Friday, November 23, 2012

Giving Credit

Those of you who have the Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear Show DVDs that were released several years ago will know that almost all the cartoons have more than a title card at the start. They have a couple of other cards with credits listed on them; not a full list, but one that shows the main people who worked on each cartoon. Yet those of us who recall when those shows first aired (as well as the Quick Draw McGraw Show) don’t remember ever seeing credits except in the stock closing animation at the end of the half hour.

So when were the cards made? Why? How accurate are they?

I’ve had people ask me that on several different occasions, with the opinion expressed that the credits were made up for syndication almost three decades after the cartoons originally aired because that’s the first time anyone remembers seeing them.

It’s times like this I miss that great friend of early Hanna-Barbera cartoons, Earl Kress. Earl was interested in the arcanum of the cartoons and I’m pretty sure he looked around and found an answer to the mystery. Earl passed away over a year ago. In his archives he had this:



This is a sheet that was used by the cameraman to shoot the titles. You can see that it has not just the one opening title card but all five of them we’re used to seeing now, including the credits, as well as footage allotted for fades. At the far right is the count in feet and inches, the number to the left of that is the frame count. So the opening titles took up 40 feet or 640 frames (there are 16 frames to a foot). If you compare the lettering, it was done by whoever lettered the actual cards.

The most interesting thing is the hand-written notation up top. The footage was shot in 35 millimetre and a date of March 11, 1959 is given for Take Number 1. So, is that when the credits were shot? There doesn’t appear to be a Production Number on the sheet that would indicate the cartoon itself was shot on that date.

I’m left to conclude that the credits were filmed when the cartoons were originally made and the footage was simply archived for the time when the shorts would be aired outside the Kellogg’s half-hours. It also appears a number of copies of the footage sheets were created in 1958 when the Hanna-Barbera credits included the one line for “Dialogue and Story Sketches.” When Charlie Shows left the studio, the credits for the 1959-60 TV season were changed so “Story” and “Story Sketches” were two separate credits (during mid-season, “Story Sketches” was eliminated and “Story Director” added, presumably because Alex Lovy had arrived at the studio from Walter Lantz). And, as indicated at the bottom, somewhere during the season, the bottom lettering on the credit title card was changed from “H-B Enterprises, Inc.” to “Hanna-Barbera Productions”; the final four Huck cartoons have the change, starting with “Piccadilly Dilly.” So the old categories are simply crossed off on the old sheets and new ones added by hand. Saves money instead of printing new forms. Bill Hanna would be delighted. My guess is the sheets were lettered by Art Goble, who got a credit for titles,

When did cartoons appear separately outside the Kellogg’s sponsored half hours? It wasn’t very long after they were made. It happened in 1960, October 15th to be precise. That’s when a show called “The Magic Land of Allakazam” began airing. It was, as the Jefferson City Post-Tribune called it, “…a new children’s world of television fun featuring a whole family of magicians, sleight of hand artistry, major feats of illusion, music, circus-type fun and animated cartoons…” Yes, cartoons. To quote from the paper again: “Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Jenks the Cat [sic], and those famous ‘meeces,’ Pixie and Dixie, will appear each week in a variety of Hanna-Barbara cartoons.”

Whether the cartoons shown on Mark Wilson’s Saturday afternoon magic show featured the full credits, I don’t know, but it’s obviously not true that the individual cartoons only appeared on TV some time during the 1970s or ‘80s. As for the accuracy, there only seem to be a few cartoons circulating that have the wrong credits. Yogi’s “Big Brave Bear” is one, unless Lew Marshall suddenly started drawing like Carlo Vinci. I have a version of Augie Doggie’s “Pint Giant” that is obviously incorrect. And there are a couple of others. Some of the earliest cartoons are incomplete. Mike Lah did partial uncredited animation on a bunch of them and two years later, Bob Carr handled footage on cartoons without his name appearing. But, generally, they’re accurate. What’s maddening is the cartoons circulating with no credits at all.

Incidentally, if you look at the top of the sheet you’ll see the hand-written initials “NS.” That stands for Norm Stainback, a cameraman at the studio from the early days through the late 1970s.

5 comments:

  1. The fact that the cartoons showed up on "The Magic Land of Allakazam" souldn't come as that big of mystery as that show was also sponsored by Kelloggs. I don't remember there being credits on them, but I was pretty young at the time!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I recall watching that magic show one Saturday morning and was thrilled to see a Yogi Bear cartoon popping up in the middle of it. I have come to learn that it was the first Yogi cartoon every produced, and even back then, it looked fairly rough in its animation execution. As for the credits, I don't remember those...

    ReplyDelete
  3. I remember for a while CN aired Huck and Yogi cartoons WITH the credits, but WITHOUT any music under them. The music would start with the main title card. I wonder what the story was with that...

    ReplyDelete
  4. At least in NYC, the Quick Draw cartoons first played in afternoon syndication (on WNEW Ch. 5 at 5 PM) in about 1966-67. There were separate shows for Quick Draw, Augie, and Snooper and Blabber.

    That was THREE days of the week. Another day was Bugs Bunny, and I don’t remember what else was on the remaining day (of 5 weekdays).

    HERE was when I first saw the “credits versions” of Quick Draw, Augie, and Snooper and Blabber that you describe. I’m certain the other New Yorkers who comment here can verify this. This is where I first noticed the name of Michael Maltese, and associated him with other great cartoons like Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner – credits also gleaned from syndicated WB prints.

    The Huck and Yogi shows played in more or less their original form (with Pixie and Dixie and Yakky Doodle trading shows) until about that same 1966-67 – again, at least here in NYC, to my best recollection.

    Then they were gone for a few years – and sometime about the spring of 1970 – at that same 5 PM, on the same WNEW Ch. 5, there was a half-hour that consisted of a Huck cartoon, and Quick Draw, and a Yogi – and ALL THREE cartoons had the credits openings! There was no actual “show intro or closing” – and the cartoons themselves were the only place where credits were seen.

    I’d always assumed, with no actual reason behind my thinking, that they were produced this way for “independent run” (in order to be “not part of a larger show” but for “kiddie host” shows), as so many other made-for-TV cartoons were in the ‘60s.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The fact that the 1958-59 shorts are credited as "An H-B Enterprises Cartoon" really should be enough to show the credits were contemporaneously filmed along with the shorts. Bill & Joe's studio was notorious over the years for 'modernizing' their studio credits whenever possible, so had these been made 20-30 years after the fact, they would never gone back and tried to recreate the 'look' of the late 50s in the title style (which is turn was a riff on the graphic designs of the later MGM cartoons -- even the graphics of the word 'CARTOON' in the opening credits was borrowed from the design used in the late 1940s/early 1950s MGM shorts).

    ReplyDelete