“Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear” was not the original title of Hanna-Barbera’s first foray into feature cartoon production. Associated Press reporter Bob Thomas revealed in a column in June 1963 the film was called “Whistle Your Way Back Home.” Evidently someone came to the smart conclusion if you’ve got a star like Yogi Bear, why not use his name in the title? So the studio did.
But the original title seems to have hung around for a bit. It’s referred in a Yogi Bear newspaper comic 50 years ago this month. Of note—there was no Christmas colour comic in 1963, and Boo Boo only makes brief appearances in two of the five weekend comics. And the seasons change awfully fast.
You’ll notice in the December 1st cartoon a reference on the camera in the opening panel to “H-B Prod.” and Columbia Pictures (Hanna-Barbera’s bankroller when the studio opened in 1957) on the clapboard in the first panel of the middle row. The last panel seems to have a real ranger station on a set with a real swimming pool. It’s been years since I’ve seen the Yogi movie, but I don’t recall beach babes being in it.
A week later, December 8th, and it’s suddenly not swimming pool weather any more. It’s winter in the next four comics. How did the weather change so quickly? Must have been global warming in 1963. Notice how Boo Boo is a nice bear, accepting Yogi for what he is, instead of ol’ sour puss Smith.
Sorry for the lousy scan of the December 15th comic. The same snowy-covered first from the week before are back. The composition in the first panel of the middle row is just great. Characters on either side in the foreground, action in between them in the middle ground and a ski lift to fill the dead spots in the background. The final panel has some good varying perspectives, too. The silhouette of the phone booth is a nice touch.
Oh, another one of the über-cute kids again. She evidently takes after Mrs. Smith. The two only appear to fill the top row of the December 22nd comic; neither play a role in the story. Nice variations of angles on that rickety old two-seater prop plane. You’ve really got to appreciate Harvey Eisenberg. He can draw a funny animal, a cute kid and a realistic-looking plane, and all in the same cartoon. He’s also using jagged dialogue balloons, presumably to express changing emotions. The less said about the rhymes, the better.
Why can’t Yogi help the kid in the December 29th comic? Isn’t he smarter-than-the-average bear and can, therefore, solve problems? Ah, well. That would spoil the plot. It appears Ranger Smith has a pet lynx, judging by the opening panel. Look at the size of the cat. Angled fireplace and wood panelling are very attractive. I like Ranger Smith’s boyhood flashback. He looks like a munchkin instead of a little boy. The drawing of the rabbit is an interesting way of getting a change in visuals during dialogue. No rhymes this time.
As usual, you can head to Mark Kausler’s site where he’s taken the time to post the bottom two rows of each of these cartoons in colour.