the motivations were evident.
    Even as insipid as Casper was, he didn't look at the camera at the start of each short and tell us all he was a friendly ghost and wasn't out to scare people but people were afraid of ghosts and yap-yap-yap. The plot and gags did the job.

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  6. I'm guessing the confusion with the title came from "Trouble Bruin" and "Rabbit Habit" (I've seen both, so they exist).

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  7. True, but Bugs, Daffy, Woody, Casper, et al were very well known. Loopy was fairly new and only lasted a few years.

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  8. Yes, but when the other characters were new, they didn't engage in the same kind of ham-handed set-ups.

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  9. Those characters never had a "theme" behind them. They were stand-alone characters whose activities were dictated by the script. They had no back story, similar to the way Huck never really had a back story. Loopy De Loop had a back story. His stories were derived from the fact that people thought a wolf was mean and nasty and he was trying to be helpful and kind. This is where a lot of the misunderstandings come from in the stories. I do not think you can compare the two fairly. Even a character like Casper touched on him being a friendly ghost rather than a scary one more often than not. Hell, the title of the show even said it.

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  10. "Even as insipid as Casper was, he didn't look at the camera at the start of each short and tell us all he was a friendly ghost and wasn't out to scare people but people were afraid of ghosts and yap-yap-yap."

    True, but Casper DID have a theme song that did all that for him! ;-)

    Your point is well-taken, regardless. We can see for ourselves how likeable/unlikeable a character is; you don't have to TELL us up front.

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  11. Instead of giving us that insturmanetal peice at the begining of each short, Hoyt Cutin should have written a theme song about Loopy and his being nice, to avoid all the extra, albeit necessary, exposition.

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  12. Michael, yeah, I didn't consider the Casper theme song but you're quite right.
    Zartok, your comment brings up something I didn't touch on because it's tangental to the point of the post, but I'd sure like to know what the budgets were for those shorts. They weren't animated any more elaborately than the TV cartoons so they couldn't have possibly had a bigger budget than each TV short. A low budget may have precluded a theme song, like Huck, Yogi and Quick Draw had.
    In fact, the absence of one sticks out like a sore thumb because Curtin wrote memorable and singable theme songs for just about every cartoon series in the first few years of HB's operation.

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  13. I think I'd take a Loopy De Loop short over a Magilla Gorilla cartoon any day, or worse a Breezly and Sneezly. Compared to those, your typical Loopy De Loop cartoon is genius, depending on what year it was released. Plus, Loopy had an interesting instrumental theme at the beginning, in my opinion, and a lot of times, it was far better drawn than what H-B would produce in later years, so you have to give the shorts credit for that.

    Plus, I think Columbia might have been really cheap with their short subjects in general than most of the other studios at that time. I don't know that for sure, but it seems like it.

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  14. It's muchly the familiar Hoyt Curtin's music score who disturb me more than the entire cartoons themeselves. I rather watch that than Wally Gator.

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  15. It doesn't seem to me that Loopey said he was a good wolf in every episode. I don't think he says it, for example, in Infallible Fable or Elephantastic & I don't think he mentions it till the end in Little Bo Bopped. Speaking of Infallible Fable any idea why they don't show the whole episode, just the 1st few minutes of it, on youtube?

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  16. Anon, I don't think he did in some of the later cartoons.
    You mean "A Fallible Fable." All 6 1/2 mins. are there. I see Bob Bentley was back at HB for this one.

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  17. I wish someone would recreate Loopy de Loop (Sorry...I'm one of those guys who like Loopy de Loop), as a matter of fact, I made a story called "Bertstown" and Loopy resides there because he felt more welcome there than anywhere else in America.

    PS-I think I'll use the cartoon "Habit Troubles" as a running gag...there's NO lines in the script!

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  18. Since writing my message above I've gotten to see the whole thing of A Fallible Fable. They do show the whole thing now.

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  19. If you look at the design of Casper and then Loopy, Casper has an almost child like quality about him and being much more humanlike it would be easy for the audience to accept that he was good without him stating as such.
    In most cartoons of that era a Wolf was either the bad guy, or someone who was out to swindle or cheat (Hokey etc).
    Loopy was basically breaking the cartoon steriotype so it would have been reasonable to him to explain his outlook as a good wolf.

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  20. I have to agree with David Gerstein the originator of this error must be Jeff Lenbrug. But still fasinating story.

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  21. I woke up thinking about Loopy de Loop (maybe because it's Saturday morning?) and I do remember a LdL theme song with the same Hoyt Curtain music as here:
    http://grooveshark.com/#!/search/song?q=Hanna-Barbera+Loopy+De+Loop%2C+1959+(Main+Title%2C+Underscore
    But there were lyrics that explained his character. I haven't been able to find it, but Loopy sang it, in his over-exaggerated accent:
    It is alarming, and ______ming, and utterly disarming
    For folks to see a wolf ________, like me who's so charming.
    And right like, polite-like, I stand out in a group
    You might like, some night like, to meet Loopy de Loop!

    Perhaps the lyrics were added later and released on one of those albums for kids? I've looked for the song on the internet with no luck, but I'd love to hear it. Obviously it's been stuck in my head for many decades, even though I didn't understand some of the lyrics!

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  22. Hi, Anon. I wouldn't be surprised Golden Records did a version of Loopy's theme song with lyrics. If I haven't posted it here, then I don't have it.
    BMI lists Bill and Joe as writing a version of the Loopy song with Hoyt Curtin so I imagine they came up with the lyrics.

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  23. Pig cartoons involve bad wolves. Sheep cartoons involve bad wolves. I think the lengthy expository speeches in Loopy had less to do with an actual need to explain—and more to do with using a talking-head sequence to save money.

    Anon above me cites the lyrics to the theme, which I always heard as

    It is alarming, how calming and utterly disarming
    A wolf can be, whenever he—like me—is always charming.
    I'm bright-like, polite-like; I stand out in a group
    You might like, some night like, to meet Loopy de Loop!

    "Bright-like" and "polite-like" are true mid-1960s Hanna-Barberisms...

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