Sunday, December 26, 2010

Flintstones and Yogi Bear Christmas Comics

Since it’s Sunday and the Christmas season is winding down, let’s take a look at Hanna-Barbera’s Sunday newspaper comics of Christmases past.

While Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw were featured in comic books, only Yogi Bear and The Flintstones received newspaper treatment. Yogi’s comic started not many days after his show debuted on television; the first Sunday Yogi panels appeared on February 5, 1961.

The two strips were under the eye of Gene Hazelton, who had been a layout artist at the best west coast studios in the Golden Age of theatrical animation. He didn’t draw all of the strips. Mark Evanier points out Ed Nofzinger worked on some (Yowp note: See Mark’s additions in the comments section). They were syndicated by McNaught and ran through 1988.

For reasons I have never understood, characters from the world of animated cartoons inhabit a separate world than when they’re in comic books and strips. In the Bugs Bunny strip, appearances by Petunia and Cicero Pig were not uncommon long after they vanished from the screen. Sylvester spoke with a modified Cockney accent. And the H-B strips were no different. In the Flintstones panels, Pebbles, Dino and even Baby Puss (he’s the cat that stayed up for the night, as the theme song told us) communicated via thought balloons. In the Yogi strip, Ranger Smith had a wife and a kid. The Smiths had first names, too, Bill and Vi—the same name as a certain Mr. and Mrs. Hanna, incredible as it may seem. It’s unfortunate Huck, Mr. Jinks and the rest didn’t make appearances (at least, they haven’t in the strips I’ve looked at), especially considering the delightful interplay they had in the ‘between-cartoons’ on the original Huck show.

I’ve picked the years between the mid-60s and mid-70s. There weren’t Christmas themes in the comics each year, so that’s why some years are missing.

It’s unfortunate not only that these are scans of black and white photocopies of newspapers but they’re all missing the top row of panels. I went through at least six different newspapers to try to get the best quality and all of them had only two rows of panels, a space-saving move by newspapers. If they only had a ‘click to enlarge’ function in newspapers like this blog does to save space but allow you to see everything. You’ll note the first Yogi cartoon bases its end gag around an organisation that Hanna was involved in through his lifetime.

YOGI BEAR, December 20, 1964

YOGI BEAR, December 25, 1966

YOGI BEAR, December 24, 1967

YOGI BEAR, December 22, 1968

YOGI BEAR, December 21, 1969

Yogi Bear, December 19, 1971

YOGI BEAR, December 24, 1972

YOGI BEAR, December 23, 1973

YOGI BEAR, December 21, 1975


THE FLINTSTONES, December 25, 1965

THE FLINTSTONES, December 25, 1966

THE FLINTSTONES, December 24, 1967

THE FLINTSTONES, December 29, 1968

THE FLINTSTONES, December 21, 1969

THE FLINTSTONES, December 20, 1970

THE FLINTSTONES, December 19, 1971

THE FLINTSTONES, December 24, 1972

THE FLINTSTONES, December 23, 1973

THE FLINTSTONES, December 22, 1974

THE FLINTSTONES, December 21, 1975


If you think the perception of the Flintstones has changed over the years, imagine a drunken Fred storyline today. Or a cigarette-smoking one, for that matter.

While the TV cartoons used animation short cuts, you can see that Hazelton and his artists didn’t, with some very elaborate drawing and fine layouts. I hope you’ve enjoyed them.

15 comments:

  1. And what about Disney characters morphed in comics with the absolute best results than from the cartoons itself? What are your opinion for this? Nevermind, those HB comics are at least appealing and the layouts is beautiful. Especially when recently a comic editor is engaged just for comics adaptations from TV shows or movies.

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  2. It wasn't just Ed Nofziger who worked on these strips along with Gene Hazelton. I've seen YOGI and FLINTSTONES strips drawn by Bob Singer, Pete Alvarado, Harvey Eisenberg, Jerry Eisenberg, Willie Ito, Dick Bickenbach. Kay Wright and others...and about 2/3 were lettered and inked by Lee Hooper. Just about everyone who passed through the studio and could draw seems to have been lassoed into doing a few.

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    1. Mark Evanier,

      Don't forget Iwao Takamoto, who drew the Yogi Bear Christmas Sunday page from 1966, which I saw in the Mark Christiansen's blog (http://marksotherstuff.blogspot.com).

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  3. Very nice post!! Thanks for sharing vintage comics.. Lol!!

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  4. If I remember correctly, the shivering old man in the first panel of the 1974 Flintstone strip was Fred's father (or grandfather?) who also appeared in Charlton Comic Flintstone comic books around that time. It's unusual for a daily comic strip and comic book adaptation of a given property to retain continuity with each other.

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    1. Howie Fein,

      It's the Fred's dad.
      I saw some Flintstones strips from 1967 and 1968 with appearances of him.

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  5. I don't recall "Pops" being part of the Charlton comic, but maybe he was . . . I believe he was Fred's grandfather. The Flintstones also has a myna bird named Milford in the comics. I have a ton of these comics, cut out from a newspaper in the early/mid 70s. Our local paper didn't carry the strip, but my grandparents' paper did on Cape Cod. My grandmother would cut them out every day and send me a batch once a month. I still have them, along with the memories. :-)

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  6. What a wonderful feature, Yowp! Too bad these were never collected. We could use some good H-B comics or comic books these days. I had no idea these strips ran THAT LONG! Way beyond the life of both series.

    I actually recall the “Red-Nosed Fred” strip, as we had the Flintstones and Yogi Sundays during 1968-1970. I thought that was “rather adult” at the time. Still is, actually – though it would be small potatoes for Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin.

    Hazleton should have used Pixie and Dixie in the “mouse-stirring” gag. And was that IRON HAND JONES who received the empty box?
    Thanks for this!

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  7. I own an original Sunday Yogi Bear comic strip from 1965 that features Yogi, Boo Boo, Quick Draw McGraw, Baba Looey, Huckleberry Hound and Ranger Smith. Their appearances were sporadic, but others were featured from time-to-time. I'm not so sure about Pixie, Dixie and Mr. Jinks, though.

    Scott :-)

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  8. Joe, I never thought about Iron Hand. I'd say you're right. He's a little more streamlined in animation. Yeah, Pixie and Dixie would have been a better gag.

    And I'd figure there must be a market for a book collection of these comics. There are enough knowledgeable people out there who could put together a compilation. I'm surprised the studio hasn't been approached about it.

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  9. I recall there being interest at one point in putting a book together in the 90s. Now, with the release of so many of these comic strip compilation books (Peanuts, Dennis the Menace, Hagar the Horrible, etc.) the timing would be perfect. If I remember correctly, finding the art chronologically was too difficult. The syndicate went out of business and I don't think the plates were to be found. I hope my memory is wrong, but I don't think so.

    I really enjoy the graphic treatment the characters got, especially the Flintstones in the late 60's/early 70s and forward. The artist really put his own embellishments into the way the characters were drawn but it worked extremely well. It gave the look of the strip it's own identity away from the series.

    Scott

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  10. Very nice find! Thank you for sharing these gems with us!

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  11. Note the topical humor in the 1970 "FLINTSTONES"" Christmas strip, where Pebbles is thinking of asking Santa for a "Spiro Angew watch"- not "Spiro Agnewstone", or "Spiro Agnewrock", just "Spiro Agnew". For those who've forgotten, Spiro Agnew was Richard Nixon's Vice President from 1969, until he resigned to face income tax evasion charges in late 1973 (the first time a Vice President ever resigned while in office). He was also one of the most unpopular Vice Presidents in history...and considered somewhat of a "joke".

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  12. ...and note that Nixon himself makes a brief appearance in the 1969 Yogi Christmas strip (even if he's isn't seen full-faced, there's just enough of his image to recognize him); he almost refers to Yogi as "Spiro". The "Apollo 11" astronauts are also mentioned as well.

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  13. Back in the 1980s, when I was working at the studio, I pitched the idea of collecting "best of" books featuring THE FLINTSTONES and YOGI BEAR newspaper features to the H-B brass. They looked at me like I was insane. Unfortunately, the public's knowledge and interest in those characters is far less now than it was then. Thankfully, we have Yowp Yowp to deliver them in monthly doses.

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